Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Car vs No Car

When I lived in Toronto, I had a monthly public transit pass called the TTC Metropass. It cost $121/month (ouch!) and offered unlimited travel on the TTC system. Now that I live (temporarily) north of the city, I have a car (1 year leased Honda Civic) which costs me $600/month (lease payment, insurance, gas). I've always been a huge fan of public transportation and never had any issues with the TTC, other than the fact that our city's monthly passes are way overpriced. We lived near everything we needed at our apartment and we never even considered getting a car. Moving to the suburbs has changed everything. I feel sorry for those living in the 'burbs and taking public transit. I seriously and regularly consider offering rides to people I see waiting for the bus. I've been there, pre-driver's licence, so I know how much it sucks because York Region public transit consists of buses that run once an hour, or maybe twice if you're lucky.

So this leads me to a car versus no car showdown. Although I have a TTC sign here because that was the mode of transportation I took when I didn't have a car. 

[car, sign]

  • First and foremost, cars are convenient. You go basically anywhere, whenever
  • I can set my own indoor temperature. I rarely use AC in cars, but I always blast the heat..mmmmm heat. Feels so good. Dry skin be damned!
  • I can listen to the radio
  • I can make phone calls (with a headset!) and don't have to say, "The train's about to go underground so the phone might...hello? hello??.."
    No car
    • I am way more active because I have to walk a lot more (to and from stations, to the store, etc. It added up to a few kilometres each day)
    • I have way more money because cars are expensive, yo!
    • I feel like I have more me time because I can read, nap, think freely, have full-on face-to-face conversations, play phone games, etc on the train or bus.
    • It's easy to budget transportation costs when you have a monthly pass. There are no surprise costs, but expect yearly or bi-yearly fare increases.
    • You don't have to worry about driving drunk. As long as you're not disorderly, drink the night away and then take the bus/train home! Looks like someone spiked Santa's eggnog...
      • First and foremost, cars are expensive. The convenience comes at a price.
      • Cars require maintenance. Some more than others. I feel like maintenance and repair costs are always a surprise. Like, "Surprise! You need a new transmission. That'll be $1700
      • Gas prices. I try not to get into the mind game of "filling up when gas is (relatively) cheap" because it barely saves any money. Filling up on Wednesday when it was 1.3 cents cheaper yesterday isn't going to break the bank. It's like a 60 cents difference in your overall cost! But for some reason, we're all looking for a so-called deal at the pumps
      • Parking is a bitch in Toronto. A real bitch, I tell ya!
      • Driving is dangerous! I don't really think I engage in any activities that are more dangerous to my well-being than driving.
      • Road rage and parking lot rage... 'nuff said.
      • Being designated driver (DD) sucks. 
      • Rush hour is horrendous in Toronto, causing crazy long commute times. I think Toronto's commute times are ranked one of the worst in the world.
      • At first, when I got this car, I was loving listening to the radio again. I literally hadn't listened to the radio in over 2 years. After the fiftieth time of hearing "Moves Like Jaggar" I wanted to burst my own ear drums. Radio is way to repetitive for my liking. 
      • Cars make me lazy. Pre-car, I would, without question, walk a kilometre to the grocery store. Post-car, I'm tempted to attach the dog leash to the bumper and "walk" the dog like that. So sad.
      No Car
      • Inclement weather is not your friend if you don't have a car 
      • Buses that are chronically late (I'm talking to you, #105!)
      • It can take a ridiculously long time to get places sometimes
      • You're limited to the boundaries of the transit systems
      • Overcrowded platforms, buses and trains, especially during flu season
      • Being subjected to other people's bad habits with no escape
        • People smacking gum/food (THE WORST!!!)
        • People playing music on their phones without headphones (TIED FOR THE WORST!!!). This is why we have headphones, people!!!
        • Smelly people and food
      • My irrational fear that I will
        • Get pushed on to tracks when a train is coming
        • Get stuck in a train when someone's on a shooting spree
        • Hurt myself or get attacked and no one will help me. This is not so irrational because I had a scary (probably homeless) man harass and follow me when I was 12 and no one did anything, even though I was crying and obviously scared. Tsk tsk bystanders!!.
      • You find out who your real friends are because you totally will NOT take a bus in inclement weather to see someone you only feel so-so about. Although this could also be seen as a pro...
      So, let me know... What did I miss?? Do you have any pet peeves for your city's transit system? Do you love driving too much to ever give it up? I wanna hear your stories!

      Monday, November 28, 2011

      DIY Paper Heart Bookmark

      I took a stab this week at replicating one of my many pins from my Crafts and DIY folder in Pinterest. I've been hoping to turn some of my crafty pins into stocking stuffers for Christmas, and thought this was a good time to try some of them out. 

      The paper heart bookmark.The original source for this pin is from Bloomize. Cute, right?
      I have some craft paper at home in the same shade as above so my first attempt was using that paper. That was my first mistake - using craft paper. It was way too thick and didn't fold crisply at all. My second mistake was using a whole sheet of craft paper (8 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches) lol. I wish the instructions came with dimensions! My heart I ended up with was literally bigger than my hand with ugly folds... no good. In the garbage it went.

      My second attempt was a bit better. After seeing the picture below, I tried again using a piece of magazine paper. I just found a pretty ad and used that. My starting square was about 4x4 inches. And for the record, I would definitely not advise making this with paper that is any bigger than 5x5 inches if you're planning on using this heart for book marking purposes. 

      In hindsight, I think the heart from the first photo is made out of origami paper (or at least something a lot thinner than what I had). 

      Here's my version:

      It's cute, but I'm not sure yet if it's stocking stuffer worthy... I'll have to see how my other pin attempts turn out before I decide! I might also try making these with origami paper. I used to make paper cranes all the time as a kid. Oh the memories...

      What do you think?

      Friday, November 25, 2011

      Style At Home - December Roundup

      I'm loving the December issue of Style at Home! It's filled with stylish interiors and great Christmas DIYs. If you love the holidays, go out and get this issue for some great inspiration!

      Here are some great dining rooms. This first one belongs to Tamara Robbins Giffin. I love the wall treatment. They don't list what it is, but it looks like grass cloth(?). Correct me if I'm wrong! I also love the over sized black pendant light and the walnut stained table.

      This second dining room belongs to Amanda Faber-Gidge and was designed by Stacy McLennan. There isn't one thing in this room that I don't like! The silver ball wreath, the fireplace, the carpet, the sparkle...all good. The house is done up in white and grey, which keeps it fresh. My favourite part is the white chairs with the Eiffel tower bases paired up with the rough texture of the dining table - rustic meets contemporary!

      Every year at Christmas, I bake gingerbread and shortbread cookies for my family, friends and co-workers. I always use Christmas decorated tins from Dollarama and line them with parchment paper. This year I think I'm gonna go with one of these ideas instead!

      In case you've just joined my blog, I'll fill you in: I'm a little bit obsessed (is it possible to be a "little bit" obsessed?) with banquettes! I luuurve them! This one is so sleek with the dark tapered legs and overall classic design. It's also customizable to four or six feet and comes in a choice of different fabrics. Something like this would look great at a dining table or in an entryway. Very versatile

      And I'm throwing this in for good measure. I come from a family of avid readers and feel like my sister especially, would enjoy bookends like this.

      I hope all my American readers had a fantastic Thanksgiving yesterday and enjoy their long weekends. For those of us to the north and elsewhere in the world, have a great (regular) weekend! One month until Christmas!! Have you started shopping yet??

      Thursday, November 24, 2011

      Photography Challenge - Day 3 and 5: Clouds & From A High Angle

      Hopefully this doesn't seem too much like cheating, but I'm categorizing this photo challenge under Day 3: Clouds AND Day 5: From a High Angle. I took this photo of beautiful puffy cumulus clouds from the plane when we were about 30 minutes or so from landing in St. Lucia.  It's not every day that I get to see clouds from this angle :) This might make me sound like a geek, but I find clouds fascinating. There are so many different types and they all have their own meaning. I guess it's no surprise that I ended up at a job that deals with weather and climate :)

      Check out my other photos!

      Friday, November 18, 2011

      Photography Challenge - Day 4: Something Green

      What better place to find something green than at the zoo?.. While there the weekend before last, I got this shot of a camelion in his natural colour. He's practically neon he's so bright!

      Here are the photo stats if you're interested:
      Exposure 1/15

      Aperture 4.33
      F Number f/4.5
      (I sharpened and slightly brightened in Picasa)

      Thursday, November 17, 2011

      Kitchen Cabinet Cork Board Tutorial

      I love pinning crafty projects on Pinterest. I've pinned quite a few crafty projects so I decided I should try re-creating  a few of the pins I have. That's what this post is all about. 

      This project all started with this pin, which is a great idea for storing notes, recipes, shopping lists, etc. I wanted to do something similar, but jazz up the board with paint or fabric... A little while later I saw Lindsay's tutorial for adding some pizazz to tacks by attaching pretty buttons to them and saw Jenn's post about painting her board. I mashed together all three ideas for this DIY.

      I went to Walmart and got a cork board, then I headed to Michael's where I bought Gorilla glue and some prism-y jewels (I think it's for jewellery), and got the tacks from Dollarama. 

      The Gorilla glue takes about 48 hours to fully cure, so I went ahead and jazzed up the tacks first. 

      As per the instructions, I wet one surface, then put a small amount of glue on the other surface, and then pressed them together. I put the tacks aside and resumed the project 2 days later. 

      Once the tacks were done curing, I taped off my board. I wanted diagonal stripes and I wanted a border so that the paint wouldn't go all the way to the edge. I did this because I thought it would look tidier and have less potential for leakage under the painters tape. 

      I wanted to get an ombre effect (dark to light) with the paint and I wanted a bit of sparkle, so I used varying combinations of black, white and silver crafter's paint I already had on hand. I made sure to really press down on the tape in the corners to reduce any incidence of leakage. 

      I peeled off the tape while it was still wet and I held my breath hoping there wasn't any leakage....

      And I was SO happy with the results! Phew! I couldn't stop staring at it for a few minutes :) But once I could, I moved on to the next step: attaching the board to the cabinet. I didn't want to make any holes in the cabinet and the board was really light, so I just used double sided table along the back border.

      Although, I must note that I would've better reinforced the board to the cabinet if there weren't already a lip around the edge on to which the board fit perfectly. Seriously, this board was made for this cabinet!

      After attaching some notes and a (fake) grocery list, here's what the cabinet looks like now

      I'm very happy with the results. My parents both like it - my dad especially likes that I didn't drill any holes into the cabinet lol. And my mom says she likes the sparkles from the silver paint.

      Here is a side by side before and after. 

      Total things needed for this project and their costs:

      Cork board $9.44
      Tacks $1.00
      Jewels $2.99
      Gorilla glue $3.50 (was originally $6.99 but I had a 50% coupon)
      Paint (already had)
      Painters tape (already had)
      Painting utensil (already had)
      Double sided tape (already had)

      Total cost for this project: $16.93!
      Difficulty* of the project : 2
      (*1=breathing, 10= tightrope walking across high-rises on a windy day) 

      Friday, November 11, 2011

      Remembrance Day 11/11/11

      Never Forget
      In Flanders Fields
      by: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

      In Flanders fields the poppies blow
            Between the crosses, row on row,
         That mark our place; and in the sky
         The larks, still bravely singing, fly
      Scarce heard amid the guns below.

      We are the Dead. Short days ago
      We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
         Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
               In Flanders fields.

      Take up our quarrel with the foe:
      To you from failing hands we throw
         The torch; be yours to hold it high.
         If ye break faith with us who die
      We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
               In Flanders fields.


      In other completely unrelated news, I'm leaving Sunday morning for a week-long vacation to St. Lucia. I've prepared some posts to go up next week though. I'll miss reading my blog roll while I'm gone, but I sure won't miss the weather! Have a great weekend!

      Toronto Zoo

      On Saturday, I went to the zoo with Kevin, Michelle and Deric. We bought a few group deal coupons a few weeks ago so the admission price was $10 each instead of $23, plus parking was free! A word to the wise, I'm posting almost entirely pictures of cute animals in this post

      My family loves all of the BBC animal documentaries - Planet Earth, Blue Planet, Life of Birds, Life of Mammals, etc - and we've been watching them non-stop over the past month or so. As we were about to enter the zoo, Deric said, "I feel like Planet Earth was the trailer and now we're about to go see the movie!" So true!

      This poor guy fell out of the nest as a baby and broke his wing in three places so he can no longer fly :( They made his living area all low and close together so he can jump from branch to branch

      Rhino! When this guy turned around and we saw his saggy skinned bum, Kevin said to me, "That's what your bum is gonna look like when you're old" to which I replied, "Joke's on you! My bum already looks like that!"
       This orangutan mother was hiding from her son in this tarp. Very cute. 
      We saw lots of animals lounging in the sun...

      These animals that were looking right at me! And I just have to say this jaguar is beautiful. Stunning.

      Parents and babies...

      I grew up loving elephants. They're so majestic! And when you're learning your letters, they always say, "E is for Elephant" and obviously E, being the first letter of my name, is my favourite letter....
       My sis and Deric looking very celebrity-like with those glasses. And me and Kevin next
       I had to chase this peacock down for this shot. I love the colours!
       This cheetah was in the middle of dinner. He's the fastest runner in the world, but over long distances the pronghorn (from the prairies in Canada!!) can run faster. 
      As soon as the zoo staffer pulled out the fish to feed the penguins, this seagull swooped down and stole a couple of fish right out of the penguins mouths!
      We all loved watching this polar bear. I think he was the most playful animal we saw. He went nuts over that blue ball. 

      Group shot! I got to use my tripod for this one :) And we got the tiger in the background!
       I'm smiling in this shot, but I'm thinking, "Please, please, please don't bite my fingers off...."
      And finally, Kevin posing strategically so it looks like he's balancing the world on his finger. Yes, we're geeks like that!

      Have you been to the zoo lately? I have to say, going in the late fall is the best! We lucked out with some really great weather, not a cloud in the sky. It's less busy when it's cooler and I think it probably smells a lot less when compared to coming in the height of summer when it's 30+ degrees Celsius (86F)! 
      Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...