Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bargainista’s visit from Little Kitchen

About a month ago I was on Facebook and saw my friend Alexa Clark won a dinner for four prepared in her home from a company I’d never heard of called Little Kitchen. They give away a dinner for four to one of their Facebook fans through a random draw each month.

I’d never entered a Facebook contest before but with Alexa’s pedigree, I figured if it was good enough for her, it was good enough for me. Speaks volumes for the value of recommendations from friends doesn’t it? So, I entered and next thing you know, I was the next month’s winner. Whoohoo!

Chef Matt Kantor spent the evening at our house last night. He designed the menu, prepared, served and cleaned up one of the most enjoyable meals we’d ever had. Talk about hidden gems. Little did I know Little Kitchen had a chef trained at the Culinary Institute of America at the helm. You can check out our dinner pics in the slideshow and watch for my interview with Matt coming soon.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Festive Social at LIV by Au Lit

Wednesday night I had the pleasure of attending an intimate event for members of the online fashion and shopping community courtesy of Danielle Meder. You can read all about it on her blog, finalfashion and LIV by Au Lit’s blog too. If you have a chance today, check out their Holiday Shopping Party.

Everyone I spoke to was blown away by LIV by Au Lit. Most of the women were surprised to find such a great find north of Queen Street. No me. It was spacious and impeccably laid out, thanks to owner/creative director/author, the lovely Joanna Goodman.

Merchandise ranged from clothing and accessories, including jewellery from the new design duo Edmoure Ralph (thanks for the amazing brass bow earrings), to baby clothes, books (Joanna gave me a copy of You Made Me Love You and has another novel in the works, home décor and linens – perhaps you’re familiar with her other store, Au Lit Fine Linens.) Prices were very reasonable. For example, they range from about $60-$300 for sweaters with most at the lower end and jeans start at about $100.

I’m thrilled LIV by Au Lit also supports Canadian designers (not exclusively). I’ll be back!

Guests included (thanks to Danielle for the list):

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LIV by Au Lit Holiday Shopping Party

LIV by Au Lit Holiday Shopping Party
Up to 30% off clothing and accessories, jewellery trunk show, gift with purchases over $100.

418 Eglinton Ave. W. (map)

Saturday, Nov. 28: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Davids Private Sale

Davids Private Sale
Preview of Fall/Winter sale with merchandise up to 50% off.

66 Bloor St. W. (map)
Bayview Village (map)
Yorkdale (map)

Wednesday, Nov. 25
Thursday, Nov. 26

Public sale begins Friday, Nov 27

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Jenny’s family visits Great Wolf Lodge

In this week’s baby bargainista column, Jenny shares her family’s mini-getaway experience (and great tips) at a nearby resort.

With fall upon us and summer vacation just a distant memory, my husband and I were feeling a little cabin fever and decided it was time to take the family on another “staycation.”

We decided on Great Wolf Lodge, an “indoor water park resort,” because our 5-year-old adores swimming, it’s less than a 2-hour drive (the maximum nap time our 10-month-old will sleep), and we figured if the water park got boring we could visit any of the other great attractions in the Niagara Falls area.

We needn’t have worried. We ended up spending all day, every day in the water park, except for meals and sleeping! Unlimited access to the water park is included in your stay, which is just one of the pros of staying at this family-friendly resort.

At check-in you’re given a wristband, which functions as both the key to your room, and a charge card (only adults can charge) – infinitely convenient, as you don’t have to worry about misplacing your key or cash while in the water park, and even our 5-year-old soon became adept at scanning the band to get into our room.

Every night at 8 p.m. there’s story time in the lobby – arrive early for this don’t-miss event to see the lobby floor packed with kids, and enjoy the theatrics from the live storyteller! (The picture above is taken during Saturday night story time)

Towels are provided in the water park – they’re a bit small, but at least you don’t need to lug wet towels back to your room.

The water park features lots of different pools and many sizes of waterslides for all ages, from tot to adult. Our 5-year-old enjoyed the slides in the tot pool and our 10-month-old was delighted with the waves in the wave pool.

There’s both a snack bar, and a licensed bar in the water park for when you inevitably get peckish.

There’s an arcade, too, which keeps older kids entertained after the water park closes in the evening.

The single in-house restaurant’s dinner buffet is quite carb-heavy, with barely a cooked vegetable in sight, and costly for its limited selection (although kids 3 and under eat free with an adult dinner).

Although the water park is staffed with lifeguards, there is limited actual supervision – it’s not a daycare centre, after all; you’ll want to keep a close eye on young ones.

Lineups for the bigger waterslides can be longer than expected, especially on busy Saturdays. Expect to wait 10 minutes or more.

Save money by bringing your own food for breakfast and lunch – every room has a fridge and microwave and you can easily make a “picnic” meal in the galley kitchen.

Bring more than one swimsuit so you don’t have to put on a wet bathing suit after lunch.

Bring a robe, cover-up, or an extra-large t-shirt; and, crocs or shower shoes for walking back and forth to your room. The hallways feel chilly after the warmth of the water park!

Hit the water park early – at or close to opening at 9 a.m. daily – to secure a table near the pool your kids are likely to use most, so you can supervise while seated.

If you can, get a room on the first floor, the same level as the water park, for ease of travelling back and forth to your room.

We had a fantastic time and would definitely go back!
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rita Tesolin's Holiday Sample Sale - Extended

Rita Tesolin Jewellery Design inventory sale

Canadian jewellery designer Rita Tesolin is having an inventory sale with up to 80% off her regular prices and items starting as low as $5. You’ll find a mix of stuff including costume, sterling silver and semi-precious jewellery collections and a wide array of one-of-a-kind belts. Different items will be throughout the weekend. Now is the time to buy designer accessories at bargain prices.

Cash only!

63 Wingold Ave., Suite 103 (map)

When? - New dates
Saturday, Nov 28, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Sunday, Nov 29, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Friday, Nov 20, 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Saturday, Nov 21, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Sunday, Nov 22, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Cash only!
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Annual Bargains Group Friends and Family Warehouse Sale

The Bargains Group Friends and Family Warehouse Sale - Don’t miss this annual blowout! It’s a good old-fashioned warehouse sale with savings up to 80% off retail prices.

The Bargains Group is only open to the public once a year. Need to stock up on basics? Buying items to donate to charities over the holidays? If you’re a true bargain hunter, this is one sale you won’t want to miss!

Weekends starting Nov. 13 thru Dec. 24
Fridays: 3 p.m.-7 p.m.
Saturdays: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sundays: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

The Bargains Group (see map)
890 Caledonia Rd.
Toronto, ON
(south of Lawrence, betw. Keele and Dufferin)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tassimo review times three

Like many other Canadians online this fall, I won a Tassimo single brewing system by Bosch. For those of you unfamiliar with a Tassimo, it’s a small kitchen appliance you load with water, which is then filtered and by adding one of several discs (or pairs of discs) you can make one of several hot drinks from decaf coffee to espresso, hot chocolate and chai tea within minutes.

My colleague, Candice Shirreff and her apartment mate, Sarah Roger won Tassimos too. So, I thought it would be helpful if I shared three points of view with you.

How did you win your Tassimo?
SR: I saw Candice had retweeted @TassimoCanada that they were giving away 300 machines, so I just started following them. I received a DM a few days later that I had won a machine.

CS: I won my Tassimo by signing up to win tickets to a Tassimo Smart Talk Event with Sarah Richardson and Nik Manojlovich, which included a free Tassimo machine and a chance to win a $10,000 Bosch kitchen (which I don't think I have won :(). I found out about the event through Twitter.

ES: I had just arrived at my in-laws for Thanksgiving weekend. I checked Twitter and saw some people retweeting @TassimoCanada because they were giving away some Tassimo machines that night. I retweeted and within two minutes, I received a DM congratulating me on winning.

How often do you us it?
SR: I've been using it nearly every morning since I've received it. I like how quick it is, although I find the coffee doesn't get as hot as I'd like.

CS: I’ve hardly used the machine at all, but my roommate Sarah uses the machine to make coffee every morning. I also think the machine looks great on our bland kitchen counter.

ES: I’ve been using it almost every morning and twice-a-day on weekends. My husband has been using it too and one of my sons enjoys the hot chocolate.

What is your favourite beverage?
SR: I've been enjoying the Nabob 100% Colombian coffee discs. I still haven’t tried all of the samples they sent me.

CS: I am not a coffee drinker, so my favourite beverage selection is the teas – particularly the Chai tea. I can’t wait for the Tazo teas to become available in Canada (hint hint)

ES: I’m a huge coffee drinker but surprisingly, my favourite Tassimo beverage is Twinnings Chai Latte. I’m not getting results when I try making cappacinos either.

Have you tried making any of the suggested recipes?
SR: No, I haven't.

CS: No, I have not tried any of the recipes.

ES: No. The recipes on the Tassimo Canada website didn’t do anything for me. 

Have you tried inventing any of your own and if so, what? How was it/how were they?
SR: Haven't tried this either.

CS: No, I have not experimented with my own recipes yet but I would like to reduce the milk quantity in the chai latte.

ES: I tried making some of the drinks with my own milk instead of the Tassimo milk product. I’ve concocted a hot mocha at my son’s request.

Do you buy brewed coffee? If so, where? Do you buy more, less or the same now that you have a Tassimo?
SR: I do buy brewed coffee. For the past year I’ve been buying PC Organics Fair Trade Dark Roast Coffee. I think it’s one of the best tasting fair trade coffees and well priced at under $10.

CS: I purchase Chai tea lattes regularly and having tried Tassimo’s equivalent. I don’t think this machine will substitute those purchases. However, I do think this machine will be used for entertaining. I will certainly make the specialty drinks for friends and family which I would not have done without the Tassimo machine.

ES: I don’t brew coffee at home – we broke our coffee maker last year and haven’t replaced it yet. I do buy brewed coffee by the cup. I have less of an urge to do so on weekends now that I have a Tassimo.

Have you bought any Tassimo products? If so, what and where?
SR: No, I have not. I’m still going through the huge supply they sent me with the machine.

CS: I tried to purchase some more tea products at The Bay but the selection was poor the day I was there. I will definitely try again though.

ES: I bought Sucard Hot Chocolate and Twinnings Chai Latte at Loblaws a couple weeks ago. I haven’t seen it in other grocery stores where I regularly shop. My husband went to buy some for us today and Loblaws was out of hot chocolate and Chai Latte.

Would you recommend a Tassimo to friends?
SR: This is a tough question as I still haven’t fully made up my mind. I would recommend the Tassimo to those who are pressed for time in the morning and need a fast cup of coffee that tastes way better than instant. For friends who love great tasting coffee, I’m not sure this machine is for them. I find the quality of the coffee that I’ve tried to be good, not great. I would still like to try a few more of the other brands. I’m interested in trying the Suchard Hot Chocolate.

CS: Yes I would. I think it makes a great addition to a kitchen and it will certainly make entertaining more fun, unique and personalized.

ES: I’m with Sarah. For friends who competent brewing their own coffee at home, they may not be happy with Tassimo. For friends like me who don’t do a great job of home brewing and/or only have a need for one or two cups most of the time, Tassimo is a nice addition. We’re having friends over for a dinner party in a couple weeks. I’m looking forward to trying it out on them and seeing what they think.

What do you like the most and least about your Tassimo?
SR: Most – I love how easy and quick I can make a cup of coffee when I’m running out the door in the morning. It’s easy to clean and I don't have to deal with the mess or nuisance of coffee grounds.

Least – For a person that drinks as much coffee as I do, I don’t think the quality is comparable to regular brewed coffee. In terms of taste I’d pick my PC Organics Fair Trade coffee over the Tassimo discs. That being said, I see a place in my coffee drinking routine for both my regular brewed coffee machine and my Tassimo. I see myself brewing a pot of coffee on the weekend when time is not an issue, but using the Tassimo during the week before work.

CS: Most – The great look of the machine!

Least – The waste and flavour of some of the drinks taste artificial

ES: Most – The quick convenience of brewing a variety of hot beverages within minutes.

Least – I haven’t found a coffee that wows me. There aren’t enough decaf or tea options. Like Candice, I’d like to see a line of Tazo teas for Tassimo, there’s only one available in the U.S. now.
I don’t add sweeteners to my coffee or tea. So, I’m not a fan of having them pre-added. I’d also prefer a way to use my own milk for lattes. The amount of garbage generated by the disks bothers me too and most isn’t recyclable.

Have you tried a Tassimo beverage? What did you think? Would you like one of your own?

Sarah Roger works in communications at the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). She enjoys all things related to: caffeine, crafting, music and shopping. Sarah spends the majority of her free time @sarahroger.

Originally from Ottawa, Candice Shirreff came to Toronto to challenge herself in the world of digital at iStudio. Decorating, art and fashion accessories keep her inspired. You can find Candice on Twitter as @CandiceShirreff.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Canadian Tire: filled to the rim with great deals

It’s been ages since I stepped foot in a Canadian Tire store.

Last week, I won a $10 gift card at work because iStudio’s Toronto team got an honourable mention for our awesome pumpkin at our FH/iStudio Hallowe’en pumpkin carving contest.

Mr. B and I had been shopping for a new porch light. We’d already purchased and returned three from a few different stores but hadn’t found the right one. So, I suggested we take a look at Canadian Tire since we had a gift card. The selection wasn’t huge but we found what we were looking for – in fact, there were three possibilities. Instead of the $80 we almost spent, we choose one we thought was on sale for $35.

Despite being in a rush, I also took a few minutes to have a look around. There was everything from greeting cards and holiday candies to housewares, home décor and hardware. The store was literally jam-packed. They could have used some help making their merchandise more appealing.

Regardless, I think I’ll be back again soon. When I got to the cash, the lamp was further-reduced to $20, with the gift card, I saved another $10. The only problem was the colour was a bit different than the one on display but for that price, who’s complaining. Not me.

Have you been to a Canadian Tire lately? What did you think? What did you buy?

Disclaimer: Canadian Tire is a client of iStudio. The porch light pictured above is available at Canadian Tire. It is different from the one I purchased.
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rebecca’s rant

In this week’s baby bargainista column, Rebecca Atkinson rants about her trials and tribulations dealing with “helpful” comments from strangers when what it really comes down to is what’s best her daughter.

This week my post was going to be on Mom2Mom sales, but I’ve delayed it by two weeks because no matter how I tried, I kept running, I seem to keep wanting to rant.

As a mother you want to do and provide the very best for your child – while finding bargains of course, but sometimes that can be difficult especially when everyone has their opinions on how you should raise your child.

From the beginning we’ve heard – often from complete strangers – what we should or shouldn’t do and of course what we were doing wrong.

My daughter Meredith was born three weeks early and after a very long and stressful delivery (on both of us), she ended up back in the hospital because she had jaundice and as a result of the hard labour she never got her food groove on. So the doctor had us do a couple of things.

First, try some formula in a bottle to make sure she would eat. Once we established that, I then pumped milk into a bottle and gave it to her so that she would:
a) continue to eat, and
b) so we could determine just how much food she was taking in.
You see, Meredith had a great latch, she just had no desire to work for her meal by sucking from the breast which is more difficult than a bottle as it turns out.

I uploaded some photos on Facebook that showed my husband feeding her. I actually got comments from some people I hadn’t seen in years who didn’t know our situation – actually comment/send notes and suggest I should be breastfeeding instead.

Things haven’t gotten any easier on the feeding front, in fact Meredith was diagnosed with severe acid reflux and a slow digestive system. Whether I fed her directly from the breast or pumped milk from bottles, she not only spit up, she vomited, often projectile over the last four months, we’ve tried several medications, had many tests, got switched to a hypo-allergenic formula, which didn’t help and in fact made her worse, tried a second more expensive formula and are still waiting to see a paediatric gastroenterologist.

However, we think we may have figured out the cause. It seems that she is milk and soy protein intolerant (not allergic but intolerant). She also is not able to handle berries or tomatoes either for that matter. An allergy generally shows n outward reaction, like a rash. An intolerance is more internal, gas, fussiness, colic type behavior, vomiting, crying and in general difficult feeding and changing times.

I have learned more about GERD (acid reflux), food ingredients, giving babies medication as well as what works to calm down my crying child than I ever thought possible. The good news is that she seems to be doing a little better, although it’s been a long difficult road to get there. Since there are not any formulas out there that don’t contain any milk or soy proteins at all, I have no choice but to breastfeed ensuring I cut out all items from my diet that seem to affect her.

The problem? Many products are dairy/milk protein free, not as many are soy free. Many of those that are, (organic mostly) happen to have one ingredient that I am allergic to – tapioca. While at first very difficult and expensive, it’s become fun to explore grocery stores and find new and exciting products and ingredients to try.

Throughout this whole process we have had some very “helpful” people suggest to us what we’re doing right, wrong, what the problem was and/or how to correct it. The last straw which spawned this post, was this weekend when a complete stranger walked up to me and suggested that my daughter was too young to be forward facing in her carrier because she was so “small.”

Yes my baby is small, in fact she’s only in the 5th percentile for her weight (average for everything else), since she hasn’t been able to really keep food down. However, one thing GERD has done for her is give her some very strong neck muscles, so she now prefers to be forward facing. If I didn’t think she wasn’t ready, I wouldn’t have done it. Now if she’d been wobbling around like a bobble head perhaps I could have seen this woman saying something, but she wasn’t.

This experience has taught me a ton of things including the following:
Breast pump rentals are expensive, consider buying if yiou’re going to be using long term
The electric double pump, has been my friend
Evymama has been a great source of help for pumping accessories (think hands free!) and milk production herbal remedies
Pumping allows dad and other family members to be involved in the feeding process
Tahini is a great product to cook with and can kind of filling for a cheesy substitute if needed
Going dairy and soy free is not as hard as it looks when you cook from scratch, eating out is the challenge
Reflux is not fun for any infant or parent
• An intolerance is not the same thing as an allergy
• People are always going to give you advice even if you don’t ask for it
• My husband and I have been with her for the last four months, we’ve tried all the different options, we’ve gone to the doctors appointments and 4 a.m. projectile vomits and crying spells, so we should trust ourselves and our instincts because we do know what is best for our baby based on our situation and her needs.

It’s the best piece of advice I can give anyone.. Trust yourself and tell everyone else to go take a hike and do what feels right to you.

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Loving Aritzia

No, it’s not cheap but I’ve always had a thing for Aritzia from the time they opened their very first store in Toronto. Until the other day, I only looked. I bought an awesome black, silk cashmere, shrug-meets-boyfriend-cardigan sweater by Wilfred. At $95 and the amount of wear I’ll be getting from this baby, it’s worth every penny.

At the cash, I noticed my earring was gone. Oh, no, it was remodeled from some of my late grandmother’s jewelry. The sentimental value was huge, the monetary value no so much but it wasn’t costume. After taking a quick look around without success, (I hadn’t put anything over my head while trying the sweater on) I assumed it fell off the office and left.

Back at the office and a mere 15 minutes since I left the store, the phone rang. It was someone from Artizia letting me know they had found my earring and it would be waiting for me to pick up after work. I told her I’d be right there since I worked practically across the street.

When I got there, two sales associates recognized me at the cash and gave me my earring (I showed them the mate still on my left ear.) Another customer piped up and told me she had found the earring. We chatted for a minute and I thanked her profusely. She expected nothing but the knowledge that she was paying it forward.

I was particularly impressed by how quickly the lovely ladies at Artizia called me (I’m also impressed by their blog but that’s worthy of another post one day). I wanted to do something nice in return. The next day, I brought them a box of chocolates as a small token of my appreciation.

Sometimes we praise sales associates for excellent service but more often we’re quick to chastise them. Very rarely do we thank them for going above and beyond. Perhaps it’s time we should.

Are you a fan of Artizia? Check out Aritzia’s Facebook fan page and follow @ArtiziaLoves on Twitter.

When was the last time you experienced a sales associate going that extra mile? How did you show her your appreciation?

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Bought: boots at Davids aka a tale of two sisters

I bought a pair of black leather La Canadienne boots. I’ve never spent so much money on boots in my life and the last few pairs I owned were all on sale for less than $100 each. This was different. I really wanted a pair of fashionable black leather boots and with my hard-to-fit feet getting anything to fit is a big deal.

I should have started looking a while ago to get the best selection (those of you with easy-to-fit feet may want to hold out a bit for the sales – they’re just around the corner), this year I was late. I lucked out and found a pair of boots from La Canadienne that fit me comfortably that were also fashionable, insulated and waterproof. Best of all, they have six-month guarantee and they’re made by a Canadian company.

But this post really isn’t about the boots. It’s about the service.

Two weeks ago, I went to Capezio at Yorkdale. The sales associate helping me had helped me before and I trusted her opinion. After trying on several pairs of boots that just weren’t right, I tried a pair of La Canadiennes. They fit perfectly. I planned on buying fashionable boots. These boots also doubled as winter boots, helping me justify the expense.

Only one problem – there was a split in the leather. The sales associate said she could order another pair from another store but they’d arrive tomorrow and I had to pick them up that night. Huh? Not gonna work with my schedule.

The other option was to pay for them right then and there. A 10-day return policy would apply from the date of purchase. I was cool ordering them and even paying for them on the condition that the 10-day return policy wouldn’t begin until the pick-up. Mr. B was planning to go to back to the mall mid-week and he offered to pick them up for me. That idea wasn’t working for her. During the conversation, while she was trying to decide what to do, she left me hanging there while she rang in a couple sales at the cash.

Yes, those were definite sales and my purchase was uncertain but c’mon. Remember, I wanted those boots but the only ones available were defective. I’ve also been a Capezio customer for almost 30 years. I usually by at least one item of footwear there each season. Do the math and it’s not hard to see I’ve been a very good customer over the long-term. Unfortunately, with staff turnover and multiple stores, it’s not necessarily something a sales associate would know. But I did and my bank account did too.

I left and walked down the hall to Davids. Yes, you read that right. Bargainista went to Davids. Davids at the mall not only carries some of the higher-end footwear found at it’s Bloor St. flagship store. It also sells more moderately priced items, including La Canadienne. They didn’t have my size in stock. The sales associate offered to order them from another store. Knowing they were the higher-end big sister of Capezio, I wasn’t sure this was going to work out.

“No problem, we can hold them for you and you don’t need to pay for them now,” said Anthony, the sales associate.

My husband went to pick them up at mall a few nights later. I asked him to take a look before brining them home. Et voilà, they also had a rip. No problem, Davids ordered another pair. A couple days later I received a call from Michael, the store manager apologizing for the delay. They had several pairs on hold for other customers. They’d either have a pair for me in a day or two or they’d put a pair aside from their next order. Nice.

Last Monday, I received a voicemail telling me they had a pair on hold and asked me to call them. I didn’t – I was distracted with some stuff on the homefront and it slipped my mind. Saturday morning I gave them a call. The boots were still waiting for me. Wow, impressive.

That afternoon I went to pick up the boots. I tried them on again, making sure they fit and there were no rips or tears. Nada. While I was at the cash paying for the boots, Michael treated me as if I was spending a lot more coin – and keep in mind, they have a full collection of the likes of Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choos – most of their merchandise way out of my budget. (Mind you, that didn’t stop me from drooling or entering a contest for a $500 gift certificate.)

I mentioned my experience at Capezio and he was surprised. His response surprised me too. I expected the difference in policy and service was because Davids deals with a higher-end customer has a well-earned reputation for stellar service. Michael said there was no excuse since they were all part of the same company. (Capezio and Davids are sister companies.)

Bottom line: the moral of the story is, don’t let the high-end stores fool you. They often sell some of the same merchandise sold in lower-end stores and treat you much better.

Have you had a similar experience where you bought something at a higher-end store because the service was so much better, even when the same thing was available at a store with more affordable merchandise?

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

My night at the P&G Beauty Awards

On Thursday, October 29, I had the pleasure of attending the first-ever P&G Beauty Awards in Canada at The Carlu in Toronto. (Check out the live tweets and my photos.)

I was so flattered to receive an invitation to this exclusive event that although I received invitations to attend several events that night (believe me, that night was an exception), I accepted graciously.

Hosted by Nia Vardalos, Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated Canadian actress and screenwriter, best known for her performance in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the event portion of the evening is best described as entertaining and stylish with a splash of good humour for good measure. Lots of fashion and beauty personalities were on hand, Fashion Television’s Jeanne Beker; David Clemmer, star of the W Network’s “Style by Jury”; MTV News host and producer, Aliya-Jasmine Sovani; fashion designer Joeffer Caoc and the reigning Canada’s Next Top Model, Meaghan Waller. who were presenters. Somehow I missed Valerie Bertinelli, what a shame. She was Mr. B’s adolescent crush.

Unlike any awards shows I’ve seen on TV, this one ran quickly. Video commentary from one of the judges in each of 16 categories provided brief explanations as to why each winner was selected. Acceptance speeches were short, sweet and to the point. The ceremony even ended a few minutes earlier than expected, allowing more time for the elegant after-party.

What really stood out for me, apart from all the beautiful people who were impeccably dressed, was how several of the winners gave a shout out to the PR people who made their jobs easier. At a time where public relations is facing new challenges and often called out in an unflattering way because of shoddy blogger outreach, it was refreshing to hear praises for people who do it well. It’s also a reminder that at the end of the day, no matter who is approaching whom or how, what matters are relationships and relationships are a two-sided equation.

Next year let’s hope we’ll see a greater recognition of fashion and beauty bloggers who are outside of the mainstream Canadian fashion and beauty media.

Congrats to all the winners! Thanks again P&G Beauty and all the sponsors. (I’m enjoying the very generous swag bag too.)
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