You know you live in Don Mills when…

Meri here. I thought I’d write a post that’s about the neighbourhood I live with a humourous side. So here it goes…You know you live in Don Mills when…

  1. You actually know how to find your way around the Donway East/Donway West circle
  2. You don’t need a GPS to find your way around those streets.
  3. You remember when The Shops at Don Mills was mostly a bunch of dust and dirt, and how awful it was stepping through it after it rained or snowed.
  4. You have on multiple occasions can hear the very loud music in the summer late at night and may have complained about it
  5. You remember the old locations for the LCBO and Beer Store before their current ones
  6. You remember a time before the newer condos around here were developed.
  7. You miss the old 49 The Donway West plaza
  8. You used to frequent the Pizza Pizza or the Home Hardware there before the plaza was torn down
  9. You have taken the 162 Lawrence-Donway to Edwards Gardens
  10. You have taken the above to Yonge Street as a nice quiet route when you are not in a rush to get to Yonge Street
  11. You can easily predict when the above bus will arrive at the stop you need wherever in Don Mills you are
  12. You know most of the cashiers and sometimes even the manager at the Metro in Don Mills, which sometimes you discover one or more of them live in the area or building where you live!
  13. You know to avoid the Don Mills/Lawrence Shoppers Drug Mart on Thursday mornings and afternoons
  14. You love seeing the kittens and cats up for adoption at the Pet Valu on the Donway frequently
  15. You know that you can rent an apartment here for somewhat less than average rent for Toronto, but even a basic condo apartment will set you back around half a million dollars in some buildings. Not to mention the cost of townhomes or detached homes…
  16. You know that the 25 Don Mills bus seems to be crowded at almost any time of day no matter how many buses they put on that route

8 skills people who have studied, performed, or taught music at a high level bring to other types of work

  1. The ability to dress professionally (especially classical and some ethnic or jazz musicians)
  2. Punctuality
  3. Skills in ad design (if they design their own promotional material and do it well)
  4. The ability to manage a busy schedule
  5. Successful multitasking
  6. Prioritizing important tasks from less important ones
  7. Detail-oriented
  8. Managing money, especially when funds are somewhat limited

Some jobs that people think earn lots of money, but the people working at them usually don’t

Private music teacher. Yes, a private teacher’s fees may be $60-$75/hour or more, and while many charge quite a bit less, very few private teachers teach for more than 15 hours a week, plus besides the costs many people have for rent/mortgage, utilities, and phone, there’s a lot of additional expenses for memberships, teaching supplies, upgrade/repair of instruments, books, and practice incentive programs. Plus many teachers have a few to several cancellations a week.

Pet Sitter. This is a job that often goes through cycles of feast and famine, summers can be heavily booked while the dead of winter can be very slow business.

Real Estate Assistant. While a few do bring in 50-60K or more, most are paid hourly, typically between $15-$25 an hour based on experience. A great part time job that doesn’t require a college education if you have strong literacy, computer, internet, and numeracy skills; however, the work can be heavy in the summer and slow in the winter, and occasionally realtors run into serious financial problems. You often end up working on call as well.

Dental & Medical Assistants. Usually part time and for a few hours per day, plus may have to travel a long distance for work.

Personal Care Worker. Usually you only get what the people hiring you can afford, sometimes rather little, and often only for a few hours a week.

Taxi Driver. In some places, taxi drivers end up spending more than they earn some or most of the time, especially in major cities that have a lot of them.

Legal Assistant. While it can be often full time, the extensive training is expensive relative to the typical earnings, which is $25/h up to $60/h, however, a very few earn 60-100K or more.

In addition, many of these types of jobs people do not have medical, health or dental insurance, plus you have to save for their own retirement and vacation. However, they can be fine part time work if you have other sources of income or are in school in other fields, or to fill in while looking for full time work.

Inexpensive Design/Decorating/Storage Hacks to consider using (most items of these ideas can be done with dollar and discount stores items):

Bathroom: Instead of using a magazine rack for your reading material, try a large plastic flower pot that is square or rectangular (round would be okay if the books are not too big) that is on a stand or place it on one off the floor (to prevent books from getting wet), and you’ll have an easy to reach reading material container for your bathroom.

Bedroom: For socks and underwear, use small baskets to store them in a drawer or closet, with different colours for each person in the home.

Living room: Use a bright solid colour inexpensive tablecloth to cover up those bad stains.

Dining room: If you are living alone or as a couple with no children, consider using a patio table covered with a bright plastic tablecloth for your dining area, will maximize your space especially in smaller homes. Even if you have children, some maufacturers sell patio tables that can also be used indoors large enough for up to six people if your home has a little more space for much less than conventional tables, and much lighter and easy to store when not needed.

Artwork: Instead of buying prints, make them from artwork (I’ve gotten some prints from the calendars featuring works of the great masters of visual art and from planners) or your best photos if you are skilled at taking great photos or know someone who is, and frame them yourself, often inexpensive but quality frames are found in discount and dollar stores. For large pieces, buy the poster print of a work you’d like online and frame it, or shop around at thrift stores at least once a week. Some libraries may also have some prints or artwork they will sell. Smaller prints can even be mounted on card or cover stock, with quality stick glue, and collaged if you like.

Entertainment: Especially if you live in a condo or apartment, instead of buying a home theatre system, get a powerful recent model desktop computer with a lot of RAM and a large screen (ours is 36 inches, which is bigger than our TV!) to play DVDs and CDs. Some more recent systems can play Blu-Ray discs too. Computer speakers of high quality are much less expensive than home theatre system speakers, and much easier to install too. Plus it’s a multi-purpose system.

Kitchen: Use different size baskets and storage containers to keep your spices and condiments organized.

Lighting: Large colourful paper lanterns with small LED tealights with a long lasting battery inside the lanterns hanging from the ceiling make beauful decorative lighting effects in the evening and at night. You also save money on your hydro bills because they are not connected to the power supply!

Storage: If you like the fabric storage boxes, and mainly are carrying light items or rarely moving things around, dollar and discount stores sell them in a variety of colours at a fraction of the price.

Seating: For your permanent seating, if possible, buy a sofa bed or a futon, especially in a smaller home, particularly if you regularly have guests over or to place it in front of the entertainment system. Use folding chairs when you don’t have enough permanent seating when you’re having several guests in your home at the same time and put them away when not in use.

Useful apps/types of apps and tricks for smartphone users:

Types of Apps (in no particular order); many or most are available for free on Android:

  1. Postal service
  2. Your favourite food places that have them
  3. Grocery stores
  4. Department stores that have them
  5. Book stores that have them
  6. Pet stores that have them
  7. Any loyalty programs you belong to (eg: Air Miles)
  8. Business directory (like Yellowpages)
  9. Address Books (so you can type in mailing addresses of clients, friends and family)
  10. Phone book directory (like Canada411)
  11. Social media sites you’re a part of
  12. Travelling by bus, train, or plane schedules and fares
  13. Ebook applications, at least Google and Kindle, but if you can get it, Kobo as well.
  14. Scientific calculator
  15. Dictonaries and Thesaurus
  16. Language Learning programs for languages you’d like to learn, plus their respective dictonaries with your native language translations.
  17. Hotel booking apps.
  18. Your favourite classic (eg: chess, Scrabble) and modern games
  19. Apps related to yours or your child’s school or work
  20. Online classified ads sites you use regularly
  21. Weather
  22. Currency converter
  23. Photo editors
  24. Adobe apps, ESPECIALLY the reader!
  25. A mini word processor
  26. A reader for MS Office documents


  1. Get a stylus (some or most of the tips won’t work below without one or not as well)
  2. Put apps of similar type in a folder, eg: all the email apps, school apps, your reading of e-books and e-newspapers, e-book applications, by using touch, drag, and move with the stylus
  3. Put apps in the order you probably use them most frequently (you’ll probably need to tweak it frequently for a few to several days at first, and then occasionally)
  4. Put your scheduler app on the first page, as well as your email apps (with a stylus, touch, hold, and drag until the main page)
  5. If you don’t have unlimited data, always download apps over wifi
  6. If another company is offering more or unlimited data for the same or less money than you’re paying, try to negotiate.
  7. Test apps immediately, and delete apps that don’t work properly right away
  8. Make sure you fully quit out of apps (by using the button on the bottom of the Samsung Galaxy phones and holding it for a few seconds until the list of recent apps shows up) to control your data use and save on the RAM usage in your phone
  9. Delete duplicate icons of apps using touch, hold, and move to the trash can
  10. Get at least a 16 GB, and ideally 32 GB mini SD card to record video, store apps, e-books, and pictures.
  11. Learn to embrace ebooks, many order books that are public domain are free (especially on Google Books) and many titles are available for under $5
  12. Few apps are worth paying for the full version, but the books you can’t put down, and anti-virus software are among them. Advanced tools in your field (eg: real estate dictionary, an ear training program which you need the advanced ear exercises if you’re a music teacher or upper intermediate student or higher) are worth paying the nominal fee. Games you can’t get enough of with the free version is sometimes worth paying for an ad free version is sometimes worth it too. (for me, that’s Plants vs. Zombies, mobile edition, which has quite a few differences compared to the PC version which I’ve completed)

Grocery shopping on a tight budget: how to save money

Nancee, I know you may disagree with a lot of the food items. To others, feel free to adjust the list to your dietary needs, because of personal preferences or for religious or health reasons

Basics, which are useful for lots of other things, and usually worth it even when not on sale:

  1. Milk (but NEVER soy milk as it interferes with horomones, especially in females)
  2. Butter, about 1/2 a brick per person per month
  3. Cooking oil (one 1 L bottle usually lasts me and my husband 3 months)
  4. Salad dressing
  5. Mayonnaise
  6. Eggs
  7. 1 kg sugar bags
  8. Sliced bread
  9. Soda crackers (cheap for a 4 pack and they last a long time; often on sale)
  10. Large cereal boxes (when on sale)
  11. Pancake mix
  12. Oatmeal (if you can buy in large buckets or in bulk, all the better, but even the individual packets are okay when on sale)
  13. Boxes of Tea bags
  14. Large coffee cans, if on sale (large cans last 2-3 weeks, small ones 3-4 days), and someone drinks it
  15. Dried beans
  16. Hamburger buns
  17. Hot dog buns
  18. Pasta sauces
  19. Peanut butter, if you’re not allergic
  20. Parmesan cheese
  21. Sliced cheese (more often than not on sale)
  22. Multipacks of fruit yogurt (12-16 or more per pack, but only on sale, usually is somewhere)
  23. Pasta noodles, especially spaghetti/spaghettini
  24. Sour cream (stick to store brand, which is usually half the price of the name brand, with little difference in quality)
  25. Bread crumbs (extremely inexpensive, and used in lots of types of recipes)
  26. Small bottle of olive oil (buy on sale, and the largest quality you need (usually the smallest or second smallest bottle size) as it goes rancid somewhat faster than other oils.

Side dishes that are a bargain when you work out the cost per meal:

  1. Frozen vegetables (especially peas, beans, and corn) Each bag usually lasts 3-5 months depending on how much we use, even the smaller bags, for two people
  2. Fries (they’re usually on sale somewhere)
  3. Perogies, usually 1 regular size pack is 4-6 meals, and the large ones 8-10 meals. Best to buy on sale, but if you buy store brand can be very inexpensive.
  4. Bacon (but only on sale, fortunately there is frequently a sale somewhere most weeks on it)
  5. Blocks of cheese (but only if on sale, which it is in at least one place most weeks)
  6. Rice boxes (for the price (and it’s often on sale!), you can make it a side dish for a LOT of meals before you run out; one box usually lasts 2-3 months for myself and my husband)
  7. Condensed soup (cheap, especially if you stick to store brands, and you can usually stretch one can for 2-3 meals)
  8. Turkey stuffing (extremely cheap when on sale, with added bulk walnut pieces and dried cranberries, makes 5-7 decent servings)
  9. Cranberry sauce (with the berries, since both are the same price)


  1. Leaf Letttuce (much cheaper than Romaine or Iceberg, and you can often use it for several things, and generally don’t need much)
  2. Tomatoes, usually on sale somewhere, and you can use them for several things
  3. Mushrooms (but only if on sale)
  4. Bell Peppers (generally buy only when on sale, some dishes only require 1/3 of a pepper)
  5. Bananas
  6. Apples (especially when on sale, they tend to keep a long time too)
  7. Oranges (when on sale; for the same reason as apples)
  8. Potatoes (you can use them for lots of things, and there’s lots of ways to prepare them)
  9. Onions (useful in many dishes, often quite inexpensive)
  10. Cucumbers (extremely inexpensive!)


  1. Turkey breast (when chicken is too expensive; it’s also generally healthier than chicken)
  2. Pork (when it’s on sale for the multipacks, just divide them into the portions you need)
  3. Chicken (when it’s on sale, either regular packs or multipacks)
  4. Ground Beef (but don’t buy the large packs, especially if you are single or as part of a couple)
  5. Breakfast sausages (when on sale only)
  6. Boxes of chicken strips (when on sale only; most weeks they are in at least one place)
  7. Boxes of fish sticks (if someone in your household eats them)
  8. Tuna
  9. Hot dogs (never buy at full price, often on sale)

Condiments (except for ketchup, generally stick to store brands to save):

  1. Ketchup
  2. Mustard
  3. Relish
  4. Barbecue sauce
  5. Worchestire sauce
  6. Soy Sauce
  7. Pancake syrup
  8. Salsa
  9. Hot Sauces (if you or someone in your house likes them)
  10. Plum Sauce


  1. Frozen juice cans (especially when name brands are on sale or if not, buying store brand)
  2. Powdered juice mixes in cans (for when you’re out on everything else)
  3. Water bottles (frequently on sale, and I reuse each bottle several times)
  4. Pop (stick to store brands unless name brands are cheaper, which occasionally happens)


  1. Gelatin mixes (you can make four 1/4 cup servings per pack), and they are regularly on sale, plus it tastes way better than the pre made stuff and is usually much cheaper!
  2. Pudding mixes, for the same reason as above. Some flavours require a hand mixer, especially chocolate.
  3. Cake mixes (usually very inexpensive when on sale; you can usually make 2-3 cakes per mix)
  4. Cookies with a sufficient number to last about a week on 2 a day per person. But only buy on sale, which fortunately, some brand or another often is. Or even cheaper, buy cookie mix and make them yourself.

Occasional Treats, only buy if seriously on sale and you like them

  1. Chips/cheese sticks/tortilla chips (stick to mainly store brand, and you’ll save a lot)
  2. Pre-made baked goods in the bakery section
  3. Frozen dinners (sometimes on sale)
  4. Frozen burritos (often on sale though)
  5. Pre-packed dried noodle soups that you just add water (often on sale though)

11 Reasons why applying online for jobs SUCKS

  1. Sometimes the web stops working in the middle of your application.
  2. Sometimes their program screws up your resume and you have to do major fixes.
  3. Machines can’t reason. Humans can.
  4. There’s a very poor chance the person or people hired applied online.
  5. The programs are designed to screen you out whenever possible, and that happens to most people.
  6. Sometimes computers lose the links to complete your online application.
  7. Sometimes computers don’t send you a temporary password for your online application.
  8. Long, slow, hard to read tests that are designed to screen people out.
  9. They’re usually poorly paying jobs!
  10. The humans that are in charge of hiring almost never get back to you.
  11. The right person or people for a job can be screened out for tiny mistakes machines perceive, and an unsuitable candidate can be hired because they know how to get through the system!

25 Human(e) Qualities that degrees, certifications, and licences DON’T, and CAN’T measure

  1. Punctuality
  2. Resourcefulness
  3. Creativity
  4. Lifelong learning
  5. Reliability
  6. Caring & Compassion for others
  7. Being a good listener to someone in need of help
  8. Bonding with fellow humans and other animals
  9. Empathy
  10. Persistence
  11. Forgiveness
  12. Keeping one’s word
  13. Paying money owed to someone as soon as possible
  14. Financial responsibility
  15. Self-discipline
  16. Using efficient and effective technique in learning or using one’s body
  17. Strong communication skills, oral and/or written
  18. Quick mental calculations
  19. Honesty
  20. Speaking with a clear voice with suitable enunciation with a non overly foreign accent
  21. Precision and Accuracy
  22. Total lack of Abusive or Criminal Behaviours
  23. Fairness
  24. Good judgement in social situations
  25. Teaching ability

8 Must-have accessories for your smartphone

  1. A stylus, which a decent one can be had for as little as 2 bucks plus tax, makes touching small links and playing games a lot easier
  2. Cellphone wallet or case, ideally one that can also hold at least a stylus and is big enough to fit one with a rugged case and screen protector
  3. A rugged cellphone case
  4. Screen protectors
  5. A speaker dock compatible with your phone
  6. Backup battery/remote charger
  7. Car charger, if you drive or are in a private vehicle regularly
  8. GPS device holder that fits your phone (to use as a GPS while driving or the various uses in other fields, like clipping one on a music stand)

12 Smart Things to do with smartphones

  1. Using your bank’s mobile app to track and monitor spending and clearing of payments, and watch for potential fraud.
  2. Skype and similar applications
  3. Your favourite places to eat out, for both digital coupons and paying with your phone if you cannot find your cards, money, or wallet. (but set a pretty low limit)
  4. Using your online classified ads to track, edit, and delete ads.
  1. Email!
  2. Keeping track of your rewards on various loyalty programs.
  3. Listening to radio or music (if you have an unlimited data plan)
  4. Watching youtube or TV (if you have an unlimited data plan)
  5. Getting coupons from your favourite retailers
  6. Managing your library accounts, holds, due dates, and renewals
  7. Downloading attachments, pictures and other things from the internet when you are not near a computer or don’t have or have forgotten your USB data stick.
  8. Mapping out a location to where you are travelling to if you’ve never been there before.

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