Life Skills You Need

There are just somethings that can’t be avoided in life. The old joke goes, “the only things you have to do in life is pay taxes and die”, while it’s funny, it just isn’t true. Being able to keep yourself fed, happy, clean and financially stable are irreplaceable skills that have to be developed. Here is a list of skills that everyone should have.

Cooking

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No matter what you think your life is going to be like, the likely hood of having a live in cook is very slight. It isn’t your partners job to feed you and your mother won’t be making your dinner forever. Learning the basics of cooking is an invaluable skill.


Cleaning

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You will likely make a massive mistake with bleach one day that will make you wish you learned how to clean your home safely. It’s always important to remember your high school chemistry classes because mixing cleaning products can not only ruin your counters or sink, but can potentially kill you. Always check labels and don’t mix bleach. Don’t forget knowing how to unplug a toilet! For some tips on how to keep your home clean, click here.


Budgeting

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There is a freedom to making your own money and living on your own, but not taking care of your finances can land you in a lifetime of trouble. A good general rule is to put away 10% of your earnings into savings. It can seem impossible to do this, and in a lot of cases for young people it is actually impossible to do this, but it is very important to have a rainy day fund. You never know when your car might break down, you might lose your job or your health could take a decline. Savings funds can be the difference between a bad month and losing your home.


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Basic Vehicle Knowledge

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If you own a car, you should know how to take care of your car. I’m not saying you should be able to fix everything, but knowing how to check your oil, tire pressure and assorted fluids is important. Knowing how to change a tire (and where your spare is) as well as understanding the symbols on your dash can be the difference between a simple drive to the shop or your car completely breaking down. Also, knowing what to keep in your emergency pack in your vehicle and when to change out supplies is essential.


First Aid

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Basic first aid is a must for everyone. Understanding the signs of a stroke, heart attack and other visible ailments is important but knowing how to disinfect small wounds and identify the difference between a child crying from a bumped leg vs a broken leg is invaluable. I do not advocate that anyone preform medical services without a medical licence, nor do I advocate for the “fix it at home method”, but knowing the basics to keep someone stable until medical help arrives and the basic symptoms of common ailments is important.


Sewing

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You don’t have to be able to sew your own suit together, but you should be able to put a new button on your shirt. Hemming, patching and small repairs will save you a lot of money and your clothes will fit better if you can do simple stitches to bring them together better.


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Home Repair

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Once again, I don’t expect you to become a Red Seal Electrician, but knowing where your water line shut off valves are, how your fuse box works and how to re-light the pilot in your furnace is important. If a line bursts, a fuse blows or your furnace goes out, you will be very thankful to know how to react and when it’s time to call a professional. Thankfully most taps are easily replaced by homeowners due to their simple design, same goes for toilets. Youtube is your friend and always chose to replace your wax seal with a goosenecked one (removal down the line will be much easier). Knowing when your fire alarm is compromised and if you have a monoxide monitor in your home will also help keep you safe.


Hygiene and Health

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While it seems pretty simple to take a shower and brush your teeth, your health goes far beyond this. To reduce festering bacteria in your shoes which can lead to infections in your toes and open sores, wear clean socks and wash the inside of your shoes.

Taking a de-wormer will help protect your digestive system (do check with your doctor before doing so). Personal hygiene products for those sensitive areas are often more harmful than helpful.

Practicing safe sex with condoms will protect you from a lot of unwanted diseases. Seeing your doctor and dentist for check ups gets more and more important as you age. Getting your prostate and testicles checked professionally can not only detect cancer but other illnesses. Having Pap smears done is also a must. All of these things are important for your health and hygiene.

Very importantly, wash your hands often and don’t touch your face is you don’t have to. This practice will help protect you from a lot of nasty illnesses and reduce your likelihood of developing or worsening acne. Another good practice is to flush toilets after you have put down the lid to avoid having urine and fecal matter finding it’s way onto your toothbrush.


If you have advice and skills you want to share, please do in the comments. Though it asks for an email address, it is not require to post a comment, so please don’t hesitate to share your stories and advice.

Eva Blakeman – LIFE SKILLS YOU NEED

Products I Wouldn’t Recommend

As you might know, I tend to try out new products and a lot of the time I find great cosmetics and skin care. Unfortunately there has also been a fair amount of products that didn’t turn out so great, so I thought I would save you the trouble (and the money) and list out some products I’ve tried that just didn’t live up to their potential.

For reference, I have combination skin so these comments are based on performance on uneven skin with acne, dry zones and oily areas.

Catrice HD Liquid Coverage Foundation.

This product just did not want to do its job. It was not long wearing though it claimed to be 24HR wear. It flaked off quickly, sunk into my skin (no matter what primer I used) and made my skin itch like you wouldn’t believe.

Rimmel Stay Satin Liquid Lip

This lipstick was streaky, smelled like crayons and smeared like you wouldn’t believe.

Tarte Amazon Clay Blush

If you like a very discrete blush this might work for you, but getting out of the pan is not easy or fun. I needed to push the hairs on my brushes into the pan with my fingers to pick up any pigment. Perhaps I just had an over-pressed pan, but from what I’ve seen when I looked at other shades in Sephora, they all seem to be like this.

NYX Total Control Foundation

This product does have its use as a lightening agent to add to other foundations, but on its own it just doesn’t have any coverage. Now it is supposed to be buildable, but after a couple layers it just looks incredibly cakey and doesn’t sit well on the skin. I’ve used it as a contouring liquid under my eyes with some success but would not recommend it for anyone who wants coverage from their products.

La Senza Metallic Lips

This product comes with a very low price tag which does explain why the formula isn’t on point. It’s incredibly thick, sticky and smears in seconds. Good luck keeping it off your teeth. It does have a nice scent but with its almost slimy texture it just isn’t a good product.

MDM Flow Liquid Lipstick

While the colour, applicator and general formula feel great, the product dries down too much, leading it to flake off within 20-30 minutes. It suffers from the same issue the Colour Pop lipsticks do.


While there is a lot of great out there, some products just don’t make the cut. There are about 20 other products I wanted to add to this list, but in the interest of not being too nit picky I reserved only the worst offenders for todays list.

If you have some products you have had issues with, please share them in the comments to help keep everyone informed!

EVA BLAKEMAN – NO BUY LIST – MAKE UP

Slay The Spire – A Game Review

Slay The Spire is a fairly popular game originally released in its early testing days to the public to better interact with the gaming community on Steam and to get much needed feedback to better the programming and game play. It is one of the few games that really succeeded through this method and has grown considerably since it’s expansion onto consoles.

EVA BLAKEMAN – SLAY THE SPIRE

What is the Game?

It is a dungeon run game based on deck building. Unlike games like YuGiOh or Magic, your deck changes each time you play. With four characters at present, each character has their own play style and accessible cards to build with. When you start each run you have twelve basic cards mostly consisting of strike and defend cards. Within a few floors you will begin gaining new cards, getting rid of the basic cards and creating a theme for your run.

Once you have gotten through all 50 floors of the game, if you have collected the right items, you will be able to “Slay The Spire” as it were. An incredibly difficult fight against the Spire itself that causes immense damage no matter what you do. If you can slay the spire than you have my admiration, as it is a difficult match not often won.

The game randomizes each run through seeds, which can be replayed if you save the codes. Due to this, each time you play the game is different as you will face different bosses, elites and have access to different relics and cards. To make the game more difficult there is ascension. Ascension adds more difficulties, harder bosses, less healing, less access to rare cards and relics as well as increasing the damage every enemy can cause. Each ascension level makes the game more difficult, and there is 20 levels of ascension.

Now Let’s Talk Characters.

EVA BLAKEMAN – IRONCLAD

Ironclad is a “knight” like character who has an innate item that allows 6HP healing after fighting enemies. The build styles with this character are often either strength builds or high defensive turned offensive. The cards availible often play off each other to allow building of specialized decks. The most common not spammed run (there has been an issue with a certain relic and card combination that is essentially a legal cheat) is the Body Slam deck. This deck build turns block into attack which means not only are you not taking damage, you are inflicting high amounts of damage to your enemy. It runs on a low cost margin with most cards needed to be 1 or 0 in cost, allowing momentum to build through both your turn and your combat.

EVA BLAKEMAN – THE SILENT

Silent is our poison character. With two main builds used there is a “shiv deck” which consists of running at nearly 0 cost cards to inflict consistent chip damage. The other popular style is poison. Poison causes damage each turn equal to the amount of poison but will reduce by one at the end of the turn. With the right cards this can be a very effective way to get through the run. This character is the most difficult to work with as the wrong draw can end your run very quickly, which also makes it very rewarding to complete the run with The Silent.

EVA BLAKEMAN – THE DEFECT

Defect is an interesting character that requires using “orbs”. Positions where attack, energy and block orbs can be used and rotated through by playing cards that create new orbs. Through a combination of cards that increase the value of each orb and supplementary cards and relics that play off the orbs provoked during the combat, it can be quite thrilling to watch it all come together to take down an enemy. For example, as common deck build is a Blizzard deck. Similar to the idea of a Body Slam deck, you build up your defence through the orb “frost” and turn all of your summoned frost orbs into fuel for the blizzard ( a card that deals three times the amount of frost orbs summoned through combat as a damage amount).

EVA BLAKEMAN – THE WATCHER

The last present character is the watcher. A similar concept to Defect, but executed in “stances”. As your character is put into different stances you gain energy, worsen or lessen the attack you will receive and with the power of Mantra the character can reach Divinity, a state where you are supplied with more energy and higher attack power.

Are There Issues With The Game?

Through the games beta testing period there were patches that causes so much lag that it was unplayable, but those issues have been fixed. The developers have been doing weekly patches and updates on the game since it was launched and have remained incredibly communicative to the community around the game.

It isn’t the easiest game to start playing as it is likely that the first few runs will be lost quickly. It takes time to learn all the cards and how they interact with each character. With a cost of around $34.00 some people might feel discouraged to continue playing after so many losses and feel that they’ve wasted their money. I would say if you are willing to invest the time into really learning the game and experimenting with different builds and characters this isn’t an issue at all.

After a few weeks of playing some people find the lack of boss variety to be an issue as there is only 9 total bosses in the game. They have added more elites through patches, and we hope to see more bosses and enemies in the future.

My Experience With The Game

Overall the game has been my absolute favourite for the past few years and I would recommend it to anyone. I’ve personally played somewhere in the range of 1800-2100 hours of this game (steam stopped tracking during a portion of testing between patches) and still enjoy it. I originally purchased the game when there was only two characters and no Spire floor to really finish the run. It is such a fun game to play and as it isn’t played in real time, you can get up and do the laundry or grab your coffee without worrying an enemy is going to take you out while you’re away (I’m looking at you Dark Souls). I haven’t unlocked every trophy yet, which when you consider the amount of hours I’ve played is insane. The constant changing of the game keeps it fresh and I hope its creators continue to update it.

If you have played the game, let me know in the comments below! And don’t forget to tell me your favourite character to play as!

How To Host A Great Party On A Budget

Everyone likes getting together, having some drinks and sharing some laughs, but going out to a restaurant or bar is incredibly expensive. Hosting parties at home still presents a cost, but much lower than going out.

Alcoholic Drinks

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If your party includes alcohol, a good way to limit the amount needing to be spent is to make a large pitcher of one drink. Most guests don’t mind contributing one bottle of alcohol when attending, so with a couple bottles, soda pop and some other flavours, an inexpensive but delicious night can be had. I recommend ensuring your alcohol has been in the freezer for a couple hours and that the pop is cold to help keep the pitcher cool longer without as much ice. Also investing in re-usable solid cubes can keep the pitcher cold without watering down the drink.

Food

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If you have a knack for baking, no one will turn down brownies, cookies or cake. Generally the cost of making a couple plates of food is much lower than ordering pizza. I like to do a variety of foods so that everyone can enjoy no matter their diet. We do a veggie plate, a wrap plate (deli meats with cheese and sauce wrapped up in a tortilla and cut into bite sized pieces) and a treat plate. If you are expecting extra guests, a bag of chips is never a bad idea. Depending on your guests, flex your cooking skills and be creative!

Entertainement

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Contrary to what films and TV show us, it is very unlikely that a dance party will break out throughout your home, what is more likely is that people will mill together and have conversations while others will sit quietly alone. To even it out for everyone board games, video games like Super Smash Brothers and trivia can help bring everyone together and make the night more fun. If it is an adult party, drinking games and beer pong can also bring people together. If you don’t own board games, chances are one of your guests will, so ask around and most guests are happy to lend.

Decorations

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Across the year we host for many events and holidays, each of which I try to build a theme for. New Years is always a fun one to decorate for with white and gold balloons from the dollar store and hanging golden stars. We get paper plates for each holiday which sit under $5.00 a pack and a table cloth which is usually $3.00. All together we decorate our home for under $20.00 and it is great fun. For more complete holidays like Halloween, the basic table cloth and paper plates are also included, and for around $10.00 I can cover the entire house with spiderwebs. Add a couple balloons and some theme matching desserts to complete the look.

Have A Plan

Having a rough idea of where the night is going to go and have a back up plan. If you are planning a board game night and not enough people show up, make sure you have back up entertainment available. Should more people show up than expected you should have a bag of chips or extra food available to be able to feed everyone. Think ahead and try to expect the needs of your guests.


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Prepare Your Home

The basic cleaning before guests come over applies, but beyond that, have an extra roll of toilet paper easily reachable so that a guest isn’t in the uncomfortable situation of calling out for assistance. Remove sensitive information from common areas and ensure your from closet has room to accommodate the outerwear of your guests. Set out extra seating before guests arrive and have food items ready before the start time of the party. Have clear marked out of bound areas or make sure to inform guests rooms or areas of the home that should not be entered during the festivities.

Have Fun

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Your guests can tell when you aren’t happy or comfortable during the party. Planning ahead of time and having food and drink easily available to your guests will reduce the stress of trying to get drinks and get items for your guests. The more “self serve” you set things up, the easier your party will be and you will have more time to have fun with your guests, rather than constantly trying to be the prefect host. Don’t forget to enjoy this time.

Eva Blakeman – HOSTING ON A BUDGET

LGBTQ+ Groups And Resources In Edmonton

Pride Center Of Edmonton

If you want to get involved with volunteering, need resources or are looking for a safe place, the Pride Centre of Edmonton is a great place to be. With varied events and programs that include counselling, roundtables, book clubs and welcoming newcomers events this centre is dedicated to being a safe and open space.

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The Rainbow Pages

This LGBTQ+ website acts as a direct resource for youth. With information regarding transgender support, upcoming events, non-discriminatory churches and more. It is an excellent source to find LGBTQ+ information.

Edmonton Gaycities

This website is designed to guide adults to LGBTQ+ safe bars, restaurants, shops and more. A great resource for visitors and locals alike.

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Team Edmonton

Team Edmonton is a great resource for activities throughout the year. With a strong belief that every one should be able to take part in sports, games and artistic pursuits it strives to maintain a safe environment where everyone can have fun.

YESS

YESS is the Youth Empowerment and Support Services in Edmonton. They provide short term emergency shelter and security for youth as well as daytime programs that include medical care, counselling and organizing for long term care. They also help with legal advocacy and human services. They are always in need of adult volunteers who are non-discriminatory.

Youth Line

This website allows content via calls, text and online chat with peer support for LGBTQ+ youth. Though this resource is based out of Toronto, it is available to all. They are not counsellors, but they are trained to help with questioning gender identity and/or sexual orientation, coming out, mental health, relationships, social isolation and more.

Edmonton is not yet an entirely accepting or tolerant city, but more safe spaces exist each year. If you are looking for more groups or social activities that are inclusive, check the Facebook groups for the region and you will find a lot of people who want the same. No one wants to feel left out or be marginalized, which is why more and more resources and locations are loudly promoting themselves as safe spaces. I hope this list was helpful and if I can find more resources I will update this post.

Great Skin Care Under $25

In a world where everything can show up at your door in two days, why bother leave your home to have great skin? So here is a list of great skin care products under twenty five dollars you can get on Amazon. (All prices shown are CAD).

All products are linked to the Amazon page in case you are interested in them. I am not presently affiliated with any of these companies or products and am not making any money by linking to them. This list is based on my opinion of great products.

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

AMAZON – AZTEC HEALING CLAY

$11.69 – This clay claims to be the worlds most powerful facial. Reviews state that it reduced acne, oily skin and flaking. Seemingly it helps with all skin condition. Bentonite Clay is very commonly used in skin care as it does absorb oils and toxins.


Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

AMAZON – CETAPHIL

$12.00 – This gentle cleanser is great for sensitive skin as it is oil, fragrance and soap free. It is also non-comedogenic, so it won’t build up in your pores. I have used this personally and I really enjoyed it with its simple scent and almost lubricating qualities, my skin felt refreshed after using.


Thayer’s Alcohol-free Rose Petal Witch Hazel

AMAZON – THAYERS FACIAL TONER

$14.39 – This product hosts a plethora of effective ingredients for healthy skin and acne treatment. With citric acid and grapefruit extract acne will be treated. With aloe vera and glycerine skin will feel hydrated and cleansed. Not to mention the rose scent is quite nice. There is an unscented version of this product as well.


The Body Shop Vitamin E Intense Moisture Cream

AMAZON – VITAMIN E MOISTURE CREAM

$24.00 – This vegan product has a light texture that claims to restore the moisture barrier of the skin. Designed for dry skin it packs a hydration punch, but is likely not great for oily skin types.


Sun Bum Clear Zinc Oxide Face Cream

AMAZON – SUN BUM FACE CREAM

$12.99 – This hypoallergenic product is non-comedogenic and water resistant while having a rating of 50 SPF. It is cruelty free, oil free and PABA free. With aloe vera and vitamin E it is a great way to moisturize while protecting your skin from harmful rays.


Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water

AMAZON – GARNIER MICELLAR WATER

$7.59 – This product is alcohol, oil and fragrance free, lending itself to all skin types. Excellent for removing cosmetics, dirt and oils from the face. Gentle enough to remove eye makeup without causing discomfort.


Clean & Clear Cleaning Astringent

AMAZON – CLEAN & CLEAR DEEP CLEANING ASTRINGENT

$6.97 – This deep cleaning astringent is designed for sensitive skin. With salicylic acid, glycerin and aloe vera, this cleansing product will remove oil, dirt and anything else that’s weighing down on your skin. This product will dry your skin a little, so don’t forget to moisturize after use.


Mario Badescu Facial Spray

AMAZON – MARIO BADESCU FACIAL SPRAY

$10.00 – This facial spray has chamomile and lavender to destress. With vitamin C it is meant to help hydrate your skin. It also comes in a variety of other formulas intended for different purposes.


Let me know your favourite skin care products or your experiences with these products in the comments.

Eva Blakeman – Skin Care Under $25

Star Trek Doesn’t Always Make Sense

This post is based on pure opinion, if you wish to share your ideas in the comments I would be happy to read them.

While I’ve been watching Voyager some things have been bothering me, and upon talking with Ryan about the issues we started to think about all the issues in Next Gen and DS9. I haven’t watched Enterprise yet and I’m leaving the Original Series out of this, mostly because it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the shows when it comes to in universe explanations.

Dead Bodies

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In Voyager we see them discard dead bodies without removing primary organs or blood, this confuses me deeply. We know that they can remove organs and blood and then alter it to suit other races in medical procedures, but only seem to remove them from live beings. This means each time they need something they require someone to volunteer a portion of their own body. Why not remove all major organs and blood from the bodies of the dead and keep them in a medical stasis to have them readily available without needed to wait for a volunteer. If you recall the episode when Worf had the only viable blood, he refused to donate it, causing an issue. If there had been blood on hand that could be re-engineered to suit the patient, this wouldn’t have been an issue.

Sevens Nano Blood

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In many cases Seven has to remove portions of her blood to modify the tiny robots for a multitude of purposes. Once again it would seem to be much faster to simply have a supply on hand. Since she has already shown that she is a voluntary donor, why not take a small amount on a scheduled basis to have them on hand when needed. In the case of her being on an away mission there wouldn’t be access to the nano probes and a patient or warhead could die. (Earlier seasons.)

The Universal Translator

When the universal translator is translating various languages, why are the mouths of said beings moving in the shape of the English translation? Shouldn’t their speech look out of sync? Along with this, why are there words that we hear spoken in the native tongue of individuals? Shouldn’t the translator adjust all words of the language? We see this all the time when it comes to the Klingons. Every time someone is called a P’tahk you would think the translator would translate it to its closest English insult?

Shuttles Are Insanely Dangerous

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We hear from Geordi that transporter accidents just don’t happen anymore, and that there are no health risks affiliated to it. Though we know the Trill can’t use them (though Jadzia has been seen using them) so there are presumably a few races who simply can’t use them, but in general they are much safer than shuttles. Shuttle craft is constantly seen breaking down, crashing and having failures. So why in the world do they keep using this very dangerous mode of transportation? We know the Delta Flyer was a better shuttle, but it still had it’s fair share of problems. It would seem that Star Fleet should have put more resources into augmenting transporter technology to ensure that it is always viable rather than putting their crews at risk with shuttles. Now I would not completely get rid of shuttles, as we have seen they can be used to find safe paths through unstable space, but in that situation the pilot is still in danger.


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Where Are The Other Founders of The Federation?

Telerites and Andorians were also founders in the Federation, so why do we so very rarely see members of their race in the shows? Expanding on that, the variety of alien species is always low in the shows when it comes to crew members, even though hundreds of planets are part of the Federation and have access to enrolment in Star Fleet. I have to wonder what the in universe explanation would be for this? We know why most races are humanoid due to the connection of race DNA we learn about in TNG, but we know there are races that are not humanoid, like the Founders, so there were obviously races that evolved without humid DNA. Why do we not see anymore races that aren’t bipedal races?

Combadges

How in the world does the combadge system know where to send the message before they state where the message is going? Seemingly in the show there is no lag, but that it is an open line direct to the directed intendant yet they start receiving the message before the individual sending out the message has told the com system where to send it. For example; “Riker to the Bridge”, in this case the bridge immediately has access to his com before he even says his own name. I think it is feasible that there is a delay in the directed statement of who is speaking to whom which then opens an active com line, but as I have yet to find an in universe acknowledgment t of this, I have to assume the system is just poorly designed by the show writers.

These are the things that bother me in Star Trek. Let me know if I missed anything in the comment!

Habits To Keep A Clean Home

Maintaining a clean home can be a struggle with work, kids, guests and seemingly endless amounts of dust, but it isn’t impossible. In order to keep a clean home it’s easier to do a little at a time rather than block out half a day to get things done. It also takes some self discipline to do what needs to be done instead of leaving it for later. As we live in an apartment, there isn’t a lot of room or storage areas, so keeping things clean and organized is very important to us.

A Clean Kitchen

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Cleaning as you cook is a skill to master in its own, but cleaning dishes, wiping down counters and spot cleaning intermittently while cooking is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. By the time you’re done cooking all but the pans would be clean and drying so after your meal there isn’t too much more to do.

As a general rule, take the two minutes to put away all clean dishes before you go to bed, make sure the counters are clean and set out any items you might need early in the morning (coffee maker, mug, etc). You’ll thank yourself in the morning.

Using containers to store messy ingredients like flour and sugar will make sure you don’t have that annoying layer of flour around the bag every time you grab it. Also reducing the amount of items on your counters also helps keep your cleaning time down, as you have less things you have to move around each time you need to wash down the counters.

A Clean Bathroom

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I believe cleaning the bathroom once a week is sufficient, but to keep it looking nice I have the “rinse rule”. After brushing teeth and using face products, they often dry down into the sink leaving nasty residue and caking appearance. Hence the rinse rule. Always rinse the sink after using a product in it (excluding hand soap as it doesn’t seem to leave anything).

The rinse rule also applies to the shower, ensuring there is no hair, shampoo or other products on the walls or tub before getting out, this also includes emptying the hair trap before you leave the bathroom.

Another big thing is not keeping your shower curtain scrunched to the side after a shower as it makes it much easier for moisture to stick around and for mildew to grow. Let your shower curtains dry by leaving the curtain as wide spread as you can.

A Clean Bedroom

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It can be irritating to fold laundry, but putting it away directly after getting it out of the dryer is the best way to ensure it won’t become a pile on the floor that gets re-washed without even being worn.

Taking a few minutes to dusting a couple days a week can also keep your bedroom cleaner, and reduce allergy reactions during the night. Changing the sheets often will also help with this.

Minimizing the amount of items in your bedroom will also help with your cleaning. Like with your kitchen, the less you have to move around to clean, the faster it will be. a few candles are nice, but having piles of items stacked on your dresser and side tables just makes it harder to clean.

The Living Room

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Dust is often the enemy here, with bookcases, gaming systems and decor, there is ample room for dust to settle. Keeping a duster in the living room makes it quick and easy to remove dust, and seeing it will help spur you to do it. Every once and a while a good scrubbing is required, but generally a quick run with a duster will keep everything looking good.

Couches often get abused, stained and ripped, so investing in couch covers will lengthen the life span of your furniture.

Using coasters on wooden tables is also a must to ensure longevity of your furniture, as will using rugs under couches and tables to avoid damage to your floor. Keeping your house looking nice isn’t just about keeping it clean, but keeping it in good repair.

The Paper Basket

Often bills and odd ball paperwork winds up pilling up, I recommend having a paper basket, a place for them to sit until they are sorted that isn’t a step or kitchen counter. Not everyone has a filing cabinet, but you can get portable file organizers from Staples for a couple of dollars to organize your paperwork and keep it safe and well organized. It’s never good to lose your paperwork, especially around tax time.

The Front Door

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This one can be difficult, as guests are not always respectful of your home, so I came up with a solution. As I live in Canada, where we often have mud and snow on our boots, I got a massive matt for my front door, allowing ample space to come in, take off shoes and place them on racks with matts underneath without getting my floor wet and muddy, which can cause damage to the wood. Essentially, the front entrance has three matts which can be easily vacuumed and ample shoe storage to avoid anyone needing to place their footwear on my floor. To ensure your guests don’t make a mess, you can also recommend they place their shoes on the rack the first time they visit, to ensure they know they are allowed to use them.

Seasonal Storage

Clutter makes it very difficult to keep an orderly home. I recommend removing seasonal items and storing them in Rubbermaid containers. Winter clothing, boots, scarves and mittens can be removed from the front entrance during the warm months. During the winter, summer jackets, sandals and summer dresses can be switched out. This allows more space for visitors jackets, less clutter in the front entrance and in your bedroom closet.

Essentially, keeping cleaning supplies in an easily accessible area makes it easier to clean. Using those couple of minutes between other things can be used to keep things in good condition. I recommend having a lot of microfibre cloths around to avoid wasting paper towels that leave little bits behind. Most things can be cleaned with vinegar or baking soda if they are caked on. Being able to convince yourself to do it now rather than later will make cleaning easier. Not to mention I can almost guarantee you will never look at a clean counter first thing in the morning and be irritated about how clean it is.

Timeless Gifts

There are two tiers of gifts in my eyes, the first tier being gifts that will serve a purpose aside from decoration that are long lasting. The second tier are trinkets or short term gifts. Flowers, wine, food, cards and things of that nature just aren’t lasting gifts. The value of lasting gifts is more than just a good gift, but something that can be used often and enjoyed is a wonderful thing to both give and receive.

Blankets

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Homemade or purchased, a blanket is a long term hug. People grab blankets when they are cold, sad or need comfort. A blanket never loses its usefulness, as it can be used every day for many years. The receiver of a good blanket will think of you often, and be grateful to have such a wonderful thing. Making blankets can be quite time consuming and expensive, but if you have the skills and motivation, it will mean a lot to someone.

Tools

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A good knife, multitool or even a set of tow straps can not only be a great gift, but can get someone out of a bad situation. A good knife will open gifts, cut ropes, pick out splinters and so much more. A multitool can do most of the necessary maintenance inside your home. Tow straps and cables can get someone out of the ditch or get their car started.

Mittens / Scarves

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Very much like blankets, these are great useful gifts that help keep you warm and safe! No one will say no to a good pair of gloves or mittens as they are supremely useful and do need to be replaced every couple seasons.

French Press / Teapot

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Not everyone has these items, but make sure to check if they do before getting them one. French press coffee is simply divine and a good teapot will last a lifetime, not to mention it allows them to make delightful hot beverages!

Paintings / Photography

Painting – Eva Blakeman

A good piece of artwork can change a whole room! You can often find great, unique art pieces from local artists at reasonable prices, or paint something yourself! Blow up a good shot or get a framed landscape piece!

Books

It’s important to know what kind of books your gift receiver enjoys before picking one out, but a good story can be re-read until the binding gives out. There are some great books I would recommend for creatives here.

Camera

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This is a costly gift, but one that can bring a lot fo joy to the receiver. With the popularity of modern polaroid cameras (which cost much less than a DSLR) they make a great gift for those who like to keep visual reminders of happy time, scrapbookers, and the people who still keep photo albums.

Re-usable Coffee Mug / Water Bottle

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This gift is great for two reasons. The first being that they are environmentally friendly gifts, the second is that it can help reduce costs to your friend down the line. Not to mention how much it hurts to burn your hands on thin coffee cups!

Cute USB Stick

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I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t need portable storage these days, and with the variety of interesting designs for USB sticks these days you can match their interests, TV shows or hobbies when picking out USBs!

Framed Photograph

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For a more personal gift, framing a photo of the two of you together or in the case they are married, a photo you have taken of the couple, is a very sweet gift. Facebook photos just aren’t the same as one on your desk, so I would strongly recommend this one.

I won’t say not to buy your lady flowers or bring a bottle of wine to a party, but for birthdays and holidays, these make great gifts! If you have more suggestions for great gifts, leave them in the comments!

Pokemon : Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution- A Rant

This is purely based on my opinion and I understand not everyone will agree with me.That is perfectly okay, everyones opinion is valid.

This is essentially a remake of the greatest pokemon movie made, but without the heart and likeability of the original. The change in animation style doesn’t make it lose it’s heart, but it seems like they chose a new style over substance.

They also decided to make Mewtwo a much more black and white character than he was before. Instead of him being confused, hurt and angry from the way he was treated leading him to escape and try to exact revenge, they simply threw him into his mech suit and had Giovanni belittle him. Not at all the same effect. They leave no room for doubt about him being inherently evil and then with one line we are to believe everything has changed.

They also seemed to rely strongly on the original scripted lines that made the original so good, especially the word for word monologue about life and it’s purpose. (Seen below). As well as the original imagery of the movie to try to enact the same response. I won’t lie to you and say I didn’t cry, but it certainly didn’t have the same effect on me as the original does.

I understand wanting to expand a franchise to a new audience, and in doing so you have to adapt to said audiences expectations. 2D animation is no longer the standard for TV and young children are used to seeing 3D shows. So I won’t fight that Pokemon will likely move towards 3D in its new seasons.

What is unforgivable is Pokemon re-doing another story! We had the movie where Ash meets Pikachu, which just copied the first couple of episodes from Indigo and added legendaries. That story at least made the video game legendaries come to screen. But in this case, they simply flattened out characters to make a copy of my generations introduction to Mewtwo.

Brock was admittedly always chasing after ladies, but in this rendition he is incapable of doing anything but standing in the background, cooking and talking about how pretty ladies are. Did they forget that he was witty, intelligent and incredibly knowledgable about all kinds of Pokemon?

Misty was always a little short tempered but ultimately a good trainer. In this movie she was simply a character to stand in the background with no ability to do anything but have a poorly written dialogue about living creatures. What happened to her spunk?

Ash has always been stubborn and stupid, but his actions were driven by the goal of being the best trainer and to help those in need. In this film they forced the relationship between him and Pikachu to the point where he didn’t care at all about anyone or anything but Pikachu. His only goals seemed to be with Pikachu while disregarding the rest of his Pokemon.

Team Rocket, while playing the bad guys, have never been great at succeeding, but when they were needed they would lend a helping hand. In this film, it would seem the only reason to include them was to have Meowth translate a few lines and to stumble upon the lab…. where they just stand for a long while doing nothing but staring at the clones?

I know this isn’t going to bother everyone, but it really bothers me to see something great be remade into something really lacklustre.

Why not make a new story to entice young viewers to get into your franchise? Sun and Moon was a great run in Pokemon that tried something new with the story. Instead of traveling to each gym, this time he was in school and training for the Island Kahuna Challenges. The whole show was about the relationships between people and Pokemon and it worked great ( though some would say the Ultrabeast story line got a little strange in the second season.)

We usually get a new series with a new game, but the last couple of games released really haven’t added much to the lore or to the Pokédex. I played Sword and Shield and while I don’t think there wasn’t enough pokemon available, I don’t think they introduced enough new Pokemon. We usually get a whole new regional pokedex, but this time we barely got any new additions. Perhaps this movie was supposed to be an introduction to first gen Pokemon for a new, young audience, which would then get them to watch Indigo as it too is available on Netflix. Which brings up, why did they partner with Netflix to put out a movie anyways?

As you can tell I am overall just frustrated by this new rendition. I don’t feel they added anything to the original story and they lost a lot of the heart along the way. I would have been happy to see a new series come out, but this, this is not what fans like myself want from Pokemon.

Alright, my rant is over. Let me know what you think of all this in the comments, because I am pretty sure I’m not the only one who is disappointed about this.