Sunday, November 20, 2011

One Of A Kind Show - Toronto

The One Of A Kind Show is gearing up to begin it's Christmas show on November 24th at The Direct Energy Centre. One of the best places to find unique gifts for others and yourself, the Christmas show tends to be larger than the show held in the Spring. This show also has a longer run time giving avid shoppers like me ample time to get ourselves organized to make it down there. With the crowds that tend to turn out for this show, you might want to break your visit up into 2 or 3 trips. Get a re-admit pass when you leave and you can return on another day without having to pay admission again. New this year is a late shopping night on December 1st. The show will be open until 11pm. Might be a good time to attend since prime hours seem to be the weekends.

I have only attended the Christmas show once before. Plans to attend last year were sidetracked with my unemployment status in December. This year I am making a point to go as I also missed the Spring show. I have some standard favourites I want to check out and also see what new and exciting vendors have taken up attendance at One Of A Kind.  If it is your first time attending, it can be overwhelming as it is a large show. What works for me is to walk the entire show, make notes on the booths I want to buy from, then go back to them after I've seen everything. I find this method also keeps my spending in check. I do try to be a responsible Not A Shopaholic.

For more info visit the One Of A Kind website:

Some of my can't miss booths at One Of A Kind include:

Coach House Shortbread Company - I have a complete weakness for shortbread cookies and the ones from Coach House are the best I have ever tasted. The best part of visiting this booth is taste testing before you buy. No matter what I sample I always end up buying the same flavour. I don't even remember what kind I buy I just know I like the one in the orange packaging. If they ever change the colour I will be lost. I'm sure whatever you buy you will love. I cannot leave One Of A Kind without Coach House shortbread cookies.

glamjulz - The very first time I went to One Of A Kind I bought the most beautiful necklace from glamjulz. I remember the woman behind the counter saying it was one of her favourites and I assured her I would give it a good home. To this day I still get compliments on that necklace whenever I wear it. That necklace also started my obession/fascination with glamjulz. I have bought several pieces from them since, including some custom made pieces, and have attended a few of their end of season sales at their showroom in Burlington. I will definitely be stopping by their booth this show although I don't know what is left for me to buy from them. Knowing me I will think of something.

My first necklace from glamjulz. The photo doesn't do it justice.

At The Wroot Of It - The coolest dishes and serving platters you will ever see courtesy of Carrie Wroot. Before you buy you will probably kill yourself laughing over Carrie's fun quirky characters, one blond and one brunette, and their appropriate kitchen and non cooking phrases. This booth is so much fun. I have come home with a triangle shaped serving platter and and oblong tray both of which I don't use nearly enough. I'm looking to expand my collection this year. Last time I was at the show Carrie was telling me she doesn't sell at retail and only sells her wares at 2 shows: One Of a Kind and CNE. These really are unique pieces you won't find anywhere else. Great gifts and great additions to your personal tabletop collection. Reading the Facebook page, it looks like there are paintings available too. Hope to check those out at the show.
No web page for this one but you can join the Facebook page.

From my personal collection, serving platters from At The Wroot Of It by designer Carrie Wroot

Luxe Design (Booth W38) - What could possibly be better than jewellery as a gift? How about jewellery you can personalize? That is the concept at Luxe Design, a Vancouver based company. I have never bought anything from Luxe at the show, mostly because their booth is so busy I can't get near the merchandise. I have ordered online from them a few years ago and bought necklaces for myself and two best friends. Search my blog and you will find a post with the details.  Choose your chain, choose your pendant, choose what you want it to say and Luxe takes it from there, stamping out your request with their unique letters and numbers. Then accessorize with charms and beads to create the perfect piece of jewellery. I don't know how often my friends wear their necklaces but I wear mine all the time. On each of ours I put our names and then personalized the other side of the pendant to something special for each of my friends.

Taken from Luxe Design website. Pendant is the same shape as the one I have.

Monster Factory (Booth E6) - Some recent readers may recall seeing my blog post from a few months ago about the Monster Factory. I first fell in love with these lovable critters at One Of A Kind and their booth is always super busy. I will definitely stop by this one and check out all the monsters. You will see people of all ages here. I bought Colin, my long time favourite from One Of A Kind show 2 years ago. More recently I bought 2 full size and many smaller size monsters for my friends twin boys. These monsters make great gifts for people of any age. My previous blog post about Monster Factory prompted some of my Twitter followers to buy some monsters of their own, as gifts and for themselves. Glad to help spread the word about this great Toronto based company. I just love them.

Top Photo: Colin, my first monster purchase. Bottom photo: Monster gifts for the twins.

*For a full list of artisans at the show, click here
One Of A Kind Show Toronto runs November 24th to December 4th. Shows also take place in Vancouver and Chicago. Check website for details.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Miz Mooz Still Going Strong

One of my posts from a few years back is still getting comments from readers. I wanted to draw your attention once more to the Miz Mooz amazing brand of shoes and the growing list of stores where they are available in Canada. I appreciate all your comments and support in letting others know where we can buy great shoes.

As I continue to get comments I will publish them so keep them coming! I love all my Miz Mooz shoes, I swear every time I wear them I get compliments.

Here is a link to the original blog post from December 2008-Luv Your Shooz Miz Mooz and it's follow up in October 2009: Everyone Loves Miz Mooz.

And so you can always keep up on what they are doing, here is their website.

How will I ever control myself?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Not Afraid Of These Monsters

I have a secret. I’m afraid of the dark. It’s not bad now, but when I was little my Mom had to leave the light on in the hallway until I fell asleep. Even now I can’t watch horror movies or I will have nightmares. So it may seem a bit odd that I have decided to do an entire blog post on monsters.

These are not the big, ugly, scary monsters you are see on TV or in the movies. These are the cutest monsters you have ever seen in your life with personalities to match.
It was a few years ago I saw the product offering from The Monster Factory for the first time. I was at the One of a Kind show with some friends who had been there before. We walked into The Monster Factory booth and I never wanted to leave. These monsters were so colourful, odd looking and adorably cute all at the same time. Each one has a tag with their name and a description of their personality. You have never seen happier people than the ones standing in this booth looking at those monsters, including the adults like myself.
It was love at first sight when I first laid eyes on Colin. I had to go through a lot of monsters before I settled on him. Even then it was much later when I decided to make a commitment to him. Since then I have been a very happy owner. He keeps me company in my living room alongside my favourite Vancouver 2010 mascot Muk Muk. I call the two of them “my guys”. Sometimes I’ll even talk to them but if you ask me to admit that in real life, I won’t.
After Colin and I had been together for awhile, I felt it was time to introduce him to my friends. After all he was someone special in my life. My friend was over for dinner one night and I introduced her to Colin. Her reaction wasn’t what I expected. She immediately started laughing, laughing so hard she was crying and kept saying over and over again, “he looks so funny, he looks so funny”. Well excuse me, I know he’s no model but he is not “funny” looking.
Fast forward many years and said “friend” is now married and recently had twin boys. My dilemma, what to buy these 2 sweet boys so they can remember their (favourite) Auntie Christina when she isn’t around. After much deliberation I decided The Monster Factory would be the best present. It is a present they wouldn’t outgrow right away, looking at monsters would make the boys happy and I would be on my way to solidifying "Favourite Auntie" status. I settled on Donny and Doyle for the boys. Donny and Doyle are funny looking, (Colin is not!) and I thought their funny faces and odd shapes would keep baby eyes occupied for awhile. Ordering was very easy. I did it online and chose to pick up Donny and Doyle when they were made. The Monster Factory emailed me when the order was ready and I headed to downtown Toronto to pick them up.  I added miniature versions of monsters Kyle, Todd and Mr. Jefferson. It really is difficult to limit yourself to only one or two.

Donny on the left, Doyle on the right

Mini Monsters starting left: Todd, Mr. Jefferson, Kyle

Now Donny and Doyle are sitting in my living room waiting to be given to their new owners. I know I bought them for the twins but I don’t want them to leave me. I like having this monster family around. Sadly the day will come when I have to give them up. I feel good knowing they are going to a good home. I'm sure the twins will love Donny, Doyle and friends as much as I do.
Monster Factory is a collection of plush monsters (I don’t want to call them toys) created by a group of 3 friends who have been building their monsters for years. Each monster is made with love in their downtown Toronto studio. Visit their website or visit them in studio (by appointment) or find them on Facebook or Twitter to tell them which monster you love.
Ps. I also get startled when there is a thunderstorm. I’m not scared though. Colin is here to protect me.

The Monster Factory
471 Richmond St. West, Suite 201
Toronto, ON
Ph: 416-913-6673

Written by Christina Wallaert

Monday, May 9, 2011

Glam Julz Accessory Sale

When you receive a request to do a blog post, how can you say no? I had mentioned on Twitter a few times I was going to head to Burlington, ON to check out the latest open house sale at Glam Julz and asked if anyone wanted to come with me. I thought I was going to have company until something came up and they couldn't make it. They did ask if I was going to blog about my "haul" as she called it, and I thought why not? Usually I blog about things I want, not things that I have purchased!

Last Thursday, May 5th I headed out to Burlington after work. I don't usually make an attempt to go to these sales. If you live anywhere in Toronto, you know how bad the highway can be heading west bound in rush hour afternoon traffic. Not sure if it was my lucky day but I practically flew there, barely stopping. Am I ever glad I did. I was expecting good prices but I had no idea! Earrings were $5, Bracelets $7 and necklaces ranged from $10-$20. Well worth the time to get myself there.

I have been a fan of Glam Julz for a long time and own many of their pieces. Every time I wear something from them I get asked about it. I swear I'm not exaggerating. It's like people can tell when something is handmade and better quality than the import stuff. I didn't buy a ton, I was trying very hard to be good. A recently employed person again, I didn't want to spend my first paycheck before I had even received it. But let me tell you when you see prices like this for Glam Julz product, it is tempting to go a little crazy. I ended up with 2 each of earrings, bracelets and necklaces. I love the bracelets because they are the kind you wrap around your wrist. Usually I never wear bracelets because I can't do the clasps by myself.

I highly recommend you check out Glam Julz and get on their email list. That way you'll know as soon as I do when they are having their next open house.

I have included some photos of what I bought. In doing this I realized how hard it is to take good photos of jewellery. If you don't think it looks great it's because of my sad photographic abilities. Glam Julz product is beautiful! I know I'll probably be buying more at some point.

4305 Fairview Street, Suite 137
Burlington, Ontario
Studio visits by appointment only. (unless they are having open house)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Not A Shopaholic Wish List

While I wait out this current period of unemployment, I dream of what I will buy when my employment status changes to that of the working people. The things that I dream of are somewhat motivating, a reward to me for having endured this unfortunate set of circumstances. It is what gets me through the day sometimes. I dream not only of purchasing these items but also shopping for them. For me it’s the thrill of the hunt I look forward to almost as much as acquiring these items. The list was beginning to become quite substantial so I thought I would write them down. I also believe putting things in writing makes them happen. I call it my “wish list” because that is what it is right now. I have every intention of making the list a reality.

1. Diane Von Furstenberg Wrap Dress - Is there any woman who doesn’t want a wrap dress from the Queen of wrap dresses, Diane Von Furstenberg? I have dreamed for years of owning one. Now I will! I swear it will be one of the first things I buy when I get off of unemployment. Not only are wrap dresses a great style and one which I love, for me this dress also represents a status. I am a confident, successful, working woman and therefore should have one of these dresses, a perfect wardrobe staple, hanging in my closet. Plus I think it will make me feel like a million bucks!

2. Smythe blazer - This is something that has been on my mind recently. I have read a lot about Smythe and have seen their blazers in many magazines. The time has come for me to invest in a really good blazer and what could be better than one from this Canadian company? I love the range of colours and styles. If you’re looking for something beyond your standard blazer, you’ll find it at Smythe. For someone in my income bracket, the prices are a bit steep but definitely worth the investment. A piece like this I know I’ll be wearing for years to come. With more styles coming to Holt Renfrew in the spring, let’s hope I’m a working girl and can take one of those blazers off their hands.

3. Art from Celeste Brunel - I came across Celeste Brunel through one of my vendors at my last job. After looking at her website I knew exactly which pieces I wanted. A set of three sunsets/landscapes would be perfect. They match my living room colours and they are also very calming. Just what I want to look at after a tough day at the office. I can see myself sitting on my sofa, looking up at this artwork and instantly relaxing. Isn’t that what art work should do?

4. Michael Kors - Watches seem to be getting bigger and better. I am in love with this Michael Kors watch in Rose Gold. It is just stunning. A few of my friends have Michael Kors watches and they look even better in person. I like the Rose Gold colour because it is unique and you don’t see a lot of it. Still a colour that would match with everything and could be considered a classic.

5. Toy Watch: White - One of the downfalls, depending on how you look at it, from managing a Fashion Accessory category is it gives you a lot of ideas. I fell in love with white watches last year and really wanted one for the summer. I didn’t get one and now I want this white and silver one from Toy Watch. They were a vendor of mine when I managed the category. The VP was so nice it made me want to buy one even more! Even hearing the story behind the brand and its rise to fame in Canada made me respect this company and I would happily hand over some money to them. Hopefully this will be one purchase that happens sooner rather than later.

6. Mirrors - How tragic is it that I have lived in my condo for almost 5 years and the only mirror I have in the whole place is my bathroom mirror. It’s terrible. Most women are horrified when I tell them I have no full length mirror. Frankly I don’t know how I survived this long without one. I’ll be looking for at least two mirrors; one will definitely be full length. The other I need for my entry way. I’m thinking of an oval shaped mirror with some kind of organization compartment to go with it. I have seen some from Nexxt but still need to look into it. Mirrors are a must this year for sure!

7. Running Shoes - Since being off work I have taken up running. For now only on the treadmill at my gym. Hopefully by the time it is nice outside, I will have worked my way up to a decent time, maybe 20-30 minutes and will take my runs outdoors. This means investing in good running shoes. I need to make sure shin splints and other injuries stay away. I’m not aiming to do a marathon but if I can do a 5K run for charity at the end of the summer, I will have attained my goal. If you know of a good brand of running shoes or a store, please let me know.

8. Home Internet - The time has come to finally get my own internet connection. This is another one I can’t believe I went this long without. This I held off on as an expense control measure. If I needed to do something I used our business centre. I’m getting tired of that though and now that I have my own laptop I want my own internet. I’ve already done research on it and am pretty sure which provider I am going to go with. It will be a great day when this happens. Not the most glamorous thing on this list but it is a necessity.

9. New Car - This is one of the longer term goals. I love my 13 year old Honda Civic. It is the first car I ever bought and I plan on driving that thing into the ground. Everyone tells me since it is a Honda, I can make that happen. I do know in the next year or two, I will have to buy a new (used) car. That means I have to start saving for it now. I’m pretty determined to go with a Hybrid for obvious reasons and need to do some research. Hopefully by the time I am ready to buy there will be more models in the compact SUV category that are Hybrid. I'm leaning towards a Honda CRV or Ford Escape Hybrid.

10. Charitable Donations - With all the natural disasters happening in the world right now, it really bothers me that I can’t help by making a financial contribution. I promise as soon as I am working, have paid off my debt, and am on solid financial ground I will make a contribution to one of the many great charities helping out in Japan, Haiti or anywhere else around the world. Time is also of value so if you are able to volunteer to help out, please do so.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Let's Dance

One of the reasons I love tweetups is you get to try something new with a bunch of other people and you usually end up supporting a local business. You may remember my earlier post about the Artisano tweetup I organized back in November 2010. After that tweetup, I got the idea for another, one that did not revolve around eating.

I've been dancing almost my whole life. I did Jazz and Ballet as a child/teenager and as an adult kept going adding Hip Hop and finally learning Tap. After a very long absence from ballet, I went back to classes last year. Keeping up with dancing is one of the best things I've every done for myself. I really don't know what I would do without it. It calms me in a way gym workouts never have.

So for my second tweetup I wanted to take a group of people dancing! Great idea right? Well it was a bit slow to take off but was still successful. I always knew I wanted to partner with City Dance Corps on this one. They have a great schedule of a variety of classes at different levels of dance. They were on board with the tweetup as soon as I contacted them. We both agreed a Beginner Hip Hop class would have the most interest for people. For people who have never danced before a Beginner class would be challenging. I set up the invite and starting tweeting about it like crazy! We didn't have a full tweetup but I was very impressed with the people who did come. Most had not ever danced before. We had men, we had women and everyone was really excited to dance. There was some apprehension over the hour and a half class but I told them it would go by very quickly, and it did.

Going through the moves.

Our teacher was KJ who was both a great dancer and teacher, his sense of humour helped put people at ease. After the warm up we went right into learning a combination and pretty soon all of my Twitter friends were dancing! I was like a proud Mom. It was fun to see people doing something they didn't think they could do. More than one person commented they had a new respect for dancers. It isn't as easy as it looks.

Now usually during a tweetup there are lots of tweets flying from all attendees. Doing that while dancing is a bit difficult but of course this group somehow managed. Pictures and video are also evidence of their efforts and participation. Some people from our group even went back the next week for another class. I think they'll be dancers for life now. It really was a fun afternoon and everyone enjoyed themselves. It was over before we knew it and we headed to a pub to discuss this new found talent everyone had.

The group looks on as the other group performs.
Time for tweets and video taking.

I'm hoping to organize a part 2 in the very near future. If you would be interested in attending, let me know either through a comment on here or on twitter @Notashopaholic. You can also follow hash tag #CDCTO for info and up to date tweets.
Happy Dancing everyone!

Group photo with our teacher KJ

A very special thank you to City Dance Corps and Estelle for being so welcoming to our group. The class we took runs every Saturday at 1:30. It can be hard to find classes for experienced adult dancers and from all of my research I find City Dance Corps to have one of the best selection of classes and levels. Check them out and tell them I sent you!

City Dance Corps
489 Queen St. W 3rd floor
Toronto, ON
ph: 416-260-2356

Video of our class

Monday, January 24, 2011

Happy Belated New Year

A belated Happy New Year greeting to readers old and new. I hope this year is off to a great start for you.  Wishing you all the very best for 2011. 

This is a post I meant to write weeks ago but I have been distracted. For those who follow me on Twitter, you will know that I was laid off from my job in December. Yes, right before Christmas, not an ideal time. Since then I have been consumed with looking for a new job. I don't have the luxury of being able to enjoy this time off. I need to keep the duration of unemployment as short as possible. Online friends, real life friends and family have been a great source of support. A heartfelt thank you for all of your kind words. I am optimistic that a great job is in my future. As many have told me, when one door closes, another opens. I fully believe that is true. I have also learned some lessons from my last stint of unemployment, only 2 short years ago. This time around I am more positive that a new job won't take me 5 months to find. I will keep everyone updated on my progress.

As a new year begins, I have been giving a lot of thought as to what I would like to do on my blog. Most of the time I write about things as I find them. Posts don't follow any sort of theme, pattern or consistency. This year I would like to keep the focus on unique products, brands and stores and would like to branch out to showcase products from all over Canada. Currently I'm only able to write about products I stumble onto myself, mostly local Toronto stuff. If all of you help me, I can write about products/artists from across the country.

I thought I would organize the posts by region. A certain month will be dedicated to a certain part of Canada. If I could get 4 good subjects from each region, I can do a post a week for that month. Every other month would be dedicated to a theme to give me time to get the writing done. Products or brands can be from any sort of category, as long as they are unique, made or designed in Canada and not readily available at mainstream retail. Anything from food to jewelry is a contender.

I'm still working out what the themes might be. Here are a few I have come up with:
  • Eastern Canada
  • French Canadian
  • Ontario
  • First Nations and Inuit
  • Prairies
  • Western Canada
I would love to have input from the public on this. Whether it is suggestions for an area of Canada not on the list above or suggestions on products to write about. If you have something you would like to recommend, leave a comment or send me an email with the business name or website and the region. I will look into it from there. Look forward to seeing your suggestions.
This will also be carried over to the Not A Shopaholic Facebook page where I hope to get active conversations going.  If you don't already belong to the group, join now. Link is provided on the left hand side of the blog page.