Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's..... retail????

(The alternate title, of "It's a social service agency! It's an education centre! It's.... retail!", while more accurate, wasn't as catchy)

That's right folks, in the cute-as-a-button storefront at 788 Selkirk Ave, a retail store has emerged. I popped in back in January to see what Teri Beads was all about. Turns out it's a bead shop, owned by a woman named Teri. Huh, who would've guessed?

I remember seeing the construction take place last fall sometime, a bright white clean interior taking the place of what was offices (I believe Doug Martindale and Kevin Chief both used the space at some point). In a sea of places to that can help you get back on your feet, but nowhere to go once you do, it's a breath of fresh air to see some retail.
"Don't worry, bead happy!"

Sure, not everyone needs beads (she also has other decorative things like ribbon and such), but it's a start. Teri has kept the space nice and simple and her bright colourful beads are a particularly enjoyable sight during this long dirty winter. With the transformation of the Merchant's Hotel into education and housing space, more and more people will be coming to Selkirk Ave. on a daily basis; I think this means great opportunities for retail/restaurant spaces. With real estate now at a premium city-wide, you might want to think about Selkirk Ave - it once was a hub for shopping in the neighbourhood and could be again.

If you can't make it down to Selkirk Ave., clearly because you are not mobile, not because you are afraid of Selkirk Ave. (not an acceptable reason) check out Teri's online shop or her facebook page.

Also, when you pop down there, you will almost be directly across from Lao Thai restaurant - try the salad rolls, they're divine.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Happy House-iversary to me!

This isn't a real post but buying my house still remains one of the accomplishments in life that I'm most proud of, so I like to celebrate it. I also like to add another year to my tongue-in-cheek statistic about how long I've managed to go with out being _________ (insert as appropriate depending on reader's irrational fear: carjacked, robbed, stabbed, raped, murdered)

8 years free of major crimes! As many of you may know, I've had flowers stolen a few times (or just plain vandalized) which, because I'm a sensitive soul, has made me cry, but when I put my big girl panties back on I remind myself that for the difference between my property tax and that of most of my friends I could make a pretty big dent at the local garden centre. Did you know there are still tons of folk paying only $250/yr net property tax here in the North End?? (Sadly, I am not one of those people - however at around $1200/yr I'm not complaining either) 

I've seen big changes here in the North End in 8 years, and almost all of them for the good. We have a ways to go yet, but I without a doubt now consider myself a North Ender, my Charleswood roots now a dirty ditchwater memory. 

Recently I met a blogger who moved to Winnipeg and moved to the North End in part because of reading my little musings on the North End (well, that may be giving myself too much credit - at the very least I was a contributing factor in not being terrified of here - I'll take what I can get!) I always try to explain to my friends (ok, anyone who will listen) that by staying away they are part of the problem, not the solution. It doesn't take many "good" people on a block to make the bad folks feel unwelcome. 

So, since I'm out of the country at the moment, escaping what is now officially the worst winter in my lifetime (I KNEW IT!!!) apologies for the post with no real content - but happy house-iversary to me :)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I'm at LAX (and I shouldn't be)

Before I get you to click on over to my other blog, a travel blog, that I had the very best intentions of writing in often (have posts ready to go but want to add photos, which seems to be impossible via mobile unless I have google+) I thought I would do a quick post here.

Basically, I'm in LA. I should be fast asleep in my prepaid hotel room in Bangkok. United Airlines screwed me, for the second time this trip, so here I sit. It makes my travel post that I'm about to send you doubly relevant for me for the second time in two weeks! It will also be almost 24 more hours before I am in Bangkok.

However, I am writing this post from the Star Allaince lounge at LAX, a small perk I was able to get, and I'll take it! Cross your fingers for me that I also get myself moved on  to business class...

And although I know everyone has their stories good and bad for all airlines, let it be known that United should likely always be a last resort, the "charm" of most of their employees is often even below that of Air Canada.

Read my travel blog post here:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I have very little shame

Which works out well - when people offer me free things (food especially) in exchange for a blog post or some tweet and such thing, I have no problem jumping right on that train. So, back in January when I was invited to the Taste of Mardi Gras my wee little brain thought first: wheeeee free food! And secondly, oh that's probably a good idea, I should get out more.

So, it was a cold and blustery day of the tasting, and I first headed to the car wash after work, knowing that I was going to indulge in underground parking at the RBC Convention Centre. I got there nice an early so decided to also indulge in a little overpriced yummy blended beverage from Starbucks, knowing there was one in Portage Place I started the hike via the skywalk system. I'm don't remember when we added that little piece between the Delta and CityPlace (or rather I guess it goes around the Delta) but I'm sure it was opposed, because that's what we do in Winnipeg, but what a blessing.

After stopping in at the Millennium Library to renew a book - by the way, hats off to the white haired gentleman at the returns desk who is bold enough to wear overalls in public, what a gem of an employee! Can someone please pass this post on to the person that needs to see it at the library?? (With any luck I'm on an island with no electricity as this posts - robbers take note, my roommate, who rarely leaves the house is probably at home. I also have nothing of value, like, nothing *sadface*)

So, onto the real reason for this post - do you need something to do to shake off your winter funk? How about checking out the Winnipeg Mardi Gras? It runs Friday February 14th and Saturday February 15th at the RBC Convention Centre. Friday will feature a Valentine's Celebration, and singles fear not, they have you looked after too - participate in Singles Awareness Day by wearing the red Valentine's heart they have on offer so you can easily spot others who might be up for a little somethin' somethin'.

In addition to the screens showing a live Twitter feed and video cam to get your 15 seconds of fame, there will be live music, showgirls and even better, showBOYS. But of course, the way to my heart is through my stomach, so lets talk about the food.

Thank goodness I now like shrimp! I'm not going to lie, if you're a vegetarian, you might want to have a nibble before you leave the house or come hungry for deep fried pickle spears with a cheesy sauce (admittedly, delicious), sweet potato fries or the Basin Street Bread Pudding with a Bourbon laced Caramel Sauce (this wasn't available to try - oh how I wish it was, sounds great).

I tried to pick a favourite, and in the name of high quality investigative journalism I even went back and tried some things more than once ;) I suppose if I was forced to make a decision I would go with the Bourbon Flamed Garlic Pepper Shrimp, they were REALLY REALLY good. For a lighter bite try the Gumbo. That said, you really can't go wrong with any of the entrees. As for spiciness, I would say nothing I had was above about a medium salsa, so most people should be alright even if it's a little spicier than you are used to. Unfortunately, entrees are priced on par with entrees at a restaurant so if you want to get a chance to try a few things you might need a group of friends that you are at the comfort level of eating off their plate. There will however be an appetizer sampler that is good for sharing.

It would appear I am incapable of posting photos I took to this blog post without signing up for silly Google+ so, you get no photos. However, you can check out the facebook page here:

I should probably revise the title to say I have SOME shame, I won't always be willing to write a post for everyone and everything, and I can't promise to always say nice things; so if your event or thing
kinda sucks, I might not be your gal! ;)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

"Commited to Plagarism"

No not me, although that would probably result in more frequent blog posting... Select, copy, paste... wait, maybe this guy is onto something??

Who am I talking about you ask? Well, Adamson Roofing Ltd. See, I have a 1 1/2 storey house, and while adorable and cottage-y looking it end up leaking every damn year due to ice dams (damn, dam - get it??). I've been considering replacing my roof with a metal roof for a few years now; it costs a couple hundred dollars to get the snow shovelled off and considering that I'm likely to need that a couple times a year, the long term extra costs of a metal roof could soon pay for themselves. So off to the internet I went, seeking helpful information about "Winnipeg metal roof" (or something along those lines).

Behold! I found this blog post from January of 2011 by local roofer Adamson Roofing Ltd., who is "Committed to Excellence" as per their website. Well written it seems to go right to the heart of my concerns, including the poor aesthetic that I feel metal roofing possesses.
"For the majority of people they associate metal roofing with the typical corrugated, straight-lined metal roofing seen on rural homes, barns and commercial buildings. Because of the industrial look of this material, many homeowners shy away from its use. Fortunately, now there are now several manufacturers that have created more textured and appealing types of metal roofing that possesses all of the benefits of metal roofing without the commercial appearance. Some of these metal roofing options mimic slate or cedar shingles and may be more attractive than many types of asphalt shingles. Various colours are also available, not just the typical galvanized or green styles we are familiar with on rural homes."
This guy is a genius! He totally gets me! Okay, add him to the short list. What else does Google have for me - if everyone is this on the ball I'm golden!

What's this?? An article as first seen in the Winnipeg Free Press back in 2009 - "Ask the Inspector" by Ari Marantz. Wait this looks familiar.... Actually, it seems to be EXACTLY THE SAME. Checks Adamson Roofing post for credit to the original author. Nope, can't find it anywhere. Amusingly his blog post does have over 200 comments, seemingly ALL from spambots. Good times. (Please excuse me if I don't keep up with deleting the spam that this post will generate, I've discovered the word roof has been a magnet for spam in the past).

So, call me crazy, but I no longer feel as though I can trust Adamson Roofing on the subject of metal roofing, I'm not sure they even truly know what it is since they couldn't even write about it themselves. Heck, I would have even accepted a "we couldn't put it any better ourselves" disclaimer and proper accreditation at the beginning of the post!

I'm still left looking for suggestions for a roofing contractor that specializes in metal roofing, more specifically one who specializes in "pretty" metal ones.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Call your councillor, but only if you like free money

Well, it appears the City is trying to take away a program that is designed to help homeowners in (predominantly) the poorer parts of town (based on property values).

As I wrote back in July 2012, the Home Renovation Tax Assistance program allows homeowners to get a credit of 15-25% of the value of the work completed on their home (up to $2250, split over 3 years) back on their property tax. Please see this post if you are unfamiliar with the HRTA program.

Although this program was not truly "free" money, because, hey, nothing is, it was a great incentive for folks to go about their major home renovations the right way by applying for all the proper permits. This of course in turn, means that the quality of work going into the housing stock should be a little higher, and more importantly, a little safer. I often summarize the program as being a very nice way to trick people into doing something (taking out permits) that they are generally supposed to do anyway.

I can attest from personal experience that property values are not automatically increased as a result of successfully going through this program; I had new energy efficient windows installed for a 25% property tax credit and my property value only went up the same percentage as that of my next door neighbour. Now, obviously, if you were finishing a basement or something like that under the program, you could expect that they would increase the assessed value of your home accordingly. Which is where this program was particularly awesome - people needing to do even boring renovations like re-shingling the roof, often at a cost of $5,000+ could at least appreciate a small amount back off their taxes ($750 in the example of a $5,000 roof - not too shabby!)

So, I find it interesting that a mere 2 1/2 years ago, demand for this program was apparently so high that they wanted to take funding from other much needed programs and now there "just isn't any interest in the program". That could be because in 2013 the HRTA program did not even end up announcing its funding and quietly disappeared off of the City website. So, what they're saying folks, is that no one took part in a program that didn't actually even exist. Weird. Part of the problem, that I touched on in my post in July of last year is that every year they were waiting longer and longer to announce the funding. With a construction season that often has major tie-ins to the weather, announcing a program in mid summer, when most people have already lined up their construction work for the year, you are not going to generate a lot of interest.

Winnipeggers are known for their cheapness frugality practicality, and I think that if this program was advertised anywhere besides my blog, you can bet that many more people would be taking the City up on it. With the Manitoba Hydro Home Insulation Program, there isn't a contractor in town who doesn't write the well publicized rebate available to the customer down on their estimate. Heck, years ago when there were also grants/rebates available from the Federal EcoEnergy program a person insulating their attic and installing a new furnace could have quite likely walked away with both those things costing almost nothing between the HRTA, MB Hyrdo and EcoEnergy money.

So what's the benefit to the City to keep this funding in place when we have crumbling roads, cost overruns on everything, police shortages blah blah blah? Well to the best of my knowledge* there isn't data available as to the exact dollar amounts of work completed under the program, or the combined value of the increases to property values, but I feel reasonably confident that with up $500,000 invested in the HRTA program they are getting all that money back and then some. Add in that as one person starts to do work, and then another and then another that the property values in the entire neighbourhood increase, which mean property taxes go up (and boy oh boy, under Sam "no property tax increase" Katz do our property taxes ever go up).

I obviously can't argue that the current, non-advertised, HRTA program creates incentive for people to do work, since supposedly no one is/was using it. However, keep in mind that if this program gets maxed out, then based on the 2012 program that is 2-3.3 MILLION DOLLARS (minimum) that went into the local economy. If the program doesn't get used, that money doesn't just disappear, the City gets it back; it can always go to the inevitable shortage in the snow clearing budget.

My realistic suggestion on how they City could be sure to see the full value of their investment into the HRTA program? Create a tiered approach to the program - instead of limiting the assessed value of the home to $218,000 (as per 2012 program) offer it to homes with higher values but perhaps offer smaller tax credits. It's not just people in poorer neighbourhoods that renovate without permits.

So, if you would like your chance at free money next time you renovate, call your City Councillor and tell them you would like to see the HRTA program reinstated.

*My knowledge on this is loosely defined as a quick google search, a frustrating word search on the City webpage and the realization that the information is likely out there but that I do not possess the ability to find it without losing this post to my draft folder, never to see the light of day.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Horrible blogger returns... with Pancakes!

That's right, I am a dreadful blogger as of late. I have a head full of posts however getting them here is my downfall. However, I would be remiss to not mention the annual Wild Blueberry Pancake Breakfast being held next week (Friday November 22, 2013) at the Indian and Metis Family Centre (soon to be renamed the Indigenous Family Centre I believe) on Robinson at Dufferin from 7-10am.

This is always a great event, and I enjoy the focus they always have placed on being environmentally responsible with a big focus on composting and recycling. I dare say it is one of the best events I attend annually (and maybe one day I'll win one of those great prizes!)

Here is a schedule of events:

And the performer bios:

Alexander McCowan:  Alexander McCowan is a singer/songwriter from Winnipeg, MB. Musically, Alexander borrows from numerous genres to achieve an over-all deep, laid back, country/folk groove which he has brought to audiences across Canada.  His current album “Present Times” was released in 2012 and is now available for purchase.
Dustin Harder: Dustin Harder is a singer/songwriter from Winnipeg, MB. Best known for his work with The Dusty Roads Band, Dustin has performed on several stages across Canada and built a following through grassroots promotion and hard work ethic. In 2009, Dustin released his album, “Searching for a River” that went on to sell over 1700 copies independently and was nominated for a 2009 Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Award.
Al Simmons: Al is a man dedicated to the all but lost art of combining comedy with song, dance, magic, and sight-gags. The end result is a one-man multi-prop, music-filled, off the wall variety show which has elevated audiences world-wide to collective giggles and all-out guffaws.
The Norman Chief Memorial Dancers: The Norman Chief Memorial Dancers were founded in 2004 in memory of the late Norman Chief, a Metis musician, singer, and entertainer. The Norman Chief Dancers’ primary purpose is to promote and develop community spirit through traditional style Metis music and dance. The team dances at fundraising events in Aboriginal communities throughout Manitoba to further promote Metis culture and heritage.
The Treble: Since 2010, The Treble has carved out a reputation for crafting impressively bold and unique folk-infused pop music that has enough of the integral rock vibe to appeal to a phenomenal cross-section of music lovers. The band’s recently released second EP “Northern Lights” is now their main focus as they criss-cross the country, charming music lovers from coast to coast.

Hope to see you there!