Tuesday, December 14, 2010

We All Heart Accessories

It was a warm sunny October day in Toronto and I decided a trip up to Yonge and Eglinton to visit I Heart Accessories was needed. We had been corresponding on Twitter, I had read their blog and I was drooling over all the photos of product on their Facebook page. Obviously I didn’t really need any accessories and I was on a self imposed shopping abstinence, but I had to go, plus I had my current issue of Lou Lou and it had a 20% off coupon for I Heart Accessories. Trust me, smaller things have made me visit. It’s like the store was calling me, or maybe I really wanted to meet Natalie, owner of the store. I would love to be in her position one day: have my very own store to buy for and merchandise. I also think she is doing a great job at promoting the store through social media and I wanted to go see it in person. Point: Social media does work folks!

Yonge and Eglinton is one of my favourite areas of the city. Tons of restaurants, I didn’t think there was much in the way of shopping, at least from what I could remember. Turns out, if walk up Yonge a bit, north of Eglinton, there is great shopping! Good thing I wasn’t spending any money or I could have done some serious damage. I found Natalie’s store no problem and apparently I’m not the only one. It was crowded which was great to see. I looked around as I waited for her to finish up with several customers. The best thing about the store is the accessories are affordable!!! I love that word. It took me awhile to decide on what to buy. I finally settled on a necklace from brand iwear and a pair of leather gloves with ruching.

When Natalie was finally able to chat I didn’t even have to introduce myself, she knew who I was. It’s kind of funny when someone can recognize you from your twitter photo. We chatted for awhile about the store, brands, customer traffic, our blogs and twitter. She was so nice. I probably would have talked her ear off (which I think I actually did) but other customers needed her. It’s a great store and I plan to be back one day. Next spring I see a pair of Lindsay Philips flats in my closet and I know just where to get them. Thanks Natalie!

Follow on Twitter @iheartaccessories
Join the I Heart Accessories Facebook page for a 15% discount every time you shop.
Website: http://www.iheartaccessories.ca/index.html

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Artisano Breakfast Tweetup

Twitter is good for a lot of things, the best being if you want to go check out a restaurant there is no shortage of Twitter people who will want to join you. Putting this theory to the test I decided to organize my own Tweetup (a chance for Twitter people to meet in real life) at one of my favourite places, Artisano Bakery and Cafe.

If you’re a regular reader of mine, and I know you are, you’ll remember my post from last year “The Art of Sandwiches”. I still visit Artisano on a regular basis for sandwiches and pizza but I really, really wanted to go there for breakfast. I didn’t want to go and pick up food and bring it home to eat which is what I usually do. I wanted to sit in the restaurant with a bunch of fun people, hang out on a weekend morning with them and a scrumptious breakfast. I created an invite using twtvite, sent out a few tweets on Twitter, and lo and behold, people actually wanted to come! That is how we came to be a group of 16 people, most of whom have met through Twitter, sitting at Artisano’s Toronto location on Islington Avenue yesterday morning, to eat breakfast, drink coffee, meet some cool people and have a few good laughs. People came from as far away as Pickering, Hamilton, Richmond Hill and across the city on TTC. Most of them made it on time too!

Before Saturday, there were many tweets flying around as people tried to decide what they were going to order. I already knew what I wanted! I was dying to try the Breakfast Pizza. My Mom had ordered it on a previous trip and I was in envy the entire time she ate it. It did not disappoint yesterday morning and there were a few others who chose this as well. The other popular item of the morning was “Eggs in my Pocket”, interesting name. French toast was also ordered, the consensus was it was ok, the other dishes looked much better. Lots of coffee accompanied most meals. We discovered some talented coffee gofers which was a pleasant surprise. People tweeted as they ate, tweeted photos of their breakfast, and tweeted in general. I’m trying to get a count of the hash tag used. It’s not easy to do, needless to say there were a lot of tweets with the tag #Artisano.

 I was so happy others love this cafe as much as I do. I’ve never had a bad meal there and it’s a great place to hang out, eat, work, chat, whatever you want. Not only was it fun for us, we got to support a local business which is always a good thing. Artisano is expanding with new locations in Mississauga and North York. Hopefully there will be one in your neighbourhood soon.

A big thank you to all the Twitter people (tweeps) for joining me this morning. Some of you came from faraway places and I appreciate your efforts to get there, as well as the time you had to get up to do that. Also a thank you to Lyndon, General Manager of Artisano for helping to reserve a section for us. I don’t think he believed me when I said I was going to bring a bunch of Twitter people to his restaurant. At least now he knows I’m not a liar! From what I can tell, we generated a few hundred tweets, had #Artisano trending on Four Square, posted photos of the food, and those tweets were seen by thousands of people Saturday morning. 
There were some people who could not make it today and have requested another Tweetup be scheduled. I will look into doing that and post details once it is arranged. I am thrilled there has been this much interest in a place I love going to and have been going to for a few years.

If you’re interested in seeing the tweets from the event, you can search hash tag #Artisano. See you there next time.

Twitter people out for breakfast at Artisano Bakery and Cafe.

 Thanks to all the Twitter folks who took photos of their food. Without you I would not have had any photos for my blog.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The White Space Event

Last week I attended the launch of the White Space at The Hudson Bay Yorkdale location. The event was hosted in conjunction with Fashion Magazine. Sarah Casselman, Fashion Market Editor presented on trends for Fall 2010. The event also showcased some premier clothing lines available at The Bay. Headlining was the Adam, featuring designs by Adam Lippes as well as See by Cloe, BCBG, Sandro, Rachel Roy and the more affordable Moon brand created for The Bay.

I was super excited by the invite and knew I just had to share it with someone. My good friend Maria who is an “I’m up for anything” kind of person was more than happy to join me in fashion paradise. Arriving just before 7pm, Maria made a beeline for the champagne and I for the candy bar. After getting that over with, we walked around for a bit checking out the clothes and drooling over some amazing pieces, including a print dress from Adam and sweaters from BCBG.

Maria got such a kick out of drinking champagne in a Bay store.

I got a kick out of the candy bar. It was so cool, I went back a second time.

Time for the trend presentation and Sarah presented 3 looks. The one that stood out the most to me was the mixing of tights and shoe colours. No longer must they be the same. Sarah showed a navy dress, with navy tights and grey open toe shoes. Not a look I would have thought of but I liked it. I did pay close attention to any outfits accessorized with grey shoes since I just bought a pair and am looking for ideas on what to wear with them. My mind races with the possibilities. The ever popular skinny jeans and military looks were also addressed.

Fashion trend presentation. Notice the shoes.

Next up some looks from brands featured in the White Space. My most favourite was the dress featured from the Adam collection. It happened to be standing next to another fav dress that I loved worn by Sarah herself. I have to admit at times I wasn’t paying attention to what she was saying because I was having serious pangs on envy watching her wear that beloved dress which was a herringbone pattern if I remember correctly. Anyway, focus Christina. After the show was over, we continued to look around. I had a chance to check out the Moon line. This is The Bay’s fashionable affordable line and I have to say there were quite a few things that I liked. I’m on the hunt for a sweater dress and saw some that I need to go back and try on. Other items we liked were the winter coats, and the sweaters, like I need another sweater, but I’m just telling you what I liked.

My two favourite dresses side by side.

We dipped into dessert, got our gift bags and moseyed on outta there. I’m glad I attended the event. I wouldn’t normally think of going to The Bay for apparel. After seeing what they had at the White Space, I definitely will have it in mind for future purchases.

Thank you to The Bay Yorkdale, Fashion Magazine, and Maria.

By: Christina Wallaert

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Knight in Shining Armour: The Chesterfield Shop

Once upon a time there was a lovely girl who grew up in the suburbs and dreamed that one day she would be able to afford a condo in the city somewhat bigger than the size of a shoebox. When that day eventually came, she packed up her fantastic wardrobe, IKEA bedroom set and moved into said condo with its hardwood floors, spacious bedroom and gigantic balcony. Having lived with her parents her entire life, she had no furniture to speak of. The bigger than a shoebox condo remained relatively empty for over a year. A leather club chair, ottoman and barstools were the only furniture pieces to keep her company. After a year and a half of owning one piece of furniture and scouring the city and suburbs far and wide for a sofa that would fit in her beloved condo, the girl decided to buy a sofa and a slipper chair from a reputable retail chain. After many visits to the store, many searches online, measuring her living room and furniture selections, she came to terms with the price and took the plunge. The girl filled out the proper papers, picked out fabric for her furniture that would have made it magazine worthy and handed over a deposit. Now she was tortured with waiting 8-10 weeks for her magazine worthy furniture to arrive.

She waited patiently for the day her furniture would finally arrive, well maybe not that patient but she did the best she could. At the 8 week mark she called the store to check on the date of arrival, after all this was the most important day of her life. To move the story along quickly, it turns out the magazine worthy furniture was never ordered by the reputable retail chain. Hmmm, what? Yes, you read right. The order was never submitted. She wasn’t going to be getting furniture anytime soon. They offered to rush the order, but this girl had had enough. She demanded her deposit back from the big bad retail chain, much to the horror of her family and friends who thought she should have stuck with the original order. But lovely girls in the city don’t believe in rewarding bad behaviour so this girl set out to take her business elsewhere.

Now, the situation wasn’t as bad as you might think, for this girl already knew where she was going to go. Having visited a friend’s condo a few months before, she was smart enough to inquire as to where the friend had purchased her furniture. When the friend replied “The Chesterfield Shop”, the girl had no idea what she was talking about. After the big bad retail company screwed up her order, she knew she had to look up The Chesterfield Shop and check it out. The salesperson was very sympathetic to her predicament. He was a great help in pointing out their condo sized sofas, provided her with pricing and matching fabric to her sample. Within an hour of entering the store, she had a sofa and fabric picked out and signed on the dotted line. This purchase ended up costing less than the previous so some good came out of it. She settled in to wait another 6 weeks for her sofa. Luck was on her side this time because at 4 weeks she got a call and her sofa was delivered on a beautiful Saturday morning in September. It was so pretty and nice she didn’t even want to sit on it for risk of getting it dirty. It has become the centrepiece of the living room and this girl couldn’t be happier. Now her condo resembles an actual home thanks to The Chesterfield Shop and many other stores. The Chesterfield Shop will always have a special place in her heart. It is now the store she recommends to anyone who needs furniture. As it turns out, the lovely girl’s best friend and husband ended up buying furniture for their house there too. And they saved money compared to the place they had originally been looking at. See a trend here?

So now that the lovely girl has her beautiful sofa in her beautiful condo, what is she to do with her time? Why search for her Prince of course!

Christina Wallaert

Authors Note: While I was working on this piece, I came home one day and there was a delivery truck from The Chesterfield Shop parked in front of the condo building next to mine. Its was pretty funny timing.

My sofa and I are very happy together.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Not A Fan of Yoga Until The Jeans Came Along

One Saturday afternoon, I was shopping in Bloor West Village at one of my all time favourite stores Trixie (future blog post). I wasn’t looking for anything particular that day, when am I really? It’s not like I need anything new. As I was perusing the cool clothes in the store I noticed some denim. It was not a brand I was familiar with, however I had seen it in another store and decided to ask the helpful associates at Trixie about it. It was the Yoga jean from Second denim Co. I think I’m pretty up on my brands and labels but sheepishly had to admit that I was not familiar with this one. That’s what I get for being behind on my Lou Lou issues. The Trixie girls convinced me to try on a pair, which really isn’t that hard to do. Into the fitting room I went with these so called Yoga jeans. The style was a dark denim straight leg jean. I have always stayed away from skinny leg and straight leg jeans. It wasn’t a style that I ever thought would be flattering on me. My shape has been described as many things and skinny or straight isn’t one of them. I will say that I am not really thin nor am I really curvy. All of my jeans are boot cut as I have deemed that to be the most flattering style for my body type. Whether that is right or wrong I do not know but it is what had prevented me from trying on these other styles before this day.

The jeans are very stretchy. I believe the Trixie girls told me these jeans stretch two ways, most jeans only stretch one. My normal size fit me, thank goodness! You know if I had to go up a size they would have stayed in the store. Best of all, I thought they made my legs look long AND thin! Yes I swear my legs looked longer and more slender. If that isn’t enough to buy them what is? On top of that they were amazingly comfortable and I was in love. I didn’t want to take them off. I now wear them often and they look great with heels or with the jeans rolled up a bit and worn with flats.

When I got home from that shopping trip I had to look up the website of these amazing jeans. I was pleased to discover it was a Canadian company, started by Eric Wazana, in Montreal ten years ago. Design, production, washing and finishing are done in Montreal and then shipped out to a local store near you. Eric and  his team pay close attention to detail. This is obvious when you try on a pair of their jeans.  I consider him to be pure genius. It can’t be easy to design jeans that women will love! The best thing about this is its's another great Canadian brand having great success in the fashion world. The website has a very comprehensive list of retailers. Lots of independents carry the brand but if you can’t locate one near you, your closest Jean Machine location should be able to help you.

I like mine so much I’m contemplating getting a 2nd pair but that probably doesn’t surprise you. The hard part is deciding whether to get the same style different colour or go for a new style. So many decisions to make, so little time....

If you own a pair of Second denim Co. jeans I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment below or on the Not A Shopaholic group page on Facebook. Happy Shopping!

Update: September 5-I did buy another pair of the Yoga bootcut jeans in Black! I think I might be addicted to these jeans.

Christina Wallaert

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Clam Diggers Make For Great Dance Wear

Earlier in the year I decided to make a return to ballet class after a 15 year absence. I had kept up with my other forms of dance: jazz, tap and hip hop but had never gone back to ballet after leaving it in my teens. There were a few reasons I wanted to get back into ballet. One of them being I wanted to get back to the basics of dance. The other reason, the main one driving my decision was that I thought it would be calming and relaxing.  Umm, I was so mistaken.  Needless to say after a 15+ year absence I didn't remember as much as I thought I would. My body doesn't respond like it used to when I'm telling it to get feet into fifth position and plie or to do an arabesque and balance on one foot.  About 10 minutes into the class I would be sweating like crazy both from the physical exertion as well as the mental stress of trying to keep up in an advanced class.  It was obvious after the first few weeks that tees and capris were going to be way to hot for this class. Not feeling comfortable going to dance class in shorts I started to think about alternatives. Last weekend I wandered into the Lululemon store at Sherway Gardens. If there was anyone who would have anything suitable I knew it was going to be at Lulu.

I headed right to their pant wall and quickly zeroed in on the Clam Digger style. The lovely and fit associate working in that section assured me that the length (a few inches shorter than a capri but longer than a short) was enough to feel a difference in temperature.  The Clam Digger is made from Lululemon's signature luon fabric which according to the website is "breathable with coverage, a cotton feel, and has 4 way stretch to provide support and allow freedom of movement."  I found the fabric to be very soft and comfortable to wear. It moved easily when I did which is important when dancing.  I also found them to be very lightweight which might be why they feel cooler than some of my other dance wear.  The only bad thing I have to say about them is the waistband seems kind of low. I'm hoping when I start dancing in them the waist doesn't fall any lower than where they sit now. I think they will be ok but won't know for sure until I start wearing them on a regular basis.

To test out my purchase I wore them to the gym for my workout the next day.  I did feel cooler compared to my usual workout gear so I think my mission was accomplished. The true test will come when I return to ballet class in September. At the very least I will look like a dancer based on attire, if not based on my talent and I think I'm ok with that.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Uniquely Basic at Uniqlo

It doesn’t seem like so long but about a year and a half ago, some friends and I took a trip to New York City. There was a lot of reminiscing about Sex and The City as we recognized certain locations while we were there. We did touristy things like walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and go to the top of the Empire State Building. We walked and walked and walked. By the end of the day we were so exhausted we couldn’t even manage to get ourselves dolled up and go out to a hip trendy New York club. Yes our days of youth were definitely behind us. One of my personal goals was to find some hip shops and bring back some truly “New York” items. The kind that people see and they know you didn’t buy them here. Sadly I didn’t see anything like that. Maybe you need to be a New Yorker to know where those kinds of places are. Despite that, the shopping was still good and I ended up spending more (of course) than I should have.

One store that really caught my eye was Uniqlo. First of all it was massive, even by New York City standards. The store went on forever and had 3 or 4 levels. It took hours to go through it all. Second, we noticed it for its stunning visual merchandising. Early in my career I was a Visual Merchandiser for places like The Gap and Jacob. My friend Rita does Visual Merchandising for a major Canadian retail chain. If ever there were two people who could appreciate the beauty of colour blocking, it was us. And Uniqlo does colour blocking better than I’ve ever seen anyone do it. It helps that all of their items seem to come in about 10 colours. I can’t imagine that finding a size could ever be an issue, they have tons of stock! It went from the floor to the ceiling. Rita was so infatuated with it she took pictures. After some time spent gawking at this colour blocking, inventory filled marvel, we got down to business and began to shop. To be honest I found it a bit overwhelming because there was so much stuff. If that doesn’t bother you though, you won’t have a problem. What I liked best about the store was that it was great for stocking up on basic items. They did have fashion pieces as well but I stuck to basics. Doesn’t it always seem like you never have enough basics? The prices were very reasonable and we each walked away with something. My best finds were black leggings for $10 and a long sleeve T which I love and keep kicking myself for not buying more colours for $15.

As far as I can tell from their website, this is the only US location for the chain. A Japanese chain, they have expanded into the United Kingdom, France, Korea, China, Singapore and their US location in New York City.

I’m dying to go back to New York City for many reasons, one being I want to go to this store again. I wish NYC wasn’t so far away. I’m hoping that a trip there is in my near future. After all the money I spent on Vancouver 2010, I have racked up quite a few Air Miles and am going to look into possibly redeeming them for a hotel stay. I won’t be going back only to shop, there are still some of those touristy things I need to do like take a tour of Radio City Music Hall and ride the Stanton Island ferry, perhaps see a taping of the Regis and Kelly show. If you are visiting NYC soon, I encourage to you stop in at Uniqlo. Even if you don’t have a Merchandising background, I’m sure you can appreciate their colour blocking strategy while you shop for affordable basics.  I am adding Uniqlo to the list of stores I want to see come to Canada.

New York City
Soho Location:
546 Broadway, New York NY

Isn't it beautiful?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Get Gluten Free at Brookie Cookie

In the last year I have come across a few people who for one reason or another have decided to remove gluten and wheat from their diets. For those suffering from Celiac Disease, following a gluten free diet helps treat the disease. For others, removing gluten and wheat products from their diet has been a suggestion from a doctor or naturopath. Whatever the reason, having to remove such a commonplace ingredient from your diet causes some problems when trying to find foods to replace them. You are probably trying to find meal worthy foods to eat but I can’t help you with that. If its desserts you want then please read on.
Last month I was attending a wedding shower for a business colleague. There I had the pleasure of meeting Lynda, owner of a company called Brookie Cookie Company. They make cookies, obviously, but these cookies are made from gluten and wheat free products. So if you are on a diet that restricts you from these products, guess what, now you can have some cookies without sacrificing your diet. With wonderful recipes for Butterscotch Almond Biscotti, Chocolate Pizzelle, and Almond S Cookies, you won’t ever feel like you’re going without ever again. I would like to fully disclose that I have not had the pleasure of tasting these yummy treats. Several of the women at the wedding shower had sampled Brookie Cookie and were more than happy to vouch as to how tasty they are.

The website is in the process of being made ecommerce friendly. Until then, please email the company to find out where you can purchase your Brookie Cookie yummies. All ingredients are listed on the website so if there are other ingredients you are worried about, take a read through the selections.

For more information on Celiac Disease, visit the website of the Canadian Celiac Association.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Finally, I'm a Balmshell

I am a lipstick girl. I have been wearing lipstick or lip gloss for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, it was the one piece of makeup I could wear and feel confident that it had been put on properly and that I didn’t look like a clown when wearing it. Even now it is the one thing I refuse to leave the house wearing. Sometimes I worry that I am somewhat fanatic about it, but I’ve stopped caring. It’s my security blanket if you will. Because of this lipstick/gloss addiction I am always on the hunt for that one perfect lip stick/gloss. The one that even if it is the only thing I am wearing, will make me look like a million bucks.

If the above statement doesn’t prove my worth somewhat as a lip makeup expert than I don’t know what will! I came upon a pleasant lip gloss discovery a few months ago. I was attending TwestivalTO, a Twitter event that brings together followers and gives them a chance to meet in real life (IRL). I went with my friend Maria and we hung out all night with other Twitter people who had no idea who we were. Several sponsors had provided gifts for the event and Maria and I were quick to snatch up anything that looked good. My best score of the evening were testers of a lip gloss I had never heard of before called Balmshell. I was a little hesitant to start using the lip gloss as I had never heard or seen this brand before. Now that I have tried it, I am addicted! In my non professional opinion it is the best lip gloss I have ever used. It doesn’t make my lips stick together and it doesn’t feel like things are going to get stuck in my lips when I wear it!

What I’ve always been disappointed about in lip gloss is that the colour is usually so sheer, once it is applied you can’t even tell there is any colour there. This is not the case with Balmshell, at least not the colours I got (there were two samples in each package). I have a very neutral shade that I wear with lip liner and that is it. There is enough colour to it that I don’t need to mix it with lipstick. Sometimes I do but I don’t have to.

My love and admiration for this new product I had stumbled across led me to look up their website. The company was started by twin sisters, Jennifer and Fiona Lees, from right here in Toronto. They did not have a background in makeup but decided to go ahead and create the perfect lip gloss. I for one am ecstatic that they did and can’t thank them enough. I will be a fan for life. Their website says the products are sold at some Shoppers Drug Mart stores and Sephora. I have yet to see Balmshell in any of the locations I’ve been to but I will keep looking. If I can’t locate it in a store, I will buy it from their website ($20) as soon as I figure out what colour it is I have. If you happen to see Balmshell being sold at a retail location, please message me or leave a comment. I swear I will run there within 24 hours of someone confirming a location for me. My lips thank you in advance.

PS: They have a colour called “Shopaholic”. How cool is that?

Update June 17: I have found a few Shoppers Drug Mart locations that carry Balmshell. They are:

Mississauga, ON: Burhamthorpe and Cawthra
Etobicoke, ON: Queensway and Park Lawn
St. Catherines, ON: My co worker found this one. I have to get the street name from her.

Happy shopping!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What Are You Wearing Under There?

If you asked women what they dread shopping for the most, I assume answers to tie for first place would be either jeans or bathing suits. As for 3rd place, I’m going to go out on a limb and say under garments, specifically bras. It’s never been one of my favourite things to buy. It’s gotten better over the years, but it is still something I dread. When you think about it, a bra has a pretty important job to do. It isn’t really something you can skimp on. The fit has to be right or some pretty awful things and looks can happen. As with jeans and bathing suits, when I find one that fits properly, helps make me look skinny, and doesn’t break the bank, I usually end up buying the same style in more than one colour. Then I thank my lucky stars that it will be a considerable amount of time before I have to undergo this torture again.

Through the years, I have tended to stick to the same styles. I have my go to stores where I know I’m bound to find something. Even if it is going to take hours, I will leave with something which is the ultimate goal. The last time I was at my go to store in the US, I was told the most devastating news, they don’t make that style anymore. What? Are they out of their minds? What the heck am I supposed to do now? They have no idea the stress and anxiety this news has caused. I have to replace the go to style but with what?

Below are my top 3 choices for places to shop at for the dreaded under garment. A visit to either of these stores is likely to end with the purchase of some type of under garment that does the job it’s supposed to and doesn't make me burst into tears during the process.


By chance I happened to wander into Oakville Place a few weeks ago and discovered Change has a store here. I’ve read about Change for years in my fashion magazines. It is Europe’s answer to fashionable affordable lingerie. Known for stylish items and reasonable prices, I knew I had to pay them a visit. Plus I was in need of said undergarment. There are some things you should be aware of if you have never been to a Change store before. First of all, their sizes are European. If you think it is hard to convert your Canada shoe size or shirt size to European sizes, think how difficult it is for lingerie where sizes tend to be all over the place anyway. A staff member was very helpful in this respect. Be prepared to be measured. Not the most pleasant thing but necessary to determine the right size. From there, it is still a guessing game for cup size. A fun game of trial and error now starts and hopefully you can get it right before trying on everything in the store. I did like a lot of their styles and the prices were really good. I saw several that were $28 and $38, certainly much better than some of those other places out there. I bought one item and am pretty sure I would go back for more. Lounge and swim wear round out their collection.

For a list of Canadian locations visit the Change website.

Gap Body

This seems to be a store that women don’t really think about when they need to buy new lingerie. Locations are more limited. The only full stores I know about are Square One and Bloor Street. Other Gap stores usually have a small collection of Gap Body, mainly lounge wear and underwear. Bras can be a slim offering or nonexistent at those locations. I have visited the Square One location frequently. I like it because it is at the back of the store, away from all the other merchandise. Last thing I need is some group of guys watching me pick out my under things. Usually this part of the store is quiet so you can browse in peace. The sizes are normal lingerie sizes and I find sizes to be pretty consistent across styles. The one downfall is there usually isn’t staff in this section. If you have questions or need help you’ll have to venture out into the regular store and hunt someone down.

There is a really good selection of styles and colours. The best thing is any promo that runs is usually valid on Gap Body items which gives you potential to save quite a bit of money. Get on their Canadian email list if you’re not already. I also happen to be a fan of Gap Body pyjamas. It is possible that I could buy more from Gap Body than their regular stores if only they would make Gap Body more readily available. Gap Canada is promising we will have a live shopping site of our own sometime this year; oh happy day! I hope we will see the full Gap Body assortment on that website. We will be able to shop for our underwear in our underwear from home. I don’t do this but have heard of others who do.

You can visit the Gap Canada website here. Stay tuned for a launch date on that long awaited Canada shopping site.

Victoria’s Secret

For the longest time this was where I bought all undergarments. It was my go to store until they stopped making my favourite, forcing me to branch out to other chains. This store was always a bit harder to get to since I had to get myself to the US to be able to buy anything. You can order online and I believe they ship to Canada, just beware of extra taxes and duties on your order.

Later this year, Victoria Secret will be opening up locations in Canada. This will allow for more spontaneous purchases. When I get fed up from lack of fit and styles, I will be able to frequent other locations to try my luck again, there by keeping the torture to a minimum. Personally I think this will be a great addition to the Canadian retail landscape. They bring a ton of styles and many different product categories from make up, reshaping garments, pyjamas, and lounge wear.

You can get a list of existing Canada Victoria's Secret Pink locations by visiting the website. Looks like the stores are only in Ontario right now.

If you have a favourite place to shop for lingerie, leave a comment to tell us about it.

Change image from blogTO
Victoria’s secret image from their website.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Enjoy Adventures Under Sea With The Octonauts

I realize this post is probably beyond my realm of expertise but I write about what I like and I like the Octonauts, a series of children’s books from Meomi, a design company made up of one Vancouver resident and one Los Angeles resident. A cross border partnership I guess you could say.

I can’t take the credit for finding this one on my own. Back in my pre Olympic days when I was focused 24/7 on going to Vancouver 2010 and blogging all about it, I got an email from Immedium. They are a publisher located in California for The Octonuats book series. They thought I would be interested in the books because they are written and illustrated by Meomi, a company comprised of partners Vicki Wong and Michael Murphy. Meomi is the company that designed the Vancouver 2010 mascots, who I’m sure you love as much as I do (mark my words I will marry Quatchi one day). Since The Octonauts were not directly related to the Olympics themselves, I didn’t see a story there for my Journey to Vancouver 2010 blog. I did however think it would be perfect for Not A Shopaholic. The idea for this post was born months ago and I’m finally putting the words into writing now.

When Immedium emailed me, they included PDF versions of the first two books; The Octonauts and the Only Lonely Monster and The Octonauts and the Sea of Shade. The first thing that stood out for me was the beautiful illustrations. I loved the combination of colours and the undersea world that was being created. It seemed so realistic and possible that these characters could actually exist. I found myself wanting to be friends with them. The characters are adorable and have cool names like "Professor Inking" who is an octopus oceanographer, and "Captain Barnacles Bear" the polar bear leader of the Octonauts group. I found the writing to be intelligent and rhythmical, the funny names rolled right off the tongue.  Each story contains good life lessons for children.  I would say for adults it serves as a good reminder for some basic lessons we may have forgotten along the way.

Book cover for The Octonauts and the Only Lonely Monster

The first book sees the characters fleeing their underwater Octopod when they think it is under attack. They quickly find out that it is not the case and embark on a worldwide undersea adventure to reunite a stranded animal with its own kind. In doing so they become friends and realize there is something unique about each of them.

A page excerpt from the first book

What a great collection to give to a child as a gift to get them and keep them interested in reading. The series is a must have for any children’s book collection. In a world where we are so electronic based, it’s wonderful to see such interesting, creative stories being written for children with stunning illustrations. For my next friend that has a baby, guess what you’re getting as a gift!

Other titles in the Meomi Octonauts Series are:

The Octonauts and the Sea of Shade
The Octonauts and the Frown Fish
The Octonauts and the Great Ghost Reef

All titles are available for purchase in Canada, both through stores and online at Amazon and Chapters/Indigo. Internationally the books are available through publisher Harper Collins UK. According to The Octonauts website, the series is going to be developed into an animated TV show. How cool is that?  Watch these quirky lovable characters come to life on TV at some point throughout 2010.

The Octonauts have a whole website dedicated to them. Visit the website for a more detailed summary of the book titles or to download some "Octogoodies" (their word not mine) like colouring pages.

Feel free to share your opinions on The Octonauts with us. You can leave a comment here on the blog or on the Facebook group page for Not A Shopaholic. I look forward to hearing from you.

Photos used are from the Octonauts website.  Thank you Amy for finding me and sending me The Octonauts information.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Headbands: My New Favourite Accessory

Whenever I go to the One of A Kind show, I always stop by the booth for this is J. I have been in love with their prints and headbands for a few years now. The same thing usually happens each time I visit. I hesitantly enter their booth. I hover around looking at the headbands too scared to try one on. I wait for one of the salespeople to declare I have the most perfect shaped head for their headband, so perfect in fact they suggest that I become their spokesperson! While this is all playing out in my head (sans headband) the reality is, headbands kind of scare me. I’ve never been really good with hair accessories or appliances. I only bought my first flat iron just over a year ago. It’s rare for me to even put my hair in a ponytail. But every time I see a headband from this is J, I feel drawn to them; I feel I must have one. I feel a headband is in my foreseeable future.

Sporting my this is J toque at the Vancouver 2010 Curling Semi Finals

Last year at the One of a Kind Christmas show, I decided to take the plunge and buy one of these beautiful hair accessories. I did my little booth visit hesitation thing and walked out with a catalogue that I looked over for the next few hours. Then I went back in, picked up my future headband and paid for it. I guess I did well because while I was paying for it, someone from the booth who looked like they were in charge asked the salesperson if they had picked it out for me. I was pretty proud that I had done so well on my first try. Since then I have added a second headband and the Lafleur Army toque to my possessions. I wore the toque while at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and got comments from total strangers on it! Yep, you bet I was promoting our Canadian designer talent while at the Olympics!

This Is J also offers an assortment in mittens and scarves to co ordinate with the toques, of course there are the aforementioned headbands, as well as pyjamas and blankets which I believe are a new addition. All of their products are made from custom made fabrics that are designed by this is J. You can get 1 piece or a few in matching prints to co ordinate if you want. I have lots of favourites and am trying to balance the number of headbands I buy to how often I would wear them. I’m happy to say I have worn both my Basha Flower in Black headband and the Lafleur Brown one a few times now and am getting more used to them. Now that its warming up here in Toronto, I will shed the hats and use my headbands more. Oh my, is that headband #3 I see in my future? I think so. And I’ll go with some pj’s next time too. The set includes a headband! Could it get any better?

Lafleur Army reversible toque, $39

The One of a Kind show begins in Toronto on March 31st and runs until April 4th. You can visit this is J at the show or their website where you can place orders if like me, its takes you a couple of visits to make a decision.
For a promo code to get $3 off of One of a Kind tickets purchased online, visit my newly created Not A shopaholic Facebook group page.

Product images from this is J website.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Join Me On Facebook

Want to interact with people who love shopping as much as you do? Want to have a place where you can share all of your best fashion finds and retailers who have the best threads? Come join my newly created Not A Shopaholic Facebook group page.  A lot of friends were leaving comments about my blog posts on my Facebook page and try as I might I just could not get them to visit my blog to leave their comments. Then I thought, why make them go there when they are very clearly quite comfortable leaving their comments on Facebook. So I have created a group page for Not A Shopaholic. Now there is a place we can all share information about favourite Canadian and international brands, retailers, discounts and sales.  I look forward to input on this page from people all over the world. Unleash your best shopping secrets with people who will really appreciate them and not tell you that you shop too much. In fact, we encourage you too!
Go to Facebook and join the Not A Shopaholic group page now!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mixing Shopping With Vancouver 2010

Depending on how you know me and how you came across this blog, you may not know that in February I was a part of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. A willing and able participant in spectating and displays of exorbitant amounts of Canadian pride. Yes I was in Vancouver to see and experience it all. It was a fascinating experience and very special to me as I have always wondered what it would be like to be at the Olympics. I started another blog to capture everything leading up to and at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. You can read my 2nd blog Journey to Vancouver 2010 – Diary of a Fan to get more details on everything that happened there. I was also guest blogging for Inside Vancouver which was great fun for me and gave me a chance to meet some great people. I was also grateful for the opportunity to have my writing reach a different audience.

In getting ready for Vancouver 2010, I knew I was going to want to spend some time looking for shopping places that I could write about in this blog. I did find a few, although not as many as I would have liked. I simply ran out of time and energy! I do hope to go back to Vancouver soon, possibly in the summer to explore the shopping areas I didn’t get to this time around. The ones I did see were great and I will definitely visit them again whenever I am in Vancouver.

The first area I went to was Gastown. It was a short walk on a beautiful day from our condo to the Gastown area. Quite a few souvenir shops occupied the area, as well as furniture/decor stores. I was on the hunt for clothing stores. The first store I went into was obakki. Their collection is manufactured locally in Vancouver. The clothes were beautiful, I loved their accessories and in particular their jackets caught my eye. Unfortunately for me, the prices were out of my comfortable range and I had to be happy with just looking. I checked out their website and they do sell online as well as wholesale their collection so there may be an obakki garment in my future wardrobe yet.

Photo: obakki website

Next door to them was Ishara. Another store with beautiful clothes and accessories from many different brands like: Modern Amusement, Smythe, Joe’s Jeans, Ella Moss.  I was fortunate to find a sweater on sale that I liked from brand Modern Amusement, a multi coloured stripe sweater that I see myself wearing with my Second Yoga jeans and silver Steve Madden flats. The store was recently located to Gastown from a mall and I’m glad they did otherwise I may never have come across them. There were some other tourists in the store while I was there. It was nice to see some other Olympic travellers getting away from events and street parties long enough to take in other parts of Vancouver.

My sweater from Ishara. I can't wait to wear it!

In our last few days in Vancouver after the Olympics were over was when I was able to do most of my shopping assignments. One store that caught my eye when I was shopping on Robson Street was Plenty. They had a great mix of price points, merchandise and brands. You could do one stop shopping there from tops and bottoms to shoes and accessories, even an Olympic souvenir if you wanted to! There were some familiar brands in here like Kensie, denim brands and their own in house brands like Propaganda. I tried on many things, mostly looking for something funky I could take home from Vancouver and because I feel like I am always so conservative. Well I tried funky and I think maybe it’s not for me. I ended up with a few tops that I think I can make funky with belts and accessories. Plenty is definitely a funky store and I really enjoyed shopping there. I’m trying to convince them via Twitter that they should open a store in Toronto but they don’t seem to be going for it. They have suggested that I come back and it’s a pretty sure bet that I will. I’m keeping an eye on their website, if it becomes an ecommerce site, I will be the first one to purchase from it.

My tops from Plenty on Robson Street. I should have bought more! It's a great store.

The last shopping area I managed to fit in before leaving for home was Yaletown. I had been told a lot of things about Yaletown and I have to say that people were right. They said I would love it there and I did. They said that it was all shops and restaurants and it was. They said it was a cool area and it was. They said I probably wouldn’t be able to afford anything and they were right! On a different trip I may have splurged and bought something expensive for myself but I couldn’t do it on this trip. It was cool to see brands I hadn’t ever seen before.  If nothing else it was an education into additional fashion brands out there. One store I was very intrigued by was Marimekko. As soon as I walked into this store I knew I wanted to buy something. Everything was bright colours and bold patterns. It immediately woke me up and made me feel like it was a brighter day. All fabrics are made by them and you can buy readymade pieces or buy fabric for a particular project you are working one. I didn’t have anything specific in mind that I needed for my home so I left there empty handed, unfortunately. I did get a card, will be checking out their website and will make sure I go back there if I visit Vancouver again this summer.

Kissanminttu pattern from Marimekko, one of their many fabrics Photo: Marimekko website

I did find 2 tops in the Mavi store in Yaletown. The off the shoulder style and raglan sleeve is a style I had been looking for so I bought 2 colours. The Mavi brand is sold in many stores across Toronto but we are without a store dedicated to the entire Mavi collection. Again at some point in my future I see another pair of Zoe jeans in my future, if only I could decide on a which wash I wanted.

Shopping areas I really wanted to get to but didn’t have time was the Mount Pleasant area around Main Street and Broadway and Granville Island. Think I’ll be watching West Jet for a seat sale and hoping someone in Vancouver invites me to stay with them this summer! It was amazing to be there in February when Vancouver welcomed the world, but I still have some shopping to do, or as I like to call it “research”!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Back to Not A Shopaholic

My deepest apologies for ignoring this blog the last few months. As most of you probably know, I was preparing for my trip to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. The trip was everything I thought it would be and more. Now that I am back, I am focusing my attention back to this blog. I still have a few brands and stores on my list that I need to write about. After that, I'll be on the hunt in Toronto and the GTA for cool, unique brands, stores and shopping districts. If you have any suggestions for places for me to check out, leave a comment or send me an email. Again I am very sorry for ignoring you, but I'm back and anxious to bring you great places to shop and to support our independent retailers.

If you are interested in reading about my Vancouver 2010 Olympic adventures, please visit http://www.journeytovancouver2010-fandiary.blogspot.com/