It Takes Just a Minute, Have 2 Ways Out

This is fire safety week in Canada.  It seems like just weeks ago that my little girl and I experienced one of the worst nights of our lives. It was a deadly night. It took just a minute and we had a way out. The young woman who died just a few feet from where my daughter slept normally had no way out. My neighbour was in her early twenties when she died that night.  This is Fire Safety Week and often I think back on that night and remember. It takes just a moment to have a way out, it’s even better to plan two ways out.

I remember the firemen at my door, alerting us to the fire (the fire alarm had not gone off),  I remember wrapping my daughter in her favorite blanket and carrying her down the stairs. I remember standing on the street with her and watching the fire roar as it ripped through the 30 unit apartment building adjacent to mine. I remember the friend across the street who took us in and let me put my little girl back to sleep. I remember the hotel accommodation thanks to the Red Cross, Dress for Success who ensured I had clothes so I could go to work in a few days. I was blessed that with friends who helped in the days after the fire. It is an event I would never wish on any family.

My young neighbour died because she had no way out. The flames engulfed her unit very quickly. Had she been alerted, she may have been able to use one of the exits available.  Like her, we had just moved into the building a few weeks before. We were excited about a new larger place. I hadn’t even thought of an exit plan.  Since then, every time we have moved to a new home we develop an exit plan our first few days in the house. We know our two ways out.  With this being Fire Safety Week, it may be time to develop your own home fire escape plan.

So how do you develop a home fire escape plan?

  1. Ensure you have working smoke alarms on every story and near all sleeping areas. We have one hear my daughter’s room and one near mine. We replace the batteries twice a year. Did you know you should also replace your smoke alarm every ten years?
  2. Develop a home escape plan that is shared with all family members. Each member needs to know where the 2 exits are that they could use in the case of an emergency.
  3. Practice your escape plan with everyone.
  4. Help those who need it. Know who will help who. Who is responsible for the kids? an elderly parent?
  5. Get down and under the smoke. Most deaths are from smoke inhalation.
  6. Assign a meeting spot a safe distance from your home.
  7. Stay out. You never want to re-enter a burning building. Call the fire department from outside your home.

Please take from one who has lived through a fire, you want to have a fire escape plan. Tell me have you developed and practiced your plan lately? Now, might be a good time to do so.



How to Shop at a Thrift Store like a Pro

If you’ve been inspired to start shopping at thrift stores to save money after reading about the 5 best things to buy at thrift stores, then you’ll want to make note of this post. I’m going to give you the secrets to making the most out of shopping at thrift stores. Over the years, I’ve developed some tips and tricks for making my thrift store shopping days more productive and less likely to see me come home with stuff I really don’t need.

  • Be Prepared. The Girl Guide motto is highly useful when it comes to thrift store shopping.
    1. Take Pictures – are you looking for the perfect painting for your living room? Do you need accent pieces for your bedroom? Take photos with your cell phone so that you know what colours or design schemes you’re trying to match. Nothing is worse than getting a dark green throw when you needed a light green one.
    2. Measure it! Get a small measuring tape and keep it in your purse or your car. It would suck to find the perfect piece of furniture only to find out you either can’t get it home, or can’t get it up / down the stairs!
    3. Make a List – what do you need? What are you looking for? Write it down in a small notebook or on your phone so that you don’t forget to look for the items you need.
  • I have a kit that I call my Thrift Store Necessities – it includes a notebook, pen, my smartphone (with pictures on it), a measuring tape, and a small flashlight to look INSIDE drawers etc to make sure there aren’t any cracks or splits in wooden furniture.

    My Thrift Store Shopping Kit
    My Thrift Store Shopping Kit
  1. Be Persistent – Unless you have a very short list, you won’t find everything on it on the first try. Keep going back to the stores and keep your list current so that you know what you’re looking for. Half the fun of shopping in thrift stores is the hunt!


  1. Be Strategic – If you think you might want something, grab it the minute you see it! Don’t leave it on the rack and think about it – it will probably be gone before you get back to it. Use a cart and put anything you think you might want in it. Then, when you’re done shopping, sift through and pare down to items you love.


  1. Be Efficient – If you need a purse, go straight to the purse section and look around. Don’t be tempted by the books or shoes. Once you’ve looked for the item(s) you are shopping for, then browse. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone else walk out with the item you wanted.

By following these tips, you can become a thrift store super shopper.

The 5 Best Things To Buy At Thrift Stores

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By now you know that thrift stores are awesome places to shop if you’re trying to save money. But do you know what the best deals are in the thrift store? If you’re trying to get more bang for your buck, look for these items at your local thrift store!

thrift store photo2


  1. Purses – If you need a clutch for a special event, but are not likely to need one again anytime soon, or if you want a purse to match a certain outfit for an event, head to your local thrift store. It may take a few trips, so it’s definitely better to start early but you can usually score a purse to fit your needs for under $10. Best of all, if you’re willing to do a little cleaning, you can sometimes get designer bags for a fraction of what they would cost. I have a collection of designer purses and have never bought one at anything close to retail prices. I’ve had to do some minor repairs or spot cleaning to a couple of them, but it’s totally worth it to have a Coach purse without the dent in my wallet.


  1. Books – Yes, the library is free and should be used as a first choice, but buying second hand books can be a major money saver. Used books are significantly cheaper than their brand new counterparts. You aren’t likely to find very recent books on the shelves, but if you’re looking to stock your cottage bookshelf or want to introduce your child to your favourite series from when you were a kid, used books are the way to go. Some stores even have buy 3 get 1 free deals on books and many offer a reduced price on kids’ books.


  1. Games and Puzzles – Again, you are unlikely to find the latest popular game at your local thrift store (although you should always keep checking since you never know what might come in), but if you are looking for classic games such as Scrabble, Monopoly, Sorry, or Mousetrap, head to the thrift store! Always double check for missing pieces, but most people don’t donate broken games. If you’re looking for some rainy day activities, thrift stores usually have a great selection of puzzles – some of them never even opened. Games and puzzles usually cost between $2 -$6 in a thrift store compared to $20 and up in a retail store. Even better, once you’re done the puzzle or if the kids outgrow the game, you can re-donate it and keep the cycle going.


  1. Furniture – Thrift stores are often short on space, so they price furniture low to get it out the door. Some of the furniture needs a little TLC – but if you love a piece, you shouldn’t let a scratch or a missing drawer pull get in the way. Most of the fixes are really simple and there are tons of how to videos online if you decide you want to take on a bigger project. As a caution, don’t buy used mattresses (because of the risk of bedbugs) and clean upholstered items using a steam cleaner if possible.


  1. Baby Clothes – Kids grow fast – especially in the first couple of years. While you could drop a ton of money on new clothes that they’ll wear once and then outgrow, the smarter move is to check out the local thrift stores. Often you’ll find items that weren’t even worn! Think of them as hand-me-downs from kids you haven’t met. Always wash clothes from thrift stores at home before wearing, most clothes are washed prior to donation, but it’s always better to wash using your detergent and to give you peace of mind.


Those are the top 5 items to buy used, do you have any items that you prefer to buy used that aren’t on this list? Let me know in the comments below!

31 Days and 31 Ways to Save- Tackling Saving on Beauty Spending

Us girls like to look and feel good. But sometimes we do not like the price tag attached to beauty.

So this week I am tackling how to save on beauty.

First of all as a Muslim woman I am going to note I do not wear alot of makeup. I do wear a kohl eyeliner, a little mascara, and usually a lipshine. But beauty is more then just make-up.

So how can we save:

1. Do you buy expensive brands thinking they will do more or are better for you? I want to give you a heads up that is rarely true. Check what is box 1 at the expensive price and box 2 at the sale price and well guess what your often find they contain the same ingredients, so shop smart and save some cash.

2. If you are addicted to the spa and spa days. Try buying your day for a steal. Use one of the daily deal sites and wait for a spa day. They come up quite regularly and you can get your day of bliss for steal.

3. Skip soda pop, canned drinks and the like and drink water instead, it is better for your skin and you save. I say that is a win both ways.

4. Instead of using an expensive hair conditioner to make your hair shine, mix a tablespoon of cider vinegar with water. After rinsing away the shampoo with ordinary water, pour this cider vinegar water over your hair as a final rinse. Voila, shiny hair.

5. Use a lip brush for your lipshine, gloss or lipstick. By doing so you are getting the coverage you need without waste and you can use the whole container.

6. How about trying some home beauty remedies? Do you have a favorite one, it might be your perfect way to save.

7. Beauty Products can often be gotten as discount pricing look for the coupons.

All these tips with help you save your hard earned cash because we all know once you are looking good you like to go out and have a little fun.

Each Tuesday I have a little fun visiting 5 Minutes for Mom and seeing what everyone is tackling this week.

Preserving Family Memories


Are you like me and have a shoebox full of pictures?  Are they old ones? This picture is of my mother’s birthplace, the family homestead that was along the St. Lawrence seaway.

How are you preserving your family memories?

For me what is now working is sharing them online.

I went through the boxes and was able to reflect on memories but there were some pictures I had no idea who they were or the stories behind the pictures as they had been passed down from my grandparents.

I scanned the pictures then put them online. Through Facebook I have reconnected with my great aunts, and several cousins. By putting the pictures online we were able to share stories about the family and events. I now have a more complete family history because of sharing them online. I also have a back up incase anything happened and the hard copy disappeared.

I am thankful for the old pictures and the stories I have recently just be told.

So at your house what is working for you as you try and preserve family memories?

Becoming a Grandmother of Sorts and Wanting Tips

Today I will become a grandmother of sorts and I need help. Many years ago I was married to man who had 3 young children. When I was married to him we had full custody of all 3 children. Today my oldest in my heart will become a father. Right now as I type my son ( well adopted into my heart son) is getting his wife to the hospital for a c section.  A little while from now our family will welcome our newest family member and my daughter will be an aunt.  We are excited and happy!

Now I also know a new mom needs lots of advice. They need tips. they need tricks of the mommy hood. Now Pampers has joined with Mom Central on a project called “A Parent is Born”. Together they want to create insightful, community-driven tip sheets for new and expectant parents to download and share in their own mommy circles. And Canadian moms; they need our help.( but really these would be great for any mother).

My daughter in law could use this. Now they are asking for tips on sleeping and going back to work. Got one then go here an enter your best tip. You could end up winning one of the 25 $20 gift cards or the grand prize of $500 cash and we can all use extra cash at this end of time of the year right. (Contest is open to Canadian Residents)

Online Safety is A Key to a Good Time

Every day at work I get calls from customers who have infected computers, have questions about questionable emails and possibly are seeing and reading a scam. So how does one stay safe online? What makes sense? What do you need to know?

Consider this your boot camp for online safety:

1.So when it comes to viruses first invest in a good anti virus program. As well get a firewall and anti spyware software. There are good FREE downloads for each of these. Some internet service providers do provide these for free as well.

2. Update your computer often. This will help you will any unwanted bugs, and will help protect you from some viruses as well.

3.If you have a wireless network make sure you lock it down and encrypt it other wise anyone can use your connection from close by.

Then there are the personal safety issues:

You need to be careful what you open so you do not give out your personal info. These snooping missions come in all forms.

They arrive in  your email inbox looking like legit emails. They come looking like a link from facebook , they come in a form of DM in twitter. So How do you guard yourself?

1. Be careful where you use your online info. I can happily say after 14 years of online activity I have never been scammed. I log in and if buying online use a secured site or I use paypal.

2. Never open a link in an email especially if it looks like a link from a business  you use. Instead go and log on their site or better yet call them.

3. When using Social Media sites such as Facebook and Twitter I am careful what I links I open, mostly here they are looking for your passwords and log on info. I am careful what sites have access to these and you can check who has access to your personal information by checking your settings.

4. Ignore the scam emails and yes over the years I have gotten many offers that are down right ridiculous..just ignore these.

One of the biggest helps I can tell you is use a strong password. Mine are all a mix of numbers and letters. Safety is important when online so play safely and have fun, but always remember the rule safety first.