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January 2014

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Sunshine and real estate

It’s common knowledge by now that the weather has a tangible effect on retail sales. December sales suffer if a snowfall doesn’t happen to get consumers into the “holiday spirit,” and sunny days can mean day-long window shopping excursions that turn into impulse purchases and the obligatory dinner and drinks that follow. The real estate market is no different.

Even with major investments like real estate, consumer tendencies seem to move with the mercury, almost independent of the economic climate. In Toronto, January is traditionally the slowest month for home sales, no doubt a combination of lower cash flow after the holiday season and the difficulty of showing houses effectively. Buyers are less motivated to venture out through the snow and slush to view multiple properties, and sellers can find it difficult to showcase the true beauty of their properties through the ice and snow.

And then there’s spring and summer, “high season” for those in the real estate game and prime time for sellers who want to get top dollar for their properties by employing agents who know how to capitalize on the landscaping and vibrancy of their biggest season.

The numbers are already starting to show the rise in national home sales.  According to statistics released just this month by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales rose 0.6% from March to April, with home sales improving in more than half of all local markets from March to April. This trend was led by gains in the GTA, Winnipeg, Calgary and Victoria, and with the national average sale price rising 1.3% on a year-over-year basis in April, the Canadian housing market is firmly lodged in balanced territory, which is great news for buyers and sellers alike.

Even with the new mortgage rules that took effect in 2012, the market has remained remarkably steady, and the upward trend for this warmer season is still a palpable reality for all those caught up in the real estate game.

Hours of sunshine always helps me shake off the lethargy and “blah-ness” of the winter months and gets me even more excited and geared up for my work, and I can always see the excitement in motivation in my clients as well. I feed off of it, I love it. And it’s that energy that can translate into some incredible transactions this season.

Denim shorts and wedge sandals, sunshine and real estate: my four favourite summer things. I’m looking forward to having a blast. Won’t you join me?

Exploring Toronto’s artistic side to improve your home

Toronto is full of colour, culture and creative flair. If you are in the process of finding the right painter to decorate a new pad but are stuck for artistic and interior design ideas, Toronto is known for its vibrant side, which offers creative inspiration to its residents and visitors all year round. Here is a look at some of the points of interest in Toronto to look out for.

The Art Gallery of Ontario

This towering structure houses 80,000 exciting exhibitions from works which celebrate the past to modern performance pieces and sculptures. It is one of the largest art museums in North America and was expanded further in 2008. The new building alone – designed by Frank Gehry – offers interior design ideas and inspiration for your own pad, including how to manipulate more natural light into a space using the right material.

Toronto International Art Fair

More than 100 fine art galleries take part in Toronto’s annual art fair, Canada’s only contemporary visual art event. Its exhibitions include the NEXT gallery, which showcases emerging artistic talents, and FOCUS ASIA, which, as the title suggests, focuses on ornate, traditional and modern Asian art.

The great outdoors

Take advantage of Toronto’s beautiful surroundings to transfer to your own space, inside and out.

From classic topiary and geometric shapes at Edwards Garden to unspoilt landscapes in Toronto Island Park, have some fun picking out natural colours and bold plants. Cross over to the Beaches neighbourhood with its mazes of stylish colonial houses with planted sidewalks as well as beachside views. Nearby is the lush Kew Park and Gardens, with a myriad of planting ideas for your garden.

Markets

St Lawrence Market is a must-visit moving landmark in Toronto. This farmers market is a perfect chance to pick up some great kitchenware whilst having a bite to eat and partaking in some people watching. Alternatively, have a wander around the little boutiques and outside stalls at the Kensington Market, a colourful bohemian hub by Spadina Avenue. Be warned, parking is nonexistent.

Shopping

Where better to find new decorative items than in the safe and sure environment of a mall? Toronto boasts many malls which have little boutiques alongside recognizable larger stores including the Eaton Centre with more than 320 stores in Downtown Toronto as well as the Yorkdale Shopping Centre which has rave reviews from past visitors. If you are looking for bespoke, designer interior design items, Toronto has premium stores dotted around its streets including Made which showcases young, fresh designer items and the larger Kiosk store which has floors of inspiring furniture collections.

 

Old flames

I started talking to City Boy again recently. You know, the boy that I was supposed to fly off to Shangri L.A. with last summer, except that definitely didn’t happen and I met Boyfriend a month and a half after I didn’t fly anywhere.

I’ve thought about what this would be like, because I was so incredibly into him and he broke my heart, but we fell into conversation like we hadn’t missed a day and for once it didn’t bother me that we didn’t work out. There was a little flirting and I know he misses me, but we weren’t good for each other and I’m so much happier now than I ever was trying to make a long distance relationship work.

Before Boyfriend I worried that I would carry a flame for City Boy forever because we never had any closure, it was over as quickly as it began and nothing felt dealt with; but after talking to him I feel like maybe we can be friends.

When you find someone you can love, really love, the old relationships and hurt and broken hearts don’t disappear but they suddenly matter less because all the ones that came before weren’t right you just didn’t know it at the time. I’ve fallen for many men before and I still wonder about the Big Ex or what would have happened if my first love hadn’t died, but the pain that used to accompany those memories is faded and distant now.

The best part about finding that perfect person for you is that he’s perfect for you. He could be strange and weird but he’s strange and weird in a way that matches your own strangeness. City Boy was always too into work to ever really be with me and even when I thought the Big Ex and I would work out my friends knew better.

I wouldn’t trade all the second chances with old flames in the world for the happiness I have now. If City Boy told me he wanted to try it all over again I know I’d say no and do so happily. Maybe there wasn’t any closure to that whirlwind romance but I don’t need it because I have something better: I have someone who makes me a priority instead of an option.

It’s taken me a while to get to this place, it’s taken so long for me to find something that is healthy for me and makes me happy that sometimes I think it’s a dream.

I’m not one for giving advice, because I’m a bit of a mess of insecurities and craziness myself, but if I could offer anything to the single girls out there it would be this: don’t settle, it isn’t worth it. Find someone who doesn’t make you wait forever, someone who doesn’t think all important conversations should happen over BBM and someone who doesn’t fly off without telling you. There’s someone out there who won’t make you want to pull your hair out… at least not in a bad way.

Did this woman get a bogus $24,000 charge from the 407 in her late husband’s name?

Jennifer Norman is being overwhelmed by bills in the name of her deceased husband — and she’s struck back with the power of social media to get some answers about these charges in the tens of thousands of dollars.

The almost $24,000 bill she posted online from the 407 ETR pay-highway outside of Toronto was more than she could take.

Look at the outrageous bill below.

 

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The most baffling part of the whole ordeal is that Norman Douglas Gerrard, the man being asked to pony up tens of thousands of dollars, has been deceased for almost two years now after a 13 year long battle with Hodgkins Lynphoma ended on February 14, 2012, Valentine’s Day.

Jennifer took to her own Facebook page asking for help:

“So I am sharing this in the hopes that it goes viral. I am so beyond frustrated. 407 has been dogging me for years. In December of 2001 our transponder was stolen. My husband was in the ICU at Princess Margaret and I was not thinking when I parked my car. I filed a police report and sent it to them about a dozen times. But they continued to send me bills and as my husbands health deteriorated I was more focused on him. He passed away on February 14, 2012 and yet every month I still get a bill in his name. Attached is the bill. I cannot explain the sadness that I feel when I see mail in his name. I don’t have the money to fight this. Please share and let’s see if something can be done by the power of social media.”

The image was quickly picked up by the Facebook page for KiSS 92.5 and went viral with hundreds of shares and wound up on several other social media websites.

Jennifer is asking for the public’s help to set things right and honour her husband’s memory.

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It didn’t take long for the wheels to get in motion once she spoke out.

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UPDATE: She’s now in talks with the ombudsman and it is looking like things will get cleared up soon!

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Check out this 2010 article on Doug’s brave fight against cancer (click to enlarge):

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Here’s hoping everything gets sorted out in the end and cool heads prevail.

Keep up the good fight Jennifer!

 

 

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

 

 

 

 

The age old question, can men and women be just friends?

Can men and women really be just friends?

Last weekend Boyfriend and I went to see The F Word at the Lightbox and while the film was excellent, really out of this world hilarious; it brought up the question first (I think) addressed on the silver screen by When Harry Met Sally, “Can men and women be just friends?”

I feel like this question is a little played out. Of course men and women can be just friends — in fact most of my closest friends are men. But I’m not single, so does that play into the equation? Can I be friends with so many men because I’m in a monogamous relationship? Say that out loud and just try and tell me it doesn’t sound ridiculous. Unless you start out wanting to get hot and sweaty with someone and accept friendship as an unfortunate consolation prize you can be friends with whomever you like regardless of their genitalia.

“The core argument of the men and women can’t be friends idea is that all men want to sleep with all women”

I’ve always liked hanging out with the boys. They’re fun, they don’t mind when I make a totally offside joke, they like gross-out humour, and they don’t judge me for watching endless hours of nerdy television on Netflix. Also they drink scotch with me, and that’s awesome. But when you spend a certain amount of time with someone you develop an almost familial relationship and the idea of boffing your pals is about as appetizing as sitting through a 12-hour documentary on the dung beetle. No offense guys, you’re hot but you’re just not for me.

The core argument of the men and women can’t be friends idea is that all men want to sleep with all women; so if men and women are friends the guy will always want to sleep with the girl. I’m not sure that we can reduce all the men in the world to what’s hiding in their pants, expect for maybe John Hamm. Men deserve more credit than that; I’m 100% sure that despite the size of the canons I carry around on my chest none of my guy friends are looking to shack up with me and not just because I’m taken. Nine times out of ten sleeping with a friend ruins the relationship and for most people it isn’t worth it to lose one of your best pals over an orgasm.

I have one friend that feels the need to remind me that I have a boyfriend every time I talk to another guy; I’m actually thinking about getting a t-shirt with Boyfriend’s face on it so that all of the menfolk know about my relationship status. Having a boyfriend is not something I forget any time a cute guy talks to me and talking to a man doesn’t mean I’m trying to cheat on Boyfriend, in fact all it means is that I’m a social person who enjoys meeting new people. It’s about time we all acknowledged that talking to a member of the opposite sex does not mean you’re trying to take them home.

Give yourself and the men in your life just a little more credit.

Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Doug Ford’s response to Janet Davis’ cuss was sexist and she deserves an apology of her own

Alright, it is pretty clear that Councillor Janet Davis didn’t make a wise decision when she walked up to Councillor Doug Ford today at City Hall and told him shut his “f–king mouth.” Was she vocalizing the thoughts of anyone who has ever seen this bully stomp around (and on) others? More than likely. But work is work, and although the Ford brothers have made this city’s governance evermore difficult to accomplish there is always a way to work around blind rage.

But Doug Ford’s response is what deserves analysis here.

Ford was well within his right to demand an apology, although I would guess that Ford demanded it less for actual hurt feelings and more for the show of stopping a meeting to call out a detractor, no doubt involved in the vast anti-Ford conspiracies that he and his brother spy around every corner in the days since the crack scandal broke wide open.

What Ford did wrong was to bring Coucillor Davis’ femininity into the equation while demanding an apology.

“You call yourself a lady? Give me a break.”

Um, what?

Ford isn’t accusing Davis of being a land owning wife of a Lord or even denoting any idea of respect with his question. Ford is calling up antiquated notions of what a woman is allowed to do and what a woman is allowed to say. By asking her if she calls herself a “lady” Ford is telling her to know her place, and that place is not to speak her mind, have a dissenting opinion, or disagree with a man.

Here’s some advice for Ford:

Ladies, or women as they are better known, are as capable as anyone else of cursing. In fact, women can curse a blue streak, they know all the same swears and even direct them at others when they are upset. Women are entirely capable of getting mad and having opinions, even those that run counter to a man’s — even those that run counter to yours, Doug.

Councillor Davis is not a woman in frills and a powdered wig, she is a thoroughly modern woman with a full time job representing the people in her ward, including the children whose after school programs wont get any more money after you rallied against their expansion, the program expansion that you cussed out yourself by calling it garbage and stupid.

Councillor Davis deserves to be treated as more than some antiquated notion of a lady, quiet and observant, that you might like her to be.

She gave her apology, now where’s yours?

 

Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

#TOpoli with Thomson: Political Panel w/ Travis Myers, Andrea Houston, Tess Kalinoski part 1

Join host and moderator Sarah Thomson for the first part of the #TOpoli political panel for the week of January 6, 2014. Panelists Travis Myers, Andrea Houston, and Tess Kalinowski discuss Toronto’s big issues this week including the aftermath of the ice storm, Rob Ford registering for the mayoral race, Norm Kelly taking the helm at city hall, and more.

This restaurant owner with Down syndrome is winning at life and giving out hugs along the way

Tim Harris is a lot of things. He’s a restaurant owner, a Special Olympic athlete, a lover of hugs, and a person with Down Syndrome.

His approach to running his restaurant is simple, give people good food and lots of hugs. Learn more about Tim and Tim’s Place on his website here. We can learn a lot from Tim’s go-getter approach to living and never letting anything hold him back.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.