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I recently celebrated a milestone: my first anniversary as a Costco member.

That’s right. Costco. I’ve come over to the dark side.

My man and I actually joined years ago. We had a newborn baby and it seemed like a good idea. It wasn’t. Jumbo jars of roasted red peppers threatened to take over our fridge, our cupboards were overrun with enormous boxes of cereal that couldn’t fit, and our basement was overflowing with canned goods and paper products. Our house was becoming a depot of forgotten groceries. And it was costing a fortune.

We never renewed. Au contraire. The mere whiff of Costco and we were snarling, turning our noses up at such mass market suburban crap. Easy as ABC: Anything But Costco. It didn’t help that those who shopped there were obsessed.

Remember that Modern Family episode when Cam introduces Mitchell to the joys and wonders of Costco? Cut to: Mitchell zipping down the aisles on a trolley of wasted olives and baby wipes. That was me.

But not anymore. At least not to that extent. Mostly.

After boycotting the big box, I returned last year. We were now a family of five (with a bigger basement and a garage fridge) Now I’ve learned the Costco ropes and have my (weekly) trips down to a science. Now it’s “no” to vats of grilled veggies and trios of tortillas. And while I’m not buying my cashmere sweaters there, I do find perfect pajamas for my guys. French green beans, sugar snaps and berries are a bargain. As are pet food, plants and maple syrup. Their meat department is legendary, tho’ their frozen prepared foods is not: skip the appetizer party plates and grab the best deal on Parmigiano Reggiano in town. Ditto their roast chicken – sublime (and $6.99)

My Costco guru, Vern, is truly hardcore. She gets everything there: Yoga pants, garden urns, outdoor furniture. She can read that flyer in a matter of seconds and is quick to point out the best deals that can only be found in that one, enormous, airport-hanger of a store. And while I have yet to purchase any serious big ticket items, it’s only a matter of time… And cash flow (no credit at Costco).

I’m hooked. No longer a Costco tourist, I am now a full-on guide, taking my non-member friends on Costco Safaris to find gum, frozen shrimp and nitrate-free roast turkey.

I never thought it would happen but….I’m saying it loud: I’m a Costco shopper and I’m proud.


May 19, 2011   2 Comments


Glee vs The Volcano

It’s the 20th of April. Tuesday. For the past 3 months I’ve been dreaming of this night. The night I’d spend on an Air Canada Airbus, flying across the Atlantic in my business class seat – nay, fully reclining bed. In a pod. With a privacy screen. Sure, I’d arrive jetlagged and spent – after all who wants to waste a business class flight SLEEPING?! I’d be staying up to enjoy every second of it.

But ’twas not to be.

Bloody Ash. Stooooopid Icelandic volcano. My story’s not a bad one. I canceled my flight a day in advance and re-booked for a couple of weeks from now. I’m not stranded, in transit or missing anything or anyone. I’m just staying put. At home. Constantly checking the status of the various flights to Heathrow because I’ve become addicted to British Airport Authority updates and all things Eyjafjallajokul (and yeah I had to cut ‘n paste that one). I’m also watching the neighbouring volcano, Katla, the one that could really f&ck us all up.

It’s all so “Day After Tomorrow”, no?

I tried to put on a happy face. Until I took a shower and the pipes two floors down exploded. That’s right readers, it’s the plumbing. Again. No running water, no flushing, five people.

A far cry from business class.

But there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon as the 5 grand dig begins. And there was happiness in the air tonight, not just sewage.

Because of Glee.

Everyone watches Glee, right?


If you’re not. You should be. And you should start with tonight’s Madonna Tribute episode. Yep, all Madge, all the time. The results? As Kurt says: Madge-ical.

Cheesy, yes. Absolutely, unapologetically and resoundingly so. And that’s what makes Glee work. Musicals + one hour TV does not a perfect partner make. And to be honest, I was getting nervous about Glee. It started with a bang, totally remaking – and rejuvenating – network television. And Journey. “Don’t Stop Believin’?” Never liked it the first time round, but love it all Glee’d up.

As the shows went on, they had their highs (Kurt’s “Single Ladies”) and lows (most of Emma’s numbers). But I was getting nervous. It felt like the writers were pulling out the wrecking ball….and focusing on the adults. Sure “Acafellas” is a funny name for a group, but I’m not so big into Will Schuester. His fake-pregnant, soon-to-be-ex-wife? Yes yes yes. His romance with the bush baby Emma? Only as the B-story. Keep it with the kids.

But I needed Glee tonight. Early Glee. I needed to know that, stuck at home with backed up toilets, I could count on television to take me away….

And tonight, thanks to Sue Sylvester, it did. Fact is, Jane Lynch could stand stock still and have everybody howling. She’s a master of comic timing and delivery but lately even she, well, her rivalry with Will, was starting to grate …. Until tonight.

Tonight was Sue’s night. Her obsession/tribute to Madonna could’ve been a trainwreck. But it was glorious. She was glorious. Made me (almost) forget about the men I was paying to dig up my front yard tomorrow morning. Even my pvr cutting out (AGAIN) with 5 minutes to go couldn’t put a damper on Glee tonight.

Perhaps it’s becasue I was at the end of my rope. Or, more likely, because it was coming off yet another dreary American Idol. “Songs of Inspiration”?! Puh-lease. Songs to sleep by. Or cringe. Call me a cynical bitch but I thought Mamasox’s breakdown was as contrived as….well, the show itself. I didn’t see any tears. I think she was working it. And it worked. Maybe I’m just over it. Between the youngster and the grinner and the all-round earnestness there’s just not much more left to say other than: it blows. You can read all about it on all the other blogs/mags/sites. Bye bye Simon. Tick tock Idol. Hello Glee!

Just when I feared it had prematurely run its course, Glee sucked me back in. Welcome back! My name is MOAM. And, yeah, I’m grounded by Icelandic ash. And practically living in a campground without the luxury of an outhouse. But I’ll say it loud: I’m a Gleek and I’m proud.

For now. The winds could change…..

Posted by Mother of all Mavens at 10:21 PM


Anonymous said…


11:43 PM

Anonymous said…

your ends are fab! Don’t tell m ethe PVR cuts out again!!! Why do they do this? We shoudl start a petition and send it around and then to the networks to stop screwing with our recording!!!

9:19 AM

Leslie said…

Could NOT agree more, my friend! You are hilarious. What? No flushing? I would cry, and cry hard. You’re my hero.
Glee lost me, as you said, focusing on the dumb-dumb adults, and frankly rarely seeing Sue Sylvester anymore, what were the writers thinking? You’re being an enemy to comedy if you don’t utilize Jane Lynch to her fullest! Then the Madonna episdoe, sweet jesus, that was GOOD!
And as my gay friend said about American Idol this season, move on dot org! it is seriously B-O-R-I-N-G! sadness, fo’ real.
love you!


April 20, 2010   7 Comments


Storm in a B-Cup

Boobs. Tits. Jugs. Knockers.

Helloooooo there!

When I was younger, I’d go down South to visit my grandparents every Christmas. Aside from the weather, the Apple Jacks, and the all-you-eat early-bird specials, there was the shopping. Aventura, Boca Town Center, Galleria Mall, Pompano Fashion Square. They all had one thing in common, aside from Burdines: Victoria’s Secret.

One of the highlights of each trip would be my annual Vicky’s Secret excursion with my grandmother. My Bubby would install her plus-sized self in one of the fitting rooms – preferably with a snack – while I grabbed as many 34-B bras that I could find. At first they were simple: nothing too lacy, nothing too showy and absolutely no falsies! I’d bring armloads of bras and start trying. One after the other, until she’d find herself at the bottom of a sea of underwear – and underwire. We’d bring them back to Palm Aire and I’d model them for her underneath my various t-shirts and dresses.

This went on from my teens until well-into my twenties. Sure, I erred on the nippy side, but I didn’t care if my headlights were showing. Heroine chic was all the rage. And while I couldn’t compete with the waifs, I certainly had the chest for the tops I liked.

And then I tried on a WonderBra.

Well! Helloooo ladies indeed!

Victoria’s Secret? Out. Marks and Spencer? In.

And so it went. I lived in London and the Florida trips became more sporadic. I still went and we still shopped, but I’d moved on from Victoria’s Secret. A large and in charge Marks & Sparks bra fitter had helped me to see the light – not the headlight. I was loyal to my bras. And they were loyal to me.

And then I got pregnant. And breastfed. Repeat three times. Lovely babies. Lovely boys. Less than lovely boobs despite my fabulous M & S underthings. They helped me through the ups and the downs. And the further downs. Until I noticed there was an awful lot of…room…in them there cups. It was time. To reinvest.

And then a few weeks back I found myself staring into an enormous pair. It was a Victoria’s Secret window and it was huge – as was the bust. Or was it? I stepped over the threshold and let myself go. Shopping American Style. Claire guided me to the bra area. Vivian whipped out her tape measure and got to work. Lynne ushered me into the fitting room. With a bra box. And a t-shirt.

This was not my grandmother’s VS.

Gone were the rummaging through tables and rifling through drawers to find my size, shape and colour. No more undressing mannequins to find a bra that wasn’t fuchsia. This was civilized.

Inside the bra box was each and every bra in the Victoria’s Secret arsenal. In black. The idea being you try ’em all on and find the ones you like. And that like you. Then you ring the “service bell” and they get to work finding your choices.


25 minutes later, I emerged, head held high, tits even higher. Leopard-lined and seamless, biofitted and bombshelled, there were some new bras in town!

The icing on the cake? I was the same size as pre-children. A little lower, maybe, but with the new boob technology out there, who cares? Comfy AND sexy were no longer a contradiction in terms. No fuss, no muss, no knives.

Their latest bra is The Plunge – guaranteed to add two bra sizes for “hourglass ooomph”. A boob job for $45! If my Bubby could see me now….


Rob H said…

Need more Blog Postings… what the hell is up! This year has been sooo slim!


November 23, 2009   No Comments


Breaking Up is Hard to Do

I’ve been getting over a breakup. A professional break-up, that is. With our vet.

We have many animals living at our house. Children and husband aside, there’s the dog, the cat and a revolving door of fish. We – or should I say, they – have had the same vet for as many years as they’ve had this owner. But after repeatedly bumping into an old friend and animal doctor, I realized it was time to take the plunge and switch over. Sure “our” vet was kind, capable and convenient. But our soon-to-be-new vet was all those things too. And a personal friend.

And then one night our dog lost a fight with a jagged wooden spike that embedded itself in his paw. It was late at night and we were at a loss. Our friendly vet was closed. But our friend-the-vet was always open. At least he said he would be if we needed him. We needed him…

And he was there! He talked us down, helped us out, and metaphorically held our hands. I knew the time had come to take the plunge and switch vets. He told me all I had to do was make a couple of calls: one to his office to register my pets, and one to the old vet to ditch him.

Huh? I had to actually call the old vet?! Couldn’t we just not rsvp to calls for flea meds and rabies shots?

Apparently not. Like all medical specialists, the new vet needed records.

Professional break-ups are tricky. I’m not talking hiring and firing, tho’ those can be pretty brutal too. I’m talking about the professionals you – or your health plan – pays. Doctors, lawyers, contractors. Agents, teachers, dressmakers. When you tell a lover “it’s not you, it’s me” it could be true… sure…. uh-huh. But with a pro, it’s a bold-faced lie. Of course it’s them – otherwise, why would you ditch?

Unless you’ve reached some sort of “goal”, it’s usually the pro’s failings that make you wonder if you could do better. Like your waxer. Right, ladies? If you’re moving on, unless you’ve gone laser, it’s because they’re too pricey. Or too rough. Or too booked. Or there’s someone way better/cheaper/gentler on the horizon.

Question is: do they care about being dumped?

I had the same GP for years. I thought she’d see me through to old age. Until I got pregnant. Suddenly, she bugged me. Her old-school advice wasn’t what I wanted. I knew it was time to move on to a younger, newer, model. And I did. No muss, no fuss, no phone call. I’d absconded, and it was over…until I bumped into her a couple of years later. It was out of context and I hoped against hope she wouldn’t recognize me. But of course she did and she couldn’t have been nicer. I felt awful.

I ditched my contractor too. Thought he was ripping me off and being an overall cheeseball. He’d worked for everyone in my family for years. I was outraged that he’d try to cheat me. I vowed never to work with him again. Until my roof started leaking and my kitchen ceiling looked ready to cave. Then I came grovelling. He sent one of his minions to fix the problem. For a hefty fee. Sure, I paid the price. Maybe it was payback. But it was well worth it…. We were back together.

I’ve changed schools, swapped swim instructors, moved camps… always for the sake of my children. Well, almost always. But scapegoating them was OK. No one was offended, and everyone was happier.

But the vet? What’d he ever do to me? Or my pets? Aside from care for them?

Well, he charged a lot, for one. Convinced me to go gourmet – pet food – for another. OK. So he never did anything “to” me? But what did he do “for” me? A whole lotta nothin’ that’s what! I was right to dump him. Out with the old, in with the new! I called and announced that our pets would be moving on. There was a pause. Would they beg me to reconsider? Convince me they were the best vets in town? The silence was deafening…..Were they even there?!

Once the receptionist came back on the line, she sweetly asked for the name of the new clinic. And with a “have a good day”, our relationship was over. Quick ‘n painless. I was devastated. Because it wasn’t them. It was me!

I just hope they don’t recognize our dog on the street.


Anonymous said…

As “usuj” this blog is brilliant, funny and I relate!
Thank you for keeping us in topics and laughing!

2:13 PM

Anonymous said…

aside from husbands.. everyone else is fair game in my view (this is the husband BTW) we live in a super-sized service world.. either get with it or those professionals will continue losing. xx


January 31, 2009   No Comments


Nanny Diaries – The Flip Side

Weird things have been coming into my head lately. Lines from movies, books, songs…The latest is the refrain “no brains, no heart, he’s much too shy…But never mind you 3, there’s a wizard as you can see….he’ll fix it 1-2-3…”

Remember that old Wizard of Oz cartoon? You don’t!? Then you’re soooo not my demo. (But you can check it out and fake it ’til you make it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjyv_i0tBSk) (‘K? Read on)

Now is that song stuck in everybody’s head? Are you curious as to why I’d do that to you?

I’ve been looking for a new nanny, that’s why. And it’s been a bloody nightmare. No shows. No return calls. No luck.

No brains, no heart, they’re much too shy….See???

I’d heard the nightmare stories. The whole “good help is hard to find” complaints. But I never believed them. Sure, I’ve had my fair share of duds – at home, back in the olde days of office life, on a production, and even when I was a waitress. Oh no wait… that last one was me.

I had one friend who was in the caregiving business. A nanny pimp, if you will. For a small fee, she’d find you the perfect person. Except after several months of dealing with high maintenance clients on both sides she realized her sanity was worth more than the gig was paying.

Then there was the friend of a friend who, after 4 months of hunting for help, finally gave up and put her kids in daycare instead. Pricey, but apparently worth every penny for the peace of mind. Mind you, apparently she’s now back in the market for a nanny too…..

I’ve had a nanny get sick and die (it was awful, actually). I’ve had the perfect nanny who would’ve bankrupted us ‘cuz she was a fortune. I’ve had the one who, when we said it was time to part ways, said her prayers had been answered – oh, and would I give her a reference. The latest one’s been off sick for weeks and finally admitted that she’s been diagnosed with a heart condition.

Bad luck, Chuck.

I don’t need Mary Poppins. I’m not looking for Maria von Trapp. And I don’t think Mrs. Doubtfire would last the week. But is showing up too much to ask? Is acknowledging my children with a simple hello an outlandish request? My phone’s been ringing off the hook – yet if I call back, they don’t want to talk. Except to ask me about my “offer”. I feel like I’m on-line dating: everyone’s looking to get laid without any commitment. Well, call me old fashioned, but a nanny booty call ain’t what I’m after. Sure, a one day trial’s OK – clean house, change of pace, possibility of escape for an hour or so. But I need the relationship.

And I need the help.

Apparently, I’m somewhat undesirable: 2 kids plus a baby coming any minute now. A dog, a cat, and a man who works late. Oh, and worst of all: I’m home. My old neighbourhood was run by the nanny mob. They knew who to work for, what to ask for, which moms were home. I definitely would’ve had black marks against me. But here in my new hood, we’re one of the smallest clans around. We don’t demand 12-hour work days. And we even pay extra for overtime! Should I pretend otherwise? Pull out the slavedriver routine instead? Treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen?

Who has time? I have no help!!!

I feel like a bit of an ass complaining: after all, all our mothers and grandmothers coped without help….Or so we’re told. But they had each other. And they started younger. Most of ’em didn’t live a freewheelin’ life on the other side of 25ish, so they didn’t know any better. By the time they hit their 40’s, their kids were in school all day long. And were (somewhat) independent – enough to be able to hop on a bus. And, in some cases, drive. Maybe they were on to something, those ladies. Or maybe they weren’t. If I had children with the any of the men from my 20’s, I’d be a very bitter divorcee.

But maybe I’d have a great nanny. Apparently times aren’t the only things that have changed. The nannies of yesteryear -or babysitters, au pairs, mother’s helpers or (cringe!)”help” as they were known by some – were a different breed…. Or so we’re told. Loyal. Lifers. Part of the family. Today’s caregivers want a job. And a life. And that’s fine. Great. All power to ’em.

But I want a life too! And maybe even (gasp!) a job. Not this month, mind you, but one day. And so, call me a princess if you please – whatev. I need some help. Call her an assistant. Or him – I’d take a manny too. Pronto. The TV-as-babysitter novelty is wearing thin, even for my media junkies. And I think my man might lose it soon – happy wife, happy life, right?

So star search continues….

I have someone coming in for a test run this week. It’s reached the point where, if they can understand me, the job’s theirs. All they have to do is show up. Yes, that’s part of the job description.

Is that really too much to ask?!


Anonymous said…

brilliant – right from the bleeding gutt…
anyway, i am the “friend of a friend” and just wanted to add that my return to the nanny market is a bit off the mark (as great as that line was). my son will remain in the fabulous montessori school he’s in now and i will be bringing someone over from hong kong to live in and work for me as a housekeeper and part-time nanny in the fall. the key here is that if she doesn’t show up or work out, i will never be left in a lurch and never be forced back into the trenches… it’s now all about gravy for me. and after the past year, mama’s taking the train load.
good luck


May 31, 2008   No Comments


No Flies On Us

Irish eyes are not smiling. Carly’s gone and I didn’t even acknowledge. I know, I know…I’m terrible, Muriel. Believe me, I was as shocked as the next guy. But my shock wasn’t Idol’s white trash teenage fan base. Hell no. The minute she belted out those two magic words, “Jesus” and “Christ”, she was a goner.

But whatever. This is not an I-can’t-believe-it Idol post. I couldn’t take in Carly’s untimely departure because I was still reeling from the news that my house was infested with sewer flies and I’d need to rip up my basement floors.

S-E-W-E-R flies. Uh-huh. Exactly what you think they are. Flies. That breed in sewers. IN MY HOUSE.

Did I mention we’ve lived here all of 8 months?

Way back in the halcyon days of new housedom, there were these flies that would flit around and then pop-off after 24 hours of hurling themselves against our screens. We figured they were fruit flies. Except they had no interest in fruit. Hmmmm…..Strange. A quick call to an exterminator and we decided to heed their advice and wait until after the winter to investigate further. Maybe they’d just die off and never return.

Or maybe not.

After an insanely long and drawn out winter from hell, we welcomed April’s (global warming) warmth….And The Return of The Flies. Pest control was called. And 45 seconds and $65 dollars later told me we had sewer flies. Also called drain moths, I learned that these non-biting, bacteria carriers are flies that breed in standing sewage. And then I learned that said sewage was, in all likelihood, standing under my dreamhouse.

Next stop: plumber.

I have to say, of all the housing trades, I do like a plumber. Contractors are cocky and I hate being at their mercy. Electricians are a bit odd. Some of them even more than a bit. And gardners, well, it’s all such a cliche. Between the gardner, the poolboy, and any other scantilly clad maintenance man, you’d think every one of your neighbours is the next Lady Chatterly. But not plumbers.

So far, I haven’t met a plumber I haven’t liked. They all seem to be nice, funny, smart. And plumber butt? A total myth. Only plumber butts I see come with low-cut designer jeans attached to ’em. Anyhoo, I’ve recently learned that plumbers are also the highest paid of the trades. I guess they deserve to be, dealing with other peoples’ shit for a living. And with these prices, they’d better be charming.

Anyhoo, Mike the plumber shows up to save my house. And hopefully, my sanity. SEWER FLIES. Hello? What could be grosser?

First came the residential colonscopy. Exatcly what it sounds like: the camera snake. Drain cam – down the drains and through the house. If your lucky. If you’re me, it’s drain cam down the drains, through the house, under oceans of sludge, and, finally, The Wall. No, not stones or bricks or mortar. A wall of “material”. “Debris”. Somethin’ sticky. And vile.

Next stop: The Drainworks A Team.

They emerged from their trucks like Smith from the Matrix – only instead of black-suited, slick and trim, they were blue-t-shirted, bald and enormous. And they proceeded to rip up my floors, digging trenches in hopes of finding The Blockage. And then they struck gold. Black gold. A geyser. And not in a good way.

I wasn’t home when it happened. Thank god. My delicate constitution would’ve failed me for sure. It had these burly he-men running for cover. And frsh air. ‘Cuz 7000 uninsured dollars and thousands of flies later, when they finally found the culprit, my house was a no go zone. You could smell it down the street. My castle had become the pit of hell, with more than a hint of Dead Sea stink. Only difference being there were no anti-aging benefits to the sulphuric soil they removed by the bagfull.

Before you rush into the shower, let me reassure you (and myself): There is a silver lining. Ish. We get new basement floors. And apparently that part of this unwanted reno is covered by insurance. And I found an awesome plumber – Mike and Drainworks if anyone’s interested. And next week is Neil Diamond week on Idol, so all is not lost…

You’ll forgive me if I didn’t give Carly her due. I was up to my eyes in flies.


Anonymous said…

It’s all about Neil! IT’s as if the Idol Gods had been reading my inner thoughts. I want to comment on the plumber but I don’t have much to say except thanks for the tip. I so far can never get a plumber when I need one

5:30 PM

Anonymous said…

what a way you have with the gab baby

12:06 AM

Leigh said…

“residential colonoscopy”

…..You should definitely consider a career in advertising copy. 🙂

8:55 PM

Anonymous said…

“Mike the Plumber” – what are you, Susan from Desperate Housewives?


April 26, 2008   No Comments


A Word From Your Sponsor

When I first started blogging, I never dreamed it would bring me fame and fortune…

Which is a good thing because it hasn’t.

A bit of fame, sure – in and amongst my people and their people and even some of their people. But fortune? Erm, not so much.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to the blogosphere…..people started sending me stuff. Free stuff. Despite not making a dime on these musings of mine, I have somehow become one of those bloggers that people think people wanna know about. I love that!!! And now the marketing genies, keen to cash in on all things bloggy – ie. trusted word of mouth – have sent me freebies. Samples. Swag. Call it what you want, it’s free free free!!!


Well, it was cool. Except now that they’ve paid the bill, I’m expected to, ahem, put out. And I can’t. I’m just not that kind of girl. (Anymore.) Look, I know nothing’s really free. And that when something seems too good to be true it’s cuz it is. Or isn’t (is too good? isn’t true? Y’know what I mean). Anyhoo, I’ve been tracked down. The stuff’s been sent. And now it’s payback time.

Faced with mounting pressure to lie back and spread ’em – the word on these products, that is – I find I’m more inclined to blow is all off and hide. Except now I feel like a real tease. They took their time to treat me to their product, and yeah, I encouraged them to, so the least I could do is tell you about it, right?

Wrong. You see, trusted readers, at the end of the day, I’ll only tell you about things I love. Or loathe. Anything in between, well, what’s the point, right?

Remember Pom Tea? I adored it. At the time I couldn’t sing its praises loud enough… Now I can’t stomach the stuff.
Joe Fresh? Cheap and cheerful. And cheap – the zippers are constantly undoing and they wash like crap.
Tassimo? Retired my machine the other day – too pricey and I felt like an environmental terrorist in my own home.

No one paid for this press – good or bad.

Banu? Paid full price for every meal. Every hookah. And I’ll keep going back for more.
Paige Denim? A bloody fortune, but I love love love ’em. And I’ll keep going back for more.
Jude Law? Didn’t give me the time of day, despite bringing a hot leggy blond as my winger. And, yeah, I’ll keep going back for more. (Sheesh, not even a passing glance….)

Again, think any of that was free? I WISH.

Granted, once in a while something works for me – I got these awesome Crayola crafty paints and markers and crayons that rocked down my house. Especially the crayons – triangular, easy to hold (what? my kid has fine motor issues) and even easier to clean.

And see? I told you about them. Because I wanted to. On my own terms. I don’t think I need to write about something simply because someone went to town and couriered it to my house.

Am I protesting too much? Probably. I’d kill to turn a profit here in the blogosphere. Maybe I should whore myself out a little more. Maybe I should write about any – and every – sample that someone sends me. Or maybe, just maybe, I’m not being sent the right kinda things. Hear that PR people? Marketers, start your engines….and start sending me stuff I can get excited about!!

Jude Law’s agent – you getting all this?

Please and thanks….


Anonymous said…

They don’t realize that they need to send you facial products. Celex C, vitamin B and E, retinal take your pick – what almost 40 (sorry mother – gave it away) babe doesn’t want that sent to them. And while your’re at it – get 2 sent!

5:29 PM

Anonymous said…


7:08 PM

Anonymous said…

Way to not sell out MOAM. Maybe Dancap will send you a season subscription so you can once again SING the praises of the musical. Didya see Drowsy Chaperone? There is hope!

10:41 PM

Mother of all Mavens said…

I hear you people….And i’ll take it, any of it. Particularly face creams and musicals. As for Drowsy – duh! Been there, done that. twice. Not really worth a double take but guess what? The tickets were free! Send in the swag….


October 16, 2007   No Comments


The Real 411

Hello? Um, yes, I’d like the phone number for….insert any name of your choice… And then ask yourself the last time you uttered these words.
Does anybody use 411 anymore? Y’know, directory inquiries? The one they charge a whole dollar for and yet get wrong half the time because you’ve said one name and they’ve heard another? I don’t. I’m not a cheapskate but when it comes to those little charges I become ever so thrifty. It bugs me giving the phone companies even a dollar more than I absolutely have to. What? It adds up!
Sometimes this backfires. I recently switched phone companies. It was my way of saying “up yours” to Bell Canada. Sadly, I soon learned that their competitor’s call answer service totally sucked. I returned to Bell after a measly 3 weeks, tail between my legs. And they charged me 50 bucks! I said “up yours”. They said “right back atcha”. Sheesh.
Still, that’s just my local phone company. As in, for local calls. When it comes to the big bucks, the long distance calls, I’m off the board for a hundred. Several hundred if I stuck with Bell. Nope, for the long distance VIP calls, I use CIBC Guaranteed Proof. Anyone with a CIBC Aerogold Visa can get it (sorry non-Canucks). They compare and contrast the prices of Bell, Sprint and Rogers, find the cheapest option and then minus 10% before charging it to your credit card and sending you a statement. Sure there are waaaaay cheaper long distance options around, but I can’t be bothered typing in extra phone numbers, using PIN’s etc. See? Sometimes I cheap out, sometimes I don’t.
But with 411? Total tight-ass.
Miser central here goes for the old fashioned phone book or the on-line directory. Trouble is, the on-line directory only works sometimes. It’s true! Last night I had a friend over who tried finding a listing on Canada411.com. It was a no-show on my computer. And yet when she let her fingers do the walking over her own home keyboard – voila! Like magic, her listing appeared. I don’t get it. But computers are weird and have tendencies to be possessed, so what do I know about that….
One thing I do know, is that when you turn 65 you become an official Senior Citizen. Old, but entitled. Aside from discounts at children’s attractions (what the hell??), movies, and public transit, you get free 411. That’s right, if you make it to 65, you get free Directory Inquiry. Now there’s a perk if I’ve ever heard one.
But guess what? We don’t have to wait ’til we’re 65 anymore!! Anyone and their uncle can now access 411 for free! Yup, gratis. All you need to do is dial 1-800-FREE 411. I swear! I just tried it. It works anywhere in North America (sorry Euros). The nice computer lady asks you for city and state, but don’t be put off, Canadians. It’s kinda funny – when I said Canada, the computer voice asked me if I meant Indiana. And soon I was redirected to a real genius of an operator who was trying to find a listing for Quebec City instead of in Quebec City….

OK, so if you’re after an operator who’s a clever sort, you may be disappointed. But if it’s free 411 you’re after, here’s the golden ticket: 1 800 FREE 411.


Anonymous said…

Yo– Mary J. Blige, thanks for the tip!


June 21, 2006   No Comments


Unfair Miles – The Sequel

Due to popular demand and a lot of commiseration I have decided to fill y’all in on the secrets of using your airmiles. It’s quite simple really. Plan ahead. Waaaaaaay ahead. And be prepared for disappointment.

You want a summer vacation, gratis? Sorry, suckers, but you’ve probably missed the, ahem, boat for this year. But next year’s flights will probably be wide open. Why? Because you aren’t allowed to book that far in advance. See how they get you?

Some airlines have an extra special trick. They have two tiers of rewards so you can use even more points to go the same distance. Sound familiar, Aeroplanners? Here’s what I mean: a short haul flight within North America costs 15000 points (economy). There are a limited number of seats on each flight reserved for points-redeemers. Maybe a handful. A very small, itty, bitty handful. But if those seats are gone, the kind folks at the airline conveniently offer you the exact same seat – for 25000 points. Geddit? You “pay” more for the same flight. So you can either swallow it, and pay, pay, pay. Or you can book as far ahead as they will let you.

Has the point come across yet? BOOK AHEAD. The minute you start talking about your trip, put your money where your mouth is and book ‘er down. Especially if you want to go business class. Both ways. Or, my personal fave, the one where you score the business-class seat but it’s on a flight you didnt even know had stopovers and it’s only for the first (short) leg of the journey Then you’re demoted to steerage. Ditto and double if you don’t want to go alone. Otherwise what do you do? Fing for the good seat?

There are probably more ways to book your “free” travel than there are seats available. You can go online and try your luck. I did, and managed to nab one of the elusive 15000 pointers. Plus the usual taxes and surcharges and all that. Here’s the thing: I booked the trip in February. I’m going away in June. And there are about 12 flights a day on this route. Sounds like shoo-in, right? I thought so too, and kind of dragged my heels a bit. Until one morning I checked on the best return flights and found the cheap versions had disappeared. There was no way I was using 25000 points for a one hour flight. I booked then and there.

Another way is to get your travel agent to reserve for you. Ka-ching ka-ching. The agent will charge you, but at least you don’t have to do any work. You get what you pay for – and as we all know, you’ll pay for the free flight. This is the preferred method for long haul, deliberate stop-overs, or for those who are such frequent flyers that none of this really matters. In which case, how do you have time to read blogs??

Finally, there’s the old-fashioned way: calling the airline. If this is your thang, you’ve got nothing but time. In fact, you’re probably still on hold! Hang up now, loser – you’ll never get through. And if you do, chances are your seat has gone to the smartypants who went on-line.


pritza said…

I think the first possible date you can book ahead of time is 290 days before your flight or something like that. My opinion is to ditch Aeroplan and go for the points toward a ticket credit cards – my brother always seems to get flights this way. Aeroplan points may be more valuable, but if you can’t use them what’s the point? I have already ditched my Aerogold Visa.

5:45 PM

Anonymous said…

great job lady


April 28, 2006   No Comments


Unfair Miles

OK. Hands up those of you who’ve tried to book reward travel using air miles.

Anyone who was unsuccessful can drop your hands now.

I’m guessing there ain’t a lot of hands left flying out there.

I am one of those who use my Visa…oops, I mean my credit card … to rack up the points. The pricier the item, the better to fly away on my dears. So why is it when you go to book these flights, there never seem to be any seats on the flights you want? To make matters worse, if you are lucky enough to have some magic golden horseshoe up your butt and snag a seat, you then have to pay (on your points-gathering credit card of course) to go for free. HUH??

My grandfather (bless his soul, rest in peace and all that) flew up a storm. Every 3 weeks he shlepped from Toronto to Ft Lauderdale. For months. And years. Obviously he collected points and, being the pre-war, first generation immigrant that he was, never used them. So get this: one day, he has a heart attack. In Florida. And as any Canadian, first gen or otherwise knows: do not get sick in the USA!! Immediately his wife, my grandmother, made arrangements to get him home. At last, she thought, I’ll use those airmiles. The ones we’ve been collecting since the program began. But guess what? As the clock ticked away on my Zaidy and his ticker, the folks at the Airline (no names=no lawsuits) told them there were no seats. Forced to pay the old fashioned way, the g’parents headed home to health care. When my grandfather emerged, relatively unscathed with a new pacemaker and a new attitude, he took the airlines on. He sent them letters, made some phone calls and finally, they paid him back – in airmiles of course.

These days, the credit card companies have wised up. They’ve realized there’s a market for cards that actually let you spend your miles. No shortage of seats, no blackout periods, no restrictions on carriers – nothing to stop you jetting away. Oh no, wait – there is one little itty thang; the tax. And did I mention the other “fees”? Lord help you if you dare to change your ticket. Ka-ching, ka-ching.

So, let’s get back to me (actually my man, D, but we’re just counting miles stuff here). A Toronto-NYC flight on a cheap ‘n cheerful airline (don’t get me started on our national biggie) retails for $250 (plus tax).That translates into $350 worth of reward travel via the go anytime/anyplace credit card. A mere $15000 in spending and you’re ready to fly for fee. I mean, free. After the tax (which you pay) and $40 to the airline for a date change, not to mention another $25 to the credit card (again, for the change) the price continues to rise. And you pay for it. I’m no mathematician but that’s seems like a lot of cash for a freebie.

Let’s just hope you’re not delayed.


Fearful flyer said…

Love the blog – it’s funny. I’m disturbed by the airmiles posting – I have a gold travel visa on which I’ve racked up a ridiculous number of points and haven’t yet tried to use them. In the back of my mind I’ve been anticipating problems when I finally go to book something, but in the meantime, I spend, spend, spend with that g-d card. Am I really going to get screwed? I was hoping to book flights in the fall to NY or London. Do tell friend.


April 22, 2006   No Comments