Friday, December 6, 2013

Help glamjulz Grant Wishes This Year

The lovely people at glamjulz are doing a wonderful thing to help out a family in need. Please read the below message and help if you can. Earrings can be purchased here. Cost is $35
The 2013 Limited Edition glamjulz Swarovski Crystal "3 Little Wishes" Star Earrings:

The direct route, the fastest route, the easiest route, the scenic route...

When you're on a road trip, there are always different roads that can take you to the same destination....

You find some of these roads freshly paved. The sun is shining, the air is fresh and you can see for miles in any given direction, and sometimes your route can be uncertain, bumpy and dark, and the curves in the road don't allow you to see what's coming around the corner.

Life can be the same way...

We may not know what road we're on, and sometimes we might not even be on the road we think we are.

Grow up, get a job, fall in love, get married, have children...

For each person, these things can come at different times. Some people say that they come when and how they are supposed to. Sometimes they come easy or in a different order, some not at all, sometimes it's by choice and unfortunately sometimes not, like a pothole or a washed out bridge on that road.

Lana and Mark (not their real names) were your average, young married couple. They were happy, and life was good, they owned their own business and business was good, and just like many other young happily married couples, they wanted to start a family.

Everything looked like it was falling into place and moving along perfectly, until five and a half months into the pregnancy, there was a complication. The unborn baby was found to have a rare, life threatening congenital heart defect, and the doctors at the Toronto Sick Kids Hospital came to the conclusion that the baby would not survive the pregnancy.

That Christmas, Lana and Mark had to make the heart breaking decision to terminate the pregnancy of their first baby boy.

Over the next 3 months the couple found it hard to move forward and their business remained closed.

Sometime later after reopening the business and trying to get on with their lives, they found themselves encountering hurdle after hurdle with their business. Between zoning issues, a recession, "big box store" competition, and a 60% plummet in sales, it felt like everything was piling up on top of them... but they were going to do whatever it took to make it work, AND over the next few years the family was beginning to grow.

In 2009 Lana gave birth to a Daughter, and then a son in 2011.

All the hard work looked like it was paying off, and even with the stress and legal issues of running their own small business, they now had the family that they always wanted. Things could only keep getting better... right?

But then Lana was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Not only does this affect the family emotionally and physically, but also financially.

The couple have had to take their daughter out of Junior Kindergarten in order to minimize the risk of infection to Lana while she undergoes chemotherapy, a left breast mastectomy, removal of affected lymph nodes, and radiation. Mark now looks after both children, while trying to hold the business together and standing beside his wife for every frightening mile, on this dark, uncertain road.

As you know, each year around Christmas, glamjulz creates a special limited edition piece of jewelry to raise money for our "3 Little Wishes Fund", and each year we find that our friends and fans (that's you) continue to go above and beyond in order to help out.

This year, we hope that you can help Lana, Mark and their family buy purchasing our 2013 Limited Edition glamjulz Swarovski Crystal "3 LITTLE WISHES" Star Earrings, and that you keep this family in your thoughts and cherish every single day you have with the people that you love.

Thank you for your continued support.
Monica and Wayne

Monday, December 2, 2013

One of a Kind Christmas Show and Sale - New and Notable Artisans

I attended the One of a Kind Christmas show last week. I wanted to get there early so I could summarize some of the new and notable artisans for you if you happened to be heading there this week. Maybe it was because of the day I attended but I saw a lot of booths I had never noticed before. What the reason for that is I don't know, maybe it was always so crowded I kept on walking. The benefit of going on a weekday is there are less people and you see everything.
I will be heading back to the show December 5th for the late night shopping event and will post about that soon after.
Until then here are some artisans you should definitely take note of.

Chloe Angus Designs
Booth U48

This is a booth that is a regular at the show that I noticed for the first time. The colours and prints caught my attention as I was walking by as did the wraps the sales people were wearing.
Chloe Angus Designs are made from Bamboo and they promote locally made, sustainable clothing made for real women's bodies. Their Vancouver shop is a working studio with customers able to see items at various stages of production. One of the designers, Sarah MacLachlan, was in the booth and kind enough to speak to me. She let me know in addition to their ready to wear line they also do custom work which is amazing. Who wouldn't want their own individual piece?
One of the items that caught my eye was a beautiful shift dress, a great alternative to a sweater dress. I totally stalked a lady as she walked around with one and tried it on. I wanted to see what it would look like on. Extremely flattering is how I would describe it. I could definitely use it in my closet. I didn't purchase one at the show but I'm hoping in the near future I can.
The brand is also known for their wraps and have a few different styles available in many different colours. The how to video was playing and it really is amazing how many options there are for wearing this piece. I believe you can completely justify a purchase like this when it offers you so many wearable options! A must for every ladies closet.

Chloe Angus Button Wrap
Booth C54
I may be one of the few who still has a love of stationary. After seeing the products from Handmades by Rovena, I think she could definitely convert some people. The creation of Rovena Tey, she has made cards for a long time as a hobby and started to consider it as a business when a neighbour suggested it to her. Rovena designs and assembles the cards herself. When you see how many pieces make up some of the cards, you realize what a time consuming task it must be. It is definitely a labour of love for her.
On display at the show was an array of Christmas and holiday themed cards. In addition to those there is a science collection and cards for any type of occasion available. A scientist by trade Rovena always had a creativity streak in her as it seems to run in her family.
I strongly encourage you to check her out in the "Rising Stars" section of the show. Items are also
available for purchase through her Etsy shop.

Peter the Penguin Greeting Card $6.50

Christmas Holiday Card $5.41
Birthday Card $5.41
Booth P38
Creator of cate & levi, Josh Title, started the company when he and his wife were waiting for their first child to be born and realized there were very few options for one of a kind, responsibly made and beautifully designed products for children. He got the idea to put together a collection of unique products that would be finely crafted and environmentally responsible.
Each product is handmade at their studio in Toronto with all materials sourced as locally as possible to help reduce carbon footprint. Using reclaimed wool that is carefully selected for its textures and colours means no two items are the same resulting in a truly unique gift and keepsake for the child it is bought for.
In addition to the focus on being environmentally conscious a portion of sales is donated to to funds that support children's needs.
The line includes a variety of products from puppets, stuffed animals, home decor (the baby blankets are adorable) to bags and accessories.
When I spoke to Josh at the show he showed me a new app that had just come out. They have developed an app so your child can stage their own puppet show, record it and watch it. What a great way to combine creativity with technology.
cate & levi is at the One of a Kind show for 5 days. If you miss them, products are available for purchase on their website.
Animal Puppet - Cow $25

Stuffed Animal - Dog $60

Wool Baby Blanket - Monkey $55
Booth F16
For anyone who follows me on Twitter and reads my Facebook updates you know I recently developed an obsession with scarves. So much in fact I have spent a lot of time on YouTube and Pinterest searching out new ways to tie scarves. I had it all under control until I saw this booth at the show.
Taking scarfs and accessories to the next level is necknots, a scarf like accessory with many strands of material and can be worn and styled different ways, from scarf to headband. I was mesmerized by the how to video and the lovely lady in the booth put one on and styled it in a necklace form. I asked if it was as easy as the video made it seem and was told the model did everything in one take. Impressive.
There was a lot of buzz around this booth and I expect this fashion craze will catch on. This is going on my future to buy list and being added to my Not A Shopaholic Wish List board on Pinterest.
necknots were being sold for $45 at the show. If you have one and have mastered all the styles let us know!
You can view the how to video here.

Booth R25
A wonderful new addition to the show this year are the beautifully crafted watches from kroc N dial. Bracelet style watches made from leather and other materials, these watches are as eye catching as they are fashionable. Wearing one is like wearing a piece of art.
The company is run by two sisters, Kristi and Karlee. The about us section of their website lovingly refers to Karlee as a fun loving, entertaining creator of the line who loves to travel. Kristi, her sister, is the person credited with getting Kristi's idea to become a business.
A variety of styles offered, watch face sizes are available in 3, 3.5, and 4 cm widths. The bands are also different lengths but I was assured at the booth they could get any style I liked to fit me.
Show pricing was in effect so prices ranged from $90-120. Multiple units would also get you a savings.
One of my favourite styles was the triple wrap watch.

Pearl - $80*

Saylor - $80*
*prices are what is reflected on the website and does not include shipping cost

glamjulz at One Of A Kind Christmas Show

If you will be attending the Christmas One Of A Kind show please stop by and visit my friends at glamjulz, booth E44. If you are new to glamjulz you will love it as soon as you see it. I have quite the collection from them now and it is some of my favourite jewellery to wear, guaranteed compliments!

Hope to see you there --Christina

Monday, November 25, 2013

Foxy Originals Holiday Sale

One of my favourite accessory brands, Foxy Originals, is having a holiday sale on December 10, 2013 at the Bata Shoe Museum. I haven't attended one of these sales before so I'm hoping I can make this one. Seems like a very good opportunity to stock up on holiday gifts for your loved ones and a great time to get a special treat for yourself. With prices from $5-$35 how can you go wrong?
Hope to see you there.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Olena Zylak Knits Up a Storm

I have always been in love with hand knit and crocheted items so its no wonder I fell in love with Olena Zylak's collection through my many visits to the One Of A Kind show. Last year I finally bought my first accessory, a twisted loop scarf, and wear it all the time. Needless to say I am ready to add to my collection and there are no shortage of pieces to choose from.

My own loop scarf purchased last year. I wear it everywhere.
Zylak has been designing collections since 1997 and uses yarns of luxury fibres to create a highly textured line. She designs the collection herself with all the knitting completed at her studio in Collingwood, Ontario. Original pieces of knitted fabric are handcrafted with a sewing machine and hand sewn when required. Finishing touches are completed by Zylak herself or a contractor. Each item is made with the utmost care and I would say this is obvious when looking at and trying on her pieces.

Some of my favourite pieces from the Fall/Winter collection are:

Spider Web Loop $35
25% kid mohair/45% acrylic/30% nylon
Spider Web Shawl $80
25% kid mohair/45% acrylic/30% nylon
also shown double stripe pleated toque $70

Lace Velour Wedge Capelet $115
60% merino wool/10% kid mohair/15% acrylic/15% nylon

The entire collection can be viewed on her website and items can be purchased online. Check the shows tab to see her schedule for appearances at different shows, including One Of A Kind, throughout the season. Items can also be purchases at certain boutique retailers across the country.
You can find Olena Zylak at the One of a Kind show in Toronto November 28th - December 8th at booth C12. I know I will be stopping by!
Photo credit, Geoff George - Toronto: spider web loop, spider web shawl, lace velour wedge capelet

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

One Of A Kind Christmas Show 2013

Hard to believe one of the greatest holiday shopping experiences is almost here yet once again. I try to make a point of attending the One Of A Kind show at least once a year. Since I missed the Spring show earlier this year I am trying to make a point of attending the Christmas show, November 28th to December 8th.

For those of you who have never been, the show focuses on independent artisan and crafts people and gives them a venue to sell their wares. I'm always amazed at the creativity and variety of products available at this show. These are definitely not things you are likely to see at your local mall. The Christmas show is larger than the Spring show and judging from the website it looks like many new artisans are making their debut at this show.

For the first time I am going to try to attend the Late Night Out event on December 5th. The show is open later than usual, has free parking after 5pm and from what I hear is pretty lively when the DJ gets started. I'm looking into the Late Night Out package which includes:

For $20, receive:
  • One adult admission ticket ($10)
  • One Late Night Out Drink Voucher for a beer, white or red wine ($8)
  • One reusable shopping bag
  • A ClubOne card with ClubLounge access (What is ClubOne, click here for more info)
  • Concierge and personal shopper service
  • A ballot for a chance enter a special $100 shopping spree
  • We've partnered up with Uber, the app that connects you with a driver at the tap of a button, to offer One of a Kind Late Night Out ticket holders their first black car ride free up to $30 to or from the show
In addition to shopping there are workshops available if you want to try your hand at crafting something yourself. There is limited space available for 1 workshop, the rest have sold out. Ticket and show information is available through this link. Buying tickets online before the show starts saves you some money.

For a list of artisans and all relevant show information visit the One of a Kind Show website at Tickets can be purchased online through the website.

To see a list of artisans new to the show click here. A list of all artisans are available on this page just change the selections in the drop down menu.

If you want to know who some favourites of mine are at the One Of A Kind show you can read my previous post One Of A Kind Show - Toronto
2013 One of a Kind Christmas Show and Sale
Thursday, November 28 to December 8, 2013
Weekdays & Saturdays 10am–9pm
Sundays 10am–6pm
Late Night Shopping
Thursday, December 5, 2013 10am–11pm

Venue location
Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place
100 Princes' Blvd., Toronto ON M6K 3C3 Canada

Cooking with USA Rice

Thanks to a good twitter friend of mine I was able to accomplish a long thought about cooking goal: making risotto. Thanks to her and USA rice I finally made this dish earlier this week and I have to say I am pretty proud of myself! The blog project I participated in was specifically for brown rice grown in the USA. Already I've learned something, I had no idea the USA was such a large supplier of rice. Just to put it in perspective for you, USA is one of the largest exporters of rice supplying about 12% of rice that enters world trade. Approximately 50 per cent of the U.S. rice crop is exported to more than 100 countries. In fact over 65% of rice consumed in Canada comes from the USA and Canada produces no rice of its own. Interesting isn't it?
Since risotto was my goal I went in search of a recipe for it using brown rice on I have only ever cooked rice on the stove and this recipe used that method as well even though there are several ways you can cook rice. From prep time to cook time the whole process took about 2 1/2 hours. Below is the recipe I used and I have listed the modifications I made.

 Getting ready to start. All my ingredients in place.

Rice added, let the stirring begin!

 An hour and a bit later the risotto is looking pretty good.
Ta da! The finished product with lots of left overs. It was so good!
Here are some other interesting facts about USA rice that you may not know:
  • Rice is grown in six U.S. states: Arkansas, Louisiana, California, Mississippi, Texas and Missouri. Together, Arkansas, California and Louisiana account for about 80 per cent of U.S. rice acreage and production.
  • Rice has been produced in the U.S. for more than 300 years.
  • There are approximately 30 rice mills in the U.S.
  • The U.S. produces over 40 commercial varieties of rice each year in paddy, brown, white, parboiled and precooked forms.
  • There are thousands of rice varieties. At the International Rice Research Institute Genetic Resources Centre in the Philippines, 80,000 rice samples are in cold storage. 
  • Rice is grown on every continent except Antarctica.
  • One seed of rice yields more than 3,000 grains. It is the highest yielding cereal grain and can grow in many kinds of environment and soils.
  • Winter-flooded rice fields provide important habitat for migratory waterfowl and other species. Across the U.S., hundreds of thousands of rice acres are being enhanced annually to provide habitat for these birds.
For more information on rice and how to cook with it, watch this video featuring culinary expert Rose Reisman.
Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating recommends six to eight servings of grain products per day for adults. At least half of those servings should be whole grain products. One cup (250 mL) of rice provides two servings of grain products. The Canadian diet should consist of between 45 to 65 percent of calories from carbohydrates, including cereal, breads, other grain products, fruits and vegetables.
Low in fat and sodium-free.  Contains 115 calories per cooked half-cup (125 mL) serving.

Long Grain Brown

A source of:
· Thiamine, Niacin,Vitamin B6, Phosphorus, Zinc

A good source of:

· Magnesium

Medium Grain Brown

A source of

· Fibre, Thiamine,  Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper
A good source of:
· Magnesium

Brown Rice Vegetable Risotto


Original recipe makes 6 servings
  • 1 quart vegetable broth, or as needed

Sunday, November 10, 2013

More Shopping In London

As follow up to my previous post on shopping in London, here are some other stores that may be of interest to you if you're heading over to the UK.


Prior to visiting London, I had never heard of this brand before. One day while I was on my "Hop On Hop Off" bus tour, we were riding down Regent Street and passed a store that caught my eye right away. It had the most colourful funky prints I had ever seen. A few hours later I was off the bus and found the Desigual store which started my love and obsession for this brand.
Thomas Mayer from Switzerland is the brain child that started this wonderful and fabulous brand in 1984. His goal was to make clothes that let people dress in a different way and generated positive feelings. I fell in love with this brand as soon as I walked into that store and can tell you every time I wear a piece of their clothing I get asked about it. Unfortunately they don't have stores in Canada but their brand is sold at numerous retailers here. You can do a search on their store find web page.
If you are desperate to visit a store (like me) so you can shop the whole collection, you can visit stores in Las Vegas and New York City. Its a good reason to plan a trip :) Who wants to start the petition for them to open a store in Canada?
Desigual has 200 stores in over 72 countries. If you are travelling and see one, check it out. I've already turned a few friends into owners of Desigual clothing.

The top and shoes purchased in Desigual London store, starting a new obsession for me


How can you go to the UK and not buy shoes? I highly recommend Dune. Sold at its own branded stores as well as department stores, the brand describes itself as "Stylish and fashionable designs that blend beautiful materials and detail with in-house design to create the distinctive Dune signature, season after season."
Visit a store while in the UK and take home a nice souvenir for yourself. 
The brand is also available in department stores like Selfridges, John Lewis, and Topshop.

Both pairs of Dune shoes I bought at Selfridges in London

My Flat In London

This one I didn't find out about until I got back from the UK and was having dinner with one of my vendors. She admitted it was her guilty pleasure and frequented this brand when on business trips in the UK. Designed by Jan Haedrich, the collection is inspired by her travels abroad, the line "embodies the spirit of the light-hearted sophisticate. It's a ladylike cocktail mixed in a modern martini shaker, the perfect combination of feminine charm and ultimate modern luxury"
See website for US and Canada store locations that carry the brand.

Fortnum & Mason

I had read a lot about this store before I left for the UK. Apparently it supplies the Queen and Buckingham Palace with stapes. Not sure if that is true or not but after trying some of their tea and shortbread cookies I wouldn't blame palace people for wanting to keep their items on hand. Selling delectable treats such as shortbread cookies, jam and tea, this brand has long been known for quality products. Stopping in at their store on Piccadilly is as much a tourist to do as well as a great place to pick up the most delicious shortbread cookies you will ever have among many other things. I have also developed a liking to their strawberry tea which I have been trying to get replenished. If anyone is going to the UK anytime soon, I have a shopping list for you.

A few of the things I bought at Fortnum & Mason

Cath Kidston

While I was at St. Pancras station trying to figure out where to catch the train to Paris, this store caught my eye. Not my usual style, Cath Kidston prints and patterns seemed a bit country to me, I was still captivated by the colours, styles and prints that were on display. As a sales person described it to me, "it is very English" and I kind of understand what she meant. I didn't buy anything but this store and its unusual products have been on my mind since coming home.
The story of Cath Kidston and the rise of her designs, starting with her first print "Rose Bouquet" inspired by wallpaper she had seen in Wales, is a very inspiring story. Described as modern vintage the Cath Kidston collection now includes a wide variety of prints and products sold all over the world.
Next time I am in the UK, this store is getting another visit and maybe even a purchase!


After having read several stories about Selfridges in my retail courses I was thrilled to finally be able to see the store in person. I went to the Oxford Street store but there are a few locations in London. I was impressed at the brands, appearance of the store and the customer service. First place I hit was the shoe department where I bought 2 pairs on Dune shoes. For anyone retail person who thinks the department store model is dead, they should take a look at Selfridges. There was a lot of help available while I was trying on shoes and making up my mind what to do. Imagine that, customer service in a department store. After I made my decision, I put the shoes on hold so I could walk around the rest of the store not weighed down by bags. I could have spent hours in the women's clothing section (but I didn't). I did buy a beautiful lace skirt from H & M section and crocheted sweater from Selfrides girl brand. After that I wandered through the food emporium which was a special treat. I discovered the Pinkberry frozen yogurt place and gave their seasonal flavour, Watermelon, a try which I highly recommend.
This is a must for any UK shopping you may be doing. Even just walking around the store is an experience. I'll be back.

Selfridges store in London

Lace skirt from H & M collection at Selfridges

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hass It Up

Its not very often I get the opportunity to write about food so when I was asked if I wanted to be a part of a project featuring avocados I happily said yes. I was provided a list of recipes, most of which had pretty simple ingredients, a card to purchase ingredients including the star: Hass avocados from Mexico and it was off to the kitchen for me.

The recipe I chose was Avocado Banana Mini Loaves. I have to admit I would not have thought to combine Avocados and Bananas. Since banana bread is one of my favourite things to eat this was the recipe I settled on. The recipe was fairly easy to make, one of the other reasons I chose it, and the results were fantastic! I had to change the mini loaves to muffins since I don't own a mini loaf pan. Even with this minor adjustment the recipe turned out extremely well. I now have 12 delicious avocado banana muffins for snacks or for breakfast.

Below is the finished result. I look forward to making these again. Its not often I get a chance to make things from scratch. I got some requests for the recipe so I am including it below along with the nutritional information. If you decide to try it let me know how it turns out. You can also tweet me @Notashopaholic and use the hash tag #LuvMexAvocado.

Preparing all my ingredients. 

Avocados mashed and ready to be puréed. 

The finished product, ta da!

Below are some fun facts about Mexico and avocados. There are many health and nutritional benefits to eating avocados. I  know I have tried to include at least a few servings of avocados in my daily meals. Spreading some on a sandwich or chopped up in a salad there are many ways to add this delicious healthy food into your diet.

Fun Facts
  • Mexico is the only region (globally) where avocados bloom four times a year, due to its unique climate and varying elevations
  • Mexico is responsible for approximately half of the world’s total avocado production
  • Avocados contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals and more potassium than a banana
  • Their healthy fats (mono and polyunsaturated “good fats” that help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol) help the body absorb more fat-soluble nutrients from the foods paired with avocados
  • Avocados are a great substitute for butter and make for a healthier ingredient in many baking recipes
  • One half of a medium avocado supplies at least 10 per cent of the recommended daily value of potassium, vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6 and fibre
For more information on Avocados from Mexico, please visit

Avocado Banana Bread

A perfect breakfast on the go or great addition to your lunch box, this nutrient-filled banana bread, made with wholesome whole wheat, high-fibre avocados and potassium-rich bananas, is a satisfying treat you can feel good about feeding the whole family.

2 cups

whole wheat flour

500 mL

1 tbsp

baking powder

15 mL

½ tsp

sea salt

2 mL


avocados from Mexico, pureed



bananas, mashed


¾ cup


175 mL

1 tsp

vanilla extract

5 mL




Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, combine avocado, banana, honey and vanilla. Fold dry mixture into the avocado-banana mixture. Once combined, spoon into greased mini loaf pans, spreading evenly.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into middle of loaf comes out clean.
Let cool, then run a knife along the edges and invert to release.

Yield: Makes 8 mini loaves

Tip: Will keep fresh covered in a container for up to 5 days.

Nutritional Information: Per Serving (1 mini loaf): about 308 cal, 6 g pro, 8 g total fat (1 g sat fat), 59 g carb, 8 g fibre, 0 mg chol, 249 mg sodium.
%RDI: iron 10%, calcium 2%, vit A 0%, vit C 15%.