Thursday, December 28, 2017

Working on projects

There are days when working on a number of projects can seem like such a challenge and you just have to deal with those feelings and other days projects can be very easy to deal with.

A project can be something that can last an hour or it can be something that lasts weeks or months. Knowing what the project is about and getting a clean definition can make a big difference. For some people a project can be something as simple as cleaning a room in their home. For others a project would be cleaning their home. Yes, both of those are projects but it is the definition that is applied to each of them that can make a bit difference.

In IT a project can have a number of smaller projects as part of them and you have to be prepared to deal with all of the little projects while heading towards completing the overall project. In some cases a small project may end up turning into a big project itself without any notification and that doesn’t help when you are trying to schedule things. Knowing all the little parts of the various projects may seem a little overwhelming but having a good understanding can make a big difference between having a successful completed or having a project that fails.

There are examples of projects that can seem simple when they are first looked into but when you sit and actually start working out all the different components of the overall project you may find out that it isn’t so simple. There are always times that a project can be said to be simple until the actual work designs and that is when the real challenges can appear. A project can also be sold through a sales person as being extremely simple only to discover that the sales person didn’t understand the environment and the simple thing is going to result in a lot of different challenges.

Projects can really be simple sometimes and challenging another time and a lot of the problem can be dependent on the equipment, people or a combination of things. A good definition would be great and knowing what is expected at the end of the project can really help as well. Working on projects are something that I do enjoy doing and making sure a project is clearly defined can make a big difference between failure or not.

Working on projects can be a lot of fun when things are working well but they can also be very frustrating when things don’t go well. I guess it is now time for me to get back to working on that project that isn’t going as well as we planned.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

From our house to yours
Wishing everyone a Very Merry Christmas.
Hope you received everything that you wanted.

If you do not celebrate Christmas, All the Best of the Season to you.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Where has the year gone

As a lot of people are saying they really don’t know where the y ear has gone and I can totally agree with that. It is now the 18th of December and that means that there are less than 2 weeks left in 2017. What have your accomplished?

I am one of those that gets goals at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year I sit down and got over what I have been able to achieve and then what has changed over the year. Normally I am able to accomplish some of the original goals and I think that is going to be the same for this year. I haven’t looked at the original goals and will do that at the very end of the year. I know that there are still things that I want to accomplish this year so that means that I just need to sit and get things done.

This past year has been busy for us and I have to say that I have really enjoyed what we have been able to do. Sure I know it has meant some changes in what our original goals were but at least I know that I am feeling happy with where things are standing at the end of year. I know one thing that wasn’t on my list this year and that was getting my Certified Professional Bookkeeper designation so that is something that I can admit has changed where I have been focusing some of my time and energy over the last little while.

For a lot of people setting goals at the beginning of the year isn’t something that they do and that is fine because everyone is different. I also know that when I set my goals I am setting them at a given point of time and things around me can change the overall goals and that I am fine with. My goals are just things that I am going to try and achieve but again if they aren’t achieved I am not going to be upset because I always know that I have been able to achieve other things instead.

Some years I do a review of the goals at the mid point of the year and this year I didn’t and that is fine with me because I know that I have been doing other things. New projects have happened in the last half of the year and those are going to be some of the things that will help me set the goals for 2018 when I sit down and do that. Being able to look back at a year and see that you have been able to accomplish something is important and as long as you have been able to get things either moved forward that is what you need to be happy with. Some goals are going to take a lot longer to achieve that you originally thought and some goals are just not going to happen and that is fine as well.

Look at your 2017 list of your goals for the year and realize that some probably were achieved, some goals won’t be achieved any longer because of other changes and some of the goals may go back onto the 2018 list but remember to write down the other big things you have accomplished so that you can see that you may not have achieved everything that you originally set out to do but you did achieve a lot of other things.

2017 is almost over and 2018 is just around the corner and before long we are going to be saying where did 2018 go but at least seeing that you have got things done is what is important.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Bookkeeping - jumping right in

If someone a year ago would have told me that I would have achieved a Bookkeeping Certification in the last year I would have laughed at them. I probably would have laughed because it was something that I hadn’t thought about at all. Sure I am someone that has an accounting background and spent quite a few years as a Property Accountant and Budget Coordinator but saying that I want to help small businesses with their bookkeeping isn’t something that I really thought about.

Now the timeline of all of this bookkeeping idea is something that I am happy with because it all seems to have some together very quickly.
  • In June we were at the Sage Summit and I found out about the IPBC (Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada) and that is when things really started moving forward. IPBC has an exam that you can take to being certified if you meet certain requirements. I had looked at the requirements and I thought I had met all of them so I figured it was something to look into.
  • I became a member of the IPBC in July and then signed up to attend their conference which was held in September.
  • August was the month when I started to think about maybe taking the exam to become a Certified Professional Bookkeeper. I decided it was time to do some studying so that when I decided to write the exam I would be ready.
  • In September while thinking about the conference I finally decided that I was going to write the exam while at the conference so registered to take the exam. I then finished up the studying and attended the conference where I work the exam and passed it. The conference was great as it gave me a chance to leave about some of the apps and also some of the other bits that I needed to start figuring out.
  • October was another month of thinking things through and getting a little more organized and that is when I decided to find out about QuickBooks Online and see what it was like. I think started working with QuickBooks so that I can learn it and then continue to get the knowledge that I needed to say I could do bookkeeping for clients. I also in October take the QBO Core Certification course and write the exam. This step means that I am now a QBO Pro Advisor and have my core certificate.
  • November was another month of doing some talking about being a bookkeeper and that is when I got the first perspective client and now to see how that goes.
  • December there was one more conference and this time it was Intuit hosted the QuickBooks Connect 2017 in Toronto so I registered for the conference and spent three days learning more about QuickBooks and all the different apps that can assist in making things easier for both myself and also the clients. During the conference I then took the QBO Advanced Certification course and will hopefully soon write the exam for that certificate.

Now as you can see the entire idea of starting out with the bookkeeping business started about 5 months again and now I am sitting and happy with the idea and how I have been able to get things rolling as quickly as I have.

With the certification I need to have 20 hours of education each year in order to maintain the certification and as soon as I realized I needed that I started making sure that I was looking at the various webinars and such that would help me get this hours. I started getting the hours that I needed at the IPBC conference in September as that is when they could start for me and then I have participated in some webinars and now the QuickBooks Connect conference and am happy to see that I have already achieved my 20 hours for this coming membership year. I have already been able to achieve 41 education hours and I know that there are going to be more added before my certification anniversary comes around in September. 20 hours of education really isn’t hard if you look at webinars that are an hour long and you try to attend 1 or 2 each month. In my case I had 6 hours of education when I took the QuickBooks Core course and with the two conferences they are both helped with the hours as well. If yo are someone that needs to achieve education hours or cpe’s just think about how you can do them easily and get into a routine and stick to the routine even after you get the hours that you need. CPE’s are to help you gain knowledge so continuing to learn what you can is great.

Bookkeeping is something that I know I enjoy doing so now my new job is to work on getting the clients that I want and then start helping them makes their lives a little less stressful. Yes, 6 months later I am happy with what I have been able to achieve and now to see what the next 6 months have in store for me.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Journal - it's purpose

I just finished reading a blog entry about the important of the journal book and I started to laugh. It was called “Organizing My Plan to Organize” by Sandra Tayler and I could so relate.

My journal book is where I can capture a bunch of thoughts and ideas and it is my way to try and keep a little more organized or at least an attempt to do that. I have found that when I cannot locate my planner I start to get upset because it does carry a bunch of my thoughts and ideas in it. A method of tracking all the thoughts and ideas that you can can make it so much easier to handle the actual work.

My journal has a few pages of shopping list sheets and those are used to write down on the little things that I need to pick up when we are out. Sure some of the things have been on the page for a while and some are quickly marked off as purchased but at least now I am not forgetting those little things or trying to track those small pieces of paper that I was using before.

My journal/planner has different tabs and that is how I keep my brain organized a little better and I know that there are a lot of people that don’t use the tabs and just write all there thoughts and ideas in the journal and they can manage it that way. It is amazing how each person can handle their planner differently. I am thinking that making sure that the planner works for you is what matters. There have been times that people have looked at my planner and said they couldn’t deal with how I manage things and I agree and say that as long as it works for me that is what is important.

One part of my planner is just lined paper and that is for capturing all the ideas and thoughts that don’t have a tab yet. I have found that sometimes have doing some writing I discover that I need another tab in the planner and it gets added and then the pages that I just wrote get moved into that section. Being able to create the planner as I go is very important and it is how it helps me manage things. Sure I sometimes look at the planner and laugh because of all the different sections but it is how I seem to manage things and I will continue to do it this way as long as it works for me.

My planner has a purpose and that makes me feel good. Just being able to keep my life a little more organized would help me feel better and it would also help me get through all the things that I want to do. A planner can be as personal as you want it and when it goes missing it can add stress but finding it again gets your back on track and gets things moving forward again.

Monday, November 27, 2017


M by Staples Notebook
A lot of people have planners or journals that they carry with them and I am one of those and I have finally found a planner that I like and use quite often. The planner that I use is the M by Staples Arc Customizable Durable Notebook System

Now for my planner I decided that there were some things that I wanted and I went through all the different products that there available and got the items that I wanted and then discovered that there were things that I still didn’t have. Here are the items that I purchased to help me get the planner that I wanted.
1. M by Staples Arc Expansion Discs, Black 1”
2. M by Staples Page Flags, Assorted Colours and Sizes
3. M by Staples Arc Index Dividers
4. M by Staples Arc Customizable Poly Notebook 8-1/2” x 5-1/2”
5. M by Staples Arc Pocket Dividers
My tabs
6. M by Staples Arc Task Pages
7. M by Staples Arc Hole Punch
8. M by Staples Arc Zipper Pockets
9. 1 Ream of 28 Pound white paper

What I really like about this customizable notebook system is that you can easily insert and move paper around in the notebook when you need to do that. I have actually found that just being able to move the pages around makes it so much easier for me to keep things in the section that I want them to be in. I have also found that I can have another book that I don’t carry with me with the pages that I no longer need with me all the time but I want to keep them.

So after spending some time trying to figure out what I wanted my planner to look like I started to actually customize it so that it would work for me. The index dividers are great because you can label them now you want them and they come with extra labels so you can change the label as needed.

You may have asked why I had purchased 1 Ream of 28 pound white paper and that was so that I could make some of my own pages for my planner. I found that there were some pages that were available for the bigger book but not for the smaller version so I decided that I could always make pages that I wanted using my printer and the planner would work for me. Sure other people may not like some of the pages that I have in my planner but at least with this system is is totally customizable which is what I wanted. Most of the pages that I have designed for my book were simple either word or excel sheets that I could print in booklet format. The one thing that I did do was find a two page a month calendar and after getting it as a pdf I once again printed that in the booklet format on the printer and now have a calendar for my planner.

Now with the Poly notebook I did find that there was one thing missing that I really wanted and that was a pen holder so thanks to a friend I was able to find a youtube video on how to make a pen holder out of some duct tape so that is what I have as my pen holder and it works great. The leather notebook does have a pen holder and even interior pockets so you can decide which one you want for your system.

Well now that I have a planner that makes me happy I have also purchased the bigger binder because it is something that I can take with me to meetings and it works great. I got the black leather notebook for the bigger version and that made me happy because it looks professional and also still gives me the ease of moving pages around as I need to do that. Again I have been able to print a calendar for that notebook and it fits in well.

A planner or journal is something that can be very personal depending on what you want it to do. For me it is my to-do-list, shopping list, calendar, thoughts and ideas and a notebook all in one. Sure I might be able to use an electronic device to do some of that but this is something that I can use no matter where I am and I can customize it for my own personal use and not for what someone else thinks should work for me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Juggling projects

I think for all of us juggling of multiple projects can be a challenge. The more projects that you have on the go and the bigger the projects the harder it seems to manage everything easily.

I am one of those individuals that normally has multiple projects on the go and am trying to figure out how to manage all of them and actually get things done on all of them. The challenge with the larger projects is actually feeling like you are getting somewhere on them. Sure you can spend hours working on something and sure you have moved the project ahead a bit but can you really see any progress.

How you manage the projects will depend on you and also how many projects that you have on the go. Here is how I manage some of the projects that I do both professionally and personally.

Work projects
For the work projects that I have on the go the list of the various tasks that are going to be involved in the project normally get written out. Sure the list can be rather long but just being able to mark off as even the little things are done can help a lot. The long list of tasks is also helpful to ensure that all the tasks are completed and nothing is forgotten.

For the work projects I also try and keep each project listed separately so that it makes it easier to see how each project is moving along. The number of projects can vary and the detail for each of the projects can vary but the lists are normally handy and something that I can update when I have a few minutes.

Personal projects
For my personal projects I handle it in a couple of different ways. In some cases the list of the various tasks are listed out similar to the work projects because it helps me see that I am getting things accomplished. This can mean some time of feeling overwhelmed when you see the size of the list but it does get a little easier once things start to get marked as completed.

For my cross-stitch projects when I am working on a project I have got into the habit of taking a picture each day that I work on a projects. This gives me a picture of the progress that I have been able to make. With cross-stitch there are days that it doesn’t feel like you have made much progress but when you can compare pictures you do see that you did get the project moved forward. Also for my cross-stitch projects I have got into the habit of tracking the completed blocks that I do. A block is an area of 10 x 10 stitches or possible stitches and I track when I get blocks done for the month.

General notes
For me yes there can be times when I have a lot of lists on the go but I have to admit that I am one of those individuals that like seeing progress on things. I know that some people complain when they see the lists that I make but that is how I manage the juggling of all the projects and tasks that are needed to be completed.

Not everyone would be able to handle the lists that I made and I know that. This is how I handle the various projects that I have on the go and it can make my life just a little easier to manage. Sure the tracking of all the projects both for work and personal can be challenging but at least I know that I am getting things done.

The other tool that I use lots is my calendar because that is where I track a lot of different things. It can be the various conferences and meetings that I attend as well as webinars, appointments and even when the various bills are due. Just having one place where I can go to see what some of the obligations are makes it a little easier for me to manage things.

Juggling projects can be a challenge at the best of times but when you have a large list of projects it can really start to be something that takes a bit of time and energy. Making sure you have a means of managing your projects is important and knowing what works well for you is also something that you need to figure out.

Monday, November 13, 2017


Volunteering is something that some people would like to do and it is something that I know that we do when we have the time. There are organization that take volunteers throughout the year because there is such a demand and then there are organizations that take volunteers at a specific time during the year to meet their demands. Organizations that take volunteers at a specific time during the year normally need the volunteers for a specific project or if there is training involved they want to do the training at a specific time.

When you ask a charity or organization if they need help when you put your hand up it is important to understand that you may get a variety of answers to that question like the following:
  • What experience do you have volunteering with an organization like ours?
  • What is your available time evenings, weekends, or weekdays?
  • How much time are you willing to volunteer?
  • What type of volunteer work are you looking to do?
  • Where are you located? (this can happen when you apply for a volunteer position with an organization that is national and you don’t give your location)

Now here are some of the answers you might receive when you volunteer:
  • Thank you for your interest, please let us know a good time to contact you and we can discuss how you can assist our organization.
  • Thank you for your interest, at this time we are currently not accepting volunteers but will keep your name on file for when an opening comes up.
  • Thank you for your interest but we are not accepting volunteers. Please try again at a later date.
  • Thank you for your interest and we are having a meeting on (specific date) and look forward to meeting you then.

Sure the questions and answers are just a few ideas of what you might receive and you have to be willing to accept any of these. I work with an organization that does need volunteers for specific events and projects and we always have to ask where the person is located to see if volunteers are needed at the specific time. We always keep the contact information so that when we need volunteers we have a list of people we can reach out to.

When you get an email saying that an organization doesn’t currently have any positions available, understand that and appreciate that you get a response. Don’t get upset that they don’t have something immediately for you because everyone organization is different. Also it is important to understand that if you reply again with a tone of being upset that the organization cannot assist you immediately it doesn’t look good on you.

Volunteering is something that can be very rewarding but it can also require a lot of your time and energy and you have to know what is expected of you before you make the final commitment of your time for any organization.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Women in IT

Women in IT
I have heard a lot of people make comments about being women in IT and yes I am one of those women.

I may not have the full networking and security knowledge as some guys or even other women however I am not afraid to stand in front of a rack and do some of the work that is required.  Yes, I will even stand behind the rack and work on the connections if that is required.

A lot of the work on the servers is now done remotely so it means that you don't have to stand like I am standing very often.  In this case the work that needed to be done required a physical presence so that meant it was a trip to the client site and into their server area.

In this case this is only part of the servers that the client has because they are located in more than one location so they spread out the servers to the various locations. Yes this rack looks small but because of virtualization is means that there can be a lot of data in a smaller space now.

I have heard a lot of comments when I have attended the various IT conferences because I am a women.  In some cases I have been asked if I am in sales or marketing or was I an assistant in the IT department.  Well, in a lot of cases I am in sales, marketing and accounting and every other department that a business has because when your business is only two people you work in all the departments at various times. Having the opportunity to learn and understand some of the server work that is required for the clients has made me happy because now I can assist the clients better.

In some cases for our clients I don't do any of the server or computer work and in some cases I am checking to ensure things are working like the client expects them to be working. It is sometimes nice to let the client know that they have an issue even before they are aware of it and sometimes we have even solved it before anyone sees the issue.

Through the various courses, seminars and conferences I have attended I have learned quite a bit and am now able to say that yes I am a women in IT.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Confusing sign

Confusing sign
Recently we were grocery shopping and I noticed a sign that was a little confusing. This was a shopping trip on October 16, 2017.

The big sign reads:
Savings This Week
Comp Lasagna Meat
Now 10.00 each
Expires May 3, 2018
Save $4.99

Why this is really confusing is that the sign that the sale sticker is on is for Compliments Meat Lasagna regular price $8.99

Now what I have noticed is that the sales price is probably on the wrong price tag but it really does look funny no matter how you look at it. I was looking to see if I could find a manager to show them but wasn't able to see anyone.  Now to see if this sign is still on the display when we go back later in the week.

When you are grocery shopping it can be a challenge at the best of times when looking at the different sales prices because sometimes the item that is where the sales sticker is has nothing to do with the actual sale.  We have found that quite a few times no matter what store we are in.  People put things where they shouldn't be and that could be the staff or even customers so it is important to always read labels before decided if it really is a good deal and also if what you are picking up is really on sale.

I think this sign really caught my eye because we had recently have the meat lasagna and enjoyed it so I was looking for it on sale so that we could make sure that we had one in the freezer. The other funny thing about this sign is it says weekly savings and it expires May 3, 2018.  I think either the price should just be changed or there are more problems then anyone is really seeing.

Sales are something that can be misleading even at the best of times but when the signs are confusing everyone that really doesn't help.  We always check to make sure that the sale is still valid and also that the sku is the same on the item we are purchasing compared to the sku on the sales sticker.

Sales signage is something that can cause a lot of issues and this is just one example of some of the sales signs we have seen.  Now to see what the next one is like because I know that there are going to be others.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Recycling made difficult

How can I recycle?
Everyone is on the green and recycle kick and I totally understand it because I know that I try and recycle as much as I can.

Recently we were at an Ikea store and when walking by the cart return area I saw something that really caught my attention.  Ikea is really big on recycling and reducing the amount of garbage that is thrown out.  I do like seeing all the recycle and garbage bins within the store to ensure that people do the right thing.

What caught my attention was where the recycle and garbage bins were located.  Sure they have them in the parking lots but I have to admit that the location of the actual bins was a problem.  The bins were located at the centre of where all the carts are returned.  Sure they are tucked out of the way but they are also tucked out of reach of people.  In the case of this location at least one of the rows didn't have carts currently in it but I can image on a weekend there wouldn't be a time that someone could walk down any of the cart aisles to do the recycling.
Another view

I understand that it is difficult to find spots to put the recycle bins in a parking lot but why wasn't there located near the stairs and elevator.  Also if you want them located near the cart return why not put the recycle bin closer to the outside so that more people will but their bottles and cans in the recycle bin and not just through them in the garbage.

Ensuring that you get the message out about recycling and the importance of it can be difficult but making it difficult to actually do the recycling can mean that people just won't care even when the bins are easy to use such as in the store or by the front doors.

Another thing that I noticed that Ikea has a great shuttle service to the closest subway start and again right at the location of the bus is a garbage bin without any recycling.  Sure the recycling is near the door but if you are running for the shuttle all the cans, bottles, etc will end up in the garbage instead of in the appropriate recycle bins.

Recycling is something that we all need to think about and making it easier for people to do it when they are out in public would be wonderful.  So when you see a recycle bin  remember to try and use it if you can reach it.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Education and continual learning

You hear so many young people say that when they have finished high school or university that they have finished learning. I always laugh when I hear that because I don’t think you ever finish learning new things.

For some people once they have finished school they are finished with the formal learning but that may change over time. I know that when I finished college I was immediately looking at what else I could be taking to further my education. Now I didn’t take full time school any more but I was one of those people that found going to school, even night school enjoyable. Now that courses are offered online it means that I am taking online classes instead.

I always joke with people and say that I am not sure what I going to do when I grow up because I have taken a variety of courses through the years. I have taken Accounting, Fundraising, Instructing Adults, Project Management and other courses along the way. I find that when I am not learning I am one of those people that gets frustrated. Sure I don’t enjoy the stress of the exams at the end of some of the courses but the reward is nice.

Having the variety of courses behind me means that I have the knowledge in a bunch of different areas and that makes me happy. I recently decided that I wanted to try for a certification that I had heard about and so that is what I did. It was a bookkeeping certification offered through the Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada and to become a Certified Professional Bookkeeper you needed to understand some material and then write an exam to achieve your certification. With having my accounting knowledge from before I figured it might be something that would be useful to have for work so I did some checking into the certification and figured out what I needed to learn and then when I could take the exam. I took the exam in September 2017 and passed it which means I now have the initials CPB behind my name but in order to maintain my certification I am required to take 20 hours of courses each year. So, even with a certification it means that the learning isn’t over but that doesn’t bother me because I enjoy the continual learning.

Learning is something that happens even when you finish school because there will be things that you are going to learn on the job and learn for hobbies. Sure you might not take any more formal courses but the actual learning will not end.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


There seem to be more and more conferences now and maybe being in IT means that I am a little more aware of the various events. Conferences can range from 1 day to an entire week and how you handle them will basically be based on the length of them. A one day conference is easy to handle because you will be attending some lectures during a day and then after maybe a bit of a networking event you can go home. Now it is the longer ones that are going to be entirely different. I have gone to two and four day conferences and they are both entirely different experiences.

Two day conferences

Now a two day conference or at least the one that I have attended may have early pick-up of your badge and all the attend stuff so that is something that is good take advantage of if you can. Picking up your badge prior to the official start of the conference means that the lines might be a little shorter.

The first day is normally pretty full of lectures, some key-notes and then a networking event in the evening. Yes, the first day of the event can be extremely long and it is up to you how you handle everything. You may want to find a place to hide for a few minutes to ensure that you have the energy for the rest of the event.

Day two is normally a little shorter but again there are going to be lectures, more key-notes and yes the vendor area that has been part of the two days of the event. It can mean that you are going to be running around a lot over the two days but at the end of the second day once the closing remarks have happened you are on your own.

Four day conferences

A four day conference can be similar to a two day conference with regards to the early pick-up of your badge and all the attend stuff. This also gives you time to go over the schedule prior to the actual start of the event and maybe figure out the sessions you may go to. In the case of the conference that I was at there was a dinner set up as a meeting of the attendees. Sure the attendees had to pay their own way at this dinner but it was a great way to start meeting some of the other attendees, especially those staying at the hotel.

I can sum up the first two days of my conference as extremely busy because there were the key-notes, sessions and then there are the evening events that are normally hosted by some of the sponsors. These days can be extremely long and on day two is when the vendors had their booths so they were added to the amount of running around that was involved.

Day three was once again busy with the key-notes, sessions, vendors and then the evening cocktails and banquet. Again another long day but fun as it gave everyone more chances to network. By now most of the attendees were starting to feel the exhaustion set in but everyone still wanted to try and keep going and not miss things.

Day four now this is the wrap up day and for us it was a half day and we were all glad to be heading home after the conference. Again there were sessions, a couple of vendors still around and then the closing key-note and prize draws. By the time the final key-note was delivered people were realizing that the conference was coming to the end and it was sad because some people were heading off to a quick flight home and others were waiting until the next day to fly home depending on their flight schedules. For others it was time to pack up the hotel room and drive home.

General feelings

I have now been fortunate to attend one, two and four day conferences and they are different in some ways. The four day conferences are exhausting and if you aren’t prepared for the crazy schedule and lack of sleep you will be exhausted. I think even with being prepared you hit the point where you can’t learn any more and are ready for the conference to end.

Having the opportunity to attend the longer conferences means that you will also have a chance to network a little more and I realized that being able to stay at the host hotel or a near by hotel can be a great benefit at these longer events. The hotel gives you the opportunity to have a home base and if you want a quick escape even for a half hour you have your own private hiding spot.

Conferences are great for networking and learning new things and I will continue to go to the various conferences and learn what I can.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


Everyone knows that there are hundreds of different scams going on around us and it can be through emails, mail, phone calls or the knock on the door.

Recently we had someone knock on our door and try and sell us something. Of course, we are both very cautious about people knocking on our door especially in the evenings. On a Friday evening we received a knock on our door at around 10 pm so that was a sign of something different. As we live in an apartment building I was able to do the entire conversation through the locked door and was looking through our peep hole at the person.

Now the person on the other side of the door let me know that they were with a major internet provider and asked if we had internet in our home. I asked why he was asking and he then said that this provider had a wonderful offer on internet service for our area and he could give me a good deal. Well if the personal had of been with the provider that was knocking on our door he would have had a list of the units that he didn’t need to knock on. I reminded him that there is a no solicitation notice in our building and he would have to leave and I was going to call someone on him. He did walk away from our door but continued to knock on the doors around us. Yes, this is 10 pm and a lot of people will either be getting ready for bed and some will already be in bed for the night.

The person did have the correct colour shirt on for this internet provider but there was still something that bothered me about the knock on the door, so I decided to call the internet provider to see if they did door to door campaigns. The support and customer service is open until midnight so that meant that I would be able to talk with someone to see if this was a scam or not.

The lady that I ended up talking to with the internet provider was very friendly and was immediately unhappy when I let her know about the knock on the door that we received. Once I explained the situation she put me on hold for a couple of minutes as she wanted to speak with her manager to check to see if door to door campaigns were something that were done and especially at that late a time. When she came back she let me know that they do not do door to door campaigns and especially not at that time of the evening. I thanks her and she did let me know that there were going to note this so that if people from our building called in later that they would be away of the issue being raised right away.

I had a feeling that this was a scam because this internet provider has done a table in our lobby offering the internet service but they haven’t come door to door before. I am thinking that this may be one of the individuals that we get flyers from where they say we can get internet through them at a reasonable price but they have the major internet providers logo on them. I think next time I get one of those flyers I am also going to call in just to see if they really are a reseller for the provider.

People are trying to get smarter and smarter in the ways that they do the scams but we just have to remember to always be cautious when dealing with people. For us, if we want to investigate new services we will either walk into a store front for the store or we will do the reaching out either through the website or phone the company. Knowing that we have done the initial contact gives us a better feeling because then we know it should be the actual company we are talking to and not something just trying to get our information.

When you get that email, phone call or knock on the door remember to use caution when dealing with them. It might be the real company but there will be a lot of times that it isn’t and it is someone just trying to steal your identity.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Fish and chips and the challenge

Recently we went on a vacation up towards Tobermory in Ontario and everyone was telling us about the wonderful white fish that is used for the fish and chips in Tobermory. As someone that enjoys good fish I was looking forward to trying this out and we were told that the restaurants understood the shellfish allergy so I should have a problem.

Once we arrived In Tobermory we found that there were at least four different places that served fish and chips so that should mean an easy time for us to have a meal of fish and chips. I should have figured it was too good to be true because it didn’t take us too long to start to figure out that my wanting fish which was fried was going to be a challenge.

The first restaurant we went into had white fish as the fish and chips so that started to make me happy until I saw that shrimp and calamari was also served that this restaurant. We sat down and looked at the menu and when the server came over we asked if the fish was cooked in the same oil as the shrimp and calamri and it was confirmed they were so that meant that fried fish was out of the question for me. They did let me know that they could pan fry the fish if I wanted but again it wasn’t fish and chips. We left the restaurant and let them know that we were leaving because of the issue of the fish and shrimp being cooked in the same oil.

The second restaurant was a small restaurant so I didn’t even sit down when I saw that shrimp in a basket was another option on the menu. We once again asked if it was fried in the same oil and were told that they were. We left the restaurant after letting them know that they had lost our business because of that.

The third restaurant we decided to just look at the menu and quickly discovered that shrimp was once again being offered as an option so we didn’t even ask question but did say we were leaving because of the shrimp being an option on the menu. It was getting extremely frustrating because of course after hearing about white fish I really wanted to have it as I don’t get to have deep fried fish very often because of the shrimp and calarami being good in the same oil.

Now it left one last restaurant as an option for lunch so we figured that we were going to go and have something to eat there even if I couldn’t have the fish. We arrived and looked at the menu and once again found out that they server shrimp and calarami so that meant I was once again going to have an issue. We asked the server if the fish was fried in the same oil as the other items and she said she didn’t think so but would confirm that for me. I started to feel a little happier but of course didn’t want to get my hopes up because I figure she was going to tell me that after checking with the kitchen everything was fried in the same oil. Well, she came back to our table and gave us some good and bad news. The good news was that the fish was fried in a separate area but the french fries were in the same oil as the shrimp. So that meant that I could have the fish but not the french fries but I could have a salad with the fish so that is what I decided to have. The fish was wonderful and it went down way too quickly so now I know that there is at least one place where I can have deep fried fish.

During this trip we wanted to let restaurants know that they were losing business because of serving fried shrimp and calarmi as well as the fish and chips. I understand that we are only two customers but the more of us that let restaurants know about the issue of cross contamination and the issue of serving shrimp and calarmi also with fried fish may help moving forward.

I am very thankful that at least one restaurant in Tobermory was able to help me have the deep fried white fish that I wanted. There may be others there but I know of the four restaurants we checked only one was able to really accommodate the shellfish allergy in a way that was great for me. I hope to go back to Tobermory next summer and I know that I will be checking out this restaurant and one other restaurant that we saw after we had lunch.

Shellfish allergies can be a real challenge for someone eating out and especially when fish isn’t an issue. If a restaurant promotes something that is very local maybe they should think about not serving something that isn’t local so that more people can enjoy the local specialty. I enjoyed my white fish and now to see if I can have it again next time we are back in Tobermory. I am happy that one restaurant fried their fish differently because it meant I got to enjoy something local.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

If you want my help ask, don't assume

So many times you hear someone mention something that they would like to do and you are not sure if they are asking for help or not. If you want my help ask for it and don’t assume I am available to help or if I will offer to help.

I have run across times especially as a volunteer that you hear “oh, I figured you would be available to help”. I can only be available to help if I am asked to help and you give me some lead time about an event so that I can see if I am going to be available or not. I think this is one of the biggest frustrations for me and that is making the assumption that I am going to be available to do something just because you need the help. The other issue is when someone thinks just because I volunteer to help that it is automatic that my husband is going to be there as well. There have been times when one of us has the time to help with something and the other one is busy.

There are times that you listen to someone talk about something and it sounds like they are basically asking for help and when you offer you hear, “oh, no I don’t need the help you are too busy.” This is something else that people need to understand that if I am offering to help you, I am willing to help and just need to figure out things. Sure there may be times when we are just too busy to help with something but then we wouldn’t be offering to help but would be saying “I would have loved to help but given our schedule right now it isn’t possible.”

The other fun one is when someone is talking and sounding like they need the help and when you offer you hear, “oh no I am planning on doing this myself.” This is one that makes me laugh because the person has made it sound like they need the help and when you offer they want to do it themselves. At least I have offered to help so the person can’t complain that no one offered to help.

I have heard people complain that no one was willing to help them and it either was they never asked for help or when it was offered they didn’t want it. Now if you are going to say that no one was willing to help please make sure that you have asked for the help and not just assumed that people would be there to help out on your schedule.

It can be interesting when you know something is going to be happening and you figure that your help is needed but you aren’t asked until the last minute. We deal with this sometimes and it can be frustrating because you knew you needed the help at the beginning of your planning so even if you don’t have a plan totally figured out at least start asking people if they are going to be available around a given date to help. Just getting the date when something is and then hoping that people are going to be able to jump and help doesn’t always work. Also it can be a challenge to get people to help even with the notice but at least you have a better chance of getting the help.

So remember, if you need my help ask for it and don't’ assume I am going to be available to help. Volunteers are volunteers for a reason and one of those is because they only have a limited amount of time to give to a cause so respect that and ask for the help ahead of when you will need it.

Monday, September 11, 2017

September 11th

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

I think for a lot of people September 11th is a day that we are going to remember for a very long time no matter what. For me, I will always remember September 11th and the next few days with some very mixed feelings. September 11th was the day that the World Trade Centre in New York was hit by two planes. September 14th was National Day of morning in Canada so yes a lot of emotions that happened during that time. September 14th also have another meaning for me and that is because September 14th, 2001 was my wedding day.

September 11th will always be in my memory as I day that I was sitting in my office and was listening to the radio and trying to make sure that all the things that I needed to do for the wedding had been doing. Little did I know that within an hour of arriving at work that day was going to be changed and the excitement about the wedding was going to be changed to sadness and worry. The sadness and worry were for all the people whose life had been changed that day. There were all the people that lost their lives and then there were all the people that last loved ones and also the first responders that had to deal with the overall impact of what had just happened.

As we were in an office it meant that we were trying to function and continue on with our day but then we walked into a boardroom and turned on CNN to see what was really happening. Hearing that a plane had hit a building you always figure it must have been a small plane and never would have thought it was a jet until you see it. The morning to me is still something that I will remember because we sat as a rather large group just staring at a television and we watched and saw the two World Trade Centre towers disappear from view. Seeing the towers go down is something that I remember so clearly because the vision and the reaction of the media was total shock.

The impact of that day has an impact not just in New York but around the world as people realized it could happen any where. Planes that were heading to the United States got either cancelled or if they were in the air they were diverted to Canada or turned around and landed where they had left. Also planes that were even flying within Canada were cancelled for security reasons so that meant that life for a lot of people were changed.

Working in downtown Toronto also meant that all the office towers were going to be evacuated in case there were something planned for here. The office towers were cleaned in a very orderly fashion with the tallest towers being the first ones to get notified and then the smaller towers got told to evacuate after that. I was in one of the lower towers so we were told that the building was closed and everyone was asked to leave around noon so it was time to head home and realize things had changed all over the world.

Life in Toronto got back to normal the next day but it was a new normal for a lot of people because they saw things a little different then they did before. I tired to get back to normal and continued on with work that needed to get done before I left to get married. Now the one question that we had and that wasn’t going to be answered for a few days and that was were we leaving on our honeymoon that weekend. Sure it may found a little bad to say that but the world was trying to get back to normal as quickly as possible even with all the news stations still covering New York City and Washington.

The good news is we got married on the 14th of September and left on our honeymoon on the 16th. Sure life changed on the 11th of September in a lot of ways and it did impact our day but we decided that we had to try and forget all the sadness and enjoy our day. Our small wedding stayed small and our honeymoon was a little different but at least life got back to the new normal for us even with the thoughts of New York and all those that had lost loved ones in the back of our mind.

Everyone has a memory of where they were on September 11th, 2001 and for some it was just another day and for others their life changed forever. Whatever that day means to you that’s ok because we all deal with the impact of that day a little different.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Allergies and how I deal with them

Allergies to me are something that I have been dealing with for a long time. When it comes to my allergies I find that I have learned to deal with them differently depending where I am and also who I am with. When I am talking about allergies I am referring to my severe allergies and not just the seasonal allergies that are easy to deal with in a lot of cases. The severe food allergies can be a challenge at the best of time and you just have to learn now to deal with them.

At home
Dealing with the allergies are home is probably one of the safest spots for me but again it isn’t an easy spot when it comes to grocery shopping and buying the ready made meals. Grocery shopping is a longer process for us than a lot of other people because besides looking at some of the health content (salt, sugar, etc) we are having to read the labels on everything that we buy each time we go grocery shopping. It does mean that a quick trip into the grocery store really doesn’t happen unless it is to pick up things like meat, vegetables and eggs. The ready made meals are the things that are a challenge because some of those don’t come with ingredients on them and some do so that is another thing that we deal with is the constant checking of those meals.

At other people’s homes
In a lot of cases we don’t go to visit friends that don’t understand my allergies because it can be a risk for me. We have friends that each time they invite us over will ask for a confirmation of the allergens so that they can ensure they are getting things right. If we are somewhere and I am not certain about a food I will just pass on it to be safe. We have found that a lot of our friends will even confirm once we arrive to make sure that things are going to be safe. There has been a couples of times where I have had to miss eating something because they have purchased an ingredient in error and that doesn’t bother me so I just don’t have that item. I would rather someone let me know there has been a mix-up and then we continue on.

Restaurants have always been a challenge and that is one of the reasons why we don’t eat out very often. We have found a few places that we visit for special occasions but normally we find it is just as easy (and cheaper) to make the similar meal at home where we can verify all the ingredients. There are times when we have to eat in a restaurant and that is when I will ask the questions that I need to ask to ensure my food is safe or I will have something simple like a salad.

Conferences are like restaurants in some ways but can also be a bigger challenge. Most conferences have a preset meal and you aren’t sure what you are getting. Some conferences provide a boxed lunch so that will be a sandwich of some sort, a salad and then some type of dessert. These can all be a risk and it means that I just have to be extremely careful and watch what I eat and as I always say go with my gut feeling. If my feeling is something isn’t going to be safe I just avoid it and always ensure that I have munchies with me to make up for the meal or food that I haven’t eaten.

In a lot of cases it is just a matter of communicating my allergies and then hoping the person receiving the message and the person preparing the meal understand. Allergies can be a challenge for the person that lives with them and all of their family and friends. Understanding the impact of a severe allergy can make a big difference and your safety is the most important thing to consider.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Why so many WIP's?

Before I try and answer that question I first need to explain what a WIP is. It is work in progress and it is used by a lot of crafters to explain that they have things that they are working on.

Now to try and answer that question because I get that question asked of me quite often especially when I start talking to someone and they ask me what I worked on during a given week. For me a week of evening crafting can mean a week of a different project being worked on each night. Yes, I have more than 7 WIP’s on the go at one time and they are things that are on the currently being worked on projects.

For me I like having a few projects on the go because it means that depending on my mood and even where I am I can choice a project that can fit that need. I cross-stitch, sew, knit and crochet besides a bunch of other crafts so yes there are normally things on the go in each of these categories.

Cross-stitch WIPS’s now I have a few of these projects currently on the go and a lot of them meet a different need when it comes to my cross-stitch time. I have projects that I can work on that are basic fill in large areas with one colour and these projects are get when I am sitting outside or with a group of people and don’t want to have to focus on counting stitching but just stitch. I have projects that have lots of different colours in a small area and that needs the focus of making sure that the stitch goes into the correct spot and these are projects that I normally go with good lighting and alone. I also have projects that are simple one colour projects and these are projects that I can take with me when we travel or when I am out among people and can do some stitching and talking.

Crocheting and knitting projects call into the same categories as the cross-stitch because there are things that you can do when you are around people. There are projects that need focus and concentration so that means they are the projects that are done when you can spend the time thinking them through. Smaller knitting and crocheting projects also work great when you are a passenger in a vehicle and can work on them while keeping the driver company as well as getting something accomplished.

Sewing projects have there own categories because there are things that need to be done in front of the sewing machine and then the other stuff can be done in different spots. Sure these are the projects are more done at home and when there is more time to focus on getting something done.

Sure WIP’s can be a wonderful thing to have on the go but it is also the managing of the number of WIP’s that are getting the attention that needs the attention. For some people they can only have one project in each category on the go at once and then there are people need the variety in each category. I am one of those that needs the variety in each category so if you ask me what I am currently working on beware as I won’t just have one thing on the go.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Helping others doesn't rely on a language

Recently I ran into a situation that I figured out how to help someone when there was a language barrier.

We were sitting in a coffee shop and I heard a man ask how to get to the Casino that was close by. Well when the man said Casino I realized that he didn’t speak English very well and maybe didn’t speak much English at all. The guy behind the counter figured out where he wanted to go and gave him some quick directions which would help if you understood English and knew how all the street names were spelled.

The man asking for directions turned away from the counter and looked at his device and I understood that he was still very confused and wasn’t going to be able to get to the Casino with the directions that he was just given. As we have a tablet for work I quickly pulled it out and looked up the directions to the Casino using an app that we have on the tablet. I found the map and then we decided it would be a good idea for me to go and show the man how to get there. Of course, I still didn’t realize that English wasn’t a language he was comfortable with.

I walked over with the tablet and asked if they were going to the “CASINO” making sure I said Casino slowly. I showed them the map that I had on the tablet screen and that is when they got very excited because they figured out I was there to help them find the directions they needed. What I quickly discovered was the man had the same app as we had so that was going to make things a little easier. Through a lot of simple words and hand jesters I was able to show him how to get to the Casino. He then marked the Casino on the app which then provided him with the same directions that I was showing him. He was very happy to know that they were going to be able to get there without a problem now.

It was wonderful to be able to help someone even when language was going to be a challenge. Being able to show the directions on a device and then use the hand jesters the family was off to the Casino and we felt good. Sure it was something simple to show them how to get where they were going but it was seeing that they appreciated it so much was nice. All of the family said thank you to us for our help and then they were off.

Language doesn’t have to be a barrier when you are giving or receiving directions. Having another method to communicate can make a big difference. Sure, the man’s app had Chinese words for the various commands but we were able to see the street names in English and then he knew where he was going.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Back to school sales

For us in Canada the Back to School sales seem to start so early but there are a lot of reasons for that.

One of the biggest reasons for our back to school sales starting so early is the various times that different places do go back to school. I know that in Canada most of the schools start again around the Labour Day weekend. Now for some kids in some states in the United States school starts in early to mid August. Of course, they also finish their school year in May and not the end of June like some of the schools here in Canada.

The reason that the sales seem to start early for us is that the sales are company bases and not location based. I understand that sometimes here it seems that the kids are just starting their summer holidays and all the school supplies start coming out. I have also heard that some parents even here like the idea of having the sales early because it means that they can spread out the expenses of going back to school and everything doesn’t hit at the end of August.

When we have been out shopping in the last month it is amazing how many people have been picking up the school supplies. Sure it may seem early in some ways but if you pick up the supplies when the stores first get them and put them on special you will get the items that you want in the colour that you also want. I know that not everyone cares about the colours of their binders or such but a lot of students want things a certain way and I know I was one of those students. A binder colour meant something and I wanted enough different colours so that I had a binder for each subject and all of them were different colours.

Back to School sales can seem to indicate the end of summer but it also indicates that for some school starts are different times and we have to accept that the sales may seem to be early for us. I know that even without kids I enjoy the back to school sales because it is a chance to stock up on the highlighters and pens that we use.

Summer is very short no matter how you look at it. It is a chance to have a vacation for some and for others it is the time to sit at work and deal with all the other vacations that are going on. Back to school is just one time and remember if you are complaining about the sales that are happening for school remember that the Halloween and Christmas stuff will be in the store soon as well.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Festivals in a city

During the summer there seems to be a festival or some sort of event every weekend so there are always things to do.

When you live in a big city like Toronto it doesn’t take you long to find some festival that is happening on any given weekend in the summer. Now the long weekends is where there are lots and lots of different events and you then have to decide what you are going to do and also if you aren’t going to the events how you are getting around the city. I was looking at some of the events that are happening this weekend and of course found some that result in road closures and others that don’t.

For us in Toronto the biggest event that happens on the August long weekend is the Caribana Parade that closes Lakeshore Boulevard for a stretch. It is a major festival with a huge parade that starts at 8:30 am on the Saturday and runs until around 6 pm in the afternoon. Now this is just one of the activities that happens during the Caribana Festival that happens in the city. This festival started on the 9th of July and has been going on in various parks around the city since then and will wrap up August 6th with a couple more big events. Yes it is a big event that the city has and something that brings lots and lots of visitors into the city so things specially in the downtown area are a little busier.

Of course, there are smaller festivals also happening this same weekend in other areas of the city. We have things like the Toronto Food Truck Festival happening as well as a bunch of other things like a Ribfest and other cultural events so the city is full of various activities so there is always something to do on the weekend.

Some people complain that there are too many events on weekends in the city but what they don’t think about is all the tourists that some of these events bring into the city. The tourists are what helps the city through all the shopping, hotels and meals that these people do. When you are in the downtown core during the summer it is always interesting to see how many people have shopping bags full of stuff compared to how many people have lots of shopping bags during the rest of the year. Yes, there may be road closures that we all deal with in the summer but then we have to think about all the businesses that survive because of the business they do in the summer months thanks to the tourists.

Festivals in the city are something that everyone should try and do during the summer. You may get to see some new things that you weren’t aware of before. You may also see how many different areas of the city there really is.