Friday, 21 March 2014

Buying A Mattress

If you're like me, there is a sense of dread that comes over you when you have to make big ticket purchases. Two things come to my mind when this happens! First, my poor home maintenance fund is going to take another major hit! Secondly, the research! Oh my, the hours and hours spent online searching for any info on how to make a decision. What kind I'm looking for, is there a deal on this item etc. etc.

One advantage is that I had some time before I made a decision and bite the bullet on what mattress I wanted to buy. The thing is.... no one has asked me what I wanted before and I have no frigging idea where to start! What kind of mattress do I want? Eurotop? What's that? Where do you buy one? How can you tell if it's a good quality mattress? What happens if I buy the wrong one? What's the delivery cost? What happens to the old one? All these crazy questions come to my mind and I feel pretty much like a doe blanking out in front of oncoming headlights.

One of the hardest parts of growing up is just figuring crap out for yourself. My mother never taught me how to buy a mattress! She would just ask a friend who's husband made mattresses, get one she liked for a deal and that's what I would sleep on at home. The thing is I could ask my mom if she's still friends with that person and any advice she'd have for me on buying a mattress. But, knowing my mom she'd tell me to go cheap and save the money! She doesn't see that quality of sleep and paying more for a mattress is an investment in yourself. Yes, she does believe in quality sometimes but what works for her might not work for me.

First off, I can't stress how important and freeing it feels to have a home maintenance fund. It's one of the best idea's I've had! Because of it, I'm not stressing about the idea of how I will pay for this or any other home item thing I need. So far, in it's short few years of funding it has bought me a brand new washer, dryer, Dyson vacuum, as well as some small purchases like a new home phone and stuff. So, if you don't have one... NOW is the time to start! Even if you start small at $5 a week, as long as you start and form that habit!

Some questions I asked friends and family before doing any research to narrow my search for the perfect for me mattress!
- What kind of mattress they have?
- How much did it cost?
- Where did they buy it from?
- What qualities do they like in a mattress?
- What brands are considered good quality?
- Do they know someone who works in that industry?
- What's this coil count I heard of?

I then found a very interesting site called Sleep Like The Dead. It had very informative reviews on all sort of brands and types of mattresses. It was much more detailed than even the corporate websites. If you ever look up a mattress from any brand, it just tells you bare minimum information. Nothing really important that I wanted to know like common problems, if you over heat from all the pillow top material etc. I need to read the reviews and comments on a bunch of mattresses. I read everything I could about innerspring, memory foam, latex etc. What brands had the best customer service, to reasons why they broke down, and issues like sagging in the pillow top.

Jump forward one month

After much research and many sleepless nights, I finally knew I had to make a decision about which mattress I was buying. I was hoping and thinking (more like wishing) if I could just hold out for a few more years until I bought my first home and I could get the whole new enchilada at once. But nope, I need really need one and stat!

I kept researching online and quickly realized how much more important your mattress is than I had thought. I knew it could affect your quality of sleep but didn't realize how much of an affect it really had. I didn't know how important it is if your asthmatic or prone to allergies etc. I didn't know that side sleepers need this and back sleepers needed that. I knew how much money I had in my home maintenance fund and roughly an idea of how much I really wanted to spend. So, I decided to ask!

Ask anyone... Friends, family, acquaintances if they had an hook ups on deals with mattresses and eventually someone replied! With luck a girlfriend of mine hooked me up with her work discount on getting new hotel quality mattress! I was pretty much sold after I heard the brand and the price! I went to a Leon's to check out this particular brand and figure out if it would be a good fit. I sort of feel like it's equivalent to buying a car or tv. Anything I buy now would be ten million times better than the technology they had back in the day. So, I put in my order for the Beautyrest Black and now we play the waiting game until delivery day. I'm so excited about getting my new mattress as if I just bought two plane tickets back to Paris! My bed is my sanctuary! I spend a lot of time in there sleeping and reading and watching some tv, why not shell out the extra dough and the time to get the one you think is best. After all, how can I head off to work without a proper's night rest? How can anyone?

I had a realization when I was on my quest for this mattress is the power of asking! I really believe that if you put out word when you need something, people will want to help you out. I know of so many instances when I told my friends I wanted to get out of debt, started couponing and stuff that people were actually so supportive and kind. They would always have me in mind when they found a deal or picked up some coupons on my behalf. What I thought that some people would be looking down on me (I didn't care cause those aren't friends anyways), what I found was a lot of support and advice. Honestly, I couldn't have gotten out of debt all by myself and am so thankful for having such good friends! I love when people come up to me to tell me they read my blog, want to talk about deals, or advice on how to they can save money. It's us little consumers versus the big corporations anyways! We should stick together and help each other out if we can. We have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

Eros and Pookie

Thursday, 20 March 2014

DIY Natural Laundry Detergent!

Hello Fellow DIY-ers,

Is it just me or do you notice the lack of good sales on essentials like soaps, disinfectant wipes, laundry detergent and so on? There are some great sales here and there but they usually aren't for the products I want or need. There are a variety of recipes that can be found online if you prefer an all natural ingredient based product like me! And I thought I'd try one out!

I've decided to make my own laundry detergent! We prefer to use liquid and the sad part of this process is that I need to wait for someone to give me an old big liquid detergent bottle to dispense my home made detergent. Why don't I use the ones I already have you ask? Well, they're just small bottles and I'm looking to keep one large bottle that has the easy to dispense knob on it than having a few smaller bottles on hand. So, for the time being I made the powdered version of this recipe and will transform it into liquid later. It was really simple to make and this seemed to be the most popular recipe I found online!

Here's what you need:
2 cups of finely grated bar of soap
1 cup Borax (can grab it from Walmart for like $5)
1 1/2 cups Washing Soda (Bake baking soda for 30 mins at 400 C)
1 cup of Baking Soda
2 tablespoons of natural oatmeal (optional, but great for skin problems like eczema etc.)

I used this recipe to try and make a big batch that would last me awhile! The only thing I can suggest to save you some time is to make the washing soda first. I spent a lot of wasted time sitting around waiting for it to do it's thing in the oven, then it was super hot when I poured it in with my other ingredients. It sort of melted my soap bits and I don't know if its a good or bad thing. Grating the soap takes awhile too but more on that later!

 The ingredients! I sadly only bought a tiny bit of oatmeal for the recipe. If anything, I should of got at least 2-3 times what I have pictured. I spent a good amount of time crushing the oatmeal with my hand into tiny bits as to avoid clogging my washer. I don't think you need to do that but I wanted to spread out my oatmeal as much as possible. 

Oh boy! Let me tell you! Grating is tiring! I used a 112g bar of Dove soap and it got me to just under two cups of soap! Near the end the soap gets pretty caked on the grate and makes grating even more difficult. It's like a test of patience and pain in the ass-ness to save a few dollars! 

 All all my ingredients in a large mixing bowl. The best part is since Borax is natural, plus soap and basically baking soda, I don't have to worry about cross contaminating harmful chemicals with my regular food mixing bowl. 

After I gave it a good stir, I reused an old mason jar as storage. I've done one load of laundry with two tablespoons of this stuff and so far and it seems to be just fine. No complaints from Winton so far! There's no smell or anything and my clothes feel clean. I'll keep you guys posted if there are any pros and cons. 

Next, I have some home made Lysol wipes and baby safe lotion soap lined up! I'm pretty excited about the soap! I just ordered some really really cool silicone moulds online and I just think it would make a great gift idea on top of using it at home. I love eliminating all the bad and unnecessary fragrance and chemicals from things we use on ourselves everyday. You get to control it and making isn't too bad and the cost over time is pretty monumental. Not to mention all the less scratching that is to be had with the use of more natural products on the skin! I hope you guys give it a try and let me know what you think!

Eros and Pookie

Friday, 14 March 2014

Shopping Trip March 3, 2014 and My Diet!

A good thing about Costco shopping is that I usually don't need to go grocery shopping the following week! It's like a twofer! Other than a few things we pick up here and there on the way home from work, we are pretty much fully stocked! I don't mind paying full price at Costco sometimes because some of the qualities and quantities makes it's worth the price. For instance, we bought a huge bag of asparagus for $4 and at No Frill's we'd only get a small bunch. We had a huge bag of kale, baby spinach and I forget what else was only $5. It's great! It can double as a salad to eat with a meal or to toss in with my smoothies. There are some downsides! The size, which happens to be the upside too! Yes, I'd like a lifetime supply of toiletries but no I don't need a bag of like 20 apples to eat in a week. So, it's best for us to pick and choose what we pick up! Also, best thing is there is a No Frills next to the Costco in Etobicoke! We get our PC branded products without forgoing them. Let's see what I picked up!

 No Frills
 - 2 X Tetley Tea $1 each
- Tropicana Orange Juice $4.44
- Red Apples 97 cents/lb
- Oranges 88 cents/lb
- Celery 88 cents
- Dawn $1.99 

I like smoothies and I'm putting more and more veggies in them. The only thing is that they are so cold to drink. It's cold out and to come home to make a cold smoothie isn't always my ideal. I'd much rather have some hot chocolate or a nice cuppa tea. 

Dinner time! This is me trying to incorporate lots of veggies in my meal. The crazy part is all these veggies are just for me! Winton was at work this night! 

My dinner with chicken breast and some roasted potatoes, as well as my pre-made lunch for the next day. I'm really regretting not picking up more lunch boxes when I was in Tokyo. Would of been great to pick up some cool bento kind of lunch boxes so I can separate my food better. 

Another lazy dinner day. Quick pan fried chicken breast with salad and asparagus. 

I'm not going to lie because I don't eat like this everyday. It's actually quite boring food to me and not super appetizing. We did have fancy butcher shop bought burgers and fondue at home again this week. But, it's great to know that a few times here and there I did eat well and healthy!

Eros and Pookie

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Food Reviews! Dim Sum King, Le Papillon, Arisu and The Shore Club

Hi Guys,

Thought I'd start something new with some food reviews! I'm no food expert but I sure do love my food and eating out! Hopefully, you'll enjoy some of my regular joe(sephina) reviews!

Dim Sum King (Chinese)
Chinatown has some great lunch specials if you happen to live or work around the area. I love to come here for some cheap Chinese brunch on Monday's. It has the best value for average quality food. At around 2 bucks per item you really can't go wrong and can eat to your heart's content. Dim Sum King use to be really good when they first opened maybe a year or two ago but now it's about par on the rest available in the area. I sort of judge by how much they water down the sweet soya sauce for the fresh shrimp rolls and if I get any reheated dim sum dishes. If you want really great dim sum with a higher price tag, Crown Princess on Bay Street is the way to go! It's about $5-6 a dish but well worth it! It's nice to treat yourself for special occasions but definitely not an everyday go to place unless you can afford it. I'll take pictures and post another review later on this place. 

Le Papillon (French)
I've wanted to go here for years and we happen to come across one of those Groupon things to check it out. We did and it was probably one the best group deals for a restaurant we've ever had. Great customer service, great food and we had a blast! I definitely will be coming back here without a voucher. Our meal came with two French Onion soups, one large salad, two glasses of wine, two dinners and two desserts. Above is the photo of the soup, I forgot to take one before I started digging in. I'm not a big fan of this soup but it was so delicious! I loved everything but still couldn't get myself to eat the onions on the bottom. 
We had the duck confit which was really good. I was thinking "oh my, what a small portion" but with the soup and salad I was really starting to feel full. It had an orange grand marnier sauce, which to me what new and I actually really enjoyed it. 

I hate wine period. It's one of those drinks that I have to force myself to drink. It's just way too strong and the flavour just doesn't do anything for me. Until this! This was such an amazing wine! I LOVED it! Unfortunately, I tried looking for this brand at the LCBO and Wine Rack and no luck! How sad :(

We had the apple crumble and the caramel pudding. By far my new favourite dessert of all time is now the caramel pudding. It's not even the kind of pudding you think it is! It's sort of a spongey cake soaked  with hot caramel sauce and ice cream. Absolutely, divine! Even Winton loved it so much! As for the apple crumble, it's apple crumble what more can I say? 

Arisu (Japanese/Korean)
We actually didn't order this so I'm not 100% sure what it is. All I know is that it was noodles in a sort of wonton soup flavour. It was actually super delicious and was great to wet our appetite before our meal. 
I've never had Korean short ribs in a salad before but it's such a great idea to add bits of meat to your salad for protein. I always have chicken or something but beef just kicked it up a notch for me! 

As per typical Korean foods, they always give you an assortment of side dishes to snack on before your food comes. The only thing that I really enjoyed were the candied peanuts, it was a nice change than getting sugary beans all the time. The sweet potato thing was ok and I didn't really like the rest. I like bean sprouts a lot but it just wasn't that great here. 

Winton ordered this sweet fruit chicken dish he usually gets at these restaurants. The portion was really good and the chicken plentiful. I personally usually find this dish too sweet for me, but here it was still sweet but not as bad. There was a decent meat to breading ratio. I hate when chicken pieces are 90% bread and 10% meat!

Here comes my dinner! The presentation was pretty cool! It was on a heavy black stone with a variety of sushi pieces for tasting. It was part of their Winterlicious menu. I can't really say anything spectacular about this as they are your pretty typical sushi pieces. 

The Shore Club (Canadian)

I went here for the second time for Winterlicious with Winton and a friend. I have to say I had really high expectations for this restaurant and with a Winterlicious menu I knew it wouldn't be as good. I usually hate going to Winterlicious now because the value of the food just isn't worth the price anymore. The first time I came here was to have a big dinner with Winton to celebrate my becoming completely debt free. We had such an amazing time with such good food and great service and a hefty price tag of almost $300, including drinks. Here's what I got for Winterlicious... 

To start we order Rock Shrimp for the table to start on top of our Winterlicious appetizer. I choose two ways cod, it came fried and in a sort of pate. It was pretty super delicious! Could of used a couple more crispy toast pieces for my pate though.

I'd have to say this steak is pretty comparable to what they serve at The Keg. There was nothing that special about it and the presentation was pretty plain.  We all knew we were going to share our side dishes and it was nice that they came out separate which made the sharing easier. Broccoli was plain, mash potatoes are how you'd expect but I really enjoyed the spicy mushrooms. 

For dessert, I had order a key lime pie as it was probably the best of the dessert choices. I'm not a huge fan of tart flavour so I don't get this often and this one was pretty sour which was nice but a little too much so for me. On the other hand, Winton had the vanilla pudding and I had a taste of that and still preferred my pie. The vanilla pudding was pretty plain and the sauce pretty average. Overall, I had a good time here thanks to the good company but if you do plan to go here stick with the regular menu. 

Eros and Pookie