30 April 2010

A Chi Chi Door

Just a few hours until I'm on a plane to Florida!  I will miss chatting with you but my internet availability will be spotty.  I leave you with this latest door as my bon voyage...

I drive past this lovely little shop called Chi Chi on my way to work on South Osborne and I love what they've done with the exterior.  The vibrant turquoise is a very hot colour this year and it is made so elegant with the soft taupe and metallic textured walls.  Tres chic!

I popped into the shop for the first time to request a photo permission and met the owner Kathy.  She gave me a quick tour (I will return for a real visit after my trip) and I was delighted to discover the store is made up of 8 rooms, each with their own theme.  The bathroom is an actual bathroom decorated with Chi Chi's wares as is the den, the kitchen and very girly Chi Chi room.  This adorable Winnipeg boutique is filled with housewares, gifts, decor items, reusable bags and even refurbished furniture!

I took lots of photos to share and I'll tell you all about it in a future post.  For now, you can check out the website and online store for a sampling of all the goodies.

Have a lovely week and I will talk to you soon!

Written with love,

A Sunny Door

This door just plain brightened my day!

I almost missed it during my walk as the house has dense foliage and it was pouring rain.  But the sunny yellow caught my eye just as I was passing by. 

Not only is this what I imagine the colour of happiness to be....but the whitewashed boards and raw wood decking give it a warm, country feel.  It's hard to see, but the red sign is handpainted with welcome on it.  A fresh bouquet of flowers acts as a modern wreath.  Love it!

I imagine the owner to be kind, with smile crinkles around her eyes and her hair tied back from digging in the garden...she probably has loads of books all over the house and bakes her own bread.

So it's happened, on only my second door scouting trip for the door series.  A truck pulled up beside me down the street to question why I was photographing their house.  I pled charming and just told them I had a love of beautifully decorated doors and kept a photo collection of them. 

Should I have explained the blog?  Would they get it?  Should I start knocking on doors for pre-approval of my shots? 

And advice would be welcomed!

Written with love,

29 April 2010

Things I covet

I absolutely love everything that Anthropologie does, from clothes to jewellery to housewares.  Sadly, the nearest store is provinces away.

I've ordered their clothes online, but it's can be a crap shoot with the sizing.  Which is why I am so excited for my trip to Florida!  My other half has lovingly agreed to occupy himself while I do a touch of shopping at my favourite place.

These are the items I've been coveting and hope to find among the racks...

The perfect not-so-basic tee, I love the embellishment detail and soft draping!

What a glorious colour!  A great summer dress for the office to keep cool as the temperature rises.

{All pics from Anthropologie}

This fab necklace would look lovely next to the shirt or the dress!

Wish me luck!

Written with love,

Oh happy day!

What a thrill!

A radio spot I wrote has won a silver award in the 2010 Summit Creative Award competition

The spot was part of the fall campaign developed for local shopping destination St. Vital Centre by Fusion Advertising Agency, where I work as a copywriter.  You can listen to the full radio spot here.

Celebrating its 16th year, the Summit Creative Award spotlights works created by small and mid-size marketing firms around the globe.  There were thousands of entries from 24 countries with an amazing panel of judges including international ad agencies like Ogilvy B2, Saatchi&Saatchi, Pixel & Co. Creative Marketing, Stellar Debris and more!

I was too excited not to share!

Written with love,

28 April 2010

Well Suited

What's the worse thing to shop for?  Bathing suits of course!

With only 2 days until I leave for one glorious week in the Florida Keys, I was still without bathing suit.  Oh sure, I had that ratty years-old suit with the stretched out straps and the see through bum.  So. Not. Acceptable.  But previous shopping trips had proved fruitless.

Until my lunch hour today!  Would you believe I found the absolutely perfect retro maillot during a 35 minute race against time?  That never happens!

My new suit makes me feel like a 60's sex goddess/movie star.  It's simple, elegant and retro in the best kind of way. 

I'm not a bikini gal and it's impossible to find cute one-pieces.  They are always so matronly, with outdated prints and miles of painful wires and layers of material.  I picked up this saucy little number at Swimwear Etc. , the price wasn't ridiculous AND it has UPF +50 sun protection!

This is how I imagine I look in it...

{Courtesy of Opera}

I cannot wait to frolic in the ocean in my fabulous new suit.  Thank you shopping gods!

I'd love to hear about your oh-so-perfect shopping find...

Written with love,

Who knows what could happen?

This is the front of a birthday card I received a few months ago. I kept it because it seemed so timely considering all the changes that have gone on in my life.

Just wanted to share and remind you of all the great things just waiting to happen to you!

Happy Wednesday.

Written with love,

27 April 2010

Forever Door - New Series

I think doors are so interesting.

They can open to let visitors into your home.  Or you can close them and tuck yourself inside in your private personal space.

I love looking at doors on houses and seeing all the unique and interesting things people do with them.  They are a huge statement opportunity and by simply changing the colour of a door, you can change the style of a house!

So I'm starting an ongoing series of posts on interesting doors.  As they catch my eye, I'll photograph them to share.  I'll watch for cool doors in my neighborhood, around the city and in my travels.  If you have a great door to share, please send it along to me.  

For my intro door, I decided to show you my favourite door on my street.  I think it's elegant, without being stuffy and the cream/white/black colour palette is sharp and modern.  I'm not usually a fan of brass accents but with this traditional style I think it really works!

Here's a wider view, to capture the great steps and pots, they really frame the door.

If you see a tall gal with a camera taking pictures of your door - it's a compliment!  Hopefully no one minds...

Written with love,

Many lovely things

Some people are born artists. 

My friend and co-worker Anja Studer makes jewellery and purses, shoots amazing photography and paints lovely pictures.  She simply creates.

In May, Anja will be  moving into a work space in the Cre8ery Gallery here in Winnipeg, as well as showing her work in their upcoming summer show.

You can sheck out Anja's blog here and her flicker portfolio here.

I'm lucky enough to have Anja taking my photo for the blog sometime in the coming weeks.  I'm so excited for a professional photo shoot!  Watch for it...

Written with love, Lenore

26 April 2010

Simple, Fresh, Delicious...

Homemade soup is the cure for all your troubles.  And if you don't have any troubles, it's still pretty darn good!

I've been making a lot of homemade soup lately.  For a couple of reasons.  

It's delicious and fresh and usually fairly simple.  It loads me up with veggies without really thinking about it.  It's pretty inexpensive and a little meat or seafood goes a long way.  My other half can eat and eat and eat...so if I make a ton of soup I can usually keep him pretty satisfied.

I picked up one of those lovely little Better Homes and Gardens specialty publications that cost a zillion dollars and are filled with only soup recipes.  Like I said, they're not cheap but I've been very impressed with the quantity of great recipes (and mostly non cream-based, which I prefer).  We've tried over 30 since getting the book (it has 180 recipes) and haven't been disappointed once!

Here's one of my faves, White Bean Soup with Sausage and Kale.  I just made a huge pot and it's simmering as we speak!

1 package spicy italian turkey sausage, cut into slices (recipe called for regular mild italian, I like to substitute)
1/4 cup water
1 Tb vegetable oil
1 medium chopped onion
1 Tb minced garlic (I keep the bottled minced garlic in the fridge)
2 15 oz cans white kidney beans
2 14 oz cans chicken broth
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with italian seasonings
4 cups coarsely chopped kale (or you can use spinach)
ground black pepper to tastle
fresh parmesan to sprinkle over soup

In a skillet, cook the sliced sausage in the water for 10 minutes until no longer pink.  Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large pot heat oil over medium heat.  Saute onion and garlic for 5 minutes until tender.  Add the beans, broth and undrained tomatoes.  Bring to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes.  Add drained sausage, kale and black pepper.  Simmer, uncovered for 5 more minutes or until kale is wilted. 

Serve with parmesan and chunks of fresh bread.

Bon appetit!

Written with love, Lenore

Beautiful Women

I do occasional freelance writing for Winnipeg Women.  It's a great local magazine about women and lifestyle.

Every year Winnipeg Women profiles incredible women in their Winnipeg's Most Beautiful Women issue.  I had the pleasure of interviewing and writing about Bev Larmour and Sharon Taylor.

Local photographer Ian McCausland shot the ladies for the cover of this very special issue

Winnipeg Women and other Studio Publication titles have recently launched as a digital publications, so you can now read entire issues of the magazine online.

Check out my profiles of the women here.

Written with love,

25 April 2010

Happy Sunday

It's bbq season!

My family is in town and staying with us.  The warm weather begs for a bbq, the perfect family gathering.  I was stuck in a rut on the burgers and dogs for the big group, but my other half came up with a little bit of bbq brilliance. 

The shishkabob!  Or, as he likes to call it - the shishkajack!  What a great way to enjoy tons of fresh grilled veggies and really impress the family.   We chose the classic mushrooms, red onion, green pepper and tomatoes (they add a real juicy flavour).  Marinated sirloin completes the bunch.

Why not try something different for you next bbq? 

Happy Sunday and enjoy the final day of your weekend!

Written with love, Lenore

24 April 2010

Boot Lovin'

I'm ready for spring 2011!

This spring, the backyard of our new beloved house became a swimming pool.  Poor drainage, a sloping piece of land, quick thaw...whatever the reason I was unable to make it to the truck without a lifeboat.  So I parked on the street for several weeks. 

I also ruined several pairs of shoes at the dog park.  I dreamed of the perfect pair of cute rubber boots to save my drenched soul.

And so they appeared!  At Winners.  For $24.99!!  Granted, the fairy godmother delivered them several weeks too late.  But in my closet they will sit until spring rears it's soaking wet head next year...

For anyone else looking, I saw solids, animal prints, plaids like mine, and many other adorable pairs for cheap, cheap, cheap!

Written with love, Lenore

23 April 2010

Things I Covet

I covet beautiful notebooks.

Maybe it's the writer in me.  Maybe it's my love of organic prints. 

Whatever the case, I set out on this gorgeous Friday after work in search of a lovely little notebook. 

It is one of those days, where you don't mind sitting in traffic because the sun is shining.  Your radio station is kind enough to play some Bob Marley and you are starting your weekend. 

I stopped into The Creative Paper Gallery Ltd. on Corydon to see what they had in stock.  Besides cards, wrapping paper, paper products and wedding invitations, this little shop carries all kinds of giftware, trinkets and beautiful things. 

I picked up this set of 3 writer's notebooks from Galison Green, they're 100% recycled, come in 3 pretty, leafy patterns and I will feel happy everytime I make a list or jot down an idea!

Written with love,

Starbucks Hearts Soy

I was grabbing my usual soy latte at Starbucks today when the barista leaned over and told me a secret.

Starbucks will now be making their frappucinos with soy, if one so desires...

This was met with sheer delight on my part, at which point I thanked the barista profusely for taking it upon himself to inform me of this juicy little nugget.  With the warmer weather setting in, I had relegated myself to a long hot summer of iced soy lattes (good girl) instead of frothy frappucinos (bad girl).

Soy lovers rejoice! 

We get to be good girls AND bad girls this summer.

Written with love, Lenore

22 April 2010

So Stylish it Hurts

You know that one person in your life who always seems so effortlessly, stylishly put together?

That is my co-worker Anja.  She's originally from Switzerland, which gives her a chic, European edge right off the bat.

Every day she comes into work, whether she's wearing a baseball cap or a business suit, looking so, so good.  Another co-worker Charity admitted she often analyzes Anja's outfits and says to herself 'I have a sweater like that...I could wear that look...damnit!  No I couldn't.'

Today we had a big client meeting, so I broke out a decent blouse, wore my darker jeans and brushed my hair (okay, that was the same as every day).  Thought I had it going on!

Until Anja walked into the office looking like she was Audrey Hepburn going to the Academy Awards!  Damn you Anja for making me feel frumpy!

We could all despise Anja, except for the fact that she's one of the sweetest people I know.  So scratch that.  Instead, I decided to releash my style frustrations on the blog and Anja (in good nature) agreed to be photographed so I could back this all up.

 She swears her secret is layers.  I swear it's because she's European.

Written with love,

21 April 2010

Just plain awesome

Everywhere I turn today, I'm hearing about 1000 Awesome Things.

From being passed around on email at the office.  To Heather's top pick at Chapters.

And awesome it is.

Neil Pasricha was having a really bad year.  Like your closest friend committing suicide bad.  Like your wife leaving you bad.

So he decided to start a blog that recognized small, yet awesome things.  This would be to pay attention to the small stuff and help him stay grateful for all the good things he had in his life.

The idea turned into a blog.  The blog turned into a book. And now Neil Pasricha is on everyone's mind.  And making them happy.  I'm particulary fond of #528 - When your pet notices you're in a bad mood and comes to see you.

I've spent so much time racking my brain trying to figure out the direction of my blog.  It's become so complicated.

Sometimes you need to just sit back and realize that simple can be really good.

In fact, it can be downright awesome!

Written with love,

20 April 2010

Good and Bad in the Hood

On a happy note, I've been noticing that houses popping up for sale in my Winnipeg neighborhood of Fort Rouge are slapped with a SOLD sign in just days.

This is great because we bought our house knowing it was in an 'up and coming' area.  Yes, there's lots of couples and families like us, moving in and revitalizing 100 year old houses.  But the streets are also spotted with homes that look like they could be on an episode of 'Hoarders'.

So it's reassurring to see houses being snapped up right down the street!

On a sad note, I drove down South Osborne today and noticed that the Ken Segal Gallery had a 'Space for Rent' sign in the window.

I know the gallery hasn't been there that long and it's one of the small businesses that always caught my eye on the South Osborne strip.  But the strip is like the neighborhood.  It's an ecclectic blend of amazing shops and restaurants like Bistro 7 1/4, Chocolate Zen Bakery, Hannah the Dressmaker and Champa Bistro.  But it also has rundown storefronts and vacant spaces mixed in.

It made me think about the fact that loving having these businesses in my neighborhood is not enough.  I have to make more of an effort to frequent them, so that they stay and thrive.

So the next time you pass your favourite local neighborhood business, stop by.  Keep them there

Written with love,

Cold city - Right life

Life fell into place when I moved to Manitoba.

The stars aligned.  The paths cleared.  The ducks found their row.

It certainly wasn't the easiest decision to turn my life completely upside down on it's head.  But I knew I had to do something. 

I had been living in Calgary for 8 years (and couldn't stand the traffic).  I had a good job on paper at one of the country's most famous employers (that I hated in real life).  I had an amazing condo downtown (with loud neighbors that stomped above me all night).  I passed the mountains every day in the distance (and rarely every actually went there).  I was single (but went on 147 bad dates).  I had amazing friends (still do, that's the one thing I won't complain about!).

So I sold the condo, quit the job, kissed my friends, packed up the U-haul and said goodbye to my life as I knew it.  And moved to the coldest, buggiest place on earth.

Fast forward 2.5 years...

I fell in love (with the same guy I fell in love with at 15 years old).  I bought an adorable vacation property just 3 minutes from the beach.  I bought a character-filled 100 year old house in one of my favourite Winnipeg neighborhoods.  I got a puppy who fills me with joy.  I got a job at an advertising agency that feels like the most perfect job I could have asked for.  I'm making amazing new friends.

My only regret?  Missing my ladies.  But I know they're always there.

Best decision I ever made.

What's the best decision you every made?

Written with love,

19 April 2010

For Arts Sake

When I hear the words 'gallery show opening', I think of New York City...and coctails...and Sex and the City...and things that aren't a huge part of my life.

But when I was invited to one, I thought - now this could be something cultural and exciting to zest up my routine.  So I invited one of my fresh new friends (see previous post) and headed out on a Thursday night for some art and conversation.

The Woodlands Gallery on Academy in Winnipeg is a cozy little space filled with great art.  It's owned by Jen, who is engaged to a friend of my other half.  It was the opening for the Spring Expressions show featuring new paintings by Marcel Cote, Melan and Betty Suprowich.

I'm by no means an art expert.  More like an art appreciator.  I like to look at it.  It makes me happy.  It makes me think.  Going to an art exhibit is not something I often think of doing, but once I'm there it's that extra bit of fresh inspiration that I like.  It opens the mind just a little.  And the lovely wine did help.

So I did two things slightly out of my comfort zone.  I attended an art show and I invited out a new friend.  They were both good decisions, as new things often are...

Want to step outside the comfort, but something's holding you back?  Don't let it.

Written with love,

17 April 2010

No Judgement Part 2

Thanks for all the great comments, both private and public.  Of course, as soon as I finished the original post I had a million other thoughts in my head swirling around.  It really got me thinking even deeper and everything you added to the conversation just added fuel to the fire.

Although it's great to work on no judgement, a friendship is still a living, growing thing that needs to be nurtured.  It's just that every friendship probably requires being nurtured in different ways.

Here's some other things I plan to do to be a better friend.

Acknowledge my part in keeping the friendship alive - I once read that in order to have friends, you have to be a friend.  I'm guilty of reading my friend's Facebook statuses or browsing through their pictures without commenting.  I feel connected with them when they reach out to me, so I have to do the same.  If the phone doesn't ring for a while, I will just pick it up myself.  Everyone loves to get a call from a friend, right?  Who cares who called last.  What are you doing to build your friendships?

Enjoy each friend for who they are - I have friends I love to shop with, get manicures with, and talk about work.  And I have friends who I pour my heart out to the minute I see them.  They're equally important in my life.  I have friends I talk to every week or so.  And I have friends I only see once or twice a year.  They're equally important in my life.  When I moved to Winnipeg and all my friends were scattered across the country, I worried we would drift apart.  I realize now that only happens if you let it.  Think about each of your friends.  Cherish that special thing you love about them and only them.  The friend that makes you laugh is just as important as the one you always call when you want to cry...

Give a little  - I don't love shopping with other people.  But my friend does.  I'm going to just go.  I hate talking on the phone on Sunday nights, but that's when my friend always calls.  I'm going to suck it up.  My friend lives on the other side of town.  I'm going to offer to make the drive more.  What goes around, comes around in the long run.

Share more of myself but also listen more - Sometimes you have to be first to share, in order to open the floodgates to a deeper friendship.  I'm a pretty internal person (hence the blog), and I sometimes feel like i have trouble connecting with people.  But I've discovered they can feel the same way.  So if I'm finding things are a bit ackward, I'm going to share more.  Go beyond the surface.  Then in turn, I'm going to listen more.  And get to know them even better.  Because you truly do have to give - in order to get.

What are you doing to be a better friend?

Written with love,

15 April 2010

No Judgement

Friends are pretty wonderful. 

I appreciate them more as I get older.  I also realize now how precious they are.  That friendships may have been easy to start, but they are not always easy to keep.  Especially as everyone gets older, moves away, creates their own little families and even makes changes in themselves.

I have acquired some amazing friends.  I've also been in the unfortunate position of losing friends.  Whether due to a falling out or simply drifting away, it's always very painful.

But it's forced me to take a long hard look at myself and figure out my part in it all.  I really do think it all comes down to judgement.  If a friend doesn't call or write, I've often thought they didn't care.  Then I turned around and did the exact same thing myself.  Life gets in the way and it's nobody's fault.  I don't care about them any less because I'm busy.  And they don't care any less about me.

But bad feelings can build if you let them run away on themselves.  The past is the past.  We all make mistakes.  So I've resolved to try my hardest at 'no judgement'.  We'll talk when we can talk.  We'll get together when we can get together.  And we'll be there for each other when things go sideways, no matter what.

Now that I'm in a fairly new city (2.5 years), I've been forced to go back to the playground and make friends again.  Not the easiest thing at 33.  But I think I have a lot to offer.  I'll do better each time I take a kick at the can.  And I've had some great opportunities to meet new people. 

The rest is up to me.  Without judgement.

Written with love,

13 April 2010

Just blog..it'll be okay

One of the coolest things about this blog thing has been that people are actually reading it.  And commenting!  That gets me jazzed up so then I write more...and on and on it goes.

So far, I have heard from several very cool, very interesting ladies telling me  they would love to blog.  But 'oh I'm not a good writer and I don't know what I would write about'.  I'm here to publicly share with you, what I've told them.

You gals have lots to say!  Think about what makes you..well, you.  What is going on in your life that is unique.

For example, the lovely Jen is a hip, young twentie/thirtysomething who owns her own art gallery in a very cool neighborhood.  Come on!!  How many other young start ups would love to hear from a small business owner making it work? Or what advice she would share about buying your first piece of art?  Or how she chooses her artists?  I could go on....I even suggested a name like 'Random thoughts from the Gallery Gal'.  Wouldn't you want to read it?

Or the fabulous Shauna, who teaches kids and recently bought a crazy new camera.  I'm a terrible photographer.  I would love to read her blogs about learning to take great photos, with lots of her amateur shots from around the city posted for inspiration.  Even if it's just an experiment - like 'The 30 Day Point and Click Project'.  I'm just throwing it out there!

Jess would have a killer blog about quitting Calgary life so she could afford her own house in Saskatoon, only to find love, marriage and baby shortly thereafter.  I'd call it 'Happily Ever Saskatoon'!

Carrie, I cannot wait to read your new business blog as you branch out on your own as home business owner/mommy living the life in Vancouver.  How about 'The Baby Biz Blog'? 

Laura would have the ultimate retirement blog, because she will never full settle down.  It would be full of advice mingled with inspiration, because she's just that sort of person.  Maybe 'Type A Retirement'?

The point it, there's a blog for everyone.  That's why it's called a community!  I was deathly afraid of starting mine, and it's the best decision I ever made (except for you honey...).

Special thanks to Nat for really getting me going.

So just blog, it'll be okay!

Written with love,

12 April 2010

Free Starbucks on Thursday!

I have a Starbucks addiction.

I know, I know...I am not alone.  The darn cost is bleeding me dry.  I could be making payments on a brand new Accord for the money I funnel their way. 

So imagine my delight to discover I could indulge for free this Thursday!!  On April 15th, bring your reusable travel mug to your local Starbucks and they will fill it with coffee for zip, zilch, nada!

This is being done in an effort to eliminate paper cups completely.

Go ahead - hit your local Starbucks this Thursday guilt-free!

Written with love,

11 April 2010

Pssst! Love shoes?

I've got a shoe shopping secret to share. 

If you love to shop for shoes and either a) have a hard-to-find-size, b) prefer to shop in the comfort of your home or c) don't like the attitude you can get at the shoe store when you want to try on lots of pairs, then I've got the answer for you.

Aldo has a great selection of stylish, reasonably priced shoes.  But everytime I go into the store, they never seem to have my size (the elusive size 11).  Then I found out that on their website, they carry almost every single style in 11.  Eureka!  Shipping is free for an order over $100 (order 2 pairs and you're usually covered) and you can do free returns at any Aldo store.  It's a dream come true!

I recently ordered 2 pairs of black leather ballet flats to compare, returned one and kept these bad boys...

How nice to do my shopping pressure free and get the exact shoes I want - without driving around the mall parking lot for 20 minutes trying to find a spot!

Oh yeah - and my Pumas arrived!  Here they are in all their scarlet glory.

May the shoe be with you!!!

Written with love,

10 April 2010

Wanderlust for Less!

The countdown is on until we leave for the Florida Keys!  I travelled a lot in my twenties and I still have a raging case of wanderlust.  But then I got into a relationship.  We bought a house.  We bought a dog.  We have bills.

But travelling is important to me so we planned ahead and researched to death and scrimped and saved to have a kick-butt yet affordable vacation.  7 glorious days tripping around the Florida Keys.  Here's a few tips for your future kicke-butt yet affordable vacation.

1.  Widen your flight search - Because we would be renting a car, I was able to search out of Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Miami to find the cheapest option.  I checked both the major discount sites (Expedia and Travelocity) but I also checked the individual airline sites for seat sales.  I grabbed the last couple of seats for a Winnipeg-Fort Lauderdale on WestJet for just $550 each, all taxes in.  Because we booked the flights back in January, we paid them off first.

2.  Think outside the hotel - I searched high and low for a decent, well priced hotel in the Keys.  I read all the 'user reviews' and checked all the specials.  It still seemed too expensive plus we would most likely have to pay parking fees on our rental car.  Ouch!  So I decided to go a different route.  On http://www.vacationrentals.com/, potential renters are linked up with private vacation homeowners looking to rent their secondary properties.  The site is huge and offers everthing from house to condo to cottage rentals from New York City to Dubai and everywhere in between.  You can search by location, price, # of rooms and much more.  We secured a condo mid-keys with a balcony overlooking the ocean.  It has a full kitchen, queen sized bed, and pool and tennis courts right in the complex.  Plus free parking for our rental car.  We were able to negotiate directly with the owner and scored a full week for just $775US including all taxes and cleaning fees.  What a deal plus we get to cut costs by making our own breakfasts and having a BBQ in the condo her and there.  My co-worker Florence even rented a studio in San Francisco for her anniversary trip in September!

3.  Open a US account - In order to send personalized cheques for our condo rental, I opened a US chequing account with my regular bank TD Canada Trust.  The fees were minimal and allowed me to send trackable, protected amounts of money to the condo owner.  We deposited savings into it every couple of weeks and watched the dollar move all the way up to par!  We saved the money order and Paypal fees while building up our vacation mad money.  We have over $800 saved so far!

Yes, that dream vacation is possible.  So do some research and start planning your getaway!

Written with love,

08 April 2010

Going Social

I love work luncheons because it's nice to leave the office and i'm a bit of a learning geek.  So it's great to take in some new info.

Liz Hover was the guest speaker discussing the current hot topic of social media.  This was timely for me in both a personal and professional sense.  Personal because of the recent kick off of this blog.  Professional because we're developing a brand new company website and I'm writing the majority of the content.

Not a fan of the term social media, Liz prefers to explain the new communications direction as 'using the internet to communicate and interact with others'.  She gave a rundown on the the basics of twitter, facebook and other related tools that will benefit any marketing communicator.  With an emphasis on the commitment required to keep content fresh and relevant, Liz explained that if you are not interacting and responding to the people following your business - you might as well not bother.  It's not hard but it does take a real time commitment.  A commitment worth making to stay relevant in the new world of communications.

I was pretty pumped up by the influx of brand, spankin' new ideas so I finally caved and created my own twitter account.  This will help me link my blog to an even wider audience.

She also stressed the importance of creating content that is genuinely interesting to readers.  What problems do they want solved?  What information would help them?  What do they want to know about?  Liz's own blog Diary of a Web Gal was a great inspiration, you should definitely check it out.

I've got a lot of questions to ask myself to truly fine tune my own content.  Thanks for following along for the journey!

Written with love,

05 April 2010

Dog park people

I have encountered the tribe known as the dog park people.  This was our first time at Churchill Park in Riverview and it's a great place, with lots of rolling grass hills and a prime river view.  Hence, it's in Riverview.  Anyway, we came across another dog, which quickly turned into 2 then quickly turned into 22.  Not kidding, it was like I would imagine parents at the park all watching over their children and shouting words of encouragement and complimenting the other parent's children.  One dog parent brought a communal water bowl for everyone to share.  Gus hogged it, which was a little embarassing considering it was our first time with the 'group'.  I kept thinking 'GUS!  Don't bogart that water!'.  But everyone was very gracious about it.  It was a pretty dominant bunch and Gus was by far the smallest dog, but I was a proud mama as he got in there with the giant dogs and sniffed some butts of his own.  Everyone was tittering about who the new dog was, so we did lots of waving and 'he's ours'.  But he impressed, with his small but confident stature and mellow nature.  Yes, Gus made mama proud.  Guess we're dog park people now...

Written with love,

To blog or not to blog...

In the land of blogging, is it better to post a lazy blog when you have nothing to say or not to blog at all?  Does this go hand in hand with the 'if you don't have anything nice to say' rule? 
One of the challenges I'm facing with the blog is walking the fine line between interesting content for readers and flat out journaling.  I know you are interested or you wouldn't be reading, but a play by play of my day is not always riveting entertainment.  It's day 4 of 4 days off so I'm probably just running low on inspiration. 
A lot can happen in 4 days - like say a baby being born (welcome to the world nephew Wyatt), several family get-togethers with copious amounts of food consumption (thanks mostly to Fred!), more getting to know of my other half's family (so nice to spend time with you Kathy), multiple morning sleep-ins (my favourite!), researching a selecting a healthier dog food alternative (thanks to the folks at Pet Valu for their advice, we ended up choosing Wellness so we'll see how Gus likes it), a few lattes and dog park visits (one of my new favourite things to do) and now trying to be creative about turkey leftover recipes (I'm about to start a turkey rice soup).  And that's just the tip of the iceberg! 
But I did want to stick with my goal of staying regular with the writing, and I'm glad I did.  Here's a shot of me and my first ever nephew the day he was born.  Oh to be starting your life at day one!

Written with love,

01 April 2010

Hotel Hume-McGee Part 2

Oh compromise!  Supposedly the foundation of any great relationship. This tool came in very handy when it came down to the decor colours of the spare room.  I love the gentle hug of neutral colours.  My other half loves the vibrant high five of bold colours.   When I asked what he thought our colour scheme should be  (thinking to myself how great a cool grey blue or a warm chocolate brown would work), he nonchalently replied 'chartreuse'.  O-kay.  I took a deep breath, opened my mind and went shopping for something bold.  The results will take some getting used to, but they're growing on me.  As uncomfortable as change may be, however small, it does always feel a little satisfying in the end.  I know, I know, it's just a bedroom.  But I'm glad I went for the high five.

A quick rundown on the budget shopping for the room...I picked up most of the pieces at JYSK since they have such bargain basement prices for cute household items.  Got the duvet cover on sale for $24.99, the rug was a floor model I got for $52.00.  The pine double bedframe was a floor model as well marked down to $150.00 and the mattress was a steal at 195.00 (it's no tempurpedic but it's decent).  Even the lamp was a deal at $7.99.  The cube I 'borrowed' from the living room and the wood side table was an old IKEA purchase that I had stored in my mom's garage for the last 10 years.  Right on budget!
Written with love,