November 04, 2011

Things I learned from my contractor: On painting

  1. Paint the ceilings first, then walls, then trim. Be careful, and you don't need to bother with tape.
  2. For the cutting-in brush, don't cheap out. Get one that is 3" wide and at least $12-$14.
  3. Sand the walls entirely to smooth imperfections and to help the new paint adhere better. He uses sandpaper fixed to a handle (similar to a Swiffer, but sturdier) and scrubs the walls completely.
  4. High gloss paint is not recommended because it shows all imperfections. Use semi-gloss for trim.
  5. Test coats of paint on previously-painted walls to see if you need primer or not. If you need two coats of paint anyways, you might be able to skip the primer.
  6. If you're painting new drywall, you need to use primer first.
  7. If you have a stucco ceiling, it is easy to remove with just warm water and a cloth - provided the ceiling was not painted before. Once it's painted, the stucco is sealed on quite well.

May 11, 2011

Saving without skimping - the Wedding Edition

Image source:

When we started planning our wedding, I also drastically cut back on my spending. Wedding vendors often demand a 50% deposit on signing, even if it's six months to a year ahead of the big date. The biggest purchases usually need to be booked/ordered well in advance. If your venue also requires a minimum catering charge, the estimate keeps rising.

According to's annual survey, the average Canadian wedding will cost just over $23K. Unless you are very creative or have a small wedding party, this will not get you very far in a city like Toronto. Without going into masses of details, what we did to help manage our budget was decide at the outset what our priorities were, so we would know where we would be willing to splurge and where we would cut back if required. I also created spreadsheets detailing estimates and actual costs so we would know throughout the process where we stood, how much we owed, to whom and when.

Our priorities were: Photographer, Venue, and Food

May 05, 2011

Photo essay: Fall 2010 travels - Train Travels

This is part four in a series of posts on my fall travels in 2010 to several cities in Europe. The first part was my iPhone cache of photos and the second part was my arrival in Florence. Part three showed our first full stop, in beautiful Cinque Terre. Here I present some of our train travels between La Spezia and Nice.

Train travel can be easy and enjoyable or cumbersome for the uninitiated. Sometimes it can be a cheap option, but other times a flight with a much reduced travel time may cost the same. Do your homework if you have a preference!

At Genova P. Principe. Choo-choo! Bye-bye Cinque Terre. Hello Nice!

April 17, 2011

Photo essay: Fall 2010 travels - Cinque Terre

This is the third part of a series of posts on my fall travels in 2010 to several cities in Europe. The first part was my iPhone cache of photos and the second part was my arrival in Florence. Here we have arrived in La Spezia (where we hotel'd) and Cinque Terre (where we train'd into every day).

Beautiful. Delicious (best food of the trip). Introduction to a love of anchovies (done right). Gelato (done daily).

Arrival in La Spezia. Choo choo!

March 11, 2011

Adventures in YYZ: Live with Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi performing Livin' On a Prayer in Toronto.

Links to more videos at the end of the post.

Bon Jovi Live 2011: Toronto, Ontario on February 15, 2011

I picked up cheap seats for Bon Jovi's second Toronto concert back in February, and looked forward to an entertaining show. Asked why I would want to go to a Bon Jovi concert, my answer: I have his cassette tape! And who didn't sing along to Always or Livin' on a Prayer on Rock Band? (Do people still play this?)

There were a lot of 80s hairdos in the crowd. Yes, I'm referring to feathered mullets.

March 09, 2011

Enchanted with Guy

A most awesome infographic featured on the blog contains kernels of wisdom from Guy Kawasaki's new book Enchantment. My favourites ones:

  • Do something great
  • Conduct a "premortem"
  • Make it short, simple and swallowable
  • Remove the fences

  • Avoid tempting situations
  • Look far into the future
  • Create a checklist
  • Let yourself be enchanted in small ways

Image from

To read the full article, go here.
Read an illuminating Social Media Examiner interview with Guy Kawasaki here.
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