Earth Hour

The countdown is officially on and Earth Hour is fast approaching. If you’re looking for something free to do, Earth Hour is an excellent option. At 8:30p.m. on March 27th 2010, thousands of people will be switching off their lights and you can join, free of charge!

So, how can you participate in Earth Hour?

1. Invite friends and family over, switch off the lights and electronics and actually talk. So many of us have a tendency to spend our time with loved ones just watching tv or playing video games. Take this opportunity to interact with your friends and family, not your television set.

2. Head down to Yonge-Dundas Square between 5:30p.m. and 9:30p.m. to participate in all the Earth Hour festivities. There will be a free concert given by Chantal Kreviazuk, Jarvis Church, and Justin Nozuka. There will also be stations where people can create wishes for the Earth and they will be placed on Earth Hour Wishing Trees. “The Wishing Trees will symbolize Canadians’ desire and commitment for action on climate change.”(Yonge-Dundas Square Online, Events).

3. Write to politicians about why fighting climate change is important to you. It seems small, but it can only help! Fighting climate change will mean making some difficult decisions and changes now, but it will be important if we want to see a better tomorrow.

Post Earth Hour

It’s great to participate in Earth Hour, but it’s even better if you can keep up the practice. When you’re not it the room, turn out the lights, don’t leave electronics on when you’re not using them, and if you can, update old appliances to more energy efficient ones. If saving the world isn’t a big enough motivator, then just think of the money you’ll save on your utilities bill. For more ideas, check out World Wildlife Fund Canada’s Take Action page online.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick’s Day is supposed to be fun and jolly, but when you have a limited budget, the thought of heading out to the bar can seem less than inviting. But take heart… there are many ways to combat this tiny trouble.

First, there’s the tried and true pre-drink at home. Invite everyone over for drinks at your place and then head out to a bar later. This way you won’t end up spending to much when you eventually head out. However, St. Patrick’s Day is always a little busier than most at the bars, so you may not want to leave too late.

Another option is doing a little research on bars in your area that have cheap drinks. This way if you do decide to spend the day at the pub, at least it won’t be such a shock when the bill comes. Check out the article Cheap Ways to Keep Partying for some great and (dare I say) recession-proof suggestions.

If a crowded bar isn’t really your style, but you still want to get out and enjoy the day with friends, why not arrange a house crawl? Get your friends and neighbours to open their homes up as individual “party stations” and plan it so each home serves a different drink. For example, the always appropriate green beer or the always “classy” green Jello shooters. Be creative! Organize a route, and travel between the homes together, stopping at each one to have drinks. That way you get out of the house with friends while avoiding the often inflated prices at the bar. Plus you’re guaranteed to get in (without a cover charge) every time!

No matter what your plans are this year, remember to be safe and have fun!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

“Meet Me at the Market”

St. Lawrence Market

St. Lawrence Market

Going to the St. Lawrence Market is an excellent way to spend the day (or even just an hour or two) in Toronto. It’s a great place to walk around, and with the baked goods, souvenirs, antiques, flowers, cheese–it’s a cornucopia of sights, scents and sounds. The best part is, you never have to feel guilty for window shopping. The Market is always bustling, and is definitely browser friendly, with no pressure to make a purchase. But if you do want to buy something, you can find some great deals, like a personal favourite of mine, the $2 pretzel loaf.

When you’re all done at the Market and need somewhere to rest your feet, you can head over to the Rainbow Cinemas at 80 Front St. E at Jarvis. Although not free, the prices at the Rainbow Cinemas are always great. A regular ticket in the evening is $8.50, already less than most cinemas, and if you go on a Tuesday, tickets are only $4.

A Night In

It’s always fun to hit the bar with friends on the weekend, but lets face it, the cover alone can often be enough to stop you from accepting an invitation out. So instead, why not invite everyone in? For pizza and board games! It may sound a little like a fourth grade birthday party, but this time it’s with better music, no curfew, and wine.

Start the day by hitting the grocery store for some fresh veggies, cheese and everything else you’ll need for supper. Have everyone come over and build the pizzas together. While the pizza is cooking, use the time to pick a board game and do a little friendly pregame trash talking. Having some trouble picking a game? Here are a few of suggestions:

If you don’t have any board games, cards are always a crowd-pleaser. However, if you would like to make an investment and purchase a board game, 401 Games has a huge selection and helpful staff.

So send out the invitations, or I guess “evites” as the kids are calling them, and get ready to spend the night in, with out spending your entire paycheque.

Veggies and Dip

Veggies and Guacamole Appetizer

Pizza

Pizza!

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride (I won!)

Spring Break “Staycation” Pt. 2

So you’ve decided to stay in this Spring Break. Now what?

  • Read: For some of you, it’s reading week, so take a cue from the name, curl up on the couch and enter the world of literature. If you don’t have a book at home that piques your interest, check out your local library.
  • Cooking/Baking: Speaking of the library, while you’re there why not pick up a cookbook and try out a new recipe? Of course, if the weather has kept you indoors, you can always search for a new recipe online. And what better way to warm up a cold day than with a nice batch of chocolate chip cookies?
  • Movie Marathon: I know I said there’s lots to do inside that doesn’t involve TV but really, sometimes a movie marathon is the only way to spend a day. You could try a Woody Allen marathon (but limit yourself to 3 films or else you’ll be sitting there all day… and then some!) or an 80’s marathon (think Molly Ringwald and Emilio Estevez for a really special cinematic experience.)
  • Arts & Crafts: Get out your construction paper and crayons and colour away! But if straight up colouring isn’t really your style, you could try making your own message board out of an old frame and some ribbon. Just string the ribbon from one side of the frame to the other and make sure to fasten it tightly. Repeat as many times as you like. You can then fasten messages, cards (etc) to it with safety pins, paper clips, whatever you have. And there are tons of other craft ideas online, in books, and in magazines (like this one on how to make your own blackboard from Country Living)
  • Games: Boardgames, cards, even a yo-yo will suffice when you’re lookin’ for a good time. Boardgames can be pricey though, so invite friends over and tell them to bring along their favourites, that why you’ll have a few to choose from.
  • Spend time with friends: Most of the activities above (reading aside) are even better when you do them with friends (and sometimes a friend is just necessary… playing Clue by yourself = sad), so invite some of your friends over and enjoy your time spent indoors.

Happy “Staycationing” everyone!

Spring Break “Staycation” Pt.1

Toronto

For some of you, this week is Reading Week. For others Reading Week or March Break is quickly approaching, and while you listen to your jet-setting friends plan their European vacation, you’re planning your p.j. and t.v. lineup. Although a week’s worth of 90210 reruns, popcorn, and old sweats is never out of the question, why not venture out past your couch and explore what your city has to offer? Here are a few suggestions to keep you from experiencing Spring Break cabin fever:

  • Free Concert Series: Most Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon, and the first Wednesday of the month at 5:30, the Canadian Opera Company puts on a free concert at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Concerts can be from the Chamber Music Series, the Piano Virtuoso Series, the Jazz Series, the World Music Series, the Vocal Series, or the Dance Series.
  • Food: Unless you plan on packing your lunch picnic style (which is totally doable, except that spring break is not usually a time for balmy weather and outdoor eating), you may have to spend some money here. But don’t fret, there are plenty of wallet-friendly options throughout Toronto. Check your watch. Is it a Thursday between 12 and 2pm? Then why not head over to Hot Yam!? They offer a vegan lunch for $4. If vegan isn’t really your thing, think sandwiches, pizza, hotdogs, wraps… all items that can be found all over the city at a relatively low cost.
  • Parks & Gardens: Toronto has some beautiful walking trails, parks and gardens. If you look around, you will probably find there is one right in your neighbourhood. Check out the city’s Discovery Walks for some ideas and routes. But perhaps you are more of a free spirit who doesn’t like to be tied down to a single path? Read below…
  • It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood: If you don’t feel like committing to an event or location, you can always take a walk through one of Toronto’s charming neighbourhoods. Spend the day rediscovering your own neighbourhood or venture out to a new one and experience all it has to offer. You can browse the shops and people watch (and if you bring your own coffee and cycle there, the day won’t cost you a thing!)

Now I’m not saying that every day has to be spent on the town. There are tons of indoor activities you can do that don’t include a remote control. Check back Wednesday for some suggestions! Happy Spring Break!

Outdoor Skating Rinks

I have something to admit: I’m not exactly tech savvy. So when it comes to all things technical, including uploading images to this blog, it can be difficult. However, I (finally) have, for your viewing pleasure, a couple of pictures from my excursion to Nathan Phillips Square in January. They were taken with my phone so they’re not exactly beautiful, but you’ll get the “picture”! And remember, although these photos are from WinterCity, you can go skating at Nathan Phillips Square until February 28th. However, weather permitting, they could stay open until March 14th. If the rink at NPS isn’t convenient, there may be one your neighbourhood, so you can still get in that final outdoor skate of the season!

Fire Installation - Nathan Phillips Square

Fire Installation - Nathan Phillips Square

Skaters at Nathan Phillips Square

Skaters at Nathan Phillips Square