Saturday, February 27, 2010

An Update From My Black Hole

Where did this week go? Somewhere between working 12 hour days and a snow storm, apparently I missed the last five days. Literally, I feel like I fell in a black hole this week. Many of the items I thought about doing all week- moving my living room around, buying wallpaper (yes, I STILL have not done this) - are still not done. If it weren't for my bf, who by the way, brought me BEAUTIFUL roses this week, I might not even have turned on the Olympics. After immersing myself in Olympic fever last week, I suffered a bit of a hangover earlier this week. Last weekend's disappointments seemed doomed to replay endlessly on the highlights reel. I couldn't bear to watch it. I'll be anxiously anticipating the men's gold medal curling tomorrow night. I love watching curling, especially Kevin Martin's team. I'm a geek, but I'm okay with it. I actually presented Kevin, and his third, John Morris, with MVP at The Brier, the Canadian men's curling championship, the past 2 years. Am I wishing just a little that they make a surprise appearance at this year's event with their gold medals?? Absolutely!

What else is new this week... My T4 showed up this week. I have stopped opening this because it usually makes me feel sick to see how much money I don't have, but apparently was paid. I also got my mortgage statement. I shouldn't have opened it. $2300 paid down on the Principal of my house in 2009. OUCH! It's still stinging.

My last tidbit of news... I won a big advertising award at work in the fall, and I had it mounted with the advertisement for my office. I got it back today and it looks great!!

Anyway - I am trying to share the rest of my Hotel de Glace photos through Picassa. Keep checking my blog for the slideshow. It'll be on the right-hand side of the page -------------->
P.S. Pictures are there now. Check out the slideshow!!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

One Way to Save on Heat

First, I am SO SORRY for the delay sharing pictures. Not that we had an incredible amount of downtime, but I discovered we didn't have a cable or computer that would allow us to share them.

So, here are a few of my favourites. I'll be sure to share more when I get caught up.

Below is the Hotel de Glace. It's built every winter at a cost of approximately $600,000. Built entirely from ice and snow, it is packed and formed in molds, which are then removed. The hotel is operational for January-March, has 30 rooms and is in its 10th season. Approximately 4000 people stay overnight and 80,000+ visit in a season. In addition to the rooms, there is a bar, cafe, chapel and 'spa' area, which contains washrooms, hot tubs and a sauna for overnight guests.

Here is a shot of the Cafe de Glace. Each year, the hotel is designed with a different theme. This year's masterpiece honoured the Nordic people, so many of the rooms and design reflected this. I'm not sure if apples are nordic, but the cafe had booths carved into the wall in an apple shape, apples encased in ice in the bar and pillars, and an apple tree on the back wall.

Below is the chandelier in the main entrance and hall. There is a slide at the end of the hall, sponsored by North Face. The man on the back wall is just a mannequin. They don't allow you to 'wall climb' the ice walls.
Drumroll please... this was our suite. #11 - The Vortex. Every suite had a different theme. We thought ours was a little lame.. as you'll see some a more extravagent rooms below. The base of the bed is a block of ice, with a sheet of plywood on top and a mattress on top of the plywood. The mattress was very comfortable and with our sleeping bags, we slept as snug as two bugs in a rug.
This was one of my favourites suites - The Eclipse. Christmas lights behind the wall carvings lit the room like a night's sky, complete with stars.

Finally, I couldn't post these without a dogsledding shot. Here is our team pulling us across the snowladen, northern Quebec landscape. Just beautiful!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mini Winter Holiday is Here!

Some choose the Dominican or Cuba. White sand on warm beaches, brilliant, blue water, fruity cocktails and all-you-can-eat buffet.

I am not one of those people. Instead, I opted for the experience of a lifetime - a night in the seasonal, snow-fort-on-steriods, the Hotel de Glace. Okay, truthfully, I didn't seek out this destination on my own. I am lucky to have friends in high places, or friends that at least know people in high places. My best friend won the trip and asked if I would join her for the weekend. I do believe a little that my love of all activities winter and ability to parler francais was also a bonus.

Located north of Quebec City, we arrived last night just in time for our 'briefing', which provided us with direction on how to go to bed. There is a lack of real similarity to a 'normal' hotel here. Camping would be a better description of the experience. Provided with a North Face Tundra sleeping bag and "potato sack", which seemed to me like a cacoon, we were shown how to zip and tighten ourselves into the bag for the night. At this point, we were seriously hoping the only nature that would call that evening would be the creature in the woods outside the hotel.

Despite this, when we'd enjoyed our "spa" and downed the straight vodka "cocktail"  from an ice cup in the ice bar, we headed to our suite. Perhaps, it's our Northern Ontario roots, but neither of us could deny how much it felt like we were sleeping in a snowfort from our childhood. It was like living every child's winter dream! Bundled up in our long undies, wicking first layer and a toque, we passed out in our 'vortex' themed room.

Except for my nose and cheeks, I was amazingly warm all night. Sleeping on my side seemed to keep the chill off my face, and I awoke this morning thoroughly rested. So, now we're off to tackle a full day of activities. Dogsledding, cross-country skiing, snowshowing and skating! I'll post pictures tonight.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Only Thing Better Than a Sauna is... If It Weren't My House!

I arrived home from work tonight, with a thousands things on a my mind and a very clear "to do" list for the evening, to an unwelcome surprise.

As soon as I pushed the door open, I immediately knew something was wrong. The waft of warm air that greeted me at the front door was not normal. Those who know me, know my house is cold. Wear an extra sweater and sit under a blanket, cold. Turn the heat on just for company, cold. Warm air should never escape, because often there is no noticeable warm air in my house to begin with. I stepped into the kitchen, and I was engulfed in heat. Insanely hot, sweaty, smells-like-static, costing-me-a-fortune heat.

My furnace was racing, and it appeared my thermostat had long given up keeping pace, let alone controlling it. The temperature reading - "HI". The temperature was easily 100 degrees Farenheit. My thermostat is programmed for 68, and the fan was set to Auto. I turned the heat off, and 10 minutes and a panicked phone call to the bf and Service Experts later, the furncace switched off.

You can imagine my distress, opening every window and door, in mid-February, to cool my house down. I can feel the money being sucked from my bank account as I sit here, waiting for the temperature to return to near-normal. Although the thermastat can finally register the temperature, it's still 90 degrees.

For now, I've decided to wait and see what happens when I turn the furnace back on. My cats were in the basement today, so perhaps they knocked it to the "Haywire" setting. Perhaps, my furnace is shot. Either way, it will cost me $99 just for a specialist from Service Experts to come and check it out. My house may be cooking, but my brain is cool enough to know I should make sure there truly is a problem. Its not like I have no heat and my pipes are freezing. I can afford to see what happens when I turn the furnace back on.

My furnace is due for another maintenance. It's recommended annually, and I haven't had someone in to look at it since 2008. Since it's now 2010.... I am getting the message. Last time I called Service Experts of Niagara, but I doubt they're the cheapest. Does anyone have any suggestions to find a good heating & cooling guy?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tupperware + Me = Soon To Be Organized Pantry!

Despite loving home parties and toting The Pampered Chef myself, I had never been to a Tupperware party. Until now.

I had a bit of a Tupperware wish list I've slowly been accumulating. I've kept my eyes open at Value Village and been able to score a couple of items, like this small canister.

I would really like a few more of these canisters for my sugar, flour and oatmeal.

I have also been looking for a juice pitcher, like the one I remember from my childhood.

I also really like their little mini containers with the snap-on lid. They're absolutely great for taking salad dressing to work.

Finally, they have these freezer to microwave containers. Also great for leftovers for lunch.

So, on the weekend, I attended a friend's Tupperware party. As a home party consultant myself, I enjoyed sitting on the other side of the room and taking in 'the show'.

I scored a couple free gadgets, including a "smidget" and a scoop to remove hard boiled eggs from the water.

Extra exciting - I won the Tupper Twoonie game and won $34 in free Tupperware! Their organization sets, which includes the new version of the round canister above, are on sale, so I splurged on a set for myself. I also bought myself the juice pitcher and put the $34 towards a few more containers for my pantry.

I can't wait to bring all my new plastic home and toss the dollar store containers and ice cream tubs for ultimate organization!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

E-Trade Baby Commercials

Enjoying a Saturday morning coffee and watching the morning news, we caught a feature on the Canadian baby that made it big in the E-Trade commercials. My curiosity piqued, I headed to You-Tube to catch them for myself. After watching a few, I already know their traders' portfolios are worth 8x the average investor's. I guess these commercials work! Nevertheless, they were good for a laugh this morning!

Here's a little sample of what E-Trade has put together to raise awareness about their online trading site. Enjoy!! Oh, and Go Packers! wait... Go Colts!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Things I Want

I've been browsing blogs and Etsy for almost an hour now. Partially, I'm procrastinating. I had the best of intentions to prop myself up in bed and start my article that's due Friday. Partially, I'm bummed out. I've posted so many times about what I want to do at my house. I'm constantly looking for inspirations, ideas and trying to visualize the next room in my house, but it's feel overwhelmingly apparent that I haven't actually done anything!

Sure, there's been small things. Even some big things when I've had help. Yet, there's so many projects. So many ideas, and my wishlist seems to grow longer daily. I'm not an obsessive-compulsive 'lister'. I do rely on them a lot to stay organized, and in the past 2 years, I've become an avid 'task' user in Outlook. There is satisfaction in stroking something off a list. It's like the cherry on top of a satisfaction sundae.

With all these ideas and inspiration out there, I started to make a 'wish list'.

                              It's                           utterly                      random.

items. services. projects.  you name it.

Last year, I made a dream board to visualize what I wanted to achieve. Besides the arts and crafts part (my favourite part), it didn't provide a whole lot of inspiration because it hung in my (unused) office.

This year, you guessed it! I made a wish list. I'm going to share it with you in hopes it will force me to start stroking some of these off!

  • Home energy audit
  • Insulate basement
  • Shelves for either side of fireplace
  • New stove
  • Office reno
  • New couches or coverings for my couches
  • Window coverings - office  & guest room
  • Electric toothbrush (this is the random part)
  • Build a table
  • Flat screen TV
A few specifically:
  • This frame: IKEA Ribba Frame $19.99 For my BILD poster I'd like to hang above my living room fireplace.

  • Bedroom art - I've been eyeing Van Gogh's Almond Branches poster on Amazon as possible bedroom art, should I actually not get around to painting my own art.