Friday, 18 December 2015

The Return of Holiday Heroes

It is that time of year again when we give more thought to giving, especially to those less fortunate. Last year we were thrilled to join Jazz.FM91 and Long & McQuade  to collect gently loved instruments and deliver them to a very deserving school, Gulfstream Public School in North York.

This year instruments are being collected for students from George Syme Community School in Toronto. So if you have one or more gently loved instruments that you would like to donate then we encourage you to drop them off at your earliest convenience to JAZZ.FM91 or the Long & McQuade Bloor Street location on or before Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015:

Long & McQuade, 925 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario M6H 1L5 Phone: 416-588-7886

JAZZ.FM91, 4 Pardee Avenue, Unit 100, Toronto, Ontario M6K 3H5 Phone: 416-595-0404

We hope you are able to support this initiative by donating or by simply spreading the word.

Wishing you and yours the very best of the holiday season!


Saturday, 14 November 2015

Winter (and other) Hacks for Your Car and Home

It’s finally getting to be that time of year again, Halloween is in the rear view mirror, fall is winding down and winter is just around the corner. There’s a lot to look forward to about winter- the return of hockey, the holiday season, hot cocoa, fresh powder snow on the ski slopes- but there’s a lot to be apprehensive about too. Cold weather, slick roads, and flu season are all part of the reason why most of us have a love/hate relationship with the winter months. That doesn’t have to be the case, though, with the right preparation, you, your house, and your car, can fall all the way in love with winter all over again.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, make sure your car is in tip-top shape. Depending on where you live, you may or may not be required by law to switch over to winter tires, but in the interest of safety, it’s a good idea to get them put on either way. While you’re at it, flush and refresh your anti-freeze, replace your wiper fluid with one that contains anti-freeze and have both systems checked for any damage, it’s been a long summer and they could either or both have sustained damage without you being aware of it. If you’re due or overdue for a tune-up, schedule it before the winter months, Canadian winters tend to hit hard with little warning and you don’t want to be stuck unprepared for an unanticipated problem on top of everything. You’ll want to ensure you have a well-prepared emergency kit in your trunk as well, stock it with flares, a flashlight (with extra batteries), blankets, some matches, an old-fashioned battery operated hand radio, a tool kit, sleeping bags, candles, fire starter matches, a shovel, road maps, a first aid kit and anything else you can think of that you or your family might need in the case of a break down mid-winter. The key message to take is preparedness all-round, don’t wait until it’s too late to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Here is a video from our friends at Buzzfeed that provides some helpful car-related hacks that you will love.

And here is a post from them with more helpful hacks, especially for winter.

Back on the home front, the same principle applies, prepare as best as you can ahead of time. Check your weather stripping and insulation, check for drafts around windows and doors and give your house a general once-over indoors and out, keeping an eye out for any issues which could cause undue inconvenience over the winter months. Do the same for the garage, you and your car will be spending much more time there over the winter months, so it’s best to get everything into tip-top shape before the fact rather than after it. The final stage of prep revolves around tools and supplies, bring the summer and fall gear- the rakes, the gardening implements, the lawnmower in and out of the way into winter storage and bust out the shovels, scrapers, salt bags, and sand bags, and give them a once-over to make sure everything is in working order. Salt and sand, in particular, are too often left as an after-thought until the first snowfall actually hits, but we all know how inconsistent the weather forecasts can be and if the station is calling for a light dusting and you anticipate being able to drive to the store to stock up you may be sorely disappointed.

And there you have it. There’s really not a lot to prepping for the winter, just one to two solid days of shopping and maintenance, so set aside a weekend soon and get it done. You’ll thank us for it.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Fall Cleanup Can Be Easier Than You Think

Fall is finally here. The days spent lounging on the patio and grilling up burgers on the barbecue are distant memories. Fall, like spring, is a bit of a transitional season. A big part of this transition is readying the outdoor space- the patio, the yard, the shed, the garage, the garden- for the long winter months to come. Raking leaves, pulling up plants and organizing outdoor storage are among the most daunting tasks on the yearly calendar, but with the right plan and the right execution, like fall, they’ll be over and done with before you know it.

Leaves, leaves, leaves. There’s nothing more characteristic of fall than a humongous pile of leaves of all sizes, shapes, and colour, and there’s nothing that poses a unique challenge to the task of pre-Winter maintenance either. Leaves are constantly falling, constantly blowing, and consistently refuse to co-operate when raked, bagged, or blown. With that in mind, two solutions that have proven effective in dealing with this perpetual problem are “Tarping” and “mulching”.

If you don’t want to have to deal with bagging and disposing of piles and piles of leaves, you can take the easy way out and just take your mower to them! Mulching leaves and spreading them over the lawn and garden, especially near the very end of the season, can provide much-needed nourishment and some protection from the elements for the coming winter months.

If you don’t have a mower that reliably functions as a mulcher or if you simply can’t bear to sprinkle mulched sticks and leaves all over your prize garden, there’s another solution to make transport and storage much easier- tarps. Rather than raking leaves across the yard one stroke at a time or picking them up out of a pile one handful at a time, rake your leaves into a pile on top of the tarp. Then just pick up the tarp and move it wherever you want- it’s much easier and much more satisfying than regular raking. And it doesn’t leave a trail of half-shredded leaves trailing towards your compost bin.

Speaking of compost bins, they are more important during fall months than any other time of year. A final pre-winter cleaning of the yard requires more than just mulching or disposing of leaves. There’s a whole garden to be taken care of too. Uproot the annuals and properly dispose of them and trim down perennials to 6 inches or less in preparation for winter, and all the excess waste this process generates has to go somewhere. Composting is both environmentally responsible and convenient. You can purchase compost bins at a very reasonable cost and maintain them with very little work, yielding highly efficient fertilizer for re-use in your garden come springtime.

Now that the yard is taken care of, it’s time to move on to the external interior- sheds, garages, and other storage spaces. With tools, gadgets and toys taken out of their regular storage space for summer usage, the storage space will likely have accumulated some extra stuff. Whether it’s actual junk, genuinely important items simply stored in the wrong place, or some combination thereof, it’s extremely rare to find a winter storage space that’s well-maintained and perfectly serviceable at the end of the summer. That’s the first step, de-cluttering that storage space so it can be used again over the winter months. Once that’s taken care of, the actual stuff that’s been populating the yard, hanging out on the patio and in constant use over the summer needs to be put back where it belongs. This process can be a long, drawn out, and tedious, so try and get it out of the way as early as possible. There are few things more miserable than hauling tools around in early December at 10-below because you didn’t make time to get to it sooner, so don’t put yourself in that position.

And there you have it, folks, it’s quite simple when you break it down- manage your leaves and other yard waste, thoroughly (and carefully) gut your garden, and dispose of all the resulting waste as best you can, and return your various summer appliances back to winter storage. It may sound like a lot, but with a methodical approach, proper planning and good execution, fall cleaning doesn’t have to be so unpleasant after all.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Our Fall Recap: Nuit Blanche and the Humber River Cleanup

Nuit Blanche

It was another fun year at Scotiabank's Nuit Blanche, celebrating its 10th anniversary. A minimum of one million people has attended every year since 2008. This was our third year at the event for the City of Toronto and we hope to back next year.

This video will give you a taste of what it was all about.

And here is a recap of the best and worst of Nuit Blanche according to BlogTO.

We had 40 staff, two trucks and 5 bins this year. It was a great success for us. We had things cleaned up 4 hours sooner than last year with much fewer staff. Proud to get the city back in order so quickly.

Did you attend? If so, what did you like? What didn’t you like? Will we see you next year? Let's hope so!

Humber River Cleanup 2015 Recap

It was great to reach a milestone of five years cleaning up the Humber River but sad that it still needs cleanup. We were proud to do our part with our valuable sponsors and volunteers. This year we had 30 volunteers and staff helping load up our truck with 1 tonne of junk.

Here are a few highlights from the day

 Somebody was interested in learning to Kayak

We found tons of tires. People strip them and recycle the 
metal money. We found 50 of them in the woods.

Audra Brown from CityNews stopped 
by to make a report that you can see here

It was great to have more corporate sponsors this year. We could not have done it without their help. Our thanks to Spinnaker Recycling, The Complete Paddler, See Through Web DesignShorncliffe Disposal and a modest person who gave $1000. 

We were pleased to find less junk to remove this year. Hopefully this will be the trend for next year. Regardless, we know we are making a difference and are going focus on another part of the River next year to find and remove more junk.

Media coverage was another bonus for us this year. In addition to the Audra Brown report above, Rick Crawford, was interviewed on GlobalTV. You can see it here:

This have been a labour of love for five years. We could not do it without your support. We hope you will join the effort again next year. In the meantime, let's all try to do our part to keep our own little parts of the world a little cleaner.

Monday, 21 September 2015

10 Simple steps to help you manage the back to school transition

I think it’s safe to say just about every member of every family would agree that the first week of September is one of the worst of the year. Kids have to say goodbye to long days lounging on the couch playing video games, evening soccer games, and their favourite summer camp, and parents have to say goodbye to cottages, camping trips, and barbecues. Worse than leaving all of that behind, though, is having to gear back up for the return to school. Kids may feel they’re the ones getting the short end of the stick, forced back into cramped classrooms and daydreaming of summers days gone past, but any parent who’s gone through the back to school routine a couple of times knows they’re the ones facing the real challenges. For parents, back to school means packing lunches, buying new school supplies, and organizing the endless supply of homework and notebooks strewn about the house. To help all the stressed, overworked parents out there through these difficult times, Ridofit’s compiled 5 simple tips for a smooth transition back to school.

1.       Recycle old supplies. Have your son/daughter dredge up and organize last year’s school supplies. Too often kids insist on replacing last year’s supplies with the latest and greatest books, markers, and backpacks, and when you don’t know that they actually do and don’t have, left from last year, it can be hard to say no, so don’t let them off the hook easily! More often than not, they have perfectly good supplies that can carry over from the previous year and tapping into those reserves will help keep you from breaking the back to school bank.

2.        Don’t leave shopping til the Last Minute. It’s always tough to find time for excursions as involved as back-to-school shopping, but getting it over with as early as possible is sure to lighten the load a little. The closer we get to the first day back, the busier the stores will be and the fewer supplies will be left. Take some initiative and get out there ahead of time and you won’t regret it.

3.       Organize, organize, organize.  It can be difficult to keep your kids’ school stuff in order, especially at the start of the year with added challenges like the seemingly endless stream of handouts and the time it takes to get back into old routines, but keeping things organized from the get-go with bins, folders, binders, and more, will get you into good habits for the rest of the year and good habits are easier to maintain than hard habits are to break.

4.        Invest in quality products. It can be tempting to take the path of least resistance when picking up school and organizational supplies for the school year, but making a slightly larger investment upfront can pay huge dividends down the line. Having a backpack, binder, or desk set break down mid-way through the year could cause serious problems and investing just a little bit more up front to reduce that risk is the safe bet.

5.        Set up a family calendar. Don’t limit back-to-school organization to your children’s things, it’s just as if not more important to organize day-to-day and week-to-week schedules as well. A new school year will bring new commitments for your kids and your schedule probably isn’t getting any lighter. In the interest of keeping everyone sane and finding family time amidst the chaos, have everyone pencil in their schedules on a dry-erase or large format calendar, It’ll make it much easier for everyone to keep up with their personal, professional and family commitments.

Now we know you might not want to, but get out there and get back on that horse. If you go into the school year adequately prepared it’ll breeze by and you’ll be back to those long relaxing summer days in no time.

Monday, 31 August 2015

How to Prepare the Back to School Workspace at Home for the Kids

After an unstoppable summer how do you get the kids back into school habits?

If you’re anything like my mom, you will throw the new Staples supplies in a new backpack and hope for the best when we return home. We turned out okay. However, I can’t help but wonder; could my youth have been a little bit more stress-free if homework time was organized?

Kids now are bogged down with more and more homework. They need that at home support more than ever. So how do you prepare to tackle this coming workload? Create your own at-home workspace. Despite my lack of homework organization, my parents were always crafty. I’ve used some of their tactics to pull together this workspace by re-using materials that are already in the home.

Most of us don’t have a separate room for the kid’s workspace; however the workspace should be separate from the eating and playing environments. (i.e. The kitchen and playroom/bedroom) So make a separate space in the basement, your current home office, etc. I remember that you retain information best in a spot that mimics the testing environment, without distractions or similar associations.

How to transform the workspace; think re-use, recycle and re-build

1. Have a place for everything

To re-use what you have, use old coffee mugs that get pushed to the back of the cupboard can be great pencil holders for the kids. Not a coffee drinker? Have the kids finish up their summer by painting old paint cans bright colours.
In the drawer or on top of the desk keep extra pens, scissors, rulers and erasers in old cutlery trays that your kitchen may no longer need. Don’t have any? An unused opened egg carton can do the trick as well.

2. Have the school work handy

On the side of the desk or the nearby wall create your backpack hanging hooks. Simply screw on old dresser knobs or bathroom towel hangers so the kids can have their backpack upright and ready to pull material from as they do their homework.

3. Think outside the box

Need a chair? Old milk crates can be the perfect height for children. They are also durable. For comfort, glue on an old square decorative throw pillow. Vinyl, fabric and plastic adhesive can get the job done. Any local hardware or craft store will carry this.

4. Have it ready before their first day of school. 

Kids, like adults, respond fluently to habits that begin at the same time as a change of scenery. In other words, to break an old habit or start a new you would change your routine. Think about the idea to frequent the gym. You start each day with a typical morning routine and may still barely make work on time. After, work plans, obligations effectively get in the way of a regular gym appearance.

So how would you change this? Switch up your daily routine, and even your sleeping habits.
Similarly, that new routine of going back to school can be the jumpstart to kids daily school work routine at home.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

5 Ways to Clean for People Who Hate Cleaning

Most people hate cleaning. It takes a lot of time and energy, and it seems like every time we put the effort in and get the whole space clean it’s dirty all over again in no time at all and we have to repeat the cycle all over again. But when we clean properly and keep the space respectable, the payoff makes it all worthwhile, everyone loves living in a clean space. Even with that in mind, the task is often daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone! Here are Ridofit’s top 5 tips to help you get through your cleaning with your sanity intact.

1. Declutter

Less is more. The more stuff you have, the more there is to clean. No one likes decluttering but it makes future cleaning much easierTry packing away boxes of stuff you don’t need or selling old items-college textbooks, old couches, and bookcases- to create some extra space.

2. Make Cleaning Fun

There are a ton of ways you can make cleaning more enjoyable. Put on some music, bust a move like Mrs. Doubtfire, if you’re of age clean with a cold beer or glass of wine in hand. You’ll find yourself much more relaxed and less worried about the time as the task will feel less like a chore and more like fun. You could even rope a friend or significant other into cleaning with you- you might not guess it right away but cleaning can be fantastic bonding time. can lead to great bonding time. 

3. Setting A Timer

Setting a timer helps with time management for other projects around the house, so why not cleaning? We all know it works well with washing dishes and believe it or not it works just as well with packing them away. Setting a short timer for 10 minutes can help you see how long the task actually takes to complete and will make it possible for you to schedule more tasks and be more productive.

4. Think Of It As A Workout

Cleaning is a pretty intense workout on its own when you think about it.  You’re bending, reaching, squatting, lifting, and running up and down the stairs practically the whole time. Focusing on this aspect and adding a little twist like doing 10 pushups or sit-ups after finishing with each room can  take cleaning from being a decent workout to a great one  and make the cleaning go by even faster.

5. Get A Team Together

Having some helping hands can make the cleaning process much faster and can keep your home cleaner for a longer period of time. Get your kids, partner, and anyone else who may be living at home together and give them their marching orders. Assigning tasks to certain individuals in your  home can lead to the creation of a cleaning routine that will make cleaning less annoying. Keep the tasks on rotation and you’ll be left with a house of happy (and clean!) campers.