More hurdles…oh well!

Late Spring 2014

 

The weather here in Canada is finally starting to get warmer and I’ve been enjoying the sun.  I love waking up in the morning, having a nice warm cup of coffee or tea as I sit and listen to the nature around me.  What’s so great about my neighbourhood is how quiet it is in the A.M.  I’m far enough away from the noise of the morning traffic… although the birds in all their Spring glory sometimes drive me a little crazy.

I’ve had to arrange and rearrange my plans due to the fact that my lovely father has decided to surprise me with his arrival from the Philippines.  It has, yet again, delayed my plans.  I’m frustrated, but I know that a couple days of a delay won’t be so bad.

I was supposed to be on a plane to Chicago tomorrow morning, but since my dad will be here at 3 am, I had to cancel my flight and my hotel… such a bummer.

I will be rebooking my trip next week and will be on my way!  I’m definitely getting anxious to travel, it’s been too long and I’ve got places to go and people to see! 😉

I hope you all had a great weekend and to my American friends I wish you all a very happy Memorial Day! 😀

SS

Zavida Coffee Review

Zavida

 

What I love about social media is that I find people and companies that are very interesting, but in this instance Zavida found me!

As an avid coffee drinker, I looked through their website and found that their company is located right in my province of Ontario; they’re company story began in 1980.  I looked through all their different coffees on the site and I contacted them to find out if their products were sold in a store nearby.

They responded right away and through email correspondence they directed me to Costco where I found their Hazelnut Vanilla blend as well as their Organic blend.  I chose the Hazelnut Vanilla (my fave flavour)…

whole bean

 

The beans are very fresh and look beautiful!

Ground Zavida

 

As my machine brewed the coffee it filled my house with the wonderful Hazelnut Vanilla scent, even my children asked if I was baking! lol

The coffee is even better than I thought!  It held its aroma with the taste to match!

If you are looking for a GREAT coffee, check out their website http://www.zavida.com and don’t be afraid to contact them.  Please also note that they are environmentally friendly and have all the varieties of products from Decaf to MiniSyrups.  Happy sipping everyone! 🙂

SS

Plans…plans…oh wait here’s an interruption…

I’m preparing for my trip to Chicago and Texas, when I get a text message that has delayed one part of my journey.  I’ve calmed down enough to know that these things happen and I’m not delaying my trip without good reason.

My dad will be returning from overseas where he has partially retired, since I haven’t seen him in almost a year, I would like to spend some time with him.  However, I will be definitely going back to Chicago and see the sites that I had wanted to see when I first visited.  I’m looking forward to seeing Harpo Studios taking the ferry or boat around the city…it will be nice to go back.  I’m still working out a few things and scheduling issues for my Texas trip, but I will be there just another delay of a couple weeks..I’m coming Texas!!  I PROMISE!!..I just need to see my Daddy first 😉

On the other hand, I’ve been having a great time with our radio show, we have a set schedule and we always have a blast.  It’s so great to know that I’ve met someone that I can work with and enjoy chatting with.  The best part of having an amazing cohost is the amount of laughter we share together.  We discussed social medias on our show tonight.  I can’t say enough how grateful and lucky I am to enjoy these great new experiences.  Life is great…and I’m a happy gal! 😀

Take care everyone and to my fellow Canadians, I hope you all have a fulfilled May 2-4 weekend!  Cheers!

SS

 

Tips for Buying a New Home

I have many friends that have asked me how I bought my first home and even though there is a lot of information on the internet, nothing will compare to actually going through the process for yourself.  Here is my experience.

It took me almost 2 years to find and buy my first home.  It was a 3 bedroom 1.5 bathroom semi-detached home, which is typical for a first time home buyer in my city.  I looked through the MLS.ca website every day and after a year I started working with a Real Estate agent.  Working with my first agent was not as exciting nor as helpful as I had thought it would be.  She showed me several homes within my modest price range, however most of them were decrepit homes or homes that were turned into rentals.  She made me feel obligated to make a quick decision and I admit, I felt pressured into putting an offer on a detached century home with a shared driveway.  In going through the process, I did not know the financial steps that I needed to take and the offer fell through.  The agent was “cold” and felt more sorry for the sellers than for me.  So, I dropped her like a hot potato!  It was a stressful and disappointing time, but I managed to shake it off and start again.

After another year of searches online again, I decided to find another agent.  This time, with more knowledge and confidence, I spoke to the new Real Estate agent, told him exactly what I was looking for and what my set price range was.  I told him upfront that I was in no rush and I didn’t want any pressure tactics.  He appreciated my straight forward approach and we emailed listings back and forth.

During the house searches and open houses on the weekends, I took my savings and called my bank for a mortgage.  I was turned down as I wasn’t working in my company for more than a year yet so as per their policy, I was not eligible.  Around the same time, my agent was listing the semi-detached home.  He acted as both selling and purchasing agent.  Now, sometimes real estate agents get a little greedy when they have a client that wants their listings, however I lucked out and my real estate agent was extremely patient and we had a great rapport.  With a few financial bumps which included going to a mortgage broker, I managed to purchase the home at an extremely high interest rate and 2 mortgages, which they call “B” lenders.

Mortgage brokers can get a bad rep because they see clients that have issues with banks (“A” lenders) and your mortgage can be covered with extremely high interest rates comparing to the banks.  I have a love-hate relationship with these types of brokers.  In the end, my interest rate was at 18% compared to, at that time, 8% at the bank.  This was not an ideal situation and I was strapped financially, but after another year I finally was accepted at my bank with an interest rate of 5.4%  WOOHOO!

So here are some quick tips that I would suggest:

– Clean up your credit – pay off or make regular payments on your credit cards as this will be added to your total debt which will affect your lending capacity

– Go to your bank and ask a bank manager exactly what steps you need to take financially to be approved through their institution

– Your time working at your job is crucial to most lenders as they want to ensure stability for your mortgage payments

– Closing fees for lawyers include transfer of deed, taxes, etc.  usually about 3-4% of the cost of your home

– Save a hefty downpayment – the bigger your downpayment the better, banks/lenders/sellers will take you more seriously and you’ll get closer to being approved.

– Aside from your downpayment – make sure you have money to set up your utilities, phone, cable – when setting up new accounts for these, most companies ask for at least a $200 deposit.

– Find a good Real Estate agent, there are tons out there, good and bad, so only work with an agent that you feel has your best interests in mind. Don’t be afraid to drop an agent if they are not a good fit for you.  Having a great agent makes the house search a more exciting and happier experience, so don’t let them pressure you…REMEMBER THEY WORK FOR YOU…and they are easily replaceable.

– Best time to purchase is usually between late Spring and the end of Summer, even if you don’t have children, this is an opportune time because most sellers will list around school schedules..it’s called a “Buyers Market” which means there are more listings available around this time.

– HAVE FUN, this will be a roller coaster ride of emotional and mental ups and downs, we all go through it with our first homes, reach out to family members or friends for support.  It’s great to talk with people who have been through the process and they may have some valuable information and resources for you.

I’ll make another post regarding Tips for Selling Your Home, soon.

Hope this helps! 🙂

SS

A household chore I hate doing!

It’s time to come “clean” and express my ultimate distain for a certain chore that I think most will sympathize with.

That is the dreaded… CLEANING OF THE BATHROOM!

Raising 6 children of all ages from adult to toddler is a very rewarding experience however, it does come with the added bonus of cleaning up the dreaded bathroom.

When I was single, my bathroom was pristine, everything in its place…sigh…the good ‘ol days.  Now, I cringe every time I walk in after my boys have been in there.  There are towels on the floor, toothpaste crusted on the counter, the sink is a nightmare and the tub is the nightmare’s cousin, and the TOILETS!!   I can’t even walk in without gagging when I look at that toilet.  Like, really?  These boys have horrible aim and I have actually walked in on my 5 year old making “designs” as he swayed, back and forth, handsfree…Yes get that visual!

So, with full gloves and my cleansing liquids, I venture into the world of my bathroom where the urine drops are real and my cursing begins….sigh…

I think this Mama needs to hire a maid!!  Waaaaah

 

Cleaning Time

 

Wish me luck!

SS

Review: imPRESS Press-on Manicure

imPRESS Press-on Manicure

 

I received these in the mail and it was a complete surprise!  It couldn’t have come at a better time because I removed the rest of my gel nail remnants and was just about to go to the salon.  I haven’t used press-on nails since I was 16 years old, so this kind of made me a nostalgic. lol

So, let’s get into it:

As you can see in the first picture, I received 2 different styles, one with a black lace pattern, and the other had a more oil slick look (Villains):

 

Villains

 

 

Villains

The “Villains” set had some inspirational characters on the side, I love that!

I decided to go with the Black Lace pattern:

Black Lace

First, the packaging is great!  They are shaped in a nail polish bottle and the cap twists off just like a polish.  It makes for great storage with the rest of my nail polishes on display in my studio.  They come with 12 nail sizes and a total of 24 nails which is great in case I need to replace one, or if I choose to do another full set later on.

The instructions are easy, pick your size for your nail, peel and stick!  The nails also came with a prep pad, which by the smell, seems to be an acetone type of remover to ensure a good clean bonding with the adhesive.

The sizes I chose fit my nails well, however my natural nails tend to curve down.  There is a little bit of space between the nail and the press-ons which kind of makes me concerned, however I will try them out for the week with normal wear and tear and see if they last.

I do believe these are a good alternative to painting or salon nails, taking less than 20 minutes to apply and perfectly shaped.

The pricing for these range from $8.99 to $10.99 for patterns and they are available at Walmart, Target, London Drugs, Loblaws, Jean Coutu, Katz and more.

Finish product

Here is the finished product…. so, on with the week and we’ll see how these nails can hold up with my hectic life! 🙂

#imPRESSmanicure

Thanks again to Influenster for sending these complimentary for testing purposes.

Makeup that will take me from Windy City and Austin heat

With the travel and all the projects we have planned for my upcoming trip to Chicago and Austin, I started to think.. Wait, what about my makeup?  Will it melt off my face in the heat and wind?  There’s nothing like looking fresh for the day, then I glance at the mirror, at the end of the day, and discover I look like a melted wax statue!  I don’t wear a lot of make up throughout the day as I work from home, however, I needed to find something that could protect my face and last.

I went to my local Shoppers Drug Mart and told the cosmetic salesperson what my dilemma was.  She suggested these:

IMG_0315

 

I’ve been using Smashbox Photo Finish Primer and Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream for the past week to test and see if these products together would solve my makeup problem.

The primer is very light and it creates a really nice smooth finish, the BB Cream is very thick yet it glides on easily.  I used my finger tips to apply both products in small amounts (little goes a long way).  I wanted to see how the product would hold up should I need to quickly apply it between flights.

Result:  I LOVE IT!

When it’s on my face it feels light and non-cakey and it does last all day.

Now, as far as the price it is on the higher end side of makeup, for both products it totalled about $100 taxes in.  That may seem pretty expensive for some, but I wanted the quality.  I’ve spent years and money wasted on drugstore brands that were always a hit and miss, so I look at this as a small investment on a great product.  Like I said before, I don’t wear a lot of makeup on a daily basis, so for me, this is a perfect fit.

Chicago and Austin… Here I come!  🙂

SS

Travel organization for gadgets.

I’ve been knocking down through my “To Do” lists and so far I’ve gotten the things I need to redesign my studio.  I will be working on that this weekend as well as some special projects.

For now, I decided to get some equipment to prepare for my upcoming trips to the United States  My challenge is to fit as many of these items in one place.

tons of stuff

So.. here we have it:

2 External Hard Drives
1 camera
1 pair of headphones

PLUS:

accessories

4 memory cards (1 in camera)

1 emergency external battery charger
Hard Drive cords
Card readers and adapaters

This is what I ended up with:

IMG_0339

The top half is deep enough to comfortably hold my 2 hard drives side by side and has a divider between the two halves, with a velcro tab closure.

On the other half of the divider I placed the camera wall adapter, my camera and my microphone.

Going back to the top half of the camera case, I placed the accessories with my hard drives and secured it with the velcro tab.

IMG_0344

And voila! 🙂

Lowepro

Now, I know you’re probably wondering “what about my headphones?”  Well, I decided to just put them around my neck or throw them on top of my bag when the time arrives.  I usually listen to music between flight waits anyway.

tripod

Next, I purchased this tripod.  It is pretty easy to set up, packs perfectly in a suitcase and is really light weight.  It also came with a 5 year warranty which was a nice bonus.  I will be trying it out with all my equipment throughout the weekend so I hope to get some before and after shots of my renovated studio.

Until my next adventures…  Take care everyone!

SS

 

Making things happen

Today marks a very important day for me, running arounds crossing my “t’s” and dotting my “i’s” have left me feeling like my mind is spinning… but in a GREAT way.

I will be finally ready to fly to my destinations by the end of this month, so I figured today would be a great day to start booking my flights.  With all the new sites and combo options available, I figured I’d go through my process in hopes it could help you.

I’ve been booking through Expedia.ca for a few years now and it has worked extremely well when booking flight and hotel stay.  I’ve also found great tickets through KAYAK etc.  However, now that my trip will be a multiple destination trip with 2 stops, I found that my Expedia quotation was rising really fast.

I decided to break up combos and search through the actual hotel and airlines individually.  It took a bit of work, but using the Expedia.ca recommendations I managed to save over $1900 of my travel budget.  Hmmm… these savings could definitely come in handy for my shopping budget!  😉

Hope this helps my fellow travellers!

SS

 

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