Wednesday, March 28, 2012

We're monetizing!

We wanted to take a minute today and announce that we are officially open for monetization!

Yes, that’s right, boys and girls: The NEST has been doing so very well that we are ready to start offering ad space and other benefits for patrons of the blog. We’ve got a rapidly increasing reader base, and we’ve upped our content to three posts a week…and this means we’ve got to start looking at infrastructure costs (gag) as well as accounting for our blogging time. This is a win-win time for the NEST and for people who run the type of indie and/or green businesses that we love so much here at the Project: Priceless blogs. Here’s a bit of FAQ for you and your friends who may want to purchase some space:
We LOVE indie businesses, but are open to a range of patrons, as long as they tie in with the ‘feel’ of the blog. For instance, a large craft company may have a local branch, and we’d be happy to hear from them because of the DIY-supporting products they sell.

Businesses, vendors, and artisans can get involved in three different ways:

A Patron of the Blog, with:
-ad space in the side column
-1 post or giveaway per quarter
-ad linking to latest post (optional)

 A Friend of the Blog, with:
-ad space underneath 4 blog posts/month

 A Collaborator, with:
-one-off reviews as schedule allows

We have a rate card that we’re happy to send out by request. Email us at for more details. We are starting with introductory rates which are 30-50% lower than market rates for this period where we iron out any wrinkles.


The NEST is gaining popularity daily, with a constantly growing daily audience.
We guest post regularly on blogs like and Local Tourist Ottawa.
We have a wide audience, ranging from baby boomers to new moms, to young urban couples.
We offer a wide range of topics and posts; something for everyone!
We can link your ad to a review of your business on our blog!
Opportunities to offer giveaways to readers.

Please consider being a patron with us! We’re excited to work with some of the amazing businesses that make our community (both local and global) so fantastic. Space has already begun to fill up, so please be sure to email us swiftly as we will be working from a first-come, first-served basis.

Support your local bloggers! We are the word-of-mouth ninjas, and the new wave of newsmakers. Help us to expand the NEST to its full potential, and let us help you reach a great audience.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

He does, she does: why two heads are better than one.

There are moments in life when you realize just how lucky you are to have a partner.

The other day I went grocery shopping and bought a new spray bottle of kitchen cleaner. We still had a couple ounces left in the old bottle, but it was doing that thing where the long straw inside the bottle doesn’t poke into the remaining dregs of fluid. Excited to have a fresh full bottle, I abandoned the near-empty one and began spritzing away with the new…only to discover that the spritzer on the new one was malfunctioning. Brian came into the kitchen and was commiserating on the sadness of it, when suddenly a lightbulb lit up in my head.

“Wait!” said I, “I know what to do!” I began unscrewing the top off the bottles, first the old one, then the new one. Then I eagerly lifted the full bottle and began to pour it into the old one.

“Um, honey,” Brian said, “What are you doing?”

“I’m going to put the cleaner in the old bottle so we can spray it!”

“Wait a minute,” he said, “Let me try something.” Gently, Brian took the bottles away from me, put them on the counter…and simply switched the heads.

One of my new roles in life, as Brian's partner, seems to be providing comic relief.

Later that same week, Brian and I were standing in the bathroom around ten o’clock at night, prepping to brush our teeth together. We have a toothbrushing dance worked out, choreographed so that I start brushing a few seconds earlier than Brian so we don’t have to rinse at the same time. I squeezed the toothpaste onto my electric toothbrush, turned it on, and raised it my mouth; unfortunately, my glob of toothpaste fell off of the bristles and onto my lower lip. Brian tittered beside me as I paused and sighed. I then tried to recover the blob by catching it with my brush and nudging it back into my mouth.

Instead of working as planned, the whizzing electrical bristles jammed into the goo and then vibrated down and around my chin. Frantically I continued my attempt to corral the toothpaste back into my mouth but the spinning head just wove a complex path along the left side of my jaw and back up my cheek, leaving a snail trail of foamy goo behind it.

“What are you doing?!” said Brian, stifling a laugh.

“Bruffing my teef!” I wailed.

“Why don’t you turn the toothbrush off?!”

I opened my mouth to explain, then realized he was absolutely right. I cut the power, applied a new dose of paste to the bristles, then placed it carefully in my mouth before flipping the switch. Crisis averted, Brian felt no further compunction to suppress his guffaws.

I’m grateful to have Brian because he stops me from pouring litres of cleaning fluid all over myself, or polishing my chin to shiny brilliance. I suspect Brian is grateful to have me, too...because everyone needs a good laugh.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fridays with Bri - How to choose your suit

This post is for the men out there, and I'll be talking about how to dress properly. It has taken me a while to figure these tips out through trial and error, as well as from the wisdom of others. But this basic list will help all of you guys out there who want to look good

a Jack Reid suit
1. Matching: when you are picking out your clothes, make sure everything matches. This means turning on the lights...good. Now, when you look at your black suit, you need to make sure that the pants are the same black as the jacket. I know it sounds strange, fellas, but there are different shades of black, and you never want to get caught wearing a blue-black jacket with black-black pants.

Brown shoes brown belt
2. Belt and shoes: One of the biggest mistakes I see when men dress themselves is wearing a black belt with brown shoes or a brown belt with black shoes. Make sure the belt matches the shoes. This mistake happens all the time and it is one of my biggest pet peeves.

3. Your shirt: this is the piece of clothing that is most important for determining what colours you can coordinate in your outfit.You may take your jacket off during the day, but your shirt stays on. The simplest way for choosing a shirt is to go with solid colours; if you have chosen a pattern, make sure that it is not competing with the pattern in your tie.

4. Your tie: this can be the major statement piece. For a muted but sophisticated look, wear lightly patterned blue and green ties with cool shades and  blues in your suit. If you’re looking to draw attention to yourself, go for the stark contrast of a bold red tie on a light colored shirt. The red tie is called the “power tie” for a reason; this combination works well for presenters as it captures wandering eyes and points them right to the speaker’s face. A tip for a basic way to choose your tie: if you have a light complexion and light hair, stick with light or pastel colours. For those with dark hair and light complexions, you have a natural 'contrast' so try on ties that have a clearly-defined line between the colours in them. Those with a dark complexion and dark hair can pull off both a high- and low-contrasting colour combination.

Beige striped shirt, brown vest brown shoes and a silver pocket watch
 5. Accessories: I recommend a watch, a tie pin, and cuff links. keep it simple; there is no point in having a dashing suit if your are just going to wear a ton of loud jewellery. That being said, when you are choosing your accessories be sure that they all match: a silver watch with a silver tie pin with silver cufflinks, for example. And make sure they all complement your shirt: yellow gold jewellery with a brown shirt will make you look dated.

To sum it all up - make sure you match; turn on the lights and take a look--in fact, get your partner to look for you. 8% of all men are colour blind so don't be afraid to ask for help. And keep it simple. Follow these guidelines and we'll have you looking great in no time!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Better In An Hour: scrapbook paper shelf

The unchanging LACK shelf from IKEA. (
Listen, I love IKEA as much as the next urban 25 to 35 year-old, but sometimes that modern-looking table or bookcase ends up looking totally wrong when you get it home. Or, as is usually my experience, it works with the look you set for apartment A, but by apartment C it just looks dumb. Thus, I have been carrying around this ugly black LACK shelf from Ikea for two apartments.

Our new place needed a shelf, to hold my teddy bear collection. Yes, I’m thirty and still I have a teddy bear collection. I have a love of anything furry, and the bears I’ve kept—pared down from about five dozen—all have special memories attached to them. But I acknowledge that they can’t all sleep in bed with me anymore, so they need a place of honor where I can admire them…and where I may occasionally grab one for a cuddle, if he’s looking lonely.

This Better In An Hour post is so simple, I’m going to put the photos in and use the captions to tell you the steps. My only warning to you is this: think it through before you start. I had to restart this project halfway through when I realized I grabbed the wrong stack of scrapbook paper and, while still pretty, the shelf was no longer going to be on theme. The trick to working quickly is READY – AIM – FIRE.

Scrapbook paper
Modpodge or other gel medium (we used fancy acrylic gel medium because it was laying around.)
An ugly shelf to cover over
A razor blade
Any embellishments you desire.

First step:sand the shelf with a coarse sandpaper.
This step took 5 minutes.

Next: Apply your modpodge/gel to an area, then lay down a sheet of scrapbook paper.
Note: you'll need to use a spoon or other softly rounded object to push out bubbles.Then brush more gel
over the face of the paper to seal it.
This step took 20 minutes.
Realize you used the wrong paper, and tear it off frantically.
Skip this 10-minute step.

Finish laying down all the sheets and fold the edges down over the edge of the shelf.

Paper the underside of the shelf as well. Bend the extra over the edges as well.
You will then decide which sheet of paper you want to put over the other along the edge.
Glue the flaps down. This step took 7 minutes.

 Et, voila! We have a lovely shelf for the bears to sit on, perfect in our folkart-y bedroom. Just a note: if you are indeed using an IKEA shelf (the LACK one), be sure to keep track of where the screw heads are; these screws, built into the underside of the shelf, are part of the bracket system. I glued the paper right over the top of ours, and Brian had to use a magnet to find them again.

So, if you take out the total muck-up I did with the wrong scrapbook paper, this project took a total of 42 minutes! (Note that I took an extra 5 minutes to put some green rickrack along the edge of my shelf.) And because we had our gel on hand, it only cost us about $9.00 in paper. And I never have to look at that hideous black veneer surface again. Win, win, win.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Friday's with Bri - Hockey Marathon for the Kids

Did you know that the longest hockey game ever played was in Burnaby, Vancouver; it ran for 243 hours and five minutes. That equals 10 days, 3 hours and 5 minutes of gameplay. This year from May 6th to 16th, at the Chestermere Recreational Centre, 40 people will attempt to break that Guinness World Record for the longest hockey game ever played, aiming for 254 hours of continuous game play.

They are calling this endeavour the ‘Hockey Marathon for the Kids’ and their raising funds to support the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation; the goal is to raise money for the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, to purchase lifesaving technology and fund cancer research.


Duchess Kate and Diamond Marshall
We were contacted by the social media coordinator for this charity event, and how could we not want to help them raise awareness! This charity was inspired by Diamond Marshall, the little girl who greeted  William and Kate in Calgary on their royal tour of Canada. Her wish was to meet a real princess and the picture of her hugging the duchess of Cambridge has brought smiles and tears to so many people across the world. It is a constant reminder that dreams do come true.

These 40 men, including Diamond’s father, are raising this money because these doctors “need support to continue theirs efforts of saving more kids and sending them home to their families,” says Alex Halat, a member of the hockey marathon organizing committee. Please check out their website and seriously consider donating to this incredible charity. Let’s prove that, even though we may not all live in Alberta, we all stand together to give the children who face these incredible hardships a fighting chance.

Please comment below if you choose to make a donation, and let us know how much. Lets make the Project: Priceless nation a huge supporter for this great cause; because we know what having a dream is all about.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Turning 30: Moving on.

credit: Jennifer Churchill
It’s time to wrap up my Month of Me posts (a little late, delayed because I needed a few extra weeks to really process it all). I have spoken with a lot of women over the last few weeks about turning thirty; time and again, the same thing was told to me: “Your thirties rock. You’re going to love it.” They say, unanimously, that a woman’s twenties are a frantic time full of angst and confusion, and that the turning of the next decade seems to set a woman free. She finds herself on track suddenly, with more self confidence and a sense of direction. Perhaps there’s a relief from the pressures and expectations that young women are burdened with: the ideals of beauty, youth, vibrancy, vigor, and achievement levels are perhaps less doggedly applied to women no longer seen as ‘youth’. (Take no offence here, women; it’s a theory based on my mere three weeks of experience as a thirty year-old.)

Regardless, these conversations with women made me wonder: what is it about my twenties that I’m so afraid to lose? And I realized that all the important stuff from my twenties will be carried along into my thirties. So I compiled a list of what my twenties gave to me...


●A beautiful husband.
●My first motorcycle ride, which led to a passion for riding.
●A college diploma, with honors.
●Career experiences, both highlights and lowlights, but all resulting in a bundle of wisdom.
●A blog and the chance to write again.
●An on-again, off-again professional visual arts career.
●A best friend who is integral to my happiness.
●A better relationship with my parents. Much, much better than the decade before.
●A breast reduction that saved my tortured back.
●A two-year adventure in roller derby, and other athletics that I didn’t try in high school.
●A clear sense of what I do and don’t like.
●A clear sense of who I do and don’t like.
●A sense of career direction, and the opportunities I needed to realize it.
●A fat pug who makes me grin like a child.
●My first car.
●Three Caribbean cruises.
●A wedding that turned into a project that turned into a bit of an opus.
●Coldplay albums.
●The perfect stuffed animal that fits perfectly into my neck crook at night.
●A good sense of what hemlines are appropriate for which situations.
●The ability to cook well enough that I won’t starve or die of scurvy.
●The ability to see the grey area between black and white.
●A sense that sometimes, I just don’t care if I’ve upset someone else, and that’s okay.
●Lactose intolerance.
●Adult-onset acne.
●An appreciation for my natural hair colour.
●A swim with dolphins that changed my life.
●A chance to zipline over the Mexican jungle.
●The sure knowledge, after having tried it, that snorkelling is not my thing.
●A visit to Banff, Alberta that took my breath away.

With the exception of one or two of those dubious gifts, there’s almost none that I’d ask to refund. But with these notches on the metaphorical belt of my life, I am feeling like I’m ready to slow down a little...if only to get my bearings and then forge forward with greater purpose, dignity, and confidence.

Thirty isn’t so bad so far. I’ve been having some health challenges, but I have been moved to tears on a daily basis by the unwavering support and love I’ve received from the handful of people I’ve gathered around me as my core support team. I’m feeling pretty good about my new job, and I’m starting to set my sights on more writing. I think the only thing left to mourn about the termination of my twenties is that I don’t get to surprise people with my age-to-accomplishment ratio. But I’m feeling more focused on doing a stellar job now, rather than just doing a lot of jobs like I did in my twenties. I’m discovering that, when I slow down just a touch, I have a deep appreciation for simple things. In my twenties, I seemed incapable of moving at anything less than a lightning pace. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not slowing down like an old lady here; it’s more about taking broader, meaningful strides instead of running around like a chicken with her head cut off.

I mean, yes fine, I admit that I stuck my head out of the car last night and shouted along to Teenage Wasteland, but I got it out of my system and I’m good now.

Until We Are the Champions comes on, of course. I’m thirty, not dead.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

This old house: apartment makeover, first steps

Our apartment is about to come under scrutiny. It’s funny how this makes me crazy, but it does. Our landlord is coming into town; he lives overseas for most of the year for his job, and he actually hasn’t been in Ottawa since we signed the lease…which, you can imagine, made some of the minor repairs that come with a move-in a bit more difficult to deal with. Lucky for him (and me!), Brian likes working with his hands. 

BEFORE: former tenants' dining room (sorta)

AFTER: we made it our living room.

I was looking through some photos that we took of the apartment when we first moved in. This is a habit I got into long ago, as I’ve found that even the nicest landlord can sometimes turn into a raving Mothra when you try to tell him that that hole in the wall was there when you moved in. Flipping through these photos, I realized something nice: while we’re still pretty far from completing our ‘nest’ the way we envision it, we’ve come a long way from the way the place was lived in by two bachelor college boys. 

The gap in the door.
Our bathroom: owls!

Brian's shaving set, a prized possession.

Our bathroom door is still crooked. Well, to be fair, the walls are crooked, as the house is sinking down into its own belly. The reason the door appears crooked is because, while the house sank and the door began to rub incorrectly in its jamb, someone clearly started shaving off bits of the wood. Now the door has a gap at the top that is wide enough to stick my hands through. It’s a cosmetic issue only…except when we have guests over and suddenly it’s awkward that you can hear everything so very easily.

BEFORE: former tenants used as TV room in attic.

AFTER: we made the TV room our bedroom!
More decorating to come, on a forest friends type look.

There are parts of the apartment that I absolutely adore. The pot rack that Brian installed on the kitchen wall is a lifesaver, and has eliminated the horrible clanging sound that usually occurs during cooking as we dig for the right pan. With the warm weather approaching, we are eager to set out seats on our little balcony, and when we eventually reorganize the art room/studio upstairs, it’s going to be the sunniest, coziest place to craft stuff on a Saturday morning. 

BEFORE: tenants' old bedroom #1.
AFTER: our new art room/office, instead of bedroom.

At night, we climb the stairs to the attic level and crawl into our big bed, under the cheery covers we picked out. I miss Jon Stewart because we lowered our cable TV plan to afford our rent, but Brian will play Big Bang Theory repeats on his laptop for me ‘til I fall asleep. In the morning, I’m greeted by warm yellow walls, even though there’s almost no natural light filtering through the tiny windows. 

BEFORE: former tenants' bedroom.
AFTER: dining room/workout room, and study area.

This is the backdrop against which our lives are lived. This is where we cry, laugh, whisper, and shout. This is where my friends can come anytime they need to chat; it is where I experiment on Brian’s gastrointestinal tract with my cooking endeavours. Every morning I shower in the tiny tub with the hot water pipes whistling and knocking in the walls. Every night I cringe a little at the roaring highway traffic zipping by a meer 50 yards from our heads. I have a closet where I effectively can find all my clothes, and just this week I separated my socks from Brian’s so I’d stop pulling on the wrong ones in the morning. 

BEFORE: kitchen.
AFTER: our wonderful pot rack!

I want more time with the house. I feel like we just started to get to know each other, and then my attention was pulled away for a standard out-of-the-house workweek. Today we created a chore schedule, and it’s my sincere hope that we can start DIY’ing more of our furniture (some needs a coat of paint badly), and making curtains.

The landlord’s impending visit makes me nervous. It’s as if I bought a used car and a year later, the original owner shows up and examines how I’ve maintained it, and what dashboard toys I’ve chosen. I worry he will sneer when he sees my wok and Corningware is stashed with the linen, or that he’ll flip out about the toothbrush holder Brian installed because we have no bathroom counter. With its imperfections, tiny spaces, and odd shape, this is the most I’ve ever modified an apartment to fit my needs; and while I think we’ve been pretty ingenious so far, I don’t want this man to pass judgement on it. 

One of our many items needing paint.

Still, the last guy slept on a mattress on the floor; if the landlord’s going to sneer at my hidden pans, he must have fainted when he saw the garbage bag of inexplicable onion skins that were stashed in a deep kitchen drawer by the last tenants. Oh, wait—he didn’t see those because we had to clean them out.

My happy place.
This post was really just an opportunity to show you some photos of our efforts so far…but as I’ve written it, I realize how far I’ve come in three months. While I’m clearly showing signs of possessiveness about the place, I think I can safely say that I’ve fallen a little in love with it, too. Of course, this morning I had hot water for my shower, so that colours my sentiments today. But yeah, I kinda L-word this place. Just a little.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fridays With Bri - Spot light on Amanda Cottreau

Amanda Cottreau, photo from
Hey, everyone; just a quick post for today. With all the amazing events going on with Celebrate Her, I wanted to quickly highlight the brains behind the operation, the Celebrate Her mastermind: Amanda Cottreau.

I got a chance to sit down with her and groove to some incredible music last night, and find out why she wanted to do such an amazing thing for the women of the community. In a nutshell, Amanda wanted to find a way to link the community together and really show to everyone that, "Wow, Women are really doing that!" She wanted to show to all women around the city that they can achieve amazing things, and that we should really take time to celebrate them all.


Amanda and one of the nominated women Jules Hilliker
Amanda, a local song writer and musician who has truly married her music, told me about about her past and how at one point she had only $13 dollars in her pocket and no place to live. She got through these rough times by seeing amazing women achieve great things, and she stuck to her dream. Amanda pulled herself up and out of that situation. Now she owns her own house, finished her first album last year and is truly chasing down her dreams.

She told me that people call her story inspirational, but she said that it was because of those strong women she witnessed that she strives to succeed. She wanted to share that inspiration with more people, and make an International Women's Day celebration that appeals to all women and men. Since taking on the epic task of planning this week long event she has met more inspirational women than she can count. These amazing women are her "new heroes to look up to".
Alpha Soul Cafe, photos of inspirational women on the wall

When she started to plan the event she began by just wanting to provide a venue for people to recognize that there are amazing women all around...but sometimes we just don't see them. She started to talk with Max, the owner of Alpha Soul Cafe in Hintonburg, about having n photo installation at her restaurant that would show off some of these amazing women. This allowed Amanda to tie the whole celebration together through multiple mediums of art. Amanda wanted it to be an inspiration to others, and really to pass on hope to other women that they, too, can achieve great things.

Please come to the closing gala Saturday March 10th 2012, to help us all celebrate the amazing women of Ottawa. Tickets are only 35$. You can also purchase a raffle ticket for an amazing guitar for only 5$; proceeds go the Ottawa Sexual Assault Support Center (SASC).

It is amazing how much saying, "Thank you, we appreciate you" goes; and truly to all women out there, I say thank you for all that you have done. We truly do appreciate you.
Amanda album

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Celebrate HER: mini post: midweek review

Celebrate Her--Ottawa's festival celebrating arts and women from March 3-10th--has been in full swing since last Saturday. Brian and I have been attending as many of the events as possible, live tweeting as we go. So far this week, we've seen Arif Jinha make the sitar into something ephemeral and sweet, and Anastasia Filippova sing her soul out while accompanying herself on the piano. Brian attended events this evening while I returned to college for the first time in half a decade (more on this later). There are still 4 days of Celebrate Her events to go, and it's all raising money for a great cause, so be sure sure to stop on in to hear some great music, and see the wall of recognized local women (yes, with yours truly included).

For a full list of events check out the events page on the Celebrate Her web site and to follow the tweets of the evet use the hash tag #Cher2012 or tweet directly to the amazing celebrate her team @celebrateherorg

Check out photos from the recent events...

Anastasia Filippova's crowd

Jordan with her photo!

Arif Jinha.

Amanda Cottreau showin' Jordan some love.

Alpha Soul Cafe.


The Incredible women

Anastasia Filippova

Raffle prizes!