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  • I found that being a bigger man in Winnipeg left me with only a few options when looking for a suit off-the-rack.  I really didn't like their tendency to arrange two piece suits with the jacket 2 sizes larger then the pants, and buying one piece at a time really made the price jump.

    Ultimately, I started researching local tailors in Winnipeg last December, and had shortlisted down to Giovanni Custom Tailor Shop within a couple weeks.  Some of the tailors I had called were quite expensive, and I found Giovanni to be quite reasonable; barely 1/3 more than the limited off-the-rack choices.  I also found the interview in his Winnipeg Free Press Article to be very good.

    Today, I visited Giovanni's shop, and really had a great vibe from him as a person and really valued his opinions as a tailor; quite professional and personable.  The hard part was picking out the material to use; simply too many awesome choices.  Below I have the initial two I was contemplating on the left, then the ultimate pick on the right; which my eye caught while the love of my life continued flipping through the samples as I was deciding.

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    Once Giovanni knows the fabric is in stock and has it ordered, we'll be able to start the process with taking my measurements.  Exciting!

  • While we were wrestling with different music ideas for our wedding, we had quickly settled on playing light jazz throughout the reception/evening.  We had thought of harpists and other live musicians for our ceremony early on, but had dismissed the idea assuming it to be too expensive for our humble wedding.  Now five weeks before the wedding, we have returned to the harpist idea, and found that (for those we checked out) their prices are actually quite reasonable; circling both sides of $300 for playing a ceremony set.

    Here is the list of the Winnipeg harpists that we considered for our wedding ceremony (prelude through to signing and postlude):

    • Leslie McInnis
      Leslie was the first harpist we found online, and the first to call us back. We really enjoyed the layout of her web-site, listening to her many music samples, and pictures of her beautifully carved harp. However, contacting our harpists with only one month before the ceremony revealed its first feared (yet expected) scheduling conflict, so we had to cross Leslie off our "selection list" as quickly as we had started creating it.
    • Anita Durksen
      Anita contacted us next.  The layout of her website was also very well done, but the samples were a bit more limited compared to the other sites.  What Anita's samples taught us though is that the Paraguayan harp has a distinct sound when compared to "traditional" Concert harps.  This difference didn't sound right for us, but I have no doubt others would select it for their various events.  While Anita has a page devoted to her Repertoire, I would have appreciated an additional category devoted to grouping together wedding song choices.
    • Erica Schultz (who we booked)
      Like many of the good things in life, saving the best for last lead to Erica's introduction.  She also has an easy to navigate web-site, with the only constructive criticisms I have being that her vast Repertoire page would be much easier to read as a bulleted-list then as a paragraph, and I would have loved to see more pictures of her with her harp.  One read through her About page though was all one needed to know that they were dealing with a professional of exceptional experience playing the harp; reinforced by listening to her many samples.  You just knew that her fingers were gliding confidently and effortlessly across her harp strings.  The hardest part now will be picking what songs are played when.

    Hopefully these links and information are helpful to you if you're seeking a harpist in Winnipeg.

    I'll make sure I post updates after we have the opportunity to meet Erica in person, and after the wedding ceremony of course.

  • I went to get my suit measurements taken on January 30th after Giovanni confirmed that the fabric we ordered was delivered from Montreal. Two weeks later I receive a voice message that enough of the suit was assembled for the first (rough) fitting; wow, awesome progress!

    I should have moved quicker when Betty Anne suggested that the glare was pretty bad, but I didn't want to interrupt the master at work as he chalked out the few spots that he wanted to adjust before completing the suits assembly.  These aren't the best quality photo's I've posted, but still wanted to share the incredible progress being made.

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  • We had decided before Christmas that we wanted to install a water filter that would help reduce/eliminate the heavy chlorine that would often be in our water.  The thought process started with a simple shower-head chlorine filter; but it wasn't too hard to think of other water to filter... so the whole-house filter was the cheaper and biggest bang option.

    The entire project cost was under $215 (not counting my dads consumables like flux, solder, etc...):

    • Princess Auto - Filter housing, chlorine/sediment filter, mounting bracket, pipe cleaner, and shut-off valves ~$172
    • Canadian Tire - copper pipe, caps, elbows, and Tee ~$23
    • Home Depot - 1" to 1/2" reducers (between filter and pipe) and wood to mount the filter on ~$18
    The Before:
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    The After (1 of 2):
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    The After (2 of 2):
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    I certainly won't miss the chlorine smell, and I'm really looking forward too chemical free water for showers/baths, cooking, boiling water for tea, etc...

    Special thanks to my dad for supplying the majority of the know-how, tools, training, and labour!

  • We have been buying gluten free desserts from Goodies for a few years, but had tended to avoid them lately with the switch to Paleo; to keep the sugars and grain flours away.  Our thought was to make a Paleo exception for our wedding reception meal and dessert, and our original idea was to order the individual sized desserts from Goodies for each guest and forgo the traditional wedding cake. So we went to Goodies today to order our desserts, and ended up walking out having ordered wedding cakes! What we were surprised about was that the price difference between the individual desserts and wedding cake was really negligible (less than $50). We liked the new trend of not layering the tiers to make one big cake, but rather staging them individually on the cake table. The image on the left represents the basic style that the cake will be decorated with; except that all of the chocolate shavings/logs will be purple.  The image on the right is shown just to illustrate what I meant by making tiers on the cake table.

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  • My Maxx Collectibles order arrived today, and I figure that means I've recommitted to an old hobby (on hold of course until after the wedding and honeymoon).

    I used to really enjoy assembling, painting, and playing with my Warhammer Fantasy Undead army; but it took the nudging of an old friend and work colleague to re-kindle and solidify these memories, which lead to picking up the Warhammer 40K Necron army shown below.

    I also added some Dollarama shopping for paints and glue, hit Canadian Tire for the primer and putty (green stuff), Walmart for a cheap plastic table I can mess up all I want during painting and assembly, and Fabricland for a self-healing cutting mat.

    What a great way to spend some birthday money!

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  • Knowing that we were going to receive our wedding pictures from the photographer (Anders with Valhalla Studio) on Sunday (yesterday), we had popped into Michaels the day before to look at some frame options to bring together the matte we had our guests sign as our "registry" with our favorite wedding photo.

    As luck would  have it, Michaels has a sale going on until this Thur on their custom framing.  Because of the "collection" we picked from, the sale kicked in at 70% off!  The advice given to us from Johanna (wonderful Michaels' employee) was to bring in the photo and matte together before deciding on a frame and completing the transaction.

    Anders took almost 900 digital pictures (3.9 GB) of our wedding which he supplied burned onto DVD media.  We had a tonne of fun working through them on Sunday, picking our favorites to print for ourselves, our wedding party, parents, and as an insert to our thank you's.

    Today, we took a USB with our digitals to the Costco Photo Centre for printing.  Sizes we printed ranged from 4x6 to 12x18, and the pricing was incredible!  The only lesson learned here was that the ordering kiosk slurps in all the photos (from all subfolders), so don't use folders/directories as your sorting mechanism for what sizes you need to print; as the folder names will not be displayed.  I had to run back home to write out a paper list of the image names, sizes and counts; which also made a great checklist as we printed over 80 photos.

    We returned to Michaels with our 12x18 print and matte, lined it up with our 5 previous frame selections, and the obvious choice simply jumped up above the rest.  Johanna's advice was bang on! We picked the top frame from the picture below.

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    Now that all the initial printing is done we can complete our Thank You's as our next task.

  • Inspired by Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth video series, I've been finding myself drawn more and more to investigating various forms of spiritualism.  I guess you could say that I'm on a journey to "find my bliss", as Joe would say (among other notable quotes).

    Over the last month or more, my wife has been attending some spiritual-based courses/workshops with Kristel at Divine Clarity, and tonight's open house was the perfect opportunity to see what synergies there may be for me.

    What I found myself connecting with were the (core) spiritual and Shamanic based workshops, as well as the class to make my own drum!  I'd been looking to buy a drum, and found that it was cheaper to make my own in Darcy's (Kristel's husband) class than it was to buy one... paying for the knowledge, experience, and walking away with a drum for less!

  • My wife and I discovered The Preferred Perch today.  While the majority of their store is centered around bird feeders, supplies, and outdoor ornaments... they do have a wonderful selection of crystals, stones, salt lamps, bath salts, candles, etc...

    We found an excellent Encyclopedia of crystals and stones that we purchased, as well as some of the best bath salts my wife has ever used!

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    As part of my wife's Birthday this year (she's born on Christmas Day) I decided to take her out for diner and a movie.

    We first stopped of at Tony Roma's and had a fantastic meal; they really worked hard to try put something Paleo together for us!

    The movie playing this evening was the The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies in 3D.  I haven't been to many 3D movies, and can say that I did enjoy the extra dimension overall.  My wife had hoped to see more movie about Smaug, so was rather disappointed with how quickly into the movie he exited.  Dragon's aside, we did enjoy the story and were very entertained by the final chapter.

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    • I'm thankful that the shower head broke off in my hand this morning instead of tomorrow when the stores are closed
    • I'm thankful that Home Depot was open when I got off work and had a shower head I liked
    • I'm thankful that I can continue to shower happily with my easy to replace new shower head
  • I found what turned out to be a fantastic roast turkey recipe online; such a juicy bird having cooked it breast down instead of the traditional back down.  The turkey was also one of the ones we had ordered from McDonald Farm, and boy was it delicious!

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  • 5ec42c6f59e935957d6082186186065e.jpg After almost two years of owning my Ford Fusion, and having a credit with my local dealer (Birchwood Ford), I finally bit the bullet and decided to go with an aftermarket system I was familiar with.  My thought originally was to wait and install the Ford Access product, but it wasn't looking like they were going to release it for my 2013 model.  My dealer's assurance to warranty the install helped to clinch the deal, which netted a sweet $0 purchase after applying the credit I had... making it a Merry Christmas to me! I'm going to enjoy my PRO 2-WAY 901!

     

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    After finding that the impressive 1 mile range of my CompuStar Remote Start & Alarm meant nothing in the denseness of the tall city buildings (I'm guessing all that steel in the way); I gave myself a late Christmas present by having the Drone Mobile installed as a companion to my PRO 2-WAY 901.

    The install came with three months of the "basic" plan, which should be ample time to determine if it has any shortfalls that would push me to the premium plan.  It sure was a wake-up call to how the Canadian dollar fares against the $299 USD price tag... almost $370 CDN!  ouch! ><

    Here are some good troubleshooting tips which I unfortunately needed to use on my first day with my Drone/Compustar combo... The Dealer seemed to get it going again (a la “exit valet mode”) but it always end up failing to start again. My internet research told me that the compustar “brain” has lost what it means for the remote start to know it has succeeded, and “locks out” the function after three “failed” attempts:

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    I woke up Monday morning to a dead battery in my car.  In hindsight, I realize it had slowly been dying over the past couple weeks... the "turning radio off to conserve battery" every time I shut off the car was saying it loud and clear.

    Luckily my local dealer validated that the battery was faulty and replaced it with a new one the other day... but my Drone didn't fully recover.  I wasn't getting all notifications any more, nor the GPS location updates.

    The dealer was stumped, so I opened a support ticket today with Drone, explained what happened, and they reset something from their end (I think it was the module in my car) which put everything back into working order.

    But I think my support rep has a concern about my install as he stated that...

    If this problem happens again, I would suggest visiting the dealer so they can confirm what port the DroneMobile device is plugged into.

    An important nugget to keep track of moving forward me thinks!

  • Had a great time at Darcy's Drum Making Workshop at Divine Clarity today!  I opted to use an elk skin on my drum, and asked for an 18 inch frame (over the typical 12/14/16 options).  The drum turned out great, and the experience of making one was so incredibly fun that I think i'll be taking the workshop again to make another.  All I need to do now is weave some softer leather/fabric through the back strings so that it is easier on my hands while holding it.

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  • The Mrs & I attended our first FSS (Foundation for Shaman Studies) workshop this weekend; sponsored by Divine Clarity. My attraction was to learning about (and doing) journeying, which I understood to be a form of meditation.  It also gave me the perfect opportunity to use the drum I had just made last weekend! (scroll down two posts)

    During the Basic experiential workshop, participants are introduced to core shamanism, the universal, near-universal, and common methods of the shaman to enter nonordinary reality for problem solving and healing. Particular emphasis is on the classic shamanic journey, one of the most remarkable visionary methods used by humankind to explore the hidden universe otherwise known mainly through myth and dream. Participants are initiated into shamanic journeying, aided by drumming and other techniques for experiencing the shamanic state of consciousness and for awakening dormant spiritual abilities, including connections with Nature.

    I truly found it to be a fantastic workshop. My most incredible (and convincing) experience was using journeying to find out more information about the issue I've been having with my knee than doctors (using x-rays) and chiropractors have been able to tell me so far. In less than 10 minutes of journeying, I found a test (simply rolling the skin) to perform on my knee that proved the issue was in the skin (likely a nerve). It's not joint (arthritis) or ligament pain; simply a sensitive spot on/under the skin that really lets me know it's there when I happen to bump or apply pressure in just the right spot.  If there was ever a reason to doubt journeying in any way, this experience just obliterated it!

  • The Mrs & I attended our second FSS (Foundation for Shaman Studies) workshop this weekend; sponsored by Divine Clarity. We were so excited after our first workshop that we could hardly wait for the next one offered.

    Participants learn how to deal with the issue of dying and the destiny of souls from a shamanic perspective. The workshop is both for those who wish to learn for themselves, and for those who wish to help others who are in terminal situations or who have already passed on. Experiences to be undertaken include learning how to become experientially familiar with the after-death realms, tracking a person using shamanic journeying, completing unfinished business, helping a person to cross over, and classic psychopomp work.

    I wasn't initially as wowed by this workshop as I was the first. I think mainly because it seemed to be slanted towards things we would do for other people, and I was still hoping to focus on my own self improvement/exploration; a shift in my expectations. In the end I came to some well needed realizations about life, death, family, and friends; and I am grateful for the healthier perspectives.

    My wife on the other hand is really excited about having learned psychopomp!

  • Back in late January when we were contemplating getting a 13.25 inch Lodge cast skillet, it was one that d. a. Niel's had previously ordered to bring in for stock... but it never arrived.  They did have a 12 inch that had arrived, and looking at it made us realize that really was the biggest we could hope to use on our stove top anyway.  Only issue was, they didn't have a lid for it.

    So I did a little digging and found that the 7 Quart Dutch Oven came with a 12 inch lid that would fit our pan.  It didn't take much calculating to realize that $80-$90 for a lid was a worse deal than $140 for a lid with a pot... that's like a buy the lid and get a pot for $60, or less.

    It took a while for our special order to arrive, but I'm looking forward to getting some good use out of our new 12 inch skillet, dutch oven, and lid!

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