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!