Evergreen planters for your home – DIY

For my last blog post for my Social Media class, I had lofty intentions of posting a DIY video of my cousin demonostrating how easy it to put together your own evergreen planters for your home. As much as I would have loved to have showcased the talents of my cousin Joan, it turns out that I am not the videographer that I thought I was, and I am an even worse video editor! Below is a photo of the lovely evergreens displayed at A Country Mile in Milton. This arrangement was the basis of my inspiration.


I priced these arrangments at several grocery stores and nurseries, and found they ranged in price from $29.99 to $89.99.

With all the expenses at this time of year, I decided to create my own arrangement using supplies from my garage and foliage from around the neighbourhood. Taking a drive up to Milton, I made several stops to find a variety of evergeen bows (pine, spruce, balsam), a few pine cones, and some pretty red dogwood branches.

Joan had a 12″ pot from her garage that was already filled with oasis (this is that porous spongy material found in flower arrangements). We organinzed our bows by size and colour (outside to reduce clean-up time), and simply cut the ends on an angle with garden shears and inserted (starting with the largest bows) on a bit of an angle into the oasis all the way around the pot. We continued to insert bows in layers, using a variety of colours and textures. Once all the bows were placed in the oasis, and any bare spots were filled in, we added the red dogwood branches and some leftover Christmas balls. It was very easy. Below is the planter Joan and I created at absolutely no cost.


While it might not be quite as professional looking as the ones in the stores, it’s seasonal, recyled, and an economical way to enhance the entrance to your home.

What do you think? Leave a comment or share your creative ideas.

Sephora VIB – A Noteworthy Loyalty Program

In the world of retail, there’s nothing more coveted than customer loyalty. It is for this reason that I have to carry a second wallet just to house my collection of loyalty and reward cards, some of which, never seem to see the light of day. But for as many not-so-great loyalty programs, there are a few that are definitely noteworthy, including the VIB Program from Sephora.


The Very Important Beauty Insider Program gives members one point for each dollar they spend. Members accumulate points and cash them in for selected gits that are “priced” at 100 and 500 point levels.

In addtion, VIB members receive exclusive event invitations to receive discounts of up to 20% off their entire purchase, and recieve a free gift on their birthday. I just picked up my gift the other day:

sephora birthday

From lip balm to eyelash extensions, Sephora is the ultimate beauty destination, the the VIB program is a well thought out program that keeps customers coming back. If you buy prestige beauty products, I would highly recommend that you check out the Very Important Beauty Insider Program.

‘Real Money’ Holiday Shopping Tips: Secrets to Saving Big Bucks – from ABC’s Sharyn Alfonsi

Seasons, Siestas, and Sales…and my shopping experience in Spain

I know this blog is supposed to focus on deals in the Greater Toronto Area, but I thought I would take a moment to write about my shopping (or lack of) while on vacation in Spain last week. As a tourist, I am always excited to browse the souvenvir shops and pick up a few locally made items. A few of my favourites include pottery, art, and photography that I can proudly display in my home. We stayed in the small coastal town of Estepona in the region of Costa Del Sol. While I knew we were traveling in low season, I was very surprised to discover the amount of shops closed for the season or closed for a long siesta period in the afternoon. When I did find an open shop, the items for sale were tacky trinkets reminiscent of items I might see in a dollar store. While I’m not necessarily a supporter of 24 hour shopping, or stores opening at midnight to stampedes of Black Friday shoppers, I do believe that Spain could learn a thing or two from this side of the pond!

On my last day in Spain, I spent an afternoon in the mountain city of Ronda, and was excited to finally find several open stores. I picked up a beautiful scarf for my daughter for only 6 Euros and these beautiful dishes for less than 5 Euros each:

Best Sale of the year at The Body Shop

Today only….Get 3 products for $30 at The Body Shop. Best deals will be in fragrance, skincare and make-up.  If you sign up for Love Your Body loyalty card for $10, you  will save an additional 10% all year, plus get an additional $10 off any purchase during your birthday month. I purchased Vitamin C skincare products that are regularly $28 as part of this deal (so, I only paid $10).

If i get up my nerve…lol…I will post a video to show you the items that I bought, and the money that I saved.

Cheap Shipping for Canadians – Just in time for Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is this Monday, November, November 26th, and I thought this is the perfect time to share my “shipping gem” so that we can all dive and save big on the biggest online shopping day of the year! I love the convenience of shopping online, but I hate that I have to pay astronomical shipping charges to bring my order to Canada. This frustration led me to Island Ship Center in Grand Island New York. Island Ship Center is an independent licensed FedEx agent, and will accept your shipped items and hold them for a small fee. Obviously, you still need to spend the time to drive to the Niagara Falls, NY, so it makes sense to order multiple or large ticket items and pick them all up at once. They are conveniently located right off the I190 South, exit 19 – Whitehaven Road. This is one exit south of the Rainbow Bridge and two exits south of the Niagara Outlets. Once you place your order, email Fahim (the owner) and let him know what’s coming. Once he receives the package, he will email you. The charge is $5.00 USD per week for packages up to 50 lbs. Smaller, lighter shipments will only cost $2.50 per week. It’s that easy.

I’ve used Island Ship Center personally on a number of occasions and can testify to how easy and inexpensive it is compared to other larger shipping brokers (like the UPS store).

Now you can expand your shopping to U.S. sites that you always thought were off-limits. either because of no or high shipping to Canada.

Happy Cyber Monday everyone!

But What About the Black Friday Deals?

Did someone forget to mention to Cadillac Fairview, that the reason malls in the U.S. open early for Black Friday (2012 date is November 23) is for the door-crashers, limited quantities, and other ridiculous deals?

Cadillac Fairview, one of Canada’s largest mall operators, has announced that 9 of its mall properties will offer extended hours on Thursday, November 23rd to combat the influx of Canadians heading south of the border for Black Friday shopping.  The Eaton Centre will open at 6am and 8 other malls (Fariveiw Mall, Sherway Gardens and Shops at Don Mills,Fairview Park in Kitchener, Limeridge in Hamilton, Markville in Markham, Masonville in London and Promenade in Thornhill) will open at 7 a.m.

The story made no mention of pending Black Friday promotions.


With the dollar hovering around par, and the the new higher duty free limits announced earlier this year, I predict that that Black Friday cross-border shopping will be even more attractive to  bargain-seeking Canadians.   Travellers coming back after 24 hours away can now bring back $200 worth of goods free of duty and taxes, an increase from just $50. People gone more than 48 hours are allowed $800 in duty-free goods, double the previous $400 allowance.

So the malls are opening earlier….BIG DEAL! It will take more than extended hours to keep Canadians on this side of the border.

So I guess we will have to wait and see how Canadian retailers really fight back!

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