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.



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.


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.


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?

Fun Frugal and Free Activities for March Break in Toronto

Mountain sheep in High Park Zoo © by 2sirius

March Break starts in just a few hours here in Toronto and there are so many things you can do. When planning activities for a teen we had to come up with a plan. Have you ever tried to survive a week without a plan for a teen?

What are some great frugal or free activities that you can have some family fun at this spring break?

1. The Toronto Public Library has many great events planned for the week ahead. Rachel wants to try out a dance class, and of course they have a couple of art activities (amine drawing and jewelry making) that she wants to try out.

2.Since Rachel loves art and is in high school, we are headed to the AGO. They have some wonderful free programs that teens can participate in.

3. At the TIFF Lightbox there will be lots of fun Workshops in Cinema 5 and there is always the Digi Play Space for kids to check out.

4. My teen is into photography  as well so we are headed to the Allan Garden Conservatory. A great chance to explore the gardens and think spring and take some photos.If your kids are into flowers might be a great place to explore.

5. Movies are a great bet too especially when they are only $2. Empire Theater have their Toonie Matinees back.We are planning on hitting a flick.

6. One of the other things we love is swimming. Here in Toronto Parks and rec offers some free swins and Tim Hortons is sponsoring many throughout the province.

7. For the animal loving kids there is always a trip to the free zoos. At the High Park Zoo you can find many exotic animals. Where Riverdale Farm is a working farm right in the city. Both of these places were favorites of my daughter when she was younger. Now she likes to go and take pictures.

8. Over the years at least one day was spent at the Shops on Steeles as they have a program that is chalked full for kids. Most days it contains a free lunch as well for kids 12 and under. We are sad that my teen is now too old for this, but if you have kids it is lots of fun and free.

Some other great fun and free activities include:
• It looks like our weather here in Toronto will be great next week so how about a walk on the boardwalk. We love taking a great walk along Toronto’s great beaches. 
Another day to snap some great shots for us.

• Have an old fashion game day. On those bad weather days a game day even for teens can be fun break out the old strategy games and take a risk on a good day of fun

• My teen is taking food services in school so we will be doing some cooking and baking during March Break. Getting teens in the kitchen is always fun.

• Explore a neighbourhood in Toronto: 3 of our favorites are Kensington Market, China Town and the Greek Village on the Danforth.

• Arts and crafts- My teen just finished knitting her first scarf but she loves painting and jewelry making and it is a great way to spend some time over the break.

What are you doing this March Break?

Don’t forget to enter to win a family pass to Wizard World. 



Goodbye Penny Retirement Party and Win with Coldstone Creamery

We just said goodbye to the penny this week, and to celebrate it Coldstone Creamery is having a retirement party just to say goodbye.



Buy any ice cream and for the value of a penny, you can get a second ice cream of equal or lesser value.  What a perfect chance to check out the new Brownie Batter Love Connection ice cream or the Brownie Batter Connection shaped like a heart.

 This party lasts till Feb 10th only so stop by soon.

This offer is good for 3 locations only:

1094 Bloor St W, Dufferin Mall, 644 Dixon Rd

Now while you are there, got a special occasion coming then you will want to check out the yummy cakes that they offer. They have great birthday cakes and actually the cakes are great for any special occasion.

Small 8″x12″ rectangle (serves up to 25) $41.99
Large 12″x18″ rectangle (serves up to 50) $51.99

Signature Cakes
Small 6″ round 
(serves up to 8) $24.99
Large 8″ round 
(serves up to 12) $33.99

Small 8″x12″ rectangle 
(serves up to 25) $43.99
Large 12″x18″ rectangle 
(serves up to 50) $53.99

These cakes can be made in 24hrs, custom made, topped with any message for free.
You can even grab a tub of ice cream or some ice cream sandwiches to tide you over till your next visit.
Now the fun part you can WIN a small cake from one of those locations just in time for Valentines Day. How fun right? Just remember to win you must pick up your prize at one of these 3 locations only.
How to win?
Leave me a comment. It is that easy. Tell me what is your favorite Coldstone recipe, and if you haven’t tried one, what are you doing with all your pennies?
I will draw for a winner on February 12th after 6pm (closing time for this giveaway).


Tips for Job Hunting in Toronto

365 Day 106 The Job Hunt © by jamestruepenny

Are you like me and looking for work here in Toronto? One month ago I got laid off my job as a Social Media Specialist when the company restructured. I didn’t see it coming but one of the lessons I have learned in life is be prepared and part of being prepared is knowing how to do an effective job hunt. I am blessed that I volunteered a few years back at a local employment center. I know I have the skills to land my next job and begin my next great adventure. For those of you who are job hunting in Toronto market here are some of my tips for the job hunt:

1. Polish your resume, and get it read by a few people who work in jobs that you want. Get them to proof read it, they may suggest things that will help you get the interview, and that is all the resume is about, the foot in the door.

2. If you are not on Linkedin, get yourself a profile, and if it is in the budget upgrade for job seeker status as it gives you a few advantages that are helpful.Make sure your profile is complete and accurate. Ask for recommendations if you have none.

3. Research the companies you are interested in working for, follow them on Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. Often they will use these mediums to advertise new job opportunities.

4. Coffee date people who work in the industry, often these casual meet ups can lead to great opportunities.

5. Network, let people know you are looking, better yet seek real ways to help others out. Trust me the karma is worth it. Meetups are a great way to meet others in your field.

6. Google yourself, your future employer will, know what is out there and clean up any pictures, status updates that may need to be taken down.

7. Know the job boards but do not rely on finding you new role on one. More and more today it is about a connection, a referral. Here in Canada  I have been using: Linkedin, Workopolis, Monster and Charity Village. Some like Kijiji and Craigslist but watch out for the scam ads and those who want unpaid interns.

8. Dress and act professionally when attending events.

9. Be active on social media, and curate great content in the field that interests you.

10. Most of all know what you want, have defined long term and short term goals. I am looking forward to finding out where this road is going to take me personally. I hope these tips help you as you search for a job in Toronto. Let me know how your own hunt is going and if you have any other tips that you think would be useful.

Where Will This New Year Take Me?


Where Will I Land?
Where Will I Land?

As 2012 ended I was looking forward to 2013 with gusto: I had my 3 guiding words and it truly was going to be a year of doing better, being brave and embracing some long wanted dreams and goals, but then January 2nd hit and to be honest I had the wind knocked out of my sails.

When I lost my job I was in shock.I thought I had a great job and I had been so busy building a community that actually brought sales into the print shop that I thought my job was secure. I was wrong. There was no security when cuts had to be made.

At first I thought this will be a breeze I will find a job quickly after all I did just that last year, finding a job in a mere 6 days. But here it is two weeks later and not even a nibble. Not even a single response to any of of the resumes and cover letters I have sent out. It would be so very easy to get discouraged, to wonder about my abilities.

I know I have the skills to do the job I want but to get the foot in the door seems to be my issue right now, so I am trying to figure out how to stand out from the crowd. How do I let my personal brand help me secure the right job fit for me?

I have to change things up.

I have to be brave and try new ways of job hunting, to reach out more, to pound the pavement, to knock on doors and to ask.

My ideal job would have me working in a social capacity for a brand, taking care of their online properties. Last year I helped launch a book, helped a large telecommunications company revamp their social profiles including helping to train corporate officers in the use of social media, and helped on several other brand accounts as well. I even tracked all of the metrics for all of our work for months. I know I have the skills, it is truly about the foot in the door so I can prove myself.

So there will be more door knocking, more tweaking the resume and cover letter each and every time I apply for a job, and in the meantime I will be working hard here at Common Cents Mom making this a better blog, in which I can showcase my abilities.So expect more posts. More contests, more fun.

Now if you know of someone who is hiring, and you refer me and I get the job, well you get dinner on me.



Remberance Day in Toronto: Remembering Those Who Gave

Poppies © by Moyan_Brenn_BE_BACK_on_10th_OCT

Every Remembrance Day is important to me here in Toronto. This is were my grandfathers signed up to serve, my great grandfather, my uncle, my cousin, and my friend.

As I think of all of the men and women in my family who served, both my mom and my step-father served. My grandfathers, an uncle, and I have 2 cousins currently serving, I think of all they have seen, all they did, all they endured, with one goal in mind to keep Canada safe. to keep our families safe. I have sat and listened of many stories over the years and even attended the funeral of a friend who was lost in Afghanistan.They are hard to hear, and couldn’t even imagine living them.

I am grateful for their service and what it means every day for us who never served.

This Remembrance Day, they deserve some support, some respect, some remembering. Since this day happens to fall on a day when most of us are off why not attend one of the many services here in Toronto.


 The Queen’s Park ceremony begins at 10:45 a.m. It will include two minutes of silence, a youth pledge and the laying of wreaths, including the People’s Wreath (a flowerless wreath to which people can pin poppies).

 East York Civic Centre Memorial Gardens, 850 Coxwell Ave. Ceremony begins at 10:45 a.m.

 Etobicoke Civic Centre Cenotaph, 399 The West Mall. Ceremony begins at 10:15 a.m.

 North York Civic Centre, George Weston Recital Hall at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, 5040 Yonge St. Ceremony begins at 10:45 a.m.

 Old City Hall Cenotaph, 60 Queen St. W. Ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m.

 York Civic Centre, York Memorial Collegiate Auditorium, 2690 Eglinton Ave. W. Ceremony begins at 10:45 a.m.

 Fort York National Historic Site, Garrison Common, 100 Garrison Rd. Ceremony begins at 10:45 a.m.

 Kew Gardens Cenotaph. Ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m.

 Prospect Cemetery Sunrise Service, 1450 St. Clair Ave. W. Ceremony begins at 8 a.m.

 Scarborough Cenotaph, Kingston Rd. and Danforth Ave. Ceremony begins at 11 a.m.

 Swansea Town Hall, 95 Lavinia Ave. Ceremony begins at 10:45 a.m.

 Toronto Zoo, Meadowvale Rd. north of Sheppard Ave. E. Ceremony begins at 10:55 a.m.

I will be at one, how about you..

Emergency Preparation for Hurricane Sandy

hurricane irene preparation © by l . e . o

Are you prepared for what some are calling the once in a life time storm? Are you ready for Hurricane Sandy to hit Toronto? Preparation is key.

I know I am not ready.

I have lived through both a fire and hurricane so I know a little bit about survival after a disaster. Would you be prepared for a natural disaster at your house? With the winds that Sandy is about to bring there could be major power outages.

What do you need for an emergency? Do you have these items on hand? Do you know where they are?

Your home’s emergency survival kit should have enough supplies to look after your own family’s needs for up to 72 hours. To save time, you may want to prepare an emergency food and water kit, first aid kit, and an emergency car kit as well.

To create your own home emergency survival kit, gather the following items and store them in a duffel bag, backpack or closet shelf until needed with this done you are ready for Sandy or any major emergency.

• AM/FM radio (and extra batteries if not a hand-powered radio)

• Baby supplies, if required (disposable diapers, bottled milk, baby food, toys, crayons, and paper)> Make sure you are checking expiry dates and refilling as needed.

• Blankets or sleeping bags (one per person)

• Candles and matches (waterproofed)

• Cash (include coins/cards for payphones). Make sure you have small bills, and change.

• Clothing and footwear (one change of clothes per person). For kids don’t forget to change this up as they grow.

• Flashlight (and extra batteries if not hand-powered flashlight)

• First-aid kit with over-the-counter medications in the event of a pandemic

• Food(granola bars, tuna, peanut butter, crackers and others to family tastes but think easy to prepare) and bottled water( use 2 drops of bleach per 2L bottle).

• Important papers (copies of personal documents and identification paper

• Prescription medication required by any family member (1 week supply & copy of prescription).

• Pet supplies, if required (food, medications, toys)

• Playing cards, games & books

• Plastic bucket with lid (for latrine)

• Spare set of car keys

• Spare set of glasses and prescription, if required

• Toilet paper and other personal supplies

• Whistle

I would add to this list if you are a person of faith add a bible or your book of faith.

Do you have an emergency kit? If so when was the last time you updated it? Are you ready for this storm?

Wordless Wednesday: Toronto Ramadan

Muslim around the world are in the final week of Ramadan. In the United States, as much as it has been a time of faith, and prayers, many are in fear too, as in the last 12 days, there have been 8 attacks on Muslim houses of worship( Mosques or Masjids).

But what about closer to home, here in Toronto. I wanted to share with you what Ramadan in Toronto looks like. These photos were all taken by my friend Himy Syed, who is riding his bike around the city to visit 30 different masjids.

So Through the eyes of Himy:


Wudu or cleaning happens before the act of worship. Wudu facilities are available in every masjid.

dhikr circleThis photo comes from my masjid this act of worship is not only done during Ramadan but ever Saturday night in this city. It is called a dhiker circle, we call on Allah using some of his 99 names.

Prayer timings are so important to a Muslim, on this wall are a number of clocks as well as a prayer calendar showing the prayer times for that day.Muslims here in Toronto and around the world look at these times to guide us in worship.

Prayer is the most important element to a Muslims life, completing the prayers 5 times a day is a must.

Many during this holy month will spend extra time reading the Quran.

Dates are the common way to break the fast, which was begun just before sunrise.

Iftar is the meal that follows the Magrib prayer (sunset), many do this in community during this holy month.

After Isha (the night prayer) comes Taraweeh prayers (either 8 rakats or 20 rakats)..and with that a day of Ramadan comes to the end.

You can read more about Himy’s journey around Toronto here.

An Open Letter: Dear Mayor Ford

Dear Major Ford,

Since when is it the job of the major to decide who can and can not report the news of the city?Are there not constitutional issues at play?

Since when is it okay for a Mayor to act like a child? Only a child says oh you said something bad about me, and then reacts, and reacts, and reacts. Each time you have blocked The Toronto Star from receiving public documents this is exactly what you have done.

Since when is it legal for a Mayor to block one of the major news sources for a city from reporting the news. Are there not laws that state all the citizens have rights to these documents?

Dear Mayor by blocking The Toronto Star, you are saying you do not have to follow the rules and that you do not have to show integrity.

So how about acting like the grown up you appear to be and unblocking them?

Yours sincerely,

a citizen who gets her News from The Star daily,

Hollie Pollard

Micro-Volunteering comes to Canada with Koodonation

Volunteering for Haiti © by cambodia4kidsorg

Have you heard about Canada’s first online microvolunteering community:  Today Koodo is supporting a social change movement that is redefining volunteering across Canada. An entirely not-for-profit, grassroots community, supported and powered by Koodo, allows consumers and Canadian charities to work together where a huge percentage of Canadians spend their time – online — with the concept of microvolunteering.

Microvolunteering is volunteerism built for the social media generation. It gives us web savvy Canadians the opportunity to make a huge contribution to Canadian not-for-profit and charity organizations, right from our computers, in 15 minutes or less. With microvolunteering, volunteering becomes a purely online-activity which can be done any time the volunteer has a spare moment: before work; during a study break; or simply on a free evening at home.

Small online acts of charity add up to big social change

Microvolunteering tasks are designed to take a short period of time, typically 15 minutes to two hours, but help not-for-profit organizations to very quickly and easily crowd-source solutions through a range of high-impact challenges and questions such as disaster or emergency relief, fundraising ideas, social media strategy, copywriting, graphic design, and much more.

Koodonation has already been embraced by some of Canada’s most respected charity and not-for-profit organizations including; Canadian Feed the Children; Kids Help Phone; Sustainable Waterloo; Canadian Animal Assistance Team; and Students Offering Support — and more are joining every day.

Koodonation has also been embraced by some of Canada’s best sports and entertainment personalities including MTV Live Co-Host Sheena Snively, Jeremy Taggart of the iconic Canadian rock back Our Lady Peace, Daniel Johnson, member of the break-out Canadian band Stereos, Toronto Argonaut Mike Bradwell, and one of Canada’s top social media personalities, blogger Casie Stewart. In the true spirit of this campaign, each of these personalities is volunteering their time at a charity competition between Ontario colleges and universities, which will launch Koodonation in Toronto toay Thursday, October 13, 2011. This event happens at Yonge/Dundas Square from 11-3.  As a thank you for their support, is making a $20,000 contribution to a charity of their choice. When I soke to Casie recently she was having a hard time choosing who she was going to gift.

Koodonation is powered by, San Francisco-based pioneers of microvolunteering. Operating similar microvolunteering communities in the U.S., and the microvolunteering concept have been celebrated by the TED community . You can watch this great TED talk all about volunteering.

Ben Rigby – Micro-Volunteering – Giving Back for Busy People

“We’re thrilled to partner with Koodo to launch Canada’s first-ever microvolunteering network,” says Ben Rigby, CEO of “Backed by Koodo’s unparalleled knowledge of the Canadian market, will transform the not-for-profit landscape in Canada by leveraging the skills, expertise, and know-how of Canadian citizens.”

Nearly 90 per cent of Canadians aged 15 to 34 use the internet*
51 per cent of Canadian 18-34 year olds volunteer or fundraise for charities
47 per cent of Canadian 18 -34 year olds volunteer at least once per month
More than 64 per cent of Canadian 18-34 year olds prefer to support causes within their community and Canada

*Internet usage statistic courtesy of Library of Parliament, all others courtesy of Koodo Mobile

Think.  It’s easy. It’s fun. And it makes a difference.

Do you have 15 minutes to spare for a good cause? If yes check out Koodonation.