Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Going Once, Going Twice, SOLD!

So this happened...


Ya. Kinda sorta sold my condo already. Well, I am under contract and we have all signed off, so barring any issues with the regular financing and home inspection conditions, I will be handing over the keys to the new owners in a scant 2 months! My closing is on Nov 27th, which is incidentally both marks my 14th year of having Alopecia, and my 1st anniversary with Cam. Big day!!

The process was fast, crazy and stressful, but I am glad it came to a satisfactory conclusion (well, I am happy. I hope the buyers are too). I listed officially last Thursday and I had a showing booked on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and then the Saturday people came again on Sunday and on Sunday night they submitted an offer!

Their original offer was a little low to me, but still a fair offer, so after a LOT of back and forth with my agent and their agent, we verbally agreed on a slightly higher sign-back price. I submitted my counter offer on Monday and on Tuesday morning they accepted it!

I know a lot of news goes around about the crazy Toronto real estate market, but trust me when I say my building has NOT been experiencing crazy fast sales or bidding wars or any of that stuff. I really was expecting to sit on the market for awhile so this sale is kind of a shock! But a nice shock!

I am not counting my chickens until all those conditions on the sale are met, however. So I am not writing too much about this deal yet. But the juicy details will come one day, my dears!!

But for now, I think I need to track down some boxes....

Monday, September 29, 2014

Casey Gets Fit: Week 31

Weight: 147.4

I was going to do measurements this week, but my measuring tape is somewhere down in the locker and I don't think I am ever going to find it again!

As for my weight, you maybe have noticed that I have plateaued for the past few weeks...and I am perfectly happy with that. I am now down to a healthy weight for my frame and I think I am looking good. So to the point, I made the conscious decision to work on a more "maintenance" diet and I am hoping to slowly lose another 5lbs over the next few months, but no rush. Basically I am eating 1500-1600 calories on the days where I have no plans (I never really eat takeout or fast food by myself so it is really easy to stick to), and then on days where I am going out for dinner or drinks I am just enjoying myself in moderation and not worrying about the calories. I think the 6 months of relatively strict dieting has really helped me with portion control and making better choices, so even my "cheat" meals are rarely crazy.

I am still working out 3 times a week, usually a run, and I am hoping to get back into some longer runs. I did 13km on Saturday morning and it was ROUGH. I am thinking of signing up for a half-marathon next May to give me something to train for because without a race on the horizon I am getting pretty lazy about lacing up and going out. I imagine this will get worse as it gets colder.

View from my turnaround point


Now for food! I want to share some recipes I tried this weekend, even though they are not all healthy...mwahaha!

On Friday I made healthy chicken soup that I am hoping will last me a few meals. I baked a whole chicken and then used all that chicken in a soup with carrots, onions, celery, and peas. At the last minute I threw in some flour to thicken the broth and some bowtie pasta (not a whole lot though) and it came out gooooood. I saved all those chicken bones so I can make my own broth too- I was too lazy to wait this time.

Then on Saturday Cam came over and I wanted to treat him to an apple-filled dinner because I have been bursting at the seams with apples from apple-picking. First I made pork tenderloin with apples and onions, loosely following this recipe. It came out so good. Pork is definitely being added to the dinner rotation. I served it with a side of salad and homemade apple sauce, made using this recipe. By the way, making your own apple sauce is really easy and delicious!


For dessert I baked him an apple pie (recipe here)! I think he had been waiting for this pie since I had mentioned apple picking. It came out okay. It was a little runny, but I don't think I let it sit long enough (it smelled too good to wait!). However, it tasted delicious and that is all that matters.


I think I have about 3 apples left now. Pie is awesome because it used so many apples! What is your favourite apple dish??

Friday, September 26, 2014

For Sale: One Well-Loved Condo

My condo is now officially on the market.

Oh boy. Oh boy. Oh boy. Oh boy. Oh boy. Oh boy. Oh boy.

It is such a big decision and so nerve-wracking! Am I making the right choice? Is it the right time in the market? Will I get an offer I am happy with? EEEEEEE!! I have no need to sell, I just feel it is a good time in my life to move into a larger place and explore living in a new area of the city. Not to mention my 5 year locked-in mortgage just ended so I can exit my mortgage for a very low fee, which gives me lots of flexibility that I didn't have before.

The condo buying process will hopefully be fun, but also nerve-wracking for a lot of other reasons. However I am not even dealing with that until I sell. There is a pretty big debate over whether to buy or sell first, but I am unsure of the market in my area for studio condos so I am much more comfortable selling and then looking into buying. I may end up homeless for a bit but my Dad lives on the GO train line and I have friends with couches for the odd night in the city. So I have options!

So yes, selling zee condo. I promised to share the process on here and the first step of the process is staging! My condo is really tight at only 9.5' wide, so it is critical to make it feel more open and spacious. This meant paring down on things on the wall, decor items, and other "cluttery" items. I love my clutter, but it doesn't help show off how big this place can feel!


I convinced my friend Veronica (through offers of sushi) to lend me some boxes and help me declutter the condo. I love my condo the way it was so I needed some outside eyes to help me choose what items to move to storage. I think we did a great job! It was a LOT more work than I bargained for, though. I was shocked how much stuff ended up in the locker- it is stuffed to the brim!


One of the things that sure adds up is all the little repairs. I spent last night filling a bunch of tiny nail holes and painting over them. The worst thing was realizing my leftover paint was at the BACK of the locker, after tetrising all that stuff in!! I also continue to bring more and more to the locker (I know...) because I assume buyers will open the closet and cupboards and I need the insides to look spacious too.

Here are my tips for staging a tiny condo:
- Remove everything "personal", like pictures of your friends and family
- Replace any worn out items. I got myself a new rug for the front hall from Linen Chest!
- Clear clutter off table tops and counters
- Remove any unnecessary furniture. I folded down my table and just left out my new Luxe chair from Structube because it has very little visual weight. I think this shows people that there is an option for a table/desk without taking up space. I also moved my turquoise Ikea rolling rack and the table from my front hall to the locker
- Go through closets, cupboards and drawers to clean things up and give the illusion of lots of storage
- Clean the windows! Let the light in!
- Clean, clean, clean everything else
- Patch up any damage to walls. I had a few nail holes and some scrapes and smudges on the walls so I fixed it all up and repainted. When you have a small space those little things make a big difference in the overall appearance of the place.
- Create a visual flow. When I stored a bunch of my stuff I ended up with a new turquoise items. I think that one subtle accent colour repeated throughout an other wise white and grey condo helps the space feel spacious and simple.
- Create a welcoming entry way. I don't have much call in my condo's "curb appeal", so I kept the front hall nice, open and clean. I pared down the furniture and added a new rug. In the hallway I highlighted the chalkboard wall with a graphic of my address.
- Take bright photos and beware the wide angle lens. I did have to use my wide angle for the full condo shot and the hallway, but otherwise I did my best to avoid it. I hate listings with wide angle photos because you can totally tell. I don't think I am going to fool anyone into thinking I live in a mansion; I just want to highlight that you can live very comfortably here

I think I got everything on that list done, so now all I have left to do is sell the condo!







And yes, you might be able to make out where I live now, but I figure the listing will be public so you guys could have figured it out anyway! Plus you all know that I have nice taste, but own nothing of value (please don't rob me).


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Apple Picking at the Farm

Yesterday was the first day of fall, and this year I am intending to get the most out of fall and enjoying these last few warm, sunny days. Fingers crossed that we get pretty leaves this year so I go hiking in that beauty!!

One of my life to-dos that I somehow always miss every fall is apple picking. I think I may have gone once as a kid, but I have no memory of it and I really want to pick my own apples! This past weekend I ended up coercing my friend Steph into taking me (side note- it did not take much to convince her once I mentioned Honeycrisp apples).

We went to Watson's Farm in Bowmanville, which is a really fun little farm! There is a playground and a petting zoo for kids, and you get to take a tractor ride to the orchard!


They had four apples ready for picking- Macintosh, Gala, Cortland, and Honeycrisps. The honeycrisps were double the price of the other apples and had to be put in a separate bag, but otherwise you had free reign to pick all you wanted! Steph and I only skipped the macintoshes, since that is not a favourite of either of us.


We went a little overboard, but picking apples takes no time at all and we were having fun. You could fill up one of those bags with "cheap" apples for $25, which we did NOT do, because what in the world would we do with that many apples? I believe we got 1/2 of a bag of honey crisps and 1/3 bag mixed gala and cortland and paid $30 and $11 respectively.


We also noticed that some people were eating apples in the orchard and not getting in trouble, so we totally broke into one of our honeycrisps. We figured if you are going to steal an apple, might as well steal an expensive one (though we did share it)! Probably not that clean, but whatever ;)


When we got home we got down to making some dinner- which was homemade chicken pot pies AND apple crumble with homemade ice cream. Oh yes, bring it on fall food!! PS- don't tell my diet about this meal, okay? Thanks :)



Now I had about 15 gala and cortland apples hanging out in the condo (I let Steph keep all the honeycrisps), so feel free to leave some apple recipes in the comments- especially if you have any healthy ones! The last couple nights I have been having baked apples with cinnamon & brown sugar, and I think I am going to pick up some pork tenderloins this week to cook alongside some apples.

What is your favourite apple recipe? Favourite fall activity?

Icelandic Wool Blanket

When I was planning my trip to Iceland, I knew I wanted to splurge on a special souvenir while I was there. I had my heart set on an Icelandic wool sweater, like these ones from Nordic Wool.


However I really got cold feet while I was travelling. These sweaters are about $250 each, and I was worried it was something I wouldn't wear often, or that would make me itchy, or would be TOO warm. I did look at thrift stores, since the sweaters run closer to $50 there, but all the colours were totally ugly. I have also read that the Handknitting Association of Iceland is a reasonably-priced option, but it wasn't open when we were in that area

Thankfully my cold feet were soon warmed up- when I found Icelandic wool blankets! The blankets are gorgeous and run about half the price of sweaters! In fact, I was able to score my blanket for only $90 at a tourist information office (address was Laugavegur 54 in Reykjavik). A good tip about shopping in Iceland is to ask if a store does tax-free for tourists (you get a tax rebate at the airport). This store didn't, but they gave me 15% off in lieu of that!


They had some with more "traditional" designs like reindeers and whatnot, but I loved the muted plaid on this one. I figured the greys and taupes will go with whatever decor I choose in all my future homes. It is not a HUGE blanket (it is folded in half in the photo), but it is perfect for a nap on the couch on a cold winters day.


I can completely vouch for the warmth of this wool too. I bought this at the beginning of the trip and I slept under it many nights because some hostels charged for a blanket. This blanket is thin, but I was perfectly cozy all nights I used it, and I am a winter-weight duvet in the summer type girl.

Icelandic wool yarn (called Lopi) is made up of two layers of fleece, one which blocks wind and rain, and one that insulates, and the yarn isn't spun so it contains more air than traditional spun wool, which also helps insulate (thanks Wikipedia!). Many Icelanders wear the sweaters instead of coats, because they are that warm!


Souvenirs in Iceland are super expensive, but if you have a knitter in the family, the lopi wool is actually reasonably priced at about $4 a skein. I didn't have a lot of room in my luggage with this blanket, but I did bring home a couple skeins for one of my friends! If I could go back, I think I would have gotten more (but I am the slowest knitter and my yarn is piling up as it is), though I am sure it is available in Canada too if I wanted to hunt more down.

Oh- and the other souvenir I brought myself (and my family) home? Cronions! They are like deep fried onion flakes and I can never go back to hot dogs without them. OMG SO GOOD.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Freedom Wig Review!

I have been sharing my wig process with you guys, and I am so excited to say that my Freedom Wig finally came in while I was in Iceland! I hadn't done a post yet, because I was trying to finalize the haircut and I think it is 95% of the way there, but I can't wait any longer! I am in LOVE with my new hair and I just want to share it with the world!!


Getting this wig was a very involved process, so I thought I would share the questions I  had when I first started looking into getting a Freedom Wig.

What is Different About Freedom Wigs?
Traditional wigs secure by an elastic at the back and are made of a light netted material that the hairs are tied to. Freedom Wigs are molded to your head and the cap is made of silicone with the hairs fused into it. This means the wig suctions to your head and stays secure, even if you are waterskiing, cartwheeling, or even just simply putting up your hair in a pony tail (which is not possible with traditional wigs).



Is a Freedom Wig for Me?
Freedom wigs work by suctioning onto your head, so you need to be 100% bald. Therefore this is not the right product for more milder cases of Alopecia, unless you are willing to keep your head shaven. It also probably isn't a good option for cancer patients because of that issue- not to mention it takes about 4 months from first fitting to getting your wig, so you need to already be bald when you order it, or willing to shave your head.

Where Can I Get One?
Freedom Wigs are made by a New Zealand company and are sold through reps in Canada. The rep for Toronto is Jennifer at Image Evolution. Jennifer works out of Winnipeg, but she comes to Toronto about every 6 weeks or so to meet with clients. I actually haven't seen her since my first fitting, but we have emailed back and forth many times since then and she is extremely helpful.



How Long Is The Process?
I started talking to Jennifer in April and was measured and placed my order at the end of the month. My wig took about 4 months from that point to being finished and in my hands! The first step is getting properly fitted, since they are custom made to the contours of your head. After that they send you a plastic mold to try on and make sure the fit is good. They also send you a hair sample of the hair they will be using you can assess the length, colour, and curl.

How Much Customization Can I Do?
They are incredibly customizable compared to traditional wigs- I was able to "develop" a colour by combining different hair samples. I picked a light wave for the hair, and the length of mine is 10" (I actually think it came out a bit longer!). You can also pick the angle at which the hair connects to the cap, the thickness of the hair, where your part is, what kind of bang you want, etc. The hair is also real human hair so you can change up the colour or get highlights later on if you want to.


Are Freedom Wigs Hot? Comfortable?
I think all wigs can get warm, as it is kind of like wearing a hat, and thankfully I am often cold so I do not mind wearing my wig. That being said, yes I do find this one a bit warm at first, but you get used to it. I have not worn it for exercise or on an extremely hot day, but the one plus is that you can go into a private space, pop it off and wipe off any sweat, and then pop it back on and feel fresh! With a traditional wig that sweat gets trapped in the wig and hair. Not to mention you can pull it up into a pony tail to get the hair off your next on a hot day!

However I do find the wig quite comfortable. It takes a bit of practice to get it on just right, but I am definitely getting better at it! Once it is suctioned on properly it does not shift around and I really forget about it. Only issue is that if you get an itch you need to pop the whole thing off to satisfy it! (The wig isn't itchy at all)



Does It Look Natural?
When you go to get your Freedom Wig cut, they will cut in lots of "baby hairs" so your hair looks natural when pulled back. Also note that the nape of this wig is higher than a regular wig, so my stylist cut in some longer hairs in the back. I love the baby hairs she cut in the front, but I might get some of the longer ones in the back thinned out. It will never look 100% natural in a pony tail, but I would say that most people can't tell unless they are staring at the back of your head for a long time.



How Do I Get It Cut?
Your Freedom Rep will recommend a hair stylist in your area who knows how to cut wigs. I ended up seeing a stylist named Seven at Seven Hair Salon, who actually used to work at my old wig salon (they only cut their own wigs- hence why I didn't go there), and she had cut some of my old wigs so I was very comfortable having her do my hair. She had a great haircut option for wigs where you pay one flat price but can come back many times for adjustments to the cut. With wigs you can't really grow out a bad hair cut so slow and steady is the best way to go!


How Long Do They Last?
My wig should last about 3-5 years with proper care. That means not touching it often (to minimize breakage of the hair), avoiding excessive heat and using a proper thermal-protection serum before using hairdryers, curlers, and straighteners, washing the cap out every night, and getting the colour redone every year or so. That being said, when your wig starts to show signs of wear and tear, you can actually send it in to be repaired and rebuilt, which costs a fraction of the cost of a brand new wig.

Speaking of Cost, How Much Does a Freedom Wig Cost?
I don't think it would be fair to answer this here, as it really depends on the choices you make for your hair (longer is more expensive), and it probably depends on your rep. I will however say that a Freedom Wig is pretty expensive and was not a decision I made lightly. You can also look into help from your insurance to see if it can be partially covered. Also in Canada, you can look into claiming the wig as a medical expensive on your taxes. Please call your local rep for a quote, they are very open with price ranges once they can narrow down what you are looking for.

I am really really happy with this purchase. There is a lot of spontaneity that you lose when wearing a wig, because you can't "do" an activity because of your hairpiece. I am super excited to go out an enjoy some of those things! Next month my friends and I are going to ride a mechanical bull, which is certainly not something you can do with a traditional wig :)

If you have any questions, please let me know!

Please note that Freedom Wigs and Image Evolution did not in any way compensate me for this wig or ask for a review. I just really want to share my thoughts on this amazing hairpiece!




Pin It button on image hover