Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sole Searching or why I bought 4 pairs of shoes in as many weeks

I love shoes but usually they don’t love me back. I have hard feet to fit and last fall I couldn’t be bothered buying anything new so I wore the same pair day in and day out all winter and the first part of spring.

Enough is enough. My son’s Bar Mitzvah was last week and it was time to buy some new shoes and sandals for my otherwise pampered footsies.

I found a great pair of dressy Franco Sarto sandals at Capezio even before I had a party outfit. Whew! They were a perfect complement for my new Anne Hung dress. I still needed pumps for everyday. I found a great pair of mock croc stamped leather ones with pointy toes and a spiked heel at Town Shoes.

With the other new shoes I bought last summer (I bought lots then too) I thought was set for the warm sunny seasons of ’08.

Then the unexpected happened… I injured my hip dancing at the Bar Mitzvah party. Even after x-rays, I’m not entirely sure what the problem is but it includes partial dislocation, at least one torn ligament and some other hip socket damage. Six weeks of taking it easy, a few days off work, and no high heels. Doctor’s orders!

One problem, I don’t have any flats except for running shoes, flipflops and a hot pink pair of crocs I wear around the house. They won’t fly at the office.

So, today I had to rush around finding new fancy, flat footwear for my new limpy lifestyle. I scoured four stores in my ‘hood but nothing really grabbed me nor was it on sale. A friend suggested I check out Prada* on Bloor because shoes were 40% off! I didn’t really feel like heading downtown.

I ended up at Yorkdale and must have checked out every descent shoe store in the mall. Most stores had horrible service and a salesperson at the least busy one just threw shoe boxes at me - it wasn’t because she had other customers on the go either.

Wouldn’t you know, the first store was the one where I ended up buying a snazzy pair of Nine West patent leather peep toe flats and a bronze pair of Naots. Both have the support and comfort I need without sacrificing style. Unfortunately, everything was regular price but I bought both for less than one pair of discounted Pradas. ;) And as for the service, Capezio had the best by far and they got my business. No surprise there.

*Browns has all their designer shoes on sale right now, including Prada.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Clutter for the Cure/Yard Sale for the Cure Fights Cancer

Clutter for the Cure/Yard Sale for the Cure Fights Cancer
Households across Canada will be hosting yard sales with proceeds benefiting the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

Sat., May 31 – all day

Across Canada

For information about registering or volunteering visit:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

NutriSytem: maintaining the (behaviour) modification

The NutriSystem journey continues. Tamsin weighs in this week with her thoughts about staying on track while trying to maintain her current weight.

The good people at NutriSystem Canada continue to encourage us - they offered to help Eden and I transition back to grocery-store foods by continuing NutriSystem on a maintenance basis. NutriSystem Canada doesn’t offer an official maintenance program yet (its US counterpart does), so we are starting to eat NutriSystem foods a couple of times a week while slowly introducing non-NS home-cooked meals.

The best of both worlds? Let the maintenance begin!

After 3 months of continuous NutriSystem, I find myself automatically planning my meals and thinking before eating (well, except for a certain time of the month when I *do* allow myself free reign). I was always a try-anything and eat-as-much-as-I-like eater, so “portion control” and “meal planning” are new behaviours for me.

So, now that I am eating NS a couple of days a week, how have I managed in my own real-world kitchen with my husband's Twinkies in the cupboard, steak on the BBQ, and ice cream in freezer?

I’m not going to lie: I’m still tempted. Especially as I’m feeling thinner and more confident. You know, it’s so easy to indulge when you are happy! The little temptress on my shoulder whispers, “You look great! What's a cheeseburger and bowl of Ben and Jerry's gonna hurt!?”

Fortunately, my good sense kicks in. After all, our weight loss was well-earned, and there’s simply no point letting our new waists go to waste. :)

I’m striving to maintain the protein intake that NutriSystem provides by restricting my breakfast to fantastic fruit smoothies (I most enjoy strawberry-banana or mango -- sometimes indulging in chocolate!)

I’m continuing to eat often. With full-time NutriSystem, I was always eating. Fruit snacks, entrees, yummy NS desserts, lunch bars. On my own, I am learning about the Glycemic Index that NutriSystem is based on and incorporating more “good carbs” with low GI values in my diet to help keep my blood sugar levels stable and my appetite in check. I’ve even ordered some GI recipe books from the library. I was so excited to see some of my favourite food on the Low GI list -- fresh salsa, chicken breast with spinach, cottage cheese, stir frys, red peppers, edamame.

What are your cravings? How often do you indulge them? I’d love to read your tips on curbing your cravings!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Weekly Wish – Wii Fit

Okay, so you’ve heard me spouting off about my weight loss for months. Tamsin and I have been focusing on maintaining our new-found bodies. (You’ll be hearing more from her about that in another post very soon.)

In addition to eating properly, there is another important aspect of maintaining a healthy body weight and helping turn that flab firm. Yes, it’s exercise. I’m active. I love long walks and bike rides. I know this may sound unpopular but I HATE formal exercise. I’m not afraid to admit it!

I’ve been ogling and anticipating the launch of Ninetendo’s Wii Fit since last fall. I waited around to see if any one would see the link between my recent weight loss, love of gadgets and possession of a Wii. No such luck. I contacted Ninetendo myself and ended up connecting with their PR agency. They were nice enough to invite me to a media event last week. Unfortunately, it was during the day. I work downtown at the opposite end of the city. Things just didn’t work out.

Other than the convenience of having a fun workout in my own home, what’s so special about Wii Fit?

Have a look...

Wii Fit has 40 activities. Sounds like there’s something for everyone and I’m sure I’d find somethings I like doing on a regular basis like twirling a virtual Hula Hoop, yoga and downhill skiing.

And, it comes with the Wii Balance Board (see photo above) - an interesting device connecting wirelessly to the Wii – it senses weight, shifts in movement and balance. Wii Fit can also track your progress and BMI. Plus there are lot of instructional videos.

At $89.95, Wii Fit is a lot less expensive than joining a gym and I wouldn’t need to worry about travel time or communal showers. Bonus!

So, this week you guessed it. I’m wishing for a Wii Fit. Wish me luck.

What’s your favourite exercise routine?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

ChickAdvisor Chicks Night Out: Sex and the City Movie

With less than two weeks left before the Toronto premier of Sex and the City, ChickAdvisor has managed to score a block of 50 tickets for opening night. So if you want to have your Cosmo and sip it too plus a guaranteed seat to the most eagerly anticipated chick flick of the year, purchase your ticket now. Don’t forget to wear your Manolos!

ChickAdvisor Chicks Night Out: Sex and the City

Cineplex Scotia Cinemas
294 Richmond St. W. (map)

Friday, May 30, 5 p.m. (6:50 p.m. show)

How Much?
Tickets are $20 each and include:
Movie admission
1 Cosmo
Chance to win prizes

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tip of the Week: Canadian Beauty knows her stuff

Okay, so I bought the dress last weekend but now I’ve been told I need to ditch my daytime make-up for a sultry evening look. Apparently, I need to balance my face with the dramatic red sash. What does that mean? Red lipstick and black eyeliner.

I haven’t worn red lipstick in years and as a contact lens wearer, I need to find an eyeliner that won’t smudge. You may also have guessed from the infrequency of my posts, life has been a bit hectic recently. And, with only one week to go before the party, I don’t have a lot of time to hang out at the cosmetics counter searching for just the right products and shades. I’m going to check them out this weekend and will let you know how it goes.

So what did I do? I asked my friend Canadian Beauty for help. She recommended I try MAC’s Russian Red lipstick (I can even get it for free because I’ve saved up 6 old MAC containers. Sweet!) and technakohl eyeliner in brown border. I know, it’s not black but it’s pretty darn close and I’d rather go for a look that’s a bit softer than the full vamp effect. ;)

How can Canadian Beauty help you?

Canadian Beauty reviews all kinds of cosmetics, toiletries, skin care and other beauty products with balanced critiques and advice for women with different skin types and complexions. Just to spice things up a bit, her informative blog also gives you the inside look at the fashion industry with particular attention paid to what goes on behind the scenes of the biggest shows in Toronto and New York. And then there are the contests. Lots of them! There are all kinds of giveaways--everything from lipgloss to large baskets of great products.

What’s your favorite beauty blog? Why?

Monday, May 12, 2008

The ChickAdvisor Shopcrawl moves west

ChickAdvisor is having another exclusive Queen Street Shop Crawl with a twist... this time around it’s further west on May 29 for ChickAdvisor members and friends.

I’m thrilled Bargainista has been asked to participate once again as a blog partner. Thanks, Ali!

Last weekend, I shopped the same Queen St. W. strip between Bathurst and Trinity Bellwoods Park. I didn’t get to most of these boutiques but I did get to Girl Friday. For 25% off, I’m hoping they have the Shannon Dress in my size. It’s an incredible strapless dress and I’d love one in black or cherry red.

The ChickAdvisor team has a great evening planned with discounts off at several stores, goody bags and even an after party where you can win great prizes. More details to follow.

I’ll be there, hope to see you there too! 

Did you go either of the other Queen Street Shop Crawls? If so, what did you think. Will you go again? Leave a comment.

ChickAdvisor Queen Street Shop Crawl Part 3: West-Queen-West
• Free products and samples;
• Exclusive discounts from the participating popular Queen Street boutiques on either all regular-priced merchandise only
• Free food and drinks at the after party
• Enter to win prizes from event sponsors

West Queen Street West, Toronto including:
Girl Friday
Body Blue
Pho Pa
Brazen Hussy

Thursday, May 29: 6 p.m.-9 p.m.

How much?
Tickets in advance: members $20 (join ChickAdvisor, log in and get the member price) or non-members $25
Buy now!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I found a dress at Anne Hung – success at last!

After three weekends of shopping and three different friends on “dress duty,” I finally found the right dress.

Yesterday, Mish suggested we make the trek down to Queen W. Her designer friend Anne Hung has a wonderful boutique stocking her own unique creations. Mish was sure I’d find the perfect one. She was absolutely right.

Here’s why...

Service: Anne Hung was on hand. In addition to her awesome talent, she has a friendly, bubbly personality that shines through for all her customers.

How many designers are on hand to make sure you’re wearing their creations the way they intended? Anne showed me several different options and offered to change some of the details later if I wanted to give my dress a $20 makeover in the fall.

Off the rack, there are at least three different looks for my dress. Anne even offered to make me a dress within two weeks if I wanted to mix up elements from different styles. Awesome!

When I got home, my dress was full of static cling. I sent Anne an email and she got back to me with two solutions – Static Guard or placing the dress in a garment bag with a sheet of fabric softner - on her day off!

Confession: Anne (and a member of her staff) had to get me out of one of her dresses. I tried it on and couldn’t get it off by myself. ;)

Style: Anne’s creations (mostly dresses) are designed to flatter almost any figure. I watched other customers as they tried on different dresses and every woman looked terrific.

Sizes: Okay, so this may be a marketing tactic and I’m not sure how it all works but my dress is a size 0. I think her largest size is a 4.

Comfort: In addition to looking great, Anne uses comfortable fabrics and her designs are easy to wear.

Affordability: How many designers offer unique designs at affordable prices? My dress cost $298! It wasn’t on sale but still a far cry from the $400 minimum Mimi said I had to spend in order not to see myself coming and going. Bonus, my dress doesn’t require any alterations.

Sales Policy: Well, purchases are final sales. I know I’ve balked about this before but when it comes to boutiques, especially specialty ones like Anne Hung, even I am somewhat forgiving. Small, independent designers/retailers would be unable to keep their costs down if they had to deal with shopping bulimics. ;)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Tip of the Week - Ask about price adjustments

I went to Club Monaco to show my friend the new suit I bought last week. I wanted to try the skirt on again along with another one size smaller because I wasn’t sure I ended up with the right size. Well, I’m between two sizes. I’m keeping the larger one and having it altered.

Lucky I stopped by. Last week they told me they’d be getting new merchandise in this week. I asked if the suit would be going on sale. I was told absolutely not because they didn’t carry a lot of women’s suits and it was a hot item.

Of course the skirt was on sale (the jacket stayed at regular price). The salesperson who helped me told me they didn’t offer price adjustments. What a pain because I could buy another skirt in the same size at the sale price and return the one I bought last week. Seemed a bit dumb for several reasons – more paperwork, inventory removed from the floor etc.

She was wrong! I went up to the cash and there in black and white was the store policy. Price adjustments are offered on regular-priced merchandise if it goes on sale within 14 days and you bring in your bill within that time. I went home, got my bill, went back and sure enough within minutes, $45 was refunded to my credit card.

Bottom line:
Hold on to your bills. Chain stores in particular often offer price adjustments on newly marked-down merchandise.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

This store doesn’t really want to sell me that dress and other annoyances in customer service

I want need to buy a new dress.

I’m hosting a party in a few weeks and I’ve left it to the last minute. With my recent weight loss, I have a lot more options than I did a couple months ago so I have a valid reason for procrastinating.

Unfortunately, several stores are putting obstacles in my way.

I found what potentially could be a great dress at Femme de Carrière last week. It’s actually a near copy of an amazing Lida Baday dress for 1/3 the price! It needs work but I’m not sure my ever-so-talented (and affordable) dressmaker can do what needs to be done.

The dress is perfect except for the pointy, Gauthier-inspired boobs. So, what’s the big deal? It costs a pretty penny and the store has a “no refund” policy. It’s a chain store so I don’t understand the reasoning behind such an inflexible return policy.

Next, I went to Want. It’s not really my thing and to be honest, I think a lot of the dresses look like high-end skank. The dress is for my son’s party and let’s face it, teenage boys don’t want their mothers looking like Madonna or a whore.

I bumped into a friend who convinced me to give Want another try. So I entered into the Saturday pre-prom craziness. Under strict instructions, I asked “Mimi” to help me. She did a great job of bringing me dresses I’d never choose for myself. To be honest, each one looked better than the next. The winner was a Nicole Miller creation. It was sexy, sophisticated and maybe a bit too much of both for this party. I’m still trying to decide. It was almost double the price of the dress I had liked at that first store.

Mimi shared a few interesting lines (paraphrased below):
If I didn’t want anyone else to show up in the same dress, I’d have to spend at least $400. There was only one dress in my size and she wouldn’t hold it for me (I asked her to hold it for a couple hours as I was leaving for an appointment.) Not only that, she asked if I was going to buy it NOW and if not, she had another customer in the store waiting to try it on. And… you guessed it, no refunds.

Next, I went downtown with a friend. She was on self-designated “dress duty”. BCBG had several fabulous looking dresses. They also had a special promotion. Spend $300 or more and save $100. I heard them calling my name.

I tried several dresses. They were all okay. One looked great but it wasn’t right for the occasion. Connie (who has the patience of a saint) found another that fit perfectly and looked pretty darn good. I couldn’t decide if it was special enough. There were lots of sales staff around but none seemed to offer much by way of service. I asked them to hold it for an hour or two. No can do and of course, they don’t offer refunds. BTW, they wouldn’t let us take a picture either!

Looks like three strikes and I’m out. Stay tuned for further adventures in dress shopping. Trip #3 this weekend!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

CDN Spirit and Johnny Yiu designer sale - May 9-10

CDN Spirit and Johnny Yiu Designer Sale
Jackets, parkas and vests for men and woman
Great Prices - Up to 80% off!
Awesome deals on quality outerwear

Fri., May 9 – 12 noon-8 p.m.
Sat., May 10 – 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

130 Commander Blvd. (See map.)
Please enter at the back of the building

Let us know what you get if you go.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Tip of the Week: RedFlagDeals launches garage sale locator launched a cool new feature perfect for this time of year. It’s called a Garage Sale Locator and allows you to search for garage sales, moving sales and yard sales across Canada with a few clicks of the mouse.

All you need to do is enter your postal code, the distance you’d travel to shop at a sale in 5 pre-set increments ranging from 5 km to 100km, and the date you want to go garage sale shopping and the garage sale locator will generate a list for you. The list can also be bookmarked on the site for future reference. It’s printer friendly too so you can take it along with you.

I love garage sales and wish I had more time to spend checking them out. There is one enhancement I’d like to see. Instead of a pick list for distances, I wish I could enter any distance I like. 5 KM is almost too big a range for me. In densely populated neighbourhoods like mine, there are usually tonnes of garage sales every weekend this month and next. A 1 KM option would suit me just fine.

The garage sale locator will also let you list your garage sale for FREE!

Share your garage sale tips.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

NutriSystem Challenge: mission accomplished!

Weigh-in (Day 84):

Tamsin – no change – lost 13 pounds in 12 weeks!
Eden – -1.6 lbs – lost 25.5 pounds in 12 weeks!

I can’t believe this is the last official post for The NutriSystem Challenge. Tamsin and I have lost a total of 38.5 pounds combined and gained a friendship. It’s been amazing connecting with a member of the community this way. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of her in this space. She has an open invitation to contribute anytime.

Most likely, we will be testing out NutriSystem’s maintenance program. I suspect we won’t be blogging about it weekly but we will have a regular weigh-in and posting schedule sorted out soon.

I am so grateful to the team at com.motion and NutriSystem for asking me to participate in the program. I was nervous at first because I had never done anything like it before. I’d always been uncomfortable with the idea of food supplements and diet food. Not anymore. It worked for me. I feel great and I’m loving every minute.

I’d be lying though if I didn’t acknowledge the psychological component and my prior experience with Weight Watchers – both were critical to my success. I was highly motivated and ready for a drastic change. It was more than the food. If you’re wondering, I’m at exactly the same weight I was at when I became a Weight Watchers lifetime member in 2002. The biggest difference is I lost almost the same amount of weight in half the time with NutriSystem and I didn’t need to go to weekly meetings or public weigh-ins.

I’m looking forward to continuing with some NutriSystem products at least for the short-term. I’ve started altering my bigger clothes and buying new ones so there’s no way I’m prepared to give up my new body or the benefits of being more than 25 pounds lighter – a lot on my barely 5’3” frame.

As for Tamsin, here’s what she had to say…
Hey there
No change for me this week, but I DID start working out with my favourite Goodlife trainer in a Women On Weights (WOW) program for the next 8 weeks. Not sure I'd promote Goodlife, but NS definitely got me pumped to keeping trying with the weight loss and maintenance!! My trainer, who I haven't seen in a year, told me I looked "amazing" and that she almost didn't recognize me. She measured me, and we compared the inches to 1 year ago. Major inches lost in my thighs, calves, and waist combined. Amazing! I credit MOST of that to NutriSystem.

I am eager to keep working out and practicing the eating habits that I picked up from NS - portion control, frequent minimeals, PROTEIN, and water, water, water!

Are there any questions on your mind we haven’t answered? If so, please send me an email or leave a comment. We’ll do our best to help. What we haven’t learned is what it’s like to order the food and receive deliveries as a regular customer. If you have, we’d love hearing from you as that is one of the most frequently asked questions I get whenever people ask me how I lost the weight.

As a final note, we still owe you some pictures of how we look today. It would be awesome if we could have makeovers first à la Stacy and Clinton from What Not to Wear. Being a bit more realistic, spending a few hours with a wardrobe planner at Yorkdale would be awesome. Any takers?