Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Decorating the New Patio!

After work on Friday I braved the threatening skies and went to Ikea after work! The Ikea is actually only 2 subway stops and then the Ikea shuttle bus so I can get there very easily. Of course, I only go for smaller stuff when I am taking transit. I wanted to buy some accessories for the balcony, since I knew Dad and I were going to install the floor on Sunday and I hate to wait to accessorize ;)

I picked up quite a few cute things! Some are staying, some are not. For keeps, I got these two new pots for plants outside. I plan to zazz up the whole balcony with plants! Ikea has lots of cute potted plants and I plan to get some flowers from the cheap-o flower shop near my work. However, I didn't have the extra hands on Friday to pick up any plants.

I also got a new pillow for one of my new chairs!

You might be looking for the pillow on Ikea website, but you will never find it because I made it from this Ikea dishtowel! I also used a $4 pillow insert from Ikea so this pillow only cost me $10! To make the cover, I cut the patterned material in half and bound the raw edge. Then I sewed each piece of the patterned fabric to the top and bottom of the flamingo piece. I then sewed the sides shut (this way the two pieces in the back are open in the middle, but overlapping to hide this.

Shove the pillow insert in and you have a pillow case you can easily remove to clean or replace the insert. Makes me much more comfortable about white cotton on a balcony :)

Lastly, I am returning some things! I had picked up two of these railing plant holders in white.
However, the railing part is too narrow for my apparently fat railings so they are going back! My Dad thought that maybe I could bend it to make it fit, but I really don't trust the thin metal not to break and then I am out $17. So I shall return these and find other ways to bring more plants outside.

I also had picked up this outdoor runner. It was completely the wrong size, since it only came in a runner, but I figured it was only $15 so I could attempt to resize it. I LOVED the way it looked on another blog, Hi Sugarplum, and I loved it in person too!  

Holy Guacamole, I just noticed she has flamingo pillows too?? I didn't even notice that! I just fell in love with the flamingo glasses at Ikea, but I don't need glasses so I decided to make a pillow! I don't think Ikea Canada sells a pre-made flamingo pillow, because I never saw one there.

Anyway, on my balcony, this rug was a no-go.
The floor is a bit of a muted red/brown and the bright red and pink of the rug was WAY too clashy! So I am going to return it. Plus I love the new floor so much that I am not sure I want a rug at all now.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Upgrade to the Balcony!

Dad came over this weekend and we got to work laying my new floor tiles on the balcony!! Now, for the record, you need permission to make permanent changes to the balcony floors in my condo building. But these tiles actually are not secured directly to the floor so I didn't need to get permission, which is always nice!

I used these Neo tiles that we had picked up for $30 each at Costco. We had bought 5 boxes, thinking that we only needed 4. However, as you will find out, that did not work. Neither of us could figure out I mismeasured so bad! The balcony is a super awkward shape so I don't take full blame. They never covered this shape in grade 6 math!

See? It's crazy
Old drawing of the layout

Dad did all of the cutting (for the notched pieces he used a hand saw and for the angled cuts he used a power saw). We only screwed up the first piece and from then on we got a good flow going! My job was placing tiles (they fit into each other) and I also removed and replaced a bunch of little screws in the bottom as we went. All in all, it took us under 3.5 hours. In another 30 minutes we could have finished the whole balcony, but we ran out of tiles!

First part done!

Neither us could figure it out, but somehow we were a few tiles short. We could have MacgGyvered it, using the leftover pieces, but we thought it best to just try an pick up another box and do it the right way. See, the pieces fit together using plugs and holes and when you cut an angle, one piece will have the plugs on it and the other will have the holes, so you can't just flip the triangle pieces around because then it will be both holes and they won't snap together!

I also have a few small triangle pieces that need to be glued to connect to the pieces next to them because there was no way to attach a plastic backing that would line up correctly with the pieces beside.

I should also point out here that Dad did cut the tiles right to the edge of the windows/doors. It looks like there is a one inch gap, but it is actually a bump of some sort of sealant? Tile couldn't fit over it so we just cut up to it. You can also see all of our leftover pieces in the corner here! If Dad can't find more of the tiles, these are the ones we have left to conjigger into the gaps.

Low point of the day: Dad and I finished as much as we could before we ran out of pieces and it was 1:00pm so I deemed it time for lunch and ordered Swiss Chalet for lunch. We noticed a Sikh parade was starting down my street (even though Dad had checked and we thought there weren't supposed to be road closures today!). By 2:00pm our chicken still hadn't shown up, so I called Swiss Chalet. Turns out the driver had come but my concierge wouldn't let him in!! And he tried calling me, but he had the wrong phone number. And by the time I called the parade had picked up so Swiss wasn't delivering anymore :(. I was so sad and had to feed my poor hardworking father a lousy chicken sandwich and ice cream. And THEN he was stuck at my place until 4:00pm because the parade messed up traffic!

Lesson learned: avoid all parades when doing home renovation and always have a back up plan for feeding your staff. Haha. However, watching the police try to direct traffic around a parade is pretty good lunch entertainment.

Anyway, Dad has also brought my new chairs for the patio!! I still need to get cushions for them, along with needing a whole lot of plants and accessories so we aren't done out here yet. But the difference is HUGE already!



So far I am loving the tiles! They were fairly easy to cut (according to Dad) and they look great. They are very comfortable under foot and clean up well. They also shouldn't fade or scratch easily.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Wigging Out

I had my follow up appointment with my dermatologist on Monday. I really thought she would agree with me that it is not worth continuing, but she actually said my progress was really good for someone with full Alopecia Universalis, and wants me to keep going six more months before we make a decision. So, I am continuing treatment! I am really tired of going, to be honest, but I just hate to quit. I am hoping the commute to the hospital will be more enjoyable in the summer (who doesn't want to leave work early on a nice, sunny day?).

Anyway, I wanted to give that update, but I also wanted to share my collection of wigs! HEY-O! Fun Friday!! I started having to wear wigs when I was 15, and I think I have gone through at least 13 since then. Buying a wig is really stressful the first time- you have two options: buy one like your current hair, or go completely different. It is really a personal choice, but in my opinion if you try to match your natural hair you are more likely to be disappointed.

First off, I would like to share what my natural hair looked like:
Please ignore my monster eyebrows (and the random baby) and check out those gorgeous locks! I am fairly confident this is my natural colour too. This picture was in grade 9, I think.

By grade 10, I had to start wearing wigs. I tried matching my current hair and I ended up with this monstrosity. I think it was processed human hair. DO NOT get processed hair! It is dark hair that is stripped of it's colour and dyed, and it basically is poor quality. I hated this wig. I also went through a couple of painful years of drawing on my own eyebrows. please excuse them.

By the time I entered grade 11, I had gotten me a new wig! It was this red synthetic wig with blonde highlights. At some point I got a very similar wig that was a bob cut, but I can't find photos of it. Synthetic wigs are great because they require no maintenance, but I find that they don't look that great for long and need replacing more.

In grade 12, I moved onto a short brown bob. I actually really liked this wig- it was the first time I had bought from a fancy wig salon (the same one I still go to!).

Off I went at this point in my life to University! Yay! Half way through first year I decided to move to longer hair and I got a long synthetic brown wig. I really don't know why I couldn't find a better photo. This was around the time that I got my first digital camera, though, so these photos should get better!

At some point in second/third year, I changed it up and went darker and got bangs! This I think was the same style of wig as the previous brown one, but I went back a few months later to add in the bangs. I loved them, but they were a lot of upkeep!

I also bought my first "fun" wig that year in Buffalo! I found a cheap wig store in the Walden Galleria Mall, and picked up a curly blonde wig, just for funsies. It was a lower quality, so certainly not for daily wear, but I would wear it for nights out.

In fourth year, I went blonde(ish)!

Then I graduated and I had to start working and stuff (yuck). So to spice things up in my life, I got a custom red haired wig made (It was synthetic as well).

However, the red wig turned out to be defective (it kept frizzing up), so I went in crying to the salon and they exchanged it for my first virgin European wig (that means the hair is all natural). It was also red, but I went much shorter.

Also during this time, I got my second "fun" wig, a longer dark brown wig! I love the style of this one, but it is already showing it's age (synthetics frizz and look less real over time) so I rarely bust it out.

Finally I saved up my pennies and I bought my first real wig with my own money (my mom had previously financed all wigs except the fun ones). I spent a long time in the salon and ended up going with a long brown, virgin European wig! Long hair is very expensive because someone had to cut off that length so it is rarer. I have been wearing this one for two years.

I have been thinking about maybe going for something new, but then I remember the price tag and I decide to ride this one out a bit longer.

And in case you were wondering where all these wigs are now, I donated all except the long, dark "fun" wig and the short real-hair red wig to the Princess Margaret Hospital. They fix them up and then provide them free of charge to cancer patients. However, they don't take human hair wigs, which is why I still have the red wig.

I hope you enjoyed this history of my hair!! Please feel free to send me money for a new wig :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Inured to this Mess

I learned a new word today- Inure- it means to get used to something difficult or unpleasant. It is like when it has been winter for 6 months and a 5 degree days seems completely warm, even though in the fall you thought 5 degrees was pure torture. You became "inured" to the cold.

I think I very easily "inure" (I have no idea how to conjugate this bad boy). I think it goes along with my personality. I am very laid back and easy going. I don't think I was born this way; I think I actively pick my battles to eliminate stress in my life. Trust me, when I am stressed I am a scary, scary person. So a long time ago I learned to ignore mess in my home so I could not stress out about it. I became inured!

My dad and I were discussing this yesterday because I had recently come across a bunch of photos of my cats as a child and I noticed what the living room looked like in the background. At the time I took the photos, I was focusing on how cute the kitties were and didn't even think of the living room! Now that I take photos for the blog, I always have to clean up areas of the condo and I become aware of the mess that I actually live in. For instance, today I actually stirred a bowl on top of an empty pizza box that has been sitting on the stove for 3 days! (maybe I should rethink being honest on this blog).

Anyway, my dad and I were thinking that a possible cure to being inured to your mess is to take photos of your space. This can help you see the room from a outside perspective. Try taking a before photo, and then cleaning, and then taking another one. Does the area look as uncluttered and clean as you thought? Is there anything that would seem out of place to a person visiting your home? It might even be a good idea to walk around taking photos of your home before you sell to see how to may look to potential buyers.

What are you inured to in your life?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Adding Some Storage in the Front Hall

As you know, I recently purchased myself a pretty new bike, and therefore the storage situation in the front hall has gotten a little more troublesome. I did have a little hook for my spare keys and my Ipod shuffle, but there was no place to store my new bike helmet! It was blocking my shadow box art and needed to find its own home.

Please note I was playing with shutter speed and my tripod on these photos! So some might be a little off because I am still learning how to photograph in very low light conditions.

I was on the lookout for a good product for adding some stylish hooks out in this corner, but everything I was found was the wrong look or too pricy. However one day I was in the dollar store and came across this bad boy for $3.

The tub art? Not my thing. But I liked the curly hooks at the bottom. I thought maybe I could cover the tub with fabric or paint but I couldn't make up my mind. Then two weeks after buying it, I flipped it over and realized I could just unscrew the hook section from the top section and just use the hooks! Yay! And then by absolute chance, the length of the hooks matched the lengths of the existing art in the front hall! Double yay!

So I just marked out my screw holes....

And attached! Bada-Boom, Bada-Bing, 5 minutes project!

I hung it back up in the front hall and loved it! I did have to take down the second piece of art, but that is ok! It will go into storage until I own a home with more walls :)


You may notice that I took down the old key holder on the side wall- I moved them to the new hooks in order to keep things simpler and more streamlined! I can't wait to start getting out and biking soon!! (I am sticking to my running training until after my 10K in a few weeks, but then I want to switch to some bike rides!). By the way, I moved my bike to the indoor racks in the parking garage of my building and clearly the one there had been sitting all winter and they were COVERED in dirt (I guess from car exhaust?). So gross. I need to remember to cover my bike at the end of the season so it doesn't get like that. Because how do you wash a bike in a condo???

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Recycling Secrets

Apparently I missed the memo that yesterday was Earth Day, so I thought I would make it up to you by sharing some "insider secrets" about what happens to your recycling once it leaves your curb. How do I know these secrets? Well, believe it or not, I spent a summer working at a municipal recycling centre and split my time between the office and the plant so I learned a LOT about the recycling business (and got to wear snazzy outfits).

Me at Work!
1. Why different municipalities have different lists for what you can recycle
Recycling is NOT a charity! Basically the city collects your recyclable goods and sells them to businesses who make things from these materials. The city needs a buyer for the goods or else they just send those goods to the dump! So some cities, for example, will collect Styrofoam, but other cities just can't get a buyer for it so they won't collect it. It takes a long time to train a community on what they can recycle, so a municipality will be cautious and think long-term before adding something new to the list. Sometimes they will go through phases where they can't find a buyer for something they used to collect, but they keep collecting it because it would be too confusing to reteach the residents. When I worked at the plant they actually were throwing out all glass because there were no buyers!

2. It is mostly sorted by hand
While there was a machine that smashed glass to separate it (it fell through the bottom) and a machine that used magnets to separate metal from aluminum (it was neato), most of the stuff you put in the blue bin is sorted by hand! There are many amazing people who spend the day going through your trash, so please be careful not to put anything dangerous in there- if a needle shows up in a lot they throw the WHOLE lot out to protect the workers.

3. Not all plastics are created equal
Thinner plastics are not as valuable as thicker ones (think water bottle vs. laundry detergent bottle). Basically the thinner the plastic, the less "recyclable" it is. Plastic water bottles can basically only be turned into polyester to make carpets and some materials. Therefore it is not as valuable as thicker plastics, which can be melted down and reformed. The very thin plastic that berries come in, as well as plastic bags, are often not accepted by municipalities because they are too weak to be effectively melted down and rebuilt- there are few buyers. Also, there is a lot of talk about biodegradable plastics now, but these are actually worrisome for the plant. For one thing, these bio-plastics often need a special industrial compost facility to be broken down and people will still put them in the recycling! Also, they are indistinguishable from regular plastic and therefore they can get mixed in the loads and contaminate the real plastics that a buyer is purchasing! It is possible that cities might have to stop taking ANY plastic bottles. There needs to be a lot of work done on the city's (and resident's!) end before biodegradable plastics can be effectively used.

4. Some recyclables are more valuable!
I know I already talked about plastics, but other recyclables are quite valuable- like aluminum and metals! The plant will bale all the materials once sorted and part of my job was counting them and arranging for companies to come pick them up. We would get pretty excited if there was one of aluminum or metal going out because that was big money! I also learned there are two classes of newspaper, and one is more valuable than the other. Who knew? Because of this, it is actually illegal to pick through recycling at the curb in some municipalities. Technically, those materials belong to the city once put out for pick up. However, I don't think it is actually enforced (I did get complaints from residents about this and I sometimes had to tell the Bylaw officer at our office if there was a recurring problem).

5. Contaminated goods are no good
There is no point putting that half-filled lotion bottle in the recycling- they do not have the facility to clean out every bottle and jar that is thrown out. They don't expect you to sit there and wash every item until it shines, but it at least has to be empty for it to be recycled- and the cleaner the better. Also, making sure there is not food with your recyclables will help cut down the ROUS population (rodents of unusual size)- and therefore cut down on the high pitched screams of people like me. For a few weeks that summer, I was helping on a waste audit- where they take a neighbourhood's entire recycling and it is all sorted by hand. They do this too see what percentage of goods put to the curb for recycling are actually recyclable. Anyway, we spent the week wading waist deep in the pile of bags (this city used blue plastic bags for recyclables) so that we could pull out all the recyclables. One day a HUGE rat came running out of the pile. Like, this thing was the size of a small dog. I never went into the pile again.

You know how they say Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? Well that is actually in proper order. Reducing your use of disposable items should be your first action if you want to help the environment. Then try reusing things as long as possible to cut down on production of new goods. Finally, recycle whatever you can.

I hope this helps you see that you still have a big responsibility before you even put your recycling out! You can't just throw it on the curb and expect it to be taken care of. It is the citizen's responsibility to properly sort and clean their recyclables and keep any dangerous materials out of it. For further information on what the rules are in Toronto, please click here.

I also found a great video on Toronto's recycling plant here. I didn't work in Toronto, but this plant is very similar to the one I did work in!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tax Season and RRSPs

Please note that I am not a financial expert, just a person who has taken some time to learn about her taxes and therefore please consult your accountant or financial advisor before changing your investment strategy!
I finally did my taxes this weekend! I know, I left it to the last minute (in Canada we have until April 30th to file our taxes). I left it pretty late because I had some issues with my T4 that my employer needed to fix and it just took awhile to get done. I always do my own taxes using TurboTax (my dad buys the software every year and my family all uses it to file). It really isn't hard with the software- it walks you through it step by step with explanations. I also file everything related to taxes in a special folder so when it comes time to do them, I just need to grab my folder and everything I need is in there.

Anyway, the good news is that I am getting a refund! Yay!

I am not too savvy with taxes and deductible and credits etc but I noticed a lot of my friends don't seem to get some of the basic components of their income and taxes so I thought maybe I would do a post about some very basic info for any new filers out there or perhaps people in their twenties who have gone from annual refunds to actually owing taxes and they are shocked.

The one thing people don't understand is that a tax refund is not free money. When you get a refund it usually means that the government has overtaxed you throughout the year and is actually giving you back your own money. So yes, it is a nice surprise to get one, but it also means the government has been holding onto your cash for a year, when you could have been investing it! When you owe taxes, it means that the government didn't tax you enough and is asking for their own money back. If they had taxed you properly, you would have lost a bit more money each paycheque. However, unless you are self-employed and expect to owe income taxes, it does kind of suck to see that you owe.

The main confusion I get from people is that I always seem to get a refund, while my friends started owning taxes in recent years. The only explanation I can give for this is that I have RRSPs. RRSPs are tax deductible, which simply means you can deduct them from your income. It is a simple concept, but it can be a bit confusing if you aren't familiar with how they work.

Ok, let's say Joe makes $50,000 a year and his tax rate is 30% (this is arbitrary). Therefore Joe is left with $35,000 in cash and has given $15,000 to the government. Now Joe wants to save for retirement so he gives up a few vacations and designer shoes and manages to put away $10,000 into his RRSP. Come tax time, he tells the government about these RRSPs and they lower his taxable income by that $10,000. However, Joe has already paid tax on a $50,000 income, not $40,000! So the government refunds that tax he paid on the $10,000 to Joe ($10,000x30%) and he gets roughly a $3000 refund.

Now Joe knows that this $3000 is awesome, but he can't just go and book that trip to Australia quite so fast. That is because he will want to reinvest that $3000 in his RRSP, because he knows that he will be owning taxes on that RRSP one day! See, when you turn 71 you need need to turn that RRSP into a RRIF. That means you start taking an income on that money and the government will tax you on that income! An RRSP is not an excuse to not pay taxes, it is a way to defer taxes until later in life. The assumption that RRSPs work on is that you are in a higher tax bracket now than you will be in retirement, so you save money on taxes now and hopefully get the benefits of a lower tax bracket when you are retired. That is why some people wait to open a RRSP until their income is higher- because contribution room carries forward if unused, they can save more on taxes at the height of their career.

I should note here that it is important to start saving young, whether you put it in an RRSP or not. Due to compound interest, you will have a lot more money at the end, even if you invest the same principal! As well, I should note that you will get penalized for taking money out of an RRSP so it's not great for saving beyond retirement (however you can take money out without penalty for a first time home purchase or education, but you have to pay it back). The reason you get penalized is because the government already paid you back the taxes on that income and they will want that money back.

Now a Tax Free Savings Account works a little differently- with this method of saving you don't defer taxes, you avoid them all together! That is why the government caps the amount to can put in this type of account at a lower amount (I believe right now it is $5,500 per year). So this can be a good savings method for someone in a lower tax bracket who wants to save their RRSP contribution room for when they earn a higher income.

Wow- this post turned out a lot longer than I expected and I didn't even get into tax credits or any other things! I just hope that this little talk helps some young people figure out how RRSPs work because no one ever sat me down and explained how they actually work.

Please leave some comments with your methods of saving for retirement or to add on to my quick RRSP coverage!

Friday, April 19, 2013

My Forever Home

Sorry about my lack of post yesterday, I had nothing prepared and got home around 8:00pm just feeling worn out. I ended up crashing into bed at 9:00pm! I know the cat has been waking me up this week, but I am still not sure if that is the reason. I guess sometimes you just get tired and need to climb into bed a little early :)

Anyway, so I was thinking today about my bathroom update (no, I still haven't bought the vanity top- been a busy week!). I don't really have a budget for it, but I am well aware of the choices I am making and I have been scaling it back more and more to save money. I think at some point it occurred to me that this condo is not my forever home. Therefore I am making some upgrades in order to compete with the newer-build condos around me, but I am not going above and beyond to transform the space into what I would love most (like new tiles in the bathroom). I spend a lot of time weighing resale value when making decisions.

I have just been wondering when I will know I am in my forever house! Is it when you are married? When you have kids? What if you accidentally pop out quintuplets? Then you may have to move for more space (and sanity). I just wonder if it ever gets to a point where you would be willing do an upgrade for YOU and not think about resale value. I'm not talking about tiling an entire bathroom in hot pink, but just replacing perfectly good things with something you'd like "more". Is that a bad financial decision?

I spend a lot of time selection items for my place that I love and so I am not saying I haven't made this condo a home, but I could pack up everything and the only imprint I have made on this place are a few shelves, painted walls, and a hopefully soon a new bathroom vanity and balcony floor. Sometimes I get a little sad to think of someone moving in here and how the place will quickly switch over to someone else's home. Maybe that is just a reality when you buy a newer home and therefore don't need to invest in upgrades? Some financial experts say you should invest 1% of your home's value into upgrades each year but I can't think of what I would spend all that money on!

I wonder if I will go for a bit of a fixer-upper next time, or buy a newish build again (I'm the second owner and it was only a year or so old when I moved in so it was basically a new build).  

HEY- I just realized that my condo turns 5 years old this month! Happy Birthday condo!

I have loved living here, but I do think about my next place sometimes. I have no idea where that place would be, but it would probably be a house and therefore out of the city. I am also not handy so I doubt I would buy a "handyman's dream". I guess time (and budget) will tell!

Are you in your forever home? How did you know?

FYI- My dream home would look like this:

Unfortunately, I have never seen this style around here, plus I am 99.9999% sure I could never afford it if it did. Sigh, a girl can dream :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

10K Update and Running Playlist!

Ok, I feel like I give a lot of updates on my running. But I try to write something on here every day and honestly some weeks are just really busy. Between work, running, and social commitments I feel quite beat in the evenings I have free! It will only get worse as the summer gets on- I already have over half of my weekends booked from June-August! It is all good fun stuff (besides the wisdom tooth removal), so I don't mind too much. It is just hard to find a good work/life/blog balance.

So sometimes posts will be non-effort ones like my running update! If you follow me on twitter, or you are a friend of mine, or you live within yelling distance of my condo, you would know that I ran 10km in 1 hour last Friday! That is my GOAL for the Sporting Life 10K and now I know that I am physically capable of doing it!! I just need to keep running to make sure that hitting that goal is more consistent and that I can do it on real roads (it was raining on Friday so this was a treadmill run). Luckily it is starting to warm up and in between the ridiculous amount of rain we have been getting I hope to get in many outdoor runs. Less than a month left until the race!!

I usually only run with while listening to music but my Ipod touch has a broken screen (there is no backlight so its hard to see the screen). I also have an Ipod shuffle, which is better suited to running, but there is no clock so I can't effectively time my runs. My friend just gave me her old Ipod touch (earlier version than my current one, but hey- it works!) so hopefully I will have functioning music with a clock again soon enough! I just need to charge and load it.

Anywho, I am a big music-listening-while-running person so I thought I would share my current running playlist! I change it up often, but some of these songs have been on the list for years. If you are hoping to start exercising this Spring I hope that some of these songs can get you pumped! If you don't like my tastes, I advise you to find songs with a great beat; it will keep your legs in rhythm!

1. Girl on Fire by Rihanna ft. Nicki Minaj
I love this song, but it is a tad slow so it is better for slower miles or warm up/cool down

2. You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth by Meatloaf
I have always loved Meatloaf (though I prefer my cd version intro over the video one). This song is also great because it is almost exactly 5 minutes and that is great when doing 5 minute intervals!

3. Bleed It Out- Linkin Park
This song has been on my list forever- it has a great beat and it pushes me to work hard.

4. Born This Way by Lady Gaga
This song makes a bald lady feel good! Good beat too

5. Don't Stop Me Now by Queen
Great beat and a great message when you are trying really hard.

6. I Run For Life by Melissa Etheridge
This song was technically written about breast cancer and the Run for the Cure, but it is a great song for running in general and it usually pumps me up when I am training for the Terry Fox Run.

7. Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus
Ok, I know Miley is a polarizing celeb, but I just love this song. I first heard it the day I moved into my condo (it played a LOT on the radio when I was stuck in traffic during multiple trips) so it always gives me an excited feeling when I hear it, because it reminds me of that day!

8. Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO 
Just a good beat!

9. Sexy and I Know It by LMFAO
This video is probably Not Safe For Work (NSFW). I love to run to this song and makes me think about how good I look when I am running versus after eating a giant plate of pad thai (ahem, like right now).

10. Push Push by Kat DeLuna
I love this song for running because I pretend it is about pushing hard when running.

11. Rock That Body by Black Eyed Peas
I guess I just like the beat on this? It's been on the list for awhile.

12. Carry On by Fun.
This is a slower song, so maybe better for slower runs, but I am just in love with it right now.

13. The Time by Black Eyed Peas
This song reminds me of my trip to Cuba in 2011 because they kept playing it at clubs! Therefore it makes me feel like dancing, so I keep moving.

14. Stronger by Kelly Clarkson
 Amazing song when you feel like giving up! I always skip to this one if I know I need a pick me up. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!

15. Sometime Around Midnight- Airborne Toxic Event
It is a little slow to get going, but I really enjoy the beat on this one. And the song is kind of fun too :)

16. Thrift Shop by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
What's not to love with this recent hit? Has a pretty good beat but I am not sure the energy is quite there for running so it may not last.

17. C'mon C'mon by Spice Girls
Sadly this song is only a minute and a half long, but every time it comes on I want to SPRINT! It just pumps me up.

18. Barbara Streisand by Duck Sauce
Yes, this song can get annoying, but the beat is perfect for my running pace. It usually comes on when I am beyond actually listening to what is playing. haha

19. Tonight I'm Loving You by Enrique Iglesias
Confession- the version on my Ipod is the R rated version! Great rhythm for running.

20. Don't Stop Believing by Journey
Hello? It's Journey. I don't think my reason for liking this song needs an explanation ;)

21. Feel this Moment by Pitbull feat. Christina Aguilera
A little slow at times, but I like this song and I like the message when I need a moment to remember why I am doing this!

Got any new songs for me? I looove to switch it up and get some new ones!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon Tragedy

My heart goes out to those people affected by the Boston attacks yesterday. At the time I am typing this, they still haven't conclusively identified if this is a terrorist attack, but I think it is safe to assume that this was something intentionally inflicted on poor, innocent bystanders, including children. It is really hard to process something of this nature because it hits so close to home.

People were quick to start pointing out how many people have died in other bombings across the world, which our news sources only ever quickly flit across. But the reason an attack like this gains so much attention is that we could have been there. It is not an attack in some far away country that we have never visited (but trust me, an attack there feels just as horrible to those who live there), but something that happened right in our own back yard. No matter where you live in the world, a tragedy like this in your vicinity will always feel like a smack in the face.

I saw a quote on twitter that I liked (I wish I could find it now), that said "when faced with a tragedy, look for the helpers. There are always people helping". We cannot let such a senseless act break us down. We need to get together to support the victims and others affected by what happened. I have not yet found a fund up for the victims, but please donate to one when it becomes active.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pets and Small Spaces

As you may remember, I am spending the week with a fluffy little monster named Pewter. This is not the first time I have watched him, nor is it the first time I have cat-sit in the condo (a few kitties have come to call his tiny condo their temporary home!). If there is one thing I have learned about sharing a studio apartment with a cat, it is that you both need to carve out your own space.

For instance, on Friday night I realized Pewter was sitting on my pillow with his dirty cat butt (eww- that's where my face goes when I sleep). This was more disturbing because I had just taken a nap and his butt might have been there all day. I should also note that I am mildly allergic to cats and my eyes do not like to lie in a pillow full of hair and pet dander. However, I cannot get mad at Pewter for sitting on my pillow. It is a comfy spot with a good view out to the city! Once I figured out that Pewter was just trying to look out the window, I cleared off half of my bedside table for his royal highness' butt and I haven't been able to get him off of it since!

Best seat in the house
I think the trick to living comfortably with a pet in a small condo is twofold:
1) Training the pet to respect your space (bed, countertops, sleep time!)
2) Giving the pet their own space

Believe or not, cats can be trained. People tend not to try with cats, but it is entirely possible. You can sternly tell them not to go somewhere and remove them from the situation they are in. You can ignore their crying so that they learn to be quiet (FYI- apparently cats do not meow to communicate with each other, it is something they use just for humans). Heck, some people have even trained their cats to use the toilet! There are lots of online tutorials and books on the subject.

Carving out Spaces
I already did a post on litterboxes for small condos, so go look there if you need some ideas for the area!

If you don't want to share some living spaces with your pet, you need to let the pet have it's own space. Cats are territorial and will appreciate feeling like they have the upper hand in ownership of the condo (Ok, I have no source for that, I just know from experience). Some cats go under the bed or behind the couch because they are scared, but some just like to chill in their own "spot". Pewter seems to really enjoy napping under my bed. If I had a full-time cat, I might buy a platform or slightly lofted bed so the cat could really get some space (and so I could access for cleaning). Other options for cats would be building shelves for the cat to hang out on, since cats like to climb and have good views of the living area. Or you could buy a cat hammock for your chair or coffee table!


I know lots of people who lives with pets in a small space, and I think it is really something that takes time and planning to co-exist harmoniously. Do you have pets in a small home? Any tips for living happily together?

Friday, April 12, 2013

My New Roommate

Now, I know my condo is pretty small, but I needed some help with the mortgage so I decided to take on a roommate short term. Luckily, I found someone compact, who won't take up much space. He is also really bad at holding still for pictures.

Awww, isn't he handsome? His name is Pewter and I am watching him for a week while his parents are off in Vegas winning me some money (that is where the mortgage-help comes in, because frankly Pewter is lazy and does not earn his keep!).

Stay tuned for some posts next week featuring my furry new co-blogger! Or maybe just a bunch of posts about how he chose to play with his jingle toys at 3am.

Happy Weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

I don't have a cohesive blog post today. Just a bunch of random things going on :)

1. I bought a bike lock!
It is still raining, so I haven't gone to pick up my new bike from Canadian Tire. I did, however, go to a bike store on my way home and pick up a Kryptonite Keeper lock. I had heard Kryponite was the bees-knees for affordable, but tough, bike locks. Toronto kind of has a problem with bike thefts (I don't know if it is better or worse than other cities, just I hear a lot of stories) so I wanted a good lock. Canadian Tire doesn't sell this brand, however, so I decided to pick it up before getting my bike. I also picked up a red/pink coloured bell!

2. I got a bike parking spot!
Even cheaper than my new lock and bell is my new bike parking spot. My condo building starting offering an indoor area to lock up your bikes and it is only $30 a year so I was happy to find out they still had spots available when I went to inquire. I hope to have it all in order before getting the bike, but if not at least I have a good lock for keeping it outside

3. Blisters
As I mentioned on Monday, my DCP treatment caused my thumb to break out in blisters.

It was almost a week ago, but they still haven't healed completely (I kept it bandaged). I have no idea what the blisters on the back of my head look like, but they definitely feel a bit rough still. I called the clinic and they said not to come in this week and let it heal a few more days. Then next week they will decrease my dosage to prevent a repeat. So now I'm not supposed to leave early from work on Thursday. Should I mention it at work? Nah..... ;)

4. Waffles, Omelettes, and Toasties....Oh My!
I bought a Big Boss Grill from a Dealfind for the office. My boss wants my coworker and I to eat better lunches, but our options were limited with just a microwave so I bought this grill! It is a griddle, grill, omelette maker, waffle iron, sandwich maker, and donut maker. So far this week I have eaten an omelette, waffles, and a pressed sandwich. Each was more heavenly than the last and I don't think I can ever go back to my Easy Mac cups from Shopper's.

5. Rain, rain, go away
In addition to not being able to pick up my bike from the store, this rain is seriously depressing me in these "warmer" days. I bought a running rain jacket with a birthday gift card to Winner's, but I really don't want to run in the rain. So I have been back in the gym on the treadmill. I am happy to report that I think I have gotten my running mojo back after a bad week last week (even if it is on the treadmill). Also, in rain-talk, I need to buy some rainboots. My current boots are poorly made and have different sized leg holes and one is too tight to fit my leg with skinny jeans on. This is what happens when you buy the cheapest boots you can find...

6. Bathroom update
I still haven't ordered the vanity top for my bathroom sink. I blame the rain. Who wants to TTC to the middle of nowhere in Toronto to find a Home Depot and order a vanity top? Not me. Plus I am terrified of giving the wrong measurements. Sigh

Is it Friday yet??

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Bought a Bike!

We can call it Spring now, because I finally got me some wheels!

This is my new Schwinn Hydra 700C Hybrid Bike. I shall name her Berta and she shall be mine, and she shall be my Berta. I don't have any pictures of me ON said bike, however, because I left it at Canadian Tire to be picked up on a day when it isn't raining cats and dogs. I only bought it on a rainy day because the sale on it was ending. Plus I figured less people would be buying bikes on a rainy day and therefore I would get good service.

I actually did get help straight away from a nice sales associate who showed me some options and even took me around with suggestions for helmets, bells, locks, and lights. I knew I wanted the bike I got, however, because it had such great reviews online so I am happy with my purchase! I can't wait to have it all settled and in my hands.

I am a little nervous about biking through downtown to bring the bike from Canadian Tire to my condo, especially during rush hour. I am not afraid of the Toronto streets, I am afraid of the cars that don't take care around bikes. I have lived in Toronto long enough to have seen cars and bikes not sharing the roads well and I know both sides can be at fault, but as a bicyclist I have no control over the drivers around me. If you are thinking of biking in Toronto and are nervous, the city offers biking courses! Right now I am feeling confident enough to give it a go on my own.

As well, here the rules of the road for bikes in Ontario. Great advice on changing lanes and making turns!

FYI- the last time I was on a bike was Oct 2011. I rode a giant bike in The Netherlands (Alkmaar to some other city whose name I forgot for those that are interested) for 20km and it rained most of the way. I think I can manage biking in the city. 

When we arrived at our destination it stopped raining

Pin It button on image hover