The Traditions of the Canadian National Exhibition

Princes Gate is ready
Princes Gate is ready

Today is the day, the Canadian National Exhibition begins today, here in Toronto. Can you believe this exhibition is 135 years old? I love the traditions of the exhibition and well they are always doing something new every year. You really do get the best mix, as a blogger this year I got an invite to Media Day, which was on Wednesday morning, it gave us a sneak peek of what is new at the EX.

Cascade
Cascade from France

We got to see to new acts Mr Spin and Pandoras Pink and Cascade are new to the Ex..find their shows for some great entertainment. Then one of our favorites is returning, The Flying Wallendas.

The Flying Wallendas
The Flying Wallendas

On the midway there is a new ride, but we love all the traditional rides as well, and there are a number that we have to do just as tradition.

Now when it comes to food at the Ex there are so so many options, and bacon is again back and on almost everything! For me I sampled some great vegan nachos, a great fried rice ball, and some sweet potato fries with nutella.

The Food at the CNE

Remember there are so many free things to do at the ex and that is part of the traditon. The shows at the band shell will be amazing. My first concert was at the ex and well so was my daughter’s last year. In the kids area there are great arts and crafts, the shows, a play area, and even an area for the wee ones. For the foodies there are some great chefs coming like Micheal Smith.

Now one of my favorite traditions is tomorrow when my large family will all be at the ex with our families. Warriors Day has always been a family tradition. My grandfathers were both in World War 2, and after they came home this parade was family routine, one we still carry on over 60 years later. The parade starts early at 10:30 and the best place to watch it is just west of the princes gate. I love going early, and getting a great spot.

Do you go to the Canadian National Ex? It so what are some of your traditions? What do you look forward to?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Ways to Earn Extra Cash

 From being a bingo moderator to a personal hair stylist

 

Most moms dream of having her own business so she can earn some money and at the same time take care of her family. The CEO of Women’s Enterprise Centre, Laurel Douglas, said that “it seems that more mothers are pursuing entrepreneurship as a career option.” Most mothers start with a small business because it gives them more flexibility to do both work and home tasks. Based on a survey conducted by BMO Bank of Montreal, 71% of women in Canada would like to put up their own business. In 2012, around 46% of the small to medium-sized businesses in the country are owned by Canadian women.
Putting up a business like a bingo hall is quite risky because you need to shell out some money first before you can start earning. Wise moms instead opt to do part-time jobs because they are assured of getting an income without sacrificing much of their time. If you’re looking for fun ways to earn some extra cash, then check out my list of cool jobs to take:

Bingo moderator

Bingo is one of the most popular games in Canada and you can find bingo halls in almost every city. Being a caller at Delta Bingo will require you to spend time at the bingo hall thus leaving your home unsupervised for a few hours. That’s why most moms prefer being a moderator in bingo websites because they can work from home. There are chat games at FoxyBingo that requires moderators and hosts so that can be much as fun as playing bingo.

 

 

Personal hairstylist

If you love fixing your own hair or those of your family members, then why not make a career out of that? Learn some new hair styling tricks by reading online magazines like totalbeauty.com or taking a short course at Aveda Institute & Academy Salon. Once you’re confident of your skills, then you can offer your neighbors and friends your personal hair styling services.

Learn How to Use AIR MILES Cash Rewards Twitter Party #AIRMILESCash

Last year AIR MILES started offering AIR MILES Cash rewards along side the AIR MILES Dream rewards for things like travel, gift cards, entertainment and so much more. Which do you prefer? The instant cash back at the cashier or to save your points for something sweet-a dream.

If you’ve been on the AIR MILES website in the last year you may have noticed a few changes to how you earn and redeem  rewards.  Have you tried out the AIR MILES Cash Rewards yet? Want to learn more about it?

This Thursday we are talking all about it on Twitter with the #AIRMILESCash Twitter Party from 8-9pm EST.

Air Miles Twitter Party

 

Rubina Ahmed Haq from Steven and Chris will be leading the conversation as well as Shes Connected, me I will be there as me..tweeting along and sharing my knowledge as a long time Air Miles user. Come back here on Friday and I will have a post ready on how to best take advantage of the Air Miles Cash Rewards if you are the type you loves your instant gratification. Now you can sign up for the Twitter Party by RSVPING here. 

Tell me do you have an Airmiles Card and have you redeemed for cash already?

Frugal and Fun Summer Activities in Toronto

One of my favorite seasons in Toronto is summer because there are so many free or frugal ways to spend time together as a family! For us summer has already begun with Luminato and doesn’t end until the Labor Day.

luminato

 

Do you want to have a fun frugal summer in Toronto? You definitely can and it doesn’t have to put a dent in your wallet either.

 

For me and my teem for the past few summers our plans began with Luminato. One of my most treasured memories is my then 8 yr old leading the salsa dance class with the instructor, and her being chatted up by none other then David Miller (the mayor at the time) while she was getting her face painted. For us we love this event and guess what a huge amount of the events are FREE.

Luminato is not the only festival to enjoy during the summer, there are so many to choose from. The HarbourFront Centre is the home to many great free our frugal events all summer long. We also love The Taste of the Danforth, Salsa on St Clair, and the Scotiabank Buskerfest. For a great list of festivals and events in Toronto check here.

The next thing we always is swim at the city pools and hit the Beaches. Both of these are very frugal events and good for summer fun and fitness. We especially love the pools, infact that is where my teen is today.

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By then it is Canada Day and this city has many venues you can hit for a frugal Canada Day, for us because we lived in East York we always packed a lunch and headed to Stan Ludlow Park for a day of fun and fireworks. Downsview Park and Ashbridges Bay are also hot spots on this day.

The first week in July is when my daughter will also hit the library and enroll in the summer reading program. Now we are looking at the free teen programs they offer all summer long, like Teen Reads.

Then there are also free movies at Yonge/Dundas Square, the Habourfront, or perhaps TIFF in the park Every one loves a great flick, right? Must remember to bring my popcorn.

Then if you are a music lover like my teen, there are several venues where you can take in a free concert. Check out the Toronto Arts online link to find some great free events to attend and then at Habourfront you can listen to some great music in the garden as well.

There is also the musuems. Several of the museums offer free or discounted hours. The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) offers discount admission on Friday’s from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is free Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., excluding special ticketed exhibitions, and the Bata Shoe Museum is pay-what-you-can on Thursdays between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

If it was a rainy day we often went to Woody Woodchucks in Scarborough when my daughter was younger, but now there are many great indoor playspaces that you can hit with just a few dollars.

This summer with soda of any size being only $1 again at McDonald’s the playlands will be full as well.

Have kids they would love some time at a zoo or perhaps a farm in the city. High Park has a great little zoo and some great play spaces to keep a little one busy.

You can also have your tween or teen child do some acts of service this summer. Last summer  my daughter did a month long service challenge. Each day she thought up a new way to serve and help somebody else out. Some of the things she did: had a lemonade stand(donated the money), gave older clothes that no longer fit to new immigrant family on the street, held a door open, helped the neighbor with yard work and the list went on. We celebrated the end of it with an ice cream party.

There are also so many bike trails in Toronto that you can use to explore the city.

fountain

As well we always ended our summer with a trip to the CNE. It was a family tradition. I can remember my dad taking us girls when we were little and one of the things about the CNE there is so much to do that is free so you can be pretty frugal with your visit. Warriors Day you always see my family out in full force, and we always met the entire family right here!

My daughter and I in the summer spend about $15 a week for our summer fun in Toronto. Most of this is spent on our weekly tradition of an ice cream cone from the truck that came by our street, and the occasional pick up from a street vendor. If we were going to the park, beach, library we will take snacks and the like with us. This is what makes it frugal.

This year we also have a seasons pass to Canada’s Wonderland, which we are planning for some afternoon fun. Wonderland is not a cheap day though. We bring water in with us, and we do have the refillable drink cups that cost $0.99 cents to refill.

Now if you don’t live in Toronto that is okay many of these ideas can be transferred to where you are! Most cities have active park and rec programs, most libraries offer summer reading programs and there are always local festivals and well McDonalds is everywhere. Please remember you can have a great fun filled summer and it can even leave cents in your pocket book.

Please let me know what you think of the list. Are there any other ways to have a fabulously frugal summer in Toronto?

My First Experience with Yoga

Yesterday I was invited to be a VIP attendee at the Lole White yoga practice. About 2000 people from Toronto gathered together to practice yoga and to promote community and peace and I was honored to be invited to be one of them.  Yesterday, in the summer rain we all wore white, and gathered at Garrison grounds to practice under the wonderful direction of Grace Dubery.

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Leading the session was Toronto yoga teacher and Lolë ambassador, Grace Dubery.  Grace lead an amazing session of yoga, and my body moved ie ways it never had before, and I was very grateful for the 50 yoga teachers in the crowd, one was very kind and showed me some great ways to modify the poses just for me and were I am at health wise.

What surprised me was how when moving in unison it brought up so many emotions for me. At some points I was moved to have tears in my eyes.

 

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I had the chance to speak with Grace after the session and asked her about beginning a yoga practice. Her suggestions was to begin with a hatha class, and to find a yoga instructor that I connect with.

As an extension of Lolë community involvement, this session supported the Harbourfront Community Centre (HCC).  Donations were accepted at the event with all proceeds assisting the HCC to offer free yoga, Pilates and Zumba classes.

*This is not a sponsored post, I did however receive media access to the event. Opinions as always are my own. 

 

Recapping the Canadian Personal Finance Conference: Lessons for Any Blogger

What a crazy insane week this was, I had planned on recapping last weekend at the Canadian Personal Finance Conference on Monday but then this week got away from me, ever have that happen? Between working 2 jobs, 2 events this week and a sick daughter…well this week got the best of me. I am ready for a vacation but I will take a few days next week for Thanksgiving.

First my journey to the Canadian Personal Finance Conference began the night before the event as well I went shopping for the perfect conference dress. I have wanted a maxi dress for a long time and I asked my readers to help me pick a dress well your votes were divided. So it really was up for me to decide so I headed back to Sexy Plus Clothing. I picked the Celebrity Maxi (the grey one) as I thought it offered me the most versatility. Stephanie, the owner was there this time, and it was great to meet her. If you are a plus and live in Toronto this is one store you want to check out and I so loved their sales rack I even bought a beautiful blue top for $20 that will go great with the black pants I got for $9 a few weeks ago.

Prret Banerjree and me
meeting Preet and wearing the dress from Sexy Plus Clothing

 

Now for the conference recap

First on the Friday night we had a pre-conference event. It was at the ballroom and was supposed to be bowling and food but I am not sure anyone got downstairs to bowl as we were all happy just to talk and get to know each other better. I was super excited as 3 of my absolute favorite  personal finance bloggers were in the room. First there was Preet Banerjee, and I am glad I can say I knew him when, as he is about to be the host of a new show this January on the OWN network. Look for it. Then I was excited about finally meeting Krystal who was the wonderful co host for the conference. She has co hosted a few of my #cdnmoney chats on Twitter and I was so grateful to finally meet her in person. Then there was Kerry from Sqwakfox, I have read her blogs faithfully for years. It was great to meet her as well.That night I also got to meet several other bloggers and it was great to touch base and get to know each of them.

The next day I got to sit in between two of my favorite ladies, Marcy and Angele as we listened to the speakers.

So what were the lessons I took away? Lessons that ANY blogger can use:

1. If you are using facts in your blog. Know your numbers. Check your FACT! Find out from the source. Don’t trust the internet to be your source..not when it comes to facts you want to cite as gospel Truth.

ie when I did the infographic on Mental Health here in Canada, I was citing a Ministry report. I was citing facts that were in releases. These are known as primary sources, have a primary source.Thanks to Glen Cooke for this lesson.

2. Learn to self Edit. Adam Mayer the editor from Moneyville, is known as a harsh editor for a reason-he wants readers to be engaged and read the  story. A well written post that has been edited well will get readers who come back. Write, write some more, and then edit and edit again before publishing. Get rid of words you don’t need.

3. A great blog is built one good post at a time- there are no secrets. Put your heart into each post. Great creative look at common issues we all have a solve them in ways that will connect with your reader.That was Kerry’s advice.

4.Want to be noticed by the media? Be prepared was my take away from the Media session with Preet. Have a plan with each opp you get. Know your stuff, and know what you want your sound bite to be.

5. When it comes to SEO, get to know your stuff it will help you. I was very thankful for Alyssa from RateHub’s lessons and her handout which just happended to be printed at Print Three where I work. Mine now hang in my office.

commoncentsmom seo reminder cards

6. When  it comes to be building community. Engage those who come. Make it easy for them to stay around and want more.  Steve from Grocery Alerts showed us how this was done. It was great to hear his perspective on this.

There were so many great take aways from the conference and I am already looking forward to the one next year.

What did I love most? Getting to meet those who write about money day in day out, for this frugal mom it was a pleasure to get to know each person I met on a more personal level. That was the best. For you who were at the conference what was your take away? For those who weren’t what lesson do you think you can work on for your blog?

 

 

 

How To Participate in a Twitter Chat

Twitter Tree © by pandemia

If you have been around twitter awhile you know what a hashtag is ( if not the # symbol followed by words or letters that link tweets from different individuals) it is pretty easy to get involved in twitter chats and twitter parties. Lots want to know how to participate in a twitter party or a twitter chat.

A Twitter Chat is when a group of people talk on Twitter using the same hashtag to link it all together.I recently started the #cdnmoney chat and to join the conversation, you Tweet what you want and add #cdnmoney.to the end of it. It is a great way to network, learn and share what you know. My purpose with this chat is to have Canadians talking money. Now there are hundereds of other chats that do go on each week and the same rules basically apply.

To Follow the Chat – Please do not use the Twitter interface itself.Twitter chats can get very busy and generate hundreds if not thousands of tweets so use an interface such as Twubs .  You can also use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, just make a separate column to follow the conversation.

Get a feel for the conversation. You can do so by lurking just reading what others are tweeting and when you are ready just jump into the conversation.

Use Replies Generously – Things go quite quickly  in a Twitter Chat, and if someone posts something you want to comment on, they may not notice your post. Hence, you need to use the @ symbol in spades. This puts your reply in the person’s mentions bar, making it easier for them to reply.

If you are participating in a Twitter Party there will often be an RSVP for prizing purposes. Make sure you rsvp if you want to win a prize. Most of my #cdnmoney chats do not offer prizing. They are just great conversation and the sharing of tips, tricks and what is working or not working. It is the sharing of community.

There are a few general rules you should follow when in a twitter chat or party. The biggest rule is Don’t spam your blog/website – Now if you have just written a post on topic to the conversation going on, or have a tool that could be useful please do share those links.

Otherwise, just use good old fashioned common sense. Be polite, share, and enjoy. Now I really do hope I see you as we talk money on Tuesdays evenings from 7 to 8 pm EST on Twitter. We use the hashtag #cdnmoney.