Look Up

Have you seen this video yet? It showed up a couple of times on my Facebook feed today and it struck a chord with me – it made me wonder how much time I spend sitting in front of a screen everyday instead or interacting with real people. The answer is easy – too much (and no, the irony of learning about this video via Facebook does not escape me).

On Sunday I was up WAY too early, so I did something I haven’t done in ages – I went for a walk. Not just a small walk – I was out for hours. Yes I took my phone, and yes I took pictures of the interesting things I saw as I went and shared them via social media, but here’s the thing – the only reason I was able to see different/interesting/beautiful things was I was looking up – I didn’t have my head down as I madly tweeted about whatever random thing that just popped into my head. And I liked it.

I did a sort of meandering loop from my place, and in all I probably walked about 10km. In that time I saw some things I likely wouldn’t have seen in my everyday life, and I know I never would have seen if I’d been looking down. What I did find really interesting however is that when I tried to make eye contact with some of the people I passed and say ‘hi’ more often than not I was ignored or given a strange look.

Are we so used to communicating electronically that simple face to face interaction between strangers is completely foreign? We think nothing of interacting with complete strangers over social media – is doing the same thing in person really all that different?

Maybe it’s a Toronto thing? My mom says that she finds a huge difference when she comes to visit – but she lives in a town that’s significantly smaller. Is it the pace of life in the ‘Big City’ that makes us all slaves to technology?

No matter the reason I’m going to set myself a bit of a 30 day social challenge (if you’re on social media of any sort these days you’ll know that 30 (or 100) day challenges are all the rage – there’s the 30×30 nature challenge or the 100 Happy Days challenge, and any number of fitness and diet related challenges, so really I’m just following the trend). Anyways, starting tomorrow (May 6) I’m going to look up and try to say ‘Hello’ or ‘good morning’ or something similar to at least one stranger a day, and maybe, if I’m very lucky, they’ll also be looking up and will say hello back.

By the way – here are some of the interesting things I spotted on my walk while I was looking up:

Street Art

Happy street art

Summerhill Tin Man

If you look up while wandering through Summerhill you’ll spot this Tin Man and his family

Eaton Family Crypt - Mount Pleasant Cemetary

The Eaton family crypt in Mount Pleasant Cemetery

Spring buds on trees

Spring is Finally here!

Zara Home is Coming to Canada

Having an Irish mother meant that growing up I spent a bit of time in Europe visiting relatives. On one such trip I was introduced to Zara, and I was amazed by the store filled with lovely clothing, and very pleased to be able to buy some clothes that nobody had at home.

Zara eventually opened stores in Canada, and it remains one of my favorites for fun, fairly inexpensive clothing. A few years ago I discovered that Zara had a housewares division and from time to time would browse the European web stores to see what they had. When I was in Ireland last fall I even checked to see if there was a retail store so I could finally go shopping, but was disappointed to discover there wasn’t one.

This past spring I heard some Internet rumblings that Zara Home would finally be opening an online store in Canada, and unbelievably a retail location as well. I tried not to get my hopes up, and refrained from perusing their wares online. This past Tuesday I heard that the first Canadian retail location would open at Yorkdale shopping center on August 22nd, and that the online store would open that day as well (a second retail location in Laval, QC will open on Aug 29th). After hearing the news I  jumped right online and picked out a few favourites.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite from the above? I can’t decide between the tray and the skull tumblers.

PS – The items above are mostly from the US site, but a couple are from the UK.
PPS – Oh the irony of hearing that Zara was Finally going to open just days after realizing that any extra money in my budget for the foreseeable future will be going to plaster repairs.
PPPS – This is not a sponsored post – I’m just a bit excited Zara is finally coming to Canada.

The Four Seasons Toronto – An Auction

For those of us who live in Toronto and to many who have visited this city, the Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville was for many years synonymous with luxury. Opened 35 years ago it has played host to many events and celebrities over the years.

The hotel closed in March of this year as the Four Seasons plans to open its new hotel and private residences just around the corner in the fall. The new owners of the old Four Seasons building at 21 Avenue Rd will be converting the 380 hotel rooms and suites into 490 condo units, but not before they sell off everything in the building. And I mean everything. The furniture, the crystal chandeliers, art, marble bathrooms, dinnerware, industrial kitchen equipment, and even the bed linens, drapes, carpets and a 20 foot onyx marble bar will all be sold by auction. There are more than 15,000 items up for sale.

The auction will take place on Thursday May 31st, Friday June 1st, and Saturday the 2nd. I went yesterday to take a look at some of the items up for sale.

Any interest in a pay phone bank? It's up for sale

I rather liked these lamps

You too can own a stall door from the Four Seasons

Even the plant is up for auction

Have something to celebrate? Do you need a Champagne bucket?

Everyone needs a 20ft bar. Right?

There is another preview today (May 30th) from 9 until 4pm. I’d love to attend the auction of Friday when they’re selling all the furniture, if only to see what some of the items go for. Would you buy any of the items above? Any plans on attending the auction?

For more information about the auction click here.

BlogPodium: The Business of Blogging

BlogPodium Program guideOn Saturday I had the amazing opportunity to attend the 2nd edition of BlogPodium (you can read about the first here) which was held at the beautiful Arcadian Loft in Downtown Toronto. BlogPodium was started by two Toronto design bloggers (Lindsay of  Little House blog, and Jen of Rambling Renovators) as a way to share information with other Canadian bloggers about how to make their blogs better.

This topic of this edition of BlogPodium was the Business of Blogging, and Nicole Balch, the lovely and talented lady behind the blog ‘Making it Lovely‘ was the keynote speaker. Like the first edition I learned tonnes – so much that my head is still spinning with ideas and inspiration.

Nicole Balch of Making it Lovely

Nicole Balch of Making it Lovely giving her keynote speech

As the topic for BlogPodium was the Business of Blogging both Nicole’s talk, and the panel discussion after focused mostly on if it’s possible to make a little money from what most of us see as a hobby.

There are generally three types of advertisements on blogs:

  • Small ads (Etsy, and other blogs – 125×125 pixels)
  • Large ads that are generally sold via an ad network (300×250 pixels or leader board ads, all above the fold)
  • Sponsored posts.

When to start advertising:

  • This is up to you. Nicole started at 10,000 views a month.
  • When starting consider giving away your ads for free to encourage others to inquire about advertising with you.
  • As your traffic grows increase your rates.
  • Offer a discount for those who advertise for longer than 1 month (15% for 3 months, 20% for 4)
  • Determining rates: $1.25 CPM for the smaller ads, $3 CPM for the larger ones.

Sponsored posts:

  • Nicole has asked, and the general consensus for bloggers is no more than one sponsored post a week (for those that post daily) Too many sponsored posts, and your readers will leave – they’re looking for original content – not an ad.
  • Suggests putting ‘Brought to you by’ at the top of the post so your readers know it’s sponsored – just like ads on TV. Also, if you tweet your post add ‘sponsored’ so your readers are aware before they click over..
  • Be very careful about who you work with – only accept doing a sponsored post from companies you feel strongly about.
  • If something isn’t a good fit, be polite and explain why. The potential sponsor might have something else.

How to attract readers and sponsors:

  • Be yourself, and put yourself out there. Try to write like you would speak to your friends.
  • Comment on other blogs
  • Giveaways are a great way to get readers.
  • Make sure your blog is well-balanced – is it about original content or sponsored posts?
  • Want to work with a specific brand? Ask. You might be surprised and they’ll say yes to your proposal – the worst that can happen is they’ll say no.
  • Have a detailed profile page – you are the brand
  • Do guest posts on other blogs
  • Sponsors are looking for 4 things in a blog they’ll work with: Engagement, Authority, Content and Reach.

At the conclusion of the panel discussion we all had the opportunity to mix and mingle. I got to meet some of the bloggers I read on a regular basis (it’s nice to put a face to a blog or twitter handle!) There was some marvellous food, and we got to chat with the wonderful brands that helped make BlogPodium a success.

Blogpodium Sponsors

BlogPodium will be returning in the fall, so if you’re interested in attending make sure to sign up for the newsletter here. Hope to see you there!

All Images by Mango Studios