Week 12: Where Has All My Money Gone?


1. I can’t believe I have been doing this for 12 weeks. There are only 40 weeks remaining. A human gestation. That really snaps it back into focus. I am almost one-quarter through, which, when you’re running a marathon is only about mile 6, when it’s still kind of easy, and this has also been kind of easy so far. Right. I’d do well to remind myself what mile 22 feels like lest I get too cocky.

2. With all of this not buying I’m doing, you’d think I’d have a tidy little sum saved up, or at least paid down substantially more debt than I would have otherwise. You would be wrong. It’s tough for me to reconcile just where all this money is going, but given the week I have had, I think I have an idea. I had my old winter tires put on new rims this week: $375. Technically, the rims are against the rules, but I justified it because they were an inevitable expense anyway, and I would have probably had to pay more for them next year, and this way, I can change my own tires in the spring (at least according to Monica). We had a big discussion about it over on the Facebook page, if you’re interested. I also had my car serviced for about $50 this week, and I put $43.50 of gas in it. Cars, man.

3. Household expenses were not insignificant this week either. Pellets ran me about $37. My son and I were both sick, and twice I had to go buy medication on the advice of a doctor or pharmacist, so between those costs and the groceries I bought at the same time, I spent $97.82!!! Who am I?!?!? Thankfully, everyone over here is on the mend, so I’m hoping to tamp that down again.

4. I did a very fun, forty-dollars-but-completely-worth-it thing last Saturday. I went to a workshop held by Full Moon Tiny Shelters all about the Tiny House Movement. They are a local company that builds custom tiny houses out of an off-grid workshop in Blockhouse, Nova Scotia. There is a solar-powered band saw. I ate wicked dairy-free muffins. I met some cool people and learned a lot about composting toilets. I didn’t take any pictures, but there are lots on their website, and even more in this recent post from the Tiny House Giant Journey blog. It was fantastic.

5. Thanks to everyone who has shared the blog recently. I’m trying hard to keep up with everyone to make sure you all get a fair chance of winning, but it’s hard to track if you aren’t on my Facebook friends list. So, to make sure I have your name, “like” the Facebook page and then leave me a message, just in case. If you want to share a post, you can make it public for me to see and tag it #makedo. Someone is getting this bag. It might as well be you.


I Tried to Dye my Hair with Hibiscus Tea (So You Don’t Have To)

I have really fine hair and it’s naturally a flat, light brown colour. I’ve been having it coloured (mostly lighter) for years. The last time I had my hair cut and coloured was in mid-August, before the start of this experiment.

My hairstylist is great. She is sweet and knowledgeable and she always makes me look like I have way more hair than I do. I have never regretted paying her to do my hair. In fact, paying to have my hair cut or coloured is not even against my rules!

(My hairstylist is also my cousin, which is why I am hoping she won’t get mad if she reads the rest of this.)

I was trying to see how long I could go before shelling out for a cut and foils. And, in the spirit of making do, I have been thinking of other ways to save money that weren’t a part of my initial commitment. I decided I wanted to try and do something to my hair, myself.

Now, I am not allowed to buy any toiletries of any kind, and that includes at-home hair colour. What I am allowed to buy is tea.

I thought it might be fun to try and punch up my red highlights. I have read that hibiscus can do that, so I got a little bit of hibiscus and rosehip loose tea from Bulk Barn.


Here is a “before” picture. I promise I didn’t use filters on either of the hair pics.


I boiled the kettle, and steeped the tea for about 15 minutes.


I put the tea in a spray bottle and soaked my head in it. It did not take much. Maybe a third of that large Mason jar.

I dried my hair without rinsing it, because for some reason people say the heat helps the colour to develop.

Here is the “after” picture. Same lighting as before.


So what do you think? Does it look any redder? I am not sure. It was kind of fun, and it made my hair smell pretty great. I still have a bunch of the tea left so I think I will keep doing it every few days to see if it makes an appreciable difference. More as (and if) it develops.

Take My Stuff

You know what I get a kick out of? When people seem to be into what I am doing here.

I’ve heard it from a few of you lately. You like reading the blog and you think what I’m doing is alright. Maybe I made you laugh once or twice. Some of you have even shared how you’ve been inspired to take on similar challenges. All of these things are great.  To someone like me, with an ego as big as all outdoors, hearing this stuff is what keeps me trucking.

So I wanted to say cheers, and also to offer some token of my gratitude. What do real bloggers do to reward their readership? They give something away! Maybe you can see where this is going.

Getting rid of stuff is hard, and sometimes we hang on to stuff we really don’t need, even though someone else might want that stuff. Much of my stuff is crap, but some of it is actually pretty nice. I promise I will not try to give you crap.

I bought a red Beantown Quinn  handbag from a Kate Spade New York store a couple of years ago because it was totally me. It still is, except I have only used it about four times.  I used to have a bit of a purse problem, and I am definitely over it now, but for some reason this particular purse perpetually persisted.


It’s made of wool with black patent leather trim. It looks like a pea coat for your wallet. It would look great on you this winter.


It has buttons. It is not a knock-off. I have some of those, but this is not one of them.


This purse cries, “Look in me!” It has one of those iconic Kate Spade linings, and zippered pockets to hold all your stuff. It is so pretty you will want to keep it organized.

(Maybe keep your money and your phone or whatever inside the zippers. Those outside pockets are decidedly for grocery lists and knitting.)

I know. Generous, right? Why would I want to part with something that cost me hundreds of dollars for FREE when I could sell it to a local for several dozens of dollars in cash money? I have three reasons:

1. I’m not going to sell it. It’s too much of a pain.

2. I like it too much to part with it unceremoniously.

3. Though I make do, I don’t actually make OR do anything that’s worth giving away.

Now, the funding drive pitch: If you mostly like what you’re reading, then do like Jay Mohr says and put your name on it. Go to the Facebook page and share a post for me. (Some of you have done this already, and it never fails to give me the warm fuzzies.)

Edit: First, please “like” the Monique Makes Do Facebook page to make sure you get the updates, and if you share the blog, send me a message to let me know. This process is evolving.  

Tag your posts with #makedo (I am really trying to make #makedo happen, you guys) so I won’t miss any. It also helps if you make the posts public. Each share equals one entry, and on December 1st, one lucky winner will be getting this authentic, single-owner, responsibly stored, perfect winter handbag, just in time for all those fancy holiday parties.

(I realize this might be the worst idea I’ve ever had.)

Stuff I Don’t Throw Out

Monique’s hottest recipe is Compost Soup.

What’s Compost Soup?

StefonIt’s that thing where you take all the wilted and not-quite-fresh-anymore veggies in the fridge, chop them up and add them to whatever stock you happen to have on hand, season liberally with cumin or curry or cilantro or whatever, and blend the living daylights out of it until it is all the same colour. Sometimes delicious, always edible.

“You can really taste the compost.” -My Husband

Since I’ve had Oprah on the brain, I decided I would compile a list of some of my own favourite things. This stuff is all in my kitchen at this very moment. Don’t tell my husband, or he might try to throw it away. (jk. I think I’ve mostly worn him down.)

1. Bacon Grease


Every time I cook bacon, I pour the fat through a strainer and into this jar. Sometimes I have two of them in the fridge if we happen to have eaten a lot of bacon.

I use it for roasting vegetables (Brussels sprouts are a particular favourite), cooking eggs, and baking bread.

We are almost out, as you can see, which means it’s time to buy more bacon.

2. Black Bananas

wpid-wp-1415581675647.jpegSometimes I buy these already bagged for baking in the store. There are usually one or two that are still edible as-is. Then I keep them till they go really dark and use them to make oatmeal breakfast cookies. I mash them up with my hands and add rolled oats, some kind of dried fruit, shredded coconut or ground flax seed, sometimes some protein powder and maybe a little cinnamon and make them into mounds, baking them for a while until I think they’ve dried out enough. Then I freeze them and take them for work breakfasts.

3. Bones and Veggie Peels

wpid-wp-1415581768345.jpegI make my own stock about once a month. I have a big Ziploc bag in the freezer where I throw all the bones from things we eat, carrot peels, onion and celery bits, and when it’s full, I dump it into my Crock Pot, cover it with water and about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and I leave it on low for about 24 hours. I don’t really like how it makes the house smell, but it’s worth it for the mineral-rich broth I get out of it. This is what the bottom shelf of my fridge looks like at any given time.

4. Half-eaten Apples

wpid-wp-1415581908875.jpegYou know when your kid comes home from school, and he’s only taken three bites out of his apple and stuck it back in his lunch box? Well, rather than stomping your feet and railing about food waste, why not just cut the brown parts off, slice up the rest of the apple and throw it in a freezer bag? Then, when it’s full, you can throw it in a casserole dish with some coconut oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon and bake it into a quite fine topping for fridge oatmeal, or even real oatmeal if you have that kind of time.

I did a batch today. Those are frozen cranberries.


5. Coffee Grounds (New!)

Good friend of the blog Stephanie turned me on to this new trick a couple days ago and I must say I am hooked. Take your used coffee grounds and use them in the shower as a face and body scrub! The critics are raving:

“I read that it’s something strippers do to make their skin look better!” -Steph

“I feel like someone replaced all my skin with some better skin.” -Steph

“I did that coffee thing and it was bawm.” -Me


Weeks 9-11: This is getting tedious, isn’t it, guys?

I am woefully behind on the weekly posts of what I am (not) spending, and rather than comb back through all my receipts and online banking statements, I thought I might treat everyone to a catch-up of the last three weeks. Keeping track of what I’ve been spending is helpful for me, so I’ll jump back in next week.

Remember this hat I saw a few weeks back and didn’t buy?


Well, when I was in Toronto at the beginning of November, my sister-in-law dug the very same hat out of her bag of clothing donations (I will call them “donies” from now on) and passed it along to me, for FREE. She also gave me a red one which I like even better! I will get pictures of me wearing them sometime. Promise.

It’s been a bit of a spendy month, to be sure. I need to have my tires changed for the winter very soon, and since I bought a new car this summer, I thought I would have to replace all four tires. Happily, I’ve been told that my old tires will fit on my new car, and I can get the season out of them. I am buying winter rims, however. Still, a big savings to be sure.

We also had the dog groomed recently, which was about $60, and definitely worth it.


I’ve been spending a bit more than I’d like on groceries lately, and I’ve filled the car up a few times, although I am very happy with the gas mileage this car is getting compared to my last one. There was a mishap at The Children’s Place when I was buying my son underwear using a gift card (allowed) and the cashier told me the card hadn’t been used even though I was pretty sure it had. It cost me about $9 and that’s definitely against the rules. I wasn’t really thinking. That’s been my only slip.

I love Christmas ornaments, and I saw this one which I would have bought with zero consideration one year ago.


See, they’re sisters, and they love each other, and they’re wearing knitted hats. You might not know my sister and me but trust me, it’s perfect.

The photo editor I have been using for this blog is called Aviary and it’s free. You can buy packs of additional stickers and whatnot for a couple bucks, but so far I have resisted. Today, my steadfastness was rewarded. All the supply packs are free until the end of November if you link an Adobe account to the app, and I already had one of those for whatever reason. So now, the sauciness of my stickers is going to increase exponentially. I now have dozens of useless filters. You’ve been warned.

People keep asking me if I’m saving tons of money. I’m not. At least none of the money I’m saving is accumulating thus far. These first few months have been about staunching the flow and I think I will start to see better results in the New Year. The amount of money this house costs me is astonishing. Much more on that to come.

YHZ-YOW-YYZ Halloween

Halloween is now a somewhat distant memory. We were traveling for the weekend, which means we didn’t have to hand out candy. That was a win for me. It’s against my rules to buy it, technically, and I would have eaten so, so much of it. My son still needed a costume for school, and no amount of bribery was going to dissuade him from his first choice: Godzilla. (Boring, but whatever.)

Last year he wanted to be an Allosaurus, so I had taken a secondhand dragon costume, done some modifications, and he was quite happy with it. It’s pretty easy to turn an Allosaurus into Godzilla as long as you’re willing to make do.


This thing is disgusting to me.

We gave it a once-over with spray fabric paint ($9.98- allowed) and it was his idea to colour in the whites of its eyes with a yellow Sharpie.

wpid-wp-1416342556866.jpeg      wpid-wp-1416343315437.jpeg

The fabric paint did not give me the coverage I was looking for and the nozzle clogged a thousand times and I was NOT going to open the second bottle I’d bought when there was plenty of paint left in the first bottle. That’s how they get you, I suspect. I returned the unopened bottle a couple weeks after Halloween.


He was happy, and that’s all I care about.

I let him wear it on the plane and the crew invited him to trick-or-treat on the flight deck. Pretty nice!

“What’s an Oprah?”

My son doesn’t know who Oprah is, you guys. I was reading something last night about her 2014 list of Favorite Things, and he asked what I was looking at, and, well, he doesn’t know who Oprah is. He’s five. It’s a post-Oprah world.

I like Oprah. I feel the same affinity towards her that I feel towards all most* fat women in media. I have forgiven her for making me afraid of butter and beef, for the hours spent reading Book Club selections when I should have been studying, and for the career of Dr. Oz, but not Dr. Phil. She also has great clothes.

Oprah’s Favorite Things aren’t really that fun anymore. No one gets them for free, I don’t think. Maybe O Magazine gives some of them away. I don’t know. I don’t read it.

There are 72 “things” on the list and I want nothing to do with 71 of them. Most of them are things that Oprah makes money from, so grains of artisanal truffle salt all around.

If you have ten minutes to kill, flip through the rather pedestrian slideshow to see them all. Here are some that stuck out for me.

GlassesBoxThis is a box that costs $250. You can put your glasses in it.


These dog beds come in a variety of sizes, at price points ranging from $445 to $710. They are hypoallergenic, which is great, but my dog isn’t, so who cares.


These cruelty-free nail polishes are $16 each before Oprah-discount, which is not that crazy. But what Oprah has to say about them is: “Leave the trendy colors to the teens.” Haha!!! I don’t think so. I only learned how to paint my nails without making a mess within the last ten years, and when I was a teen we had to make our own trendy colours with liquid paper and permanent marker.


This is a box of “Gathered Truths” that costs $85. Oprah really wants you to have it. I propose we make our own. You send me your truths, and I’ll gather them. I’ll start: “Even if you cannot find the Q-Tip you know you dropped on the floor, the dog will. And he will eat it.”


This is a $130 popcorn maker. It makes popcorn. You know what else makes popcorn? A pot on your stove. Or a paper bag in your microwave. You can make your own popcorn and still eat it like Oprah: “My favorite is a blend of truffle oil, truffle butter and truffle salt.” Oh, come on!


This is a loaf of sourdough bread that weighs 15 pounds. It can be yours for $150. That’s $10 a pound. For bread.

And finally, the one thing I am sort of into:


Deck the halls with mini filled bagel balls.

*Not all. I forgot about Paula Deen. And others, I’m sure.