A perfect evening in Leslieville

18 October 2017 | 0 Comments

It’s been over 10 years since I transitioned from working in the live theatre industry to working in the tech industry. While I don’t work behind the scenes anymore, I still like to attend theatre shows. And with Crow’s Theatre opening their own space in my Leslieville neighbourhood, there’s really no excuse to not attend regularly… so a friend and I purchased season’s ticket subscriptions.

Last week we saw the first show of the season (Asking for It) and had a pre-dinner meal at Gare de L’Est, conveniently next door to Crow’s. Both dinner and the play were great, and I’m looking forward to doing it again soon.

(photo of the steak hache at Gare de L’Est, which I had for my meal, by Hector Vasquez from the review in blogTO

Join me at the Hot Docs Podcast Festival this weekend

13 October 2017 | 0 Comments

For the second year in a row, my company Camp Tech has sponsored the Hot Docs Podcast Festival. I love supporting and participating in this great event. I was at the festival this morning, hosting a panel (Podcasting Essentials: The Tools You Need to Make Your Show) with panelists Suzanne Hancock, Sebastian Major, Nana aba Duncan and JP Davidson (pictured above). I’ll be back on Sunday to enjoy three shows: Modern Love, The Memory Palace and Canadaland. If you’re looking for something fun to do in Toronto this weekend, check it out!

PS – which podcasts are you loving these days?

A Weekend in Prince Edward County (with a 6-year old)

22 May 2017 | 0 Comments

This Victoria Day weekend, I was really looking for a family getaway. It was Ian’s birthday, and I’ve been working too much lately, so I figured it would be fun to head out of town and spend some time together. Some friends had told me about Sandbanks Summer Village, a condo cottage resort in Prince Edward County. They said it was great for families, and there were 2-bedroom cottages available for rent. Done and done.

On the way into the County, we stopped at my friends Lori and Lorraine’s farm, Thyme Again Gardens. They have a cute roadside stand where they sell fresh meat, produce, spices and more from their farm. Clara, now 6 years old and a total city kid, was beyond excited to get a farm tour from Lorraine. She met the pigs and got to pick fresh eggs right out of the henhouse.

We had lunch at County Road Beer Company, which is nextdoor to Hinterland Wines. I had a wine slushy (it was as good as it sounds) and Clara had the non-alcoholic version while devouring an entire cheese plate. She is my child after all. We picked up beer and sparkling wine from the bottle shops, and also hit up Rosehall Run to get more wine on the way to Sandbanks Summer Village.

When we checked into our cottage, Clara just about lost it when she realized that her room had a bunk bed (top bunk! yes!) and the pool was open. Ian braved the chill (it’s a heated pool, but it was still only 18 degrees outside) and took her for a swim while I read trashy magazines pool-side.

Sunday was cloudy so we played a few outdoor games at the resort before the rain came in. Then it was indoor games (Clara kicked my butt at Battleship) and a trip to Picton to check out the antique fair. I bought Clara a locket, since she’s kind of obsessed with them, and she picked a skeleton key so she could be “just like Mary in The Secret Garden.”

We drove over to the bottle shop at Barley Days Brewery, and then went to the small town of Bloomfield for ice cream at Slickers. Everything is close in the County, so it’s easy to bop from town to town.

A few places were open on Victoria Day Monday, but not everything, so those that were open were busy. We had breakfast at Enid Grace Cafe in Wellington which was fantastic, but it was so rammed with people it was hard to enjoy.  A good reason to go back sometime when it’s not so crowded.

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If you’re thinking of going to Sandbanks Summer Village, here are a few tips. The cottages are all individually owned, so while they’re the same from the outside, they’re really different on the inside (depending on which model the cottage is, how many upgrades the owners chose, and how they are furnished). The one we rented was… shall we say… spartan. There was one couch and one chair, a basic dining table, a double bed in one room and the bunk bed in the other room. The patio furniture was basic and the BBQ didn’t work until Ian fixed it himself. I got the feeling that this unit was purchased purely to be a rental. It was totally fine and we were happy enough, but if we were to go again I would rent from an actual owner (there are lots on Airbnb and VRBO). Our rental was through Expedia.

Speaking of rentals, read the fine print before you book. We paid what I considered a fair enough price for a 2-bedroom cottage on the long weekend, but it wasn’t super cheap. Then after booking I received an email from the resort saying there would be an additional $80 cleaning fee. I went back to Expedia and read the fine print, and yes it did say that there would be an additional cleaning fee charged. $80 seemed ridiculously steep though, considering the cottage was 600 square feet. I assumed cleaning would be included in the initial price.

The cottages are in three main areas – the “meadows”, the “woodlands” and “lakeside”. They go up in price based on location. We were in the meadows, where the cottages are close together and there are no mature trees. The weekend we were there was quiet so it wasn’t an issue, but it doesn’t really seem like a traditional cottage when you’re looking at the plastic siding of the neighbouring unit. If you’d like a more picturesque view, book a woodland or lakeside cottage.

All of that being said, the cottages are brand new and the facilities are great. There are canoes and kayaks for anyone to use at the lake, and tennis, basketball, shuffleboard, ping pong, and a putting green by the heated family swimming pool. There’s a large playground with swings, and a game room with boardgames and puzzles to take out. During the summer months there are kids’ activities every day. Everyone we saw was very friendly and there were many families with young children. If you were looking for a place to take your kids (or even go with your extended family or a few friends and their kids) it would be perfect.

 

 

 

Finally, an eReader I can drop in the bath

5 May 2017 | 0 Comments

poster for Into the Water book

waterproof Kobo eReader

I love to read in the bath. And I love to read on an eReader. Normally those two don’t go so well together. I’ve been known to put my Kobo or Kindle in a ziploc bag to protect it from splashes. Very glamorous. 😉

Earlier this week I went to a press event for the launch of the new book Into the Water (by the Girl on the Train writer Paula Hawkins) and the launch of a new Kobo eReader that’s WATERPROOF. Now I can read in the bath or by the pool without worrying. Game changer!

PS – this isn’t a sponsored post. I’m seriously pumped about this device.

Next Time We Go to Scotland, I Want to Rent This Cottage

30 April 2017 | 0 Comments

Next time we go to Scotland (whenever that is), I’d really like to visit the Isle of Harris. It has spectacular beaches (look at that photo above!), mountains and fjords. If we do make it there, I’d love to stay in one of these holiday cottage rentals. Don’t they look so cozy?

Podcasts I’m Loving Right Now

30 April 2017 | 0 Comments

What podcasts do you enjoy? Lately I’ve been loving the new seasons of Startup and Science Vs. I’m just starting S-Town (I know, I must be the last person on the planet who hasn’t heard it all yet).  My all-time favourite podcast is Reply All and I listen to CANADALAND every week. When I’m feeling kind of sappy I love Cheryl Strayed’s advice column podcast Dear Sugar. In December I listened to Making Oprah (fascinating!) and I really enjoyed The Globe and Mail‘s Colour Code and The Risk Takers podcasts last summer and fall.

Did you know I have a podcast? It’s the Camp Tech Podcast with Avery Swartz, and I talk all about tech for small business, sometimes with guests, sometimes on my own. If that interests you, check it out!

How to Sell Things Online

17 April 2017 | 0 Comments

If Spring Cleaning has you purging your basement, garage or attic, consider selling your gently used stuff online. If you’ve never done it (or haven’t in a while), you should check out my feature for CTV Your Morning where I discuss three new apps that make selling your things online easier!

Looking Back on 2016

28 December 2016 | 0 Comments

When I wrote my 2015 Year in Review post a year ago, I was in a great place so it was easy to hammer that one out. This year? Not so much. I thought about writing a large Year in Review post this week, but honestly my heart’s just not in it.

Let’s just be real. 2016 was hard. For everyone, it seems. It’s been a difficult year around the world, and a lot of what made 2016 crappy shows no sign of getting better in 2017. I’m usually an optimist, but when it comes to some of the shit going down in the world, I honestly believe it will likely get worse. Makes you want to crawl back to bed and pull the duvet over your head, huh?

Closer to home, 2016 was a year of ups and downs. There were many high highs (amazing travel! Television appearances! Organizing and hosting the second Gather North conference! Landing major web clients! Writing for Chatelaine and the Globe and Mail! Clara not hating senior kindergarten! Launching new websites I designed! Hosting the industry panel at the Podcast Festival!) and a few really low lows (surgery for me, unexpected changes at Camp Tech, extended gruesome jury duty for Ian). I guess that’s just life though – the good and the bad, all mixed in together. Often in the same day.

Ian and I have been watching The Crown on Netflix, which is as much about Winston Churchill as it is about Queen Elizabeth. Ian loves Churchill (he spent most of his master’s degree reading and writing about him) and recently I can understand why. We’re still in the thick of the ups and downs, and there’s nothing for us to do but keep going. We’ll be fine. As Churchill said, “We must just KBO.” So we do, and we will be fine.

In 2016, my “word of the year” was amplify. For 2017, I’ve chosen sustain. Sustain the plans I’ve already put in motion, sustain my business and my colleagues, sustain my family and myself. Hold up, nourish, steady, stay the course. I think Churchill would approve.

Daydreaming: Buying a Scottish Estate

23 December 2016 | 0 Comments

Glentruim Castle & Cottages in the Cairngorns is for sale. The estate comes with a 19th century castle, 3 self-catering cottages, and an on-site wedding venue. Considering it’s basically buying a hospitality business, the 3 million pounds price tag doesn’t seem that crazy. Here’s the listing if you’re interested.

The travel apps and gadgets you need before your next trip

19 December 2016 | 1 Comment

ctvyourmorningtraveltech

Here’s my latest tech piece for CTV YourMorning: The travel apps and gadgets you need before your next trip. Watch the clip and read about my picks on the CTV site.