Friday, September 28, 2012

My Tips: How to Pack

I am no expert on packing. But tonight that is all I am doing so that is what I am going to share today! Now, there are a lot of tutorial on youtube where girls pick 5 outfits for every day and pack an steamer to get the wrinkles out at their destination. Ya...I am a real person. I am like the lady on the Reitman's commercial who's outfits are stylish AND functional.

Therefore I pack a lot of layers, cotton, and versatile pieces! A few neutral pants, a bunch of fun shirts, and a couple shoes and I am good to go!

First, I want to show off my luggage:

It is all business on the outside

And party on the inside!

I love it because it is easily distinguishable coming around the baggage carrousel and it is still boring enough for me to be taken seriously. I got this one and the smaller version as a graduation gift from my parents and we have been through a few fun trips together.

The bottom handle broke off somewhere in Europe in 2008.

And then after my last trip the wheels looked like this:

I was going to take it in for repair, but the only repair place is up in midtown and they wouldn't give me an estimate over the phone! I didn't want to go up there dragging this giant suitcase only to find out it is cost prohibitive and I should just buy a new one.


Ok wasn't I supposed to be talking about packing?? Back to that.

Step 1: Make a list!
Step 2: Buy everything missing from your list

Step 3: Lay out all your clothes that you want to bring by category:

Count the number of outfits and be honest about how many you need. You CAN wear an outfit twice (I know! Shocking!) but try not to wear your favourite shirt to all fun activities or all your photos will be you in the same shirt. Just saying...not that I have ever done that...

I think my ratio for outfits is about 75% of a new outfit every day. A few favourites will be repeated, but otherwise you will have nice clean clothing every day.

Also keep in mind what activities you will be doing. I am doing a lot of walking and touring, so layers are key for me. Check the forecast too- you want to be sure you have enough warm/cool outfits. Mexico City tends to be warm during the day and cold at night! Plus it can rain at the drop of a hat.

Step 4: Dry run
Get er all in there! Then decide what can go and what can stay. Remember you still need to pack toiletries before you go!

Just keep on adding and removing until you have a comfortable level. Leave room for souvenirs!

Other packing tips
- Pack all things that can leak in freezer bags that seal
- Pack a small garbage bag (like a grocery bag) for dirty laundry. You don't want everything intermingling!
- Pack your suitcase on the smallest "expandable" setting (mine has a zipper to expand). Somehow it is always harder to get it to close at the end of the trip
- Put shoes in plastic bags to keep them from getting your clothing dirty
- Place items in the suitcase by "type" so you always know where to reach for pants or a shirt. Or if you want to be totally type A, pack by outfit or by when you plan on wearing something

Lastly, I am just going to leave you with my list of must haves for a touring trip!
- Pashmina scarf (this makes a great scarf, blanket, eye cover for sleeping in the light, etc)
- Tiny umbrella (I found mine in a hostel in Venice. It is awesome and compact)
- Ear plugs (you never know when you are going to be sleeping in a disco....while the disco is on. Just saying)
- Comfy shoes
- Layers
- Point and shoot camera (you do not want to carry a honking DSLR around for 8 hours a day)
- Cross-body purse
- Small alarm clock. Sometimes phones don't work.

Other travel tips
- Make sure your phone is not roaming and racking up fees!
- Call your bank and credit card and let them know your travel plans so they don't think your card has been stolen and cancel it
- Make a copy of your passport and email it to yourself. If you lose your passport, then you can bring the copy to bring to the embassy

What are your packing tips?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Airport Etiquette

As most of you know, I am planning a trip to Mexico and it is coming up soon! So I thought I would do a little blurb on airport/airplane etiquette because if we are all nice, then flying is nice and we are all happy happy happy!

1. Outfit is Key

Keep in mind two things: plane and security. You want to be comfortable on the plane! I am not talking wearing your PJs (but all power to you if you do) but just being comfortable. The other key part is that you have to go through security! So leave the metal accessories at home, baby. You may also need to remove your shoes so try not to select the ones with buckles and straps etc. I will not be a happy camper if I am stuck behind you.

2. Carry On Luggage should be small
This is actually labeled on the site as a carry on. good lord
You only need the bare necessities for your flight in a carry on, along with an emergency change of clothes in case your luggage is lost. Heck, even just emergency underwear will do. A bag this size will NOT fit in the overhead. And if it does, it means there is no space for my reasonably sized carry on.

Be sure to remove everything you want for during the flight before you stuff that carry-on up above. I hate having to continuously move during a flight because you want a book/ipod/snack.

3. Do Not Pack "Illegal" Items
Please please please take the time to review what you can and cannot take on a plane. Checking through carry-ons over and over slows down security and makes me antsy.

4. Traveling with Small Children
These people had no enemies on their flight after this

I am not going to be cynical here because children need to fly and I understand that. However you need to plan for hiccups in travel. It may happen that your flight is delayed because of weather, so you may want to consider an inflatable pillow, a blanket, snacks, and small games to entertain them. Same goes for the plane! Kids can't help having ants in their pants or being unable to pressurize their ears on ascent and descent, so please work hard to keep them happy and entertained for the flight.

5. Preparing for your Trip
Make sure everything you need for boarding that plane (tickets, passport, money, etc) is easy accessible and in your purse or carry-on. This way we can all check our luggage and get our boarding passes faster.

6. Be considerate of other people. This is especially important during delays at the airport. Don't take over 5 seats to have a nap when other people are stuck sitting on the floor. We are all in this together and we all just want to get to our destination!

7. Share that armrest!

What other tips can you think of? Any airport horror stories?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My New Wreath!

So I can't technically hang a wreath on my door because it is "common property"- why should that stop me?

I love it! I made this wreath by buying a circular foam ring and wrapping some soft grey yarn around it. It looks like a lot of work, but it actually only took about an hour total and I just zoned out and watching TV while I wrapped.

I got the instructions for the flowers from take heart. Basically you take a piece of felt and cut out a circle (larger circle equals larger flower. These were about 6-7" in diameter). Then cut that circle into a spiral. Roll it up like a fruit-by-the-foot then hot glue the bottom. Voila! Flower! Check out the link above for further instructions.

I don't 100% love the ribbon I choose. I thought it would be preppy and cute, but it came off a bit too pink for my taste.

I made the "welcome" by bending some wire that I got in the jewellery section of a craft store. I did not do a superb job...but I think it is cute!

Cost Breakdown!
Wreath frame: $10
Yarn: $4
Wire: $5
Felt: 50 cents each
Ribbon: $1
Total Cost: $22

Not bad for a unique and stylish wreath! Plus I can always redo it for a different colour scheme one day!

Linked to:
about an hour link button

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Great Canadian Tile Hunt

I did not forget about my bathroom reno, I just got lazy and put off the shopping part of it because I knew I would be overwhelmed with all the beautiful tiles and vanities!! This weekend I finally got out to Olympia Tile in Toronto to begin the long, scary hunt for floor and shower tiles.

See here is the thing. I want a new vanity top because mine is cheap and ugly. But then I measured and found it to be an odd size so I figured I'd just buy a whole new vanity in a style I actually liked (dark! legs! drawers!). But then I need to re-tile the floor because there aren't tiles under the existing vanity. Plus I don't love the builder basic off-white squares that I currently walk on! And THEN I was all "might as well re-tile the shower too because I'm not crazy about beige."

And that's how I ended up at a tile shop.

Now onto the tiles!! I'm gonna lay them all out here so you can get a vibe of the look that I want. The pictures aren't amazing because I took them on my phone and tried to capture price tags for reference later. I need 30 sq ft for the floor and 75 sq ft for the shower. Plus some extra just in case!

Lemme know which you like!

Wall Options:

Love this vein-y white and grey tile. I found this in the discount centre. It is $5.63 per sq foot, but that "extremely off shade" warning scares me. I don't want too much variation or it will look busy!

Simple white subway tile is a classic look! These were on sale for only $1.29 per sq ft so that would be a great budget option!

I also liked these double long subway tiles! Same price at $1.29 per sq ft and it might be a little fun and "different".

 These glass tiles were sexy to the MAX! So crisp and cool. I can't see the price. Mission failed. haha

 I loved this small glass tile too. Too busy by itself, but it would be a lovely accent. Thank goodness too because it is $13.80/sqft.

Next I found this beautiful greenish grey tile. I loved the varying sizes too! This would be a wall option as it is not for floors. $12.17/sqft

I also found these 3D type subway tiles. I love the punch they bring, but they would still be super easy to clean. Only $2.73 per square foot!

Floor Options:

These tiny hexagon tiles reminded me of the ever popular penny tile, but they are fun and different! They have been discontinued, but luckily I wouldn't need many if I wanted them. $4.26/sqft

I liked the larger hexagons too! A bit of a bigger style might too better in my small bathroom (floor, not shower) $4.47 per square foot!

Finally, these octagons with little squares was a style I actually went in to see. It did not disappoint, except it too was discontinued and was hiding by the side door. I almost missed them! Why are they discontinuing all the pretty shapes? These were $4.20 per square foot.

Apparently I only looked at hexagons/octagons for the floor? haha I think I need to go back and look at some other options one day, like nice grey/white tiles.

So those are the options I am mulling over my mind. Wondering if I should splurge on some or keep costs down and save money for my future forever home. After this I still have to find a vanity! Yikes!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chalk It Up

I thought I would share today what I did with my new chalkboard wall! First I had to prep the whole surface, once the paint had cured for its agonizingly long 3 days. What you have to do is rub a piece of chalk ALL OVER the surface and then wipe it off with a damp cloth. It took me two pieces of chalk to go from this:

To this:

To this:

It looks like a lot of work, but really it just was a good 20 minute bicep work out.

Then I was stuck with indecision over what to christen the wall with! Eventually I struck inspiration from this amazing photo of my friend Jeni and I and I chose to draw it on the wall. I will probably change the wall 600 times, but this was a fun first project.

It is hard to take a photo of, since the hallway is only 3 ft wide. But it turned out alright!

I also did the front hall with a greeting to guests.

Check out my cute little basket of chalk!

I got the basket from Ikea for about $5 and the jars were small candle holders I got as a gift but the candles have long run out. Chalk was hard to find- as expected. The dollarstore didn't have any! They sold chalkboards (that technically came with some cheap chalk), but not just chalk. However, across the road I found a little art store and I got white and coloured chalk from there- along with the cute little old school eraser. I should have gotten two so when my guests misbehave I can make them go outside and knock the erasers together. haha

So that is my little chalk project! I hope you enjoyed!

Friday, September 21, 2012

My Tips: Feeling Wired

Not me- my computer! I use my computer to charge all sorts of things and it can get out of hand. I only have a laptop too, so that is a single cord for power! I thought I would spend a little time today showing some easy- and budget friendly!- ways to organize computer and charger cables. I mean sure, you could go out and spent $100 on a charging station from a place like Pottery Barn, but why not try some fun DIY first?

1. Labeling the wires

If you have 10 things plugged into a power bar, this would be very handy to know which one you are unplugging! And you can use anything you find around the house- bread tags, masking tape, paper and string- whatever works!

2. Use cord clips or cord hiding strips

There are tons of products on the market that aim to organize all those cords running down the wall! You can use small clips like these ones to neatly trail a cord to an outlet that perhaps is far away from your desk.

3. Bulldog Clips
Here they use bulldog clips to hide all the chargers behind a desk, but keep the charger end easily accessible! So smart! I also use Bulldog Clips in my office to organize cords in a different way. I often charge my phone and ipod at my desk, but the cord for both is very long and gets in the way. I wrap them up into a coil and secure with a clip! Now the cord is just the few inches that I need.

4. Hiding and Organizing

Emily at IHeart Organizing used a media box (from Ikea perhaps?) and added in dividers and labels so she can always find the cord she needs! I keep all my cords in a basket on the kitchen counter, underneath my "charging outlet" but they do get all tangly so I may have to steal her idea! In the second photos, they used a similar box to hide all cords, but have them available to charge right away. This is a little better than the method in number 3 above, because you can easily grab the charger out of the box if you are traveling!I would just watch out if some of your chargers tend to get hot when charging.

5. Make a little holder for charging items

How cute is this? Ashley at Make It and Love It made this cute little holder from a lotion bottle! Now, I have a few reservations about the safety of this being hung by a live outlet, but it is a nice way to get your phone off the floor if your best outlet is down there (you don't want to step on it!). Check out her tutorial here.

So that is my little tutorial on cords and charging! I feel I should also do a TV cord post, but maybe that will be for another day :). I am one of those boring people with a non-mounted TV and I just have a power bar tucked in behind my TV stand (my stand actually has a built in spot for this) but even it could use some bread tags on it!!

How do you corral all those cords? Which product do you love up here?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chalkboard Reveal!

Yesterday I did a post about how I bought some chalkboard paint in Hale Navy from Benjamin Moore and today I am going to show you what I did with it! Yay!!

Bad news- the project still isn't 100% done because I realized today that it needs to cure for 3 days before you can put chalk on it. And I don't own any chalk (details...). But I am excited to show you where I am today just in terms of my sexy paint job!

Now for the big reveal on what I was painting: My hallway!

I realized that I didn't have a before picture of my hallway so I took this one just after taping. This wall is across from my travel gallery wall and I have not done a darn thing with this wall since I moved in (well besides painting it grey like the rest of the condo). Hanging on this wall is my degree and my sky-jumping certificate and I only put those up there 6 months ago. I can't even think of what was there before. See what I mean- it is the forgotten wall!

And now it looks like this!

I even did around the corner!

I love it soooo much. I wish I was a better photographer so that I could really show how beautiful this colour is in person. It is such a dark and moody blue. I am itching to get some bright white chalk up on it but I am resisting!

Can I also take a minute to talk about paint? When I painted the condo I bought the cheapest paint I could get and I swear I had to do about 3 coats to get full coverage. And I am talking about LIGHT GREY ON WHITE. 3 coats! This chalkboard paint was honestly ONE coat to go from light grey to dark blue. I did a second coat too, just to be sure. I am a terrible painter- my paint jobs never look even or cover well, but this one wall was the best job I have ever one and I swear it is because of the paint.

The one Debbie Downer of this project? My Frog Tape. I had used it before to paint, but this time it just failed me! I don't know if make it came unstuck (it had to wrap around my skinny baseboards) or what, but I ran into two issues:

1. It pulled up the existing white paint trim on the closet door. I don't know what type of paint the white is, as it was done by the builder. But now I have to figure out how to fix this, and I do not want to repaint all my trim!

2. I had terrible bleed-through on the baseboards. It honestly just looked terrible with navy spilling all over my trim. It only did this on the baseboards, not around the door frames?

Paint was still wet here- it isnt that splotchy now!
I remedied this with some simple white craft paint and a skinny brush after the blue paint had dried. It looks much better now, but ya...not impressed.
Fixed...a little
So now I am playing the waiting game until I can get my hands on some chalk (too bad sidewalk chalk season has ended or this would be easier!). So tune in next week for a final update! I haven't hung my degree and certificate back up yet because I am planning a little project with them too. Patience is a virtue, right? :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

There is a Project in the Works!

I have been working on a big project this week, but it ain't quite ready to come out and show off yet! But I will give you some hints!!

It involves a little of this:

That looked a little like this:

Hmmm....wonder where I am going with this??

Well let me take you back to the beginning before I explain. Basically, I heard that Benjamin Moore was offering chalkboard paint in ALL their colours. I quickly tweeted them to see if it was available in Canada and it WAS! Heck yes to equality of the countries for once!!

However, all the Benjamin Moore dealers in Toronto are fairly inaccessible to lazy Caseys and I didn't really put much thought into it other than "I want some chalkbord paint". Then one day I was coming home from some random far-off errand and I saw a Benjamin Moore Store out the bus window! Ding Ding! I am getting off!

I went in having NO idea what colour I wanted, but I eventually settled on a navy, because I have had a recent love affair with navy and I wanted some in my condo. Of course that only narrowed it down somewhat, but eventually I settled on Hale Navy because it seemed deep and moody, while still being blue and not black.

So I finally bought my chalboard paint and I knew where I wanted to put it! Crazy how it took me years to pick a paint colour for the condo but I picked my chalkboard paint colour in 10 minutes flat? I'm weird like that.

I guess you are wondering what I am painting with this, but you will have to wait until tomorrow for THAT reveal ;)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Terry Fox Run 2012!

I was going to do this post yesterday, but I was feeling too sickly to do the awesome write up that the Terry Fox Run deserves!!

First off, I would like to thank everyone who donated to our team! Sarah and I raised $1000!!!! Very exciting. Makes it a little less embarrassing when we show up at register our little two-man team. The guy at the registration desk totally high fived us for having such a tiny team.

So Sarah picked me up at my condo at the ungodly hour at 7:30am on Sunday morning and, after a few U-turns due to the Gardiner being closed, we arrived at 8:00am!

We parked and took the shuttle in. It was cold enough that we could see our breaths so I was glad that I wore pants and a sweater. But I would come to regret that once I started running. haha. As you walk in they have all these posters and articles about Terry, along with hats and shirts from old runs. It is pretty neat if you take the time to read them!

We did our traditional "find our team name on the sign" task. We are totally legit like that. FYI- we were Team Amazing. I was too tired to actually point to the team name.

I didn't wear my Tfox shirt that they sent me for being team captain because it got a stain on it from my anthralin treatment. I don't even know HOW since I didn't wear it when doing my treatment, but that is just how anthralin rolls- it gets on everything.

After a set up speeches (including a tear-worthy one from a 12 yr old cancer survivor) we lined up at the starting line!

I tried to get a shot of the streamer guns going off, but I suck. haha. And don't worry about litter- all the kids picked up every bit of that sparkly stuff!

The next 30 minutes or so were pure torture. It was a total mental battle for me to run 5km. It sounds so sad because I feel like people do this all the time (in my mind) but I did not train at all and I am not naturally athletic. I ran in just my bandana because a wig would be too hot, and at some point a woman running beside me asked if I was a cancer survivor. Yikes, I wouldn't want to steal the real survivors thunder on that day so I explained!

So yes, I struggled with pretty much every step. At one point I was running beside an old man and was like "I can't stop now!" and then I thought about this news story once where this woman ran a marathon WITHOUT TRAINING! She was supposed to walk 10km with her friends for charity and she took the wrong shuttle bus and got to the marathon start. They wouldn't shuttle her back so she decided not to let down those who sponsored her and she ran the entire marathon! I tried to find the article, but I couldn't.

Anyway, finally I saw the finish sign and I had made it!!

Sarah came in about 10 minutes after me because she had taken the course at her own pace. We then went straight for the good stuff- barbequed corn, hot dogs, fruit, juice, cookies, and so much more!!

All the food is donated and it is always our favourite part of doing the run! So yummy and such a nice way to spend the morning. They have entertainment every year and we just chill out, eat, and watch the show.

All in all, it was a great run this year! I can't wait to go back again in 2013 for Team Amazing's 5th Terry Fox Run!
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