Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Same same, but different

Disclaimer: if one of these houses is yours, and you do not want it pictured on my blog, please contact me, and I will by all means remove the picture.

We recently checked out an Open House in the Junction area of Toronto.  As we walked toward the house, I couldn't help but notice these two houses as we passed by them.

Typically, in Toronto anyway, semi-detached houses start out identical.  So I'm not sure if the dormer on the house on the right is part of the original design, or if it was added somewhere along the line.  Certainly it gives the house a bit more shape and definition.




But other than that, these houses are essentially the same, but wow, what a difference in style and appearance!

The porch overhang on the house on the right also adds some more definition, compared to the bottom-heavy house on the left.  The dark siding on the house on the right is akin to the blue/black brick look that is so popular these days, and the wooden railing and door add some nice variation and warmth.  The simple addition of modern house numbers also makes a significant impact.

Isn't it interesting to see how two adjoining houses can look so different with just some minor variances?  What stands out to you?

If you know of two or more houses that are the same, but appear drastically different, send me a note, and I'll check them out!

Friday, February 28, 2014

My Top 10 Items for Baby Registries

A long while back, I posted about the fantastic site babyli.st, which can be used to register for baby items.

So here, without further (several-month-long) ado, is my list of great items which I was SO glad to have:


Great Items


I'm not so photoshop-saavy (I actually don't even have it), so I have compiled this collage using www.polyvore.com.  I also don't know how to number these items, so hopefully you can figure out what is what with the following list:


  1. Fisher-Price Snugabunny Cradle 'n Swing- this thing SAVED me during the first few months.  Without this, I probably wouldn't have been able to shower for weeks on end.  The nice thing is, it can be oriented to rock side-to-side like a cradle, or forward-backward like a swing.  Our babe personally liked the swinging option.  It's fairly neutral colours too, so even though it lived in our living room for far longer than I would like, it wasn't offensive to look at.   Oh, and it can take batteries or be plugged in, major score.
  2. Peg Perego Skate - Wow, did we ever look at a LOT of strollers, and tried them all out.  It was a tough decision, but I was very happy with my decision.  This one is very easy to open and close.  Baby can face you or out to the world, and in both directions, they can be lowered or raised, and upright or reclined.  It also comes with adapters so that you can click a Peg Perego carseat into it (adapters can be purchased separately for other brands of carseats), and other accessories - a rain cover, a cupholder, a canopy which works with both the stroller and the bassinet, a foldable storage basket below, and a leg cover.  In addition, it comes with a bassinet.  We used that for walks when the baby was a tiny infant.  But we also purchased the bassinet stand, which enabled us to have baby sleep in the bassinet in our room for the first while.
  3. Ubbi diaper pail - Keeps the smell out.  For real.  Need I say more?   (Oh, and you can use regular kitchen garbage bags with it!  No specialty bags required.  And it comes in so many beautiful colours!)
  4.  IKEA Poang Chair - I looked at tons of beautiful rockers, and was tempted to buy a big, fancy chair.  But in the end, I decided this $79.99 chair from IKEA was our best bet - it fit the small space, and was not a huge investment, which means that I won't be disappointed to get rid of it when I'm done with it.  And it is SO comfortable.  Surprisingly so.  The chair has been part of IKEA's collection since the late 70's, so obviously they know it's a winner too.  I could gently rock/bounce baby in it, and have done this for many nights over the past year!!  Lots of covers are available, and apparently it's easy to do your own DIY cover too.... might do that sometime!
  5. CB2 Pouf - instead of purchasing the matching Poang footstool, I opted for a pouf, which I love.  It adds some different textures to the room, and it is solid enough to sit on as an extra low/casual seat, but also comes in VERY handy while sitting in the Poang chair with the baby - it's really nice to have a footstool for extra support when you're holding a baby for a long time.
  6. So Young Charlie diaper bag - looks awesome, holds a ton.  Lots of compartments to keep things organized.  Not too girly, so Dad can use it too!
  7. Pekkle sleepers from Costco - At $6.99 a piece, these sleepers are a steal!  They are well-made, usually fairly cute (look through the piles), a nice cotton (I find there are 2 different cottons - one is softer and thicker than the other), and did I mention cheap?!  Considering babies outgrow these thisfast, it's nice to not spend a fortune on them.  After each growth spurt, we stock up - more of these means less laundry!
  8. Swaddle Designs Blankets - We tried lots of blankets made specifically for swaddling, and this was the only one our baby couldn't find her way out of!  It's nice and big, thick, warm, soft and cozy.  They come in many colours and patterns.  We used these every night until baby could roll over, and I firmly believe she slept better because of them!
  9. Babylegs - this one is more of a novelty.  But we received TONS of t-shirt onesies for baby, and not a ton of pants.  So Babylegs were so handy for keeping baby's legs nice and warm at home.  And the best part?  Easy diaper changes!  You don't have to take them off to change the diaper!  Lots of styles available!  Super cute!!
  10. And since the list needs a #10...  Electrik Kidz bandana bibs (not pictured).  Our baby spit up.  A lot.  And this bib was one of my favourites, because it doesn't have some ridiculous saying on it, and it looks cute over all her sweet outfits.  And it has a strap for her soother too!  Love the way it looks.  Canadian company too!



I hope this list is helpful to you, whether you're expecting or maybe even just buying gifts for a shower!

Stay tuned, as I'll be back with some other lists soon hopefully!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Same same, but different

Disclaimer: if one of these houses is yours, and you do not want it pictured on my blog, please contact me, and I will by all means remove the picture.

I love before and after pictures of home makeovers and furniture re-dos.  I love to see how something can evolve, and I often admire the vision of the person doing the makeover.  It can be difficult to see past a room's current state and to envision it any other way.

Having a baby who, until recently, napped very infrequently (unless in a moving stroller/car) meant that I spent a LOT of time walking around Toronto this summer.  And to make the most of it, I found a bit of a hobby in comparing neighbouring houses that at one point were probably identical, but are now quite different, thanks to different owners' tastes, preferences, and design decisions.  It's especially prominent when it's a semi-detached house (which I have recently learned is referred to as a duplex in some areas of the country??), and one half is completely different from the other half.

In any case, I've taken some photos, and I'll try to feature some on here from time to time.

First off:





All 3 of these are on the same street, and are basically the same house, but it's amazing how different they look.  The elements making the most significant impact are the windows, the porch railings, the front doors, and the landscaping.  Lately I'm particularly drawn to houses with non-white window panes and casings.  So I especially love how the third house has a simple colour palette without any real contrasting, and windows that are coordinated to the rest of the house.

Do you have a house that is the same as your neighbours, but drastically different in appearance?

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Best Baby Registry

I have to take a minute to tell you about babyli.st 



Before our baby shower, I was encouraged to start a baby registry of things we would need and/or like for our baby.  I knew of one big box store and a few independent stores that offered registries.  But none of them offered the right mix of options for me.  I wanted some basic supplies, some gender-neutral clothes, some design elements for the nursery, and anything else unique/homemade/locally-made that friends and family wanted to give.

Enter babyli.st

Babyli.st works sort of like Pinterest (with a button on your Bookmark Bark), and allows you to add items from other websites, to create one centrally-managed list.  But which stores gift-givers decide to purchase items from is entirely up to them to decide.  If they have a local baby store they want to support, great!   If not, they can shop at the big box stores.  Heck, if they never want to leave their house, they can shop online.  Babyli.st allows the gift-giver to "reserve" an item off the list, regardless of where it was purchased, and that indicates that it has been purchased and prevents duplication.

Another great feature, is that you can add more generic items to your registry.  For instance, I knew I wanted receiving blankets.  I really didn't care which colour, brand, or pattern was on them - I just knew I would need a stock of them.   If I was to register at any one particular store, I would have to choose a particular pack of receiving blankets, and it would only be taken off the registry if someone bought the pack with the matching barcode.   But using Babyli.st, I was able to indicate that I would like receiving blankets, and I added a personal note to say "any colour, any brand, any style".  One of the big box baby stores near us is CONSTANTLY out of stock of everything!  So it's very difficult to purchase registry items for others there, since they never have the items on the registry.  I think many of my friends don't get much off their lists because of that.   Using Babyli.st meant that it didn't matter what stock was available at that one store - gift-givers could get me whatever they could get their hands on, from wherever they could get their hands on it.

Indicate generic items


Babyli.st is also set up to show prices at various stores - so a buyer can shop around a bit online before choosing what to buy.  This works especially well for US stores (I think it automatically looks for the item on amazon.com, but this doesn't work quite as well for Canadian users yet).   The quantity required can also be set - and "unlimited" is also an option.


Indicate multiple stores and their prices


One other feature, which I didn't use, but that is impressive, is that you can print off a list of who purchased what.  Very handy when doing thank you notes!

Downsides?   I suppose this is a bit tech-saavy for the older crowd.  My Grandma definitely needed help from my Mom.  Also, you can't go into a store and get help pulling up the registry, since the store is not involved at all.   You either need to have a smart phone with internet access, or you would need to print the list before you left home.

Tips?

  • Definitely add personal notes so buyers know which items you want specifically to match your list versus those for which you're not fussed about the item being an exact match.  
  • Think outside the box!  I added spice racks from Ikea which I'm using as bookshelves.  I also added a note to say that I would welcome homemade gifts.  And I'm glad I did!  I got beautiful blankets, a mobile, and other wonderful gifts made with love by family and friends.
  • Resist the urge to look at the list to see what is purchased before your shower!   I didn't look, and it really makes it a nicer surprise at the shower.  
  • After your shower, update the list to indicate anything that was purchased that wasn't "reserved" (especially by aunts and grandma's!).   This way, if you have any more gifts coming your way, the list is current.

Spice racks?  On a Baby Registry??  (Thanks Pinterest for the awesome idea!_


In any case, I was very happy with Babyli.st.  This post is NOT sponsored in any way.  I just wanted to share a tip about something that I found to work very well.  (And it's run by a Mom!  It's no wonder!).

Stay tuned, I'll come back soon with a post about the registry items I most loved, was most disappointed by, and that I most wished I had on my registry but didn't.

Friday, September 27, 2013

No more cookies for this neighbourhood


I intended to write a post about this back when the news first broke in November 2012.  But I was heavily pregnant, and I guess I had some other things on my mind.

Anyway, having lost the recent Provincial By-election, Peter Milczyn remains the City Councillor for this area, so it's timely to discuss the future of the Mr. Christie's lands, which fall in his area.

Last Autumn, it was announced that the factory at Park Lawn & Lakeshore will shut down in the third quarter of 2013, after 64 years of operation.  There has been lots of speculation about what will come of the property, and the 625,000-square foot facility.  One thing Milczyn has been clear on, is that he wants the land to remain employment lands, rather than having skyscraper condo towers go up.  His thinking - which makes sense - is that we can't add to the population (via condo towers) and simultaneously take away jobs (due to the factory closure).

This area is already experiencing massive development with condos being built around the perimeter of this land, and the infrastructure is not currently set up to handle the additional population that even more residential development would add.



Mt. Christie's land right across the street from the condo developments on Park Lawn

But in my mind, there is so much more to this.  Just behind many of these new towers, is a beautiful waterfront, Humber Bay Shores Park, Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat, and yacht clubs.  The funny thing is, I bet most people in Toronto don't even know that it's all there.  For years, all of that had been hidden behind a stretch of seedy retro motels (which are now being replaced by the new condo towers).



Did you know this view existed from the West end?
In the past, from south to north, it was waterfront, motels, Mr. Christie factory, Gardiner Expressway and train tracks, and the Ontario Food Terminal, and then residential north of all that.   So there was no jointedness between the waterfront and nearby residents.  I think it's time to bring it together.  I actually feel that the new condo towers will help with that.  But why not use the factory lands towards this end as well?

More condo developments south of the Mr. Christie's land, along the waterfront




I get Milczyn's need for employment lands.  But does it have to be manufacturing?  What about a Lifestyle Centre, similar to the Shops at Don Mills, an outdoor shopping centre with retail and restaurants.  This would allow residents to shop and eat locally.  And it would also create more draw to the nearby waterfront.  A morning bike ride along the bike path followed by lunch at the centre, or a nice dinner followed by a stroll along the water.

Unfortunately, I was not able to find stats on how many people are employed at the Shops at Don Mills.  I definitely think it's something Milczyn might want to investigate.  And I'm sure there are other options for employing people rather than manufacturing, which doesn't create the most curb appeal for the neighbours.  With the already growing population, there must be more need for libraries, schools, community centres, retail, daycares, etc.

Do you have any other suggestions for use of the land?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Building Bridges

Pigeons creep me out.  Far more than I can explain.  Seriously, they are like flying rats, no?

So any area with a multitude of pigeons is pretty much my worst nightmare.

In order to get to the waterfront from our part of the neighbourhood, I often walk down Park Lawn Road, which requires me to walk under not one, but 2 large bridges (one being the Gardiner Expressway, the other being the railway tracks).   The former is a very tall underpass.  And waaaaay up there, sitting perched in the beams, are a gazillion dirty pigeons.



I literally RUN from along the sidewalk to get out the other end of this underpass as quickly as possible.  It just gives me the heeby jeebies.


The sidewalk is covered with feathers, bird poop, and often - the biggest nightmare of all - dead pigeons!  I have no idea why, but I've seen them often enough to know it happens frequently.


So while I may be wimpier than the general population, I do think this is disgusting for anyone and everyone to have to walk through.  And it's actually a bit of a deterrent for walking to/from the waterfront.  In a city where access to the waterfront is already an issue, I feel that every effort to open the city up to the waterfront should be made.

So anyway, recently I was walking through Leslieville/Riverdale, and came across this bridge underpass:


And I had no issue walking under it!   See why?


Over the sidewalk, the ceiling (? is that what you would call it?) is smooth, with nowhere for pigeons to land.  The beams are still exposed above where the cars go, giving birds and other critters plenty of space to live happily, while leaving pedestrians alone!



I can't tell you how much I wish the bridge in my end of town was like this!  I would be walking that way waaaay more often!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Back from a hiatus!

So we had a baby!  And she is adorable.  And time consuming!

But I will be back in action sooooon I promise!