Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!!

There is something about Halloween that is just so much fun (I believe candy and costumes are responsible for this). Living in a condo with almost no children, I don't get the whole pumpkin carving, candy handing out experience. In fact, the only decoration I have in here is this:

And that is only because I had friends coming over on Saturday!

So I thought I would spend today talking about costumes! In my family, we always had to come up with our own costumes and make them ourselves. When we were little, my mom made them.

OK, I have a fairly good idea that we made these hats without mom's help

As we got older, we became in charge of coming up with our own costumes. I clearly remember being a teacher on strike, an old lady, and a ghost (but I don't have photos of that)! Yup, totally did the whole sheet with holes cut into it. I can't recall spending much money on costumes as a kid!



In University, I didn't really go out for Halloween (I know, weird right?) because I always seemed to have a final on Nov 1st. Sadface. But as an adult I discovered the joys of going out to Halloween parties and clubs!


Paperbag Princess
Cave Girl
With the exception of the Cleopatra costume (which I got on mad sale for like $15 and have worn twice), I always have tried to spend as little as possible. The dollar store and Value Village are great options for cheap costumes!! I think the Paperbag Princess was the cheapest one by far- just $1 for the crown and a leaf bag I stole from my dad! Close second was cave girl, I borrowed the homemade dress from my mom (her own handmade costume from years ago!) and I bought some plastic bones to decorate my hair and purse.

What are some budget costumes that you have worn?

Have a Happy Halloween tonight!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Marketing, Commenting, and Blog Growth

Hello my bloggy friends! I am sick (ugh) and high on cold medication (yay!) so I am just going to ramble a little bit here and then go to bed. I might also get off topic- cold medication makes me a space cadet. I can actually stare off into space for a very long time without realizing it. Does it affect anyone else like that? PS- I just googled affect vs effect, but I am pretty sure I still got it wrong.

I love this blog of mine, but I really don't work hard at promoting it. I am active on Twitter (@wafflingblog- find me. I'm awesome), but I don't really use any other social media. I post blog posts to my personal Facebook, but I probably should make a blog page for it instead. I use Pinterest, but not too much (I think I have lost interest in I alone there?). I dabble a bit on Google+, but I don't really "get" it. I don't have Bloglovin, because I use Feedly to read blogs and other websites. I don't have Instagram because I have a ghetto Blackberry and it doesn't have that app. Buuut...I finally asked my boss if I can get a better phone (for non-instagram related reasons, but still) and he said yes! I just need to go buy it and it keeps getting put off. (Yes, my work pays for my phone. It is awesome, but it means I am on call 24/7, even on vacation. However my bosses are cool and hate to bother me "after hours").

What social media do you use? What do you like/dislike? I don't have 600 hours in my day to manage a bunch of accounts so I need things to be simple!

Also, I have been feeling a bit frustrated with not properly promoting my blog and getting more readers because I have an actual Degree in Marketing! This should be textbook! But I have realized three things which may explain this:

1. Personally, I like that my blog is low-pressure and I can post as I please. I am not constrained by making an income from it.

2. Fame is scary. It can come with new fans, or it can come with haters who judge you.

3. Social Media wasn't a "thing" when I got my degree!!

It is really funny to think that my degree might be a bit obsolete, but so many of these social media platforms weren't around when I got my degree 5+ years ago. In fact, I recall not even owning a cell phone, let alone a smart phone, in my first 2 years of University. And I brought paper to class because my laptop weighed 10 lbs. Honestly, these things will seem crazy-old school to my kids one day!

Lastly, I want to talk about blog comments because I want to feel I am doing "right" by you guys that are kind enough to come over here and say nice things about my posts. With the Blogger platform, there isn't a plug-in that will email you and let you know when I respond to your post. And a lot of you are "noreply" bloggers so I can't email directly you if you ask a question (y'all need to fix that).

So which do you think is better?

1. Replying ON the blog post so new readers see I DO interact and love commenters
2. Emailing people directly to thank them for their comments, but leave no response on the blog post (I ain't doing both; Ain't nobody got time for that)

The other option would be installing a third party comment system, but I do want to make commenting as easy as possible for people. Any suggestions?


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Green Juice Recipe!

When I was in Mexico City last fall, one of my favourite things to do was get fresh juice. They would just throw a whole of fruit in a blender and we would walk around drinking these giant cups of deliciousness every morning. You could seriously buy fresh juice everywhere! The really fun thing was that Veronica and I don't speak any Spanish, so we would order a juice without knowing what was in it, and then try to guess based on the taste.

Mystery Juuuuuice!
I had mentioned a few weeks ago that I had bought a Magic Bullet Single Shot and that I would be back to share some recipes. Well, after a few weeks of using it, I still haven't used it to make anything beyond smoothies, so I am not sure I have much to share.

Except juice recipies!!

Funny note- I came down with a cold today. My throat hurts, I am sniffly, and I feel generally like 100 elephants just trampled me. I am a huge baby when I get sick!! However, when I look back over the past couple of weeks, I can see that I haven't been eating very well. I ate my delicious stew for what seemed like ages, but then somehow I transitioned to eating take out. Oops. I really feel like eating healthy and getting proper vitamin intakes helps prevent illness, but it this case I cannot entirely blame my poor eating habits thanks to my Magic Bullet!!

Every day when I get home from work I throw a bunch of healthy goodness into a cup and blend it up. Perfect afternoon snack and an easy way to get some vitamins in the ol' system.

Here is the thing, you can basically put anything delicious in here and it will come out delicious. Things I have tried (and enjoyed!)
- Yogurt (greek or regular, plain or vanilla- it's all been good!)
- Apples
- Pineapple
- Melon
- Raspberries
- Banana
- Frozen berries
- Frozen fruit mix (peaches, strawberries, etc)
- Spinach
- Cucumber
- Celery
- Honey
- My friend swears by grapes in hers, but I haven't tried yet

I will note that the Magic Bullet SUCKS at blending frozen fruit. It can do it, but you have to stop and shake it up a bunch. Just don't try. Buy fresh.

Here is the one I made tonight:

Green Smoothie Recipe
- 1 banana, sliced
- 10-15 raspberries
- 1/2 cup (or one handful) of spinach
- 3 tablespoons of yogurt

Fill the cup up to almost the top- you will honestly end up with only half the cup at the end. Sometimes I go back and add more spinach in halfway.

Blend it up and enjoy!

I love that there is no bulky blender to clean. I just toss the cup into the dishwasher and I rinse the blade in hot water (and run it also in the dishwasher when it is ready to be run). So easy!! And if you want to make some for other people you can make all sorts of different ones for different tastes. If you can't have dairy, I am sure these would still turn out by using soft fruits and veggies like bananas and cucumbers.

This post was in no way endorsed by Magic Bullet. I just really like this thing and I wanted to share what a positive impact it has had on my veggie and fruit intake!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Trim Work In The Entryway

Can you tell what change I made in the front hall this weekend?

1. I got rid of the cat

2. I took the tassels off the rug!

I don't know why it takes so long for the simplest ideas to take root in your brain. I have had this rug for 3 or 4 years and in all that time it annoyed me how the tassels always got caught under the door. The rug itself is very thin, but the knots for the tassels were just a touch too big to be able to clear under the door.

So I got to work with my scissors:

And I ran a quick seam down both sides to prevent the rug from unraveling and looking unfinished. This certainly isn't a project you could tackle on a regular rug, but this one is very thin and my sewing machine had no issues with it.

Total time for this project was probably just 20 minutes!

Once and awhile the door does still catch on the rug and flip the corner over, but it doesn't get STUCK under the door like it used to, so I can just kick the corner back down.

You might also notice that the yellow dresser is still in the front hall. I haven't the heart to get rid of yet, and I feel like I need to get some yellow back in this area!! There are just too many muted tones over here for my taste :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

New Table for the Front Hall

Here is the major problem with my front hall- I am lazy. When I get home all I want to do it get out of my boots/shoes and coat and get into some sweatpants. I have no place in the front hall to easily do that. There are usually boots and shoes all over the floor, which means that I can't open the closet door to put my coat away (I won't even get into how much stuff I move to get into the laundry closet). And even though I made this awesome chest for boot and shoe storage (and later painted yellow), it wasn't working out for a few reasons:
- The drawers are stiff and a pain to open
- I am too lazy to open drawers and put shoes away
- I don't want to put shoes in it when they are muddy/wet
- My feet are giant so shoes didn't actually fit well in it!

My front hall looks like this 95% of the time:

And that boot drawer?


So while I still think the little dresser is cute, it just simply isn't functional for the way I live my life. I decided I needed something open in this space- a small table that was open underneath for boots. Placing boots under a table is a step I can accomplish on my path to sweatpants! I considered a shelf, but I liked the look of a piece of furniture more.

The only problem with this plan is how small the nook is- I was looking for something roughly 13" deep (but could go up to 15"), under 26" wide, and has at least 20" clearance underneath. An impossible challenge! After lots of interneting, I was pretty sure I would have to build something and I am not a very handy person so that would mean work for my poor dad. And he doesn't have a garage so sawing is really more of a summer project.

However, earlier this week I was in North York for work and I stopped in at a Winners- and they had a table that was close to the right size, but wasn't in great shape. Plus I was all the way up in North York so too hard to get home. I didn't get it, but it gave me hope!

I should mention an awesome tip my mom gave me- to carry a mini measuring tape in your purse! She got hers in a Christmas cracker and I got mine as a promotional item so I don't know where you can buy them, but it is so handy when you need something in a specific size. I keep measurements of key areas in my phone in case I run across an item that may work for a space.

Anywho, my Winners trip gave me hope so over the course of a week I checked 2 more Winners and a HomeSense, but I didn't find anything until I went to Marshalls yesterday! Marshalls had a table that was- get this- 13.75" deep and 26" wide with enough height underneath! And it was wood, which is what I was aiming for. As an added bonus, the table only weighed a couple of pounds so I was able to carry it home vs shelling out for a cab or calling in a favour from a friend with a car.

I always find it funny when I take furniture on the subway (previously I brought home my yellow plastic muskoka chair  that is on the balcony!). And this time I was taking it during rush hour- not a good plan. The subway wasn't too bad because it was actually quieter that usual (and a nice lady complimented me on my table!), but the bus was a different story. I got on at the first stop, which is less busy so I got a single seat, but when it gets to Union Station the bus becomes a reenactment of a sardine can- can't exactly have a table taking up room! So I managed to fit it around me like this:

(That's me giving a thumbs up to my plan)
Worked like a charm! If you ever need tips on moving furniture around the city on TTC, I am totally becoming a pro.

And now I have a new table!

I don't know if I am totally crazy about the dark finish, but I like the details on it and wood is always paintable! Much nicer than anything I could ever make, that is for sure :). And I can fit three pairs of boots easily underneath it. I need to make some boot stuffers to keep them upright (I am eyeing something like this from Michelle at SweetSuite10).

I moved the rug over so it would be under my boots, but this doesn't work at ALL because it gets caught under both doors. I will just pick up a plastic boot tray thing from the dollar store and move the rug back to the right side of the space. Eventually I may have to replace the rug, but I am OK with that because it had a good, long life. It is hard to find a good thin rug, so we shall see.

I still have a lot more organization to do in this space in order to make it more functional for my lifestyle, but I think I am well on my way!

PS- Pewter the Cat is going to go home this weekend. I am gonna miss the little bugger, but I will be glad to sleep in past 6am and not be sneezing all the time! And even as I write this he is ALL OVER the computer, so I will also be thankful to get my computer time back. :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Updates and Resale

I am not thinking about selling my condo. Ok, truthfully, I actually think about it a lot- but then I remember real estate fees, lawyer fees, TWO land transfer taxes, and the cost of a bigger mortgage and I stop thinking about it :). I like my little condo and I like that it allows me to save my pennies for travel and lifestyle choices. But regardless, I do know that ONE day I am going to see this little place and I need to make choices for resale. FYI- just last week I passed the 4 year anniversary of living here!! Crazytown.

The problem is this: my condo was built in 2008 and it was the first condo on the block! Now the block is filled with numerous condos and they were all built after mine (duh). Do you know what happened after 2008? Higher end finishes became standard choices. I am surrounded by hardwood, granite, and stainless steel! The main thing I have going for me is that my square footage is actually a pretty good size for the area (a lot of units for sale can't fit a bed and a couch), so that at least works in my favour.

I have also been making updates slowly since I got in here!

1. I painted the whole condo
2. I installed a patio floor outside
3. I updated my bathroom countertop from laminate to a modern cut marble
4. I did smaller updates like shelving, shoe racks, and bathroom fixtures

I also think my choices of furniture and accessories make my home look nice and modern, and in an area with a lot of rented-out units, it "shows" very well.

(I'm sorry, but real photos show computer cords!)
Now, I am aware the condo still needs some updates to make it comparable to other units in the area. I need to take care of that terrible carpet in the front hall, I need to switch out the laminate countertops in the kitchen, and install a new sink and faucet there while I am at it. If I was super rich, I would also update the fridge to a sleeker white model.

Oh, and for the record, I actually like white appliances. They look nice in my white-funitured condo, therefore fading a bit into the background, and don't show fingerprints. However, I know there are nicer, sleeker white fridges out there vs my textured model. But the fridge works great so that seems like a huge waste of money. 

When I was planning my bathroom remodel, I originally wanted to tear out the floor and shower tile and go all sleek and modern in there. Yes, it would have looked awesome and impressed buyers to have a more custom bathroom, but you really have to weigh the cost of updates vs resale value so I opted instead to update the sink area. I need to get this condo at least up to the same standards as my competition and save my monies for big overhauls for my future home.

2013 was the year of the bathroom, but that is almost done, so I think I need to pick my next focus! I am leaning towards figuring out the front hall because the kitchen countertops actually aren't terrible (despite their laminateness). The carpet in the hall though? It is dingy, roughed up by people and cats, faintly stained, and front hall is carpeted and that is bad enough! I live in Canada people, I bring in all sorts of snow and mud.

I also need to work on a better solution for storage in there. The yellow dresser isn't working out for storing my boots, the closet is a huge mess and needs to be better organized, and I think I need a better rug because that one bunches under the door a lot and is faded.

Oh, and new floors!!

New floors come with some complications
- Matching the existing hardwood (do they even still make my floor?)
- Splicing into existing hardwood for a seamless flow
- Getting permission from the board to take out the carpet (oh yes, there are bylaws about carpeting!)
- Paying for the floor (I have heard they aren't free)

Have you ever tied existing hardwood into old? I don't want to have to sand and restain everything (it is engineered, which the internets tells me I'd only get one shot at sanding), because I'd have no place to move all my furniture. I think if I can find the same floor I can have it spliced it to the end of the existing, but I am worried about the installation costs.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New Towel Bar and Hand Towel Ring!

I feel like I have rejoined the world of the living- the world where your towels are not hung on the back of your door and your hand towel is not hanging from a handle. This is a classy condo now, people.

Isn't it funny how 2 hours of work ends up being the simplest post? This is not that exciting to YOU, but to me this was a long time coming and a lot more work than it seems! See, the towel bar was 24" long, but I did not have 24" to work with. So I took it apart and used a mini hacksaw to saw off about 4-5" inches of the bar!! My hand is HURTING, but I didn't have a better option and I wanted this up!! And then it still ended up being a touch too long (hacksawing ain't an accurate art), so I had to do it all over again! But it fits now and looks amazing!!

I thought the hand towel ring would be easier- no hacksawing needed. But for some reason I really struggled with the install. One of the anchors didn't anchor properly and it refused to sit level. Oh and my drill died. Thankfully, at least, the bathroom walls are not cement like my other walls!  Well, it is up now and hopefully will not fall off any time soon :)

Pet Peeve time- I hate when I go to someone's house and there is no hand towel. Sometimes there is a towel or two hung on the towel bar, but I don't know if they are for people's hands or if someone toweled off their naked body with it! People- get hand towels. Guests will appreciate it.

For the record, the towel bar and ring are from Ridgefield Home, which is a HomeSense (HomeGoods too!) house brand. HomeSense did sell 18" length bars in a different style, but I found that TOO narrow (wanted to maximize the space) and I liked the chrome finish on this one more. The towel bar was $20 and the ring was $13. Not a lot of money to spend on some MUCH needed things for this bathroom makeover! I can't believe is has been over a YEAR since I removed my old towel bar!

I used to be dealing with this situation for towels:
Oy Vey
All I have left to do now is buy the shelves for the clean towels and pick something to go on the wall above the towel bar. I have picked out the shelves I want at Lowes, but I have to take 2 buses to get to Lowes and it is cold and dark and blah and I don't want to. :) The joys of choosing not to buy a car!!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Catsitting with Pewter the Cat

Hello! I hope everyone had a nice weekend! Mine was awesome because I once again am catsitting for the amazing snuggler that is Pewter the Cat.

It poured rain, but the two of us didn't mind because we took epic naps and ate too many treats. This is the 3rd time Pewter has come to stay with me, so he is totally cool at my place- even if he HATED the car ride! Fun fact- last time Pewter stayed with me he gained an entire pound in a week. I like to spoil him.

Because I am a crazy cat lady, without any cats.

I have had 8 kitties in my life (Not at once! That would be a CAT-astrophy!). First there was Princess, Pumpkin, and Pookie. Then we had Jinx, Jazz, and Jingles. And finally I had Dudley and DeeDee, who live at my dad's house and apparently are determined to annoy my dad to death by staring at him and meowing at him all day long.

See, when I bought this condo I actually had two kittens. They were rescued from a bad home and when my old roommate and I moved out, neither of us could take them to our new homes so my dad was kind enough to take them in. I would LOVE to have a cat, but I just find my place too small to share with another creature. Pewter is pretty well behaved, but sometimes he makes a lot of noise at 3am or determines to wake me up at 5am and I have no door to close on his face!

However, Pewter helped me write some posts about living with a pet in a small space before, so I thought I would share them again in case YOU are brave enough to try it:

Also, if you are allergic to cats (I scored very high on my allergy test), don't let it discourage you! A dose of Claritin, Visine for allergies for my eyes, and lip repair Blistex keep me feeling normal! For the record, my allergy manifests as sneezing, itchy eyes, and swollen lips. I also find the longer I spend with a cat the less my allergies affect me. There are also hypoallergenic cats you can look into- I for one kind of want one of those hairless cats one day because I think we would make a cool, bald team.

Friday, October 18, 2013

New Artwork!

You may have noticed something new in yesterday's post.

Look over by the plant...

It is the print I liked from Katie Daisy at The Wheatfield on Etsy! I just framed it in the standard Ribba frame from Ikea that we all love. However, the off-white matting was a huge no-no with the bright, modern colours in the print so I painted it!

I originally debated between soft turquoise and navy, but the boldness of navy won out!

Now I  know what you are thinking- Casey, you were choosing prints for the bathroom! I know, I know, but I didn't like this print in there. I much prefer getting to stare at it while I am on the computer. However, the bathroom was not neglected!

Oh yes, I got the Great Lakes print! It looks awesome in the bathroom (which remember, the paint colour was named after a lake!).

As for other new little bits around the condo, I added in this awesome cable knit candle from Urban Barn on my TV stand. I got it at Blog Podium and it fits in great with the warm, fall theme that the table has been rocking.

Last, but certainly not least, is my souvenir from Jamaica! I usually don't buy myself anything, since I get memories and pictures to bring home with me, but this one store had a small collection of beautifully hand painted eggs that I just fell in love with. They were all gorgeous, but this black one won my heart.

And how does one display a handpainted egg? Why- in a tea light candle holder! I got this little crystal beauty from when I went to the Princess Margaret Lottery House. It is from the Gluckstein Home Decor Line.

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