My #SavingsJourney Recap

Can’t believe it’s already been six months since I started my Scotiabank #SavingsJourney. My goal with was to save up $5,000 CAD in 180 days by using the Scotiabank MomentumPLUS Savings Account. This money would allow me to buy a used vehicle to explore my new backyard in British Columbia. After moving here last year, I quickly realized that I would be needing a vehicle if I wanted to spend as much time as possible adventuring in the mountains, by the ocean and anywhere my heart desired.

The reason why I chose the Scotiabank MomentumPLUS Savings Account is because it allows you to earn more by offering a higher interest rate the longer you save. You can select a savings period of 90, 180, 270 or 360 days. A longer Premium Period allows me to earn a higher Premium Interest Rate, with regular interest paid monthly and the Premium Interest paid at the end of the Premium Period. I was able to track the progress of my savings online and the fact that there was no monthly fee and no minimum balance was a bonus.

With the account, my 6-month #SavingsJourney started off on a great note. Throughout the fall, I was able to make regular contributions to my savings account because I was working quite a bit as a fitness instructor and also via this very website. What I enjoyed is being able to monitor my progress online whenever I wanted and making adjustments by adding either a little more or a little less to my contributions in order to stay on track.

Things were going swimmingly until I received a letter in the mail, just a few days before the holidays. The letter came from the CRA and was requesting that I pay $4,000 in income taxes within the next two weeks. Last year was the first year that I worked as a full-time freelancer and when it came time to do my income tax return, I went to the first place I could find in Vancouver, after just having moved to the city. Little did I know, the woman who completed my tax return wasn’t experienced with self-employed clients and didn’t do my return right. As a result, I had to send all the money I had been saving up for a car to the government.

I was gutted to say the least but when I came back from my holidays in January, I was confident I could still reach my goal in time because of the high potential to earn interest in my account. However, the reality of being self-employed is that some months are a lot slower than others. January and February are notoriously slow months for creatives. So although I’ve been working extra since the beginning of 2018 to compensate for the money I had to access in my savings account, I unfortunately was not able to make back the money I had saved up in time for the end of my determined savings period. That said, this journey has taught me a lot. Even though things didn’t go according to plan, I am really thankful that I had a high interest savings account to get me out of a bind. Seeing my savings grow has made me more determined than ever to keep working toward my goal of buying a vehicle, just a bit later than planned. It has also taught me the importance of planning ahead as well as putting aside a little extra money in case of emergencies (like mine in December!) and also making sure I get a good accountant!

I’m happy that the Scotiabank MomentumPLUS Savings Account allows me to have flexible savings periods. Because of this I have gone ahead and increased my savings period to 270 days to replace what I used and save up enough in time for the nicer weather that is right around the corner. I have already started planning some of the hikes, camping weekends and surf spots I want to hit up in British Columbia when the warm weather returns, so I’m now more excited than ever to make my #SavingsJourney a success. I’m definitely not letting this little bump in the road stop me from achieving my goal.

I hope to see you out on one of my adventures this spring and summer!

This post was written in collaboration with Scotiabank, but all opinions are my own.

Discovering the New 2018 FORD F-150 Lariat

I love getting to test drive new vehicles, especially when I’m allowed to go adventure with them.

This past week, I got to try out the 2018 FORD F-150 Lariat. Though I’ve test driven some of FORD‘s vehicles before, I’ve never had the opportunity to try out one of the most popular vehicles to date, the F-150. Out here in BC, these trucks are everywhere and after spending a week driving around in one, I totally understand why the truck is so popular.

LOOK

The Lariat is one of 7 models that you can choose from in the F-150 family. It comes in a variety of colours including “Race Red“, which is a definite eye-catcher when driving around. The Lariat comes with a chrome front and back bumper, halogen headlights and fog lamps, same colour handles for the doors and tailgate, 18-inch machined-aluminum wheels, as well as a Chrome Two-Bar Style with Four Minor Bars grille that has black surround and background mesh, making the truck look powerful yet also high-class. The inside is incredibly spacious allowing for 3 people to sit very comfortably at the back with ample leg room. The driver’s seat can be adjusted electronically in all planes, allowing for pleasant long drives like the ones I did this week. Other details worth mentioning are the cargo box hooks that allow you to easily tie down things such as motorcycles, sleds, etc. in the truck bed as well as two front tow hooks. The model that I was driving also had the super luxurious Twin panel Moonroof (SuperCrew), which allowed for so much additional light in the truck and perfect for viewing the night sky and the beautiful outdoor BC scenery.

SAFETY

The F-150 is equipped with all the state of the art safety accessories one would want. From the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) to Curve Control – which helps slow down the vehicle when going too fast on a curve, to the 360 camera with split-view display that allows you the driver to get added support on the road. This truck also has rear view camera Dynamic hitch assist, so that if you’re wanting to carry a trailer (or even a tiny house!) you can easily direct your hitch ball to the trailer. ABS breaks as well as driver and front passenger airbags plus side curtain airbags are also included in the vehicle’s basic package.

PERFORMANCE

The F-150 is great for driving in all sorts of conditions. There was a huge snowstorm this past week in BC yet I was able to drive the truck around with peace of mind. I was so happy that I was able to switch to 4WD during my snowy and icy travels. The truck comes with an electronic 10-speed Transmission with Tow/Haul, Snow/Wet, EcoSelect and Sport Modes. I love that it has automatic start and stop engine technology, which is a big plus for people like myself who are very conscious of their emissions. The 2.7L EcoBoost engine is according to FORD 30% better on fuel efficiency and emits 15% fewer greenhouse emissions. The estimated fuel consumption is 11.9L/100 KM for city driving and 9L/100 KM for highway driving. In a full week of back and forth driving from North Vancouver to Downtown Vancouver, Squamish and back and then all the way out to Joffre Lakes, Pemberton, Whistler and finally Sasamat Lake, I couldn’t believe that it only took me 1 full tank of gas!

TECHNOLOGY

This is probably one of my favourite parts about testing new cars. I love checking out all the new features that come with vehicles these days. From the aforementioned 360 cameras on the truck to the heated seats and steering wheel and the SYNC 3 – which is an 8-inch LCD touchscreen system that allows you to control navigation, audio, climate, etc. With this system you can easily connect your iPhone (which is what I did as soon as I received my new iPhone X this past week), allowing you to use Bluetooth, play Spotify wirelessly (or SiriusXM Satellite Radio which comes with the vehicle!), receive/send text messages, etc. The system also allows you to perform voice commands and you can also use the No-Extra-Charge 911 Assist in case of an accident or roadside emergency. All this technology makes it possible for you to keep both hands on the wheel at all times.

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All in all, driving around in this vehicle made me feel safe, comfortable and gave me all the little luxury items that I could ever want in an adventure vehicle. No matter where I went, it was easy to maneuver, park and drive. I think it’s the perfect adventure vehicle especially for someone like myself who always has so much gear and wants to go absolutely everywhere, no matter the terrain. Whether I want to bring my surfboard, bike, snowboard or even if I were to want to carry a motocross bike or my motorcycle in the future, this truck would be able to handle it all. Looking forward to more road trips with the F-150 Lariat in the future!

For more information on the F-150, go here.

Video shot entirely with GoPro Hero 6 + Karma Grip, thanks to Sport Chek and GoPro.
Big thanks to Tourism Vancouver, TAG Whistler and also MEC for their support!

Projectors a Good Alternative to buying a Television? Reviewing the Dell Mobile Projector | M115HD

After selling all of our things when we moved from Toronto to Vancouver, we no longer had a television to watch content on. So when we recently signed our first lease in Vancouver, the idea of buying a mobile projector, instead of a regular television, came up.

I had never really thought about it before but it seemed like a really neat idea. Not only could we watch our content at home on a bigger screen but it would also allow us to bring it with us when we traveled.

There are so many portable projectors on the market at the moment, one of which is Dell’s M115HD Mobile Projector. Having just tested out one of their latest laptops, I was curious to try out their smallest projector.

OVERVIEW

With the Dell M115HD Mobile Projector being 104mm x 105.3mm x 36.5mm, it can easily fit in your purse or backpack, making it super easy to carry around. Additionally, it has a 1GB internal flash memory, meaning you can store some movies or videos on it without having to bring the media you want to watch with you. It allows you to watch media in Full HD 720p and is equipped with 450 ANSI lumens, thus making it extremely bright even in ambient-light environments. The projector’s connectivity capability allows you to plug all sorts of devices using their HDMI cable. You can also use the projector not only at home in your living room, on the ceiling in your bedroom but also on the road when you travel, you can get really creative with how you use it.

PROS

  • It comes with equipped with VGA, HDMI and USB inputs making it super easy to connect to your laptop, camera, DVD player, video game console or even mobile device. You can even watch content with a microSD card.
  • This Dell M115HD projector has a long projection life, which can provide up to 30,000 hours of projection.
  • The images are ultra colorful and bright thanks to the DLP® and BrilliantColor™ technology. You can also adjust the sharpness of the image with just the touch of a button.
  • You have the ability to project wirelessly from your laptop or even your phone using a USB dongle (sold separately unfortunately!) or WiFi Doc app (that you can download online!).

CONS:

  • Its built-in 1W speaker isn’t very loud, so we end up having to plug our external speaker to the headphone jack if we want to listen to something in a louder environment.
  • It does not have an internal system like other projectors that allows you to connect directly to sources like YouTube, etc.
  • The projector has already been out on the market for a little while so hopefully Dell will be coming out with a newer and even more powerful version soon!

RECAP

All in all, we’ve been using the projector for over two weeks and are really happy with the fact that we can now watch movies on a much bigger screen than if we would have bought a standard television. The Dell M115HD Mobile Projector can easily put it away and we can also bring it with us on our upcoming travels thanks to its practical travel case. It’s a really great alternative to those wanting to get a “home cinema” without spending all the money in the world.

For more information on the Dell M115HD Mobile Projector, go here.

Discovering the New 2018 Toyota C-HR

I had the pleasure of spending the last couple of weeks adventuring around British Columbia with Toyota‘s brand new car, the 2018 C-HR. It was the perfect vehicle for both city and nature discoveries. Its ultra-sleek and unique design combined with Toyota’s best safety features, made it a reliable and fun car to drive, in all driving conditions.

LOOK

Its two-toned colourful exterior turned heads everywhere I went. This car is without a doubt one of the coolest looking vehicles on the market with its modern design. Toyota did a great job imagining a car that stood out from the pack and pushed the envelop on a design standpoint. The vehicle’s standard 17″ alloy wheels and also diamond-cut lines, make it very pleasing to the eyes.

SAFETY 

Toyota is renown for its top of the line safety standards and features. The Toyota Safety Sense P system includes lane departure alerts, pre-collision system with pedestrian and dynamic radar cruise control, just to name a few. The vehicle also comes equipped with 10 airbags, a monitoring system that alerts you if you have low fuel or washer fluid, an ajar door, etc. Moreover, the vehicle also offers the Toyota Star Safety System that features Brake Assist, Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control and more! All of these safety features gave me peace of mind while exploring through the city and mountains and allowed for the safest driving conditions.

PERFORMANCE

Performance enthusiasts will be happy to know that the C-HR contains a 144-hp, 2.0L, 4-cyl VALVEMATIC and a continuously variable transmission. You also have the ability to choose Sport mode, which transforms the vehicle in a simulated 7-speed sequential Shiftmatic transmission, making it that much more fun to drive. But with speed comes the need for a reliable breaking system, something that Toyota has not overlooked. The car’s braking system works with front and rear discs and an Anti-lock braking system, braking assist and electronic brake force distribution, which allows you to keep control of the vehicle no matter what situation may arise.

TECHNOLOGY

It’s impossible to talk about the vehicle without noting some of its great tech features such as the backup camera that comes up in the electrochromic rearview mirror, the rear cross traffic alert with blind spot monitor as well as the Smart Key system, allowing you to start the car with just the push of a button. And for avid music fans like myself, the car boasts an impressive sound system and all the jacks you could need to play your favourite playlists or albums while on the road.

RECAP

All in all, my time driving around with the 2018 Toyota C-HR was very pleasant. It allowed me to discover new parts of British Columbia and drive through windy country roads, mountainous areas, the beach as well as the crowded streets of Vancouver. The C-HR is a car that has all the modern features a driver wants, a spacious interior and trunk for longer trips while never compromising safety or comfort for the driver and passengers of the car.

For more info on the 2018 Toyota C-HR, go here.

Testing Out the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Laptop

I’m super grateful to have the opportunity to try out some of the coolest new gadgets and gear currently available on the market, especially when they are products that fit so naturally with my lifestyle.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been testing out the brand new Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 laptop. I’ve been bringing it with me on my travels as well as to my outdoor workouts and to the fitness classes I’ve been teaching. The fact that this ultralight and portable computer is made with premium materials like machine aluminum, carbon fiber and hardened Corning® Gorilla® Glass NBTTM that allows for added durability, is a major plus for me since I’m always on the go.

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is the first laptop to introduce the InfinityEdge display, which is the 5.2mm border on the top and both sides of the computer, thus allowing for maximum screen space. The computer’s UltraSharp Quad HD+ display with 5.7 million pixels, anti-reflective coating and high contrast ratio allows for high resolution viewing, always providing a crisp and clear image no matter the lighting. So when I’m taking the laptop with me for some of my outdoor park workouts, it allows for a great viewing experience throughout my exercise session.

An added bonus is also the laptop’s long-lasting battery life. When you’re only using productivity applications like Word or Excel, or for me, timers for my workouts, the battery can last for up to 15 hours, or alternatively up to 9 hours when streaming video like Netflix content.

Plus! the device is a 360-degree convertible, meaning it can be used in 4 modes – like the tent mode above, the laptop mode, stand mode and even tablet mode! This allows me to use the computer in different ways depending on what activity I’m up to.

The device is a great all-around computer because in addition to its transportability and sleek design it is also fast and efficient. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is equipped with a 7th Gen Intel® Core i5, which means top of the line performance power. It also comes with an expandable 16GB memory. Furthermore, it is equipped with 2 USB Type-C 3.1 ports, which enables charging and display functionality. One of these ports is also a Thuberbolt 3 port, which allows for transfer speeds 8x greater than the speed of USB 3.0 ports at up to 40Gbps. Note that with this computer, you will also receive a USB-A and USB-C adapter. So whether I’m transferring music for my classes, photos for my website or working on some class prep or writing articles, I know the computer can handle it all.

But that’s not all! The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 also has a precision touchpad, allowing for easy manipulation. It allows you to pan, pinch and zoom as well as precisely select items on your screen. You can also use the Dell Active Pen, to help with handwriting, selecting and even drawing.

It also comes with stereo speakers that are professionally tuned with Waves MaxxAudio® Pro, which allows me to prepare playlists for my classes or even play music while I work out.

Finally, another important aspect worth mentioning is that the XPS laptop is one of the greenest laptops out there. From the design all the way to the recycled packaging, Dell always has the environment in mind. They avoid materials such as cadmium, hexavalent chromium, mercury and some phthalates plus they are all BFR/PVC-free. Additionally, the laptop ships in recyclable and compost-friendly packaging. Dell also offers the possibility to recycle old products through their Dell Reconnect partnership present in 78 countries.

As my first experience with a 2-in-1 device, I definitely see what the value is, especially for my lifestyle. You can learn more about the new Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 here.

This post was written in collaboration with Dell but all opinions are my own.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

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After having spent a great week with the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid this winter, I was thrilled to have the possibility to try out the new Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro for the very first time on my recent travels to Oregon.

The Toyota Tacoma is one of the most coveted trucks on the market, especially out in British Columbia, as this has become the go-to truck for outdoor enthusiasts in the area. With 4×2 and 4×4 models to choose from plus the option of choosing your own engine and transmission combinations, cab and bed sizes, there’s definitely a model for everyone!

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What I was immediately surprised by is the vehicle’s ability to handle the road as well as its interior comfort. Not only do you have an incredible view point from the driver’s seat but you also have access to a wide variety of accessories, that makes your drive the most pleasant. Things like the Cruise Control, Navigation, 7″ Display Screen, Bluetooth Capability, AM/FM CD with MP3/WMA Player, Audio Auxiliary Input Jack, USB Audio Input, 6 Speakers and Advanced Voice Recognition, allow you to relax while enjoying the road. They’ve also added a GoPro mount right at the top of the windshield, thus being the first to include that in the market.

The Toyota Tacoma‘s versatility is also a key feature. All 2017 Tacoma models include an independent front suspension of double-wishbone design with stabilizer bars and multi-leaf spring rear suspension. TRD SPORT models feature sport-tuned suspensions, while TRD OFF-ROAD models are equipped with Bilstein shock absorbers, so that whichever terrain you wish to venture out on, you can have full confidence that the truck will be able to handle it.

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The Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro edition comes equipped with a 3.5 Litre, 6 Cylinder Engine, 6-Speed, Automatic transmission, Super Electronically Controlled Transmission (Super ECT) and Lock Up Torque Converter. For those more mechanically inclined, the truck also features Active Traction Control (A-TRAC), 4-Wheel Crawl Control, Multi-Terrain Select, Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Trailer Sway Control, One-Touch 4WD, Vehicle Stability Control, thus making it the ideal vehicle if you want to pull an RV or trailer for your expeditions.

Toyota is also renown for its top of the line safety features. The truck provides a total of 8 Airbags, Seatbelt Anchor Height Adjusters, Front Seatbelt Pre-Tensioners and Force Limiters, Assist Grip, Front Tow Hook, Active Front Headrests with Whiplash Protection just to name a few significant items.

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The truck’s roomy and cozy interior as well as its bold and stylish exterior, will make truck enthusiasts and new passengers enviable.

In summary, the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro was the ideal companion for my adventures out in Oregon. Below is a short recap video of my adventures with the truck! For more info on the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, go here.

Polar M600

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I love trying out new technology that make my workouts more informative and exciting.

I recently had the opportunity to try out the new Polar M600. This GPS Sports Watch is an Android Wear™ smartwatch that is perfect for those leading an active life. Its cool sleek design makes it the perfect watch for your workouts and also every day life. The watch is waterproof and combines both practicality and power.

Though I do not have an android phone, the Android Wear app is easy to download directly from the Apple store thus making the watch set up super simple. Through Google, it allows me to sync my phone up with my watch, so that I can get notifications directly to my watch.

I also downloaded the Polar Flow app, which allowed me to track my activities from my watch on my phone. The app enables me to track my workouts, set daily goals, etc.

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I tested out the Polar M600 on a few test workouts to see how it would fare compared to other watches I have tried in the past. The first feature that I immediately loved was the wrist-based heart rate monitor. In just a few seconds, the watch calculates your heart rate using your radial pulse and keeps feeding you that info throughout your workout. This is great information to have when training or running, as you can get accurate information about your level of exertion throughout.

The integrated GPS is also a huge plus. It allows you to accurately track your speed, distance and route, making it a big plus when running in new terrain and also to keep score of your speed improvements, etc.

Another watch feature that I particularly like is the activity tracker that computes steps, calories and sleep information. The watch’s activity guide gives you practical guidance and info that can help you reach your daily, weekly and monthly goals.

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I also loved the motivating feedback you get right after a training session with the Training Benefit feature. It is always uplifting to get real feedback immediately after finishing a workout that will tell you what you’ve improved on, the real benefits from the workout, etc.

The watch also offers Running Programs, which is perfect for anyone wanting to train for an upcoming race. The running programs offered range from 9-15 weeks with easy-to-follow instructions, supportive exercises, etc.

I couldn’t talk about this watch without mentioning battery life. The one inconvenient that usually comes with these watches is how long the battery lasts. Surprisingly, even while connected to the Android app, the battery can last for up to 2 days without needing a charge.

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Finally, the watch is perfect not only for working out but also as a fashion accessory for every day life.

For more information on the new Polar M600 smartwatch, go here.

Photos by: Offner & Cabello by Carolina

This post was written in collaboration with Polar but all opinions are my own.

 

Driving Mindfully with the Ford Edge

12991094_1719719268246182_7594874660587216206_nApril being Stress Awareness Month, I partnered up with Ford Canada to learn more about being mindful behind the wheel. Mindfulness is one of the subject matters that I’ve been exploring a lot more as of late. I have been trying a bunch of different apps and challenges to become more mindful in all aspects of my life.

With the help of the brand new 2016 Ford Edge, I went on a mindfulness adventure last weekend to explore some of the gems in and out of the city.

FullSizeRender(12)13055455_1720087844875991_8976517641422716414_nThere are a ton of great features on the car that make you feel a lot more at ease while driving. Some of my favorite features include the 10-Way Power Driver’s Seat, that allows you to sit the most comfortably, the Voice-Activated Navigation and Entertainment System that allows you to stay focused on the road and keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times without having to lean over, Heated and Air Conditioned Fronts Seats, Front 180-Degree Camera and Rear View Camera for maximum security and the BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert that lends an extra hand while driving.

FullSizeRender(6)FullSizeRender(10)FullSizeRender(17)FullSizeRender(2)FullSizeRender(1)FullSizeRender(15)FullSizeRender(14)For this mindfulness weekend, I was also able to get a one on one session with Toronto yoga-instructor YuMee Chung, who gave me some helpful tips on how to stay calm, mindful and comfortable behind the wheel. Some of her tips are:

Tip 1Take Time To Stretch Before You Drive – either by doing the Triangle Pose or other stretches that are familiar to you. It will loosen up your muscles.

Tip 2Sit With Care – using the 10-Way Power Driver’s Seat you can find the perfect seating position to provide low back support. You can also use the heated seat to soothe lower back pain.

Tip 3Set Your Shoulders – Sit tall and roll your shoulders back to avoid slouching. You can also avoid “tech neck” by bringing your chin back until your earlobes hover over your shoulders.

Tip 4Get A Grip – Avoid clenching your fists when driving. At a stop light, you can rotate your wrists and give your hands a good shake.

Tip 5Slow Breath In, Deep Breath Out – It helps you destress, clear the mind and energize your body.

FullSizeRender(11)FullSizeRender(4)With these new tips in hand, I took the Ford Edge to Cheltenham for a picnic and a hike at the Cheltenham Badlands. The drive in the countryside was incredibly peaceful. I made sure to take deep breaths and enjoy the relaxing drive and the present moment. Leaving the city, even if just for a few hours always makes me feel so energized and inspired.

FullSizeRender(5)FullSizeRender(9)On Sunday, I took the car with me to the stunning Aga Khan Museum in North York and to the Scarborough Bluffs. I rarely get to go that far north or east since I don’t own a car so I was thankful to have the opportunity to visit these two beautiful locations.

FullSizeRender(19)FullSizeRender(20)I really enjoyed driving in the Ford Edge throughout the weekend. With the sunroof open, the sun shining, light music playing and open roads in front of me, it was hard not to be mindful and enjoy the present moment. The car made me feel at ease, made me feel secure and offered me all the little extras to made my mindfulness adventure the most memorable.

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