March 30, 2012

ARGH! Frustration and a House

Our house deal was supposed to go firm today - but our deal fell through. The buyers decided not to go through with the purchase and backed out. Argh!

We're frustrated, disappointed and trying hard not to be angry. We've sold a bunch of stuff, booked a storage locker and redone our budgets in anticipation of a mid-April possession... and now it looks like we're back to showings and waiting. Waiting and showings.

Feels like someone threw an ice-cold bucket of negativity on our excitement. Tell me friends - how do you stay motivated and positive when nothing seems to be going your way??

** Update: Okay, sorry for being such a downer friends! I wrote this last night... but even today I'm feeling much more cheery. I've found a short term solution:

[1] Put the sign back and move forward!
[2] Go to Dairy Queen and get a mint Oreo blizzard.

March 28, 2012

Girl Trips vs. Guy Trips

When you think of going on an 'all girls' or an 'all guys' trip what kind of stereotypes do you think of?

Is it all girls drinking martinis in NYC while guys get drunk and do stupid things in Vegas?

Or is it of women being hit on in night clubs while guys are off fishing on a quiet lake?

As the majority of our friends have gotten married in the last 5 years or so, stags and bachelorette parties have entered the picture, as has the conversation about gendered-group trips. Some of my more conservative friends and family are often surprised that I 'let' Juliano go on these trip, or that he 'lets' me go on them... Ummm... LETS? The main discussion we have before a trip like this is financial. Can we afford to do this? Fair Question. Will you be safe? Fair Question.

We've been together 9 years now {holy crap!}, and traveling without each other has been a sticking point for a long time. Is it fair that you get to go and I have to stay home? Most of our contention had more to do with travel envy than giving permission to do anything.

To me Letting Someone insinuates a serious lack of trust, and assumes some bad intentions. Although being married {generally} comes with the bonus of a built-in traveling companion, it doesn't mean that it becomes your only option! Traveling in girl/guy groups can be a lot of fun - but if you are in a relationship, have your boundaries and expectations clearly defined before you leave home.

I might be looking through rose-coloured glasses, as I've never had any problems with these types of trips - although I'm sure they exist...
  • Do you take separate vacations from your significant other? 
  • Do you think girls/guys trips are a good idea or a bad idea? 
  • Does the location of the trip make a difference - we can clearly see the difference between Vegas and a fishing town - but does it affect your opinion?

Let me know what you think!

March 26, 2012

Kijiji Time: Sell your sh*t!

Since we have a {still conditional} offer on the house... it's time to start getting it ready! I'm nervous and excited to sell all my stuff... the house is looking a bit emptier already! Lots of decor stuff is on it's way out - with the big pieces getting listed the moment our conditions are all met.

Hope you had a great weekend!

March 23, 2012

Money Time: Canadian Banking Edition

Hey Canadian Friends - this post is for you!

Since the internet is flooded with specific advice and accounts for our American friends.. here's one for us!
 What bank accounts do you use? We bank with TD Canada Trust, it's easy & automated, they have great hours, and works well for us. But in anticipation of some international travels, we had to make some changes.

Yesterday, we upgraded our regular account to the TD Select Service Account {This is not a sales pitch/sponsored - we really just did this}. Here's why:
  • Comes with a FREE small safety deposit box {we had just opened one for valuables!}
  • No annual fee for their First Class Travel Rewards Visa {we already had this too!}
  • No international ATM fees! {Stupid $5 every time we take out cash would kill us!}
  • Free cheques/drafts/US account... some other stuff that we use less

Total monthly cost: $29/month. Ouch, I know. But if you keep $5000 or more in your chequing account {we don't usually - we utilize our savings account} it's free.

Since we were already paying for all of the additional services, it will actually save us money in the long run.
And, the bank refunded our deposit box payment $94.00 and Visa refunded our annual payment $120 so I almost made $214.50 yesterday. All for going to the bank!

I'm still trying to learn more about the best way to do our finances on the road - but this was a great start. Any other international-banking tips and tricks?

*Yep, I spelled cheques with a 'que' because this is a Canadian money post. 
I'll have checks when I get to the States.

March 21, 2012

We got an Offer!!

 Hey Friends!

We got a conditional offer on our house last night! I’m running around collecting condo documents, ensuring everything is ready for the home inspection and preparing to sell more stuff on Kijiji.... The offer goes firm in 10 days – so I’ll keep you posted. April 27 could be our last day in our home!

Side Note about keeping stuff: We’re getting a storage locker for some things {mainly family heirlooms, old business records, etc} but I’ve been mentally adding other things from around the house to it… Remember here when I had a hard time selling my bike? Yep – the same thing is happening for our bedroom suite. I know, I know – just sell it you’re saying {Juliano’s with you on that one}. 

Talking to Juliano last night {who has been endlessly patient with my unreasonable amount of attachment to stuff – good Buddhist, I am not} I realized that we bought that bedroom suite as a newly married couple. We had everything from our first arguments – to secret whispers about making trip plans here… it represents the stability of the work we’ve put into this marriage and this home we’ve built together. How can I sell that?!?!
But I can. I’ll list the bedroom set, and it will sell. But it won’t be my marriage and my home going out the door with it – it will just be some {nice} furniture. Selling our things has been way more difficult than I was expecting and trying to reconcile that has been a work in progress – it’s not as easy as it looks!

I don’t want to sound like I’m throwing a pity-party here – 
just keeping it real on the de Brito front!

March 19, 2012

Vlog: Banff & Lake Louise

We told you back here about buying our video camera,  so here's some of the first results - enjoy!
Have you ever been to the Alberta Rockies? Do you snowboard or ski?
Why do you love it?

March 16, 2012

Timing & Climbing: The Corporate Ladder

Isn’t ‘timing’ something? Good/ Bad Timing gets a lot of credit for things that happen in our lives – and I’m not sure that I buy into that. Sometimes, timing is just timing. 

If you’re a reader of our blog, you know that we are both still working full time in the Oil & Gas corporate world. We plan on staying here as long as we can before we leave [we have to accomplish several things on the Champagne List before we go!].

However, this week – both of us have been presented with excellent career building opportunities.  These are not flash-in-a-pan things, but rather the results of growing companies and time and work invested*.  The shifts in our employment clearly open up our Calgary career paths in positive and unexpected ways.  The path in front of us is clear, comfortable and stereotypically successful.

Honest Moment: This idea is attractive. We thought about it.

We allowed imagination to wander 2, 5, 10 years down the road that was opening up in front of us. Good jobs, great money, stability, big house, babies, yearly vacations…

But just for a moment. 

Then we realized that lack of potential success was NOT what was driving us out of this city, this lifestyle. It was a desire for different adventures. So we called our realtor to come over: We’re dropping the price of our house AGAIN.

I’m glad that we have the occasional moments of wavering – because I think it forces us to keep on track for a reason. It keeps us motivated to continue pushing for the life we want.

Have you wavered in your decision to leave the familiar behind? Have you turned down opportunities for success because you wanted something different?

*Sorry for being vague – these are our actual jobs and we want to keep them private.

March 14, 2012

Tipping and Traveling

What’s up Friends?! I have a question today for you all about tipping & traveling... 
  Are you a good tipper? Are you good AT tipping?

Think these are the same question? They are not! A good tipper is generous and knows what to give in an obvious tipping environment…at say, a restaurant – this is me. {I worked as a server for a long time – so I know what’s on the other side of that 10 - 20% tip. {Here’s a good guide on tipping worldwide}

Someone good AT tipping can navigate the murky waters of padding pockets for extras in a ‘folded up bills in a handshake’ sort of way. Juliano is WAAAY better at this than me. There’s a certain subtlety and a mutual acknowledgment that the undercurrents of a friendly conversation are in fact, a business dealing. 

Consider these situations that we’ve run into:

Montreal, QC: The Concierge tip

We were staying in a nice hotel and want to go out for a swanky dinner. To the Michelin star rated Au Pied de Cochon. {Non-Frenchies, this translates as Pig Foot. I was skeptical but it was AMAZING.} We kept calling to make a reservation but [a] nobody ever answered the phone and [b] the message was all in French that we didn’t understand.

Enter the Concierge of our fine establishment:

Juliano: We’d looking to get a dinner reservation at Au Pied de Cochon, tonight – could you help us out?
Concierge: ah ha ha ha ha {this was in a French accent.} No.
Juliano: What? No? But I read all these reviews we really want to try it.
Concierge: That restaurant is so good that it books up months in advance. Would you like another recommendation?
Juliano: Not really, I wanted to eat there. And we’re leaving tomorrow.
Concierge: Mmm...Let me see what I can do. But you’ll never get a regular time. Does a 10:00pm dinner work?
Juliano: We can do 10.

A couple hours later he called us with a reservation for 9:30pm THAT NIGHT. Soo… do we tip? How much?  On the way out of the hotel for dinner, Mr.Smooth stops at the concierge desk and thanks him for the reservation with the ‘$10 handshake’. Concierge thanks us and we move on. Very James Bond.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: The Street Parking Attendants

Driving in Brazil is craziness on its own… so I won’t get into that here. In places with ample street parking, you will often find some capitalistic gents on the street working as self-employed parking attendants. These guys usually appear out of nowhere as your parallel parking and help ‘guide’ you in. As you get out, they offer to ‘watch your car’ while you’re away. 
My friends: ALWAYS SAY YES.
It seems like a bit of scam, but it’s the lesser of two. They are offering to not steal your car. A yes and handshake is an agreement to tip upon your departure in your not-stolen car. A no is tantamount to walking home very angry, but with an extra R$2 in your pocket. When you get back to the car and it’s safely undamaged and parked where you left it – tip him directly. It’s the cheapest insurance policy you can buy.

Tipping varies so much cross culturally, but some people seem to have more of a knack for it than others...
What about you? Are you the James Bond of tipping - or do you travel with one? 
Do you think people who are good AT tipping get scammed less?

March 12, 2012

Medical: Immunization Time

 High Five Healthy Friends! What kind of immunizations did you get before travelling? I guess it depends on where you’re going… {here isthe CDC official list}. We’re not planning on heading anywhere Malaria-ish for now {yachts generally stay in the swanky Caribbean islands and big European ports} so we don’t need much. But – just to be safe, we decided to immunize up!

Juliano got his Hepatities A & B, along with a tetanus shot. We had to pay $160 for his shots! {tetnus shot was free. Must be some kind of buy 2 get 1 free deal} 

I actually got all of my shots free when I was a student, so I’m covered. {Although I did get a tetanus shot – apparently they just hand them out like candy}

**Side Note: See that sad face? The shots made him sick. Ew. And he complained about his arm like a baby because it was quite painful.

March 9, 2012

Overpackers Anonymous: Backpack Time

Friends, I have a confession to make. I am an overpacker. 

Yep, I almost need a Sherpa to go on an overnight visit, and know for a fact that if you pay five zillion dollars to upgrade to first class – there are often no luggage restrictions.
 But – I am in recovery. I am trying hard to mend my ‘but I NEED 8 bikinis! I don’t like to wear wet ones!’ ways. Example A: My Mexico suitcase {Yes, we brought real ‘wheeled’ suitcases. It was LUX trip.}
 This was my attempt at ‘packing light’. Seriously. And guess what?? I wore ALL OF IT. Not good.

In that I am recognizing there is a problem here I have to face some facts about our new adventure:
  • I can only bring a bit of stuff – boats don’t have much crew storage
  • I don’t even want to OWN that much stuff anymore
  • I would like to carry-on everything all the time
 Carry on everything!? Yep. Why not go cold turkey? I’m going from a pampered resort traveler to a full on backpacker. Here’s what I currently carry-on with me {a little better – give me some credit!}
 Not too bad. Actually most of this will stay in the ‘keep’ pile. The wallet & travel wallet will merge, and my macbook air will be added.

Now that I've recognized the problem....

It's time to start looking for a travel pack.

We’ve started looking around to find the perfect backpacks for our adventures, as the ones we have now are too big {originally bought for our trips to Brazil}. And I think we’ve narrowed it down to the Osprey Farpoint 55.  Here’s why:

  • It has a removable daypack
  •  The base part works a carryon item {day pack is worn as personal item}
  • Front panel loading to put all my crap nicely
  • Backpack straps zip into a carryon style suitcase
  •   Seems well received by other travelers {like this + this + this}

What travel pack do you use? Do you like it? 
What bag would you buy if you were purchasing tomorrow? 
We still have a bit more time before we buy, but I want to know what you love!
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