Thursday, June 26, 2014

Life Lately

Hello Friends!

I know, as per usual, it has been forever since I posted. Story of my life... and of this blog. The truth is I have not been quite well, and I also haven't had much time to work on this here blog at all.

Let's just say posting will continue to be erratic at best. For this I am sorry, but I appreciate all of the people who continue to stop by and to read!

I've compiled several pictures from all of the adventures I have been having including:

1) Starting a New Job
2) D's Race Car Course
3) Our friends beautiful Surprise Wedding (the BEST!)
4) D's 30th Birthday
5) Family Moments from the past 2 and a half months...

Okay - enjoy the fun pictures :)

Mother's Day 2014! At the grandparents place enjoying family time!

Mother and Daughter cooking away!

Hanging out with cutest dude ever!

The Mill of Kintail is so beautiful! 
A little outfit photo - my black maxi from Loft is so comfortable!!! I tied it so that I wouldn't trip over it all day

Me and my best friend... looking for Mr. Frog

And sword fighting... because that is what we do!

We had the darndest time finding Mr. Frog... 

Secret Wedding!!!!! So Amazing :) 

This event was actually a Garden Tea Party Fundraiser - so many cups!
We also recently celebrated D's 30th with Race Car Lessons *yes, I am the best girlfriend ever*

Sizing up the track

Learning the car!

Thanks for sticking around friends :) I miss you and I'll work on being inspired to share more with you!

Enjoy the summer, I'm sure I'll be back here and there!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Loft Living

It's been a while crocodiles!

Sorry, again, for all of the silence in these here parts. I have been distracted by something called a "Full Time Job", and when you add in two hours of commuting each day, it really makes it hard to find time to keep up with all of my lovely Internet friends (all 3 of you!)...

But, I digress. Today I wanted to share something a little bit more fun! I have been slightly obsessing over Loft style condos and wanted to share some pictures of my favourite places. D and I would love living in spaces like these, however, they are at the top end/beyond our price point... and its really hard for us to say yes to a place just because it has exposed duct-work! These aren't necessarily located near us, FYI, these are just gorgeous photos I found while browsing the interwebs, ya dig?

I bet generations of old are rolling over in their graves that there are people like me and D who love "unfinished" places... C'est la vie!

Okay, so on to some fancy photos, shall we?

Look at that exposed brick!!! Warning... all of these photos may have this feature... okay... moving on...

I can't even handle the balcony/staircase in this one... So rustic and gorgeous! Again, exposed brick... but I don't like the colour of it, to be honest... Note - finished walls do exist in my dreams folks :)

iLoftCondos. Toronto Lofts and Toronto Condos
SPIRAL STAIRCASE!!! Come on people - this stuff is gorgeous! Also... check out the breakfast bar/island combo... I like the use of space in this kitchen. QUESTION: How do you get your bed up that staircase when moving in? (Maybe there is an elevator?!)

Ummm this is a hotel in Montreal.. As in Canada... as in I need to go stay here! Also, those walls... People - do you understand what I find so delicious about these walls?  I love how rough and raw and ORIGINAL (looking) they are.

Floating staircases are so cool! I love the neutral colour palate of this space, the funky windows, and the exposed brick (obviously). I would just throw in some fabulously punchy coloured pieces and be living the dream... my dream!

Okay, I need to stop or else I will be so very sad. These are the places of my dreams, kids... And I think the common theme we have discovered is: exposed brick, awesome unique staircase, and exposed beams make a pretty lovely place.

I hope you are enjoying your Saturday wherever you are!


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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Health Talk 101: Chronic Disease Management

Our view from the Go Station - D took this - Beautiful :) 

Good Sunday afternoon friends! I am writing this post right before we head out to look at some condos in the city... Long story short, we have changed our house game and goals considerably since I last shared here and here, and now we're looking for a place close to where we both work! Life is funny, and it probably seems like I am super fickle, but the truth is that you just have to be open when it comes to home buying and see where the journey takes you. Our original desired location was just too expensive and too long of a commute. For the same money, we would have pretty much zero transit costs and be within a 20 minute walk to work... which for us is appealing. It also means a new funky neighbourhood to explore and new social activities to find!

BUT - that is a story for another day. I promise to keep you all up-to-date, but what I really want to share today is Chronic Disease Management... For some of you this may seem abstract, but for others I know that you can seriously relate. For someone like me, with Crohn's disease or IBS or even colitis, management is the key to a happy life. For me, that means the right diet - a balance of healthy food and not indulging too often in the greasy stuff - but it also means keeping active.

Since starting this new job, I have an interesting commute that includes a 20 minute walk from the Go station to work. This is my favourite time of the day, as I challenge myself to walk faster and faster each day. I get into work feeling refreshed and energetic, and my waistline can already see the results of consistent activity! Exercise does not always have to be a huge routine, it can mean going for a nice long walk, and working on strengthening your core. It can be yoga, or Pilates, or a quick mix of cardio and weights. I personally have been keeping to a core and strengthening routine that allows me to keep my body in check, with the addition of my daily "commute". I feel better than I have in a long time and I am happy that walking is such a big part of my life again.

Walking can sometimes be a cure all - whether you have had a bad day, or you have a lot going on, a walk can give you time to breathe in the fresh air (or semi-fresh in my case), and clear your head and realign your body. Yoga is another great tool - I personally don't practice, but I know lots of people who find this a great way to keep in shape and balanced.

At the end of the day, exercise that helps keep you balanced is a great way to manage your chronic disease, or any ailment, really.

As I mentioned earlier, diet has a great impact on how I feel every day. There are certain foods I know will make me feel sluggish or acidic, so I tend to avoid those - but I certainly do not completely deprive myself of the things I love. I have a wicked sweet-tooth which I have managed to control over the years, and giving myself a little treat every once in awhile (ahem, daily) makes a huge difference in me sticking to the rest of my "diet". As with many chronic diseases, I am not trying to lose weight, I am simply trying to manage my health in a way that keeps my energy levels, and my spirit, high!

Before I go, I had another thought. Chronic Disease Management isn't something you have to do alone. A great support system, and people who take the time to understand, makes a huge difference. So, if you know someone who is going through a life-long ailment, take the time to understand what they are going through. Your support and understanding makes their lives a lot easier and takes away a little of the stress that comes along with these types of diseases. Surrounding myself with good people has made a world of difference and its the friends who do not judge me or my choices that really help me the most.

So friends - do you know anyone who has a chronic disease or something they are dealing with? How do you help or deal with it? I really want to know!

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Good News and Thanks to the Universe

Good Saturday Morning Friends!

My morning walk...
Please excuse the little break we had there - I promise I have reasons... and they are good ones!

Firstly, thank you for your interest in my Housing related posts... those will continue as D and I continue the House Buying Process. We actually met with our realtor last week and went over our options... To be honest - its so easy to narrow down what you know WON'T work for you versus what WILL work for you... SO we are in that process. We also have to reconsider location... which factors in our transit time... So many factors! In fact, our awesome realtor has already emailed me a list to look at and because of how busy I have been this week... I haven't even opened it yet. I feel bad, but I just haven't had the time or focus to look in the evenings because...

This week I started a new job! The hiring process was incredibly fast - nothing like what I was used to, to be honest. But I met the deadline I had set for myself, so THANK YOU Universe for helping to facilitate that.

This week I was training with the woman who is leaving... She is so cool that I wish she was staying. But alas, that would defeat the purpose for me, y'know, getting the job and all! I'm excited to be working a consistent schedule again and I think I will actually enjoy this role... so that in itself is exciting. D works about two blocks or so from my new office so mid-day hugs are always on the menu and that makes me happy!

I have somehow reset my internal clock, however, to wake me up at 6:30 everyday... even though I can actually sleep until 7:30 and not be rushed... Why body? Why? It probably doesn't help that I go to bed at 9:30 every night...

Your evenings really are shorted when you work until 5:30/6... walk to the train station... wait for the train... ride the train... drive home from the station... and before you know it, it's 7:30 or something crazy and you have to cook dinner and then ... SLEEP! I will adjust and figure it all out again. I used to be on a different schedule where I'd get home by 5:30 so the evenings seemed endless! However, these things change! Learn and Adapt is the real lesson of the day.

Okay - some of these thoughts may seem jumbled... I apologize, its only 7AM! I'm off to get ready for work!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cheers to the Good Times

Soaking in the sunshine and the warm breeze
Life lately has felt incredible positive, happy, and blessed. I am so thankful for the opportunities and exciting things that come our way, and how when you ask the universe something... and you really mean it... it really just might happen.

But today is not the day for that story. Today, I want to share some of the fun and the light and the happiness that April has encompassed.

Flowers always put a smile on my face, so I am always happy to gift them to other people. These were for my mum's belated birthday celebration - I think everyone enjoyed the dose of spring they added to the kitchen. 

I made her this yummy chocolate buttermilk cake with browned butter frosting (from Chatelaine)... 

Along with some cupcakes with peanut butter frosting to mix things up!

For dinner, we made fish tacos with an avocado and cilantro cream sauce - so delicious!

The view near our apartment on an evening walk. D requested a snap of this shot as we walked home... so pretty!

A Sunday walk by the water - visiting a new place that we may just call home in the next few months!

New Shoes! I got these at Brown's and I love them. D bought them for me actually. I am always looking at this style of shoe and I finally found some that were extra cute and comfortable. Still trying to figure out what dresses/skirts look good with them, but skinny jeans? YES! (I feel a little like Elvis when I wear all black and then these shoes... its awesome)

Dark purple polish and a sparkly accent nail to make everything feel happier. I can't stop checking out my nails!

Splitting frozen yoghurt at the new YoYo's by our apartment. A great find - and a great thing for us to share. The red velvet was my favourite, while D actually liked vanilla for once... (He is a chocolate fan to infinity and beyond)

I have been eating salads like a madwoman lately - they are just so fresh and delicious. This was a recent creation for dinner with D. I love how you can use the same ingredients but make very different salads with a few small changes/preparations. 

It has been a very long time since I have worn a tie... but on this day... for this occasion... it just felt so right. Ties are like my instant confidence booster and they make me feel so dapper... I think this week I was a little menswear inspired with the tie and the new wingtip shoes... 

Date night last night at Stoney's... If you live near HAVE TO GO. (Sorry for shouting...)

All of these pictures just remind me what a journey life is and how it is important to find happiness in the little things... What makes you happy?

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

House Talk: Mortgages

Happy Thursday Friends!

I wanted to talk about something a little unsexy today: mortgages. I know, I know - who wants to talk about finances and money and blah, blah, blah! BUT, when buying a house, a mortgage is kind of a big deal. The biggest deal, actually.

I like to think of myself as a well educated, informed woman. I constantly ask questions and try to fully understand processes and procedures as they come my way, so I figured now that I am starting to get knee deep in this whole "Purchasing a House" business, I'd share some of what I have learned about getting started and basic "need-to-knows" and "need-to-dos". If I can help even one person out there be a little less intimidated about buying a house... then I am a happy lady.

When you first set out to buy a house, it is incredibly important to know what you can afford. This goes beyond knowing what is in your bank account and what you have each month to put towards your mortgage. You need to consider taxes, heat/hydro, other electricity expenses, other debt you may have currently (student loans, car loans, etc), as well as other expenses you have in a month such as groceries, cable, Internet, phone... It all adds up and it is really important to discuss these details with a financial advisor who can help get you started on a Pre-Approval.

A Mortgage Pre-Approval is a calculation based on your taxes, salary, and evidence of the down payment you can put down on your house, that also factors in your house expenses and taxes, and leaves you with the amount you can borrow from your bank or mortgage provider, as well as a rate and a term. Mortgages tend to come in fixed (same rate consistently) or variable (changes from year to year), for a period of 5 to 10 years.

Once you have your pre-approval completed, you will know how much you can actually borrow from the bank and what price range of houses you can comfortably afford.

The other important piece to this whole calculation is how much of a down payment you can put down on your house. In Canada, about 20% of the price of the house is required in order to not apply for additional insurance to support your purchase. While this may seem like a ginormous sum (and it can be), it is important to not completely deplete your bank account. This down payment is required at time of purchase, and not to mention a few other fees...

Things you need to be prepared to pay for when buying a house at time of purchase:
- land transfer taxes/fees
- legal fees to complete the paper work and contracts
- fees for your financial advisor
- various closing costs for the agents you may be working with (Edit: You really shouldn't be paying for this as a buyer.... just something to be aware of...)
- home inspection costs

As you can see, these can really add up. I am a huge advocate in making sure you get all of the information you need before making a big decision such as buying your first home. Like I said, it's not just about being able to make basic payments on your mortgage, there is interest, fees, and other expenses to consider in the decision.

I hope this post was more informative than intimidating to all of my first time buyer friends out there. I'd love to hear any other tips and advice you may have out there - and hopefully we can all help each other out!

And to reward you for sticking around, here is a little house eye-candy to soothe your souls!



** Please note, this just what I have gathered from my sources. Your situation may be different than mine, and like I said, it is important to talk to a mortgage specialist or financial advisor to get on your way to owning a home.**

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

House Talk: So You Want to be a Home Owner

Via Dream Vision Carolinas
I have been thinking... thinking A LOT lately about houses and becoming a First Time Home Owner. Well, WE have been thinking (couldn't/wouldn't do it without D)...

I am at this stage in life where I want to take control and keep moving forward. I'm not sure if this stems from wanting to keep up with some of my friends (hello - not trying to be jealous, but somehow this is in the back of my head); or if I just know it is the right next move.

To me, home ownership is the next big adventure on my life list (among one other thing that also involves D). It is a huge purchase that takes a lot of thought, patience, the ability to see the big picture, some future insight, and one of those crazy/exciting things that comes with growing up and moving on...

D sees home ownership as an investment. It is a practical purchase that must be made without emotion, with the thought of re-sale, and the ability to make some kind of money or at least keep its value. He is not so boring as all of these things, this is just how he makes decisions. One of us has to be completely rational or we would get no where.

I just let emotion play into it when I see something I truly love, whereas he will hold back until it is actually in his possession. Is this a male/female difference? Or a Kimiko/D difference? I'm not really sure. (Note - I am not like this in my professional life, it's just something about life decisions that makes me emotional).

Via Curbly
One of the things we do agree on, for the most part, is how excited we are to make somewhere our own... to decorate and do cool things to... to put our money back into our own pocket instead of our landlord's... we even agreed on a statement wall in our future living room made out of rustic wood planks! (It's the little wins my friends).

Last fall we seriously considered buying a house up north (great value!), but it was just too far away and the reason we would have moved there fell through. We looked at over 15 houses in two weekends and then decided we would wait... and wait... and wait... and now, after a little prodding, I have convinced D that this is OUR year. This is the year that things are going to change, move, and grow. This is OUR year to buy a house and make something completely ours. Now we are going to start looking West of the "Big City" and hoping we can find something in our price range in the city we actually want to live in. We are talking a gorgeous waterfront and funky downtown area my friends - these are the things that sell me on a place.

So I hope you will follow along this journey of ours - I promise to keep you posted. I think this will be a great adventure. Feel free to share any insight you have on buying a home - we would love any tips and tricks!

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