Thursday, December 31, 2009

Update on The Retail Challenge

It only seems fitting that the end of 2009 should include an update on The Retail Challenge, one of my more popular posts to date.  If you remember back to earlier this year, I was in a state of unemployment and just sick to my stomach with all the news stories about the latest companies laying off workers.  No one was spending any money, even those that were still employed.  Thus, my simple idea to get people spending to stir up our economy a bit so the unemployed would have a chance at employment.
I'm not going to explain the whole challenge again,  you can read the earlier post by clicking here.  My own personal challenge was to spend $1000 in the retail world once I started working again.  That happened back in April and I have been working to fulfill that promise while also trying to pay for a very expensive trip to the Olympics in Vancouver next year.  Because of that trip, it took me a very long time to complete my own personal Retail Challenge.  And if you want to know the truth, there are many things I should not have bought, but it's done now and someone has benefitted from it so I guess I can live with it.
I was going to list everything that I bought, yes I've actually been keeping track, but I think that would be too long.  So I will list certain items and you'll just have to trust me on the rest.  I Blogger swear to you that I spent at least $1000 if not more. You'll have to trust me on the amounts too!  For my own safety I have decided that I should not disclose prices.

Strapless Printed Dress - White House/Black Market
Purple Samsura Bag - Trixie (Bloor West Village, Toronto)
Second Yoga Jeans - Trixie
Polka Dot Dress - Trixie
Sterling Silver Ring - Vivah
Cosmetics - Mary Kay
Sutter Crossbody Bag - Fossil
TV Bench & Coffee Table- Ikea
Headband - This is J
Long Gold Necklace - Moonrox booth at OOAK
Various Clothing Items - GAP, they had great sales what can I say?
Olympic Gear - HBC, Rona
Area Rug - West Elm
Colin - Monster Factory booth at OOAK
Shortbread cookies - The Shortbread Factory
Suitcase - Samsonite
Canada tee and Hoody - Roots Canada
Seven for all Mankind Jeans - Holt Renfrew
Coffee - Gold Star Coffee
Waterproof Boots - Browns

There you go.  That is the majority of the list.  I'll try to include photos of whatever I can. 
Where I failed was in my ability to buy from independent retailers.  That was a condition for myself in the challenge.  The only thing I can say in my defence is that I was trying to cut down on shopping and did not find myself in as many areas to buy from independents.  For 2010, I will create another challenge for myself, perhaps the exact same one and I will spend all that money with independent retailers.  They are an important and vital part of our economy and deserve our support.  I will keep my eyes open for new places to shop in 2010.  I promise once my Vancouver Olympics trip is paid off, I will take up this challenge with gusto!
Happy New Year everyone.  May 2010 hold many wonderful things for all of you.
Thank you so much for reading.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Roots Never Goes Out Of Style

Left: I say hello to the Roots Canada Collection.
Right: Michael Budman,Johann Olav Koss and Don Green address the crowd.
Models for the evening, joined by Michael Budman, Don Green and Johann Olav Koss.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch party for the Roots Canada Collection on November 5th at their flagship store on Bloor Street in Toronto. As you all know I’m headed to Vancouver in February for the Olympics. Since I secured my final tickets back in June, the thought of what I am going to wear has been on my mind. This party was the perfect opportunity to check out stylish “Canada” apparel to help me build my Olympic wardrobe.
The evening consisted of very smart looking people taking in an introductory speech from Don Green, co-founder of Roots, later joined on stage by his counterpart Michael Budman. It’s amazing to me how long these gentlemen have known each other, been in business together and are still great friends. That alone speaks volumes to why Roots has been such a successful, sustainable brand. A portion of each purchase from the Canada Collection will be donated to the charity, “Right to Play”. Started by Norwegian speed skater Johann Olav Koss, Right To Play gives children all over the world the opportunity to be introduced to sports and the positive aspects that go along with playing on a team. Johann also spoke briefly about his move to Canada and his partnership with Roots and Mastercard.
The Collection was then modelled by a variety of athletes and really, what can I say other than great job Roots! I like this collection much better than the one I saw in the summer. There is the standard Roots fare in T-shirts, zip hoodys and accessories; the best one being the Canada toque for $10. My favourite piece is the Yukon Jacket, a cross between a fleece top and lightweight jacket. It comes in Black or Red and would be great to layer with additional pieces from the collection. I'm thinking of getting the Black one for me and the Red one for my brother. A few special edition leather bags round out this Canada Collection.
Ninety percent of the collection was made in Canada, which is so nice to hear and something I definitely want to support. When the planning process began, the founders were adamant that the pieces were to be made in Canada. It’s quite impressive that they did so and were able to keep the pricing extremely reasonable. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the prices; I really was expecting them to be more expensive.
It was a great night and I am so grateful to have been a part of it. The evening was about celebrating Canada, celebrating Roots and its history and its partnership with Right To Play, but most of all, it was about celebrating great style and clothing! I hope to be wearing that Yukon jacket come February 2010. I want to announce to the world that I am from Canada!
For more information on Right To Play, visit their website:
The Roots Canada Collection is available at your local Roots store or shop online at:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Everyone Loves Miz Mooz

I love checking out my blog stats on Google Analytics. It's so interesting to me to see what people are reading on my blog and where they are coming from to do so. I really do appreciate the time anyone takes to read one post or all of them. Thank you so much for reading my thoughts and for those of you who leave comments, keep them coming!
By far, the most popular post has been Luv Your Shooz Miz Mooz. Seems that I am not the only woman madly in love with this brand. That post has been my most popular one and it is the one that I receive the most comments for. Thank you everyone for letting us know where we can find Miz Mooz in Canada.
I recently received a flyer from Town Shoes and guess what I saw in there? That's right, Miz Mooz is finally available at Town Shoes. I don't think it is a huge assortment but its a start. If you can't make it out to your favourite independent shoe retailer, we now have an option at the mall. As to how many stores carry the brand I'm not sure. I will stop in at Sherway sometime soon and see if the brand is there. You can also search by the Miz Mooz brand name on the Town Shoes website. Right now I only see one style available, but I'm sure they will have more. How can they not? I say we encourage them to buy more styles of Miz Mooz. It is obviously loved by Canadians judging from the amount of views I'm getting. Send your request to and hopefully we'll see tons of Miz Mooz styles soon.
Happy Shopping!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Have Your Coffee, and Guilt Free Too!

A few years ago I was looking for the perfect gift for my coffee obsessed friend Kim. I won't tell you how much coffee she drinks but trust me when I say, if Kim says it is good coffee then it most certainly is.
I started out by looking for a sort of "coffee of the month" type club. Wouldn't I be the bestest friend ever if I gave her a gift of coffee that lasted throughout an entire year? Well, when I saw what that cost I quickly changed gears and decided to focus my efforts on something I could afford. That is how I found the quaint darling coffee/cafe establishment Birds and Beans Coffee. Birds and Beans offers an exotic variety of coffee from all over the world that is "certified organic, shade grown, fairly traded and Bird friendly." Coffee is offered from such places as Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia - I think this one was Kim's favourite, Houndaras and Nicaragua to name a few of the choices.
The website provides lists of which coffees are Fair Trade certified, Bird Friendly and Rainforest Alliance certified so you can buy knowing you are being a responsible consumer.
I liked being able to order the coffee online and have it sent to Kim. It was a nice surprise for her and she got to enjoy the scent of the freshly roasted coffee for a few days. From what I remember delivery was quick and inexpensive. Their retail location is not too far from me so now I go there and purchase it. This was definitely a great find and cool to discover it close to my neighbourhood.
In case you were wondering, Kim LOVED the coffee! That's enough to make me a fan for life.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hats Off to Big It Up

I have been a huge fan of Big It Up for quite awhile now. I don't remember how I got into hats or why I did but for as long as I have been buying hats, almost all of them have come from Big It Up. A Canadian company based in Toronto, ON, Big It Up is a great success story. Started by a bunch of friends who wanted to raise the level of quality in goods produced, they launched the company in 1996. From there the company has continued to grow through more store and kiosk locations and now a website where you can order product.

Wander into any of their stores or kiosks and try on hats. You may be surprised at how good they look on you. Their salespeople are always super friendly and can help direct you to a style that will suit you.

I love the styles and colours and fabrics that they choose for their items. All of their hats are classic pieces from Fedoras to Poor Boys. Check out the cool floppy hats for summer.

I have hats I bought a few years ago that I still wear and they make any outfit look a bit funkier. Wearing a hat to work always garners a few comments so be ready for it.

When I was at Yorkdale the other weekend, I came across the kiosk/store there and was reminded of my fascination and love of hats. I don't usually wear them in the summer because its so hot, but come Fall and Winter, I will be dusting off my hats and working them into my wardrobe.

Last year at The Clothing Show my mom even bought a hat from Big It Up. Hat styles know no ages and I don't care what anyone says, you can find a hat style that looks good on you.

Support Canadian companies and support the style of hats. Who better to Bit It Up than you? I'm looking at their website now planning my next purchase. They are a perfect fit to include in my Retail Challenge.
Hats off to you.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Not A Shopaholic Updates

I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to all those who take the time to read my blog and especially to those who link to my posts.
It seems as though the Retail Challenge has caught on. I still see activity to this post through Google Analytics which makes me very happy. A very special thank you to French Vanilla Home and the Always Upward Blog for passing on the challenge to their own followers. Cinda has even taken it to the next level with the 3/50 challenge. Let's keep it going.
True to my promise, now that I am employed, I am working on contributing my $1000 to the cause via independent retailers. Look for posts in the next few months as I set out to different shopping areas in Toronto to spend some money. I was hoping to have already completed my challenge but then I went a little nuts on tickets to the Olympics. Obviously that is quite a chunk of change but I am working through it, don't worry!
Another post that got a lot of views was Luv Your Shoes Miz Mooz. A few comments have come in from different people letting us know where they found this fabulous affordable brand in their cities. Keep it coming please! I will continue to approve all relevant comments no matter how long ago it was posted.
I'm also very excited to tell you of a new blog opportunity for me. Some of you may already read my other Blog, Journey to Vancouver 2010-Diary of a Fan. I was asked by someone at Tourism Vancouver to write for their blog, Inside Vancouver. They are asking different people from outside of Vancouver to write about their experiences as we get ready to travel to Vancouver for the Olympics. Apparently my love of the Olympics is coming through in those posts, lol. I'm honoured and excited to be a part of their blog. I will continue to post on my own as well. Follow all of them if you can!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Best Aura to Have

Once in awhile, I come across something through my job that really makes me love what I do. This time that feeling is due to Aura Collective. The company was started by two business men, Eric Andrade and Colin Aikman and their idea is truly ingenious. Aura Collective is a website that brings the creative, talented artists across Canada to one central location. There are a wide variety of products and artists and all the items are spectacular. From jewellery to decor pieces, each one is unique and beautiful.

The Aura Collective website not only brings the talent of Canadian artists to our attention, it also contributes to the well being of society by donating a portion of each sale to a charity. When ordering from the website, you can dictate which charity you want the money to be donated to. How amazing is that? Now we can shop and feel doubly good about our purchases, not only are we putting money into the economy, we are also supporting a good cause. Retail therapy is now guilt free! The best thing about it is, I'm sure whatever you buy from the website, it will be a real conversation piece. When Eric and Colin first came to see us, we were all ohhhing and ahhing over the jewellery pieces and other trinkets they brought as a preview.

New artists and products are being added all the time. This is a site you should definitely bookmark. All around, a great idea, a great website and a great cause.

Be sure to visit the site to read up on the artists profiles and products for sale. Its like the One of a Kind show, all year round!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Art of Sandwiches

I love shopping and equal to that is my love of eating. I've tried to branch out in the last few years, trying different types of food. Friends have introduced me to Thai, Mediterranean, authentic Chinese, but really my tried and true favourites are the classics.

When I moved a few years ago, I wondered what I could find in terms of new places to eat. One day while driving south on Islington, I passed a place called Artisano Bakery Cafe. Without even seeing their menu, I knew I had to go. I have been addicted ever since! They truly bring sandwiches and food in general to a new level.

The menu consists of sandwiches on fresh bread (feel free to change the type of bread if you want to), pizzas that look heavenly, pasta like an Italian mom would cook and a never ending choice of baked goods. All bread is made fresh on site and available for purchase. Have specific diet requirements? Artisano even offers wheat free breads.

My favourite sandwich is the Chicken, Grilled Vegetables and Goat Cheese sandwich on Cheese Focaccia bread. Its so delicious with the eggplant, red peppers, basil and roasted red pepper pestos. I have tried to recreate it at home but its just doesn't taste the same. One of these days I will try the pizza, most likely the Rustic Mediterranean. I could go on and on about all the sandwiches I've had and what I want to try next but I think its best for you to see for yourself. Check out one of three locations at Islington, Burloak, or Iroquis (the last two are in Oakville). I promise you will not be disappointed.

Long live the Sandwich!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bringing Foxy to a New Level

I have been a fan of Foxy Originals for some time. I wasn't sure about doing it as a blog post, because it seems that their merchandise is readily available and out in the public eye. However, I have decided to write about them because every time I'm wearing one of their pieces and I tell someone it is a Foxy Original, they look at me with a blank stare and I feel like I have been talking gibberish. To be honest, I am quite shocked that not more people know of this wonderful Canadian design team and company. I think it is a great success story.
You can visit their website for the story on how the company came to be and to take a look at their collections. Right now the best thing going for them is their Barbie Collection, since they are celebrating that anniversary and all this year. All their jewelry is made from lead free pewter and dipped in gold, silver or bronze. For certain pieces other materials are added for variety and a different look. Some of my favourite pieces are: Palm Earrings (see image), Soul Necklace, Rose Ring, Juniper Necklace (see image) and the Utopia Necklace. I could keep going but I'm going to stop there. Foxy Originals recently made their site a shopping site so you can point and click right there to get all the pieces you want. My biggest complaint used to be not being able to find the pieces I liked in stores but now I don't have to worry. This also means as soon as their new pieces come out, we will be able to have them within a few days, or weeks.
Help spread the word. I'm wondering if renting a plane and sky writing "Foxy Originals" in the air would do the trick?

Working Girl Again!

Hello Readers,
I am happy to report that I started working again earlier this month. A great company in Mississauga hired me as a buyer for several of their categories. Among them are fashion accessories and luggage and handbags! You know I'll be paying a lot of attention to those ones. I am very fortunate to have found a job during this difficult economic time and much more fortunate to have found a good job, one that is in my line of work. This represents a great opportunity at a time one would think there aren't many great opportunities out there. Now it is my job to help others find their great job. I am always happy to recommend co-workers and friends to a current employer or to inquires I get from others.
For those of you who are still out of work and looking, I feel your pain. Keep your fingers crossed, stay positive and tell everyone, and I mean everyone, you know that you are looking for a job. You never know who you or they might come across and ask that vital question, "do you know anyone who is looking for a job in ______" (fill in the blank) that could be your future great job.
One I am financially secure, I look forward to upholding my end of the Retail Challenge. It may take awhile to come up with $1000 to spend, but I will do my best. I owe it to the retailers out there.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Part 2 - Notashopaholic Unemployment Survival Guide

Use Your Points
Ever wonder to do with all those points you accumulate at the grocery store and other places? Now is the perfect time to use them. Use your Air Miles, HBC Rewards, Aeroplan, Shoppers Optimum, Scene points to redeem for gift cards, merchandise, or tickets to events. It is a great to be able to get out and do something without feeling guilty about it. Depending on the rewards program, the points may only be able to be redeemed in stored on purchases, which is fine, that saves you money as well. I used Air Miles to redeem for a $50 Cara Foods gift card. It can be used at Second Cup, Kelseys, Milestones and I few more places. It was a great way to be able to meet friends for dinner and not cost me anything.
If you currently don't have a Scene points card, get one! You receive points every time you go to the movies and only 1000 Scene points gets you free admission. Bonus-you'll get 10% off of your popcorn and drinks too!

Coupons can go along way to saving you money. You can get coupons for almost anything these days, its not just for groceries anymore. This is something you need to be dedicated too and it may take some time to find your coupons and organize them, but this can save you a great deal of money. Combine your coupon use when those items are on sale and you will see an even bigger savings. Take your search for coupons to the Internet where there are websites where you can pick and choose the coupons you want and print them out. Some great websites to look at are:, (these coupons will be mailed to you), and
Red Flag Deals is a website you should always keep an eye on. Visitors post various sales and deals from a variety of stores, companies and websites all across Canada. If there is a deal to be had, you should be able to find it on here. Coupons for the deals will also usually be posted for printing off.
Most manufacturers or product companies will issue their own coupons and email them to those on their distribution list. If you buy a lot of products from one company, make sure you look into this. I just signed up for Alberto product emails and coupons yesterday.
Whats the best way to get free stuff? Win it! This is a good way to get free tickets to events or even free items themselves. Now be sure if you are entering a contest you know it is legitimate. Some of the contests I have entered have been from shopping malls, radio stations, magazines I subscribe to. Tim Hortons had an online contest for Roll Up The Rim where you could enter your email address for a chance to win free coffee for a year. I didn't win that one, at least I could play without having to buy the coffee!
Gift Cards
If your birthday or the holidays fall during your unfortunate loss of employment, ask for Gift Cards. There is no shortage of places you can get them from and they will come in very handy. My wonderful chiquita's gave me a Mastercard Gift Card for my birthday and Christmas. The best thing about that baby? I can use it wherever they take Mastercard, basically a Gift Card you can use anywhere!!!!! The girls did good on this one. I'm telling you its the best gift I have ever gotten. There is also a Visa Gift Card if you have a preference. The girls picked up the MC card at Shoppers Drug Mart had it activated and away I went! I'm still using it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Free Events - Not A Shopaholic Unemployment Survival Guide

Chances are wherever you live, there is something free going on that you can attend. Here in Toronto, we have Taste of the Danforth, Taste of Little Italy, Luminato, Jazz Festivals, Movies in the Park, etc. In the summer I think there is a lot more going on so Free Events should be easy to find. In the winter however, its been a bit of a challenge. I have found a few things and here they are:

1. Ice Skating-free at Nathan Philips Square and Harbourfront. If you don't have skates you can rent them (which makes this not free), but most people do have their own or could possibly borrow a pair.

2. Antique Shows/Mall Events-Sherway Gardens and other malls have Antique Shows throughout the year. Check the website of your local mall and find out when this is going on. Then head over to the mall and peruse the offerings. Grab a coffee and spend an afternoon with the antiques. You never know. You may find something you like or it may give you ideas for things to do in your house once you find yourself employed again.

3. Museums and Art Galleries-These places usually have a few hours of free admission one evening a week. Check your local establishments and find out when that is. AGO in Toronto is free Wednesday nights after 6pm. The ROM has free admission Wednesday evenings from 4:30-5:30. Bata Shoe Museum has a pay what you can night Thursdays from 5-8pm. Not free but a substantial saving from the regular $12 admission price. Check websites for the places you are interesting in visiting to see if there are discounted or free admission on certain nights.

City of Toronto lists some free events on their website at: Check your city website to see if they do the same.

4. Public Library-The Toronto Libraries I have been too have free events for both adults and children. Schedules can usually be found online so check your local branch today. Anything seems to go from Bookclubs to Magic shows for the young ones. Worth taking advantage off. The Toronto Library just completed their MAP program in conjunction with Sunlife. Each adult could check out a pass for different attractions around Toronto. All of the passes were good for families usually 2 adults and up to 4 children. I was lucky enough to get a couple of these and visit the Bata Shoe Museum, Textile Museum and the AGO. I'll be on the lookout next year for passes to the ROM.

Not A Shopaholic Unemployment Survival Guide

When I lost my job, the hardest thing to deal with was the change it was going to mean to my lifestyle. A very social person, I am not usually one to turn down invitations to dinners and hanging out with friends. Going out requires money and I didn't have any to spend on those things. I was worried about how I was going to pay bills and buy groceries, just living day to day was about to become an incredible challenge. It soon became apparent that I was going to have to do some kind of socializing, if for the only reason that it was going to help me keep my sanity. Being the kind of person to always find a way to do the things I want, I set out on a mission to find ways of incorporating some social aspect back into my life and to try to save money on anything in anyway that I could.
The following is a list of things that are helping me survive while making me not feel like a social misfit. This is a list that works for me and my lifestyle. Depending on your situation these things may not be suitable to you but there maybe some variation of them that is. All I know is that when you have very little money or no money at all, your ability to get creative certainly comes out. This is my survival guide for getting through this part of my life.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Not A Shopaholic Retail Challenge

As someone who has lost their job as a result of this financial and economic crisis, I get very worried when I hear that people out there are spending less money or not spending any money at all. Now, I'm not a professor of economics but I wonder how we will ever get out of this mess if no one is spending any money.
I was joking around with someone not to long ago, saying that I am the wrong person to be unemployed at this time. If I had a job, I would definitely be spending money. Maybe not as much as usual, but I would be out there, supporting the retailers. Unfortunately, I cannot do this which is why I am issuing this Retail Challenge to all of you. For those of you who are employed, I challenge you to go out and spend $100 a month in retail stores, in restaurants, at the movies, anywhere you choose. If half of the Canadian population* spent $100 every month, that would generate $1 660 634 800 into the Canadian economy. If $100 is too much, spend $50 or whatever you can afford. Anything is better than nothing.
As for myself, I pledge to spend $1000 in retail stores when I get a job again. True to my blog, I will do my best to spend most of it in unique, independent retailers. And I will document my purchases and the stores here on my blog. I look forward to the day when that becomes a reality.
Until then, go forth and shop. Let me know what you are spending your money on. I would be happy to share your stories as future blog posts.

*Source of Canadian Population: CIA-The World Factbook-Canada
Canadian Population July 2008-33,212,696

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Groove Is In Her Heart

It was love at first sight when I saw Karen Couillard and her Groovy Arts collection at one of the Toronto Home shows last spring. Her characters have attitude, her colours are vibrant and if you don't want to spend a lot of money, Karen offers her characters and designs on greeting cards, card holders, and compact mirrors in addition to her art pieces. I am partial towards the art work as there is a wall in my condo reserved for one of Groovy Arts fabulous paintings. I love the fashionable, sassy, diva-ish characters, although the high heels, wine bottles and Eiffel Tower amuse me as well.
The greeting cards go great with gifts. With such tag lines as "Its good to be you", "Viva La Diva", "Darling, Its hard work being this perfect", and "Its not easy being this beautiful", you will surely find a card that suits your celebrant and is guaranteed to make them laugh. I think it would be great to get a set of four together and frame them. With so many great designs, why on earth limit yourself to one?
Items can be purchased from the Groovy Arts website. You may also catch Karen and her collection at a variety of events such as the One of a Kind show. Check her website for details.
I for one will be making a purchase as soon as my unemployment status ends. The characters and colours will go great with my trendy red bedroom walls. Finally, friends will stop bugging me about my blank walls. Thank you Karen for truly unique, yet fashionable art. I knew it was out there somewhere!
Let us all celebrate our inner diva.

Groovy Arts
Burlington, ON
ph 905 331 0716

Sorry Loyal Readers, I promise I am back on track now

First of all, my sincere apologies for the lack of posts lately. All of my time has been spent job hunting and unfortunately I have been neglecting my blog. I will try to get back on track so that my loyal readers are not wondering what has happened to me.
I have added the follower tool so you can now see who is regularly checking my blog. Feel free to add yourself to it. It is nice for me to see who is keeping track of my postings. It will also encourage me to keep up with new posts on a regular basis. My goal is try to post once every 3-4 weeks.
As for my job hunt, it is a slow process which is not surprising given the times we are going through. I am positive that something will come up within the next few months. Ecommerce is a growing business and not only in the retail industry. Once I am employed again, I will be sure to let you know.
Thank you to all those who read my blog and have become "followers". A special thank you to "Chutton" for being my first "follower". I appreciate the time you take to read my thoughts and opinions. If you ever come across cool things you think would be great for my blog, please send me the information. After all, there is only so much shopping I can do on my own. ;)