Friday, September 19, 2014

This Little Piggy Went to Market...

As I have discussed before, I am looking into selling my little condo and getting a slightly-bigger condo. It is a HUGE decision and one I was kind of glad to put off until the fall because of a busy summer. But now it is fall and here I am talking to real estate agents, talking to mortgage brokers (my mortgage is up for renewal next month so I am flipping it into an open one so I have a lot of flexibility to sell over the next while), and lastly- talking to friends and family. Oh and counting my pennies- Iceland and a new wig sure put a dent in the wallet this summer.



It is really hard to explain my emotions over this move. I LOVE my little condo and the thought of selling it just kind of breaks my heart. But on the other hand I have had 5 wonderful years here and I really think it is time to find a new home for the next few years. It is quite likely that I will make the move to the suburbs at some point in my 30s, and I really want to squeeze out a few years in my dream condo before that happens. This condo has been an amazing starter home, but I feel the need for a little more space (and a bedroom!). I feel there is another place out there waiting for me and that somehow the time is right to move on. I have saved up enough for this move, so this decision is really about emotions, not money! Also...goddamn Toronto is expensive. #justsaying

The funny thing about thinking of moving is remembering all the projects that you planned on doing. I mean, I've been here 5 years and I still don't have a headboard, I never replaced the kitchen countertop, and the hallway is still carpeted! However, the bathroom and balcony are testaments to the fact that I DID work hard on upgrading this place...I haven't completely ignored it:)

One of the projects I always put off was making a real floor plan of the condo. My real estate agent asked for one and I realized it was just another thing I never got around to doing- until now (I used floorplanner.com btw)! I present to you, the condo:

400 square feet of a happy little home! I can't believe I might be leaving it soon...

I will definitely share with you guys all the craziness of this process as it goes. I had a long (and honest) talk with my Real Estate agent and the next steps will be de-cluttering and staging for photos...then we are going to put it on the market and see what happens! Prices are not what I thought in my area so it may take me awhile to sell at a price I am happy with. Thankfully I have a lot of equity in the condo and I am selling because I want to, not because I need to. If I am not happy with the interest in the condo I will just pull out of the market and stay here.

I keep looking at listings of new condos online and then slapping myself, because I am NOT buying before I sell, especially since it may be difficult to sell my condo for my goal price. I don't think I would like to carry two properties on my income.But oh my there are some nice options out there and I am getting excited to get to that point. When I sell I might end up homeless for a bit while I search for The One, and I have already talked to my Dad about moving in with him for a few months. However, please feel free to open me up a spot in your place if you live in the city. I am a good baker and I don't smell. I promise.

I'm not really stressed about moving. I can pack up my stuff no problem, even if it won't be fun. However, I am quite confident that when I see it empty I will cry. I remember the day I took possession of it in 2009 and seeing it empty for the first time and how SMALL it looked. This time I will probably look around and remember all the big adventures I had in this little space. It was home. And I think I will be a little lost without it.



Let's hope the next owner loves this place as much as me. Oh- and let's also hope they love it so much that they hand over big money ;)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Why You Should Attend a Blog Conference

Well rather, why you should attend one if you blog!

This past weekend I attended my second BlogPodium Conference and it was simply amazing (see my recap of last year HERE). There are lots of reasons you may consider going to a conference about blogging- perhaps you want to learn about how to approach brands, maybe you are confused about how SEO and analytics work, or perhaps you just heard that the sexy Scott McGillivray and Bryan Baeumler would be there. These are all perfectly valid reasons to attend, but they pale in comparison to the #1 reason why these conferences are amazing:

Networking

You may be shaking your head right now thinking, "Casey, I picked blogging so I wouldn't HAVE to interact with people in real life!" But you know what, blogging is all about networking, whether online or in person. You connect with other bloggers and industry people to help make your blog better. There is a whole community that is keeping blogging afloat. However, there will come a time where it is beneficial to meet these people in person. To connect on a real level. Other bloggers can help share your posts, or collaborate with you on projects, or campaigns. They can provide you uplifting comments and messages that let you know that you are not alone on the internet- someone is actually reading your posts. It really helps to not be a stranger to other bloggers.

You may also reach a point where you want to monetize your blog, or work on projects sponsored by brands. It is MUCH easier to reach out to a person for money for a review or product for a project when that person has already shaken your hand and seen in person how awesome you are (because you are awesome due to the fact that all bloggers are awesome). A lot of vendors who want to work with bloggers come to BlogPodium. Shake their hands and take their cards...you never know when there might be a project that you might work together on.

I just want to say that I learned A LOT about the art of blogging on Saturday, but I also connected a lot with other people, and that is the best part! I am so proud to be a part of the blogging community and so happy to have turned so many internet strangers into real friends. Worth every penny.

Myself and Michelle


Yes, I overcame my fear of power saws and made me a coat rack!

More Official Photos Here

Oh- and in addition to the awesome swag bag full of goodies from sponsors, I got an amazing chair from Structube, and I WON a freaking Delta faucet in a draw (just need to pick one out!)!! So ya...pretty sure I came out ahead on my investment in this conference. :)

Thank you to Jennifer and her amazing team for putting on this great event! My mind is spinning with inspiration.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Casey Gets Fit: Week 29 (& Terry Fox Run 2014 Recap)

Weight: 149 (16 lbs lost)

Hello!! I am back with my fitness updates! What with Iceland, and then Iceland recaps, I somehow missed FOUR weeks? I am not sure of that math, but there we are! So where am I, weight wise? In a pretty good place! When I left for Iceland my weight was about 147/148 and when I came back I weighed in at 150, but it soon settled back into the 140s. I thought for sure all that junk food on the road would go straight to my hips, but thankfully I seem to be only up a pound or two.

Once I got back I was super busy with various engagements and really didn't get back into my workouts right away. However this past week I have done really well going for runs and starting to work out again (eating is a whole other issue, but I'm working on it)! And this past weekend I ran my last official 10k of the season- the Terry Fox Run!

My friend Sarah and I have signed up as Team Amazing for the past 6 years and collectively in that time we have raised $5,850 in that time!! We were stoked to be back again as it is one of our favourite events of the year.


Sarah picked me up at my place and we drove over to our run site, Wilket Creek, in the east end of Toronto and met my parents there (this was their 2nd year doing the run). It is a great site because:
1. You get to run on shady trails, not roads
2. There is a ridiculous amount of free food

Thankfully for the past 6 years we have had decent weather, but this year was actually quite cold so we were bundled up! But hey- as long as it's not raining I'm happy!



The run always has opening speeches which are generally a local celebrity or politician (this year was Premier Kathleen Wynne), a local young person who has been through cancer, and Isadore Sharp, is the founder of the Four Seasons hotels and was one of Terry's earliest supporters on his run across Canada.

There was also a surprise guest this year- Terry Fox's dad!! He gave a short speech and got a huge applause after. Such a sweet man.



After the speeches we commenced with our warm up, which is always hilarious because we have no room to move around in the small field. Then it was time to get the show on the road!

My stepdad Lee and I were running the first 3.5km together so we went to the front of the pack for the run. Mom and Sarah were planning on walking 5km and Lee was going to loop back after his 3.5km run and meet up with them. I was doing the full 10km!

I actually really enjoyed this run. The first few kilometres were tough, but then I just felt like I was flying and only took a 30 second walking break when I looped around the 5km mark to head back. It is so nice to run on trails vs roads, and while I sometimes got behind a back log of walkers, I usually was able to maneuver easily around them. Sometimes on narrow bridges I had to be a little more patient.


About 200 metres or so from the finish line, I came across 3 familiar backs- my parents and Sarah! I had actually managed to PASS them on their 5km walk, so I made fun of them as I ran by, but then walked back after I finished the run to joined them for the last few metres. The Terry Fox Run isn't officially timed or anything, but according to my running app I finished in 58:25, which is pretty good considering I sometimes got slowed down by other people!

Once I completed my run I went straight for my victory corn.

There is nothing quite like barbecued corn after a workout!! I also ate a hot dog and a Reeses ice cream sandwich thingy (yum). Good thing I had burned all those calories!

While we were taking advantage of all the free food, Sarah and I noticed that Terry Fox's dad, Rolly Fox, was standing nearby so we went over to shake his hand. He is a really nice, humble man! It must be pretty mind-blowing to know your son started a movement that has raised over $650 MILLION in dollars for cancer research. I hope I am still a part of the run when we reach $1 Trillion (or, hopefully we find a cure and never have to get there!)



It was such a great day and I just want to thank everyone who donated to my team as we raised $1000 this year! I think charity events like this one are great because they are fun for the whole family and there is no minimum donation or anything- they are really just about bringing communities together to raise money for a good cause. I know that Terry Fox Runs are held all over the world so there may be one near you! If not, there are many other ways to raise money. My cousin just shaved her head as part of the I Will for Cancer campaign in Australia!

You can still donate to my run by going to this link:
https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/FundraisingPage.aspx?registrationID=2535933&langPref=en-CA

Let's make sure we can add more names to the survivors board, instead of the "in memory of" board!
Lee, survivor of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma & my Mom, survivor of cervical cancer and currently kicking breast cancer's ass!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Iceland Part 7- Akureyri to Saeberg to Reykjavik

I am combining the last couple days of our trip together because this has been running on for awhile- plus they were much quieter days, which was nice because the weather started to turn on us again.

We left Akureyri and headed out to our next stop on the route- Saeberg. Now, I do want to say the west coast of Iceland is supposed to be awesome, but you would need a few days to drive out to the West Fjords and the sights out there so we did not get to complete that on this trip- another reason to return one day!

Our first stop on the road were Glaumbaer and Vidimyrikirkja, a traditional turf farm turned museum and a turf church! We got a little lost (I had them marked wrong on my map), but they were definitely worth finding as they were pretty cool! Both of them cost money to enter, but you can walk the grounds for free.




We got to our hostel (Saeberg) in the early afternoon and we were actually the first ones there! So of course, we hopped immediately into the hot tubs for a little afternoon break!




I think all hostels should have hot tubs, yes?

Once we were sufficiently heated up, we head out to the peninsula of Vatnsnes, which is known for seal watching! Unfortunately, the seals were not there that day :(. But if you are in the area, please check it out because we heard it was a cool sight to see them all lounging there. When we got back we just made some pasta for dinner and relaxed. This hostel was a little dated, and freezing cold (the front door would NOT stay closed and it was a really cold and windy night. I kept expecting to wake up with a sheep in the room. However...it had hot tubs. So there's that ;)

After Saeberg we had to drive back to Reykjavik and return our car. A hurricane was actually blowing in so it was a bit of a windy and rainy drive. We did stop at the crater Grabrok, and the waterfall Barnafoss. However, we barely explored the Barnafoss/Hraunfossar area because of the crazy wind!




Then we drove to Reykjavik and returned our rental car, which was very dirty, but thankfully not damaged, from our week of adventures! In total we went 2500km and I took about 1200 photos!! We then spent the 24 hours just relaxing in Reykjavik and shopping for souvenirs for family and friends (super expensive in Iceland- we did not buy much!). Our flight was at 5pm on the Monday and we were thankful that the winds had died out so we could have a safe flight home.

All in all, Iceland was probably the best trip of my life and I feel like we barely scratched the surface. There are so many areas that we did not drive to that I would love to visit one day! It is simply a stunning country!! It was not cheap, but I think this is a vacation worth saving up for.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Iceland Part 6- Akureyri (Whale Watching)

I apologize for making these Iceland posts drag on- I just find I have so much to talk about that a post gets long pretty fast!!

After spending the night near Husavik, we drove to the town of Akureyri. Akureyri is the 2nd largest town in Iceland with a whopping population of 17,754! It was also the first time we had seen a traffic light since Reykjavik. Akureyri was actually having a town festival that weekend so we lucked out with many things to see and do. On the way to Akureyri we stopped by another waterfall- Godafoss! This one is beautiful and one you often see in ads for Iceland.




Akureyri itself was nice, but not a whole lot to do in town. We were lucky it was a festival that weekend because there were local concerts and they have botanical gardens, which were beautifully lit up with soft live music playing (and for some reason people dressed as zombies...). Oh, and we also found Santa's house a little out of town. However I'm pretty sure Santa lives in Canada, so this must be his summer home.





The green building in the last photo was our hostel- Akureyri Backpackers! It was a more "hostelly" type hostel, but it was nice and had a great bar that was the happening place in town!

Since we got into Akureyri at 10am, we had a whole day ahead of us and we ended up deciding to go whale watching (Husavik is more known for whale watching, but Akureyri is a good spot too). It was a beautiful day, though quite cold when the boat was moving! At first we were worried that we wouldn't find any whales, but finally another boat out in the fjord found some and radioed in the 2 other whale watching boats out that day to come on over! There were 3 humpbacks that gave us quite a show for the rest of our whale watching tour. I had seen whales when I was in Mexico, but I had never been so close to one before- they came RIGHT up to our boat!








It was an amazing sight and I am glad we splurged on this excursion!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Iceland Part 5- Reydarfjordur to Husavik

The morning after the Northern Lights we slept in a bit and then began the drive up north. For the record- this was the most boring drive of the whole trip! It was basically driving through a very arid area for hours. Sarah and I joked that I always drove on the boring days, which sucked for her as a passenger (we traded off driving days and it certainly was fun to be the passenger on the scenic route so you could take it all in!).

Our first major stop was Dettifoss waterfall! It turns out we were very lucky to make it to Dettifoss as some of the roads had been closed due to the volcano eruption (the eruption itself wasn't much of a danger, but eruptions+glaciers= flooding!). However everything was all good and I managed the 30km drive through a FREAKING DESERT without problem. Unless you count inhaling the smell of dust for a long drive a problem (which we did). Thank god for the 4wd, which made me able to pass all the smaller cars that needed to drive slow! I heard there is another road that is paved, but it was closed that day (we had intended to take that road back out and found out from a local that it was closed).


We kept driving down this road (which looked like this for the whole 30km) wondering how in the world there was a waterfall at the end of it. But finally we pulled up to the small parking lot at the top of a gorge and there is was! It was a gorgeous (pun intended) site after all that dust.


Dettifoss is the most powerful waterwall in Europe, but there is nothing stopping you from walking right in it, except you know...not wanting to die! It seemed crazy dangerous, and Sarah kept getting mad at me for getting too close :)


There was also a gorgeous double rainbow by the falls- and y'all know how much I love rainbows!


After Dettifoss we drove back down to the main road and continued up north, stopping by Krafla Power Plant (I was SOO excited to pee in the outdoor toilet by Krafla, but it was GONE. Only the shower remained. So sad.). But across from Krafla is Namafjall, which has neat bubbling mud pools and steam vents.


After these stops, we drove north to the town of Husavik. We decided to go for a hike on mount Husavik and we got a map from gas station, but struggled to find the turn off for the road to the hike start point. I finally turned up this gravel road that lead up the mountain, BUT THE PARKING LOT NEVER CAME. I found myself driving UP this mountain on a rough gravel road that was on the edge of a cliff. It was like a 90 degree incline. Oh my goodness did I ever need the 4 wheel drive at that point. Finally I found a safe place to park the car and we got out and hiked the remaining distance up! We had heard there were natural hot springs on the top we could get in, but we never found them :(. And yes, somehow I managed to drive back DOWN that mountain and the car and Sarah and I all survived! I just went sloooow and in a low gear.

Top o' the mountain

After that adventure, we decided to visit the Husavik Whale Museum. We actually both really enjoyed it and learned a lot about various whales and their habits. My favourite part was the skeletons on the 2nd floor. Each whale died of natural causes or accidents and the museum even listed where they came from and how they preserved the bones. It was really quaint and neat to hear about how Magnus from the next town over found a beached whale on his property and the museum came out to get it.


After the whale museum we headed to our hostel on a farm called Arbot. It was alright, but definitely not our favourite hostel of the trip!

But let me leave you with a shot of the friends I made in Husavik! I went up to take a picture and all the horses in the paddock came up to say high :)



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