Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Princess Margaret Lotto Penthouse Tour

This past weekend I was invited to visit the Penthouse Suite that is one of the grand prizes in the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Welcome Home Sweepstakes. Even though I love home tours (condos especially!), this was really exciting as the Penthouse is not open to the public to check out so this was the only chance for me to see it before winning the lottery and moving in (ha!).

I rode the elevator up to the 31st floor and got off on a floor with only two suites on it. I was greeted when I came in by the designer Andrew Bottecchia. Once our little party of bloggers and media got a private tour from him about how he designed each room. I kind of loved being in a professionally designed condo vs a house because I could see all the issues he had to face with strange cutouts and wonky floor plans that come hand in hand with condo living. (See the floor plan here).

At one end of the condo is a great living/dining space. I loved how Andrew made the fireplace a focal point by framing it in shiny black. He kept the living side of the room very traditional, but went modern in the dining space at the other end. The custom wallpaper by the dining table really was beautiful in person! Right by the living room was a small powder room, which I had thought was a closet at first (the condo is FULL of closets). Andrew chose to go a bit bolder in here with the wallpaper, but it still tied into colours used throughout the condo. I think that keeping a common colour scheme is key to decorating a small condo.



Right outside this room is one of the THREE balconies that grace the sides of this condo. This one was the main one with gorgeous outdoor furniture and durable and easy-to-clean outdoor carpet. The patio also had a gas barbeque hookup and a view of the lake, so it would be the perfect place to entertain on a warm, sunny day.


Going back in through the hall, you come to the front hall on your left (with a mirrored wall on one side and two large closets on the other) and a galley kitchen on your right. Condo kitchens rarely have windows, and we all loved the more traditional windows in this space that really let you feel like you were in a house, not a condo (unless you looked out them and saw the view!). The kitchen also had a hook up for a gas oven, but the real draw to me was all the storage! So many cupboards and there was even an additional pantry in the hallway. There weren't a lot of countertops, but Andrew solved this with a gorgeous narrow marble-topped table that doubles as a breakfast bar.


Do you see the gorgeous floors in here? They continue throughout the home and seem more grey or more taupe, depending on the rooms decor. They are engineered hardwood (so good for kitchens!) and I loved them.

After the kitchen was the media room- which was one of my favourites. The room is a den that originally had french doors but Andrew took them down because they got in the way of furniture placement. This room is so awkward being 13ft long and only 7ft wide with weird cutouts everywhere, but he made it work as a cozy TV space to lounge in after a hard day. The bookshelf wallpaper was custom made to pick up the orange accents in the space. There are two windows in the space, but they were mismatched so one was covered with drapes that matched the wall colour.


After the media room was the laundry room! Yes, there was an actual laundry room in this condo. And it even had a window so it was very bright and welcoming. Andrew had actually switched the original layout of the machines and the sink, which made the room seem larger. I think I would actually enjoy doing laundry if I had a space like this.


After the laundry room was the guest bedroom. It was a very small room and only really fit a double bed and two nightstands. However, it actually had a walk-in closet with a window so I really don't think any guest would be complaining about a lack of storage! As you continue down the hall you pass the guest bathroom (small, but very lovely in marble finishes).


At the end of the hall you enter the master suite, which has a little seating area at the entrance, and then the main space is passed that. There is a door to a balcony from the seating area. Andrew faced a challenge with fitting a king sized bed in here. While the room has space, there was a cutout in the wall that forced the bed into a tight space and no room for side tables. By floating the bed forward, with a table behind to take up the empty space, he was able to center the bed and make the flow of the room much better.


The master bedroom also had a large bathroom with separate tub and shower, his and hers sinks, and a water closet! I think it was bigger than the guest bedroom. There was also a large walk in closet with custom shelving (and no, we asked and there was nothing in those Burberry bags....)

Isn't this place gorgeous? I was definitely hunting for some design ideas for my new place. Would you believe me if I told you that most of the artwork, decor pieces, and lamps in this space were from HomeSense?? Andrew also mentioned that he was on a strict budget and carefully hunted for sales through this whole process, which definitely shows that you don't need to spend a lot of money to make your home look like a $1.4 million dollar penthouse! Though, having a penthouse to start with probably does help :)

If you saw any items you liked, there is a source list available on the Princess Margaret website here. Most of the furniture was from Casalife and the Art Shoppe. I know that I, for one, am keeping an eye on this dresser, which is similar to the one that I saw in the bedroom at the penthouse...however I think I may have to wait for it to go on sale.

Of course, if you liked everything in these photos (and who wouldn't?), you should enter the lottery because this baby comes furnished if you win! You can buy tickets from the Princess Margaret Lotto Website. The only stipulation if you win is that you have to invite me to live with you. I will even let you have the master bedroom, because I am generous like that.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Casey Gets Fit: Week 34

Weight: 145.8 (down 19.2 lbs)

Let's talk about motivation this week! I get a lot of questions about my weight loss and motivation as I have been very open with friends, family and you guys on the internet with my desire to lose some weight and get in shape. My mom actually asked me "why now? what changed?". Not in a rude way, but as my mother she knows I have tried many times to lose a few pounds but always lost motivation after a couple weeks.

Growing up I was always a pretty normal size and as I entered my teenage years I probably gained a bit of weight, but never really tipped into an unhealthy range. I did sometimes have a diary in high school so I know from that that I was in the low 150s during one of my brief weightloss attempts. Going to University I definitely ate like a pig but somehow didn't gain the freshman 15. I think that I weighed in the high 150s for most of those years as well. However after graduation I slowly put on about 15-20 lbs, probably due to the sedentary lifestyle that came with an office job, plus I eat when I am bored and long days at the office meant many trips for snacks. My highest weight was when I came back from Europe in 2011 and weighed in at 170 lbs. I worked at it and dropped 10 lbs, but then basically spent the next couple years between 160 and 165.

So why the push to lose weight now? I think it was a variety of factors. One of them being that I was starting to not like photos of myself. I always thought I looked great when I looked in the mirror, but then I'd hate how I looked in photos, especially when I was sitting. I also hated that my size was creeping up in stores and I was reaching the max pants size in my favourite stores (a size 14).

Dec 2013
Another factor was realizing I am getting closer to age 30, and most people will tell you it is a lot easier to lose weight when you are younger. I worried about my metabolism slowing down and maybe getting pregnant sometime down the road and what those changes would do to my body. It hit me that if I wanted to make a change I needed to do it NOW, I couldn't keep putting it off.

Mexico 2012
Another factor in my weight loss adventure was finding my love for running! I am such a lazy person, but I actually do love to run. I can't even describe how much it helps me with stress and clearing my head. I sometimes hate putting on my work out clothes and getting out the door, but I rarely have a run that I hate. And I always feel amazing after a run, even a short one. It took my awhile to build up to that love, but signing up for races helped me keep on track in those early days.

May 2014
I think writing about my journey here and being open about my weight loss plan also really helped! When I went over to my parents' homes for dinner they would prepare really healthy meals for me. When I went out with friends they never questioned what I ordered and respected when I turned down dessert or a 2nd drink. Having a support team was really awesome!

Now for maintaining motivation over 34 weeks, that is a different beast. I've lost almost 20 lbs since I started, which is awesome...but that means I averaged a little over half a pound per week. Sometimes I plateaued for weeks. Sometimes I went on vacation and didn't count calories or exercise (and I went on a LOT of vacations this year!). It was hard to stay on track, but I think the fact that I found an exercise I liked, and that I never denied myself any foods, just counted calories and watched portions, meant that I never felt deprived. I think one of the best tips is to make your calories count- don't waste them on food you don't love. 

So how do I feel now that I am down almost 20 pounds? AMAZING! I am at one of the lowest weights I have ever been and I love being able to shop for smaller sizes. I am now regularly in size 10 pants, and I am questioning if I should go down to an 8 at some stores. My closet is being stocked with medium shirts, rather than larges (I even own a size small shirt now!). I don't really see the changes in the mirror, since I see myself all the time, but I definitely see it in my clothing...my skinny jeans from last winter are hanging off me and I am on the first hole in my belt.

Oct 2014
I still have a lot of toning to do (I am hoping to maybe do some workout DVDs through the winter), but overall I have a lot of pride in my body now! I have no idea where my new killer arms came from, but I definitely want to keep those up! I also want to tone up my stomach and back, though I love how my tummy lies so much flatter and my back fat has really decreased!

If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pack It Up, Pack It In, Let Me Begin!

Now that song will be stuck in your head all day. You're welcome.

But yes, this post is about packing, even though I am not moving for another 6 long weeks (feels like 6 million weeks, when I make a decision I want to get going!). Since obviously I have a lot of time, I have set myself mini goals for packing up non-essentials and pre-moving some stuff to my parents' houses so that when it comes to actual move in day I won't be stressed or have to hire a big van.

My goal for the month of October was to pack up and move the locker and the balcony. I brought in the plants from the balcony, but otherwise there is not much to pack out there. The locker was an easy choice because nothing is critical down there. Plus my building has been having reports of locker break-ins, so I kind of want to get my stuff out of there...

I started tackling the locker on Monday since it was a holiday and I felt I needed to be productive at some point over the 3 day weekend. It ended up being a WAY bigger job than I anticipated and didn't finish until Tuesday night! Since the locker room is tiny, I actually brought everything up, packed it in bins in my condo, purged a bunch of stuff and moved it all back down. I actually used all the blue bins in this photo and one large box...oh man does my junk add up.


I actually think my locker is just as full now, despite being organized. I am hoping that is because some bins are not quite finished and will be filled once I tackle the condo.

But I am proud to say I am purging a bunch too! This whole box is full of decor items that I don't think I will miss at the new condo, so I am either giving them to a friend who needs some staging items, or dropping off the whole box at Goodwill. The decorative boxes are empty. I might hold onto them for moving purposes. Undecided. The stool is going too (new island doesn't have a breakfast bar anyway).


As for all my furniture, the buyer of my place has offered to buy it all off of me, but I am undecided! Certainly none of this stuff works in my new place long term (too small scale), but I didn't want to have to be "forced" into buying new furniture as I am definitely indecisive when it comes to buying big ticket items. I also really like my furniture and it will be hard to leave it behind. However, family has offered me a couch and a dresser and maybe a few other items so I may just sell it all. Would definitely help save on a moving truck! What would you do?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I Bought a New Condo!

Hello!! Long time no talk!! I've been extremely busy BUYING A CONDO!! I am not going to be sharing photos of it today because the listing is still up and I don't need a bunch of internet people knowing where I sleep at night. But terrible iphone photos will come next week hopefully!

I promised to share all the funness of my condo-hunting journey but it all went so fast so I will quickly fill you in. The sale of my current place was made "official" (all the conditions on the offer met) on Tuesday so we started hunting after work on Wednesday. I went through tons of listings and narrowed it down to 27 units, of which 9 or 10 had already been sold conditionally or were not built yet. So that night we saw three awesome condos, which were top of my list. All three units were 1+1s, which means they had a separate bedroom and den area, though I would argue some builders have a very loose definition of "den". The first three units were all pretty spacious, but 2 of them needed some work.

On Thursday I left work early and we went and saw about 9 more units. Some were decent sizes, but I didn't like the building (I like a concierge and security). Some were hilarious, like the one with 2 toilets in the bathroom (!!!!!), and the one with the 5ft wide hallway as the living room. Oh, and the one with 2 toilets was pitch black inside, despite being the middle of the day! Near the end of the day I was stuck between two condos, a large one that I had seen Wednesday and a 2 story unit out in the west end.

And then the last unit we saw was a cute 1 bedroom up by College Station subway station that really threw me for a loop- suddenly I was torn between the large one from Wednesday and this small, but well laid out unit by the subway (I eliminated the 2 story one, which worked out since it sold the following day).

Both units were awesome in their own way. The large one was close by the lake where I like to run, but the small one was by the subway, which is a prime spot. The small one had a teeny tiny kitchen, which needed to be gutted, but otherwise the rooms were a good size. Large unit by the lake had an amazing kitchen, but the living room was awkwardly shaped and it was on a lower floor. I could go on and on but trust me that each unit appealed to me for different reasons. My Realtor said it was like comparing apples and oranges.

I hemmed and hawed all Friday and on Saturday I brought my friend Sarah and my boyfriend Cam to see both and they gave me their opinions, but I still was torn. Finally after some long talks with my parents, my Realtor, and my friend Ginny I decided to go with the large one. As attracted as I was to living by the subway, I knew that a big unit (it is almost DOUBLE the size of my current space), would give me lots of room to grow into and living by the lake for running and having a large kitchen for baking really appealed to me and my lifestyle. I worried about whether I was making the right choice as an investment, but there is no telling what the market will do and the big unit has lots of spots where I can add value (it is a pretty blank space).

I submitted an offer on Saturday and on Sunday they countered and after a bunch of verbal back and forths between the realtors we came to a price that both of us are happy with (well, I think I am more happy hahaha). The place had been on the market for a long time, but wasn't staged at all and needed some updates so I think I got a great price and I can make it some place amazing. It also helped that the same floor plan, but upgraded and staged, was also for sale so I could go check that out.

The only downside is I do not have enough furniture to fill it! Fingers crossed for a bonus at work this Christmas :). I have so much to do! The condo is really cool with tons of windows and I am really enjoying flipping through magazines and Pinterest and finding some inspiration!! I still have 6 weeks until I move so I need to learn some patience :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Where to Live?

A lot of people have asked me where I am going to live next, now that I have sold my condo. What's that? I was supposed to have figured that out already? Oopsie-daisie. I know a lot of people buy their next home and then sell their current home through a condition in their contract (so if they can't sell they will be able to back out of the deal), however this didn't appeal to me for two reasons
1. I might fall in love with a place and then be forced to back out of the deal if I couldn't sell, especially since condos in my building hadn't been selling quickly when I looked at comparables
2. I wasn't sure I was going to sell- I wanted to see what kind of interest I could get and move forward from there. Then when I did sell I would have a good idea of my down-payment size and therefore budget for the next place.

Well, I ended up selling my condo in 6 days and for an excellent price so here I am scrambling to find my next home! The good news is that I have until the end of November to move out, and I have lots of family and friends who live nearby who have opened up their spare bedrooms and couches to me if I do I end up between homes for a bit. Not to mention their storage spaces for my stuff!

I am still waiting a few days for some conditions of my contract to settle before I officially hit the pavement (the buyers and their lawyer are currently reviewing all the condo documents to make sure this building is in good shape). I want to make sure that this deal is going to go through before I go out there and offer on another place! A lot of places I saw online a couple weeks ago have already sold, so I know I made the right move by not looking before I was ready to offer, but I am going to have to make up my mind quickly if I find the right place.

I know I am looking for a one bedroom (or hopefully a one plus den!), but otherwise I am a little bit stuck on where to live. This city has so many great pockets!

Source


1. King West (North of Liberty Village)
King West offers some really cute loft-style condos in addition to traditional ones. I have always admired the loft-look and thankfully they now make lofts with separate bedroom areas. I would love to be on King for transit reasons, but I love being within walking distance to Liberty Village too- tons of great shops and restaurants there!

Source

2. St Lawrence Area
I am not willing to go too east of Yonge St. because I work way out in the west end of the city and commute is definitely a factor! However there are some great condos within a 5 minute walk of King and Union stations.

Source
3. The Bay St Corridor
There are less properties in this area in my price range, but once and awhile a cute model pops up! I would definitely love to be near the subway and that is what this area offers- not to mention being right downtown with all the action right at my doorstep.
Source
4. The Fashion District
A little west of downtown, but still right in the action on King St are some trendy newer condos. They are almost out of my price range now, but again I would be in a great area, right near the entertainment district.

Source
5. Harbourfront
This neighbourhood is really close to where I am now, but a block closer the waterfront. Cam loves this area and I can tell he would be ecstatic if I ended up living here, but it really depends on commute (no, he would not be living with me, but he visits almost every weekend)! The area is currently under construction, but hopefully that will be done in a year or so. I would need to be near Spadina streetcar if I was going to make this area work for me.

Source
And that is just a small taste of the areas I am looking in! I am also open to areas like City Place, Liberty Village, Midtown (Yonge and Davisville/Eglinton), the Bloor line, etc. I think it will really come down to loving the unit/building and still having a manageable commute and a fun neighbourhood. Oh, and as of today there are about 300 units for sale in downtown Toronto in my price range...I definitely have some legwork to do but hopefully I will able to find my dream condo in a short amount of time!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Casey Gets Fit: Week 32

Weight: 146 (19 lbs down)

I am not sure what to write about this week. I am ecstatic that I somehow lost 1.5lbs this week (actually, earlier in the week I weighed in at 145 somehow!), but I can't say that I did anything to deserve losing it. I ate lots and only made it out for a couple runs this week. I think sometimes weight loss is a mystery, but I will take it over mysterious weight gain any day!

I actually think I was stressed about the sale of the condo and I know that stress causes me to lose weight. However things are going along swimmingly so far with that and hopefully all the conditions of the sale will be settled in the upcoming week and then I can start hunting for my new condo!!! (of course, I have been glued to MLS for weeks, but now I can for reals look.

But back to food. I have basically stopped tracking calories at this point, which is bad and good. It is bad because I am definitely eating more than I think I should some days and I don't want to start gaining weight. On the other hand, I think I have learned a lot about portion control and I eat a lot of the same meals as I did when I WAS tracking calories so even on the odd day when I go back and add everything up it still is a pretty good number. I think I am just eating out a bit too much and those are the meals that will ruin all my hard work.



I also think I need to do a post on clothing because lordy I didn't think enough about that. All my skinny jeans are looking like elephant skin on me right now!! Even my newer clothes are looking a little loose and I think I need to see a tailor. Oh and the other day I bought a shirt that had an "S" on the tag...ya. Not sure when I qualified as a small??

Lastly, I am down almost 20 pounds, which is amaaaaazing. But everything still feels soft and squishy. I think I need to start weight training. Maybe go back to boot camp? UGH. That was hard and I am the queen of lazy. But I definitely need to supplement my running with some weights if I hope to tone up in time for bikini season next year!

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