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Time to Spring Into Action

I’ve been waking up lately to a whole new world. As I open my eyes and slowly adjust to the unusual experience of sunlight falling upon my face, I can hear the sounds of chirping birds, the rustle of the breeze in freshly budding trees and my heart beating with joy. Finally, what seemed like an endless winter has gone, and spring is in the air!

Excited about the possibilities of fair weather and warmth, oh yes, actually sunny warmth, I have been relishing the chance to get outside and get active. If you are anything like me, your body may have gotten a bit softer in places over the winter, and your endurance and strength might have taken a vacation. Well, now is the time to get inspired, get active, and get fit and healthy in time to really enjoy the summer.

My favourite health generating, soul satisfying, fitness activity is running. And by running, I mean the sort that gets you outdoors and breathing fresh air, not the motivation crushing repetition of the treadmill. I love getting out and embracing the smells and colors of the changing season. I love taking the time to push my body while getting lost in the quiet of my mind.

Adding to the motivation of getting outside to experience the natural delights of spring, I seriously enjoy treating myself to some new running kit. Fresh, snug running shoes. Crisp shorts, tops, headbands and sunglasses. For this season I’ve picked up some amazing discounts on these at Finish Line. What else does a girl need to get out and enjoy some exercise?

Oh, thats right. Something delicious to end it with. For me, after the winter drudgery of hot porridge, I’ve been finishing my runs with a fruit and coconut smoothie. A banana, pinch of cinnamon, natural yoghurt, coconut milk and a little water is my fav. With this and a run under my belt, I’m ready to take on the blossoming world outside.

5 places to go in NYC

ApolloGood morning Loves.  Well I’m back from NYC and as I mentioned on Monday I had a great time.  When you saw the title in this post I’m sure you were thinking “Haven’t I already read this?”  The answer is most likely YES.  But this time it’s all brand new, I swear.

PS – That’s me at the Apollo Theater, how cool is that?!

I love NYC and I try to go as often as I can.  This time I went to NYC to get away from the current stress ball that is my life and while in the city I explored a whole bunch of places I’ve never been as well as some old favorites.  I know I shared the best things to do in NYC last July, but trust me you’ll want to hit up these new great places I discovered next time you’re in the city that never sleeps.

Big Daddy Diner – Union Square

This is one of the those authentic all day breakfast diners.  It’s loud and crowded but the food is worth it.  They have everything from big burgers to stacks of French Toast and Waffles.  They also specialize in milkshakes.  I sat at the bar – because that’s the only place I could find a spot – and I saw a milkshake with real cotton candy in it.  Now that’s a great way to start your day!

The Apollo Theater – Harlem on 125th street

This was my first time going into Harlem and I have to tell you it’s a great neighborhood.  I originally went because BF wanted a Lebron James t-shirt and the Champs store in Harlem was the only store that had his size in stock.  So I hopped on the subway and went uptown. I spent the afternoon walking up and down 125th shopping at street vendors and I saw The Apollo Theater which was a big highlight of my day.

Eataly – corner of 5th Ave and 23rd

This is a big warehouse that’s been converted into a market place/restaurant.  You get every type of food from fish and cheese to pizza and pasta at different stations but you can do your weekly groceries at the same time.

Chipolte – every few blocks anywhere you go

I love Mexican food, it’s vegetarian friendly and it’s always fresh.  You can get a bowl, a burrito or tacos for under $10.  It’s fast food, but it’s fresh and they have really good guacamole.

Broadway – Times Square i.e. 42nd and 6th

The truth is Broadway theatres are all around Times Square in a five block radius or so.  There is something so New York about going to a Broadway show.  Now the tickets can be expensive so let me share a few tips.  There is the TKTS booth in Times Square and they sell last minute, same day tickets at half price.  However they only sell premium tickets so it can still be expensive.  I like to buy my tickets directly at the theater box office.  This time I saw On The Town for $49 and I sat in the first row balcony, total center. Great way to spend a Saturday night.

Friday Faves: I’m Home Sweet Home

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Happy Friday!  Time to take it easy at work and make your plans for the weekend.  Mine include sleeping, lots and lots of sleeping.  I travelled quite a bit this week and after spending two days on a train and three nights in a hotel I’m ready to spend some time in my own bed.

That’s the thing about travelling, I love it but at the same time I’m happy to come home.

Have a great weekend and enjoy these good reads from our friends:

Frugal Beautiful – 4 Ways to Get Better Sleep Tonight

Broke Girl Rich – What Did Your First Job Teach You?

Mo’ Money Mo’ Houses – Tax Season: Why I Love It and My Husband Hates It

Add Vodka – My Emotions Got The Best of Me

The Frugal Farmer – 7 Ways to Trick Yourself into Saving Money

Photo from I’d Pin That

4 things you need to know about buying a home

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It’s almost spring and that means people all around the country are spending their weekends visiting other people’s homes in hopes of finding a gem for their new abode.  Are you one of them?  Spring is a great time to look for a new home because spring fever has us itching to get outside and spring cleaning has us wanting change.

If you’re shopping for a new home this year keep these four tips in mind:

A real estate agent may be worth it

I know some people think hiring a real estate agent isn’t worth the cost but trust me when I say it can save you a lot of time.  I for one like researching online to find the best of whatever it is I need but I just don’t have time.

Real estate agents know other real estate agents and they know as soon a property is coming on the market, that in itself is worth the cost.  Oh and I should mention that it’s not the home buyer who pays the real estate agent commission fee, it’s the seller.  So if you’re looking for a home, look for a real estate agent first.

Always stick to your budget

I can’t stress this enough.  There is absolutely no reason to go over budget when it comes to buying a home because there will always be another home out there with another seller willing to negotiate the price.

You may not find your dream home with all the amenities on your wish list but maybe that wasn’t a realistic goal for your budget.  Visit your bank, get a preapproval to find out how much you can afford and stick to that number.  Trust me an extra $10,000 might seem like peanuts in comparison to your total mortgage price, but amortized over 30 years it’s a lot of money.

Talk with your bank

If you’re buying your first home talk to your bank.  They’re experts, banks help clients buy and sell homes every day.  Your bank will guide you through the home buying process and even recommend a real estate agent and a notary to make your process even easier.

At this point in the game your bank is here to help, you’ll get to the nitty gritty when it’s time to negotiate your mortgage rate.

Shop for a mortgage rate

You’ll go to your bank for a pre approval when you start shopping for your home and they’ll give you an amount they’re willing to lend, interest rates won’t be discussed yet.  When you find the home you want to buy and you’re ready to make an offer, this is when the negotiations will start.   If you take anything away from this today it’s to always negotiate your mortgage rate.

When you walk in to your bank the mortgage representative will tell you that they are offering the best rate possible – but that’s never true.  Banks can always negotiate rates even if it’s a 0.10% discount.  Never accept the first interest rate offer.

If you’re bank can’t offer you a lower rate don’t be afraid to shop around.  Go to another bank, find a mortgage broker or use a comparison website like Lowest Rates.  You can also negotiate other options in your mortgage deal such as the bank paying for home inspection fees or the notary costs.  Always keep in mind they want your business and don’t be afraid to walk away.

Photo from I’d Pin That