Category Archives: Shopping

Santa better start saving now!

Daughter:  Have you noticed I haven’t asked for very much for my birthday?

Mother: Yes, I did wonder a little about that.

Daughter:  Well, I’ve been keeping a few things from you.

Mother: Oh.

Daughter: See, I didn’t want you and Dad to have to spend all your money on my birthday presents. So I’m going to save up all my wishes and ask Santa for them.

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Filed under Family, Living, Shopping, Tales

Design freebies @ The Small Object

So there is this girl named Sarah and she makes these great little small objects.

Sarah Neuburger

Sarah Neuburger

No, I don’t know her. But you know how the internet is like that — I just stumbled upon her — and what a treasure of talent she is! Her company is called The Small Object.

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 She creates absolutely delightful things … like custom cake toppers for wedding cakes made from wooden clothes pegs…

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 … and rubber stamps featuring her own unique illustrations (my favourite is the Pet Shop Pals set!) …

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 super-cute unique stationery, and even other odds and ends like this lunch bag …

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And here’s the really great bit: she also creates printable items for you to download and use for FREE. Really awesome items. I’m especially taken with the gift tags and notecards.

If you visit her steno pad, you’ll also find iPhone wallpaper and craft tutorials too.

Ah, such fun! Thanks Sarah!
wedding cake topper

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How fast can you blow through $1,000?

Tired of budget, budget, budgeting? Let’s have some fun!

Someone just handed you $1,000 in cold hard cash. It’s all yours, but you must follow the rules to keep it.

The rules:
1. You must spend it. No savings, RESP and responsible things like that.
2. It cannot be anything you actually “need.” It can only be spent on “wants.”
3. No big ticket items. No individual item can be more than $200.
4. No time to waver – you must develop your list in less than 15 minutes.

Here’s mine!

1. Very cool Star Wars lego set from the Classics collection = $80

2.  Dinner at The Black Dog & Babysitter = $150.00

3.  Dior Skin Nude (Foundation Makeup) = $70.00 

4. Two luxe bras from Bra Chic = $200.00 (DaniGirl is entirely responsible for this entry! See her post here to understand why.)

5. Keen sandals for my daughter = $80.00

6. Matching Keen sandals for me = $95.00

7. Pedicure, Manicure & Facial at The Spa = $200.00

8. Full head highlights at Bossarts = $140.00

Wow, that’s it … I’ve already spent it all!!

Play along by listing your shopping spree in a comment or by including a link to your blog post in my comments. Just remember, no thinking too much — just spend it quick on “wants” that come top of mind.

Your turn!

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Filed under Gadgets & Goods, Living, Shopping

Dear Convenience Food Marketers

MacDear Junkfood Convenience Food Marketers,

In this economy, I feel it is my duty to provide you with some valuable feedback that can help you cut your costs. You see, I’ve noticed some changes to your packaging. Lately it includes copy intended to market to someone looking for a healthy meal.

Consider the following two standard favourites: Kraft Dinner Original and Chef Boyardee Ravioli.

The Kraft Dinner package is now sporting a substational bright green call-out box on the front which reads:

Sensible Solution:
Source of Calcium and Iron
Good Source of Protein

The Chef Boyardee packaging, for its part, has allocated an entire panel on its paper wrap to share the following information:

Thank Goodness for Chef Boyardee!
When you serve Chef Boyardee to your family, you give them more than great taste — you give them a wholesome, nutricious meal as well. Because Chef Boyardee is made with fresh beef and enriched pasta, it is a delicious combination of protein and carbs. And Chef Boyardee has no preservatives. Serve Chef Boyardee. The good, hot and hearty meal that your entire family loves.

But let’s be real my marketing friends — I’m not buying these foods for their health benefits. It’s because I’m being lazy. Or indulgent. Or both.

I am very aware that whenever I veer away from the perimeter of the grocery store and down the centre isles that I am entering into different territory. Territory in which a pasta can be magically created from florescent orange powder. Or where there is no need for an expiry date, even though the food inside contains meat.

However, this little “health” promo on your packaging caused me to take a closer look at the ingredients. Here’s what I found:

  • Kraft Dinner contains tartrazine. This additive is a synthetic dye used as a food colouring. Norway and Austria banned the use of tartrazine and other countries issued warnings after it was found to cause hyperactivity in some children. In addition to hyperactivity, research has also linked tartrazine to asthma, skin rashes, and migraines. While the United States and Canada have not banned this additive, it is now mandatory for it to be clearly labelled on a product’s ingredient list.
  • Chef Boyardee’s ingredient list includes the infamous “MSG,” or Monosodium Glutamate. Although you’ll find virtually every Chinese food take-out place defensively advertising “No MSG” in their foods, there is no real answer as to whether this ingredient is harmful or not. Countless research studies have shown only that it can cause a reaction in some people that is similar to an allergic reaction. But one thing is for sure: MSG is used to enhance the flavour of food. Why? So you’ll eat more of course! Just what us chubby first-world folks need. In addition, Chef Boyardee contains glucose-fructose, more than one type of salt and caramel. (I don’t know if caramel is actually bad for you but I thought it was so wierd that it was worth mentioning).

This brings me back to my starting point, which was how you could save yourself some money.

And here’s how: don’t bother hiring any more copywriters to develop “healthy messaging” on your packages! It is completely unnecessary. Perhaps even counter-intuitive.

If you must keep adapting your copy on your packages, here are my suggestions:

  • Feed this at dinner tonight and you won’t have to endure any whining or make idle threats related to dessert!
  • If you make this for dinner, you can get the kids into bed before “So You Think You Can Dance” starts!
  • This requires only one pot — that’s right, only one pot to clean!

I know, I know. You’ve likely spent thousands and thousands of dollars on market research that told you to include that health-conscious messaging. But trust me — don’t bother. It just makes you look silly.

Sincerely,
A sometimes lazy and indulgent mother.

Note to Husband: Er, you’re actually reading my blog?? Okay, this post has absolutely no connection to the fact that you’ve been away. I’ve been cooking up all those frozen homemade casseroles you left me. Honest.

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Filed under Family, Fitness & Food, Living, Observations, Saving Time, Shopping

Sweet Spot

raw sugar button

Looking for a sweet spot to just hang out and have a coffee? Or perhaps you’d like a coffee but your partner for the afternoon would rather a cold beer?  Well, hello Raw Sugar cafe!

In the way that Ottawa is always such a funny, small-world-sort-of-place, I told my neighbour Kim that I’d be reading at BOLO (Blog Out Loud Ottawa), being hosted at the new(ish) Raw Sugar. She then pointed me to an article written by her sister, Shannon Beahen, on this very same Chinatown-cafe.

Shannon’s article is published in Dharma Arts, an online magazine devoted to showcasing Ottawa’s artistic talents. I hadn’t come across Dharma Arts before and after making its discovery, I quickly consumed all of its online archives in addition to the current edition. If you have any interest in the arts scene, I think you’ll be as smitten as I am.

The article itself really evokes a feel for this cafe — the prose and images overlapping — and has heightened my anticipation for this Thursday’s event.  The owner of Raw Sugar really seems to have successfully created something much more than a cafe … a destination, a lively gathering spot where one feels connected to a community. And it is undeniably a place where the artistic act is supported and embraced — art in all its broadest, most vivid and exciting forms.

raw sugar cafe

These two photos were sourced from: Watawa life

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“Because you’re worth it.”

L’Oréal’s “Because you’re worth it,” slogan is a great one.

As the old saying goes, women, especially mothers, never take time for themselves because they are so busy caring for others. With this slogan, L’Oréal gives you the permission to spend money on yourself, to spend time on yourself. It’s a bit of an anthem of sorts, really.

Although ‘L’Oréal’s origin is Paris,  L’Oréal Canada is a strong Canadian business in and of itself. Here are but a few examples of what I am talking about:

Strong supporter of women in science: Since 1998,  L’Oréal Canada, in partnership with UNESCO, has offered generous postgraduate scholarships to young Canadian women scientists involved in promising research projects. For more details on how the company supports women in science.

Family-friendly employer: Any employee who works more than 22 hours a week is eligible for a generous health and benefits package and there is no waiting period for coverage. Of particular note is the on-site daycare provided to employees returning from maternity or paternity leave (which is 100% top-up pay for 17 weeks), staffed by 7 daycare workers.  L’Oréal Canada is often recognized for its status as an employer of choice, and this goes well beyond being family-friendly. For more details.

DiversityL’Oréal Canada has also been recognized for its efforts in diversity. Among the company’s initiatives is a unique training program on inter-generational relations in the workplace and the focus it brings to the career development of women employees and disabled people. For more details.

There’s also the basic economic benefits of having such a vibrant company housed in Canada. Over the years, L’Oréal Group has made sigificant investments in Canada, the most recent of which was $24 million into its L’Oréal Canada Quebec-based plant.

It was this particular investment that was the topic of my recent writing assignment, but I couldn’t help but be convinced that not only was I “worth it,” but that buying L’Oréal was worth it.

If you’re going to buy, you might as well buy from a company that supports Canadians.

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The Teacher’s Gift

In past years I’ve struggled with the obligatory thank-you gift for my daughter’s teachers. I say “obligatory” not because I don’t feel genuine gratitude for the work and passion that my daughter’s teachers bring to the classroom every day, but rather because of the sense that a gift is a form of standard etiquette. And I don’t want to be the set of parents (i.e. the mother) who hasn’t followed etiquette. (Why I even care about etiquette is a deeper issue in and of itself!)

Further, if I am going to give a gift, I really like to make sure that it’s one that will be appreciated by the receiver and not just a dust-collector. (Or am I wrong in thinking that all teachers must have a space in their cupboard with dusty “world’s best teacher” mugs?)

This year I’ve opted for a simpler response to this dilemma.

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