Tag

canada

Browsing

How tacky is it to sell things on Facebook?

We’ve all seen it.

“Hey, I was cleaning out my closet and itemised, catalogued, and photographed all of this stuff to be sold. Oh maaaaaaaan, there sure is some good stuff here!”

Maybe you’ve even been the one doing it.

“Hm, instead of donating all this old crap I could make a few quick bucks. Stacy did say she liked this top after all. And it was fifty bucks new when I bought it in 2009. I suppose there is no harm in making an album and selling a few things, right?”

Wrong.

My mother used to drag us around to yard sales on every spring and summer weekend looking for deals. On the right kind of day you’d see half a dozen just driving to the grocery store. We would stop at every single one and then stop again on the way back to get the things she wasn’t sure about the first time we were there.

There is a dignity associated with the yard sale. This is a family, couple, or person who has come to the end of their spring or summer cleaning and actually just has a bunch of stuff to get rid of. They’ve thrown it all out on the lawn and put a kid with a tin box on the hopes of scrounging up four dollars for their once priceless CD collection, or maybe a quarter for a Rocko’s Modern Life colouring book that is half finished.

By the end of the day the afternoon are mostly empty and you have to go knock on the door to get their attention. By supper time they’ve given up, folded up the card tables, and thrown everything left into a hamper with “FREE STUFF” written on a poorly torn piece of cardboard in front of it. Game over. They participated in the time honoured tradition of the yard sale whereby you are granted no more than eight hours a year in which you can shamelessly grub for money from your friends and neighbours for stuff that is worth little more than it’s kitsch value.

Although it exists in the digital world, Facebook peddling is still a violation of this ancient suburban rule.

Remember that one yard sale that was just a little ways out of town that would be going on all year? You stopped and looked a few times and it was the same old crates of coke bottles and dog eared Danielle Steele novels every time. The reason you felt uncomfortable at these extended yard sales, aside from the pitbull chained to the tree in the lawn, was because you already understood that they were violating this code.

In your mother’s generation it was Tupperware parties or AmWay that violated The Rule by trapping friends, family, and neighbours into situations where they felt obligated to buy something to avoid the risk of being rude to someone close. No one enjoyed this, save for perhaps the person without social skill who pinned them there.

Today we have Facebook peddlers to fill this role by trying to run their apartments as if they were stores. Let me be the one to tell you that whatever money you may gain is most likely lost tenfold in respect from your peers. If you need the money so badly you should try and sell it on Craigslist or at a pawn shop.

But they won’t give me a decent price for it on Craigslist or at a pawn shop. 

Then you can’t get a decent price for it, and expecting your friends to pay more doesn’t put then in a very high regard. If you can’t find a decent price for it then donate it to a non-profit drive like Goodwill or a local church

But this is too nice to be donated to some stranger.

Then donate it to your friends. In addition to saving your friends from feeling obligated or uncomfortable by seeing your used clothes tick by in their newsfeeds you’re saving yourself the social disgrace of being considered tacky.

Bottom line: If it’s still good keep it, if you can get a buck sell it to a stranger, if you can’t then give it away.

Is the Happy Hotdog Man the perfect this-makes-me-gag gift?

When you give someone a gift, it’s important to remember that they will look for the meaning behind it. I think making associations is a good thing to do, and a good way to get ideas for the perfect gift.  For example, a blender is a great gift for someone who loves to make smoothies, an iPod is perfect for someone who loves music, and a gift basket full of body lotion is a great way to tell someone that you forgot about their birthday until four hours ago.

You know the feeling: you give the person their gift, they give you yours and suddenly you realize that gag gift from late night TV isn’t as funny as you thought it was. Maybe they got you something deeply personal or romantic, and you got them some “hilarious” infomercial product, like The Happy Hot Dog Man.

Is everyone familiar with The Happy Hot Dog Man? If not, I’ve included the video below for your viewing pleasure. The Happy Hot Dog Man solves one particular problem: how can we get kids to eat more hot dogs? Go ahead, treat yourself.

Isn’t that amazing?  I thought I already owned a Happy Hot Dog Man, but in my house we call it a knife.

I’ve also never been to a party where “bringing ordinary hot dogs to life” has been an activity.  The little girl was just gushing about how you can cut them like girls and boys and decorate them, and I know you were thinking the same thing as me: she really needs to get some better toys.

Gift giving is like an art form on its own, and it is a very tricky one to master. Go for the thoughtful, creative gifts over the late night infomercials, no matter how tempting they are after the fourth glass of wine. Am I right? Anybody? Whatever.

 

Getting fit by shaking my booty

I am not athletic, but I am trying to branch out. So I decided to try a fitness class and found myself at the Danforth Booty Camp Fitness.

“Working out should never be boring,” states Susan Chung, an Elite Drill Instructor at the fitness centre. Her workout approach is to have fun. “Without fun, there is no motivation or drive to keep moving.”

“For the most part, it’s all about having fun at camp and working towards similar fitness goals.  The recruits love getting their kick-booty sessions – a mix of cardio, high or low intensity muscle conditioning work with options for all levels of fitness, and HIIT (high intensity interval training). We get our sweat on,” says Chung.

Chung started the class with a light jog. I struggled with the rock climbing leg movement. They did leg lunges, which I really enjoyed, followed by burpies, which are sort of similar to jumping. In addition, we did the traditional sit ups, crunches and push-ups. The class also did Booty Camp Wars, which was really fun, and a series of leg exercises followed by ‘The Britney’, a leg and arm movement which is very hard to describe. Chung ended with some stretching to ease the muscle tension.

Chung was searching the Internet one day and was attracted to the website with the pink colours. “I thought that having an all women’s boot camp around the city was incredibly empowering. I’ve never seen that before,” she says. “To share the love of fitness and to share it with so many amazing women each day is gratifying. I am blessed.”

Overall, I found the class to be very supportive and personal. If you were slacking or doing something wrong, Chung or a peer would correct you, which was nice and a motivator. The workout itself was fun but intense and there were water breaks. Chung is also very flexible with the class times for her recruits.

One of the perks includes a healthy cookbook called Eat Right Made Simple, which the recruits adore. Kennedy has a blog with delicious recipes on her website, and she shares them on a weekly basis via social media. I tried the Banana Mousse, Barbecue Chicken, and Sunshine Rice, all of which were simple, tasty and guilt-free.

If you’re looking for a medium to high intensity workout with supportive women and a cookbook, Booty Camp Fitness may be right for you.

Menu planning when dealing with food allergies

As someone who has had food allergies most of my life, I know too well how difficult it can be to plan nutritious, tasty meals. If you are like me, and have to avoid an array of foods, it can be overwhelming at times.

My first rule of thumb is to clean out your pantry and fridge. Get rid of the items that you can no longer eat, so you won’t be tempted. If you are part of a family and they can still eat these items then you are going to have to be pretty strong in your resolve. For me, it just wasn’t worth cheating as it made me feel to unwell.

It may take you a while to enjoy some of your new foods, as your taste buds have been accustomed to the same foods for years, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

The first thing to realize is that it is about what you can eat, not what you cannot eat. Perhaps dedicate a shelf or a cupboard just for you, filled with all the foods that you can eat.

Next, figure out what your favourite foods are that you can eat. Have them on hand, so you don’t feel deprived with you new diet.

Visit a health food store and ask them about all the allergy-free items that they offer. You will be amazed at how many foods you can eat.

Purchase a cookbook that contains recipes that you can enjoy.

Many big bulk stores are featuring allergy-free items like gluten-free grains and pastas at a much lower cost than health food stores, so you may want to check them out as well. Try the healthy natural food aisle at your local grocery store for allergy-free options.

Once you start to eat foods that agree with your body, you will notice how much better you feel physically and emotionally, and this will then encourage you to continue on with your healthy eating regime.

Remember that pre-packaged allergy free foods usually contain a lot of sugar and do not have a lot of nutrients in them, so if you can start to make more of your meals and treats from scratch, it will benefit you in the long run.

Many people say to me that they don’t have time to cook, but they soon realize if they give up one television program and get into the kitchen they can whip up a soup and a couple dozen muffins to freeze for the coming work week.

It’s important to have food in your freezer for those busy evenings or when you are on the run.

Making smoothies is another fast option for quick mornings or evening snacks. Try to have lots of fresh produce in your fridge, so at a moment’s notice you can whip up a shake or smoothie for yourself. Frozen fruit is great to keep in your freezer and avocados are indispensible to me and I always have at least seven or eight in my house for veggie shakes.

My daily vegetable shake base is a mixture of celery, cucumber, spinach, avocado, cilantro, water, sea salt, and lemon juice. Sometimes I will add a tomato or a small green onion. Blend and you have a salad in a glass, full of nutrients.

My favourite mid day smoothie is a simple, nutritious mixture of unsweetened So Delicious Coconut Milk, a banana, and hempseed.

 

For more allergy -free recipes and healthy ideas, please visit my website.

Domestic living

If you had told me a couple years ago that I would be happy going to the gym, swimming and making lunch with a boyfriend, I would have told you that you were insane. I probably would have said something about how I am a wild thing and I’m almost certain that I would have quoted Samantha from Sex and the City.

This weekend Boyfriend and I did just that though. We went to the market, we went to the gym, we made lunch together and then walked around the city in the sunshine and not once did I feel like I’d given up a piece of myself to be the somewhat domestic gal.

The thing that makes Boyfriend different is that I never feel like I’m losing myself in the domestic bliss, nor is it boring or typical. We go swimming in an effort to relax after a workout and he ends up tossing me around the pool and pretending he’s a shark. (Okay, I was the one pretending to be a shark.) We make lunch while I sing country songs and he makes fun of me for doing so. The little things that I thought meant the death of a relationship, the simple pleasures, make me happier than any deeply thought out and planned date with the Big Ex ever did.

It’s simple really: it doesn’t matter what you’re doing when you’re with someone that makes you smile. You could be skydiving or arguing over who gets to chop the vegetables for the salad, but as long as you’re with someone you love it’s fun.

Like most girls, I claim to hate rom-coms but I’ve seen my fair share of movies starring Katherine Heigl or Reese Witherspoon. And while I regret watching them after the credits roll, I go back to them like a piece of chocolate cake that I know is bad for me; the sugary sweetness is sometimes exactly what you need even if you know deep down that when you stare at that plate of crumbs you will feel terrible about yourself. Deliciously terrible. Rom-coms are sometimes exactly what I need: mindless entertainment with a happy ending, but the problem with that is that afterwards I’m always wondering why I don’t have a relationship like that. No man has ever told me he loved me via cue cards in the snow at Christmas; I’ve never been in a Thai prison, so I’ve obviously never been saved by a gorgeous British man from said Thai prison; and most importantly no man has ever said, “As you wish” to me, not really anyway.

So I’m in a relationship that will never be worthy of a rom-com, because just being happy without question is not the stuff great movies are made of. But I get to date my best friend and for that I am incredibly grateful. Besides, if life gets too easy and domestic I’ll just get a puppy and introduce that madness into our lives.

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.

Eight best of the “Hipster Harper” meme

Stephen Harper a hipster? Hardly these days, but a photo of Harper in his youth clad in a plaid shirt with shaggy hair has inspired some on the internet to dub him a proto-hipster.

The memes centre around just what exactly a cooler-than-thou young Harper’s motivations would be for his less popular actions as Prime Minister.

Check out our favourite eight examples of the meme from around the web.

 

Put a spring in your step

It seems spring has finally sprung. People are on the move, and more than eager to get back on track with outdoor activities and workout programs.

Still, many are still experiencing a touch of the winter blues. No matter how anxious, it’s not easy to switch gears from often lazy winter indoor activities and exercise routines.

No matter what your outdoor sport may be, starting slowly, rebuilding strength and endurance can save you from (or prevent) an early seasonal injury that can ruin a summer of fun and physical activity. For runners, who may have not kept up steady workouts over the winter as avidly as hoped, the progression of walking to jogging to running might be a route to consider. Remember, pre-run warm-up and post cool-down stretches to prevent injury, and to ensure a safe reentry into steady outdoor workout routines. Getting into a regular schedule, without pushing it, keeps you consistent and on track, without pushing your body too much, and can leave you wanting more…and that’s a sure sign you’re ‘back in the saddle.’

No matter how far you go, remember to take and drink water. You might feel the outing is not long enough to need it, but who knows: on a nice day, you may walk a little longer, or stop in a park. Water is always needed for strength, endurance and focus. If you love to cycle but hate the stationary bike, you may not have kept your legs as strong as they could be for riding outside. Getting back to the streets can test balance going over uneven pavement, stones and twigs. Early spring can bring a lot of rain. Wet streets are harder to stop on and can be a challenge for the best of riders at any time.

As important as anything, drivers aren’t as used to seeing as many bikers on the road and need to readjust their eyes and attitudes to the outdoor athletes of summer. Rain and wet roads are harder to navigate for them too. Some drivers don’t feel comfortable around bikers. Proper protection and rider safety is a priority.

Getting back in tune with your body is important too. Massage and reflexology are just two healthy, preparation and injury preventing approaches en route to getting back in touch with the body/mind connection.

And besides, they feel great.