Learning How to Use Sketch Up 8

Had some extra time at the end of the day, so I decided to knock off a task that I’d been putting off a while: learn how to use Sketch Up.

Sketch Up is 3D modeling software that I first came across a few years ago. It was originally developed as an add-on for Google Earth, but eventually developed into a stand-alone product. I have no time for it in the general classroom, as I already struggle to cram the whole curriculum into the year, but as I have one student who is ahead on the course, I thought that 3D modeling would be a great extension for the Area and Volume unit.

I found a great 15-minute YouTube tutorial on Sketch Up 8, which is the paid version that is installed on all the computers at school. I followed it and tried to replicate all the functions shown in the video:

This was the end product. Not much to look at but I admit that it was fun. I’m not much of a designer, but I can see great potential for students to get creative. I’ll still need to come up with a written assignment, but my student will have great fun with it.



Canadian Investors Conference

Back in February, I wasn’t able to participate in the Canadian Investors Conference, but I ended up buying a Premium Pass ($99) while it was still discounted, so I could watch the videos on my own time. Really impressed with the line-up as well, so many familiar names like Rob Carrick and John Robertson.

Just blown away at how a single person – Helena Liu – put together this entire show for free the first year; happy to support her as she’s helping Canadians be more financially responsible. While it’s been an online conference and that the presentations are done mainly through Skype, it’s still impressive that all the live sessions were completely free.

For starters, I listened to one with James Gauthier, who runs JustWealth. This is  a robo-advisor that currently have 63 different types of portfolios and also can give investment advice (not all robos can). I learned the difference between fiduciary standard and suitability standard. Robo-advisors are held to a fiduciary standard (they put their client’s interest above their own), while a salesperson at the bank pushing you mutual funds would only be held to a suitability standard.


I also listened to the interview with Robert R. Brown, who write the book, Wealthing Like RabbitsI really enjoyed the book when I read it over Christmas break, especially the introduction to mortgages. But having gotten lots of great notes from the book, I didn’t find the interview that much more insightful. Still glad I listened to it though!

Looking forward to going through the rest of the interviews!

2016 In a Glance

Normally, I post my “year in a glance” in December, but I realized I had forgotten, since I was so busy traveling. Here it is, finally!


  • Participated in the #Commit2Fit challenge and got my first crossfit Cody plan
  • Marked provincial Grade 11 exams and got paid for it
  • Went on the picket line at work, for the first time


  • Participated in my first “stitch and bitch”
  • Learned to crochet


  • Attended a teaching workshop on Geogebra


  • Submitted my taxes myself … for the first time
  • Estimated a retirement next egg
  • Visited DisneyWorld for the 4th time


  • Tried a crossfit gym and dry-heaved for 5 minutes … never again
  • Attended OAME conference for the 4th time


  • Completed my 3rd year of teaching full-time


  • Played real golf for the first time
  • Marched in the Toronto Pride Parade
  • Visited my cousins in New York City


  • Learned to double-crochet
  • Participated in my first escape room with my cousin


  • Learned to circle crochet
  • Attended a workshop by Solution Tree
  • Participated in the Smokey Hill Festival


  • Hosted my first webinar through OAME (NOMA chapter)
  • Ran a teaching workshop on Quizlet for elementary teachers
  • Attended an OAME AGM digitally


  • Applied to speak at annual OAME conference in May 2017
  • Started Pilates for the first time
  • Worked as a chaperone on the Grade 11 orientation trip


  • Traveled to Jordan, Palestinian Territories and Israel

Lotion Before Bed

I don’t have many regular rituals before bed, but on occasion, I put lotion on my legs after my shower. My favourite brand for the past couple of years has been Parkdale Butter, which is based out of Toronto. Frankly, I don’t care that their ingredients are mainly organic, but I like that there are really only 3-4 ingredients and the product is quite pure.

My cousin, A., first bought it for me a few years ago as a thank you gift when I showed her around Toronto. She picked it up at Evergreen Brick Works, which, as we all know, sells incredibly expensive artsy-fartsy hipster stuff.

But dammit, I really like this cocoa shea butter lotion! When I finished using the first jar, I waited until there was a sale on Well.ca and then picked up a new jar for $20. Sighhhh. I wish I didn’t like things that were pricey.


Snacks Before the Gym

There have been a lot of interruptions after work, but more or less, I’ve been going to the gym about 2-3 times a week. Usually I’m there around 5 pm, so I might feel a bit hungry.

Even though you’re suppose to have a little snack before a workout, I often don’t. I’m not the type of person to pack or eat a lot of snacks. I rarely snack. Having said that, I know having something healthy on hand means that I’m more likely to eat it, then walk across the street to the grocery store and give in to hot onion rings or a bag of chips.

Lately, I’ve been having nuts. I stash a handful of mixed nuts in this cute yellow snack pack (yes, I like buying children’s stuff) and just stash it in the Under Amour gym bag.

They last a while, don’t go stale easily and also don’t get squished (like bananas). It’s been working well as I do find myself grabbing a handful before rolling out the gym bag, even though it’s not my favourite snack. I don’t even eat them very fast, so I haven’t even had to replenish them until two weeks after I started using it. I know that making a healthy habit a convenient one is the best way to stick to it.

ToodleDo: Customizable Alarms

I’ve been using ToodleDo for several years, and started paying for a subscription as a silver member just over a year ago ($15 USD / year). Since September, I’ve been using my bullet journal as a daily planner instead. While I have not neglected my ToodleDo account, it acts more as a back-up system and also another place I can quickly jot down tasks – mainly through my cellphone – when the journal is not in hand.

ToodleDo has a wealth of functions. Every once in a while, I take time to learn another one, but I have to say, I still don’t know how to use most of them! Some of the features that I was personally interested, through the silver membership, were:

  • Writing subtasks
  • Using Habits
  • Having notes under each tasks (i.e. I often write instructions or post a URL)

So earlier this week, when I knew I had a few deadlines coming up, I decided to figure out to set up a customizable alarm – not available under the free subscription – so that I got a reminder at an appropriate time of day to tackle each one. Here’s a quick tutorial:

For tasks with due dates, I could set specific times; if there was no time set, the default reminder would be at noon. In order to get text reminders, I first had to set up up an email to an SMS gateway address and voila! It worked fairly well and I was able to see the texts as I was at work, telling me to complete X, Y and Z.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the email option to work, but it wasn’t necessary anyway because email isn’t usually where I go to for time-sensitive reminders. I should continue to explore more of the functions since I’m paying for this stuff!!

Saving Money on Books

One of my most favourite things to purchase is books.

Given the fact that I have lived in the north for the past 5 years and experienced some lifestyle inflation – having a stable job helps – I have made many excuses as to why I need to buy hard copies and audiobooks whenever my heart pleases.

As I prepare for my transition back south, I need to change some of my financial habits.

First, I ended up discontinuing my Audible membership in February. I’d been planning to do this for a while, since I had untouched books slowly piling up. Secondly, I considered getting an eReader. My friend B. offered me her old Kobo that she wasn’t using. She ended up mailing it north to me, but I can’t seem to get it to sync with our wireless internet (sigh). I even brought it back to Toronto but it didn’t take to my mom’s internet either. The alternative, for now, is just to use my iPad for reading eboks.

Thirdly, I started using my Toronto Public Library account more actively. In the past two weeks ago, I read two Raina Telgemeier graphic novels and Fifteen Dogs, which I enjoyed immensely and zipped through in 6 days!*

Photo 2017-03-07, 8 30 45 PM

I don’t like having to wait for books but it is an exercise in patience. I did it when I used to live in Toronto and I will have to suck it up and start doing it again. For now, I am patiently hoping that everyone else reading these books will return their copies soon:

Photo 2017-03-11, 9 56 25 PM

Fourth, and most obviously, I have to start reading some of the books that are collecting dust on the shelf. I’ve got no more than 10, so I’m not hoarding a lot, but sometimes I just get obsessed with something that feels novel.

While I won’t stop purchasing books, at least I am more intent on going through various methods of getting books for free first before I resort to buying paper copies!

I am also still sticking to watching and tracking how much I’m spending. I had made a media budget back in January, but realize that $750 might be a bit generous. I decided to challenge myself and cut back to $500 instead. At this point, I’m already one-fifth of the way through my budget, but if I have access to libraries starting from July, it will be much easier to get through the rest of the year!

*Recommended on Canada Reads this year, even though it was published back in 2015. I had never heard of it until they were discussing it on CBC Radio recently. 

Linking Yarn Together

I had started an infinity scarf with a double-crochet back in December, but had only purchased one ball of yarn. When I went for my interview last week, I made it a point to pick up a second ball at Walmart* last Saturday. Too bad each ball is $8! That means one scarf alone costs me $16 + tax, not even calculating the time to do it**.

Since I am fairly new to crocheting, I had no idea how to connect that new ball of yarn to my old one! Thank goodness it’s 2017; just go onto YouTube and you can find any information without awkwardly phoning a friend*** at odd hours of the day.

Eventually, I found a copy of tutorials that were consistently using this technique:


Friday after work, I gave it a go. It didn’t take the first time but it worked the second time! Woohoo! More crocheting this weekend.

*A place I have vowed not to shop at for many years, but having limited options when I drive up north, occasionally make purchases there.

**Ahhh, but it still gives me satisfaction and of course, the additional bonus of warding off mental decay …

***Old-school Google

Stashing Money for the Future

Since I’ll be flying to my interview next week, I put the Air Canada flight on my American Express card. I was able to get more than 2000 points with it!

When I checked my American Express account this afternoon, I found that I had at least 6500 points, which was good for another $50 gas card.* I’ve redeemed the points and am waiting for it in the mail. However, I won’t use it until the summer time, when I won’t have any income.


*The points exchange has remained the same since 2013, when I got $25 credit for gas with 3500 points.