Edel Grace

Programmer, Developer, Enthusiast


Uber Frugal Month January 2018: Day 1

Jan 2, 2018 | Comments

This is a month-long challenge held over at Frugalwoods. Feel free to join whenever you can!

Today’s Mantra: Anything in life that’s worth doing takes effort.

Today’s Action: Write down why you’re participating in the Uber and answers to

The Homework

Step 1: Establish your goals

Why are you participating in this challenge?

I want to build good spending habits for when I move out. I currently still live with my parents and admittedly am still quite spoiled. I’ve had most things paid for me and have a “safety net” if my spending ever gets out of hand.

What do you hope to achieve?

I hope I can nip frivolous spending in the bud. I really want to cut out expenses that I really don’t need.

What are your longterm life goals?

Oof this is a big question. I’d love to be FIRE (financially independent and retire early). There are many hobbies and pursuits I’d love to devote myself to. I want to learn languages, read a lot of books, learn hpw to play guitar, keep on crocheting and knitting, blog about life, travel… The list goes on.

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

Graduated. Moved out. In a city that isn’t Calgary. Workimg a job I don’t despise. Be close to RE and already FI.

What about your current lifestyle might prevent those goals from coming to fruition and what can you do about it?

I am spending too much and saving too little. I need to build those habits and learn to live without.

Step 2: Review last month’s spending

I use You Need a Budget to track my spending. It’s a great app and I’ve been using it for a whie now. I’m a little hesitant to look at my December spending but let’s jump in anyway…

December spending pie chart

$733.12 CAD doesn’t sound like a lot but it is when you take into the fact that I have no income and all that money is coming from my savings.

It’s no surprise that most of my spending is “Just for Fun.” This is the category I use for eating out and my hobbies.

I spent about what I expected for gifts. I budget $200 for 4 people. Then I had to add 2 more people for Secret Santas. So all in all, $179.28 for 6 people isn’t bad!

My bills include my phone, tuition, therapy, and any account fees. I don’t see myself reducing this any further.

Optional bills are gym and Netflix. I share a Netflix account with my SO and we split the bill but it does come from my card. We both use it a lot so it justifies the spend. I didn’t go to the gym more than once last month but I share the membership with my brother. I need to downgrade my membership as I still intend on going to the gym.

Expenses are clothes. I did have one unnecessary clothes purchase. I don’t regret it at all and my SO was pleased but it was still unncessary.

Since Sears was closing down they put everything on clearance. I managed to buy four cute orange plates for my future apartment just for $6.22.

Step 3: CategorIze your expenses

Done and done. Anything not bills are discretionary.

Step 4: What can I eliminate entirely?

This is tough. I would love to no longer eat out but that is a good chunk of my expenses.

  • Clothes: I got tons of clothes for Chrisrmas. I don’t need anymore.
  • Coffee: I don’t even like coffee and I always feel gross and groggy.
  • Eating out on campus: I can’t avoid eating out entirely because date nights but I really do not need to eat out on campus. I’ll bring my own food.
  • Yarn: While I didn’t get any yarn last month I do not need any more yarn and I always impulse buy yarn.
  • Future moving out items: That can wait for when I have cash flow.
  • Books: Who needs to buy books when you have free library memberships??
  • Video games: I have a ton that need playing still. No steam sales for me!
  • Gym membership: This is a hard maybe. I prefer the gym equipment. I might just downgrade it.

Step 5: Embrace the art of substitution

  • Coffee = homemade tea. We have a bunch of peppermint tea bags. I should use them.
  • Expensive gym = less expensive gym. I currently pay $22 per month for my gym. I can downgrade to $12.

Step 6: Reduce spending on discretionary expenses

The main thing here is food. My SO and I eat out a lot. Time to load up on coupons amd cashback deals and get the cheapest options or smaller portions.

Step 7: Empower yourself to insource

I could have insourced a lot of my gifts from last month since I know how to crochet and knit. Time to load up on mitts, hats, gloves, scarves, and headbands.

Step 8: Examine your habits

Main places where I buy things: on campus, in the mall, at Walmart, Steam, Amazon, at my SO’s house. I could avoid the campus food court entirely and refuse to come with my friends. I could not go to Walmart when I don’t need to. I could start bringing food to my SO’s house.

Step 9: Plan ahead

I think the main theme here is to pack my own food!! That’s my main flaw. I’m too lazy and my own cooked food doesn’t taste as good. Time to hone my cooking skills.

Step 10: If you do buy stuff, get it used/cheap

Steps 8 and 9 pretty much covered this. I’m pretty sure I can get away with avoiding some of my spending completely.

Step 11: Banish excuses

I’m trying! We’ll see how this goes. I have no excuses for most of the things that I can eliminate.

My 2017

Jan 1, 2018 | Comments


I didn’t accomplish as much as I would have liked this year. However, this year was extremely eventful.

  • Finished my internship and saved a lot of #MovingOut money
  • Started and finished self-esteem group therapy
  • Went to my first hackathon at Hack the North in Waterloo, Ontario
  • Attended both the Calgary Expo and Calgary Expo Holiday Market
  • Was a little more social this year
  • Ate a lot of good food (AKA went to a ton of restaurants and pubs)
  • Started crocheting and knitting

It’s been a wild year. A lot of ups and downs. A lot of soul searching. I feel like I know more about myself and I have a clearer vision of the future that I want for myself.

Music Stats

I religiously track my music stats through Last.fm. Spotify also publishes stats. Time to look at my music habits! Since I largely stopped pirating music, I turned to Spotify. This explains why I have almost stopped listening to music from Asian countries as a lot of musicians don’t have their music on Spotify. There are some exceptions though. AOA is a Korean pop group and CAPSULE is a Japanese electronic music duo and they made it into my top 5 songs.

Spotify 2017 Wrapped stats

Top Artists

Top artists

  1. The Strokes

  2. Marina and the Diamonds

  3. Mashrou’ Leila

  4. Julian Casablancas+The Voidz

  5. Jeff Williams

  6. St. Vincent

  7. Thrice


Top Albums

Top albums

  1. Ibn El Leil by Mashrou’ Leila

  2. Is This It by The Strokes

  3. Tyranny by Julian Casablancas + The Voidz

  4. Electra Heart by Marina and the Diamonds

  5. RWBY Volume 1 Soundtrack

  6. Future Present Past by The Strokes

  7. The Desired Effect by Brandon Flowers

  8. Vheissu by Thrice

Top Songs

Top songs

  1. Baptism by Crystal Castles

  2. Drag Queen by The Strokes

  3. Power & Control by Marina and the Diamonds

  4. Trying Your Luck by The Strokes

  5. Excuse Me by AOA

  6. Unrequited Love by CAPSULE

  7. Chances by The Strokes

  8. Dare I Care by Julian Casabalancas + The Voidz

  9. Ode to the Sun by dredg

  10. We Own the Night by Dance Gavin Dance

25 Before 25 Goals

It’s been one year since I posted my 25 before 25. Time to do a yearly review. I’m now 23 and I have two more years before I turn 25. The pressure is on!

1. Graduate from university

I’m working on it! I will be graduating in April 2018. I originally thought I would have graduated by now but some of my first courses no longer count to my degree. Unfortunate, but true.

2. Move out of my parents’ house

Not there yet. Waiting to graduate and get my first job. I have saved enough (I think) to move out but it’s not a good idea to move out without a job.

3. Max out my TFSA

Slowly chipping away at this. I contributed around $11k out of my $30k. With the new year, I have $25k left in my TFSA. I could do it… Right?

4. Open an RRSP account

Nope not yet. First job first.

5. Get a full time job in my field

Soon… Soon… I’ve been updating my portfolio and resume and looking through job posts. My start date is still far in the future but I’m determined.

6. Read 150 books/50 books per year

I barely made it this year! I read more manga than I would have liked and non-fiction. I still need to get going on my to-read list.

7. Finish the Dragon Age series

Absolutely 0 progress on this one. I can’t believe I’m procrastinating on playing a video game!

8. Make my own TCG

Ditto with the above. I think that would be a good portfolio worth project. Maybe throughout the semester.

9. Finish my Pomodoro app project

Not much progress on that either. Github says my last commit on that was in March 2017. So not a total failure.

10. Make a book review website

Still in my backlog… I will get to it!

11. Get my driver’s license

I think I might have to call it quits on this goal. I do not have the constitution to drive. I am too anxious, nervous, and space headed for me to be safe.

12. Make friends outside of the tech bubble

This is so hard. Most of my socializing this year was with my fellow interns and people in my degree. It’s hard for me to relate to or get along with people who aren’t at least a little bit nerdy like me. I will say however, there is one person that I’ve getting along with lately and she is not a nerdy geek at all but she is friends with a lot of them. I’ve known her for a while but never really fully went all in to the friendship.

13. Get fit

I did okay in going to the gym this year but stopped halfway. It would be nice getting back to the gym.

14. Floss more regularly

I never remember to floss. I have now put it as a recurring card on my Trello board so it has to happen.

15. Drink. More. Water

Hmmmm. Not a lot of progress on this either. I think I’m actually drinking less because I keep forgetting to bring my water bottle everywhere. Not anymore!

16. Learn how to actually cook

I’ve done some cooking this year when my mom left for the Philippines. Not a whole lot. I’ve been baking more than cooking. Baking is so much easier…

17. Travel internationally without family

This one I came close to. I went on my first airplane flight without any of my family. It wasn’t international, however, just across country. Now that I think about it, it’s probably better that way, right? Baby steps. It was amazing. I love flying and going to new places.

18. Konmari ALL of my things

Thankfully, this is something I’ve gotten started with. I have Konmari’d my clothes so far. I still have a good chunk left to go through.

19. Get drunk for the first time

I got tipsy this year. Baby steps.

20. Get my CCNA certification

After working in a networking role, I will pass on getting this certification or downgrade it to a CENT certification. I did like the work but I really want to flex my programming skills.

21. Attend Zoo Lights

This is happening this weekend!!! Woo hoo, first thing off my list.

22. Get a grasp on my depression

Slow and steady progress on this. I have been going to counselling and group therapy which has been helping. There are times when I slip but it’s all a process and it won’t always be linear.

23. Continue my pen pal relationships

This has been put on hold because I can’t afford a P.O. box at the moment and my parents did not take to me using our home address to write literaly strangers. I can understand it.

24. Go to a concert

I’ve been regularly browsing who’s been coming to my city and I don’t know/like any of these artists/bands! I must be getting old.

25. Make a dent in my to-watch movie list

Step 1. Make the list first.

Forever Tinkering with My Productivity System

Aug 12, 2017 | Comments

I follow the blog baty.net in which Jack Baty continuously finds new tools and new ways to improve his productivity. While I usually scoff at people who are always changing things up, I will admit that I am the exact same way. It would be great to just stick to something tried and true and never have to think about changing but there is just so much out there that it’s hard for me to resist the temptation to not try everything I can see. I have gone through Filofaxes, Bullet Journal-esque planners, Google Calendar, regular paper agendas, post it notes, back to Bullet Journals, etc.

“Bullet Journals” and Paper Planners

In it’s simplest state, the Bullet Journal is an analog system for rapid logging. You have a thought or task, you write it down, and (hopefully) come back to it later to deal with it. Without a few tweaks, it’s not the greatest for future planning. It’s real use case is capturing at the moment. I have tried both minimalistic Bullet Journal and all out “unrecognizable as a Bullet Journal” planning and I found it too hard to keep up with and check on regularly, especially with the latter. I would write something down and never look at it again or I would be too daunted with drawing out daily/weekly/monthly layouts.

For a period I did somewhat automate dealing with layouts by printing a whole year during my Winter break. I would meticulously design a layout in Photoshop, export it to a PDF, print it, cut it, and punch holes. It was a lot of effort for a system that I only ended up using for a couple of months but when I did use it, it worked well for me.

I also had success with store bought planners. My second year of university I used a planner for the entire year. However when the school year ended, I was bored with the system and wanted to try something new. I was lured in by the Filofax craze and fantasized about using a planner that could also be my wallet. Even now as I look at the Filofax website after not visiting it for so long, I’m drooling over the pretty planners (someone please take my wallet away from me). However that was even more short lived and I converted my would be planner-wallet into just a wallet.

Google Calendar

What I loved about Google Calendar was seeing my entire week at a glance down to the last hour. However, the way I used it, it was unsustainable and lacked the detail I needed. While it was easy to change things around, sometimes an unexpected event would throw off my entire day and a result, throw me off from my productivity. Taking away time from something else gave me a little bit of an existential crisis that I didn’t have with other productivity systems.

Still, it was great getting those notifications and being able to sync across device and basically have my entire life without me wherever I go. I haven’t forgotten my phone at home for many years now and I recently got data in my phone plan and a rechargeable battery pack so it really is with me 247. Eventually though, I just stopped using it and went for a while without using any sort of productivity system at all.

Org mode

As I have mentioned before, I recently started using emacs and got sucked into the world of Org mode. The customizability of Org mode excites me and I love having everything in plain text and available at the terminal. Like Google Calendars, it’s pretty much with me everywhere I go, with the help of Dropbox and SSH-ing into my private server. I love the task and habit functions built in and while it was daunting to learn at first, I quickly got the hang of it.

So, for now, I am using Org mode. It’s working well for me but who knows what ship I’ll jump onto next? Maybe one day I will find the one that works for me until the end of time but I doubt it.

I’m a Little Behind

Aug 3, 2017 | Comments

A couple of days ago I was behind on my granny squares for my temperature blanket. If you don’t know, temperature blankets consist of one square a day and each square represents the temperature of that day. Thankfully, it’s easy to catch up with temperature blankets! Even though I’m caught up with the squares, I still haven’t woven the ends in yet nor have I joined them. Eek!

Last week I was babysitting my little cousin and he was playing with my yarn. He made a “bunny” and asked me to give it eyes and a nose. I tried my best with what I was given. I wasn’t satisfied but my cousin was so impressed. I love how innocent he is.

Lately I’ve been thinking how fast he’s growing up. He just recently turned 11 and he’s already almost as tall as me! Now that he’s older he’s less receptive to my affections which is a little disheartening to me since he is still so cute and sweet!

If I never have kids, I’d think I’d be content with it because I am surrounded by kids in my extended family and I’ve already watched many of them grow up. We celebrated my cousin’s birthday over the weekend. She just turned 19 and I still marvel over how it seemed like she was a small little girl just yesterday. The same goes for her brother. He’s going into grade twelve this year and I just can’t believe it. We went to a night market at our mall recently and my brother, cousin, and I just walked around by ourselves talking. It’s amazing to me how he has grown into his own person. Of course, while we were there, we got to chow down on some delicious food. I got a burger at Bandit Burger and it was absolutely delicious.

The next day we went to the park to celebrate my cousin’s birthday and we spent almost eight hours there. There was a lot of eating and we took a walk and just chatted together. We even took a nap under the tree from the food overload. It was pretty relaxing and I even sat by the water’s edge to knit for a little bit.

One of my older cousins saw me knitting and asked if I could make her daughter a hat. I said yes! I’m a little nervous because I’ve never had anyone ask me to make anything before but I would love to make my second cousin a hat. My cousin’s daughter requested that it be pink. I have no pink yarn! I guess I’ll be shopping around for pink yarn soon.

STASH Lounge Moving and Other Outings

Jul 24, 2017 | Comments

Yesterday Yesterday opened up at their new location across the street. I dragged my brother along with me to the opening.

It was absolutely lovely! They had a DJ play some music in the background, a coffee bar, and a table of yummy sweets in the back. They even had door prizes, which I suspect I didn’t win anything from but that’s totally okay.

In terms of the space, it’s great! It’s absolutely spacious while also filled to the brim with yarn. I enjoyed the rustic decorations like the vintage crates and items like typewriters. There are shelves upon shelves of yarn. Near the register there is a wall dedicated to various knitting and crochet accessories. There’s another wall where yarn is hung on, absolutely covering the entire space. It was incredibly cozy and it still retained it’s intimate feel as their previous location.

At first I was going in there thinking I wouldn’t buy anything but then I decided that it would be rude not to! After much contemplation and running through the patterns I want to try in my mind, I decided on two skeins of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Barn Owl. This was after eating a couple of macaroons and cookies while walking through the crowded store. These two skeins will make my very first knitted hat!

With my purchase, I even got a free reusable bag! It’s so sturdy and pretty. I think it will be a project bag or a maybe a library bag. We’ll see.

That day I also went to the park with some relatives. I finally gave the blanket I made for my cousin’s newborn son and my cousin was head over heels over it! She said it was like store quality which made me blush a little. I am very pleased that she was happy with it.

I also biked around Fish Creek park for two hours with my dad. We decided to take a different route than we usually do. It was a really nice bike ride although maybe a little bit too hot! We even stopped for ice cream at Annie’s. I’ve never been before but it’s a sweet little cafe just off the bike path. The ice cream scoops are huge! I definitely got my money’s worth from it.

Annie's does not skimp on the ice cream! Eating back all the calories I burnt from biking lmao

A post shared by Edel Altares (@edelgraceme) on

All in all, yesterday was a very good day!


A photo of me

My name is Edel Grace Altares. My programming interests include full stack development and back end development. My languages of choice are Python and Java. Outside of programming I enjoy crocheting, video games, cats, historical fiction, and reading.