Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Welcome to the Neighbourhood

How much research did you do on your neighbourhood before you moved there? Realtors recommend driving around a different times of the day and walking around to get a feel for an area- research is key when picking the area you want to live in (and invest in, if you are buying!). I, however, was a naive little 23 yr old when I purchased my condo and did none of that. In fact, I have this distinct memory of driving around the neighbourhood with my dad when coming to do my measurements and realizing there is NOTHING nearby.

The closest grocery store is a km away, and it is a tiny, expensive Sobey's. There is also no grocery option that I can take transit directly to. The ONLY fast food is a Subway restaurant that just opened. It is a little bit of a walk to get to anywhere worth going- nice in the summer, terrible to contemplate in the winter. Of course, not having fast food around is probably good for the waistline and budget.

My neighbourhood does have a lot of positives, however. I am near a large park and tons of bike/walking trails. I am right near the water, which means I actually have a half-decent view from the balcony.

I may have zoomed in a bit over the building in front. shh
I also live near many great neighbourhoods, like King and Queen West and Harbourfront. There is a lot of stuff to walk to. I do sometimes wish I had gotten a place that felt a bit more "downtown" in terms of the atmosphere. Great food and shopping at my door would be nice! And a subway line sure would beat my streetcars. But alas, those things come at a cost I could not afford way back when I bought.

Anyways, the whole point of this post is my disappointment in a lack of a grocery store. When you don't have a car it really limits how much you can buy in one shot! Especially in the winter, when it is too hard to walk to and from the nearby store with my granny cart. Loblaws owns a building right near me and has been stalling and stalling on putting in a store. It is a heritage building, so it is a lot of work and expense for them- but the potential in this neighbourhood is huge! There are TONS of condos and more going up every day.

When I moved in I was told the grocery store would be going in soon. It has now been four years (albeit, the markets crashed right as I bought....). Just now Loblaws has finally revealed the plans for the site!

Aaaaand....they are putting condos on top. UGH! That means this plan will get even MORE delayed while they get permits and whatnot. Plus it will take longer to construct because no one ever gives priority to the retail space- they want to sell the units and make money first. sigh...

But hopefully this will go in before I get tired of my little-outside-the-core condo because I can't help but think that a grocery store is good for my property value. Right now my area is known as "nice, but not near anything". Hopefully not for long!

How much research did you put into your neighbourhood? What kind of things were on your must-have-nearby list?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Update on LIFE!

I have been so busy this summer! I think this was the first weekend since JUNE started that I was actually home in my own bed. It felt so nice! The only plan I had this weekend was my mom's pool party for the family on Saturday (which, of course, was the only day this week where it was cool and rainy!) However, that didn't seem to phase the younger ones from getting their swim on. Or their rock sorting behind the hot tub on...

I had all these plans for this weekend. The condo is a mess, my balcony table needed to be stained, the windows needed washing, my bathroom needs painting.... but instead I found myself just relaxing at all times. It was a really nice change of pace from my action packed summer.

So I thought today I would just update a whole lotta stuff!

1. Running
I actually went for a run on Friday! I went about 5km and I think it took about 45 minutes (I really need to get a watch for running). So it was sloooow, but it felt good to finally get out there again after a long summer of finding excuses. I was going to run on Saturday and Sunday too, but I wore out my legs! I guess 5km was a little ambitious after such a long break. I do have the Terry Fox Run in Sept, which is 10km, so I am hoping to work my way up to running a full 10km again. The Tfox isn't timed, so it is ok if I am a bit slower than my 10km in May.

2. Biking
I have rode my bike to work a couple of times this summer, but it was so darn hot for weeks on end (which led to rain forecasts daily!) that I haven't made it a regular thing yet. It is about a hours ride, so you really have to have nice weather. However, when riding home last week I realized my bike was unable to get out of first gear. I actually think it may have always been broken (the gear indicator says it is in second, but the gear doesn't actually change). So that sucks, but it is still under warranty, so I rode it (in first gear) to Canadian Tire this weekend and dropped it off at their repair centre. I hopefully will get it back in a couple days and start riding to work again soon!

3. DCP Treatment
This one isn't going as well. I keep breaking out in blisters so I have gone down and down in dosage. And since decreasing my dosage I swear my hair has started to fall out again. I really hate that I have to wait until November to talk to the dermatologist about this. The nurses who apply it are really nice, but they are too nice to tell me the truth. And I don't think they are supposed to give me advice; They just give me a dosage that should avoid blisters. Oh well

4. New Diet
Since finding out I am allergic to shellfish and milk, I have been trying to cut them out of my diet. I already failed and ate lobster last week. Oops. Milk has been pretty tough. I don't intend to cut it out 100%, but I am trying to reduce it a lot to see if I feel any different. I have never had a reaction to milk (nor have I reacted to any shellfish besides shrimp) and I can't find anything online about having a positive skin test to something and never having reacted to it. Anywho, I found some soy yogurt and soy cheese that aren't too bad so that is happy news! 

I just can't believe that July is almost over. That means summer is half over! I have been having so much fun and I need at least 3-4 more months of sunshine before I am ready to face winter again. Sigh!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Chips Ahoy!

No, this post is not about delicious chocolate chip cookies (do they still make Chips Ahoy?); It is about more paint chips! I swear, after this I am buying some darn primer and test pots so that I can finally make a decision on colour.

I ended up being near a Benjamin Moore yesterday, so I popped in to pick up some coral and teal paint chips. I swear I took enough to wallpaper the entire bathroom. I felt like yelling out "I really am buying paint! Not just stealing chips!". Anywho, I probably had about 10 of each. Much better selection of coral and teal than Canadian Tire carried.

Anyway, I am really glad I got so many because I have definitely learned my bathroom light is a tricksy little minx that makes teal turn evil forest green and coral turn into peaches gone wild. I did my best to colour balance these to the truth...but I think I failed.

Here are the losers:

And the winners:

And you know what? I think I still like Lake Simcoe and Cabana Coral the best (though I may chicken out and get a less dark teal). I think the next thing to do is to just go ahead and buy some darn paint and throw it up in a bunch of places and see what looks good.

I rounded up some inspiration photos for you- are you Team Teal or in the Coral Corral?


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Evening on the Town

Last night my friend Stephanie came out to visit me! Steph and I have been friends since we were twelve, and have known each other since we were six! She is one of my best friends (I was Maid of Honour at her wedding two years ago) and we make an effort to try and get together at least once a month to catch up, since we don't live too close to each other. Since I have been away for a bazillion weekends in a row, I hadn't seen her in ages. But I had borrowed her tent and she needed it back so she made a special Wednesday trip out to visit me :)

She was supposed to park at my place and then we would walk to dinner, but stupid me forgot they were powering washing the garage and there is no visitors parking this week (I found this out on Tuesday when Erika came over, but completely forgot to tell Steph!). Anywho, Steph was a good sport so we drove down to the waterfront area where we were eating and paid a ridiculous amount of money to park over there. Sigh!

We went to the new Amsterdam BrewHouse that just opened up a few weeks ago on the waterfront. The Amsterdam Brewery used to be near my condo, but it closed last year to make way for construction of the new Loblaws. I was excited when I saw this restaurant/brewery open up! The atmosphere was really cool and we enjoyed our sample beers (you can order 4 sample sizes of different beers vs just one pint!) and our food was delicious....but the service was terrible. I don't know if it was because they are new, or if was just a bad night, but it was BAD. Luckily Steph and I weren't in a rush (a lot of people were trying to make to the Jays game nearby), so we just sat back and enjoyed talking while we waited. I think I might try it again next summer when they have worked out the kinks of a new staff.

After dinner we took a walk along the pier and ended up getting some sherberts down the other end. Then we walked back towards a beautiful sunset and enjoyed our treat. I even found out there is a free outdoor theatre down there on Wednesday nights- awesome!! Need to hit that up sometime since this is walking distance from my place.

I am also pretty sure this theatre wouldn't mind you smuggling in your own popcorn....or "juice" ;)

After that we stopped for a shot with the CN tower before heading on home.

It was a super nice evening with my girl and it is nights like this that make me appreciate that I live in the city and can just walk to all these amazing places- I need to make an effort to do it more!

What's your favourite part about the place where you live?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Anything Goes!

About a month ago, my friend Erika called me up and asked if I wanted to go see the musical Anything Goes. She had a coupon for buy one get one free tickets, but she certainly didn't need that to convince me! Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE musical theatre! I think I have pretty much seen every major production that has come to Toronto. Tickets are expensive here (about $100-$130 for orchestra seats), but it is one of those splurges that I always allow myself. I probably go to about 3 shows a year, so it adds up but so worth it!

After a hilarious session of both of us being incapable of purchasing tickets online (first we forgot to enter the code, then we picked a date the code didn't work on, then I entered the tickets was comical), we got good seats for the show on the 23rd!

First though, we had dinner at Dunns . I don't think I have ever gone to the theatre without eating out first. It is just one of those things. And it was nice to catch up with Erika, who I hadn't seen in ages.

The theatre had a photo session spot, so naturally we took advantage of that.

Yes, Erika bought a sailor shirt because she is awesome like that

She even has a little minion toy that she takes pictures of everywhere she goes. I wish she had a flickr account I could share because the shots on her FB are so entertaining.

But of course, no photography during the show, so we sat back and watched after this!

I had ZERO idea what this show is about. I love shows where I don't know the plot and I make a point to read nothing about a show, not even reviews, until after I have seen it.

I just LOVED it! It is a 1930s play (revived with slight changes) set on a cruise ship going to England from America. I don't want to give anything away, but it basically a classic love triangle (or rather, square...or maybe hexagon?) and a whole bunch of shenanigans occur on the way to everyone sorting it all out and getting with the right person. The play was actually REALLY funny too and I found myself laughing outloud at various parts- which isn't usually like me. I was captivated the whole time! Some of the musical numbers were a little long for my taste, but the dancing was beautiful! At one point there is a really long (I think Erika said nine minutes?) tap dance that didn't feel long at all because it was so good.

All I can say about Anything Goes is that it's Delightful, it's Delicious, it's De-Lovely :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Paint Options for the Bathroom

This post is the perfect example of how indecisive I am. Especially when it comes to paint colours.

This is my bathroom right now:

Ya...those colour have really nothing in common. I am trying to find a colour that I like in here! I went in looking for a deep teal, but there were really only a couple options for that specific colour at Canadian Tire. The strips are CIL colours and the bigger chips are Benjamin Moore Origins. I am also now looking into coral options and they had a few of those that I picked up. Aaaand...some other colours that just caught my eye ;)

Which of these do I like, you ask?

1. Twilight Zone was one where I actually liked the darker colour (King's Treasure) on the chip, but it looked too dark in the bathroom and I liked the brighter one more!

2. Cabana Coral is fun and definitely leans more to pink, which I think works better with my beige tiles. Not sure if it will cast a weird glow on my face though- anyone have a pink bathroom?

3. Casablanca is too orange, I think

4. Tanglewood Teal looked great on the swatch, but looks way too green in the bathroom light. Not my taste

5. Arden Forge is a beautiful purply-grey colour, but I don't want to go the grey route in here

6. Casa Royal actually works pretty well with the tiles and lighting, but I just don't think I am feeling a purple bathroom.

7. Lake Simcoe was really close to the deep teal I was imagining! I also like the Canadian name and my dad has a boat on Lake Simcoe, so that is pretty cool!

8. Celebration is not as orange as Casablanca, but I think I like Cabana Coral more

So I think Cabana Coral and Lake Simcoe are the leaders in this race so far, but I do want to head out to a Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams to see a larger selection of deep teal and coral options. Then I get the fun of test pots. And then maybe- MAYBE- I will get around to painting the whole bathroom!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Jeni and Brandon's Stag & Doe!

Last weekend was the Stag and Doe party of my friends Jeni and Brandon (I am going to be her Maid of Honour this summer!). Now, I know not every area does this kind of party, but they are basically a fundraiser for the new couple- you charge entry and then there are door prizes, a 50/50 draw, and sometimes games too. All profits go to the couple! This one was planned by the bride's best friends from her hometown, Shawville, QC.

Of course, I should start from the beginning!

On Friday night a couple of friends rented a minivan and 7 of us (the bride and groom included) headed out in TORNADO weather to Quebec! Thankfully we did not have any tornado sightings, but it was some pretty bad traffic. We got to Jeni's parents house around 1am, but unfortunately they had lost power in the storm! We stayed up late and had a couple of beers by flashlight, all hoping and praying the power would come on during the night.

Well we woke up the next morning still powerless. Jeni's poor family had 15 people to feed so an assembly line of eggs and toast on a camping stove was in order. They provided for us well and then just as we began to discuss how on earth we would all shower (they are on a well and you can't use much water when the power is out), the power came back!

We ran a bunch of errands that morning and then there was a nice tea in Jeni's honour, thrown by her aunt and grandma (who were also very happy to get their power back too since so many people were coming!). After the tea we headed back to work on preparing the food for the party and to break into the beer supply a little early. I was in charge of the vegetable plate, but we were all pretty impressed with the Wafer Jenga action that the others put together! Wafter Jenga was also pretty popular at the snack table too- and it never fell down!

Then those of us in the wedding party (excluding the main couple), headed out to the bar in town to begin set up! The party started at nine and we had so much fun! The bar hired a live band for us and even donated a bottle of alcohol as a door prize. They get so many customers from these types of parties that they don't charge anything to hold them there. I thought that was pretty cool and it meant much less overhead.

The couple had a wonderful "first dance" to start the evening off.

I think there was always someone dancing out here so the band was definitely a hit! Lots of people came out to support the bride and 50/50 tickets were flowing non-stop thanks to Jeni's friends and her sister. The winner ended up being one of the groomsmen and he promptly spent every last penny of his winnings on buying the entire bar some shots.

We had sooo much fun dancing and chatting! There was even a pretty cool shuffleboard table in the bar that was pretty popular (I would have to say, I am not a natural).

A few of us managed to keep on going long after the band had gone, playing song on the jukebox and laughing non-stop. Finally at 3am Jeni's dad showed up to taxi us all home (much appreciated!).

Last shot of the night
Because Jeni's parents are so generous, there were actually 22 people staying at their house! Therefore us youngins' all camped out in their backyard. I think there were about 5 or 6 tents out there so it was quite a sight. It ended up being SO cold I didn't think I would be able to sleep but I conked out right away and was up pretty early because it became so hot!

We ended up rolling out in the early afternoon to begin the long ride home. Thankfully this minivan had a bluray/dvd player so we were well entertained in the back! It was actually the fanciest minivan I had ever been in.

It was a great night and felt like a mini-preview for how much fun we are going to have at the wedding in just a few weeks! I love this girl so much and I can't wait!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Testing, Testing, 1-2-3

I had yesterday off from work for a few tests and then my weekly DCP treatment in the afternoon. It was kind of fun having a day off work, except for the fact that I still had to get up at the same time and didn't even get home that much earlier than usual!

My first stop was allergy testing. I have been experiencing stinging and swelling of the lips when I eat shrimp, so I was worried I was allergic. They gave me the pinprick test for a whole bunch of common allergens (to compare), and then applied the shellfish test.

Turns out I am not only allergic to shellfish (sad face), I am also allergic to:
- All trees
- All grasses
- All weeds
- All molds
- Cats
- Dogs
- Rabbits
- Cockroaches (ew?)
- Feathers
- Dust (majorly; that's all the giant swelling and redness you see)

Most of this I knew from my allergy test as a kid and generally the pollen allergies don't bother me (I knew about cats and dogs, but it turns out I actually scored quite high for cats! Which sucks, cause I love cats). The really shocking part was the milk allergy. I have never had a reaction to milk, but the doctor said it can get worse if I keep exposing myself to food allergens so I guess I need to give up milk. This is HORRIBLE. I don't know if I can live without my greek yogurt :( AND CHEESE! Oh god, I loved cheese!!

So yes, I AM allergic to shrimp. But also to lobster, crab, scallops, and prawns. That totally sucks too. I was hoping it was just shrimp, but he said it was just a matter of time before the rest started to effect me as well. And it can get worse if I keep eating it, so I guess all that deliciousness is off the menu. It really sucks because I was super picky as a kid and would never eat shellfish, so I only had about 3-4 years of enjoying these foods. Sigh

After the allergy test, I had a hearing test! I decided to get tested because I often found myself having trouble hearing people clearly, even when I ask them to repeat themselves and actively listen. It wasn't a volume issue- I just couldn't make out their words. The hearing test is pretty cool. They seat you in a soundproof room and give you earphones to listen to. For the first test, they play beeps at various octaves in each ear and you have to click a button if you hear it. Then they play words that you have to repeat back. Finally it instructs you to say words (I think this is more because a full sentence might throw you off?).

The good news of the day is that my hearing is perfectly normal! The doctor thinks my problem is more with processing what I hear. I guess that means the problem is in my brain and how it retains and processing what it hears. She asked if I had trouble learning by only vocal instructions and often forget what I am told and I was like "Yup! That's me to a T!". She also said it is probably background noise causing me to have issues concentrating on what I am hearing- which is also very true; I have to mute the TV if I am on the phone and I have trouble talking on the phone at the office if others are talking. She said people who have this problem can have trouble in school (I didn't in my schoolwork, but I did get my hearing tested as a kid because I wouldn't listen!), or they can be highly intelligent (I'm going with that one).

So diagnosis: I am a bad listener :). But I am glad there is nothing physically wrong with me and it is just the way I process what I hear. She said I could get some testing done on that too, but it isn't covered by OHIP and I don't think my health insurance would cover it so it probably isn't worth it. I just need to actively work on my listening skills. I already do this by writing down all instructions at work and waiting to make my phone calls when it is quiet!

Any tips from my readers on dairy substitutes? I am not a big milk-drinker, but I do like creams, ice cream, cheese, and yogurt :\

Do you have trouble with listening?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Small Countertop Organization

I got a little bling bling for the bathroom! Can you guess what it is?

I got a tray for the countertop! After complaining how much I hated having clutter all over my new countertop, my friend Lisa suggested using a tray to hold everything and help visually declutter. I keep a LOT of my countertop and I don't see that changing. I am a real person and if all my stuff is not in plain sight I will simply forget to use it.

However, I haven't picked the paint colour yet (oh, and my friend threw coral paint into the mix so now I am even more confused on that! haha), so I am reluctant to buy accessories. However my new tray is mirrored and mirrors go with everything :)

I still want to pop into Bath and Body Works and get a cover for my soap dispenser (look how many cute options they have!). And yes, that is soap from their Christmas line! I stock up during sales ;)

Other the other side of the sink I just have this:

So there is still plenty of counterspace for other random things, like selecting my makeup for the day. I love that copper tin- it is actually a case for some really fancy cookie cutters. I keep all my earrings in there. I think I would be way too lazy to attach my earrings to any sort of earring mesh thing, so this works for me.

I also keep my Qtips in a mason jar

Much cuter than a big blue box. I kind of wish I could keep the lid on it, but I like the easy access. I know some people are anti-Qtip, but I actually mainly use mine for eyelash glue application.

So here are my tips for organizing a tiny countertop
1. Use trays to collect loose items
2. If you have the space, use a case that can close so the cutter isn't visible
3. Upgrade jars and containers, where available, to something more your taste
4. Remove labels from items (I took the label off the case that holds my facial cleansing wipes)
5. Keep to a similar colour scheme, or use neutral colours
6. Only keep out what you really need on a day-to-day basis
7. Keep in mind what you will really use- I don't use bar soap or have a normal toothbrush, so I only have the cute cup from a bathroom set vs the all items you can get
8. Keep it clean!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

DIY Busines Card Holder

As you may remember, I recently purchased some beautiful business cards in advance of the blogger conference I am attending in the fall.

However, I need something to hold them in, unless I want to hand out a bunch of beaten up cards at the conference! I did some research on what style I liked, and I really liked this simple one I found by Jaden Design on Etsy.

But of course, I decided this was something I wanted to attempt to DIY! Mostly because I already had all the materials and the design seemed pretty simple to me. I often waver over whether to DIY or buy (clearly Jaden Designs will have cleaner lines and look nicer than something I could make!). In this case I figured I would give it a shot.

I should mention here that I did not measure anything except to hold up a card to it and say "eh, that looks close enough".

First I picked out my materials, settling on a zig zag pattern (I have soooo much...need to use it up!), and a thicker cotton napkin to give it a little structure.

Next I cut out two rectangles that gave me enough room to make the wallet, allowing for seams. No measuring, I just eyeballed the size and trimmed as I went.

Next I sewed them right side together, along three sides. I clipped the corners (helps it lie flatter), turned it inside out, tucked in the open side, and then sewed along all four sides. That last step is done right side out, so you are not doing hidden seams.

Then you just need to fold in the sides, leaving a small gap in the middle so you can access the sleeves and allow room for folding shut. Then you just sew along the sides so the flaps stay shut! I did my best to stay along the original sewing line.

FYI, my sewing machine hates sewing through thick material and I got a few bunches of thread on the back (no one will notice, right?). Anyone have any tips on that?

After I finished that, I realized I needed to add some snaps to help it stay shut (I really need to plan project steps better). I happened to have a snap on hand, but one side would NOT attach, no matter what I did. I think it was a faulty snap. I gave up and sewed it on! No one will notice that either, right?

So there you go, a DIY business card holder you can throw together in about 30 minutes (while cooking dinner!). It ain't perfect, but I am pretty proud of it! Be sure to compliment it if you see me at Blog Podium 2013 and I shall hug you ;)

Monday, July 15, 2013

I'm On A Boat!

Will I ever get tired of singing this song when I am on a boat? I think not.

This weekend I decided to spend my first weekend at home (I have been out of town the previous four weekends!) by....going out of town! My brother and I usually spend Father's Day at our dad's boat, but this year we were both out of town that weekend, so we made up for it by going up this weekend! Unfortunately my SIL had to work so we were still short one person.

I actually went to my dad's on Friday to help with a bit of gardening (there were dandelions 5ft high. It was impressive). We drove up to Lake Simcoe on Saturday morning and the sun was already hot! Thankfully the boat has air conditioning. My bro and my niece joined us after lunch and then we spent the afternoon playing at the park and at the beach. They left after dinner and dad and I spent a quiet night watching baby ducks :)

We rarely ever go out on the water (usually just when we have non-family guests up). I like to call the boat my dad's "floating cottage" because it is basically a weekend house for him. My uncle also docks his boat at this marina, as do some friends of theirs, so it is really a community there. If you want to go out on the lake for a boat ride, there is usually someone willing to take you!

I took some shots of the inside of the boat to show you how cool it is! Dad would have probably liked me to have cleaned up first, but three adults and a baby can make a mess pretty quickly!

The main room:

In this photo I am standing at the bottom of the stairs. There is a table to the left (obviously), and on the right is the small kitchen. Dad added a Keurig machine this year because he is fancy like that. He also has a microwave, toaster, and hotplate so we can cook most anything! At the bow of the boat is dad's bed and a TV for curling up and watching movies.

View from the bed:

The mirrored door is the bathroom. I rarely ever use it because there are nice bathrooms on the shore for everyone to use. Behind the bathroom (in that crawlspace) is "my" room. Since I tend to stay over on the boat more than my brother I have claimed it.

My room:

It is a bit tight (you have to crawl in), but it is a double bed and quite comfortable. It is mainly used for storage when I am not there. The amazing thing about boats like this is how much storage they can squeeze in! There is absolutely no wasted space- if there is a bit of clearance it has been turned into a shelf, or drawer, or cubby space. Hanging out on this boat is good preparation for living in a tiny condo like mine!

The back of the boat (the open air part), is quite nice and my dad and I like to sit out there reading in the morning on days where I can drag myself out of my cubby-bed. I find I get the BEST sleep on the boat.

Anyway, I find blogs with babies tend to be more popular in the blog-world, so I shall finish off this post with a million photos of my niece! ;) I hope you had a nice weekend too!

I am still not sure how she went from this:

To this:

In only a year!
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