Tag Archives: shopping

people pictures!

for as far back as i can remember, i have so much preferred looking at pictures of people rather than gazing at scenery or peering at historic sites. for example: our family subscribed to national geographic magazine when i was little and every month, i read the magazine – well, let’s use the term “read” loosely as i never read the articles, just looked at the photos. i loved the people pictures the best, and would simply skim over the blah blah greenery of south america or the white snow peaks of the himalayas.

nowadays, i quite enjoy looking at friends’ vacation photos…as long as there are lots of people pictures! and those are the type of photos i prefer to take, too.

today, i’d like to share with you some fun photos from the past little while:

1) early last week, the brother had to be in waterloo for some meetings at the uni (and he and dad managed to squeeze in nine holes of golf, too!) so little e and cutie c tagged along in order to enjoy some g’ma/g’pa/aunti time!

this is my absolute favourite photo of our time together – i even posted it to fb and it is now my new background on my laptop:

as i’ve said before, you can’t *pose* children too long – this was a lucky break to get all three of us “lookin’ good!”

i asked little e to show off her gap-toothed grin…since BOTH front teeth are now missing!

cutie c’s curls are growing!

up, up and away! the barrels in g’ma and g’pa’s lobby are always a big hit!

it was a marvelous day! and the very next day, we celebrated cutie c’s THIRD bday, in toronto!

happy third bday, c!!!

our little darlings are growing up so fast!

2) last sunday, it worked out perfectly for me to go watch cousin alex‘s soccer match!

there’s alex in the yellow jersey, on the left – number eight!

the morning’s overcast skies turned to beautiful sunshine by the 5 pm game time – although it was super windy!

cousin alex plays for a rep/travel soccer team – the opponents were from london (ontario, not england!).

action…as seen from afar!

i had so much fun at the game!!! sharon and i sat together and chatted non-stop, and the soccer game was pretty intense. alex’s team ended up winning 4-1 – yippee! i was super-impressed with the skill level of all of the players – fancy footwork, quick sprints, we saw it all.

and – bonus! – i feel like i increased my knowledge of soccer’s rules and strategies ten-fold! it is just too bad that this was alex’s third-last game of the season and his last year of playing competitively (alex begins university in september and his studies will take priority!).

cousin alex, post-match!

…and the three of us, post-game! me, alex, sharon – see how that strong wind was messing with our hair!

3) now let’s go back and talk about the olympics for a minute. specifically, i want to revisit the women’s marathon [i watched pvr’d coverage over at mom and dad’s sunday eve, after the soccer outing]. obviously, i was not in london in person [although my friend julie is, lucky duck!!] but i feel the need to exclaim about the running form of competitor priscah jeptoo from kenya who won the silver medal. take a look at this photo:

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jeptoo is the runner on the extreme right.

all through sunday’s race, i could not hold back my verbal outbursts to mom and dad on her *unique* style of running – see how her knees almost knock each other? and when they showed the leaders’ foot strikes in slo mo, it positively made me cringe to see how she landed on the inner portion of her foot, pronating extremely.

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i just cannot fathom how an elite marathon runner can have success with this running form! i guess there is something to be said for running in a way that is natural to you. but i tell you, all through the viewing of the race, i was thinking “ouch! oo! yikes!”

the women’s marathon was super exciting to watch – i hope the men’s race on sunday is equally as captivating!

4) vfbf joanne and i are on a roll!! three weeks, three visits at vincenzo’s. yesterday was the first day we had to sit indoors due to inclement weather:

we were aiming to get that bistro-ish poster in the background…not quite!

an hour of chitchat always flies by – but we talk very fast and non-stop, so we do squeeze in quite a bit of updating!!

ok, that’s it for today. i may see you tomorrow, i may see….in a while!

happy weekend!

marshalls!

this past sunday aft, mom and i took a spin up to ira needles boulevard. the retail development called “the boardwalk” boggles the mind – it’s unfortunate amazing how farmland has been transformed into big box land in the past couple years. and they’re not done yet – new buildings keep popping up like dandelions in spring!

the weather on sunday was simply spectacular; but even a sunny, perfect day is not enough to deter us from a shopping date!

we left dear dad back in he condo casa, hard at work on project chocolate:

an action shot of dad painting (is that oxymoronic??) would have been more interesting; however, i didn’t think to take a photo. oops. so you get a pic of dad’s supplies.

mom and i bypassed all of the other shopping options (like walmart!) and headed straight to marshalls:

mom! marshalls! sunshine!

for those of you unfamiliar with this store, marshalls is like winner’s: discounted fashions – and more! -  for the whole family. in the states, i gather it would be akin to tjmaxx (??).

the marshalls philosophy!

right inside the entrance, we were welcomed by ballgowns. i ooh’d and aah’d over the fabrics!

love!

love more!

love the most!

next, was the shoe section:

not a bad price for a GUESS sandal – those charms make me smile! want!

sometimes, i just can’t leave my job behind…

i hope someone straightens up at end of day – my fingers were itching to align those boxes neatly…in style order…in descending size order…

my main beef with marshalls would be the general state of disarray of the entire store. i get that it was a busy sunday aft…but dustballs in the changeroom, for example, is not necessary, really.

sleepwear! this ensemble stole my heart:

check out the sequin bow…and the shorts are adorned with silver imprints – too fun!!!

so here’s the thing: you know how i love the hippie look. well, true confession, i genuinely enjoy certain jersey shore fashion influences. the two styles wage battle in my brain! i think i just have to build up my wardrobe with both types of clothing. on this day, the jersey shore vibe was super strong:

i need WHITE kiki-harharwoods to match my BLACK ones! we gulped upon seeing the price – $99!!! pass…

more sequins!!! love the lime!

the most tempting item of the day was this hoodie:

bcbg brand, $39.99

i tried it on three times, debated yes/no with mom…

embellishment on the back

…and finally decided to bypass making the purchase. the sleeves were just a tad short. i was GLAD for the not-ideal fit as that made my decision less sorrowful!

i left with new underwear (no photo as they are not cute like my tie-dyed ones). and one more thing…

i just could not leave the hello kitty set behind!

i only use the air con at night in the condo casa, so temps frequently hit a balmy 78-80 degrees from may-september. i am going to wear the hello kitty tank + shorts around the home over the next few months! plus, the little nieces will get a kick out of that top, no?!

all of a sudden, mom and i realized more than ninety minutes had flown by! we scooted back and picked up dad so we could all go for coffee:

it is not easy to do a three-person self-portrait! this was attempt #2!

while mom and i thoroughly enjoyed our visit to marshalls, we both agreed that we’re in no rush to get back. i still have not been to adventure guide‘s new(ish) location, just down from marshalls, and want to check that out some time…and, of course, there is always the beckoning walmart!

what’s your track record like at outlet stores/discount stores? mom and i actually are very poor bargain hunters – we lack the patience required to comb hanger-by-hanger through long racks of clothing. speaking of good deals: i have very fond memories of my day at the outlet stores during my florida vacation!

so many shades of “chocolate!”

yesterday, i didn’t have to be at the store ’til 3:15 p.m., and mom and dad were in town, so it was the perfect day to tackle a project that has been sitting on the back burner for a while, now. how long? well, “paint a bathroom” was supposed to be a new experience for last year’s kiki project!

actually, i better clarify: i want dad to paint the condo casa master bathroom while i boss him around – but, hey! i am willing to pay for the paint! [dad is an extremely talented painter/wallpaper-er; he really should have started a sideline business in his retirement, that is how skilled he is].

i’ll show you the space i want painted:

view from the doorway

[i was going to clean up and remove all personal objects, then thought, “this is not a photo shoot for a magazine spread; let’s make the scene look realistic!”]

to the R of the doorway is the shower (i took this photo while standing in the bathtub!)

bathtub to the L – it has whirlpool jets which have been used exactly twice in 7.5 years.

the rear of the tub area/the entry door to the bathroom

we shall consider these to be the official “before” photographs!

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dad picked me up at 11:30 a.m., and we headed straight to heer’s decorating in nearby belmont village on gage avenue (we showed up to belmont, not realizing the store had moved!). yes, i could likely get cheaper paint at home depot or rona, but the intention is that this paint job will last for years, so i’d rather go higher quality and be 100% happy with the look and results.

let’s get paint-picking!

deep down, i would love to paint the bathroom pumpkin-y orange. however, that shade would wreak havoc on skintone, i do believe. so my next favourite choice is chocolate.

anyone else feel overwhelmed when presented with too many options?!

after round #1 of eliminations, these were the contenders…

…which were further reduced to TWO hues.

i went back and forth, back and forth, debating between “roasted coffee beans” and “chocolate sundae.” positive karma exuded from each paint chip name, so that was no help (coffee or chocolate? both gave me happy vibes!).

in the end, CHOCOLATE SUNDAE was the winner – i figure i really am wanting that rich, dark brown shade, and chocolate sundae will provide just that look.

two pails of benjamin moore – as seen on “cityline!”

the total for the paint and other essentials like the roller and bin-things came in well under my anticipated budget. happy painting, DAD!

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after the stress of choosing the paint, we needed to relax and fuel up! so the next stop, for lunch, was…

dad’s favourite of the fastfood burger chains!

[today’s post would have been perfect for the letter “H” in the blogging from a-z challenge!].

cheese!!! (actually, both of our burgers were cheese-free!)

one burger each, and we shared fries + onion rings.

[DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THIS MEAL SCREAMED, BEGGED, CRIED OUT FOR, SORELY DESIRED A LARGE DIET COKE????? i apologize for yelling, but water was just soooo lacking in this situation. moving on, now that i have that tantrum out of my system…].

we had a great time, and as predicted, never shut up once during our two hour outing.

thanks again for your help with the paint, dad! here, let me give you something as a thank you:

12 brand new golf balls!!!
:D

yesterday’s time with dad made me realize that i really do miss the outing of the month project of 2011. maybe it will need to be re-instated in 2013?!

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what colour is your bathroom? boy, i am nosy this week, aren’t i?!

egg-cellent

the humble egg is a nutritional powerhouse.

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a few years ago, i took a wellness coaching course with canfitpro, and during the nutrition portion, we learned that an egg is rated 100; other food sources are compared to the egg in order to determine just how good they are for us. [sorry, but googling is not pulling up more details, and my memory is fuzzy]. if you click here, you can find all the wonderful benefits of including eggs in your diet.

i have eggs in my fridge 90% of the time:

here is a photo of the eggs in my fridge.

this weekend, we celebrate easter – are you decorating eggs? last year, i decorated a dozen. they looked pretty.

file photo, easter 2011

mom has a lovely easter bowl on display, right now:

what a pretty seasonal touch in mom and dad's living room, on their coffee table

if you are a vegetarian and you consume eggs, you can call yourself an ovo-vegetarian.

i grew up thinking of eggs as a supper food, not a breakfast food. we did not cook eggs for breakfast, ever, and if we were in a restaurant, i always went the pancake or french toast route. eggs in the morning sounded eggs-cruiatingly yucky.

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and thus we now have on record the least egg-citing post ever in the history of the kiki blog.

the most mundane egg question i can think of:

how do you like to eat your eggs? my go-to prep method is scrambled in the microwave because that, to me, is cooking it is quick, easy and tasty to do so. i love mom’s homemade version of egg mcmuffins, and she also poaches a perfect egg.

sidenote: this is also, i do believe, the first post ever in which not one eggs-clamation point appears. do you know how tricky that was to do??? [<-- like, add in RIGHT HERE].

canada is getting rid of the penny!

i know!!!! this news story TOTALLY sounds like an april fool’s joke, doesn’t it?! but, it is indeed true. now, i honestly only found out about this monetary development on sunday, so i am very highly embarrassed because the penny decision came down on thursday. hey, when you have neither a newspaper subscription nor a tv and spend wayyyy more time reading blogs than searching out cnn online, it sometimes takes a bit for current affairs to hit your radar.

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here are a couple of links to stories from the globe and mail [the globe doesn’t really have a sense of humour, so you know they wouldn’t josh around about the penny and make an april 1st joke]:

penny to die, but GST, HST to still be calculated to the cent [who made up that title? they split the verb! eesh, i hate that!]

penny’s demise signals an empire in decline

ode to the humble penny

i, for one, am delighted by this governmental, budgetary decision. i have considered pennies a nuisance for years. the penny only hits me sentimentally when i think back to my childhood years, and dad’s astounding penny collection – dad had pounds of pennies in huge, glass mason jars! as a child, i distinctly remember being out with mom, shopping, and we never, ever gave pennies to make correct change. mom would say, “we’ll save the pennies to take home to daddy!” i’ve told you how i won’t stop to pick up a penny on the sidewalk. hmmm, maybe i better change my ways and begin to hoard pennies asap. that one cent coin could be worth ten times its current value in, say, fifty years!

sidenote: do you know how incredibly easy it was to come up with a multitude of “letter c”-themed blog titles? i very likely could have dashed off twenty different posts, in a matter of minutes. the creative ideas were coming at me fast and furious!

here are a few of the brainwaves that did not make the cut:

~ cruising (bff debbie recently returned from a cruise, so i was thinking back to the cruise we went on which was at least fifteen years ago. i have very fond memories of that eastern caribbean holiday! debbie’s travel itinerary featured many of the stops that we made, so i loved seeing her gorgeous photos and hearing her stories)

~ conestoga mall (i almost went back up there on sunday afternoon – my huge fashion fever show no signs of abating!)

~ cutoff shorts (i think i have found a pair that i really like at o.w. sports – they’re roxy brand and they’re on sale)

~ coffee (this topic has been overdone on this blog and has grown tiresome)

~ cutie c (i could so easily pop up sixteen photos of my darling younger niece and bingo! there’s the blog post). ok, twist my arm, you do need one picture…

file photo: march 16.2012; i think we were playing bus stop

~ cereal (again, we need not revisit this subject again soon)

~ camaros (i know nothing about cars. this one has always looked cool)

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~ cheers (second best sitcom ever, after seinfeld)

~ computers (we could debate the merits of mac vs pc [microsoft?]. so boring, so tedious)

~ cityline (they should never have let marilyn go)

~ comment ça va? (exposé on why i do not regret having a french degree that is of no use to me, today)

~ california (never been, want to go)

c” what i mean? somehow, i have this feeling that not all alphabet letters are going to be this simple to work with…currently, i am stuck for “g” which is due for saturday…feel free to help a girl out (guest post, anyone? haha!).

pennies: love ‘em or leave ‘em? dad – do you rue the day you cashed in your impressive stockpile??!

what would you choose to write about for a blog post beginning with the letter “c”? anyone else feel like we’re on an episode of sesame street??!

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you really need a birthday WEEK!

a week ago today it was my birthday!! [haha, no worries – i am not going to remind you every monday for the next year as to how many weeks it has been since the celebration of my birth – that kind of tracking is appropriate only for newborn babies!].

here are some select highlights of Birthday Week 2012:

the official birthday portrait, taken on january 9th:

@ 42 years young!

birthday nails!

sparkle glitz is perfect for a week of festing!

[thank you, gina, for the very kiki birthday present! and, gina, your source was correct: the sparkles do stand out wonderfully against black nail polish!].

birthday blue skies

is it really mid-january?!!

…and snow-free terrain:

our mild winter continues...i have not enjoyed too many green birthdays, over the years!

birthday lesson: i cannot tell you how touched i was by all of the blog and facebook comments, emails, paper cards, text and blackberry messages, and personal well-wishes that i received on my birthday. i appreciated each and every one. i realized two things: 1) i am going to wish every facebook friend happy birthday from now on, regardless of how well i know them. (in the past, i have hesitated to reach out to contacts i don’t know all that well – from now on, it matters not). 2) you can’t wish somebody happy birthday too much! a card + an email + a facebook post, for example?? yup! it’s ok to wish somebody happy birthday via a variety of media, multiple times!

birthday tv! hehe, the producers of jersey shore timed the premier of season five perfectly! it aired on thursday, january 5th. i finally had a chance to watch it online on tuesday (since i was done early at the toyota shop). this is my favourite crap tv reality show, and i look forward to following the kids, back at the shore, over the next several weeks!

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birthday family time!

aunti wednesday +! (we missed sil ana who was traveling!)

birthday coffees!

@ coffee culture with vfbf joanne on thursday! (also "12 days of kiki" coffee outing #1!)

@ symposium with cathie on saturday! (also "12 days of kiki" coffee outing #2!)

celebrity birthday twin!

guess what i found out just on monday? kate middleton and i share a birthday!

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i had no clue about this until i randomly happened across this article, kate middleton quietly turns 30 in last monday’s globe and mail. neato! [now i really DO have to gift her that baby blanket, should she and wills become pregnant!].

do you know of any celebrities who share your birthday? i know of no one else who also was birthed on january 9th and is famous. actually, i don’t know anyone PERIOD whose birthday is january 9th!

what was the best birthday and the worst birthday that you can remember? interesting that kate turned 30 on monday -> for some reason, that was the most traumatic age for me. i distinctly remember breaking down in tears several times on that bday (??). the best? i’ll go with my 16th birthday because i passed my beginner’s driver’s license that very day (the first day i could take the test). i remember feeling so proud and excited! dad took me to take the test, and after gave me my very own key for the family car, on a “mutual life” keychain.

[housekeeping matter: i have updated the 12 days of kiki, project #12 -> instead of stating that i will plan twelve coffee outings, i’ve changed the term to social get-togethers. this way, options are open to more interpretations!

housekeeping matter #2: question: how will you, dear reader, know whether i cheat on any of the 12 days of kiki projects? specifically, i am thinking of the no gum and no pop challenges. answer: you won’t, haha! i’m sticking to the honour system – you’ll have to trust that i play by my rules. just so you know, i have a reward already planned for when i successfully complete this year’s kikiproject – that dangling carrot is all the motivation i need!].

little worrywart

on tuesday, i had to take the rav in for an oil change and an extended “physical,” if you will. i was kinda irked that my free tuesday morning and early aft would be eaten up with this task – when i took the rav in the for an oil change back in june, i had been warned that the next appt would be a long one – four hours! they weren’t kidding! so at least i had tons of time to prep myself, mentally.

heffner’s does provide shuttle transport, if you so desire, but i figured i might as well stay at the service centre and put in my time rather than trot back and forth between waterloo and kitchener. this toyota dealer is just a short hop away from fairview park mall [it turned out to be a < 15 minute walk away], and since heffner’s offers lots of free amenities for its customers (see the link above, there, to review the full list), i figured i could amuse myself for the four hour block of time.

a couple of things were weighing on my mind about this service appt, and what if scenarios kept running through my brain: what if the appointment takes longer than anticipated and i am super-rushed getting to work? what if the technicians find a major problem that is going to cost mega-$ to fix? what am i going to do while i am W.A.I.T.I.N.G.?…

i don’t consider myself a chronic worrier. but, every once in a while a situation presents itself where i turn a molehill into a mountain – and this car appointment was one of them.

the other issue is that i am just not a patient person when it comes to waiting. i dislike waiting for a movie to start, for a plane flight, for the grocery check-out…if i’m ready, i wanna go now! (at least i recognize this shortcoming!).

anyway – the good thing about having ruminated about the potential negative what if’s was that everything turned out way better than i thought!

after depositing the rav in the service bay, slightly before my 9:30 a.m. appointment time, i collected my complimentary coffee, cookie and newspaper:

all set up!

then, i set out for the mall. how do you fill as much time as possible? you try on…

bras!

and jeans!

unfortunately, i struck out big time in trying to outfit both my upper and lower stories. but at least i occupied myself til 11:30 a.m.!

prior to my rav appointment, i eventually remembered a dr phil trick on how to combat fretting: imagine the worst possible outcomes you can, and then either brainstorm how you will deal with them, or envision how they are truly unlikely to happen. when i was in la senza, heffner’s did call to advise that they had found a couple of things which should be fixed…luckily, i had anticipated this phone call and FYI, so i was very calm about agreeing to the added expense. thanks, dr phil!

just as i was leaving the mall, heffner’s called again to say that the rav was ready to be picked up. how awesome – almost two hours ahead of schedule!

in the end, the final bill was not so bad at all – in fact, right in the ball park range of what i had anticipated. and now ravvie is set til july when it’ll be time for a regular oil change.

afterwards, i felt a bit silly for the mental energy i had expended in worrying prematurely. for future situations which are outside my comfort zone, instead of working myself up, i’m going to stick with the strategy of planning for the worst, imagining solutions, and being prepared. lesson learned!

on a scale of 1-10, how patient are you? me = two. it’s an inherited trait from dad!

it’s friday the 13th! on a scale of 1-10, how superstitious are you? me = four. i’ll walk under ladders and don’t avoid black cats. my superstition runs more to the type that if x has worked for me in the past (ie i had a really good run wearing this top and these shoes, after eating this food) then i’ll keep repeating that combination. then, eventually, the luck changes and i ditch that belief!

canada’s worst customer service

so, do you recall my tales of woe back in the fall (here, here, here…) about my stupid silv-ah ipod shuffle? to give a pictionary-ish summary, the story goes: dead ipod -> future shop -> apple store -> make an appointment -> apple store -> out of stock -> apple store -> replacement ipod -> dancing and singing in joy. unfortunately, we now continue the saga…

the week before christmas, silv-ah suddenly quit mid-katy perry. when i plugged him in to my laptop, he refused to play nice and reconnect to itunes, either. well, if you think i was going anywhere NEAR the apple store the week before christmas, you can think again. i just pulled out dad’s beastly ipod (which i still like better, anyway) and made do.

on sunday, i went up to the apple store at my pre-booked appointment time. child genius-dude eric/aaron/andy met me and schmoozed quite nicely. he examined silv-ah and said he had corroded. eric/aaron/andy fiddled with his handheld to find me a new shuffle. of course! the store had none in stock. well, he’d order one in for me, and when it arrived, it’d be mine for the low, low price of $49.99. hold your horses, charlie eric/aaron/andy! $49.99???

yes – apparently it is MY fault that silv-ah bit the dust after five weeks of song-playing. i pleaded my case to get a free replacement to no avail. i almost laughed out loud, despite my frustration, when eric/aaron/andy kept repeating that “it really upset him” to deliver this news to me. yea, i’m sure you’re right broken up, buddy!

now get this! so i get home, and i plug in silv-ah just to see what would happen. he connected to my laptop, i kid you not! so who knows where this story is going next. i will rely on dad’s borrowed beast and silv-ah (when he’s co-operative) as long as i can.

…and this is now the perfect segue to today’s main feature about customer service!

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if i ever want a part-time gig with occasional hours, i think “mystery shopper” would be right up my alley (much better than “catering assistant,” for example!). i love shopping, i work in retail -> both sides of the coin are covered. plus, it’d be fun to peruse the aisles with an undercover motive…kind of like being a detective, but with no danger involved!

last week, i noticed that the cbc tv show marketplace was going to do an episode entitled “canada’s worst customer service.” that topic sure piqued my interest, and i was jazzed to check it out! i watched the show over the weekend (thanks to the parents’ pvr!).

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marketplace covered a vast amount of content in their hour-long episode – everything from the results of trying to return a defective product to how long it took companies to reply to twittered complaints. if you’re interested in more info, click here for the link to the online show.

i enjoyed the broadcast, but it also frustrated me because i don’t think you can fairly critique a cross-canada major retailer by picking out isolated situations and sales associates.

as a starting point, marketplace solicited a survey asking canadians to name the retailer with the worst customer service. the *winners*? walmart, zellers, and crappy canadian tire (for years, my pet name for ct has been crappy tire). thanks to hidden cameras and microphones on volunteer shoppers, the producers demonstrated how all three stores fell short in customer service, helpfulness of the staff, and store cleanliness. no surprise, to my mind.

here’s my beef with the angle of this show: if i choose to shop at any of these three giant retail operations, i should expect that the money i am saving is because the retailer is cutting corners with staff training and development and available associates on the sales floor. want personal attention? visit the independents or smaller retail stores.

in the end, the very worst offender was…zellers. i agree that i have no recollection of ever receiving exemplary help at this store. but, i’ll reiterate that friendly knowledgeable sales staff is not what drives me to shop at this money-saving department store. [and as it was wryly noted on the show, zellers are being turned into target stores, beginning next year…].

coming from the retail perspective, i feel sympathy for walmart, zellers and canadian tire because spotlighting one or two isolated incidents does not provide a fair overview of country-wide store operations.

as a personal example, let’s highlight canadian tire. i have always been amazed because whenever i shop there, if i ask, “where would i find x item, please?” the sales associates, without fail, promptly reply with the correct aisle number – it’s uncanny! also, when i returned a knapsack with a broken zipper, without my receipt, i received a replacement bag at no cost, no questions asked.

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getting back to the marketplace show, i really enjoyed the responses from random people on the street about what annoys them most when shopping. some answers: being ignored; uninformed, untrained and disinterested sales associates; long check-out line-ups; sales associates who point out where to find a product instead of walking the customer directly to the item.

in the end, the show revealed that the store that canadians voted for BEST customer service was…walmart! it’s not surprising that this store could be on both the best and worst lists…i think the stat mentioned was that walmart has over a million customers per day at its canadian locations!

do you think that superior customer service and low prices are mutually exclusive? i often hear from customers that they come to see us at the store because they will receive correct information and personal attention. yes, sportchek may offer very low prices – but good luck trying to find helpful staff and answers to your running footwear questions! as another example, if i shop at lululemon for workout wear, i do expect better service than if i am at old navy.

to whom would YOU award a “worst customer service” *award*?! me = future shop and the apple store!!! both places frustrate me to no end – as you are well aware!!

show me the points!!!

on the third day of december...

earlier this week, one eve, i grabbed the mail as i came in from work. the mailbox is usually pretty boring, esp since i don’t subscribe to any magazines: bank statements, bills, flyers…[although december is fun because christmas cards arrive!].

there was an envelope at which i glanced very quickly. it was from president’s choice mastercard (my #1 credit card in terms of use). [sidenote: president’s choice is affiliated with the grocery chain loblaws. so, every time you use your card, you earn points towards free groceries. totally practical, eh?]. i was thisclose to just pitching the envelope in the recycling bin without even opening it – it was NOT the size of a bill, and my first thought that it was just a *special offer!!!!!* for a p.c. mortgage/bank account/monogrammed towels – some kind of enticement to get me to spend more money. but i ripped the envelope open anyway, just to be safe (erv is now proud of me). inside:

hmmm...c'est quoi, ca?

and the card contained some good news!

neato mosquito!

just so you don’t have to peer and squint: as a *loyal customer,* i am going to receive a new p.c. card so that i will earn double points every time i use it!

that’s awesome! in the past, our strategy has been to save points for a whole year, then get free groceries for as long as possible -> sometimes, upwards of a month. so collecting the points/using the mastercard a lot really pays off.

i’ve been using cash to buy groceries since the spring because i like the once-and-done approach, and forking over paper money has helped with budgeting, too. but, i still use the credit card for gas for the rav, and major purchases. hmmm…with this double points thing, i may have to go back to swiping the ol’ card at valumart, too!

do you collect points via credit card? ok, please do not laugh at me or scorn me. but i do not understand air miles. truly. are there certain visa cards or mastercards where you get air miles for using that card? or is there a separate “air miles card” that you have to hand over to collect points when you make a purchase on a credit card? of course, i have been asked if i collect air miles at checkouts for years, but i always just say no. i’ve never pursued collecting air miles, and have no burning desire to start. any info you can share with me is welcome!

the only other way i collect points is that i do have a shopper’s drug mart optimum card. guess what – i’ve collected points, but never spent any for over seven years. this week, i finally spent some of my points…for a new experience that i will tell you about at a later date!

[the inspiration for today’s title comes from one of my all-time favourite movies -> remember jerry maguire? and cuba gooding jr’s “SHOW! ME! THE! MONNNEEEEYY!!?] :)

(source)

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mitten fail!

on thursday i finished the first mitten of my i-can-squeeze-this-in christmas knitting project:

looks ok, at first glance...

who did i think i was making mittens for? andre the giant?! it’s wayyyy too huge! i know what the problem is: the yarn i picked is a little thicker than what i usually use, and i didn’t adjust my pattern at all to accomodate for that. rookie mistake!

back to square one – still two mittens to go. luckily, we’re a full three weeks out from christmas! no pressure minimal deadline stress!

it never hurts to plan ahead

two more sleeps and advent calendar season begins!

my wooden board + pieces are ready to go!

and i have the advent calendars for little e and baby c set out on the table so that i don’t forget to take them to toronto tomorrow – that would be a shame!

when i was trying to round up the second advent calendar, i had left my name with shelley, the manager of write impressions – when they received their expected supply of calendars, she’d give me a call. shelley DID call me, but i had already made my calendar purchase at words worth books. this past saturday, i decided to pop into write impressions anyway, just to see their selection, the designs, and the prices. wow! they had an impressive array – about 8-10 different calendars were available.

i was just going to look and leave…but then i decided i might as well pick up a couple of calendars and put them away for next year. even paying full price – the total for two adorable calendars was a mere $11.87 (there was tax!). i’ve paid more than that for two birthday cards, so i thought this was a deal.

advent calendar #1...

advent calendar #2!

now to decide which one for which niece!

i actually debated buying FOUR advent calendars and having a little stash to cover christmas 2012 and 2013…but decided that was a little excessive in the planning department, even for me.

i did make my “note to self”…

all the details, just in case of a brain fart...

now: if, perchance, i can get into write impressions during their boxing week sale, i WILL pick up another two calendars for two years from now – just because i love a 50% off deal. however, shelley FYI’d me that the calendars are going fast, so i am doubtful that there will be any left by boxing day. no worries – at least i am set for next year!

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last thursday was the first day that i really noticed an influx of christmas shoppers in the storeS. i think the impact of black friday is rubbing off on canadians [anyone else notice how many black friday sales we had this year? i don’t remember so many in other years??].

since i’m familiar with being on both sides of the sales counter, i thought i’d share four “insider tips” to keep in mind as you do your own holiday shopping:

  1. visit stores during off hours, if at all possible: if crowds make you antsy or twitchy (as lisa would say!) aim to do your shopping during the weekdays, preferably in the a.m. hours or afternoons (lunch times get a bit busier). obviously, saturdays all day and sunday afts are the times to avoid if packed stores put you on edge. (i had really good luck one year up at conestoga mall when i went on a saturday eve – they are open only for december with these hours – there were very few shoppers).
  2. inquire about refund and exchange policies when you make your purchase. for example, at the store, you are able to do a full refund if you have the original sales receipt; with a gift receipt, we can do exchanges, only. it’s best to avoid future frustration by asking for details when you check out. also, find out when you can do a return -> many stores do not deal with returns on boxing day or even during boxing week.
  3. come armed with as much detail as possible: it’s absolutely fabulous when i get customers who come in with someone’s wish list, and they have style numbers, size, price, colour all noted. i can run around and efficiently pull out options – we all save time!
  4. be patient. it’s a given that christmas shopping is a hectic time. as sales associates, we really want to help you find the perfect gifts. by being polite and friendly, everyone’s day is much more fun!

any shopping tips to share? grumpy christmas shopping is just oxy-moronic, no?!

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november thankfulness:

(for monday, november 28): yesterday i was thankful that i genuinely love mondays! (actually, i look forward to all the days of the week). i’m glad i can go to bed each night and not dread the return-to-work cycle of the next day. that was not the case when i was a teacher – i’d get the blahs sunday, already, because i knew that monday was not that far off.

(source)

not me!

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