Category Archives: shop til you drop


Today I found myself prowling on Bloor Street, smack dab in the fancy section, known as something like the Golden 1/8 of a Kilometre.  Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s no Golden Mile like Chicago, and it barely stretches two blocks.  There’s Prada and Gucci but there’s also some other mall type stores like Club Monaco and the Gap, so you never really do feel out of place as you valet park your Scion XB at Holt Renfrew.  I used to work at Holt Renfrew, by the way, my favourite job ever.  But I spent more than I made because I was a material girl:  Fendi!  Hermes! Donna Karan!  I had to quit to pay off my credit card.  And then I had kids and projected my materialism upon them, especially at Christmas.  There were early years that we documented with Bratz dolls and Hot Wheels, and then on to electric guitars and gaming systems.  The other day, Freddy said last year was the best Christmas that we ever had.

“What are you talking about?  That was our poorest haul ever!  You got a tube of Chapstick in your stocking and a pair of Nikes.  You could have gotten shoes in September when school started but I had to save them for under the tree!  And how lame was that tree? All the lightbulbs were burned out and we only had one strand lighting up the bottom.  And on Christmas Eve, when we usually have lobster, we had canned salmon!  Yes, it came out of a can!”

“I don’t remember that.  I loved it because we watched “It’s A Wonderful Life” by the fire in our new pyjamas,” he said.

Sometimes he says cute things.  But mostly he mumbles.  He is probably always high.

So with that Skinter than Skint Christmas under the belt, as I strolled along the Bloor strip, I realized, I don’t really want anything here.  If I had to make a list, none of this crap would be on it.  Okay, I’m totally lying.  Of course I want everything at Sephora, the entire second floor of Holts, and the list goes on like a Talking Heads song, that one I always have in my head when I’m trying to placate myself while being overstimulated by retail eye candy.  I will post it for you, but first I am going to make my Christmas wish list, so you get can have some ideas for your own LOCA in your life:

1. World Peace. Or Piece.  I forget which one.  Or maybe just Love.  Or a piece of World Star Hip Hop that posted the best video of the year where the couple got having sex on the Spadina subway platform.  This it here all NSFW.  This should happen more often.  If everyone did this, we wouldn’t be so hateful, nor would we have to bother on-line dating. I may just buy a TTC pass. It is awesome.

2. A goat.  Seriously, check it out here.  You can buy a goat for a hun. And let someone else have it so you don’t have to deal with it.  That is my kind of gift. And it keeps on giving.

3. Underwear.  I don’t know why mine keep wearing out? I like the ones from American Eagle (aka. Aerie).  I’m serious about this, they are so comfy it’s like you are wearing a teddy bear on your bum. And you can pee-pee leak a bit when you sneeze or put your key in the door and it’s no big deal.  Here is what they look like:

4. A food processor.  Not to be confused with a blender!  Do you know the holy trinity of Italian cooking includes celery, carrots, and onions?  Using a Slap Chop to make ragu alla bolognese is like an excercise in frustration. The hunks of veg keep getting stuck in the grooves of the metal! You have to stop the chop, then fish them out with a knife, which you might as well just use if it weren’t so blunt. As far as screaming and throwing things across the room, I would rather shop for auto insurance or call Rogers Cable to make an enquiry!

5. Louis CK.  My obsession/crush (see previous post as my favourite ginger) had me already go out and get his DVD’s including the first season of “Lucky Louie” so I don’t really know really know what form I can have him in at this point.  Maybe in real life? Sometimes when you let your needs be known the universe will throw you a bone, so says The Secret. So I’m just sending it out there.  SANTA!!!!!! (said with the same plaintive wail as “Stella!”)

And that’s about it on my list, and as promised, I leave you with my shopping song,  “Born under Punches” performed live in Rome in 1980.  See it all come back again, my daughter loves this band.  She thinks Tina Weymouth is the coolest chick ever.  Thank the Gods of Retail for vintage-loving teenage girls:

Maple Leaf Gardens Loblaws: Smart Hockey

Yesterday the new Loblaws in Maple Leaf Gardens building had their grand opening. There were massive lineups when I drove by in the afternoon so I decided to save my trip for today.  Smart hockey, as my friend, Michelle, would say. Everything that you do that is strategically advantageous is “smart hockey.”  It was smart hockey for her to go to teachers’ college and smart hockey to buy that amazing couch from Biltmore that will last forever and go with any decor. I hardly ever pull a smart hockey move as my timing is always off.  My life is a series of mis-steps, misguided decisions, and poor planning.  Which is why I get so many parking tickets.  I have a totally different life in a parallel universe where I am a successful cartoonist slash animal rescue foster parent, and wife of Vince Vaughn.  The smartest hockey trick I have pulled in recent years was wearing a Tena pad to the beer festival last summer. And again today, that was totally smart hockey move to avoid the opening day frenzy and go mid-morning so I actually got a parking spot in the lower level.  Free parking when you spend $18 or more!

Personally, I’m not attached to Maple Leaf Gardens as a hockey temple since the only time I have been inside was for a Midnight Oil concert back in 1989.  Torontonians find that odd but I’m not from here!  I have been inside the Montreal Forum, also an ex-temple of hockey to The Habs.  Okay, I have never been to a hockey game.  I have seen the Beach Boys and David Bowie.  But I have paid my hockey dues sitting in local civic centre arenas all around the province of Quebec, watching my older brother play Pee Wee, Bantam and Midget or however long it went on before he broke his leg and discovered girls.  Whenever I smell Thrills gum, I think of hockey arenas.  And when I think of hockey arenas, I think of one of the moms on my brother’s team that used to sit in the stands, with her bouffant black beehive, smoking a cigarette, yelling with her booming, raspy voice every expletive known to mankind.  She taught me half my vocabulary. My mentor.

I can’t think of a better way to preserve the memory of the Gardens than to build a giant supermarket where people can go every day and breathe new life in that great building. I think Loblaws did an amazing job setting this up. There is a giant installation of the actual seats on the side wall by the escalators and a mural by the carts.  There are little areas for specialty items, and place for eating, and then the regular aisles.  I always wondered where people who lived downtown went to get groceries.  Did they go to Rabba or Mac’s for Fruit Loops and milk and then have to trot down the street to Shoppers Drug Mart for Axe Body Spray?  How tedious.  Now the auto-less central urbanites can shop in one spot and go to the LCBO upstairs. Because of the layout, it still feels like a bunch of different shops so it doesn’t seem so Big Box-y. Gay villagers, the target consumer, don’t like box. Smart hockey, Loblaws, smart hockey indeed.

And with that, I leave you with my only Maple Leaf Gardens memory, Midnight Oil…did I really like this band?  _That_ I don’t recall, here they are anyway:

Shop Til You Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Praying Angel Wall Art on Shuter, 2 blocks east of the Eaton Centre

Thankfully my son doesn`t read my blog so I can talk about him while he sits up in his room playing Pokemon Revenge for hours on end.  I know what you are thinking:  “Foolish woman, she thinks her teenage son is “playing Pokemon” alone in his room, yeah right!”  Believe me, I wish he were watching porn, then the odds would be better that he moves out the house before he is 30.  He also plays the ukulele.  And sings.  He is bilingual as well:  English and Caveman.  Caveman is pretty cryptic, but I can still understand it from my teenhood:  One grunt (Humh) means “yes” and two grunts (Humh mhum) means “I don’t know” which could mean yes or no.  Sometimes with teenagers “no” means “yes” because when you ask them if they want a grilled cheese sandwich, they might grunt out negatively but when they see you with yours, they say: “Where’s mine, Mother?” and then their diction is perfect.  To add even more confusion, I asked Freddy what he wanted for Christmas and he said:  “Ham and cheese.”  I know what you’re thinking:  “Foolish woman, he is probably smoking salvia up on his deck and he is so stoned that he wants food for Christmas.”  Believe me, I wish he was smoking salvia, then I could buy him a real fancy bong with a matching lighter in his stocking.  Like seriously, a 14 year old man-cub is probably the worst person to shop for so he is just getting more of what he already has: socks and underwear.  Let’s explore the world of flannel and fleece and expand his wardrobe a bit.

So on Monday morning I went to the Eaton Centre.  I consider myself to be a Ninja Shopper and I picked that time slot because I figured it would be the slowest and!  I was prepared from the Tena pad on out.  I wore light layers and running shoes (I only relectantly wear these to the gym), I dumped all extranious material out of my purse, including my camera and you know how I like to take escalator shots.  I ate beforehand so I wouldn’t be tempted at the food court.  I did everything right, or so I thought.  It only took an hour to reach my breaking point where fatigue and despair turn into self-loathing and I know myself: when the self-loathing steeps, it evolves into rage.  Just like a Pokemon, or a Pokemom in my case.  Fight or flight?  I fought a bit longer but went home with a better plan, thanks to the inspiring Swarovski Christmas Tree which is like a beacon of beauty and light amid a whole lot scaffolding because they are still renovating:

Swarovski tree in the middle of the Eaton Centre….umm, you’d think they’d have their renovations finished by now

Anyway Plan B:  I did some on-line shopping.  It’s actually fun because you can do it in your pyjamas.  And!  You can support your local businesses and get cool, unique things on-line.  Check out this one here, called nothin which is Toronto-based, they sell t-shirts but they also have a great website.  December is shopping month, send me your ideas and I can share them on my blog!

Beaver Love

Lovely Liliana pours us some cocktails made from Gibson’s Finest Canadian Whisky at Roots on Bloor Street

I love to shop, I have the shopping gene:   Thanks, Mama.  It doesn’t matter where either, I can blithely wander the aisles of hardware stores, drug stores, grocery stores, dollar stores.  I am just as happy in Holt Renfrew as I am in Walmart.  I can justify almost any purchase, and by the way, this is why it’s good for you to hire me when you go shopping for a house.  I have all the patience in the world because it’s actually fun for me.  The only time I am disinterested in the retail wonderland is at Christmas.  I hate when it’s early December and someone randomly asks me:  ” Are you done yet?”   Done what?  Don’t make the fine art of shopping sound like a chore.  So in December, I don’t “shop” per se, I acquire crap and wrap it badly and throw it all under the tree that I still don’t have yet, by the way.  Sometimes I don’t even wrap, I just roll it in its own bag and tie it with the ends.  I am a brutal Santa SeeYouNextTuesday.

Last week, however, Roots on Bloor Street had a 25% off all purchases in their store.  Whoopee, is what you are thinking, you probably scratched and saved 30% somewhere and have it all wrapped in paper you bought last year 75% off on December 26.  But!  Upstairs in the General Store, they set up a bar sponsored by Gibsons Finest Canadian Whisky by our friends at the Martini Club, Michelle and Laura.  Now there is a brilliant idea all shops should implement.  I spent 90 minutes in that store going over the merchandise (and back to the bar).  There was lots going on at the General Store and no sticker shock.  Those American Jews know how to make Canada cute and Christmas not seem like a plastic landfill.  Here is what the store looks like, check it out and have fun shopping.  Meet for cocktails when you’re done:

Take That, Vampires

True Blood vampire mania

Collective insomnia seems to have taken over the city.  I know I can’t sleep and I can tell by the blue dots on Facebook that there are others out there.  And I blame it all on vampires.  On every celebrity website I troll through in the dark hours of the night, there is something going on with vampires.  There was Twilight (*yawn*) and now the new season of True Blood which I have yet to see but I should because it was created by Alan Ball who also did Six Feet Under, which I loved.  I hate it when I don’t know a show that everyone is talking about, but there is something about vampire mythology that makes my eyes glaze over.  The only vampire related thing that interests me is a bowl of Count Chocula, without the milk because I am back to being lactose intolerant.  I hate that vampires don’t sleep or get old or die, their high maintenance eternal lifestyle must be tedious beyond belief.  And thinking of this is what keeps me up at night:  what if a vampire breaks into my house and sucks my blood and I can’t ever eat Greek foode again?  Or fall asleep to the sound of Anderson Cooper’s voice? Or fulfill my destiny of becoming a crazy old lady in Kensington Market?

I have decided to become pro-active in my quest for sleep and went to visit a shop called Keetsa at 2245 Queen Street East.  Keetsa is a mattress store that sells unique eco-friendly sleep products.  The mattresses are recycled, recyclable, and they use natural ingredients for anti-bacterial benefits.  Cedar and green tea extract keep the mites away.  They also have pillows, toppers, and sheets.  I tried every mattress in the store, and this Goldi-loca loved them all.  They’re firm and with varying degrees of mushiness, depending on your preference.  And the price is actually surprising reasonable, considering you are laying in a rectangle of heaven.  A Queen size starts at $499.  Find out more about them, check out their website here.  I think even a vampire could fall asleep in one of these beds.

Keetsa mattresses at 2245 Queen Street,  phone: 1-877-KEETSA-3

In His Shoes

Freddy’s Graduation Shoes

This Friday, Freddy is graduating Grade 8 from Bowmore Public School which means a ceremony in the morning at Monarch Park and some Baby Duck at the beach in the afternoon.  Problems include:  he needs to wear a shirt, tie, and trousers which is easy but it would be nice if he had some black shoes that are not sneakers.  More problems: He’s 14, part man, part weed.  He will not shop in the boys’ department anymore so he takes the smallest size men’s trousers at The Gap but his shoes…well, there’s where the weed part comes in.  His feet grow every 3 months.  Once his feet grew a whole size in one day right after he got a new pair of shoes. He walks on his toes so his shoes never really wear out so if you see something you like on his feet, let me know.  Anyway for Grad Day, I know that buying him a new pair of man-shoes that go with trousers would be sort of dumb because they would only be worn once so off I went to VV boutique on Queen and Logan:

Value Village at Queen St East and Logan

There were racks of shoes on neat display (which is why I love VV boutique, the tidiness and organization) and lo and behold, in his size 10, were a pair of Doc Martens for $15.   And ties.  And other stuff.  If you need something, like a lamp or a clock, that’s the place to check before you end up spending $800 in one of the antique stores nearby.  And do you ever get that retail therapy itch?  It’s where your mind goes blank while  you relax your gaze and let your hands  finger-f**k your way through racks of merchandise.  This is a harmless place to do this because the most you end up spending is twenty bucks.  I think this must be why men go to Thailand.  It’s cheap and no one will know.  There’s parking in the back so you can shop til you drop.  Nearby and around the corner are Rowe Farms and Brick Street Bakery:

Rowe Farms, 1 kilo of organic chicken wings for $9.95

Brick Street Bakery in Leslieville, 255 Logan Ave

Brick St bakery is right where the parking lot is so it’s crazy not go in and pick up an organic spelt baguette.  Listen to the fancy lady talk.  I bought one and I’m going to eat it with an organic honey garlic sausage from Rowe Farms.  There are hidden messages everywhere.  This is the truck from Value Village that I was parked beside:

Some pictures don’t need a caption.