in case you missed it…

21 Jan

Here’s a picture I took and edited on my iPhone with Snapseed (wrote about this app on my iPad post)

Almost at 2500 views on my blog! Exciting! I started this blog in October last year because writing a public blog is something I’ve always wanted to do. Throughout high school, I had a private blog where I wrote about my day to day life and usual drama of those teenage years. They were so embarrassing and I can’t believe I started linking the blogs to Facebook so all of my Facebook friends could read them… I recently realized that those posts were still visible on my page so I spent 15 minutes deleting all 400 posts because they were that embarrassing.

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I found that the fastest way to delete Notes on Facebook (or friends) is through the Facebook app on your iPhone. Just swipe over a note (or an ex-friend) and delete. It’s way more time consuming to do it on the Facebook website oddly enough.

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Anyways, here’s the links to posts over the past two weeks because I didn’t do a recap last week!

travel blog part 4: a home away from home

20 Jan

This travel blog series is written by friend and I as a means of sharing our advice and experience from our trip to Europe this summer. Blogs discussing research and planning, travelling with friends, and booking flights have been posted already and future blogs will discuss packing lists, what to do before you leave, daypacks, London, Paris, Nice (and surrounding area), and more! We hope you find this series interesting and useful. Comments are welcome and appreciated!

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In this blog, we’ll be discussing the hotels and the one hostel we stayed in during our trip and how we booked everything. All links in the blog go to either Booking.com or Hostel Bookers (except the Apex Hotel which goes to its actual site).
To start with, we planned on staying in hostels for most of our trip but we ended up staying in hotels mostly for two reasons:
  • Cost – in Paris and Nice especially, it was almost the same price or a little bit more to stay in an average hotel than share a hostel.
  • Safety and privacy – We like having our own bathrooms, ok?
London
In London, we stayed at two places. One near Kensington Gardens and the other nearby the Tower of London. I’m glad we switched places because we were able to experience different neighbourhoods in London and planned our trip to minimize travel time by visiting sights closest to wherever we were staying as each place was on different sides of London.
To find our one hostel, we considered its location, safety and cleanliness as our top priorities. Our hostel was Meininger Hostel and we could never remember how to properly pronounce it (my-nin-gr? main-inger?).
Our messy (but shared) hostel room. The feature photo at the beginning of this blog was taken from the balcony. Pretty sure we weren’t supposed to go out there cause the door wouldn’t open any more than the amount shown in this pic but we did it.
  • For 4 nights from August 3 -7, our total was $225 CDN for two people in a 4 person hostel room. For the price, we were pleased with it. It was clean and we had a great room with a balcony.
  • They had a buffet breakfast for 5 pounds (if I recall correctly) and it was OK. Ate a lot of beans on toast ( so British. I would say it with a British accent too…) and nutella there.
  • Would stay there again and booking on HostelBookers can be found here.
We decided to treat ourselves to a nice hotel in London upon seeing it featured in a friend’s Facebook photos, hehe. We stayed at the Apex City of London Hotel for 2 nights for a total of $343 CDN for two people. This was one was pricier but so nice. We found a deal on the Apex website for a king size room that included a nice buffet breakfast. The deal page of the Apex website can be found here. Additionally, you could check booking.com and see how the prices compare.
Ah, so nice…@ Apex
Luxe (by our standards) bathroom @ Apex. Oh hey, you can see my bag. I still can’t believe I brought everything I needed with me in that bag + purse. Packing blog to come!
NiceIn Nice, we stayed at the Campanile Hotel Nice Centre Acropolis which was located a bit of a walk from the beach but not too far from Old Nice. It was a decent hotel and reminiscent of a Best Western or Holiday Inn here in Canada. For 3 nights, it cost $368 CDN for two people. Booked through Booking.com. No pics.We also stayed at the Kyriad Hotel Nice Gare for 2 nights because it was close to a train station and for a change of scenery for a total of $354 CDN for two people. This one was nicer than the Campanile hotel. Booked through Booking.com.

Room @ Kyriad. That was Ada’s big bag. Twin beds! Yay. They were comfy. One time, Ada took a nap for 1.5 hours while I watched an Asian movie with French dubbing. I think I understood 1/4 of it.
We also stayed at the Campanile Aeroport Hotelin Nice because it was close to the airport for our early departure. For 1 night, it cost $112 for two people. Booked through Booking.com.Nice was expensive…
Paris
In Paris, it was almost the same price to stay in a hotel instead of a hostel so we originally booked 5 nights at the Port-Royal hotel. It was decent for the price of $326CDN  for two people for 3 nights. We originally booked for all 5 nights but decided to switch hotels for a number of reasons:
  • A lot of shops near the area (Les Gobelins metro stop) were closed because of the August holidays so food choices were limited
  • Somewhat far from central Paris
  • No internet in the room (we had to go to McDonalds across the street for internet)
  • McDonalds (pretty sure we ate there several times…)

I would stay there again if they offered internet and during a different time of the year when shops and restaurants nearby were actually open. Forgot to take pics.

Our second hotel in Paris was the Libertel Montmartre Duperré near the Red Light District (Moulin Rouge) in Paris. It was a nice hotel and the area wasn’t that bad because there were a lot of tourists around all of the time. It was well priced because we got it last-minute. Again, no pics. I wasn’t planning this blog at the time.

Summary of Hotels and Hostels

  • Good prices and free cancellation can be found on Booking.com. It was easy to use and we really liked the free hotel cancellation in case we found a different hotel at a better price. Also didn’t have to deal with a language barrier when booking because it was all in English. A lot of the hotels on Booking.com are free cancellation and some aren’t so make sure you know which one you are getting! There were lots of reviews on the site and we didn’t even have to check with Tripadvisor.
  • Hostelbookers.com was good for hostels. There were lots of reviews and it was easy to book.
  • If you want to take a risk, you can leave hotels to the last-minute to book. I think we got a really good price on the Libertel hotel because we booked it the day before arriving. On the other hand, there is a good possibility that a lot of hotels are booked already so there are pros and cons.
  • Places that offer breakfast are handy – it was nice to not have to find somewhere to eat in the morning that wasn’t McDonalds.
  • Ideally, have an idea of where you want to go before you book hotels/hostels, or once you book your accommodations plan your days around where you are staying for convenience.

the hole story: things that go bump in the night

19 Jan

As a continuation of the post I wrote getting a body piercing a couple of months ago, I felt it was time to write about how to deal with the infamous nose bump that a lot of people get from their nose piercing. A lot of people get it in the morning because they tend to rub their nose or sleep on it at night. Which explains this dumb title.

Anyways, I’ve had my bump on and off for the past 7 months and it was a pain. It’s basically this red bump that appears really close to the hole. As most things that happen to your body, I was obsessed with removing it even though most people didn’t notice it until I pointed it out. For the past 3 months, however, my nose has been bump-free after I found a method of cleaning that seemed to really help.

This bump usually occurs when you accidentally rub your nose, pull your jewelry, have improper piercing, have improper jewelry or irritate it too much when cleaning. Pretty much anything can cause one. Some bumps are really big and red (Google image that if you really want to) and mine was… an average bump.

Now, I’m not an expert on nose piercing or cleaning so I would follow the instructions your piercer gave you on how to initially clean it. However, when dealing with the bump, I went to my piercer twice and there wasn’t anything they could give me to make it go down except some suggestions. They looked at it and confirmed that it was not a keloid. A keloid is what a lot of people think their bumps are initially because we tend to expect the worse. I’m not going to get into describing a keloid because I didn’t have one but you can find that info on Google.

Anyways, my piercer recommended a couple different methods of dealing with it and I also found lots of different methods out there that people have posted online, so I tried them all.

Methods of dealing with the “bump”

  • Soaking in a hot salt wate solution several times a day – I admit that I am lazy and did this once but it was too much work. So it didn’t work for me. Did this for a day…
  • Applying tea tree oil. Recommended by the piercer. I would soak a Qtip with water and add a drop of tea tree oil on it and then rub it on the bump. This worked somewhat but made my nose really dry. Did this for about a week.
  • Crushing aspirin and mixing it with water. Too much work! I don’t think I crushed it properly because I don’t have one of those spice-crushing things (forgot what they’re called. A pestle?). So I would apply this thick chunky paste to my nose when I was at home but I didn’t notice a difference. Did this for about 3 days.
  • Applying vitamin E. Also recommended by the piercer. Didn’t work. Just made my nose look greasy and oily. Also applied in conjunction with tea tree oil but no results. Did for about a week.
What worked for me!
  • Applying tea tree oil + polysporin. This worked! I read that you shouldn’t apply polysporin to “puncture” wounds (e.g. a piercing), but I didn’t apply it inside the piercing. Just around it on my skin so I figured it was OK.  I decided to apply polysporin when the bump started….pussing white stuff…out (TMI, sorry). After a routine cleaning with a saline solution, I applied the tea tree oil with the Qtip (diluted in water) and then applied some polysporin on the bump and surrounding area. Did this for about a week and noticed results in a couple of days. Every time a bump starts to reappear, I apply this combination and it goes away in a day or so.

Again, I’m not an expert at piercings so use at your own risk (though I genuinely feel that it shouldn’t do much harm). I’d just like to share what worked for me and if you’ve tried all the methods like I did, try this one and let me know if it worked for you!

travel blog part 3: come fly with me

18 Jan
This travel blog series is written by friend and I as a means of sharing our advice and experience from our trip to Europe this summer. Blogs discussing research and planning and travelling with friends have been posted already and future blogs will discuss packing lists, what to do before you leave, daypacks, London, Paris, Nice (and surrounding area), and more! We hope you find these series interesting and useful. Comments are welcome and appreciated!
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We booked our flight and most of our hotels one month before our ideal departure date. We thought about booking our flights online but for some reason we didn’t. Good deals can be found online with a travel agent but we didn’t want to mess anything up. I think another reason we went to Flight Centre is because our credit cards didn’t have a high enough limit to purchase two tickets at the same time, haha. Also, we thought it might be good to talk to someone in person to make sure we didn’t mess things up.After we bought our tickets at Flight Centre (Vancouver to Calgary and then London and coming back from Paris to Montreal to Vancouver), our friend told us that Travel Cuts is cheaper (might only apply for students though). So check out different travel agents before purchasing and getting the best deal. As a side note, I am currently planning a trip to Disneyworld and compared prices at Travel Cuts and Expedia. For the dates I requested the difference was like $6 between the two so not that big but hey, $6 is $6.
Another site that a British friend told me about is www.CanadianAffair.ca He’s booked flights several times through the site because they are really cheap for a transatlantic non-stop flight. We thought about it but didn’t want to take the risk. We read reviews about the planes being cramped and unreliable (often delayed). We didn’t want to take the risk even though the economic benefits were large. I wanted to be comfy and have a private TV to myself on Air Canada! But if you don’t mind going with a smaller carrier and don’t need bells and whistles, consider Canadian Affair.Trying out dates on Canadian Affair, if I were to leave for London Gatwick on Jan 24 from Vancouver and come back on Feb 9, my roundtrip non-stop flight would be $600 including taxes. Sounds decent to me. For our summer trip (obviously going to be more expensive than the winter), our roundtrip flight cost $1,463. Holy crap, that was expensive…Travelling between England and France…

During our trip, we went from London to Nice then to Paris and we flew each time. We considered taking the train because it seemed like a very “Europe” thing to do but the cost of taking a train was more than flying during the time we wanted to go so we opted for flying.

We flew with EasyJet and booked our flights on their website. We also booked the EasyBus shuttle to take us from a train station in London to Stansted airport. This cost $24 CAD for the two of us so quite reasonable. I wish I had stayed awake for the bus ride but I slept ¾ of the ride. Ada slept for the whole bus ride, hehe.

I’ll be posting more information about specific transportation information for each city later on.

Summary

  • Check out prices online and through travel agents and compare. We probably could have gotten a cheaper ticket by doing more research and checking out other places but didn’t.
  • If you want to fly cheap but willing to sacrifice comfort and inflight entertainment, consider Canadian Affairs. My friend who flew it said it was fine and didn’t have any issues but every experience is different so you never know…

saving $: consider scanning instead of photocopying

17 Jan

For one of my courses, we had to purchase a $78 reading package containing photocopies of chapters and articles from various books and journals. The nice thing about these packages is you can buy one and split it with friends by photocopying it again but it’s not the most environmental or cost friendly-method.

I did this once. I offered to copy a package and took it to a nearby print shop. It was the beginning of the semester and it was busy.  I had to wait for a printer to become available and there were actually people copying textbooks page by page. Way extreme. I couldn’t believe people actually did that. I don’t have the patience.

Copying about 100 pages took at least 30 minutes to  copy, organize and holepunch everything plus waiting around for 20 min for a printer. This process saved us both saved some money although it did about $12 in printing costs.

I got my iPad this year and I try to do as much reading as I can on it. I don’t print out articles anymore and save a ton of paper and printer ink which is great. I also realized that I can share a reading package with a friend at a much cheaper rate!

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What you need: reading package, memory stick and a large printer/scanner combo that scans from a pile of paper.

If you or your friend don’t mind reading a digital copy, purchase the package and find a laser printer and scanner combo at your school. You can probably find one in your department’s lounge or even library. Check with someone to make sure it’s ok and do it during a less busy time so you’re not hogging the printer. Stick an article into the scanner feed and send it to your memory stick (if it’s a Ricoh printer, the option to send to memory stick should be at the top right at the screen by selecting source or something along those lines) and repeat. $40 saved right away in addition to the $5 or so in photocopying costs.

I did this in my department’s library and the assistant showed me how to set it up. It took about 50 minutes to scan 10 articles because the machine took about 3-4 minutes to save the article as a PDF to the memory stick. I read a required reading while waiting so no time was wasted.