Backyard Container Gardening

Toronto had a very cold week last week, to a point which a frost advisory was issued last Friday night. My parents already planted annuals in their front yard, so guess what, my dad took out the newly bought camping tent, and covered the entire front yard. LOL. It might be a little bit overkill, but better safe than sorry, right?

I’ve added a few plants to my container backyard gardening this week.

Dwarf Red Dragon Japanese maple:

Clematis Abilene™ Evipo027:

Mixed Herbs:

Hosta, which survived the winter, growing strong and healthy

A few annuals container:

This past winter was brutally cold, I’ve lost my clematis (that’s why I bought a new one), hydrangea, and one lavender. I really have to find a way to move them to my garage this winter.


For the past few days, I have been reading, and learning how to use my aeroplan points efficiently to book a trip to Europe.

It was not that successful!

Firstly, I am not supposed to travel with Air Canada, due to its high tax and fuel surcharge when it crosses ocean. For example, I need to pay $736 CAD tax + 60,000 aeroplan points for a round trip to Lisbon, Portugal even though the air ticket is free itself. duhhh..

Secondly, I suppose to find flights with United Airline because it has very minimum tax and fuel surcharge, which means I would need to transfer in USA. If I am okay with that, the most challenging part is to find a flight that fits your schedule that has seats allocated for reward travel. So I managed to find UA flights to London, transferring at Newark airport, which is not too bad: YYZ – EWR – LHR. After staying at London for 2 days, LHR – LIS via TAP Portugal. So far so good. The problem is with the return trip, the agent cannot find a United flight that has seats for reward travel. So here are are my options:

1. Lisbon – Milan – Toronto: $540 CAD where last leg is flying with Air Canada
2. Lisbon – London – Toronto: $567 CAD where last leg is flying with Air Canada
3. Lisbon – London – Washington – Toronto: a long trip from 7:40am to 11:30pm IF there’s no flight delay: $360 CAD all United flights
4. Lisbon – London – Newark – Toronto: $282 CAD all United flights, but I have to stay in New York overnight, since there’s no United flight with reward seat that same day

Can you see the difference in price when you flight United vs. AC?

Thirdly, find the market price of your flight and determine your cents per mile (cpm). I found flights on Air Transat web site: Toronto to London, then Lisbon to Toronto, all direct flights at $660 CAD; plus an one way ticket from London to Lisbon at about $180 CAD, total comes out to be $840 CAD. Say I choose option 3 from above, that means I would be saving $480 CAD, and the cost is 60,000 aeroplan points. So my cents per mile is 0.8 (480/60000). Rule of thumb is don’t use your points if cpm is below 1.5!

Let’s say the cpm is 1.5 in my case, whether I am willing to transfer twice during the return trip is still debatable.

Anyways, I just booked my solo trip to London and Lisbon through Air Transat for $660! And saving my aeroplan for mini around the world trip! You can find more information about it here:
How To Save Money on Aeroplan Europe Redemptions
Aeroplan Mini RTW

What Kind of Lifestyle Do You Want?

I came across this blog Go Curry Cracker recently, it’s about a couple sharing their early retirement story. By early retirement, I mean really early, in their 30s. Their story is inspiring, and makes me to rethink about my lifestyle. I guess their lifestyle may not be suitable for everyone, but certainly is much more interesting than most of us.

I took a closer look at how they did it:

1. Maximize your income
– I guess I am not really maximizing it yet. I know that I would’ve found a better paid job in the market now, but the current job’s 20 minutes commute beat them all.
Ways to make additional money: going to evaluate these possibilities.

2. Live well below your means
– The top three categories of expenses are on housing, transportation, and food. Go Curry Cracker couple saved a tons of money by living in a small rental apartment, biking everywhere, and cooking their own meal.
– I checked there’s no small apartment for rent around my workplace. It’s Canada, with 5 month of winter, probably I won’t be able to bike everywhere. Out of these three categories, I guess I am only doing the cooking part.

The rest of the plan is to invest the difference and wait patiently. Not sure if I can ever achieve what they achieved, but hey, it’s always good to have a goal!

2015 Finished Handmade – 3

USB Pocket v2
Remember this USB pocket v1? The fabric didn’t hold up that well, after one year of use, it’s now looking like this:
I made v2, this time with denim, doubled the capacity, and changed to zipper for more safety. I am loving it!


Earthy Apron
I have this thing for linen fabric, and made myself an apron using some leftover fabric from a top. I was surprised to find two pieces that have matching colors. Pattern was taken using my existing apron, noting fancy, but a very functional one. This is the original lovely striped linen fabric:
This is my almost-done apron, the front pocket fabric is also the same as the back of the apron, very earthy color, right?