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

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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.

A holiday gift guide for the tech lovers in your life

29 November 2016 | 0 Comments

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Yesterday I was on CTV Your Morning sharing my top picks for tech gifts this holiday season. Check out my list and watch the video clip here.

I love personalized holiday items

16 November 2016 | 0 Comments

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Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I dig personalized holiday cards. I love to send them out and I love receiving them from others. At Christmastime we hang a long ribbon against a wall in our kitchen, and we clip the holiday cards to the ribbon so we can look at them all season long. Clara especially enjoys getting personalized cards from friends and family – she puts them at eye level so she can see their photos.

I was looking through all our pictures taken in 2016 and there wasn’t a great family shot, so I decided to go really minimal with our card, and just include one picture of Clara instead of the whole family. Let’s be honest… she’s the one everyone really wants to see anyway. I picked this simple design from TinyPrints, since it will really let the one photo standout.

When I was making our holiday cards online, I also made a few personalized Christmas tree ornaments while I was at it. It’s so fun to put photo ornaments on the tree and look at them every year. I can’t wait for them to arrive.

Thanks Tiny Prints! I am glad I had the opportunity to use your products!

A Little Late: Photos from Our Trip to London Scotland

11 September 2016 | 0 Comments

So we’ve been home for over a month, and I keep forgetting to write a blog post with photos from our *amazing* trip to London and Scotland this summer.

Here are a few pics if you’d like to see:

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Riding the London Eye

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Ian in front of our Airbnb in Shoreditch, London

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At the British Museum

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Climbing to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral, in a heat wave

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The Tigerlily Hotel in Edinburgh

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At the Brewdog Pub in Edinburgh

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Our spectacular cabin rental in the Highlands

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Fresh seafood

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The Highlands around the cabin

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Highland cows

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Touring Highland towns, like Plockton

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Relaxing evenings in the cabin

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Hiking on the Isle of Rona, with Skye in the distance

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Seals, seen from a boat tour

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Happy Anniversary to us!

I’m Mildly Obsessed With Watching This Bear Cam

15 July 2016 | 1 Comment

bear cam

Okay, I know this is really random, but in the last few days I’ve been watching a bear cam. It’s a live webcam of Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park in Alaska, where brown bears feast on the largest Sockeye Salmon run in the world. If you turn on your speakers you can hear the sound of the waterfall, or just leave ’em off and watch the bears try to catch fish. There are often mama bears and cubs, and I find it strangely soothing. I’ll do a bit of work, and then check on the bear cam for a couple minutes, then back to work, and repeat.

Would You Have a Book Club With Your Spouse?

7 July 2016 | 0 Comments

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Ian used to be in a book club and really enjoyed it, but members moved away from the city and the club eventually disbanded. Since then he doesn’t read non-fiction much, and while I love novels, it can take me months to make my way through a book.

So when I recently saw a review in The Guardian calling The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes his masterpiece, I perked up. Ian and I had both previously read (and enjoyed) Sense of an Ending by Barnes, so I asked Ian if he’d read The Noise of Time with me and we could chat about it. You know… kind of like a book club.

He reluctantly agreed after I sent him The Guardian review, so I quickly downloaded the book to our Kobo e-readers. We’ll see how it goes. This could either be a royal mistake, or the beginning of a fun new activity to do together.

The Plan For Our Upcoming 10th Anniversary Trip

19 June 2016 | 3 Comments

Avery and Ian in Scotland, 2007

Our 10th Anniversary Trip is now less than a month away, and I’m getting so excited. We’ve been planning our adventure since January, when I saw this cabin rental in remote Scotland and booked it on a whim. Here’s hour our plans are shaping up:

A *daytime* transatlantic flight
Most overseas flights departing from Toronto are at night. You get on the plane at 8 or 9pm, and fly for 7 hours. When you land, it’s morning in your arrival city, but only 3am in your gut. You’re tired, and you have to force yourself to stay awake. If you can sleep on the plane, this isn’t so bad… but Ian can never sleep on planes (even with the help of a mild sedative). So when he arrives, he’s not just jet-lagged, he’s also sleep deprived. Not a great way to start a holiday.

So for this trip, we’re flying on points and had the option of doing a daytime flight (normally more expensive, but points made it possible). We leave Toronto at 9am, and get to London at 9pm local time. It will feel like 4pm in our guts, so we’ll stay up a bit and then sleep in the next morning. Jet lag, yes. But sleep deprivation… here’s hoping not.

Four nights in London
We’ve travelled a fair bit and seen a lot of wonderful places, but never been to London (a layover at Heathrow doesn’t count). We booked an Airbnb in hip Shoreditch to use as our home base while we walk our feet off exploring the city. I learned a long time ago to pace myself while travelling, and not try to see too much – that results in exhaustion, overwhelm and frustration. Instead I’m looking forward to checking out a few sights (Westminster Abbey, the Churchill War Rooms, the British Museum and the Tate Modern are high on our list), doing some shopping, maybe seeing some theatre, and eating and drinking well.

A cheap-o flight to Edinburgh
We booked a ridiculously cheap flight from London to Edinburgh on Ryanair. Ian and I toured Scotland on our honeymoon, and spent two nights in Edinburgh then. It’s a gorgeous city and we’re looking forward to being back for a night. I’ve booked us in at the design-y Tigerlily Hotel for something fun and different.

(Hopefully scenic) train ride from Edinburgh to Inverness
We need to get to Inverness to rent a car and stock up on supplies before heading to our cabin, and figured it would be cool to take the train from Edinburgh to Inverness. The trip a little less than 4 hours, and goes right through the Cairngorns. I’m hoping for some gorgeous scenery.

The main event: a week in the remote Scottish Highlands
After we pick up our car rental in Inverness, we head a few hours west to the Applecross Peninsula and the tiny town of Ardheslaig to stay at this jaw-droppingly beautiful cabin for a week. We’re looking forward to relaxing, hiking, driving the Bealach na Bà and other insane mountain roads, visiting white sand beaches, eating well on the Isle of Skye, taking a boat tour of the lochs, and drinking all the single malts I can handle.

There’s a reason why filmmakers, artists, photographers, writers, and poets are captivated by the Highlands. It sounds beyond cornball, but there really is something mystic and magical about the ruggedness of the landscape, the fog hanging in the mountain valleys, the weather that blows in with no notice, the spectacular cliffs and deep lakes, and the wonderful people of Scotland. It’s one of my favourite places on the planet and I cannot wait to go back and soak it all in.

And then home again
After a week in Scotland, and almost two weeks since we will have left Canada, we’ll be returning to Inverness to drop off our car rental and fly from Inverness to London, and then London to Toronto. I’m sure I’ll be sad to head home, but happy to see Clara and Isabel the dog.

Photo above of us on our first visit to Scotland, almost 10 years ago. We look like babies! See the rest of the photos here.