Monday, December 21, 2015

The Sink Saga

Did anyone else see Star Wars last weekend? I loved it!!! I shall say no more. No spoilers here :)

But speaking of sagas, I have had an ongoing one with my kitchen faucet. At some point when I was in Mexico City, the water pressure in the faucet dropped. Now, my condo has amazing water pressure normally- you could probably pressure wash a deck with it. So this drop was very noticeable- it was down to a trickle! If we wanted to do dishes we had to port water from the bathroom with the kettle or let it run for a good 20 minutes while doing something else. It was so annoying.

I called the building super the next day and he said they had just started doing some repairs related to water pressure values and that must be the cause and basically told me to wait until the repairs are done for him to come check my unit. Well to make a long story short, the repairs went on for a MONTH. Finally this past Wednesday they announced the repairs were complete...but I still had no water pressure. Hmm.

It dawned on me on Thursday that I could just test the water pressure myself to see if the issue was my pipes or my faucet. So I cleared out under the sink on Friday night and got to work! PS- the urge to build, clean, or repair seems to hit me at odd times. Hence how I found myself under the sink on a Friday night when I was home alone.

Also, please don't judge my iPhone pics. Plumbing is not the time for photography.

Anyway, I set up a bucket under one of the pipes, turned off the water, disconnect the hose for the faucet, and covered the open hole with a baggy (my dad's idea!). I turned on the water a tiny bit and it ERUPTED with water pressure, Huh. So problem had apparently been my faucet the whole time.

After that there was an hour or two of various weird ways to try and find the problem, which we assumed was a blockage in the hose. I won't go into details, but it was hilarious and 100% would have made plumbers pee their pants laughing at me. :)

Finally after all this time I actually read the install manual for my faucet and at the very end in tiny writing it was all "if you have low water pressure, try checking for debris in the second screen in the faucet". I had NO idea there was a filter beyond the aerator.

I had to unscrew the faucet head (which, I will add, I didn't even know came off). Also- note to all you budding plumbers out there- do not let go of the hose after the faucet head is removed because it WILL snap back into the hole and you will need pliers and a prayer to get it back out again.

And Bam! There was the 2nd screen with a putrid green ball of I-don't-know-what stuck to it!!! I had to use pliers to get it out. I took a picture, but I had a trouble getting the phone to focus. But then, I guess no one would want to see this grossness in focus. It was like if one of Kermit the Frog's toes had gangrene.

Oh, and the next day a friend was kind enough to point out that we had been drinking water out of this faucet with the frog toe in it for the past month. So thank you for that reminder, my friend.

Anyway, I screwed the faucet all back together and now it works again!! There is also a very slight leak from the back of the faucet head (where I am pointing to in picture 2 shots up). This seems to be a due to a broken seal (completely unrelated to my repair job- I had a leak from here before) but I got it all back together as tight as I could and it is like 99.9% good now.

So yay running water again! It is a Christmas Miracle!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas in the Condo 2015

I love Christmas and I love Christmas decor. I grew up in a house with 3 full Christmas trees and 2 Christmas villages (one of which I still set up to this day). Not to mention I have divorced parents so I also set up a tree at my other parents' house...4 trees! However, in my own place I seem to take a more simplistic approach. I only decorate in the living room, and even still it is just the tree and a couple little decor items. But still, Cam and I are loving having the Christmas decor up and our evenings are always the fireplace channel on TV and Christmas carols played over our bluetooth.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Five Things Friday! anyone there? Bueller?

I know, I know. I should blog more. I haven't even posted about my Christmas decor, which went up 2 weeks ago (man December is flying by!!). But blogging in an open concept condo is very tough because of the amount of cleaning I'd need to do to take photos! Plus winter= no natural light. But the tree is up, the fireplace channel is on all the time and Cam is spending every evening regaling me with Christmas Carols on the electric guitar (dating a musician does have some advantages). Also, I baked a million cookies and cupcakes this week so Christmas spirit is definitely alive in our little home!

Now let's talk about some random goings on!

1. I am buying a new oven and fridge
Last Boxing Day I picked out a new dishwasher and microwave and installed them with my stepfather in January. I didn't expect to wait a whole year to buy a new fridge and oven to go with those, but man does time sneak by! Now Boxing Day sales are coming up again so I have started doing some research. I am pretty sure I am going to get this oven which had good sale prices during Black Friday, but I am not sure yet about the fridge. I am hoping beyond hope that there are some fridges with stainless steel sides. The side of my fridge is very visible so I need to see the fridges in person to see the sides and pick something attractive.

But yay double oven! I hope it goes back on sale! Think how much more baking I could do!!

2. My sink hasn't worked properly for a month
When I was in Mexico, the sink faucet in the kitchen lost a lot of water pressure one day. Now, the water pressure in this condo is usually over the top, so this was alarming. I called the superintendent and he said it was probably related to some water valves they were replacing and repairing. But it has gone on for a MONTH now. I emailed the management office a couple times but only heard "the repairs are ongoing" and then they sent all units a letter saying they will tell us when the work is completed and then the super will work on each unit still affected on a case-by-case basis. I have heard no update since.

In the meantime my sink is barely usable. It takes a good 20 seconds to just fill a glass with water. And sometimes there is no cold water. I've resorted to getting glasses of water from the bathroom, which just feels WRONG. Sometimes I even transport water from the bathroom to the kitchen using my large measuring cup so I can get the dishes done in a reasonable amount of time.

Oh, and also, what if the problem is with my faucet? See, I literally have no idea what is wrong! The dishwasher actually seems to work OK, but it is a water-conserving dishwasher anyway. I checked the faucet aerator, but beyond that I have no idea what could be wrong. And it is a brand new faucet so I can't see how it would have broken already.

Feel Better Soon, Mr. Faucet

3. I need to spruce up my bathroom
I haven't done much to the bathroom since moving in, except replace the faucet and shower head. WAY back in this year I actually ordered a new towel bar, toilet paper holder, and towel ring for the bathroom, but I have yet to install them. And my old toilet paper holder has been hanging on by a thread since I moved in. Very embarrassing. So I need to spruce up the old bathroom. New paint, install fixtures and maybe take down the giant mirror and put up a mirror and a medicine cabinet? I think I am going to replace the shower curtain with a nice white waffle weave one. I'm thinking of painting the room a blue-y grey so it feels a bit spa like. Thoughts?

Down the line I may also replace the vanity and granite shelf, but that's not on my radar right now. FYI- My toilet stopped working properly the other day and it was a pain in the butt trying to see the problem with that shelf in the way! But the issue was easily fixed...thank goodness.

4. My new Knuckle Lights!
I mentioned last week that I bought some flashlights that strap to your hand for running and I just want to say that I love them! On Tuesday I busted them out for their inaugural journey and they were awesome. They fit nicely on my hand (though I did have to set them to the tightest setting, and I don't have small hands!), they are easy to use with just the push of a button, and they light up very well! They can be set to bright, dim, or flashing too. I set mine to dim to conserve battery. It isn't pitch black where I run so the lights are more so other people can see me.

My only two complaints were that (1) I found them kind of warm once I was sweaty. They are plastic and rubber so they don't breathe too well. But soon I will be in gloves anyway. And (2) the adjustable strap is, in my opinion, backwards. The loose flap of the strap kept tickling my hand because it comes up from the bottom instead of hanging from the top. But these are pretty minor things! Overall they are great!

5. I am been in the condo for over a YEAR!

Can you believe that? It feels like I just moved in, but move in day was Nov 28th 2014 so it has been officially over one year! I still love the new condo. The area is SO much better and I can walk to all sorts of good shops and restaurants. Plus, I love all the space that comes with this place. Cam could have never moved into my old condo. We would have killed each other!

Anyway, happy one year anniversary to my little home :)



I am off for a week over Christmas so I am hoping to clean this pig sty up and take some new photos for a full before and after of the condo for the past year!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Update on Winter Running

So some crazy person (mainly me) signed up for a May 1st marathon. Which means training in the winter. In Canada. Yay.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Mostly because I was on a half-marathon high and enjoying sunshiny days. I literally forgot how much it sucks to come home at it is already dark and cold. And then I am supposed to leave my parka at home and go back out there and RUN?

Source- The Oatmeal
Anyway, so running has not been going so good. First I took some time off after my half to rest my muscles. Then I had sore muscles from a big workout! Then I was off to Mexico! Then I got sick! Then I had a sore neck!

Basically I managed a few 5Ks on the dreadmill, but that was basically it since my half! Last weekend I finally made it outside to run 5K. It was cold, but thankfully the weather gods have given us a really mild fall and it has barely dipped into freezing at all. Sucky for White Christmases. But nice for runners. And then finally last night I went for my first night run! It was cold (around freezing), and very dark. I did about 7km! I learned a lot too. I learned my route is NOT as well lit as I would like and I learned I was not as visible as I would like! Not good!

Thankfully I am a problem solver and not a quitter (or so I'd like to think) and so I ordered a pair of Knuckle Lights and I get them today!


They are little flashlights that strap onto your knuckles! Kind of pricey, but totally going to get my moneys worth this winter. They have really good reviews so I am hoping they will work out fine!

Up next...figuring out how to run in the snow. Though at this rate, I dont think we will see snow for awhile yet. 

And also,the view at night ain't so bad :)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Mexico Souvenirs!

I was hoping to get this post up earlier- but unfortunately two of my most annoying souvenirs were a bad cold and a neck ache that lead to tension headaches every evening. So I have not been a pleasant person in the evenings for the past little while. But thanks to a lot of cold medication, a chiropractic adjustment and a massage, I am feeling much better! So onto some nicer souvenirs!

One of my favourite parts about visiting Mexico City is going to the market and buying all the pretty pottery I can lay my hands on! This time I actually just bought a lot of things for me (yay!), but I did get a few nice plant pots and some goodies for the family.

The first thing I wanted to get was a new spoon rest. I had gotten one last time I was in Mexico City, but it was the sole victim of a box tipping incident when I moved last year. So I got this new one! I have no idea if this actually is the one I picked out, as Veronica bought 3-4 herself and they were all wrapped, so I just picked a mystery one from the pile. Thankfully, I really like the colours of it!

At that same store I picked up a little hand soap dispenser for the kitchen. Totally wasn't on my list, but it was so pretty I couldn't pass it up!

Lastly, I really wanted to get a nice plant pot for myself! Olga and I ventured to a pottery store in her neighbourhood and I found this gorgeous bad boy. I love the round shape and the bright colours. Mexican pottery tends to be either these bright fiesta colours or blue/white. The blue patterned stuff is gorgeous, but I have a soft spot in my heart for bright, fun colours so that is what I brought home.

I still have to find a good plant for it. The plant lady at work made me some cuttings of a vine type plant, so I am trying to see if I can get that to grow some roots and then I will transplant it into this pot!

So there you go- 3 new things for my condo from Mexico! I also got myself some new pillow cases from Zara Home (it was a big sale weekend while we were there), and I got Cam a set of traditional leather maracas and some Mexican candy. I think a lot of the candy has disappeared :).

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mexico City Trip!

Way back in 2012 my friend Veronica and I visited our mutual friend Olga in Mexico City and then in early 2013 we had a quick rendezvous in Chicago with Olga again. However we hadn't seen her once since then, which is a shame because she is awesome! So we made it our mission to get down to Mexico city again and finally made it down for a very extended long weekend last week!
Veronica, Myself, and Olga- Reunited!

We flew in the Thursday evening, arriving in the middle of the night, and then flew out the following Wednesday afternoon, so it was a brief, but very good trip! Now, Veronica and I had been down for 15 days last time and definitely visited every single tourist site imaginable during that time- so our only goals this weekend were to do some shopping in the local markets and to go salsa dancing!

We stayed with Olga, her sister Anna, and Olga's daughter Sofia (and their dog Tyson and cat Cooper) in a cute little apartment with an amazing terrace in a very nice area of the city called Polanco. It was very central to many shops and restaurants so lots of walking occurred over the weekend, which nicely balanced the wine and tacos :)

Saturday was our big day- we went out for brunch, then went to the markets where Veronica and I bought our weight in pottery and souvenirs, and then that evening we met a couple of Olga and Anna's friends for dinner and dancing. We went to a club where we danced until after 4 am!!! We had drunk these espresso/liquor drinks called carajillos before going there, so I have to blame those. We also got some street tacos on the way home so bed didn't happen until 5am! After that the weekend was super low-key. We did some shopping, hit up some more pottery stores, and basically caught up with each other- there really are only so many stories you can tell over email :)

I was super sad to fly back to Canada (it was so warm our last couple days there!) and I am already hoping I can make it down for another extended long weekend in 2016. For now I will share some photos!!

Olga, Keith, Anna, Nikki, Veronica at Mama Rumba Salsa Club

Salsa dancing!
Cooper the cat
Mall all decked out for Christmas
Veronica stocking up on pottery
Shopping in the market

Fun in the market
Taking Tyson for a walk in the park
4:30am street tacos

Tyson on the terrace

I caught a nasty cold in Mexico so I will be back later to share all the cute things I picked up for the condo while down there! That mexican pottery gets me every time...

PS- if you want to learn more about things to do and see in Mexico City (it is a great city!), then check out my 2012 visit in posts HERE, HERE, and HERE

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Oops I Did It Again...

Signed up for a race, gonna run more terrain
Oh baby, baby
Oops you think I would laugh
That I'd stick to that ha-a-a-a-lf


Yup. I have officially entered crazy land and signed up for a full marathon on May 1 2016. 42.2 Km (26.2 Miles) of running my buns off, all for the sake of a hunk of metal and bragging rights for the rest of my life. :)

I always wanted to run a marathon, and the success of my half marathon training and race made me realize it was entirely possible if I just trained for it. I debated whether to sign up for the spring or fall marathons (Toronto has both), but in the end I decided on the spring for a few reasons:
1. It is just before my 30th birthday so I thought it would be a good way to kick off the next decade of my life
2. Training in the summer was long and hot and took up a lot of my "beers on the patio" time. That being said, I have never run in winter, and I know that winter training will be a whole 'nother ballgame. I need to figure out lighting, ice, snow, safety, and just plain keeping warm. I do have access to a treadmill for terrible weather too, but I am hoping not to use it because it is super boring and too warm in the gym for running.
3. I am super impatient!

Honestly, #3 is pretty important. I personally find it very hard to stick to exercising without an end goal, so signing up for a May race will keep me running for the next 6 months! I already drew up a plan which has me running various distances 3 days a week, and strength training 1-2 days a week. Then in mid-January I officially start marathon training! I am following RunKeeper's Beginner Marathon plan, since their half plan did me so well.

I don't really have a time goal in mind, but I think somewhere just north of 4 hours might be do-able. The full is completely different from the half so I really have no idea how I will do over such a long distance. I will hopefully get an idea when I am further into training!


Monday, November 9, 2015

Tell Me When You're Having a Bad Hair Day

I haven't written about my Alopecia (hair loss for those who don't know) in forever, but I was inspired to recently after joining a Reddit group on Alopecia and remembering why I don't like the so-called support groups. I do like reading about new research and talking treatment options with others, just not the support suggestions. Recently I found some articles on what not to say to someone with Alopecia. I just sighed. I get that everyone deals with a disease differently and for some people, their Alopecia is a huge cause of anxiety. But I really hate these things! So here are things you are apparently not supposed to say to me (and reasons why it's OK to).

1. I wish I could wear a wig!
I have been told this one before. You know why? Because my hair ON POINT some days. A couple weeks ago Cam's cousin was telling me my hair had so much body and looked like a wig (as a total compliment- it is hard to explain). She was talking about how on Oprah all these people with amazing hair confessed they were wigs. She asked me what my secret was. I died. And then I told her.

Honestly, I don't mind wearing a wig. Maybe it is because I am used it? Kind of how you don't think about that fact that you are wearing shoes, or underwear, or a ring or something. You get used to how it feels and that is "normal" to you. Of course having hair might be easier at times, but that isn't an option for me so it isn't something I generally think about.

2. I'm jealous of how fast it takes you to get ready
You should be. I only have to wash/style my hair every week or so. When my friend got married a few years ago I did my hair the night before and got to chillax the next morning while the other girls scrambled with straighteners and curling irons.

On the other hand, I do have to put on false eyebrows and eyelashes every morning, but I am actually SUPER fast at false eyelashes now. Takes me under a minute. THAT you should be jealous of!

3. It'll grow back, right?
What? Are you my doctor? Because even he doesn't know. I have never once had a person assume my hair would grow back. I have had people ASK if it will, which is a perfectly normal question and I encourage questions so people can learn about Alopecia. No biggie! Ask me anything!

4. My friend tried ______ and his/her hair grew back
I appreciate when a friend tells me about something they have heard of that may help. Of course, 99% of the time I have already heard the theory and then we have an interesting discussion on whether I would like to have my hair grow back or stop eating bread (yes, evil gluten has been pointed at as the culprit in some cases, but man do I love bread...). All I am saying is this really doesn't bother me and really doesn't come up much. Actually, most people who have Alopecian friends (I think I just made myself a race), say their friend's hair growth is completely unpredictable like mine.

5. It's only hair
WTF? Do people have really bitchy friends? That's a weird thing to say to someone. It IS only hair, and I am lucky enough to be able to understand that and be okay with that, but that is not a nice kind of thing to say to anyone who is upset about something (hair or otherwise).

6. Do you have cancer/shave your head?
This is a weird one, but I am trying to include things that people say that are well-meaning and I have gotten this one quite a bit in my life. I just chalk it up to people being curious and I explain Alopecia to them (and then I also kind of wish I could explain that cancer itself doesn't make you lose your hair, but I only have so much time in my life). I just wish instead of assuming what is wrong with me, people would just ask what they are thinking- "why are you bald?". But again, I know they aren't being malicious so I don't take offense to their question.

7. Let me rub your head for good luck!
If you are my friend, go for it. Free head massages! But if this actually worked I would probably be rolling in cash.

If I don't know you, you probably should take an etiquette class.

8. I'm having a bad hair day
I see this one touted a LOT as something to avoid saying around an Alopecian (I am totally making this a word). Let me be clear- YOU ARE TOTALLY ALLOWED TO HAVE BAD HAIR DAYS. And you can tell me about them! And I will laugh at your ugly hair as I stroke my on point wig that I haven't washed in weeks (just kidding).

I don't think my not having hair invalidates your feelings towards your own hair. In fact, some days my wig is being all cray and I too am having a bad hair day. And some days my pants won't do up and I complain to a friend who perhaps weighs more than me. Other times I am sore after a workout and I may commiserate with a friend who broke their leg. My point is, all of our bodies are different and they all have good parts and bad parts and we like to discuss those things with our friends because our friends are supposed to support us, regardless of their own insecurities. I don't think my lack of hair should make you treat me any differently.

I do want to add in here that some people ARE really sensitive about their hair loss, and you as a friend SHOULD know that and be sensitive to that fact that discussing your own hair may upset them. All I am saying is that this rule does not apply to everyone experiencing hair loss.

So here is MY list of what not to say to a person with Alopecia:
1. Anything that is YOUR OWN unsolicited opinion on how he/she should feel/act
2. Anything that tries to invalidate his/her own feelings
3. Anything that is unsupportive/bitchy/mean-spirited etc

Oh wait...that is a list of how all friends should treat each other, regardless of Alopecia or any other disease!

My alopecia is simply a part of who I am after all these years. Like how some people have brown hair, or freckles, or webbed toes- bald is just a description of one facet of me. Thankfully (due to my wonderful family and friends), I am very confident and I am rarely upset over my hair loss. I lean naturally to humour and I can find a lot of good jokes in my baldness, so I rarely am insulted by an innocent comment or joke. I get much more annoyed over well-meaning people trying to box in how to experience alopecia yourself or how to treat people you know with alopecia- to me that goes against rule 1 of my 3 rules up there!

Friday, November 6, 2015

New Headboard!

Finally, after years of planning to build one, I finally made a headboard for my bed!

I just made a simple plywood headboard- of which there are instructions for all over the internet so I won't go into too much detail. I got a piece of plywood cut down at Home Depot (which I cut down further at home once I settled on how wide I wanted it). By the way- we found out from this excursion that my friend's trunk/backseat is exactly 6'x3'. haha! It was really nice of her to drive me to get the wood- there was no way I could have taken this on a bus.

Then I picked up a 2 big bags of quilt batting from Michaels with 50% off coupons and cut it up to make as many layers as possible. Originally I was going to buy thick upholstery foam from the fabric store, but it was SO expensive and I didn't have a coupon. My many layers of half-off batting worked out fine! I just cut it up into as many layers as possible to fit across the front, and then two longer layers wrapped around to be stapled to the back.

Unfortunately, when I started making it my staple gun ran out of staples, and then jammed irreparably when I tried to reload it :(. I hate stopping in the middle of a project, but it was late and the hardware store was far. I borrowed my Dad's staple gun when I saw him the next day and got back to work!

I first stapled all the batting down, then I stapled down the fabric after. I love the fabric! It is by Mill Creek, but all the googling in the world couldn't find the exact name of it. I found it at Fabricland in the discount pile and only paid $12 total! It is really luxurious in person, with bits of gold sparkling in places. It wasn't at all what I envisioned myself buying, but it goes well in here and if I ever change my mind, it was cheap enough not to worry about!

The headboard was a heavy, awkward beast when I was done, so I decided to hang it on the wall with a nice big bracket that was good for up to 200 lbs. Plus, with this type of bracket I could just slide the headboard over it and I didn't need to try and line up any tricky hook-and-eye type things, which would be hard to do with no ability to see the back, thanks to the alcove. This wall is also cement (yay condos), so I busted out my hammer drill and concrete screws. It ain't going anywhere.

All in all, I am loving finally having a headboard and having the bed look more "complete". I don't know what took me so long! It was an inexpensive project too!

Plywood- $8
Batting (2 bags)- $30
Fabric- $12
Bracket- $16
Total: $66

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