Sunday, 31 March 2013

New Tag - 'Real Estate'

I have reached the point in my life when my friends are starting to buy houses. Actually, my brother bought his first house soon after he finished high school, in the mid-2000's when he was only 19. Around that time, Taylor and Mark bought their first house as well. They have since upgraded to a larger house and are renting out the first one. Mike sold his first house, moved to Edmonton, and rented for a while. He then bought a condo with Aimee and they have since started renting it out as they have bought a house nearby to live in. James and her husband had a loft, sold it, and now own a duplex in Toronto. Steph and Dave got a house in Barrhaven a couple of years ago. Teri and Greg are looking around in Oakville. The list goes on.

I realized that I didn't really have a tag on Always Standing to commemorate the large and exciting event that is home (or apartment or cottage) ownership; so I have added 'Real Estate' and went back and tried to tag any past articles that may be relevant.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Quick Cell Charging

Cool Tip: Switch your phone to "airplane mode" before you charge it. Your phone won't search for a signal while it's charging and you'll get to full bars  more quickly.

(I am also using "airplane mode" in Steph & Dave's house this weekend because it sits right on the line of my cell phone provider's service area so sometimes texts are included in my package and sometimes they cost me money. Then, when we travel a bit into town I turn it off of airplane mode so I can get all my texts. It is a good way to protect your phone from costing you money because other people are sending you things - which I still feel should never cost you money, but I digress.)

Friday, 29 March 2013

Happy Birthday Steph

  The 'Champagne' Birthday Girl

 Stephanie Beach - A Beautiful Bride
Photo Copyright © 2012
By Genevieve Georget/Fifteen:Fifty-One Photograph

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Tip For My Dad

It is important to save money on gas, and my dad tracks it to make sure he gets it at the best price. I recently found the following tip on the internet:

Only get gas earlier in the morning. Gas is stored underground and in the early AM it is at its most dense and will give you more gas for your dollar.

While it’s true that gasoline may be more dense during the coldest time of the day – very often the early morning – colder temperatures won't give you enough extra volume of gasoline to really make a major difference. The real reason why you should buy gasoline in the morning is because often between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., gas station managers and owners get around to checking out their competition’s prices. In times of rising gas prices, if competing gas stations have raised their prices it tends to happen between 10 a.m. and noon.

But, the biggest thing is not waiting until your gas gauge drops down to "E." (Teri and Jason are bad about this.) It isn't good for your car's fuel injection system. It is better to fill up when the gauge is at a quarter, growing up I was told to do it between half and a quarter. Thinking about a refill at that point gives you some time to start looking at gas prices and shop around for the best place.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Happy Birthday Anna

Today is Anna's birthday! To celebrate why not have a look through the ANNA tag on Always Standing? I don't know how old she is, I do know she is younger than me (but also more accomplished.) I do know that she was born on March 27th (it says so in my planner, I didn't get it from Facebook as you may have suspected, I actually don't think she lists it on there.)

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Signs Of Spring

Long walks to go have dinner
Lots of runners seen along the road
Friends talk of patios
And desserts are offered a la mode

Temperature stays above zero and
Two single friends are now dating
Flowers in my garden bloom
Toronto rinks close their skating

Less are taking Toronto transit
Instead will bike or walk
People put away winter coats
Swans are at Long Point by the flock

And it becomes the perfect time
For me write a really bad rhyme!
-- Christine Sweeton, 2013

Monday, 25 March 2013

Money Challenge - Week 2

Time Frame: Update this week, maintain continuously
*Update my Expense Manager app on my cell phone and start tracking all my purchases, deposits, etc.*
Notes: I have a really great app on my cell phone that I was using a while ago to keep track of my money. It is already customized to my common purchases from the last time I was using it regularly. This week I need to adjust the money showing in the accounts to reflect my current amounts and then need to start recording all of my activity to see where I am spending my money and how I can save. 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Pop At A Movie Theatre

So, early in the week I posted about Weekly Money Challenges that Jason and I are trying to do and that the first one was to stop buying pop at restaurants/bars. Well, today we went to go see a movie (with Cailin, Nicola, Noah, and Kristen) and we couldn't determine what to do about pop at the movie theatre:

Jason's Side: Seeing that pop is over priced at movie theatres, it shares in the spirit of the challenge and therefore should not be purchased.

My Side: The challenge was only for restaurants/bars and a movie theatre doesn't count and therefore it can be purchased without breaking the challenge.

What do you think?

In general, those with us were split on the issue but Kristen did point out that free water is not served, I gather she has tried to get tap water in the past and they charged her for the cup. I really like the popcorn and it is so salty that not having a drink would be torture. On the other hand, when growing up my parents definitely never got movie food for me because all of the snacks are over priced and later on when I was in high school and university I would just sneak food in, so buying popcorn, candy and pop at the concession stand is a relatively new thing for me. I think it would be best to go back to sneaking food and drinks in, since that would save money and not change the experience, however it would take more thinking/planning ahead.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

But I Get 10 To Your 1

I destroyed another pair of ballet flats. Admittedly, I wore them all through the winter and the last part before they died I walked in a rain storm from Liberty Village to downtown. I always have a collection of different flats to wear, but I like to have black ones at all times. The ones I ruined were my black pair so I had to head to Ardene's the next day. Sure enough they still offer tons of styles at 2 pairs for $20, so I have 2 new sets of black flats that will last me a few more months. Here is one of the pairs:
Teri, and other friend's of mine, often suggest I just invest in a high quality pair instead of having to keep replacing my cheap pairs. I thought about it this time but I still don't think it makes sense for me. 'Better' flats (from Aldo, Clarks, etc) range in price from $60 to $120, so let's say $100 to make it easy. They do offer some things that higher quality shoes tend to offer - like being made of leather, more durable soles, etc. However, I have decided that my way works better, here are my thoughts:

Firstly, you really can't tell the difference. Put my flats next to a more expensive pair and yes you can tell the other  is made of leather but both pairs are still going to look cute, clean, basic, and nice. It doesn't make me look any less professional, stylish, cute, sexy, trendy, etc. Black flats are black flats, not really super exciting. So you can't see a difference and if you can that difference doesn't matter.

I can get 10 of mine for the cost of 1 of those. That means I get to go shoe shopping 4 more times! Since I get 2 pairs at once that means $100 gets me 10 pairs over 5 shopping trips - and I really like shoe shopping.

When replacing my shoes I only need to find $20 - but to get a nicer pair I would have to budget better and have $100 to spend on a pair of shoes, which happens only once a year or so and tends to be reserved for running shoes, boots, getting shoes for a wedding, etc.

I have the versatility of two different pairs at any given time and get to change styles frequently. I have had rounded toes, pointed toes, sparkles, different toe details, textures, bows, etc. Though a black flat is pretty basic no matter what.

I am hard on my shoes. I have no doubt that a higher quality pair would hold up better and last longer, but I still wear ballet flats about 95% of the time, all through the year. I wore them through the last two winters, partly because Toronto is pretty mild compared to Ottawa and also because I haven't found a pair of boots that I like. I also don't switch to sandals in the summer because my (very lax) work dress code doesn't allow for open toed shoes. Right now I replace my set of 2 black pairs about every 4 months, so $100 lasts 2 years - I would need the expensive pair to last that long, look fresh, not scuff, etc.

Lastly, and I feel most importantly, by some crazy luck/miracle I do not need to 'break in' a new pair of flats from Ardene's. Every style is perfectly comfortable - instantly (though I never get that strange kind that folds up because it has the elastic all around the top part - they look like they could be painful). I can buy a cheap pair and then wear them for 12 hours straight the next day. That might happen with a good pair too, but it might not. Sometimes shoes, even great ones, give you a blister somewhere at the start, or cut at your heel for a bit so that you need to wear a band-aid, etc. And in the end, for me, comfort is totally going to trump it.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Apologies To My Dedicated Daily Readers

So, I assume that most people check into Always Standing every couple of days, but I do have a few daily readers. Mainly this means Taylor and Lochlan. So apologies to them, and anyone else who has stopped by to read a new post and not found an update since Tuesday. It has been a busy week at work and I have been doing things over my lunch hour, which is a time I sometimes spend writing posts. On Wednesday I went to The Home Show with Monica and Heather is visiting so last night was spent catching up with her and Kristen, this means that basically my nights have been full too, which is the other time I use to write up posts.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Going To Bed

It isn't even that late... but I am tired and want to go to bed. I am getting better about actually getting myself into bed and sleeping once I get tired in the evening instead of staying up even when I know it is a bad idea. (However, this did mean I went to sleep at 9:30pm last night, though tonight it looks more like 11:00pm.) I will see you all tomorrow! Sleep tight.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Money Challenge - Week 1

Jason and I are trying to get better with/about money. We each have different strengths and weaknesses but hopefully working together we can improve our respective financial situations. So, each week we are going to have challenges that we do together and that we each do. I am going to post some of the ones that I am doing or the ones that we are doing as a couple. Feel free to participate and follow along - let me know how you do? Also, any tips or ideas for future challenges would be appreciated.

Time Frame: Starting now, maintain continuously
*No more ordering of pop at restaurants/bars*
Notes: This is a cost saving trick that I grew up with. My parents never bought drinks at restaurants when I was young, if it came with a Kids Meal then it was fine but besides that it was just water for us. The price of glass of pop, even when it is refillable, is ridiculously high. I think I will get a case of cans to keep at home in case the craving hits, seeing that a case is roughly the cost of one drink at a restaurants. This challenge will be especially hard for me, since I don't often get something alcoholic to drink and when everyone else is, I like to order pop as a treat. In that instance it is much cheaper that beer, win, or a mixed drink, but it still isn't worth the money.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

This Is Las Vegas

This is from a book that I gave my dad for Father's Day a few years ago, according to the inscription I made in the front, 2009 actually. I don't even really remember that, or where I bought it but I picked it up this weekend while I was at the cottage and finished the whole thing in a day and a half - quite the fun little read! I thought the following section was particularly good as it is fitting for both my love of Las Vegas and the current debate about Toronto possibly getting a casino:

"The casinos lie out there on the baked earth like extravagant toys discarded on a beach, their signs looping, beckoning, spiraling, and fizzing recklessly, as in that moment of glory just before the batteries run down.  'Las Vegas,' wrote Tom Wolfe, 'is the only town in the world whose skyline is made up neither of buildings, like New York, nor of trees, like Wilbraham, Massachusetts, but signs.  One can look at Las Vegas from a mile away on Route 91 and see no buildings, no trees, only signs.'  But what the signs are signaling so hectically are invitations less to luck than to fantasy.  The Strip is a Disneyland for the middle-aged, its hotels conceived not just as places to stay but as Hollywood sets, each built around an idea, each offering its guests the chance to star in the movie of their choice.  Those who have secretly hankered after Ben Hur go to Ceaser's Palace, where they can lounge on Cleopatra's Barge (with a view of the gaming tables) while their drinks are served by girls dressed as Roman slaves.  At Aladdin's, it's The Arabian Nights, at the Dunes and the Sahara discrete versions of The Desert Song, and at Circus-Circus Big Top, with trapeze artists flying about above your head while you gamble and a gallery of battering sideshows to bemuse the children.  Each is a world in itself, staffed by upward of three thousand people, with its own swimming pool, gymnasium, and arcade of expensive shops; many of the hotels have tennis courts or golf courses, and most of them stage elaborate supper shows, with famous stars and full supporting casts, more lavish and expensively staged than Broadway musicals.  Together they constitute a kind of movieland version of the Borscht Belt, with gambling as an added element of fantasy and release.  They also offer anyone with even a modest bankroll an appearance of the opulence, luxury, and obsequious service that is elsewhere reserved for the very rich.  For the few days his money lasts, the Las Vegas tourist can in every possible way feel like a film star.

The typical guest at a Strip hotel is a middle-aged and middle class - over a quarter of the guests are college graduates, a fifth are self-employed- and that is how the casinos want it.  They are more interested in turnover than in the really high rollers.  This is why they have failed to attract the oil-rich Arabs who fuel the gambling economy of Europe.  The Arabs, I was told, find Las Vegas rules too restrictive.  If they bet the table limit on a single number at roulette, they are not allowed to double that bet on a split number, or treble or quadruple it on a three-way or four-way chance, as they can in London.  The conglomerates that now own most of the casinos do not want million-dollar winners, or even million-dollar losers.  They want steadier, more moderate customers-those who will win or lose tens of thousands of dollars at most.  Which is, of course, more than enough to wipe out the majority of us.  But in the world of really big-time gambling they order these things differently, and Las Vegas has lost out as a result.  Its casinos turn over more than a billion dollars a year, but democratically, from twelve million weekenders, conventioneers, and passing tourists and some sixty thousand couples served annually by the town's second industry-quick marriages."

From The Biggest Game In Town by A. Alvarez, 1983
(And a big thank you to Jason for typing out the above passage for me while I watered my parent's plants.)

Saturday, 16 March 2013

My New Love Affair

I am in love with leeks! I tried them with Teri when we were visiting an old high school gymnastics friend recently and I remember being amazed then. Jason and I are spending the weekend at The Cottage and this morning I noticed in the Port Rowan Foodland that leeks were on sale for $1.19 each. We were already planning to do steak with mushrooms so I thought they would be a good addition. Sure enough, I was able to put together an awesome meal with leeks and mushrooms in a Balsamic and Lemon (and Worcestershire and Garlic) reduction. (Yes, I made a reduction, it wasn't super reduced but it I got it thick enough to comfortably call it by that fancy term.)

Then I served my fancy reduction over steak medallions that I had cooked earlier in the pan and kept warm in the toaster oven. (I made the reduction in the same pain used to cook the meat so as it make it more au jus/gravy ish.) I cooked the steak with the edges wrapped in bacon, but then I ended up having to take the bacon off after cooking it because it didn't fully cook, I guess it just ended up protecting the sides from getting too dark/dry. I also managed to make my steak medium-well. While I was aiming to do Jason's medium-rare is was probably closer to medium. However, this is still much better than my usual very well done way of cooking all meat (and pasta, and vegetables  and really anything on a stove top.)

As you can see I am quite proud of my cooking tonight. I still don't like doing it very much but I am getting much better at it. Lately, the things I make seem easier and it takes less time than usual. Also, they have been pretty creative, taste decent, and most impressively finish at approximately the same time so everything can be served together.

Still the best part of the meal tonight was the leeks, totally made the dish. They are so amazing - sweet and delicious! They are also really really good for you. I am going to start using them all the time!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Feeling Much Better

The PMS seems to have faded. I am feeling much brighter today. Friday's always seem like such happy days. I also am looking forward to a little weekend trip to The Cottage with Jason, which we are leaving for tonight after work. I need to go because my parents are away for a month and the mail needs taken in, plants watered, etc. To catch up on their trip be sure to check out my mom's blog: Vicarious Travelling.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

A Little Sensitive Today

I am feeling blue/mopy/sad. I think it is PMS.Wish I was in a better mood.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

And What Did You See?

----- from Facebook

My mom has mentioned a couple of times, both in person and in the comments, that she likes fully written posts on Always Standing. However, I really like posting these 'first word you see' type puzzles every now and then. Also, when I post them I tend to get tons of comments, you can see them all using the Quiz tag.

So, take note of the first word you see in the image below and share it as a comment:
So as not to influence you, I have included what I saw in the comments for this post. 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Now I Want A House

Last summer, I was dreaming about moving into an apartment building closer to work. However, over the past few months I have fallen out of favour with the idea of living in a large building. I now agree with Kristen, who never wanted to live in one, which is why Rrunuv Bayit is in a walk-up style of apartment instead of a large building.

I think I will need to keep living in an apartment for a long time though, since Toronto is so very expensive. However, eventually I would like to have a house (with a lot, I really like the idea of owning something that is connected to land.)

However, I found the perfect place - though it isn't that close to transit. 98 Old Colony Road! I know I said in that other post that "At night I literally dream about this place, the thought of it takes my breath away!" and I was talking about living in the Toy Factory Lofts. But I actually dreampt of this place before ever knowing it even existed! The Disney-Belle style library is what sold me, before I even scrolled down to see everything else. However, it looks like my dream has increased from $2.5 million to almost $8 million.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Answer To The Blog Quiz

Last week I asked you to look at my list of tags on Always Standing to find which one was spelt incorrectly. From her comment, I think Taylor is the only person who tried and so I will put her our of her misery and let you all off the hook. It is - Politcs - which I will now slowly switch over to the correctly spelt - Politics - for a while both will be listed.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Photo Shoot

I just finished a quick photo shoot with Anna, it really reminded me how much I like being behind the camera. Here is one of the shots:

Brick Beyond The Window
By Christine Sweeton

Saturday, 9 March 2013

7 Months

Today is Jason and my 7 month anniversary, I know this isn't a thing that people normally celebrate but it is a long dull winter and everyone needs a little excitement. We are having a little 'staycation' in Toronto and just got back to our hotel suite from an AMAZING Italian dinner at CaFfinO Restorante, in Liberty Village.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Friday Fail

Today was the first day. The first day that I truly failed at my goal. I didn't do a blog post.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Found It

Item Lost: My black pair of glasses
Time Lost: End of December 2012
Last Place I Remember: Drawer in my bedside table
Place Found: Bottom of grocery bag that held my bridesmaid's dress from Steph and Dave's wedding and some other things from Nic and Drew's wedding that I never unpacked

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Blog Quiz

One of the tags on Always Standing is spelt incorrectly. Which one is it? I hope to spend the week fixing it, which means going though all the posts tagged with it and then retagging it with the same thing only spelt correctly. Let me know in the comments if you figure it out!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Like Mother Like Son

This has only ever been mentioned in passing before, but Taylor can imitate a raptor (like a Velociraptor dinosor as seen in the Jerrasic Park movies). She tends to do this when she has been drinking. The back of the t-shirts we all wore at Taylor's Bachelorette featured a picture of her doing this - she is notorious for it. Now it looks like she has passed it on:

The Raptor
(Circa 2009)

The Wedding Raptor
(Photo by Stephanie Beach Photography, 2011)

Baby Raptor
(Looks like Lochlan is just a chip-off-the-old-block!)

Monday, 4 March 2013

I Try To Floss

------ from Twitter

Sunday, 3 March 2013

I Really Do Love Sloths

The collective noun for multiple bears is "sloth" as in "Oh my, I just drove past a sloth of bears." There is no collective noun for multiple sloths. I guess because sloths tend to be alone most of the time? But then again, so do bears.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

That Is Not Enough Candy!

My new roommate and I are taking turns cooking healthy meals for each other. I have gained a lot of weight lately and it will be a long and slow process to work it off with exercise and eating well. I ran across this list by wiseGEEK that shows what 200 calories looks like for various foods. I saw it originally on another site where they were presented in a more jumbled order; the first thing I thought was, "Oh, that is a good amount of butter, I could eat that." It then weirded me out that I responded to the butter and not the other types of foods I was looking at. I was very sad to see the amount of the various candies, as compared to all the other things.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Late Night With The Ladies

Long overdue Skype catch up with The GeoConnections Girls:

Anne - Eating cheese (Celebrating her French heritage)
ERin - Kissing Kirk (Reminding us that she is a Trekkie)
Me - Biting my planner (Proving if I don't write it down I forget it)