Friday, January 30, 2009

Bargainista shape up for 2009 contest winner announced

The judge has spoken and Patricia is our lucky winner. She’ll be receiving a brand new Vata Brazil workout outfit.

"I would give it to Patricia. She sounds dedicated, she has clear goals, and if she's going to have another baby they'll fit." - Michael Allison

Congratulations Patricia! Please email me for details so I can send you your prize.

Thanks to the folks at Vata Brazil for their generosity. (Note: the top isn’t the same one pictured.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Baby bedding bargains at Pottery Barn Kids

In this week’s baby bargainista column, I’d like to welcome Rebecca Atkinson who recently announced she’s expecting her first child later this year. She and her husband have already been doing a lot of shopping and thinking about what they’ll need when baby Atkinson comes along. Rebecca will be filling in while Jenny takes some time off to be with her newborn and pre-schooler.

My husband and I went to the United States (read: Buffalo) over the holidays to take advantage of the post-Xmas sales and avoid some of the crowds. For those who don’t know, December 26, known as Boxing Day here in Canada, is not a holiday in the U.S. so generally speaking you get the same post-holiday sales you do in Canada, without such large crowds.

Number-one thing on our list was looking for ideas and perhaps deals on baby things. While it’s still pretty early (I’m just entering my second trimester), this being our first baby we’re rather excited. We haven’t started decorating the nursery (read former games/storage/linen-closet room), but we’ve - ok, mainly I’ve - spent time in the room thinking about colour schemes and furniture placement.

Not knowing if it’s a boy or a girl yet, the plan was to go with some sort of green and yellow theme.

First stop was the outlet mall where we found a few great deals on sleepers and Onesies ($6 or less), then we were off to Walden Galleria in Buffalo. Wandering around the mall we spotted Pottery Barn Kids and figured that we’d head in to get some ideas that I, the bargain shopper in our house, could then figure out how to recreate for less.

After oohing, awwing and gasping over prices, my husband pointed to one small area in the corner of the store marked “Clearance.” We looked at each other and thought, why not? You never know.

If there’s one thing Pottery Barn Kids does well, it’s mark items down when on clearance. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we discovered that amongst the items on sale was a crib set, including three crib sheets, a quilt and crib bumper originally priced for $290 US total, marked down to $70 US.

Likely it was the last of some discontinued line, but we didn’t care. We felt like we'd won the lottery. For bargain hunters, saving more than 75% in Pottery Barn was the deal of the century.

The next question was, did we like it? Would it go with the colours we’d chosen? Upon closer inspection, not only did it go with our theme, it seemed made for it. Little green, yellow, orange and blue polka dots with a scattering of animals around. That cinched it, without a doubt. I had to have it. Luckily we both agreed.

As we walked out of the store, still giddy over our purchase, I looked at my husband and asked him what would we have done if it hadn’t matched our design ideas? His response: “Change the paint colour.” I had to admit he had a point...

Lessons learned from our U.S. shopping trip:
1. Be open to letting deals drive your design/paint colours. Paint is (generally) cheaper than most of the accesories that you have to buy for a (baby’s) room.

2. Shop early and often. Start browsing from the get go and when you spot a deal, jump on it.

3. You can have designer names for less, you just have to look and be open to change.
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Monday, January 19, 2009

Best Bargains of 2008 - part 2

In this week’s baby bargainista column, I’d like to welcome the newest Bullough into Jenny’s family - a baby girl born last week - Congratulations Jenny! This week, in the second of a two-part series, Jenny reflects on her best purchases in 2008...

Along with the best buys of last year, I also discovered some fabulous freebies and bargains in 2008. The best of these are related to keeping our 4-year-old busy, engaged, and creatively fulfilled (with bonus points for activities that tire her out so she’ll fall asleep promptly at bedtime).

The first freebie is a simple thing, something available to everyone who lives or works in Toronto, and a benefit that I haven’t taken personal advantage of for years: a library card for the Toronto Public Library. As a child I used to practically live at our local branch, and now I can share that enjoyment with our daughter as she discovers the amazing array of books and DVDs available to her!

Needless to say, you can’t beat the price ($0); and giving our girl the opportunity to browse a multitude of books and movies for free certainly cuts down on the cost of buying new reading material and renting movies at the video store.

Another great bargain we found last year is the kindergym and ballet classes offered by the City of Toronto Parks & Recreation department. At just $29 for 8 weeks, the classes are a perfect way to test the waters of her budding interest in gymnastics and dance without shelling out the big bucks for a full-year program at a privately-run studio.

And best of all, the weekly classes offer enough activity and exercise that by the end of the day she’s exhausted and falls asleep right at bedtime with nary a murmur of complaint, leaving the bulk of the evening free for us to enjoy our few remaining quiet times before the arrival of #2.

What was your best freebie, bargain, or find of 2008?

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bargainista shape up for 2009 contest

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably been thinking of new goals for 2009. Maybe you call them resolutions, maybe you don’t.

One of my goals – and I have many – is to lose some of the weight I’ve gained back since the Nutrisystem Challenge last year. Fortunately, NutriSystem has kindly offered to give me another month of food. Now, if I would only get up the nerve to place my order.

What I really need to do is kick up my activity level.

Enough about me. I want to hear about you. What are you doing to help stay in shape this year?

Leave me a comment, photo or video clip, provided I have permission to use it on the blog.

What’s in it for you?
I have a women’s 2-pc. workout outfit from Vata Brazil. It’s supposed to be one-size-fits-all and claims to be made with fabric they call “10x stretch”. I think it’s probably for women sized 6-10 or 12. The pants sell for $89.99. I don’t have a price for the top but I think it’s between $30-$40. I’ve included pictures except the top I’m giving away is white.

Entries are due by Sunday, Jan. 25, 11:59 p.m. EST. (Open to Canadian residents only.)

Michael Allison will be picking the winning entry and here’s why:

We met in person when he was in Toronto last summer and we’ve stayed in touch. Last month he asked me if I’d like to run a contest with outfits donated by his (now former) client Vata Brazil.

He did an excellent job on the blogger outreach side of things. Why? He did his research. He didn’t schmooze me in any way and most of all, he built a relationship with me. When he had a client who he thought might interest me, he got in touch and tailored his approach.

Unfortunately, Michael lost his job due to downsizing since he was one of the new guys. If you’re in Vancouver looking to hire a sharp guy with a background in communications with a solid understanding of social media, Michael’s your man.
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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Checking out Zola’s Dot Sale

I met up with Anita, Tiff and Nicole at Zola’s Dot Sale – it ended up being next door at Zola’s Last Call. Zola has their semi-annual warehouse sale on now too.

Believe it or not, I was the only one who came away empty handed. I couldn’t find anything I liked that fit. A week into the sale, much was already gone and most of what was left was shoes I’d seen around since last spring. There was a limited selection of designer clothing at great prices. I tried on two tops – one was too low cut for my tastes and the other didn’t fit properly.

Also, if you have any idea why they were selling lamps, please let me know.

Monday, January 12, 2009

lululemon athletica 4-day warehouse sale Niagara Falls

lululemon athletica 4-day warehouse sale, Niagara Falls
Need I say more?

Jan. 29-Feb. 1
9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, doors close at 6:30 p.m. sharp!

Victoria Plaza
5175 Victoria
Ave. (map)
Niagara Falls, ON

After Niagara Falls, the sale is moving to Ottawa. Follow lululemon on twitter for updates. She’s on the ball and one a few brands that openly monitors my blog.

If you go, leave a comment and let us know what you find.

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Best buys of 2008 for moms of little ones

In this week’s baby bargainista column, Jenny reflects on her best purchases in 2008...

In January, when others are making resolutions for the new year, I find myself doing the opposite – looking back and reflecting on the year gone past, including what small triumphs were found through purchases that turned out to be great deals or investments.

By far my best pregnancy-related purchase of the year was the M coat. Not only did I score 20% off, but every time I wear it in public I get multiple compliments and queries about where to find it.

Only time will tell if I get as much use out of the zip insert after the baby comes as I hope (the insert can be zipped in an “A” shape to cover a belly, or a “V” shape so baby can be worn in a front carrier and zipped snugly inside the coat) – but every time the thermometer dips below zero, I’m glad I have my cosy M coat to keep me warm on the long walk from the subway station to my OB’s office!

My best kid-related purchase of the year, aside from the various holiday gifts I’ve already written about (like the SweetPea3), are the ice skates we bought at Play It Again Sports. Only gently used, you can’t beat the $30 price tag; especially when you consider that our 4-year-old will likely only wear them a dozen times this winter. And, bonus: when she needs a larger size next year, Play it Again Sports will give us cash on the trade-in!

And best of all, having the skates gives my husband a reason to take our girl out to the local rink for one-on-one skating lessons – a lovely daddy-daughter activity that gives me plenty of “mommy time” to rest up at home for when the baby arrives!

What was your best purchase of 2008?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

TFBB Zola aka Zola Annual Dot Sale

Zola Annual Dot Sale – sale footwear from $35-$150 ($65 for last pair)
Sigerson Morrison, Patrick Cox, Claudia Ciuti, Cesare Paciotti, Missoni, Diana Broussard, Michel Viven, Joeffer Caoc and many more are all marked down as far as they can go!

Jan. 9-31
TFBB Zola (gathering of TFBB shoe lovers): Jan. 16 at 2:30 p.m., RSVP

1726 Avenue Rd.
Toronto, ON

If you go, leave a comment and let us know what you find.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Baby Gear at Great Prices

In this week’s baby bargainista column, Jenny is getting down to the wire and the nesting instinct is starting to kick in...

I don’t know if it counts as nesting instinct, but as the due date for Baby #2’s arrival draws near I find myself compelled to shop for baby gear.

The baby’s room is still a shambles of unassembled furniture, and all the various clothes, toys, bouncy chairs, etc that I kept from #1’s babyhood are still in bins in the basement – but I feel like I can’t organize my inventory until I’ve ticked off all the items on my must-buy list:

1. a baby carrier
2. a breast pump and bottles
3. a breastfeeding pillow

I did without all these things during my 4-year-old’s babyhood, so they’re not exactly essentials; but since then enough moms, both new and experienced, have recommended these items to me that I’m convinced I’ve been depriving myself unnecessarily.

After my post about coveting a baby carrier, a number of folks recommended the Ergo baby carrier, and a friend found that they have plenty in stock at one of my favorite sources for new and nearly-new baby and toddler stuff – Once Upon a Child. I picked one up nearly-new for $99 – the cheapest price I’ve seen yet – and added an infant insert (which allows you to carry a newborn sling-style) for just another $28. Once Upon a Child doesn’t have as wide a variety of color choices as stores that sell them new, but the cost savings is more than worth it.

At Once Upon a Child I also scored a highly-recommended breastfeeding pillow, the My Brest Friend, for $49 new – $15 less than where I’d seen it elsewhere, simply because the washable fabric cover was last year’s pattern and color (again, not something I’m too fussy about when there are bargains to be had)!

Now, I just need to find the right breast pump and bottles! You can’t buy them used due to hygienic reasons, and there are SO many choices: manual, electric, combination; glass bottles, BPA-free plastic bottles… Once again, I’m open to personal recommendations! If anyone has any suggestions please let me know in the comments!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Giveaway winners announced: Bargainsta banishes bad hair days

With more than 20 entries consisting of blog comments, blog posts, photos, email and a combination of more than one of the above, three of you will be receiving a Conair Infiniti Nano Silver Steam Straightener and products from two John Frieda product lines: Frizz-Ease Weather Works and Luxurious Volume.

Peter Ciarduilli
from Calia Hair Design selected the three winners and explains why:

Brenna Flynn, looking at the photo’s she submitted. Brenna was able to get her hair smooth and straight. Pretty similar to a salon stylist.”
Those are her pics on the right.

Marie, spends to much time on her hair (45 mins.) only have it curl up again. She needs the proper tools to help her out.”

Farm Girl., something needs to be said about hair always in a ponytail. Again, with proper tools hopefully it will help her get out of wearing a ponytail all the time.”

I don’t know about you but I’d love Brenna, Marie and Farm Girl to let us know what they think about the Conair Infiniti Nano Silver Steam Straightener and let us knowwhether or not the John Frieda products helped them tame their hair. Each of you are invited to submit a guest post. And by all means, if anyone else has tried any of these products, please let us know what you think.

Peter also wanted me to share another sweet hair deal with you…
He’s added Stephanie to the Calia Hair Design team. She’s had more than 10 years of salon experience – both as a stylist and colourist (she’s a certified colour educator). I haven’t met her yet but he says she’s been in numerous competitions and has a “warm and energetic personality.” If you book an appointment with Stephanie in January, you’ll receive 20% off her services. Sounds like a sweet deal to me.

Thanks to Conair, John Frieda, Peter Ciardulli and most of all of you who participated in this giveaway. Look out for more in 2009!

photo credit: Brenna Flynn on flickr