6 Practical Travel Tips

My hope when going on vacation is to have a relaxing and stress free trip. But as the saying goes, “Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be”. Wise words, since we can never predict what is around the corner. Coping with each situation that arises is best done in a calm manner.

Here are my six practical holiday tips to make things a little easier for me so that I can deal with anything unexpected and enjoy my holiday more.

  1. Pack an empty water bottle that does not LEAK

It takes forever to get a drink on an airplane when travelling in economy. I fill it up after clearing customs and every time before leaving my room. Being hydrated makes everything easier to handle.

  1. Large scarf

The thickness of the scarf will ultimately be determined by the holiday destination. I am one of those travelers who are always cold in the plane. When travelling economy, there usually are no blankets in sight. In addition to its original purpose, a scarf can also be used as a wrap or a picnic blanket in a pinch.

  1. Food container/ sandwich bags

I always need a snack even when I am out for a short while. There is something decadent about having a snack that I like in close proximity. Containers or sandwich bags allow easy transportation of these snacks. If I pick up something from a grocery store while on vacation, I do not have to lug the whole package of whatever was purchased. Fruit can also be cut up and taken along easily in a container.

  1. First aid kit

In addition to a couple of plasters and the usual pain medications, I include in my first aid kit things that I personally may need based on my unique requirements. My throat can get sore when I indulge on too many goodies, so for me it makes sense to have a couple of lozenges, and for some reason, mosquitoes like me, so some cream to help me stop itching makes the kit. Pack what makes sense to you. You don’t need to take a ton of stuff just stuff that can tide you over until you can get to a drug store.

  1. Portable phone charger

I use my phone for many things including taking pictures on vacation and for navigation. When I am out for the day, my phone battery usually does not last. My small portable phone charger allows me to keep snapping away until I get back to my accommodations.

  1. Eye mask and ear plugs

I have been in rooms that are close to main roads, and instead of using my phone to play me heaving rain sounds, I find having ear plugs really help. I usually find that I notice how noisy the room is only when I am going to sleep. So having the ear plugs with me means I can get that good night of sleep. In addition the earplugs and eye mask are very handy to have when flying in a plane as well when I am trying to sleep. A restful night sleep, makes every holiday more enjoyable and equips me to deal with anything that may arise.


In the bag- my solution to tiny drawers



I have the tiniest bathroom drawer. And I this is where I have to store all my stuff to get ready in the morning. In order to maximize the space, I put my things in different toiletry bags. These bags fit well in the drawer and help me stay organized. It also makes it easy to find my stuff in the morning, since everything has its place.

Simplicity in the New Year

As the year comes to an end, I have been reflecting on how I would like to spend more of my time in the 2016. One thing for sure is that I do not want to waste time on unnecessary things that do not add to my life. I want to simplify things and focus on what brings meaning to me.

One thing that I wasted a lot of my time on for many years is keeping my container cupboard organized and tidy. Getting my kids to put each item exactly where it needs to go has been a losing battle and it certainly irritates me when I look at the mess that I have to tidy up. I have tried many ways to organize this effectively, but have not been successful.  I do realize that they are not to blame, as my organization plan has not been the best, with the many different containers I have.

The other night I had a great idea- SIMPLIFY. Instead of having tons of different sized containers, just have more of the same sized containers. This way it is easy to get things and put them away. It has taken me quite a while to come to a solution as easy as this.

So from now on, the question I will be asking myself will be “How can I simplify this situation?”

I hope that everyone has a wonderful 2016 filled with many special meaningful moments.

Here is a picture of one of my container shelves. Something as simple as this, brings me great joy.




Quick Bookshelf Makeover

I was over at a close friends the other day and noticed the clutter in her bookshelf. My friend has been complaining to me for a while now that she was unhappy about all the excess stuff she had in a small house.

Together we spent about half an hour working on her bookshelf.  We talked about what she needed from her bookshelf. She wanted to have easy access to her books so that she would easily be able to get information she needed from her reference books; she needed a place to keep some cds that she needed to listen to for work; and she needed a place to store all her journals. She is an avid journaler. She was very frustrated with the clutter in her house and did not know where to start.

We picked out a few momentos that she wanted to display in the bookshelf, the rest of the pictures were stored in a photo storage box.  She could pull out the pictures easily when she wanted to look at them. We looked for things she had in the shelf  to re-purpose  instead of having to buy new organizational items, like the basket, which is now used to store her cds.

This was just a quick help project, but I left my friend excited about the results we had achieved.  We discussed strategies for keeping her bookshelf clutter free. My friend was really motivated. Now that she had a glimpse of what her bookshelf could look like and with a lot of the clutter removed, she spent the next day going through her bookcase and removing  additional items and paper that did not belong in her book shelf anymore.




I am so glad that my dear friend’s life is a little happier now.

Organizing- free containers

I have a fascination with boxes. Whenever I receive a gift, I am usually as fascinated with my gift, as I am with the box that it comes in. I have to resist the urge to keep every box I receive. I always feel that there might be a great use for the box, especially if it will help me stay organized.

Another thing that I love to do after the kids are in bed is to get in bed, watch tv and do my projects.  To make my life easier, I have organized my bedside drawer to contain some essential items- notepad, pens, glue (for my projects), and as one of my goals for the year is to take better care of myself in 2012, I have also included in my drawer my creams and other necessities. Using my Ferrero Rocher containers, and other containers that I have saved along the way, my drawer is organized to keep everything I need close by.

My drawer and its contents are practical to ME, and it has not cost me anything to be organized; and have everything easily accessible.

A note about containers to save- make sure they are sturdy and can actually hold things well. Clear containers are great, because you can see what is in the container. If you are going to keep oily items, plastic containers are great because you can clean them easily. Square or rectangled shaped containers, I find are better for organizing, instead of round containers as you do not have any wasted space between the containers.

My happy list (40 for my 40)

I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year! May the year ahead be filled with inspiration, great ideas, joy and good health. I can’ believe the year has come to an end. I have accomplished my list of 40 things in celebration of my turning 40. It has truly been an exciting year. I have enjoyed doing a lot of things that I have always wanted to do but never did.  Looking back at the year I feel really blessed to have had these exciting opportunities and am extremely thankful to my brother, sister and husband who have encouraged and supported me and participated in my adventure. I am excited about the possibilities 2013 will bring and my hope is that at the end of 2013,  we will all be able to say, we had a Happy Year!



I am turning 40 in 2012! I can’t quite believe it.

To celebrate my 40th year, I have come up with a happy list of 40 things to do, that make me happy. Most things on the list are things that I have always wanted to do, but never got around to doing.  A few on my list, are things that I have done before, but bring me joy. So from my birthday this year in December until I turn 40 in December 2012, I plan to “tackle” my list of 40 for my 40. I am quite excited about this. I feel that I have something extra special to look forward to; and this has made me very happy.

Do you have a happy list? Why not make your own happy list for 2012 and join me on this adventure!

  1. √Dinner at Vij’s [http://www.vijsrestaurant.ca/index_in.htm]-DONE. My brother took me out for dinner on my birthday. Thanks a lot RK!
  2. √Dinner at Tojo’s [http://www.tojos.com]-DONE. Nov 23
  3. √Make a tiered cake -DONE.  March 10 for Bob’s birthday
  4. √Roast a leg of lamb. DONE. Oct 26, 2012
  5. √Learn how to do one stroke painting- July 24, 2012. Painted birdhouses and several cards.
  6. √Make an art piece for my bedroom. -DONE. March 2012
  7. √Climb Grouse-DONE. Sept 15,2012
  8. √Create 10 school lunches from 10 different countries with the kids-DONE. Nov 2012
  9. √Take the kids for a holiday in Seattle. -DONE. April 8, 2012
  10. √Bollywood dance workout-  DONE. Jan 21-March 24. Bonsor community centre. A truly fun workout.
  11. √Learn how to play ping pong-  DONE. April 2012
  12. √Take the kids to the VSO kids concert-DONE. March 4
  13. √Solve the Rubik cube- Done. I found this site helpful
  14. √Bungee jumping- DONE. July 13
  15. √Baking class- DONE.  March. Learnt some interesting cakes and pastry techniques.
  16. √Teach a cooking-  DONE.  April 24, Malaysian cooking class
  17. √Make three different chutneys. DONE. Oct 2012
  18. √Rock climbing-DONE. Dec 31- Cliffhanger, Richmond
  19. √Send out Valentine messages to 40 people who have most inspired me- DONE. Feb 14. This project blessed me a lot!
  20. √Get the Sunday school to sponsor a child though World Vision- DONE. Jan 18. We are sponsoring a very sweet girl from Mongolia
  21. √Spend 5 afternoons at a beach-DONE. Nov 2012
  22. √Update my front entrance-DONE. Nov 2012
  23. √Take photos 40 days in a row- DONE
  24. √Volunteer at some type of different event-DONE. Earth Day at Hamilton Community centre. April 21, 2012
  25. √5 walks in different parks- DONE. August 2012
  26. √10 books that I have not read from the top 100 BBC’s big read- DONE. July 17, 2012
  27. √Try shooting. DONE Dec 21, 2012
  28.  √Make edible flowers for each cake I make.- DONE. Dec 2012
  29. √Plan Rayna’s birthday party with her. DONE. Aug 25.
  30. √Plan Rohan’s birthday party with him. DONE. Oct 13.
  31. √Make soap- DONE. Nov 2012 ( Cocoa butter soap)
  32. √All cards that I make this year will have to be from recycled items (except Christmas card).DONE. Dec 2012
  33. √Use my extended benefits and see a massage therapist 6 times. DONE. Nov 2012
  34. √Create a Christmas card with pictures taken during the year. DONE. Oct 25,2012
  35. √Have a winter vegetable garden. DONE (Grew Kale, Purple sprouting broccoli, carrots, green onions, peas)
  36. √Learn how to do different hairstyles-DONE
  37. √Makeover the steamer trunk that we have.DONE Feb 17
  38. √Go on a holiday with my mom and kids. DONE July 2012
  39. √Take a circus class- DONE. July 2012
  40. √ Go away for my birthday- DONE Dec 29, 2012

Contact information- all organized

With the Christmas holiday just around the corner, I have been busy getting each family member to write a short message in each card we give out.  While I enjoy making the card and writing a Christmas wish, I do not enjoy the process of writing out the addresses. I usually write a list of names of who I need to send cards to a few days in advance, because I do not want to miss anyone out. I came across my 2010 list by chance, and found it really helpful to have this list to start with.

This has inspired me to get more organized with the contact information of all my friends. I typed out my card list and contact information, and saved it on a usb stick. I can now use mail merge when I want to prepare mailing labels for the envelopes.

Using a box that my friend did not want, I put in my address book, card file, stamps, mailing labels with our address, and USB stick with all the information. Now, when I need to mail something to a friend at any time, and especially at Christmas, I  will be able to find what I need, all in my handy dandy little box. This box can be stored beautifully anywhere. (Well it is going into my desk drawer)











I believe I have made the task of sending out my cards a lot easier, by having everything I need in one place.



A touch of luxury (minus the cost)

When my sister was redecorating, she gave me her CD shelf. I never intended to house cds in it, as I thought that this would be a great shelving unit in a narrow spot. I found the perfect place for it in my closet, between two shelving racks.  However, I was not using it at its full potential.  I have always wanted to repurpose it better, but then lack the inspiration to do so.


Now a year later, I have been motivated to do make it more functional. I have been looking in various places for containers/ baskets that would fit, but could not find something I liked for the price I wanted. Inspired by my box with light yellow flowers, I decided to look for boxes around my house that would fit in the shelves. I was able to find a few boxes that I have been saving to use for wrapping presents.

Using a butternut paint spray can that I have (this worked out quite well, because that is the only paint can I have), I sprayed all my boxes the same colour. I looked through my stash of ribbons that I had saved from projects or gifts that I had received, and found a lovely piece of green and yellow ribbon that I had bought from the thrift store for 35 cents.


The yellow on all the containers, tied everything together and the ribbon, was an accent for some of the boxes. Not everything was matching, but there was a connection that ran through all the shelves. I used a glass vase that I had, to put some of my soaps (which co-incidentally are yellow as well), to add another decorative element.

The different boxes on the shelves, have helped me become more organized. I now have items placed neatly and they are easy to find. But above all, I have something visually pretty to look at and inspire me while I figure out what to use for work.


This project cost me next to nothing, and has been a great way to use items around the house. Each time I look at my shelving unit, I feel a touch of luxury. This has certainly made me happy.

Do you have items in your house that can be re-purposed to help you get organized?

Emergency kits for the car

I have put together an emergency kit for the car, and fortunately, we have not had any real emergencies. However, I have found that, having the kit in the car has been really useful in other situations as well. We have used the water  from the kit, when the kids were thirsty and snacks when they were hungry. I have also used the cash from the kit, when I accidentally found a whole bunch of garage sales. I hardly ever have any cash on me, so the money in the kit was a “lifesaver”. The important thing to remember is to replace all items that have been used.

This is what I have in my car for a family of four:

  • whistles x2
  • flashlights
  • paper towel
  • toilet paper
  • work gloves x2
  • water bottels x5
  • snacks
  • garbage bags x4
  • latex gloves x 4 pairs
  • emergency blanket x 4
  • emergency vest x 1
  • rain poncho x 4
  • face towel
  • hand sanitizer
  • heat pack
  • cold pack
  • wet wipes
  • tea light candles x 4
  • pen and paper
  • lighter
  • some cash
  • safety pins
  • sewing kit
  • plastic bags x 4
  • the fabric from a broken umbrella (it is waterproof)*
  • first aid kit
  • extra clothing for the kids (also has come in handy, when we are out and about)
  • emergency contact numbers
  • scissors and army knife
  • duct tape
  • toiletries

It is also good to have the items below in your trunk:

  • windshield washer fluid
  • small shovel, scrapper, snowbrush
  • tow rope
  • jumper cables
  • fire extinguisher

* I thought  the umbrella fabric might come in handy, incase we need to sit on a wet surface or need a place to put supplies on to keep them dry. It is light weight and does not take up much space.

Emergency Car Kit

 A really great site for information is getprepared.ca

Superhero training party

My son who just turned 6, finds Superheroes very fascinating. So for his birthday we thought a Superhero training party would be perfect. Here is a quick and easy guide to throwing a fun, two hour superhero party.


I found a really fun birthday invitation and ideas at http://www.livinglocurto.com/2009/01/super-hero-party/

While waiting for everyone to come, the kids decorated masks with stickers and markers. We bought different coloured masks from the dollar store.

The kids then had to do four activities in order to graduate their Superhero Training. I made a little booklet with word, and each time an activity was completed, my daughter gave the kids a sticker to put in the appropriate page:


I twirled yarn around our dining room chairs, and the children had to untangle their “webs.”




The kids and  I had fun with this project. We enlarged a colouring page of the Green Goblin, then coloured it and stuck it together a few weeks before the party. It was appropriate that there were pumpkins in the picture as my son’s birthday is in the fall.  Using his plastic bow and arrow, the children got to practice their marksmanship.



3. ENDURANCE- Scavenger Hunt

We hid chocolate and toy soldiers around the living room area, and the kids were instructed to find ten of each. At each hiding spot, I placed more than one item, but I instructed each child to only grab one item at each spot.


My husband set up an obstacle course in our family room using the kids pop up tents, ride on indoor scooters, chairs and a punching bag. The kids had to do the obstacle course twice. Each time they were timed and the second time they had to try and beat their own score.

Once all the activities were completed, we had an award ceremony, and gave each child a cape. A dear family member made the lovely capes for me. If I had to make them, it would not have looked as nice.


After the award ceremony, the kids had some “superhero” food to eat- chicken nuggets, hotdogs,etc. Then it was cake time. I made two square cakes which we cut them into rectangles and layered them one on top of the other. My son wanted the cake to be two colours. Next we placed his superheroes all around the cake and decorated with smarties.


The party would not have flowed smoothly, without the help of my family members. We had my sister and brother-in-law come over to help supervise and run the activities. It certainly makes things much easier when you have extra hands to help.

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