Tag Archives: Review

Month in Review: Monies Monies Monies

5 May

What up friends? April is over (thank goodness), and it’s time to look back on monies made and monies spent. Actually, let’s not look at the money we don’t have. It’s gone, gone like my favorite pair of expensive boots that ate pavement this month. RIP boots. You were awesome.

 

Again, April wasn’t the best month for me in terms of cold hard cash. My babysitting has not been in high demand, I guess since there’s no rad parties for parents to go to. He, however, has been working some awesome overtime, so he’s doing alright.

So, I just had a look at our handy income tracker Google doc, and I only added $85 bucks to my amount in April! Pathetic. Thankfully, GST refunds came in, so that counted. You know, I have no idea how GST income works. Is it like a tax refund, and the GST you spend comes back to you? Man, that’s so embarrassing. He is probably going to make fun of me a lot for that comment. Ohhh well.

I did make $4 (or rather, $3.98) in Frito-Lay coupons. I was at work about to eat a small bag of Ruffles All-Dressed chips, when I noticed that before I opened the bag, it was super light. Lighter than it should be – alarming light even. So I planned on writing a letter to the company in hopes they would send me a life-time supply of Ruffles All-Dressed chips. Our production guy at work even weighed the bag for me, which was super nice, and totally worth it, since it only weighed 14g and a normal bag is supposed to weight 28g. That’s half the g’s friends! So I mailed it in, and they sent me back two coupons for $1.99 each off Frito-Lay products. I can’t even use them together.

Anyways, back to the money. I’m currently at 29% of the $7,000 goal, while He is at 29% as well. If you go into three digits though, I’m winning. Actually, wait! I totally just remembered I got a small bonus at work for a client program yesterday! Redid the math and I’m sitting nice at 31.56%. Killer!

 

Alcoholic Air Miles – Her Edition!

18 Mar

That’s right – He’s not the only one who gets drunk on a weeknight! Kidding. I’m not drunk. But I’m pretty sleepy.

Tonight I was on my way home from work when I passed by the LCBO. Now, the fact that it was still light out, I felt actual warmth on my legs while waiting for a stoplight, and that I was home alone tonight since He’s working late, all contributed to me popping in.

So I bought some wine!

Cono Sur wine from Chile to be exact. I bought it because it was only $9.95 and came with 5 Air Miles. Nice! I find there are a lot more red wines that come with Air Miles than white, which is a bitch, since I only drink white most of the time. But this time, I lucked out.

I got home and was all set to have a glass and blog about it – but lo and behold, I couldn’t get the cap open. And where was He to help out? At work. I got a knife – problem solved! I butchered that bad boy, but the sweet nectar of the Gods was still avail.

I took a drink – it tasted a little vomity. I took another drink. Still a bit vomity, but not enough that you don’t want more.

The label says “viognier” – I’m pretty sure that means I was drinking pure vinegar. I should have put some on my salad. Heyo! I’m eating a salad.

The best part about writing an Alcoholic Airmiles entry is that you have to go get the bottle out of the fridge to write the name of it. And I mean, by then you’ve done half the work, so you might as well have another glass.

Now, I don’t have the fancy chart that He makes, and I don’t feel like copy and pasting it in here. So I’ll make my own rating system:

Taste: 3/10 for the first glass, 6/10 for the second glass

Cost to Air Miles ratio: 10:5

All in all  –  I would only buy this vinegar wine again if I knew I was going to have a second glass. Or if it was dirt cheap and came with a lot of Airmiles (anything over 5).

Vacation: Cuba – It’s Da Best

27 Feb

Alright – here it is. The first of long overdue posts about our trip to Cuba.


We loved it. Absolutely loved it. I was super nervous before we went – about the plane ride, getting in/out of the country, being robbed, all that fun stuff. Luckily (and not surprisingly), we were totally fine. The worst thing that happened was getting a tiny sunburn.

Since we were there for a week and a lot of fun things happened, I’ll just do the first two days here.

The Flight

We made it to the airport and over to terminal three without any issues. There was a couple behind us going to Cuba as well, and they made us even more excited, as they had been there before and kept telling us we were going to love it. We had dinner at the airport Fionn McCool’s, which I was excited about, because I used to work at their sister pub D’Arcy McGee’s, and they have amazing Yorkshire Puddings. But what the dude – this one didn’t have them! I got fish, and it was just okay.

There was a guy in the lounge who kept finding things people dropped on the ground! He dropped his sunglasses and this guy let him know, and then we saw him let someone else know he found something! He was like a detective.

The flight itself was great – we got champagne and wine with dinner, and we had no idea! It was really nice. The meal was also great -some kind of beef dish that was actually very good. When we first were loaded on,He and I sat down, and His seat wouldn’t stay all the way up – it was in perma-recline mode. Unfortunately this meant that the stewardess re-routed us from the front of the plane to the seats farthest away from the door. Yay. The move was Wall Street 2 – Money Never Sleeps. I gave up half-way through. My headphones were being all wonky, and I have real trouble with earphones because my ears are super tiny and they never stay in. It’s really frustrating. I just drank my champagne instead.

There was a woman on the plane near us with a bright orange track jacket and a tramp stamp. She got up to go to the bathroom at least 15 times on our three hour flight. I think must have been drinking more than just the free champagne.

Then everyone clapped as we landed, and all was right with the world.

The Drive

When we landed, we had to go through customs, which is more of a process in Cuba than in Canada. What was killer was that people had no concept of lines! People were butting all over the place! If you know me at all, I’m a real stickler for rules, especially lines. One old guy stood up for everyone and called out this punk in a basketball jersey who butted in front of about 60 people, and the guys response was, “it’s like being in traffic man, when you’re at a stop sign – you just gotta let people in man, that’s the way it works.” WHAT. That is not the way it works. The way it works is that people LINE UP AT THE BACK OF THE LINE.

Anyway, once my blood had stopped boiling, we boarded our bus to our resort for the half-hour ride. And lo and behold, who was on our bus…?

The Bro’s.

We had seen the Bro’s on our flight – a group of five guys who were intent to have a good time, even if it meant being super load and paying $6 for a tiny cup of beer on the flight. And super loud they were.

Our guide on our bus, Richard, was great at handling them though. They were crazy loud, and right in front, asking the dumbest questions. It was pretty funny. So was Richard.

“Yeah, on our left you will see some pregnant palm trees. We still don’t know who the father is.”

Comedy GOLD Richard!

We arrived at our hotel finally. It was about 10 or 11 at night, but we thought it was after midnight because the plane told us there was a time change. There wasn’t. Good thing we did though, He was super ill with a cold and from the plane ride and just wanted to sleep.

Day 2

We woke up with Him still being all sicky. I decided to go hang out at Quiet Pool for awhile, reading and getting margaritas.

There was a Bro Sighting at lunch. They were getting a lot of potatoes and a lot of cerveza.

After lunch, He was feeling a bit better, so we decided to grab some drinks and head over to Activity Pool. We didn’t feel awake enough yet for Cave Bar, but I went to Above-Cave-Bar-Bar to grab us some margs. While there, a kid was trying to get a pina colada, but he was underage and got caught! Underagers had different coloured wrist bands, and although he tried to hide this by putting a tee-shirt over his wrist, he got pwned. Luckily for him, some old guy changed one of his non-rum pina’s to one with rum, and obviously gave it to him. Silly kid.

After dinner we went on a romantic night walk along the beach, where He proposed to me and we made love in the sand. KIDDING. We did this instead:

Stay tuned for our Cuban cab ride, “Ola Boris” and much much more!

The Best Place To Get Drinks in Toronto? Online

26 Feb

Okay. Not exactly online. But you can find out where to get the best drinks in Toronto online. And by best, you know I mean cheapest.

If there’s one thing He and I both love, it’s a great deal. And if there’s one thing I love, it’s charts, lists, and organization.

T.O. Drinks Weekly has always been one of our favorite sites. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was one of those things we wanted to invent ourselves back in university.

The site just underwent a new look, and a lot of the minor issues we had with it the first time around have been fixed – plus, it looks so snazzy I want to take it on a date.

The site has always allowed you to look for drink deals in the city by the day of the week or the neighborhood, but they’ve added a new feature where you can look for deals by the drink you like. This is FANTASTIC for me, because while most bars advertise cheap beer or caesars, I’m a margarita girl through and through, and now I can find eight different options for this nectar of the gods.

They’ve also added a map feature, so you don’t have to look up where the bar is on your own, which is also good for someone like me, who uses Google Maps as often as Charlie Sheen uses cocaine. Snap!

While the site is looking super good, we did notice that there are a few neighborhoods still missing, like Yonge-Bloor and our baby, Bathurst-St. Clair. This could be because there aren’t any deals, but I doubt it. Maybe we should send T.O. Drinks our Ork poster?

Overall though, the site is super useful. My bet is that they’ll get an app soon you can download. I know there have been times I’ve tried to look it up while on the go. Friends always seem to want to go to any old bar, but why not go to any old bar with half-priced margaritas?

The other thing I like is that their homepage now shows you the drink specials for that night – you don’t even have to click anything!

Enough of this ranting. I’d better go get my pre-drink on – He and I are off to Tortilla Flats for $3 tequila.

Analysis: January’s Hits & Misses

31 Jan

Today is the last day of the month – a great time to look back on all we’ve accomplished these past few weeks and how great we are and blah blah blah shit.

Nah. We’re gonna look at what’s really important: how much cash we brought in and how bitchin we look in our bathing suits.

In the beginning of January, we made a goal to each make $7,000 in additional income over the year. This means that each month we need to earn an additional $583.33 each. Pretty lofty, all things considered.

Well, we’ve exceeded our target for the month, which is killer. I don’t think every month will be like this, since I’ve been babysitting a lot, and we did receive our GST refunds, but it’s nice to think they’ll all be like this. If we manage to keep this rate up (doubtful), we’ll actually earn our goal by September. At the very least, it’s nice to know we’ve already paid for about half of our vacation next month with our additional income.

Now for the fitness challenge we set ourselves.

I’m proud to say that financially, I earned more extra money this month than He did. I had to spend more hours doing it, so my efficiency wasn’t as great (am I using that term right, oh economist boyfriend?), but still. I won. The fitness challenge is… a bit of a different story.

I lost. In fact, I’ve been sucking. He’s been devotedly working out everyday without fail – and you can actually see the results. I, however, started out strong – even earning two stickers on one day! Then I missed a day. And another day. I vowed to make it up the next… but then I didn’t feel like it. And that’s why our chart now looks like this:

 

The moral of this story is… would you rather: a) have muscles or b) be able to buy yourselves all the muscles you could ever want?

Date Night #2

26 Jan

This date had been in the mix for awhile. As mentioned awhile back, we had a gift card for the Old Spaghetti Factory, one of our favorite restaurants. I mean seriously, what’s not to love? Free bread, delicious pasta, and a $2 corking fee on Tuesday nights? We’re there!

Interjection – totally just realized that our only other Date Night post is also about the Old Spaghetti Factory. But seriously, free bread. I’m not embarrassed at all.

We’ve known about this $2 corking fee for some time now, but this was the first time we’ve been able to put it into action. So at 5 p.m. sharp, He went to buy our advance tickets to the movie we were seeing after TOSF, and I went to the LCBO by the Yonge/Bloor subway to grab a bottle of wine for us. After some seriously depressing searching (hardly any bottles of white with Air Miles), I finally found a bottle for $7.95 that had five airmiles. Sold. It will inevitably be received here later.

We met at the resto with the intention of pretending it was our first date. Aw, supercute! We kind of forgot about it though, until 20 minutes in my coworker texted me as my get-off-the-hook-pretend-it’s-a-car-crash phone call. It was pretty funny. We had our awesome pasta, free bread (two loaves) and our salads. BUT NOT OUR WINE.

They changed the corking fee! Apparently it wasn’t just on Tuesday’s, it was everyday, but no one was using it, so they turned it back into their old fee of $10 to uncork it! The guy, Joel, asked if we wanted to pay that fee, but seriously, do I look like the kind of girl who’s going to be late for dinner in order to find a cheap bottle of wine that costs $8 and comes with Air Miles, just to pay MORE to uncork it than the bottle of wine cost itself? I don’t think so brosef.

So we sucked it up and got the bucket of five beers for $15. Still not a bad deal, but not what we were expecting. Old Spaghetti Factory, you’ve let us down. You’re lucky we don’t have any more gift cards…

During dinner I received a phone call from Queen’s Alumni Relations a.k.a. Queen’s Alumni Please-Give-Us-Your-Money-You-Graduated-A-Year-Ago-What-Don’t-You-Have-Lots Relations. They almost get me because they’re so damn nice and inquiring as to details of my life that no one else cares about. But no, I will not give you my $20.09. Even if it is cute to ask for money in the year I graduated.

We went to the Rainbow Cinema, a neat little spot that He has been after me to go to for some time. It was a neat theatre, and we saw True Grit for only $5 each. Not terrible at all.

I know True Grit got a buttload of Oscar nom’s and all, but I don’t really care. It was a good movie though, although (spoiler), it would have been nice if SOMEthing nice happened at the end, you know? Plus, I don’t like when animals die in films. It’s not their fault. While the movie was good, I kind of like the trailer more. It’s funny, because the thing I told Him that I liked about the movie most was that they had funny parts in it. I mean, just because you’re on a quest to avenge your father’s death doesn’t mean someone can’t tell a decent joke on the way, am I right? The trailer has none of that funny stuff, but I still think it’s really good.

Good Date Night over all though. A friend of ours was even at the theatre, sitting next to us. We haven’t seen him since Queen’s, so it was nice to run into him. He’s really tall, and I forgot that until he stood up next to me.

PLUS – we still have a bottle of wine to drink!

Crimes in Paris > Crimes in real life

22 Jan

Crimes in Paris is a band.  The lead singer/one-half of the guitar duo is a friend of ours from university.  They bill themselves from Muskoka, not sure if that’s true, not sure how much I care.  All I know is that they’re pretty darn good.

To be honest, I listened to their whole album at work (every song is available on their website) and couldn’t decide whether I kind of liked or kind of didn’t like them.  She is a better friend with our “in” in the band than I and She got us onto the guest list for their show at Lee’s Palace on January 20th.  So we decided to support our friend and have a good time listening to a band out on the town on a Thursday.  It also gave the band a chance to sway me to either kind of like them or kind of not.

The show was very good.  Despite the crowd looking more like parent’s night than an actual concert, the band had a lot of energy and really gave it their all.  To me, the band seemed to pick it up more towards the end of their set.  I think the vocals came through clearer after a couple songs gave the soundboard some time to acclimatize itself.  Highlights were Love Potion No. 9 dedicated to the lead singer’s mom and a catch original song  (The Artist) that has a line in its chorus that sounds a lot like a line from the chorus of Come on Eileen.  You know, Toora Loora Toora Loo-Rye-Aye.  Except Crimes in Paris’ version goes “do you think that all I’ve said I’ve done.”  Not only do they homage two hit wonders from the early 1980s, but they definitely have some great original songs that you should check out their page.  They also have a pretty cool music video that I’ve embedded below.  It’s not my favourite song of theirs, but the video quality is really great!

One point of criticism is that I think the lead singer’s vocals could be a bit more confident.  He really belted out Love Potion #9 with force and confidence.  I just wish that he would show the same self assurance when singing the bands originals.  I’ve heard the singer kill Muse while under the influence at a pseudo-karaoke and am certain that he could really do a number to his originals too.  They’re really well written songs and deserve just as much as a hit by The Clovers from the 1950s.

Overall, they deserve a listen to or a look to if you’re around Toronto when they have a show.  Speaking of next show, they let it slip that they’re breaking Toronto concert venue cartel rules and are having a show at the Drake sometime in the near future.  Be there or you don’t support Haiti*.

*it’s a Haiti benefit show.

And here are some picture from the show!!:

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Book Review: The Happiness Project

19 Jan

Babysitting Monday night, was searching through Facebook on my phone. I noticed that Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project was doing some book signings at the Bay and Bloor Chapters (man, that place is hopping lately).

Didn’t think much of it, other than it would have been nice to go.

When I got home that night, turns out He had also seen that she was doing signings as he read T.O. Night on his way home. He came home, grabbed my copy, booted it back, and got it signed for me! Yup, all that and he does laundry too.

I was really pleased – I enjoyed Rubin’s book and for a little while tried to keep up with some of her suggestions to find ways to increase my own happiness. They didn’t stick, but I like the book nonetheless. Therefore, we thought it would make for a timely review.

Title: The Happiness Project
Author: Gretchen Rubin

Things I Liked:

Rubin kind of makes her own rules. She does a lot of research for her book and talks about different strategies other people have for being happy, but ultimately, she does her own thing. One example of this I liked is when she’s talking about book clubs. She likes the idea of them, but ultimately doesn’t want to discuss those lofty topics that in my mind, always occur in book clubs (totally paraphrasing all over here, since it’s been a couple months since I’ve read this). So what does she do? She starts her own book club – on kid lit. She gets a group of friends together and they talk about fun kids books. I love this. In university I took a course on children’s literature and it was one of the most interesting courses I took in my four years there. We discussed good vs. evil, typically story guidelines for kids books, and made some fairly complex analysis of these books. I have no idea if that’s what Rubin did in her book club, but I think it’s awesome that she created something she wanted to do.

In Chapter 9, Rubin talks about taking notes. I don’t mean research notes, or lecture notes, or any of that boring shiz, I mean a literal note – just something that popped into your head that you don’t want to forget. She talks about how she used to discourage this in herself, since it takes a lot of time and energy – and I mean really, how often do you actually use them?

I liked this because (surprise surprise) I do this all the time. In highschool I actually carried around a notebook with me that I would  jot future baby names, really funny jokes, or complex theories about why my friends were probably becoming aliens (hey, I was totally cool, but seriously, I was pretty convinced my friends were turning into aliens and were acting all weird. It also made for an acceptable reason why my first boyfriend broke up with me). I still keep notes like this all around the house, at work and in my phone. Lists of clothes I want to buy, the words to a song I want to download (but never will), presents I think would be great for people and just general things I hear that I think are really funny.

These notes are hilarious to look back on and remind me of a lot of really funny times that I’m glad I can remember.  Rubin talks about how her notes eventually were huge helps when she started writing a few notes, and okay, maybe mine won’t be that useful someday. But at least mine are damn funny.

Things I Didn’t Like:

The book can be a little preachy. It’s easy to be talking about what makes you happy when you’re writing a book on it. But overall, I found myself thinking some of the time that how can she not be happy… and why does she need to go on this massive quest to become so? I mean, I have my bad days sure, but rarely do I ever think to myself, “I’m totally not happy.” In fact, I’d say it’s the opposite. At least once a day something totally awesome will happen that I’ll be extremely thankful for, and I’m able to recognize how wicked it is – even if it’s only that my work bought my favorite kind of cookie and I didn’t even have to request it.

I guess it doesn’t matter whether I thought it was preachy anyway – I definitely made my own half-assed happiness plan afterwards, that I completely forgot about soon after.

Update: Just noticed that She Does The City posted their take on the book after being invited to a breakfast with Gretchen – this makes me wish I had been able to go to the signing even more! I liked their look at the book though – they’re trying to make changes to make themselves happier, but they realize it ain’t gonna happen overnight.

Result:

I’d buy this book again. Though not in hardcover, like I did, impatient book-fiend that I am. I like consciously thinking about happiness and I think the more you think about it, the easier you’re able to recognize those little happy moments in your day. Plus – signed copy! Maybe it’ll be worth something some day?

Alcoholic Airmiles 1 – Amsterdam Nut Brown Ale

17 Dec

Alright. He here. This is the first of what I hope is going to be a recurring series of posts: Alcoholic Air miles.

As some of you may or may not know, the LCBO is the Crown corporation that sells beer, wine and spirits in Ontario. If you want to buy wine or hard liquor in a retail setting in our province, this is where you have to go. Despite its monopolistic stranglehold on the imbiber segment of Ontario, they provide air miles to their customers.  Some products have bonus air miles attached to them. So, not only are you getting some alcohol to take home and drink, but you also have just pocketed 1/10,000th of a trip to Cuba for doing what you’d be doing anyways: getting drunk.

For this series, I will be buying a product from the LCBO that comes with bonus air miles, drinking it and then publishing my thoughts on the experience. So, without further ado, here is the first of these posts.

The Amsterdam Brewing Company first opened its doors in Toronto in 1986.  As of now, they brew 9 different beers.  The funniest of which is of course the Amsterdam Nut Brown Ale.

Available for $2.5o a tall boy, this delicious, yet hilariously named beer is described on Amsterdam’s web site as:

“The object of desire, Amsterdam Nut Brown Ale is crisp yet subtle in character. A classic British-style brown ale brewed with a blend of Canadian and European malts (including chocolate malt from Belgium), this traditional deep chestnut coloured ale exudes a bold and attractive taste. Brewed with English Ale yeast and balanced by four varieties of continental hops, our Nut Brown Ale delivers an uncommon smoothness and distinct drink-ability.”

By smoothness, I think the writer means it goes down like a lager.  Unlike other brown ales, the Nut Brown isn’t heavy in the least.  Which isn’t my favourite, but is forgivable, and probably preferable to some.

To go along further on the “ale that thinks it’s a lager” path, I found the Nut Brown to have a pleasantly bitter taste, with a bit of carbonation that reminded me of lager.  There was a bit of smokiness to the taste.  Nowhere near as much as a porter ale (which sometimes can taste like someone ashed a whole cigarette into it), but the hints of a regular Captain Black were certainly there.

The beer is very dark in colour.  Colour isn’t something I care much about in a beer, but I will admit that the Amsterdam Nut Brown Ale is a very pretty hue of brown. A nutty brown, to be precise.

Overall, I recommend picking the Amsterdam Nut Brown Ale (especially during the month of December, 1 bonus air mile!!1!).  Before this brew, I don’t think that I particularly cared for any of the Amsterdam beers that I had tried.  Now I have a reason to take Her down to the Amsterdam brewery on a date night.

Overall, I give the Nut Brown Ale a thumbs up:

Cost $2.50
Bonus Aimiles 1
ML 473
Airmiles/$ 0.4
ML/$ 200
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