Praises and Complaints

How do you like your coffee?

(And please don’t say, “crisp”! 😉 )

I am at a “coffee crossroads”. After a terrible cup of Joe this morning, using a stovetop espresso maker, some changes have got to be made. I’ll admit that I chintzed out on the coffee, pre-ground by President’s Choice. So I’m sure that a bulk of my issue stems from the grinds themselves!

Despite the sub-par grinds, the espresso maker itself leaves some kind of an aftertaste, so I need a new brewing method. I am the core coffee drinker in my house, and lately, I find that it is even difficult for me to go through 0.5lb bag within the 2 weeks that it remains “fresh”, after opening. <– This is according to a friend who is a manager at Starbucks.

So keeping this all in mind, what’s the best way for me to brew fresh coffee? In addition to better beans, should I switch to a Bodum, brewing 1 cup at a time? (Cleaning all those soaked grounds is sorta gross!) Are Keurig/Tassimo machines cost-efficient in the long run, factoring in the cost of those discs? (I am also skeptical that fresh coffee can come out of those sealed, preserved pods.) As the lone drinker in my house, it’s safe to say that an industrial size, expensive, Italian-made coffee machine that grinds/brews is out of the question!

So to all the coffee drinkers, how do you ensure a perfect cup for yourself?

Groupon Canada: Don’t Be So Quick To Judge. Rihanna Air Canada Centre Concert (June 6th past deal)



On June 3rd I logged into Groupon for my daily deal and saw that under Toronto they were offering sets of Rihanna tickets, 2 for $75! Rihanna’s team had overshot and had hastily booked a second show months ago, but the fan response wasn’t there.  I bought 2 right away, knowing that I had the potential at scoring good seats.

The deal sold out quick.  Then people started commenting  that the tickets were not a good deal and you could get mega nosebleeds for cheaper then $75 for two. BUT I knew that even though it stated 300’s they would be good three hundreds or other seats that had not sold.  It was first come first serve.  People started panicking and having their Groupon refunded, so I actually had the opportunity to buy another set, which I did.

We arrived at the ACC around 6:30 and went to the ticket booth. I was handed 4 tickets for section 110 in the first three rows left side stage.  Not only were they great seats right behind the “vip” area but we spotted other celebs such as Karinal Offishall up close and personal!

I feel bad for the people who jumped the gun and lost out on amazing seats that were a premium price. (Or do I?) Remember the saying “If it seems to good to be true it probably is” doesn’t ALWAYS apply.

Pic provided kindly by Anna who sat next to me.

Breaking Bananas: The Sign That Makes Me Want To Do The Opposite.

Question: Why do certain grocery stores have “You break, you buy” signs posted in regards to bananas, whereas other grocery stores couldn’t give two cents, whether or not you want to break the hands apart, buying 1-2 bananas out of the bunch?

I’m just really curious as to why breaking is bad? What’s the mentality behind keeping the bunches, as is? Is noone going to buy a lone banana? Does the breaking sound annoy the staff?

My inquiring mind wants to know! Do you break bananas?

Target Announces First Zellers Canada Stores That Will Be Converted!


Target announced today what stores will be the first of the Target launch in Canada!  There will be 105 stores spanning across most provinces.

• Shoppers Mall, Brandon
• Grant Park, Winnipeg
• Kildonan Place Shopping Centre, Winnipeg
• Polo Park Shopping Centre, Winnipeg
• Southdale Centre, Winnipeg

New Brunswick
• McAllister Place, Saint John

Newfoundland and Labrador
• Corner Brook, Corner Brook
• Cabot Square, St. John,s

• Northgate Mall, Regina
• The Centre, Saskatoon

• Chinook Centre, Calgary
• Forest Lawn Shopping Centre, Calgary
• Market Mall, Calgary
• Shoppes at Shawnessy, Calgary
• Signal Hill Centre, Calgary
• Sunridge Mall, Calgary
• Bonnie Doon, Edmonton
• Kingsway Garden Mall, Edmonton
• Mill Woods Town Centre, Edmonton
• Prairie Mall, Grande Prairie
• Bower Place, Red Deer
• St. Albert Centre, St. Albert
• Sherwood Park Mall, Sherwood Park

Nova Scotia
• Bedford Place, Bedford
• Mic Mac Mall, Dartmouth

• Durham Centre, Ajax
• Aurora Shopping Centre, Aurora
• Bramalea City Centre, Brampton
• Shoppers World Brampton, Brampton
• Trinity Common, Brampton
• Burlington Mall, Burlington
• Millcroft Centre, Burlington
• Cambridge Centre, Cambridge
• Woodbine Centre, Etobicoke
• Gates of Fergus, Fergus
• 175 Stone Road W., Guelph
• Centre Mall, Hamilton
• South Hamilton Square, Hamilton
• Hazeldean Mall, Kanata
• Cataraqui Town Centre, Kingston
• Lindsay Square Mall, Lindsay
• Masonville Place, London
• Westmount Shopping Centre, London
• Milton Mall Shopping Centre, Milton
• Erin Mills Town Centre, Mississauga
• Square One, Mississauga
• Meadowlands Shopping Centre, Nepean
• Upper Canada Mall, Newmarket
• 1899 Algonquin Ave., North Bay
• Centerpoint Mall, North York
• Orillia Square Mall, Orillia
• Place D,Orleans, Orleans
• Five Points Mall, Oshawa
• Bayshore Shopping Centre, Ottawa
• Billings Bridge Plaza, Ottawa
• RioCan St. Laurent, Ottawa
• Hillcrest Mall, Richmond Hill
• Bridlewood Mall, Scarborough
• County Fair Mall, Smiths Falls
• Niagara Pen Centre, St. Catharines
• Stratford Mall, Stratford
• Sudbury Supermall, Sudbury
• Intercity Shopping Centre, Thunder Bay
• Cloverdale Mall, Toronto
• Shoppers World Danforth, Toronto
• East York Town Centre, Toronto
• Flamborough Power Centre, Waterdown
• Conestoga Mall, Waterloo
• Taunton Gardens Power Centre, Whitby
• Devonshire Mall, Windsor

Prince Edward Island
• Charlottetown Mall, Charlottetown

• Galeries d,Anjou, Anjou
• Faubourg Boisbriand, Boisbriand
• Carrefour Angrignon, Lasalle
• Mega Centre Notre-Dame, Laval
• Galeries Chagnon , Levis
• Place Longueuil, Longueuil
• Place Alexis Nihon, Montreal
• Place Vertu, Montreal
• Terrarium Shopping Centre, Pointe Claire
• Les Galeries De La Capitale, Quebec City
• Place Fleur De Lys, Quebec City
• Place Laurier, Quebec
• Le Carrefour Rimouski, Rimouski
• Promenades Saint-Bruno, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville
• Carrefour Saint-Georges, Saint-Georges
• Carrefour Richelieu, Saint- Jean sur-Richelieu
• Carrefour du Nord, Saint Jerome
• Carrefour de L,Estrie, Sherbrooke
• Les Rivieres Shopping Centre, Trois Rivieres

British Columbia
• Abbotsford Power Centre, Abbotsford
• Metropolis at Metrotown, Burnaby
• Discovery Harbour Shopping Centre, Campbell River
• Cottonwood Mall, Chilliwack
• Coquitlam Centre, Coquitlam
• Driftwood Mall, Courtenay
• Tamarack Mall, Cranbrook
• Scottsdale Mall, Delta
• Willowbrook Shopping Centre, Langley
• Haney Place Mall, Maple Ridge
• Nanaimo North Town Centre, Nanaimo
• Pine Centre, Prince George
• Oakridge Shopping Centre, Vancouver
• Village Green Mall, Vernon
• Tillicum Mall, Victoria

Are you looking forward to the change?

You know your gym sucks when…

Recently, I just finished taking advantage of 30-days free at a local gym. I received a coupon and found out that another friend of mine, who lived nearby, had the same coupon, so we signed up at the same time to be Workout Buddies. Surprisingly, there was no catch…’cept that the gym wasn’t a good one!

So here are some things to consider if&when you are planning to select a gym in the future. You know your gym sucks when
– The staff, especially at the reception desk, isn’t friendly. Remember, just because you’re using a free pass, you are still a potential client!

– 2 out of the 8 sinks in the washroom work. This doesn’t change during subsequent visits.

– Similar to the sinks, a washroom stall that doesn’t have toilet paper, still doesn’t have t.p. upon your next visit. Even though you’ve pointed it out to the Eastern European Cleaning Lady.

– Not all showers work.

– There are multiple signs like, “Please do not shave/exfoliate in the steam room”, “Please do not leave bandages around”, etc. What kinda clients do they have anyway?

– Not only is the equipment old, but they aren’t maintained, are “Out Of Order” – sometimes with a sign, other times without, you cannot adjust the seat ’cause it’s broken, the thingy to adjust the weight on a machine is missing, etc.

– The lights in the steam room are burnt out. (And it’s completely pitch black in there, I’m talking bathhouse-dark!) There are no switches to adjust the amount of steam, it just comes out of a pipe that juts out of the wall. Furthermore, the steam room smells extremely mouldy; instantly transforming it from a health benefit to a health hazard!

– You see the Cleaning Lady eating KFC in the lounge area. I realise that her job is to clean, but doesn’t that send the wrong message to its members?

– You appear to be fitter than the Personal Trainers.

– You feel like you’re in Bikram Yoga…while you’re on the cardio machines, i.e. there is no circulation in the room!

– Warm water comes out of the water fountain. Mmm…

– Same Cleaning Lady smokes in the alleyway adjacent to your Zumba class and the smoke wafts right in. *cough, cough*

I think that *most* restaurants who offer a Groupon-type deal, especially if the establishment isn’t a new one is because the restaurant is probably bad. So if a gym is offering a deal, the same theory applies, no?

Group + Dinner + 1 Bill = AVOID!

If at all possible, I avoid dining in large groups ’cause come cheque time, it’s all sorts of awkward! This is especially true when some knob suggests on splitting the bill…”evenly”.

If my avoidance tactic has failed, and I can’t get out of the dinner, I usually come up with a plan of attack. Since math is not my strong suit, I have even snuck off to the washroom, called my bf to be my own personal “tip calculator”.

(Yes, somehow even with advances in technology, i.e. the tip calculator feature on my cell phone, I have managed to get screwed over on the whole group billing thing!)

One incident that I will never forget, and will hold as a lesson learned, is when B, a friend of mine invited me out for dinner with her group of friends. One of B‘s friends was celebrating a birthday.

Backstory: B was a good friend who was constantly travelling for work, so this was a rare occasion where she was back in town for a bit. At the time, I had chosen to be unemployed to focus on my writing, full-time. So needless to say, money was tight.

After doing some pre-ordering online, I knew that it wouldn’t break the bank to order a $10 sandwich, so I told B that I’d tag along!

Anyway, on the way there, we hit some traffic and since the rip-off restaurant was downtown, we had to find parking. By the time we met with the rest of the party, they had already started eating (and drinking) as we were a bit late.

Snag #1: Foiling my strategy of ordering a $10 sandwich, someone suggested we order off the tapas menu. 🙁 Btw, if you don’t know what tapas are, they are small dishes of food, like dim sum, but more expensive!

With my limited math skills, things didn’t seem to be getting that out of hand. Fast forward to the bill arriving…

Snag #2: Someone, probably the same person who suggested the tapas, shouts out, “Let’s split the bill!” Are. You. Serious? And of course, the birthday person was excluded, fine.

Snag #3: The food that was ordered before I arrived was included on this Even Steven bill. And if that wasn’t bad enough, someone, probably same person as #1 & #2, had a $40/glass of wine and never stepped forward. So as per Snag #2, I ended up paying for food I never ate and some guy’s expensive choice in spirits! Tacky.

In order to pay my portion of the bill, another friend had to spot me…under the table. How humiliating.

After the bill was settled, someone suggests that we head to Chinatown ’cause the majority of the people were still hungry. Great. Since I hitched a ride with B, I was at her mercy to rejoin everyone at yet another restaurant.

Since there was nothing left in my wallet ‘cept pocket-lint, I lied and stated that I was utterly stuffed from the limited tapas that I indulged in. So I didn’t order anything. I just sat, silently fuming, at the Chinese restaurant, growing sick and tired of the company.

When the measly $15 bill arrived at the table, $40-Wine-Guy insisted on picking up the tab ’cause he felt “bad” at the tapas restaurant. A bit late, don’t you think, bud?

So unless you enjoy getting rypped, do what you can to avoid these awkward group dinners OR ask for separate bills!

Weddings, Babies, Obligations, Oh My!

That season is upon us once again. No, not Spring or Summer, but Wedding & maybe Baby Season for some of you as well. And with all the upcoming nuptials and newborns of both friends and family comes a whole slew of obligation…especially for women.

(Sorry guys, but shaving + putting on that one suit + and maybe going to the carwash isn’t really on the same level as what we, as women, go through. YES, it helps that you look presentable as our dates, but again, it’s nowhere close to what we have to endure!)

About a month ago, I received the first evite of the season for the dreaded Bachelorette Party. As I anxiously skimmed through it, the details consisted of: spa treatments at a hotel downtown, a stripper, a limo, topped off by a wild night of club-hopping!  <– Who’s going to pay for all these things?  Can I opt out of some of the activities?  And how much was it all going to cost?

In addition, my friend, L‘s last night of being single was being organised by her much younger sister and it was going to be a joint-Bachelorette with their cousin who is also getting married at the same time.

At least it wasn’t going to be a Jack ‘n Jill, but I think the worst part of this roster of debauchery was the fact that it didn’t sound like ANYTHING that L would plan for herself! So I’m not sure how she’ll react to the whole thing.

Anyway, after a few days of humming, hawing, with a side of guilt thrown into the mix, I declined the invite without offering an excuse.

I figured that what was important was that I will be present, and honoured, to witness her nuptials as well as attend her reception. L doesn’t need me to hold her hand while a stuffed thong undulates in front of her…and a room full of strangers! 😉

Furthermore, I have a friend who just gave birth and another who is pregnant.  This is the second time ’round for both friends.  I haven’t looked up the etiquette, but can they have a second Baby Shower?  If yes, am I obliged to attend?

I don’t see a typical, White Wedding or baby in my near future, but what excuse can I use to throw a party where my family and friends are obliged to attend, plus they give me a whole bunch of gifts?

Am I the only person who feels as though I’m obliged to go to these things?  Being part of a Bridal Party, Bridal Shower, Wedding Ceremonies/Reception of close friends, Baby Showers of first-borns are fine, in most cases, but I draw the line at Bachelorettes, Jack ‘n Jills, and other moneygrabs.

Online Sample Sale Sites: No Bargains Here

(This post may sound eerily familiar to the one about there being too many “deal sites”, but instead of quantity, I’m wondering if there are truly any deals to be found on sites such as HauteLook, Beyond The Rack, Gilt Groupe, etc.)

Like clockwork, every morning at 11am, they appear in my inbox, emails from HL/BYR, hawking their wares at “discounted prices”.  Despite receiving and sadly, opening/perusing through each and every one of these emails for more than a year, I think today is going to be my last…I’m unsubscribing!

As I look through their merchandise, instead of thinking, “Gee, this is a great deal!”, it either makes me feel bad ’cause I can’t afford it anyway OR I’m soo disinterested in what they have to offer ’cause it’s stuff that I wouldn’t even take a second look at!

In any event, in terms of their target market, I think they’ve missed their mark with me, a true bargain hunter.

This may disgust some, but I *love* shopping.  I’ve come to terms with how vapid it sounds and I’m okay with it.  Similar to writing, I can even miss meals if&when I’m really in-the-zone with my bargain huntin’.

I’m also an avid eBay seller/buyer, more of a buyer lately ’cause it’s just not a good market to sell.  (Actually I joke that eBay should take away my PowerSeller title and replace it with “PowerBuyer”, due to my recent transactions. 😉 )

So purses with brand names that I’m not even remotely interested, being on “sale” on the above mentioned sites, for $1399.99 just doesn’t turn my crank.  Don’t get me wrong, I will pay that for something that I’ve researched, touched, assessed the workmanship, material, size, usability of, and finally, determined that it was an actual deal as opposed to an inflated “Was $2000, Now $1399.99” deal.

At a recent gathering with friends whom I haven’t seen in a while, one friend admitted that she has made use of these sites, buying a lot of merchandise.  I asked her if most of the items have “worked out” for her and she stated that even if they didn’t, the cost of return shipping wasn’t worth it, so she was basically stuck with an ill-fitting dress.  She also mentioned that the shipping rates were expensive.

Just how many unsatisfactory purchases off these sites were similar to my friend’s?  Have you found any good deals on these sites mentioned?

As for myself, I’m stickin’ to physical shopping and eBay!

Deal55 Canada A Scam Or Legit Gift Card Site for Canadians?


I was reading through Stephs post about how there are so many group buy sites these days, and came across a few complaints on a site called Deal55.  They offer gift cards for 55% off the retail price.  Some readers are calling foul while others are hopeful the site is real.  

 I never featured this group buy site on the blog because it just seems to good to be true. I would feel horrible sending our faithful readers to a site that could potentially be an identity theft scam. It just didn’t seem completely legit.

Has anyone actually received anything from this company?  It would be great if this site was the real deal,  I am really skeptical. Thoughts?

* With the responses I think it’s safe to say DO NOT purchase through this company. Only a small fraction of cards have ever been sent out.

TLC Extreme Couponing Revisited


A while back I made a post about the new TLC show called “Extreme Couponing.” Apparently the show is here to stay and is now a tv series.  A lot of people have noted the negatives and positives of this show, on our blog and forum.

A few weeks ago one of the couponers featured allegedly was misusing her coupons to receive a product free or nearly free, by purposely purchasing the wrong product specified with a barcode close enough to pass the scanner. When this happened a lot of people blamed TLC for promoting misuse of coupons and giving couponers a bad name.

Do you think Extreme Couponers is effecting Canadians and how we use coupons? Or do you think its shedding a good light on couponing? 

I think that it’s great more people are being informed of coupons, and are interested in using them. But on the other hand TLC is making it seem too “extreme.” Although I’m not worried that it’s going to be the end of coupons as we know it,  I am worried I’m going to see a lot more people randomly going through garbage.

Texting/chatting at the Elections Canada polling stations?


I finally got it over with. Today, I went to the advance polling station to partake in my democratic right by voting. I didn’t want to deal with the queue, forgetfulness, or mere procrastination come election day, Monday, May 2nd.

Anyway, as I followed the yellow Elections Canada signs, they led to a greeting desk. Behind the desk sat a girl…who was texting. Briefly, she lifted her head from her cell phone, asked me if I had my voter information card, directed me into the room, and promptly went back to her texting. Umm…okay.

Then, while waiting for my ID/voter card to be checked, a cell phone rang. Eventually, another Elections Canada Worker, a person whose job it is to check ID/cards, picked up her phone, and then promptly left the room to continue her conversation.

After I finished voting, on my way out, I overheard her conversation, and it wasn’t about a family matter, but a friend’s Facebook wall activity.  Huh?

Am I missing something here? You get $100/day to sit there to do a boring task. Accept your fate, bring a book/magazine to flip through while considering yourself lucky for your additional income.

Texting and chatting on a cell phone about Facebook is completely inappropriate – not to mention that it’s being done on tax payers dime! (And isn’t this misuse of technology violating some sort of privacy issue as you’re officially working a polling station?) Am I just old-fashioned or is texting/mindless cell phone babbling now part of societal norms?  If so, where was I when this happened, living under a rock?

I think I want to return to that rock right ’bout now.

Why are Canadians still being hosed?


As I reached for my third bottle of $2.97 olive oil, a crowd began to gather, grabbing at the bottles, noticing the deal as well. The next thing on my list was $1.97 bottle of oj, not from concentrate. As with the olive oil, another crowd gathered: “See, that’s why you have to shop on Friday afternoon ’cause by Saturday…everything’s gone!” said one lady to her friend.

When I left the grocery store, I wondered why these sales resounded with the shoppers. Sure, these were basic items that were on sale, but there was more to it.  Then it hit me…

Why are such essential items, groceries, gas and some other not-so-essential, books/magazines, electronics, shoes, restaurants, etc. so damn expensive here in Canada? As per a recent news story, Canadians are still paying significantly more than Americans for goods.

In addition to the US/CAD price discrepancy, I also find that there is a serious lack of selection here – even in comparison to one of Southern-Ontarians’ favourite shopping haunts and also ironically America’s poorest cities, Buffalo, NY.  So what gives?

Why are Canadians still paying more even though we’ve been on parity, if not exceeding, the greenback for quite some time now?  I realise that the retailers claim to do their purchasing 6-months ahead of them and that’s why we haven’t seen lower prices yet, blah, blah, blah, but why am I still seeing a huge US/CAD price gap when I look at the cover prices of books/magazines now?

(Not sure if I should drag gas prices into this and I haven’t filled up in the States, but somehow, I get the feeling that we’re getting ripped off at the pumps as well! Apparently, Albertans see the lowest price at the pumps out of the rest of the provinces. However, American gas prices are even lower than that of Alberta’s!  With Canada having the second largest gas reserves in the world, why are we paying a premium, as opposed to getting price break?)

With all this goofy pricing, and rising Canadian dollar, is the government still surprised at the number of Canadians who go cross the border to do their shopping?

As Canadians, is there anything we can do to protest these high prices? Or should we just complacently accept the short end of the stick in life and pay up? Unfortunately, I do not have the answer as to why we’re being hosed.

Click here to read a CTV News article on this subject. Warning: If you have high blood-pressure, don’t read the various comments of examples of the price differences! 😉

The Warm Weather Is Finally Here Canada!

I like! I am so glad the nice weather is finally here!  Happy Friday everyone.


Canadian Mom and Pop Shops Vs The Big Box Store


Over the years lots of mom and pops have closed up shop not being able to compete with the big box stores. Some great stores have closed down because of this, but on the other hand some stores that shouldn’t of been in business still; finally closed too.
I find certain items I like to buy at small stores such as flowers including green house plants, and hard to find items. With a recent bad experience at a small pet store (Critter Barn, Exeter Ontario) it has me thinking  there are certain items that your better off buying at a large chain store rather then a small store. Pets at least come with a 7-14 day guarantee where this pet store didn’t care if my turtle died the second I walk out. It was money in her pocket, no replacement or warranty from the time her cash register slammed shut.  Maybe this was just unfortunate luck for me and generally smaller pet stores have more compassion for their animals.

I recently was in a kitchen specialty store (Kulpepper’s) where the owner was very helpful, honest, and even offered me a special order for a Tassimo cup holder. I received a call that evening  letting me know on the status of the order. The owner knows what excellent customer service means and is striving to provide it. If this had been a big box store there would of been little to no expertise and of course the mention of a special order would of had me possibly laughed out of the store.

Honestly, I don’t mind paying a bit extra for a small store that goes the extra mile to provide great customer service and appreciates my business. Of course there are small stores that are just horrible to deal with and aren’t worth your time. How can you tell?
I’ve compliled a small list of what to look for in a mom and pop shop. (feel free to add to my list)
*Inviting atmosphere
*Personal Greeting When You Walk In (Walmart Greeters Excluded)
*Genuine service. Example: they aren’t trying to sell you something you don’t need, and if it’s a specialty store they know their product. They shouldn’t be rude to you.( I just learnt this one, if the owners nasty from the start. Run don’t walk away, no matter how cute their stuff is.)

What do you prefer, The big box or the mom and pop shop? Is there a small store that you’d like to give a shout out too?

Starbucks’ Cake Pop: What Am I Eating?

It’s not a lollipop, a piece of cake, or even a cake on a stick, but a Cake Pop. There are 3 flavours which are part of Starbucks’ new line of treats called “Petites“. Each Petite is supposed to be under 200 calories.

Despite the low-ish calorie count, don’t let it fool you into thinking that it’s “healthy” as the list of (at least half of) the ingredients reads like a chemistry textbook! Click here to read what’s in the Tiramisu Cake Pop.

A barista was handing out these artery clogging fakies and for some reason, I choose the Tiramisu flavour. (I dunno why ’cause I think Tiramisu is gross!) I also had a nibble of the ballet pink Birthday Cake Pop.  Visually, the Petites sure look cute!

Verdict? Both were surrounded by a soft, fake chocolate shell and super sweet with the Tiramisu taking the “cake”. (It didn’t taste like Tiramisu, btw.) The texture of the inside reminded me of marzipan, but it didn’t taste like almonds. I literally looked ’round to see if there was a poster with a description of what I was eating ’cause I didn’t have the faintest.

According to other blogs they’re like $1.50USD/ea which will likely equal $2CAD with a broken down currency calculator. We always get the shaft!

The next time I’m at Starbucks and feel like something sweet, I think I’ll bypass the Petites and bakery items (just as bad – I checked!), and just add a bit of honey/raw sugar to my coffee.

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