Saturday, October 31, 2009

OPI Pink of Hearts 2009

By now, everyone has probably seen an onslaught of pink products this month – you can buy practically everything in pink this month and with a portion of sales going to various breast cancer charities.

OPI goes about donating to the cause in an interesting way. OPI is transparent about the amount of money they are donating and where it goes:
$5,000 to Rethink Breast Cancer in Canada; and,
$25,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure in the United States.

In return, OPI hopes customers will support their efforts by purchasing OPI Pink of Hearts – an exclusive shade of light pink polish produced specifically in honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Although it’s only supposed to be available in October at a professional salon near you and it sells out quickly, I’ve also seen it hanging around a bit longer so, it may not be too late.

Editor’s note:
I made a promise to you I didn’t keep. I said I’d publish one pink blog post every week during this month but I ended up skipping last week. Family first as they say but that’s not to say I’ll cut my weekly pink posts short. Instead, I’ll keep them running into October because like other diseases, breast cancer isn’t something limited to one month a year.

I mentioned I’d be sharing details about a contest at, online destination for Canadian women. Unfortunately, it’s over now and my contact left the company during the program – sorry folks.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tzatz Shopping Party

TZATZ Late Nite Shopping Party
Complimentary wine bar opens at 6:00 p.m.
Shopping until 9:30 p.m.
Receive a TZpecial gift with your purchase!
Win a $100 or $200 Gift TZertificate

Oct. 28: 6:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

2512 1/2 Yonge St. (map)
5 blocks north of Eglinton Av. at Castlefield Av.
Green “P” parking is located directly behind the store
Enter lot from Castlefield Av.

Let us know if you go!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bibs and burpers

In this week’s baby bargainista column, Jenny tells us what Toronto Girl Geek Dinners has to do with bibs and burps. Read on...

As a parent, I love sharing information with other moms and dads. Some of my best intel on bargains and useful items has come through the parenting grapevine, from chatting with other parents at playdates, birthday parties, and so on; and I enjoy passing along any tips that I can, through this blog for example! I’m also continually amazed at how solutions to parenting problems can find us in the least likely places.

I was chatting with Sarah Welsh of Nova Web Designs at a recent Toronto Girl Geek Dinner, and somehow we got on the topic of how difficult it can be to source exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to kids and babies. In particular I bemoaned my total inability to find either decent burp cloths (those handy pieces of fabric that go over your shoulder when burping baby, to save your clothing from the inevitable spit-up) or no-velcro bibs (the velcro scratches my baby’s neck, making her cranky and irritated).

Happily, Sarah had a solution! In her web design business she is working on a website for Stork Approved, a line of bibs, blankets and burp cloths currently available through Etsy. She offered me a couple of samples as the maker was looking for testers to put the product through its paces and report on quality and performance.

I used both a bib (pictured) and a burp cloth with our baby for several weeks, and fell in love with both of them! Both have a lovely fun pattern (helpful for masking stains) and a terrycloth backing for extra absorbency. After multiple uses, I can report that both the bib and burper are so solidly made as to be virtually impermeable – not once did any liquid, food, or spit-up stain baby’s clothes when using the bib, or mine when using the burp cloth. Both have become my new favorite items, especially the burp cloth, which is kept right by the nursing chair as I use it many times a day!

It all goes to show, you never know where you’ll come across a useful tip or connection that makes your parenting job easier!

What solutions or tips have you come across from unexpected sources?
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bodyblue’s trunk show

Bodyblue trunk show
20-75% of all denim, lots of giveaways and a chance to win a shopping spree.

724 Queen St W (map)
Toronto, ON
416 703 7601

199 Danforth Ave (map)
Toronto, ON
417 778 7601

October 23 - 25, 2009

Let us know what you get if you go...

Not so sure how Zemanta thinks this post is related but who am I to argue? ;-)
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Updated - Lida Baday sample sale October 23

Lida Baday’s semi-annual sample sale...

Her collection is available in only the finest department stores.

It’s one great sale you won’t want to miss! Whether you’re looking for something sophisticated for a day at the office, a night out on the town or that special something for an upcoming party, this Canadian designer is not to be missed.

Approx. 80% of items are under $100 and most range from $20-$60!
Sizes range from 2-14. Most items will be in sizes 6, 8 & 10. There are few items in sizes 2, 4, 12 & 14.

Friday, October 23, 2009
8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.

70 Claremont St. (see map.)

Let us know what you get if you go.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Help raise money and set a Guinness World Record to #BeatCancer

For my October series of weekly posts to raise awareness for breast cancer in honour of my friend Andrea, here’s something we can all do to help… and it’s so simple.

I'm helping to raise funds to
#beatcancer, by blogging, tweeting
and posting Facebook status

Click here to join me!

All you need to do is Tweet, update your Facebook status or write a blog post including the hashtag “#beatcancer” until noon EST today and eBay/PayPal and Miller Coors will donate 1 cent to cancer research. It’s part of a campaign to raise money and awareness to beat cancer. Lend a helping hand and be part of this social media experiment to try and set a Guinness World Record for the most social media mentions in 24 hours (yes, I know, this post is a bit late but there’s nothing like the present for a good cause.)

There are four charities listed on the #BeatCancer website where you can make a direct donation. For us Canadian folks, you may prefer making a donation to a local organization. I’ll be making one to rethink breast cancer today.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bargainista interviews Hellen Buttigieg

A few years ago, I stumbled upon a show called Neat on HGTV Canada. Each week, home and office organization coach, Hellen Buttigieg went into a home, helped organize the clutter and by the end of the hour, some lucky person had benefited from Hellen’s wisdom and a room makeover. I always wanted to meet Hellen and ask her to help me out. I even went as far as to ask my husband to enlist her coaching/consulting services as my birthday present this year.

Well, I still hadn’t gone beyond Googling her. About a month ago, our mutual friend, Donna Papacosta mentioned Hellen was on Twitter. Within minutes I started following her. We soon started an online conversation and I inquired about her company, We Organize U. I was delighted when she obliged to do this interview. I also went as far as to book my first session and started working with Nadia, a lovely member of the We Organize U team. I can’t wait for my next session.

What inspires you?
I get inspired by people who realize their dreams and live the kind of life they want for themselves. If I can play a small role in helping them create that, I get jazzed up.

What is chronic disorganization?
Great question, because the term is often misunderstood. The National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD) defines it as “having a past history of disorganization in which self-help efforts to change have failed, an undermining of current quality of life due to disorganization, and the expectation of future disorganization”.

When did you decide to help people organize their personal space and why?
I started my organizing business, We Organize U, in 2001. Ironically, it was meant as a temporary job to fund my coaching studies. Little did I know at the time how the two fields, organizing and coaching, could work together to help people create the life of their dreams.

How would reducing clutter in my home help me save time and money?

Reducing clutter allows us to save time and money because it makes it easier to find what we need quickly and easily, so it saves us from having to run to the store to buy duplicates (and a few impulse purchases while we’re there). A de-cluttered home takes less time to clean. Less clutter means we can use and enjoy all the rooms in our home as opposed to having some spaces ‘out of bounds’ because they have become storage areas for unused stuff.

What would you like Bargainista readers to know about your approach?
At We Organize U, we never use a cookie-cutter approach to organizing our clients. Our goal is not just to get you organized; it’s to set you up for success in maintaining your organized home/office. We help clients conquer clutter by providing them with strategies and techniques based on their unique learning style (visual, auditory or kinesthetic). You can learn more about this in my book, Organizing Outside the Box: Conquer Clutter Using Your Natural Learning Style.

Why Twitter and Facebook? Are they helping you build your business? How do you know?
I resisted getting on Twitter and Facebook for the longest time, but I’m a convert now. Social media has helped my business grow. My book reached #1 on the Amazon bestseller list in two of its categories within days of being published and only being promoted through social media. An added bonus: I’ve met some really great people.

Danier Factory Outlet may surprise you

Mr. B. wanted a new leather jacket. He found one he liked at Danier’s Yorkdale store on sale for $100 off the ticketed price. Being the savvy shopper he is, he wanted me to take a visit to Danier’s St. Clair Factory Outlet.

Like the mall locations, I found Danier’s sales help quite aggressive. So we kindly let the saleswoman who shadowed us upon arrival, that we were okay – thanks.

Within a few minutes, Mr. B. found the same black leather bomber he had seen at Yorkdale for an additional $50 off.

As much as I would have liked a new leather jacket (I’ve been wanting one with a zipout lining for years), I hadn’t planned on buying one. A leather jacket is a substantial purchase and something I’m unlikely to consider as an impulse buy.

The outlet location is much larger than the mall stores with several clearance racks – perfect for leather lovers on a tight budget. I perused the deep-discounted coats and jackets. There were some great finds but nothing that fit me properly.

Mr. B, on the other hand, decided I should have a leather jacket too. Whaaaaa? This was not characteristic of our shopping trips. Even more unusual, he picked out an awesome jacket for me. Of course it wasn’t on sale but we decided since the last leather jacket was one I bought myself as a university graduation gift, it was time to get a new one.

Hmm, outlet location, two jackets – one at regular price. Let’s see what I can do. I asked the salesperson if there was anything they could do about the price. (Just so you know, I despite the name of this blog, I don’t make a habit of negotiating ticket prices with stores. However, this was a factory outlet. We were buying two of their better-quality leather jackets and one wasn’t marked down. What did I have to lose?)

Ask and ye shall receive. The manager gave me 10% off my jacket. Still no bargain but I was happy to take what I could get.

What good deals have you found lately? Have you ever tried negotiating on a price (cars and homes don’t count), if so, what happened?
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

On the move for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

For long-time readers, pink posts on Bargainista won`t be anything new. My mother battled breast cancer and I`ve had several friends who have faced the battle too. From time-to-time I've blogged about Breast Cancer fundraising initiatives.

On Monday, I learned my friend Andrea was diagnosed with breast cancer. For those of you who think breast cancer is a disease affecting mostly older women, think again. Andrea like so many of you reading this blog, is a wife and mother with two young children. She has also made a huge contribution to children's literacy and the podcasting community. Andrea is forging ahead, staying positive and already thinking like a survivor.

In honour of Andrea, I will be writing one pink post a week throughout this month and highlighting opportunities for you to support the cause. I`ll do my best to showcase some of the more interesting initiatives - feel free to send me your ideas too.

Last year, I did some work with rethink breast cancer helping spread the word about BreastFest Film Festival last year. rethink is an incredible organization because it helps raise awareness about the importance of breast health for younger women and provides support for women with early-onset breast cancer and their families. (Growing up as a child who`s mother had the disease, I know life would have been much different had rethink been around at the time. You can check out these pink products with a portion of proceeds going to rethink this year.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Buying baby clothes on a budget

In this week’s baby bargainista column, Rebecca Atkinson talks about shopping for clothes for her baby daughter who is growing by the minute and cute as a button.

As Jenny pointed out in a previous post buying baby clothes can be an expensive proposition when your little one constantly grows and no two manufacturer’s are alike in their sizing.
Given this the rapid changes in weather this summer and our darling’s early delivery, it wasn’t long before we were on the lookout for discount baby clothes in Toronto.

Here’s what we were able to find:
Value Village – when babies aren’t yet crawling, walking or spilling stuff on themselves, their clothes tend to stay in better shape, so Value Village is a great spot to find baby clothes at discount prices.

The Children’s Place
– Depending on which location you go to you may end up with a gold mine of discounts: clothes priced between $1.99 -$4.99. I’ve been to three locations in the GTA and here’s what I can tell you. The Toronto Eaton Centre has a small discount area and is worth checking out. Yorkdale Mall’s store has the smallest discount rack I’ve ever seen. However, the motherload can be found at Vaughan Mills, with the biggest discount section – especially for infants.

Old Navy – Again, Vaughan Mills has a large discount area and we were able to buy a ton of her summer clothes, paying no more than $4.99 per item of clothing. I’m not sure about other Old Navy locations, but it could be worth a try.

Obviously, these are pretty Toronto-area specific discount shopping options, so surely there are other options across Canada. Where have you been the most successful?
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Sunday, October 04, 2009

My long-lasting Blobar manicure secret revealed

By now you probably know that I <3 manicures and enjoy getting together with some of my girlfriends for mani-pedis. I often feel naked if I’m not wearing earrings or have my fingernails well groomed when I leave the house.

Keeping my nails neat and tidy takes a lot of effort. It’s tough going for weekly manicures – spending an hour getting my nails done and another half hour waiting for my nails to dry. Then praying they don’t chip or show wear and tear for several days between appointments.

So, you can imagine my delight when I saw the sign outside Blobar last August announcing a gel manicure service that lasts 3-4 weeks. Of course I walked inside to see if this was for real – it is. It’s a Axxium Gel System by OPI (I understand other companies offer a similar product). Maybe you’re thinking this isn’t anything new because you’ve been wearing gel nails for years. Well, actually it is because I am wearing my own nails. Both processes require the use of UV lamp. I did find evidence of Axxium dating back to 2008 but I hadn’t heard of it before and neither had all the women who complimented me on my lovely manicured nails from Toronto to Chicago and back.

A few weeks later, I had my first appointment with Jessica-Marie Ellison, “Canadian Nail Artist of the Year” champion several years running. I was getting ready to take a vacation and I needed to have pretty party nails one week later. I wanted bright red nails to match my party dress. I was skeptical but I took the plunge. I was’t disappointed. Beautiful shape, finish colour and... no drying time! Once the process was complete, my nails were done. No sitting around watching the clock waiting for my nails to dry.

My nails looked picture-perfect the night of the party. In fact, my nails looked pretty darn good for the next two weeks. I’ve had many manicures by many nail techs and I love Pema who has been doing my nails frequently at Cozy but I’ve never met anyone as gifted at shaping and finishing them as Jessica.

I went four weeks between manicures. By the time I saw Jessica for my touch-up, I had two chips in the polish. My nails still were beautifully shaped. The main reason I needed the appointment was because my nails had grown so much and my unpolished nail beds were becoming quite prominent.

My second visit was a bit confusing. I knew the polish had to be soaked off and the process takes longer than regular polish. What I didn’t realize was that it required a longer appointment and unless I specified I wanted to change colours when booking, a follow-up manicure meant full service as far as filing, shaping, cuticles and hand massage goes but as for the polish, I settled for a touch up. (Lesson learned: brush up on industry lingo and a bit of drying time is needed for a touch up appointment.) So now, five weeks later, I’m still wearing bright Big Apple Red (but I did break a tiny bit of corner or my thumb nail trying to change a battery.)

For my third visit, I’ve booked an extra 15 minutes so I can change colours. I’m going to try a gel French manicure the next time around. I’ll let you know how it goes.

As for the cost, a regular manicure sets me back $15-$20 plus tip and at least an hour and a half. It lasts me up to a week but with chips, nicks and splits. Gel manicures are about $45 for an initial application and a bit less for a touch up. Cozy Nails will be bringing them in too – I still love them when it comes to service but I think Jessica wins hands-down (pardon the pun) when it comes to the end result. She’ll also share some of her wealth of knowledge regarding industry news and products.

Keep an eye out on Blobar. Other services include blow dries, hair extensions, spray-on tans, false eyelashes and make-up applications and several other esthetic services. It’s run by instructors from George Brown who are planning some interesting events like “How to know your salon has proper hygiene practices” and “How to get the most out of the products in your cosmetic bag”.
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