First time camping.

I have never camped before in my life. And for our first time camp trip we went to Awenda Provincial Park, Ontario. We went without reservation, but we made sure that there were still available sites the night before and we checked again before we left the house that day by checking the Ontario parks website. We left the house really early too to make sure that we get a campsite. And sure enough when we got there we were ones of the few lucky ones to get those last first come first serve campsite spots. The campsite we got was in Snake campground, a radio and pet free campground.

After the registration, We went to the beach. Since we got there early we got a really nice spot. They have 4 beaches in Awenda Provincial Park. Most of the reviews I read online, people like beaches 3 and 4. But we found out that it was a bit of a walk to get there. Like  15 to 20 minute walk from the parking. Beaches 1 and 2 are the closest to the parking. As soon as we got there the kids couldn’t wait anymore to jump in the water, so we ended up staying at beach 2 which is  where the dog beach is. The water is so clear and sandy. And enjoyed every bit of it.We left before noon as the beach got really crowded and we’ve been there for awhile.

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can you spot me and my daughter? 🙂

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see how clear the water is? and yes its warm. Just perfect for swimming.

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Our campsite at Snake Campground. Campsite #289 for one night.

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My son enjoying the campsite

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Me and my daughter playing cards. We also played badminton and we have more than enough space.

After setting up our stuff in our campsite, My husband was able to do BBQ then we had our lunch, rested for a bit and we went back to the beach around 4:30 pm and waited for the sunset. We ended up at beach 2 again, but passed the dog beach part.

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me and my daughter sitting on a huge rock waiting for the sunset

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Then we headed back to the campsite. I was really nervous about the sleeping part. I was thinking of sleeping in the back of our van at first but they all wanted to sleep in the tent so majority won, fine! the tent it is. My daughter slept first, then my husband and son started snoring, and I’m between them! How the heck will I get some sleep! There was a moment that the wind was so hard that I thought it was raining because of the sound its making. I had to wake up my husband to put the tent fly back on. But the next morning we realized it was the trees making those rain like sound. Thought that was funny!

Still didn’t get much sleep! The sky was starting to get brighter, thats when I finally felt safe to sleep. As I slowly fall into my sleep my daughter woke up and announced that she wanted to go to the washroom. My husband stood up and took her to the washroom. And you know the camping bed when someone moves, everything moves. Hahahahahah! I didn’t get to sleep at all.

Regardless of that, we really had so much fun camping.  My husband loves BBQ’ing, I love the fact that the beach is so close and if we want to bike, there are trails for that. We fell in love with it so much that we booked 3 more times and stayed longer.

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campsite ground

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Our swim before we headed home. Not a lot of people that sunday. It was cloudy, No waves, the beach was very quiet. Water is still warm and clear.

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We passed by Pentanguishine on our way home to have some fish and chips.

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fish and chips at Penetanguishine. Awesome!

 

Second camping trip in Awenda Provincial park.

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We went to Kettle lake first thinking we could bike around the trail beside it but we saw that bikes are not allowed on the trail there. We saw kids with their parents boating. We really want to do the same  maybe next summer. It is pretty huge and its really pretty too.

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me and the kids

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We headed to the beach after Kettle lake. We were lucky to get our favourite spot in beach 2 again.

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This was our campsite. Back in Snake campground, this time we are in #310 which we reserved online

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Privacy wasn’t that good but the campsites in Snake campground are far apart so it wasn’t that bad at all.

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washrooms in awenda.

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Getting dirty and I let him be

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Went back to the beach in the afternoon and had lunch there. I don’t know about you but food does really taste better by the beach.

Back in Awenda PP again for the third time.

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We wanted to go back again in Awenda but I have been checking online and there was none available. I kept checking and checking and one became available. I booked it as soon as I saw it available. This one is in Hawk Campground, Site #75. The privacy was poor, it even says on the website when you reserve it. Its open to the road and the 2 campsites across it. But we used our car to block one and used the huge tent we just bought to block the other, it turned out fine. We had our privacy. It was across the water faucet and close to the washrooms. We stayed here for 2 nights.

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My husband doing his BBQ

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Brule Trail.

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first time s’mores for this girl.

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We went camping again for the last time for the summer but we tried a different Park. We were supposed to go to Port Burtwell because we wanted to go to Lake Erie where the water is warmer but because of the longer drive we cancelled our reservation and changed it to MacGregor point Provincial Park.

 

 

HOUSE OF BENGBENG

 

All photos on my blog are all taken by me using iPhone 6s.

 

 

My first unfinished basement DIY project

This is our unfinished basement in our first house. This is also my first unfinished basement DIY project. I posted this DIY from my old blog. When I posted it, I said it would be a working progress but I never got to post the end result. So I decided to post it here.

These are the before pictures of our unfinished basement in our first house.

 

And this is what I did to it.

 

Here are some before and after pictures.

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BEFORE. Low headroom and cold room area.

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AFTER. Painting the walls white with a concrete paint we bought from home depot completely changed this space.

 

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before

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After hanging the white fabric. I have more storage space.

 

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BEFORE. Laundry area.

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AFTER. Right side is where the laundry area. Covered by the white fabric.

 

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Before

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and after. Again with the white concrete paint and the white fabric to hide that ugly pink insulation.

 

Here is the link of my old blog.

http://houseonashoestring.blogspot.ca

All the steps of how I turned our first house unfinished basement is on the old blog and also you will see more pictures. With this DIY experience. I did the same thing with our unfinished basement in our house right now. We are able to enjoy the unfinished basement. With a little budget, a little bit of elbow grease (ok maybe a lot of it), and a bit of creativity you can make your unfinished basement feel like a finished basement without spending thousands of dollars.

HOUSE OF BENGBENG

All photos on my blog are all taken by me using iPhone.

 

 

 

 

Family day

We had a day trip to Blue Mountain Village for our Family day.

 

HOUSE OF BENGBENG

All photos on my blog are all taken by me using iPhone 6s.

Selling our house in Toronto.

This is one of hardest things I have ever experienced in my entire life. Selling our house.

It took us awhile to get to this point, to decide to sell and move. Our family is growing and we want to provide the kids with a bigger space. After searching for awhile we found the place where we want to move, put a down payment on it and then we really had to sell the house.

It was fall when we we started Looking for a real estate agent. We contacted and booked an interview with few realtors that have been selling in our neighbourhood. We emailed few realtors we saw online that have low sellers fee. We wanted to get a discount. All of them were very nice, told us what they plan to do sell our house. We were looking for someone who will give us a good discount. But we opted for someone that my husband chose. This realtor was referred to us by a relative. (do you see reflags already) but I kind of agreed because amongst all of the realtor we interviewed he seemed to be the one I can work with.

Got the realtor, next was to fix the house. Fixing the house wasn’t the hard part, maintaining it that way everyday until it got sold was the harder part. With an 8 year old and a toddler can be a bit tricky! With a running toddler with all the toys. You fix it they mess it and you fix it again, they will mess it up again!

 

We got the Real estate agent, house fixed,  house officially listed online and the for sale sign is up.

Saturday, first open house. My phone won’t stop ringing, a lot of people booked appointments to see the house even if we had an open house scheduled that day.  Potential buyers wanted to see the house ahead of time. Hey why not. To see other people going in and out of our house felt really weird for me. But I got over it pretty quickly. The open house was crazy busy. I’ve never seen our street that busy ever before. Exciting isn’t it? That’s what I thought!

Sunday, second open house. It was more packed. Can you believe it! We thought the first one was busy, but it got busier the next day. Everything seemed to be looking good for us right? But we weren’t accepting any offers until Wednesday which was the so called “Offer day”,  Then wednesday came, silence everywhere!  no offers, nothing! nada! zilch! not even a low ball offer. I heard every car that passed by our house hoping they will park in front of our house to make an offer, but no one did. We were shocked! shocked and devastated,  we couldn’t understand why. From the amount of people who came to our 2 open houses, We were imagining the same thing will happen during the offer date. We thought our street will be packed again, buyers with their agents will be all parked outside our house with their best offers in hand. But nope! Nothing like that at all. No one showed up to make an offer.

Maybe people saw how busy the open houses were, they didn’t want to be a part of a bidding war. maybe? Maybe they didn’t like our backyard, maybe they didn’t like a townhouse, Maybe its too small for them. Maybe maybe maybe. I don’t know, or maybe they think we priced it too high? maybe! few days passed slowly but surely. The showing slowed down as well. We lost our momentum. That’s basically what happened.

At this time, my stress level was starting to go up. I hated the fact that we really couldn’t do anything but wait for that “someone” to buy it. I am now down to someone instead of waiting to make choice from a multiple offers, basing from our open houses results. I’m beginning to blame our Real estate agent. Im beginning to question everything, we could’ve done this. done that, or maybe like this or like that, you know. I was freaking out. Everything was just going south. I started to think how long did we have to do this. Maintaining the house with the kids was getting a bit overwhelming. Who knows when will you get an offer.

Before we thought of selling our house, I’ve read so many articles and seen on TV about how hot the real estate is in Toronto these day, but you never hear the story of how hard it is to sell a house per se.  All you hear are the good news as if everyone can sell their house in this hot market and it will get sold even before you list it. Our house is close to the subway, bus stop, beaches, Walmart, best buy, plazas, restaurants and etc. Its only 5 years old when we put it on the market. Everything is going for it. All the feedbacks were good. “Such a beautiful house”, They said “we love the floors”, “we like what you did to the unfinished basement”, and  blah blah blah blah blah blah! where were those people who showed interest during the offer date? I don’t know.

I felt strongly that we have to do something. I’ve decided to talk to my husband to lower our price. But our agent had a different idea, he even wanted to push our price higher. I didn’t agree and he had no choice but to follow what we told him to do. I thought it was unusual that it was us, the seller who decided to do it when our agent wanted to increase the price. But after what happened with our “dead” offer day, I just felt like we had to do something. With the amount of people that came to our 2 open houses and it didn’t generate even 1 offer, not even a ridiculously lowball offer, something wasn’t right. The next weekend, the house listing price was lowered.

We didn’t have the luxury of time to sit on the market. We have to keep moving. We already put a down payment on the house we’re moving to and the house at that time was almost done. As days went by, I felt like I didn’t live in our house anymore. This is our first home. I love our house. but I was so emotionally exhausted waiting for that one buyer. I just wanted it sold already.

Everything slowed down, and so as the people calling to book an appointment for showing. Calls were getting fewer and fewer. All the waiting game just drove me crazy. Had to wait on other peoples decision. You wait for a phone call, wait for a showing appointment, you go out and wait for them to finish looking at your house, when some of them could just be fishing for ideas of what they could do to their house or to their own open house when they sell their own house!

The second week, an offer came. Good starting offer, no inspection required. But the next day they changed their minds. Just wonderful isn’t it! Talk about bursting bubbles!

Good thing another offer came. They booked a “presentation” at our house.  Like what we see on tv, where buyers stay outside and their agent goes in and out of the house with how much they want to offer  and they decide if its a deal or not then they do this until they get a deal or maybe no deal at all. It was an interesting experience to see the agents hustle it out. At the end of it,  we had a deal. Nice!

Sold? not yet! that deal was far away from being done. There were conditions to be met. Our agreement was for 5 days. 5 days for the buyer to deal with their financing and do the house inspection, if everything goes well, only after that it can be officially sold. So many things to wait for right? I just want to scream at this point! And because of the registered offer on the table we cannot entertain other offers for that 5 day agreement. As a seller, you are left to hope and pray that the deal would go thru. I thought what if the deal doesn’t go thru?  what if the buyers didn’t get their financing approved?  As the seller, we wasted 5 days, we will be back to zero again. and we get to do everything all over again. Yikes!

Showing appointments slowed down more and I have 5 days of waiting to do. I am again left with the waiting.  I hated every bit of it. But mind you if you have a bidding war then you won’t have any problems. good for you! but we didn’t.

I got a call for a home inspection appointment. I was so thrilled when I got the call. It felt that it was getting closer to the finish line. When they got to the house I was a bit confused that the buyers showed up with only their real estate agent. They asked me a couple of questions about the vents and asked me where I bought the picture ledge by our hallway. In my head, I was thinking, Why would they do a home inspection with a real estate agent. Real estate agents are not home inspectors! I didnt want to think negative about it but my gut feeling was maybe they have changed their minds.

Fifth day came, our agent informed us that the buyers financing didn’t get approved they said. I was devastated but I kind of knew it coming already. So there goes our five days! We are back to zero. Zero! Now spring has sprung! More competition on the market.

Then a young couple came to see our house. I actually decided to stay home that time because it was raining. The agent arrived ahead of the buyers because the buyers were taking the bus to get there. I told the agent that she can look around the house while waiting for her clients and the kids and I stayed in the basement. I heard the doorbell rang and decided to check the security camera to see the potential buyers, I was just curious. And when the agent opened the door, I saw their faces lit up as they entered the house. I knew right there and then that they will buy our house.

They put in an offer, did the house inspection with a real home inspector. The house was officially sold! It was the 3rd offer. 3rd times the charm indeed!

Stayed in the market longer than everyone expected. A lot of showings, a lot of walks to the park with the kids and anywhere we can walk to, while passing time until the showing was done. A lot of busy weekends. 4 open houses, can you imagine! I think all our neighbours saw our house already. But hey finally it’s done. We can live dirty again! Hahahahahahhahaa!

 

Things I learned from this experience?

Next time If ever we sell our house again, I will hire someone who has sold houses in our neighbourhood. Because they have more knowledge about the houses in the area. They might have clients they know that are interested in buying in our neighbourhood.  Since they know more about the houses in our area and have done it before they will be able to give you a more appropriate price for the house.

 

Make sure you give your self enough time for situations that you can’t control.  What if it stayed longer in the market. You have to be ready for that situation and have an idea what to do when that happens. Or what if it got sold quickly, you have to have a plan for that as well. We were told so many times that our house will get sold quickly, but it didn’t.

There was another house for sale in our neighbourhood when we were selling our house. They sold it with out a real estate agent. We live in a very high demand area. It’s not a bad idea. You can go online and there are companies that can help you and will give you all the guidance you need to sell your house on your own.

In maintaining the house while selling it with kids.

Make sure to keep the mess to a minimum. During the day time my son and I stayed in one of the rooms, where he can play freely. And I can easily fix it when there was a showing.  Showing appointments for the house can be anytime. You want to make sure that your house is always ready for showing. Last thing you want is you’re  rushing, because you will forget something. What I did too that helped was I made a list on my phone which I checked every time before there was a showing for me not to miss anything. Just to make sure I got covered.

Eating. We bought food outside. Because again showing can be anytime. You don’t wanna be in the middle of cooking when someone calls for a showing, and your house smells like garlic and onions, though personally, I won’t mind that at all. But you know you’re selling a house not food. We bought food outside and used paper plates, we didn’t have to deal with a lot of dishes that much. I think you can still cook just don’t cook anything with a funny smell that lingers around.

And after all the waiting, waiting, waiting and waiting, when everything has been signed and done, finally I can look out in our front yard and there was the SOLD sign! Thank god!!!!

 

HOUSE OF BENGBENG

All photos on my blog are all taken by me using iPhone 6s.

Our Ripley’s Aquarium Toronto trip

Well, first of all, I think we went on a wrong day, we went on one of the busiest days to go. During the Christmas holiday break. We went on Dec 27th. We’ve eaten so much in the last few days, watched too much movies on tv, the least we can do is get our butts out of the couch. We decided to go to Ripleys Aquarium Toronto. After seeing the crowd maybe so did everyone else! It seemed. hahahahah! Anyways…

Ripley’s Aquarium Toronto is next to Rogers Centre where they have the Disney On Ice that time of the year. And because of that, looking for parking was a bit of hustle. We came almost noon. Parking across the Ripleys was already full. We went around again, my husband dropped us off at the front of the Ripley’s and he went looking for parking. He was able to park in the underground parking by the skydome but twice the price! yikes!

We bought our tickets online that morning before we left the house, because I read online that its faster if you already have a ticket instead of buying it there. And they have this discount for the holidays so we were able to get discounted tickets. Though  when we got there I observed the people lining up for tickets was going fairly quickly I must say, even if it was very busy that day.

There is a sign no outside food and drinks allowed. I read online that food there is very expensive so I decided to bring food, a box of cookies and a couple of bottled water. Put it in a plastic bag. I didn’t know that outside food isn’t allowed.  When they scanned our tickets, they didn’t check any of our stuff. So I was able to bring the cookies and bottled water in. yey!

Regarding strollers, I think its ok to bring even those big ones as long as you don’t go during the holidays/weekends/long weekends. If you do go during those holidays I mentioned, I suggest consider bringing an umbrella stroller.

It was really crowded when we went there that we had to line up just to go in to the Dangerous lagoon, its the part where you see the fishes swim above your head. But even if it was very busy, it was ok because everyone had to line up and can stay on this moving sidewalk just like the ones they have at the airport and  it will take you all around.   Even if it was very crowded that day because of the moving sidewalk we have a perfect view of the aquarium. At the end of it, There are more to see. They have the jelly fishes, the sea horses, an area where people can touch different kinds of fishes, the crawl area, playground for the kids and more. They also have this huge gift shop if you want to buy souvenirs.

I must say we had fun even if it was crowded that day.  My 2 year old had fun with the crawl spaces they have, not much with the fishes but he looked very curious, maybe he was thinking how the heck they got in there. I don’t know but he enjoyed the play area more than the huge aquariums. My 8 year old daughter had so much fun with everything.

When we left Ripley’s it was a bit of a walk to the skydome underground parking. Then had some chinese food. We were all tired when we got home. Tired but happy I must say. I would consider going back again to Ripley’s Aquarium Toronto. The huge aquariums are beautiful to look at but not on those school holiday break.

 

House of bengbeng

All photos on my blog are all taken by me using iPhone 6s.

 

Easy Ikea hack – Sofa table

I want to put a sofa table in our living room. I didn’t want to buy. I looked around our house for a furniture that we don’t really use. And this is what I found. I didn’t spend any money on this ikea hack. Just a couple of screws and about an hour’s work.

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kallax ikea shelving unit.

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spot where I want to put the sofa table.

Steps….

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I took it all apart

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Screwed it all back together.

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I screwed the table top from underneath using these 2 wood blocks and use the shelving as a leg for support in the middle of the table.

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Then there’s the sofa table.

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House of bengbeng

All photos on my blog are all taken by me using iPhone 6s.

My first try on Whitewash paint

 

I wanted to put a mirror on top of our fireplace. I have the mirror but I just needed to change the paint around it. Ive always wanted the look of the whitewash paint. I decided to give it a try. Since I have a couple of white paint sitting around our garage left by the builders of our new built house. And after getting some ideas online. I just did it.

Materials: Paint brush, sand paper, white paint, cloth for wiping and yeah the mirror of course. (I didn’t buy any of the materials)

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this is my mirror

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I sanded it first then painted it but sorry I forgot to take a picture of it when I was sanding it. Its easy to forget to stop and take of pictures of your project when your in the zone. And no one is available to take pictures of me for me. (my 2 year old son is still working on that 🙂

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then after painting it, I waited for the paint to dry. Then this is when I started to sand the white paint off to start working on the whitewash look.

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I sanded it more but then I guess I sanded it a little bit too much. Oops! Some do it in a different way. They paint it white, then they paint a black stain on top of the white paint. If I do it that way, I have to buy that stain.  I don’t want to buy, I just want to use whatever I have. So sand paper  it is! 🙂

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when sanding It depends on your taste. Where you want to sand it. How much or how less of the dark tones do you want to be showing and how dark or how light do you want it to be. If you think you sanded it too much then you just paint over that area again, then sand it again until you achieve the look that you like. I find it a very forgiving project because you can do it over and over again until you get the look that you want.
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It took awhile but this is what I ended up with.

 

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the mirror on top of our fireplace. I like it!

House of bengbeng

All photos on my blog are all taken by me using iPhone 6s.