Becca Jane St Clair

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Fashion Plate

[image from:]

Sometimes I like to imagine what a magazine spread on my outfit would look like. Today, mine would look something like this:

Shirt by Monsoon, on clearance £10
Vest (Camisole), Bra, Knickers, and Socks by M&S £8/2, £22/2, £1.50, and £6/2
Jeans by Dorothy Perkins. eBay £7
Jumper (Sweater) by Per Una (M&S). Cancer Research UK Charity Shop £5
Boots by Clarks. eBay £5.

So the most expensive item I’m wearing today? My bra. LOL But the shirt would have been £40, the jeans £30, the jumper £60 and the shoes £50 if I had bought everything at full retail price. I <3 charity shops, clearance sales, and eBay. With my on-going weight loss I have been shopping charity shops, jumble sales, eBay, and online swapping/shopping groups (on facebook and livejournal). They have been a godsend. I purchased four pairs of jeans (2 are Dorothy Perkins, 2 are Marks & Sparks) for less than the cost of one pair (though I did need to shorten them), countless tops from Dorothy Perkins, M&Co, Monsoon, Miss Selfridge, Per Una, etc. etc. for again, the cost of one top (maybe one and half), and I even managed to score an amazing M&Co silver sparkle dress I wore to a friend’s wedding for probably 10% of the cost of it brand new.

If I’m shopping at a charity shop or jumble sale, I always go for branded items and stay away from items sold by Asda, Tesco, Sainsburys, and Primark (because the quality isn’t very good, and usually it’s just as cheap to buy new from those places). I always look over the items carefully, checking to make sure there are no pulls, rips, or holes in the item, making sure zippers work and all buttons are attached. If there is a problem, I look to see if it’s fixable. One time, the person on the till noticed a cardigan I wanted had a (fixable) hole in it and knocked it down to £2. I rarely try thing on in the shop because the prices are so low I don’t mind passing the items on to other people, but most shops do have an area to try something on if you are so inclined and also offer a return policy.

Purchasing items off eBay or other online communities gets trickier. I tend to read the descriptions well and examine all the photos. I trust that the sellers will indicate if something has a rip or stain simply because they do not want negative feedback. I also base if something will fit me off of what size I already own of that brand. I’ve only had two instances where that hasn’t worked, and it was due to the fabric of the item. Fortunately, many eBay sellers are willing to let you return items that do not fit.

And when I shrink down further and need smaller sizes I can re-donate the clothing to a charity shop, jumble sale, or I can try to re-sell the items myself. Win-win.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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Help Raise Money for Miss M’s Hysterectomy Fund! ** Donations Needed **

I blogged about my friend, Miss M, last week. She’s had a few updates since then, and in her own words:

You can follow the progress of visits, current health, etc on my blog with my hysterectomy tag but this is just a summary of the situation. The full details can also be found here:

Memorial Day Weekend [Note to UK readers: US Memorial Day weekend is the same weekend as our bank holiday -R] I went into the ER after two days of non-stop severe pain. Many tests and an overnight stay later, it turns out that my uterus is full of tumors.I have multiple softball and multiple baseball sized fibroid tumors and equally large cysts. The total mass is approximately the size of a basketball.

I was on a fast-track for a hysterectomy when my OB/GYN discovered that it was worse then initially believed and I’m too high risk for surgery. High risk is 250 grams of tumors. I’m at over 1,200 grams. I am now on a shot to induce medical menopause in order to attempt to shrink the tumors prior to surgery. The larger the tumors, the more complicated and lengthy the surgery, the more time I will be under anaesthesia, the more complications and blood transfusions I will need. So we’re trying to get them shrunk at least half.

I work a part-time job that does NOT give me insurance. I also do NOT get paid for any time off period. So I’m already out two weeks of pay with many more to come. (When I do have surgery, I’ll be out 4 weeks in unpaid recovery as well.) I have already applied for and been denied financial and medical assistance by the state. I’m asking anyone who can help for your support as a result.

I need a total of $2,600 just to pay my OB/GYN, $1,400 of which must be up front before the surgery. This does NOT include the hospital, anaesthesiologist, radiology, etc. It also does NOT include the fees for the office visits and tests pre-op. (I’ve already spend $463 on those as of June 7th)

How can you help Miss M? Several ways —

First, you can make a direct donation to Miss M via this link: Link will take you directly to PayPal, the safest way to send money online. If you’d prefer, Miss M can provide her PO Box for a physical cheque.

Alternately, Miss M could use some help with her groceries while they are down to one income, and I’m sure gift cards for Wal-Mart or Target would be well appreciated! Or to Michaels, so Miss M could get more crafting supplies to make more things to sell. Miss M lives in Tampa, FL, so please check before sending other store gift cards to make sure she has one local.

Second, you can take a look at her Etsy shop, PhoenixFireDesigns, or her Website, PhoenixFireDesigns. Miss M makes beautiful jewellery, and like I said in a previous post, I have many items made by her including a Tree of Life necklace, a personalized Bird’s Nest necklace, snowman earrings, and several custom pieces. I always look at Miss M’s site first when I need a gift for someone!

Here is just a small selection of items Miss M has for offer:

[all images above are © PhoenixFireDesigns and used with permission]

Third, you can take a look at the items donated by her friends over on PhoenixFunds. Currently, there are some children’s items, chocolates, and accessories listed, with more being listed as they come in. I plan on donating some 8×10 photographs and a few pieces of jewellery this weekend.

Forth — If you are a crafter and would like to donate an item for sale in PhoenixFunds, please let me know in the comments. We are looking for anything handmade, as well as craft supplies and vintage items (basically, anything that can be sold on Etsy. This also includes patterns for things). You can either send your donated item directly to Miss M for listing, or email detailed photos/description of your item. If you choose to hold onto your item, you will be responsible for shipping the item when it sells. If you sell on Etsy or on an external website, Miss M would be more than happy to link back to your site as a thank you.

Fifth….Promote this. Please re-post this post or a version of this post, post the links to the shops, post a link to my post here or to Miss M’s blog at giveneyestosee. Miss M is also on LiveJournal, and can be found as memoryanddreamover there.

I have been friends with Miss M for years, and we have met in person several times. I have been to her house and met her partner and her kitties, so I can vouch that this is 100% legitimate. Miss M prefers not to use her real name online, however I assure you I do know her real name. Out of respect for Miss M, I will not refer to her as anyone other than Miss M on my blog.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you can help in some way!

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

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Extreme Tesco

In the US, a new show on TLC has been raising eyebrows everywhere called Extreme Couponing. I’ll link to one of the blurbs for an episode below, but you can very easily search for Extreme Couponing on YouTube and pull up loads more clips, including personal videos by some of the people on the show where they give extensive “tours” of their stockpiles. If I linked to every single YouTube video I’ve watched, it would be a very long list. The show isn’t available in the UK (or if it is, it’s not on the channels I get), so I have to watch the segments on YouTube.


The show has been also raising eyebrows all over the blogosphere, too (yes, those are all separate links). Lots of legitimate couponing sites (again, google for more) have been blasting the show’s policies, including the people on the show using coupons for the wrong items in order to lower their bill.

The idea behind the show is to save as much money as you can on your grocery bill, by ANY means possible, even if it means buying coupons online for $70 or dumpster diving for discarded coupon inserts.

I love saving money as much as anyone else, but there’s a reason the show is called “extreme”!

In the UK, couponing isn’t a big deal. Every once in a while there might be a coupon for something in a magazine or through the post, but there are no Sunday inserts — most of the grocery stores don’t even put out weekly fliers. But every time you walk around one of the shops with your grocery list, you’re bound to find at least half of the items on your list on special offer, and if you are really pressed for funds, you can purchase things off of the ultra-value line, where cans of soup cost 17p. I get a little thrill when our total is shown as £58 and then the cashier scans our clubcard and the total gets reduced to £35.

A few weeks back, Tim and I went to Tesco armed with £9.50 in clubcard vouchers and whatever loose change we had in our pockets (well, and our debit cards). We set ourselves a goal of spending as close to £10 as we could.

Here’s a copy of our receipt:

As you can see, we spent £1.49 out of pocket.

I consider this an awesome shopping trip, but was it extreme? No, probably not. For one, we didn’t deliberately buy things just to get them “for free”, and in fact we added the Red Leicester cheese and the Lighter Cheese (on an offer 2/£3) just so we would definitely spend more than our vouchers.

But take a look at some of the other things we purchased:

Wholemeal Bread 47p
Tinned Pineapple 43p
Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (Generic Nutella) 86p
2L Sparkling Water 16p

All of the above items came from Tesco’s “value” range. The jar of chocolate hazelnut was larger than the largest jar of Nutella and the Nutella was over £3. Fortunately, we had tried the Tesco brand before, and actually like it. I can’t tell a difference at all between it and Nutella. And it’s less than £1. Sparkling water? Sure, I could have gone for one of the brands, but in my opinion, water is water. I’m going to pour it into a glass and top it off with some fruit squash, so does it really matter? The same with the pineapple – it’s an ingredient in another recipe. The value tin came in syrup instead of juice, but I’ll rinse off the pineapple before I use it. The bread probably wasn’t the greatest. It’s really thin slices of bread, but it doesn’t taste bad.

Granted, on a regular shopping trip, we probably would have picked up Nutella, Buxton brand water, and Kingsmill bread, but we were deliberately trying to see what we could get for approximately £10 and I wanted to try out some of the Tesco value line products.

What I learned? The value products really aren’t bad. And if it means I spend only £20 on weekly groceries, I’ll take it.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

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Save your Feet!

I bought a new pair of HIGH heeled boots a few months back…and when I say high, I mean high.


(pardon the pasty legs, the flash went off and I was wearing nude tights!)

The heel on those is about 3 inches. And these are for a person who never wears heels. I mean, I do on occasion, but my usual heels are only about an inch or so. But I loved these boots!

I wore them a lot to try to break them in, and I moved the insoles out of a different pair of heels to try to make them more comfortable. Tim bought me these thick heel wedges at Pound Stretcher to try to help…but always, after an hour or so, the balls of my feet would be in terrible pain from all the strain/pressure.

It really upset me, because these were NOT cheap boots (though I did score them on a sale!). I figured I would just have to suffer through it until my feet got used to the height of the heel, but then I was in Boots a few days ago and I found these. Ball of Foot cushions. They don’t go in your shoe, it has a loop for your second toe and then you position it under your tights/sock/whatever. And my feet felt so good! The only weird thing is getting used to the toe loop, but honestly, after about 10 minutes I forgot it was there. The pads are washable, too, so if they start to get funky you can just wash them in the sink. I’m so happy. Now I can wear my fantastic boots all day, everyday.

I also like that since it doesn’t stick to a shoe, I can use them in other pairs of shoes. Maybe my chorus shoes won’t be so painful any more!

[Please note: I am not being compensated by Evans, Scholl, or Boots to advertise their products. It’s just a product that works for me!]

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Update on Shopping at Weis….

Today, I received this in my inbox:

Dear Ms. S,

I apologize for our vector security guard asking you to check in empty plastic bags at the customer service desk. I talked to the security guards supervisor, and made sure he covers with all of his guards, the necessary policies Weis Markets has, which doesn’t include empty bags.The next time you visit our store ask for me, Carl Zartman. I would like to meet you, and apologize in person. Thank you for your continued patronage.

Carl Zartman
Store Manager Weis #41
Phone [717] 392-6511

Good to know that barring reusable bags is NOT Weis policy and was just the security guard being a moron. I haven’t gone over to that Weis since the incident happened, but I suppose I’ll go over there next time and ask for Carl since he wants to apologize to me.

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Groceries US vs. UK

Tonight, my mom and I went over to the Weis Market in the Manor Shopping Center (Lancaster, PA). We usually grab one of the mini-carts and put our reusable bags on the bottom half while we shop. As we walked in the door, the security guard stationed by the door tried to tell us that we needed to leave our bag(s) with the customer service desk while we shopped. We explained to him that they were our grocery bags, and his comment back to us was “people still could use them to steal stuff”. The overall impression I got off this security guard was that he somehow thought Mom and I were going to steal groceries and that’s why we were bringing in bags. I’ve never felt so offended before going grocery shopping. If this is going to be a trend with that store, we simply won’t shop at it anymore!

And then when we were checking out…it seems to me that if you bring in your own bags, the cashier doesn’t make any moves to assist you with packing up your purchases. Even if they have finished ringing you up and you have paid and the remaining items are out of your reach. No, you must stretch yourself to try to push them down to where you can reach them.

I compare this type of service to the service I regularly received at Tesco in the UK. Never once were we stopped by anyone for bringing in reusable bags, in fact, they encourage reusable over plastic and offer you 3p off your order for every bag you bring in. If you need plastic bags, you need to ask the cashier to give you some. Also, as soon as you start packing your groceries, the cashier always asks if you need help packing and will do their best to ensure that you can reach all your purchases.

I could be looking at grocery shopping in the UK through rose coloured glasses, but I never came across a rude cashier or stocker in any of our trips to Tesco. Matter of fact, I even received help finding an item in the store from an employee who was off-duty doing her own shopping when she heard me tell Tim I couldn’t find an item off our list!

I wish Weis was more like Tesco (and I wish they didn’t charge over $7 for the tiniest bottle of Ribena you can get for under £1 in the UK!). I’ve also sent in a complaint via the Weis Market’s website. I had wanted to speak with the store manager, but there was a long line at customer service and only one woman behind the counter. I didn’t want to cause a huge fuss asking for a manager to complain to when clearly, they needed help dealing with all the customers.

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UK Road Trip Part VII: Nottingham

Sorry I haven’t been keeping up here, I was under the weather for a few days thanks to a lovely cold that seemed to come and go and the card reader on my laptop broke so I had to get a new one.

Last week on Tim’s day off, we headed towards Nottingham. Yes, Nottingham as in the Sheriff of. The plan was to spend the day in Nottingham, and then head out towards IKEA Nottingham for the evening — Tim hadn’t actually ever been to an IKEA and after his sister and I harped on him to go, he agreed to go with me!

We parked at a park and ride and took the tram into town. It was a much smoother ride over the bus we had in York! We purchased day passes and decided to ride it down to the end of the line before it turned around and the ticket-taker (conductor?) was very nice and gave us some advice about going to the castle grounds and how to get there. So we headed towards the castle, and on the way we spotted a Sci-Fi/Comic shop. We had to go in, and I came out with a Captain Jack figurine and a TARDIS phone charm. Shortly after, we saw a sign that said “The Hub” and I couldn’t stop giggling.

There isn’t an actual castle in Nottingham anymore, but there is a mansion turned into an art gallery on the castle grounds, so we headed towards that and climbed up the 130 foot high cliff. I love castles, but why do they always have to be at the top of cliffs? We had an enjoyable walk about the museum until I started not feeling well. We left, and after a stop for some hot chocolate and muffins, headed back to the trams and the car.

We made it over to IKEA though, and had a wander through the showroom and marketplace. Despite not buying any furniture, Tim still managed to buy £46 of household goods. We headed home and didn’t even bother unloading the car. We got inside, I took some medicine and slept. The next day I woke up briefly when Tim did, and then stayed in bed until early afternoon.

For more photos:

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UK Road Trip III: Hay-on-Wye and the Brecon Beacons

We set off early the next day for Hay-on-Wye, a small town at the edge of the Brecon Beacons that is known for it’s book festival and book shops….a map we picked up contained a full listing and there were 29 stores all within the small town!

We didn’t go into all the shops…quite frankly, I would have been afraid of our budget as well as our backs if we had! As it is, we picked up about 20 books between the two of us. We did avoid some of the specialty shops, but imagine Tim’s surprise when we ducked into a Social Sciences store for me and he wound up purchasing two railroad books!

We also got to admire the Hay Castle, a lovely falling-apart building (that had apparently survived a fire in the mid-70s). In the courtyard was a honour system based store with books that had been left to be reclaimed by the elements. 30p/book, which sounded like a great bargain until you started to look at the books and realized they were all water damaged and faded and in some cases partially growing into the foliage!

We stopped for a bit of lunch in a small mom-and-pop sandwich shop. The shop owner immediately recognized my accent as being American and asked where I was from, then asked “is that a Pennsylvania accent”, so I had to explain I grew up in New Jersey and he said to me “oh, I thought I heard a bit of a New York accent there”…which *really* puzzles me because I don’t think I have an accent from NY/NJ at all! He and his wife had gone to New York the previous spring, so we had a chat about that in between bites of (my first) toastie.

We left around 2, and on the way back to the car picked up some delicious fudge. The view from the carpark was beautiful – rolling welsh countryside dotted with sheep.

We had a leisurely drive through the Brecon Beacons (and I didn’t get eaten by cannibals!*) and arrived in Cardiff sometime around mid-afternoon….

the view from the carpark

More photos:

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All’s Quiet on the Western Front….

Sorry I’ve been quiet lately. I came home from camping and developed a slight cold, so I’ve mostly been staying in bed, eating soup, drinking tea, and reading books. My long-awaited package from Tim finally arrived,and he sent me four books for my birthday (he knows me so well), so I’ve been glad for the distraction. I’ve also been watching some of the DVDs I brought with me to just pass the time while I tried to recover from this.

I had to venture out on Wednesday to buy some groceries, as I was down to either eating pizza crust (with nothing to top it with) or Ramen noodles for the third day in a row. I walked down to the Extra Foods, which happens to be “cheaper” over the Safeway across the street. Since I’m sick, I really wanted vegetable soup, and I was feeling too lazy to make some from scratch. Would you believe none of the brands carried Vegetarian Vegetable? Every can I picked up had beef stock in it….I finally found Campbell’s Vegetarian for $2/can! I abandoned that idea and picked up a can of generic tomato instead ($0.69). What is it with prices up here? It’s not even that I’m trying to buy American brands…even Canadian brands and store brands of things often seem really high compared to what I’d pay for them at home. A box of Twinings Tea was nearly $4, at home it’d be $2.50. A jar of store brand green olives here was almost $3, at home I can sometimes get it for even just $1. Even milk is crazy expensive. a 4L big jug (the equivalent to a gallon in the US) was well over $4, and a carton of eggs cost me $2.50! And don’t get me started on cheese. No matter what brand or type I try to buy, it’s consistently expensive, expensive, expensive. Ugh. I tried buying in bulk on some items since I’ll still be here for another month, and things really weren’t any cheaper…I bought 18 eggs instead of 12, a big container of yogurt instead of individuals….and I still really don’t think I saved a whole lot. *sigh*

I also became a klutz on Wednesday. Sarah and Joe have a water cooler that also has a hot water dispenser on it, so I’ve been making iced tea using the hot water from it instead of heating water on the stove. I was putting water into a glass pitcher and the bottom of the pitcher fell right out from under! I didn’t even notice it had cracked the whole way until scalding hot water started to get onto my arm. Then, a few minutes later I was removing dinner from the oven and I was stupid and burned myself on the oven door. It’s a nice big burn, too. And of course it’s in a spot where I can’t actually see it unless I hold my arm up in front of the bathroom mirror. Whoops.

I’ll round out the post with a few photos I’ve taken while stuck indoors, including one of the cats thwarting my attempt at making the bed yesterday morning.

Broken pitcher. Look how it cut itself perfectly along the bottom!

Hobbes and Quincy check out the package from my mom (I bet they smelled Will!)

The cutest slug(?) I’ve ever seen

Casper, Quincy, and Hobbes arranged in such a way that I couldn’t make the bed.

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Going Green

I didn’t leave the house yesterday,and I probably won’t today…I’m currently glued to the Olympics. Weather also says it’s supposed to storm, and I don’t want to get caught out in that, since I forgot to pack my umbrella.

I’m still not sleeping well. I’ve been here for a week, and I keep wanting to go to bed around 11PM CST, and then I’ll wake up around 130, 3, 5, and then 7. Usually I’ll wind up giving up on sleeping somewhere between 8 and 9AM CST. Sometimes I fall back asleep quickly, sometimes it takes me a while to get back to sleep. The sleep timer on the television has been a big help. Every time I wake up, Casper thinks it’s time to play, and he’ll jump up on the bed and get right up in my face. This morning he accidentally swiped my nose with his claw.

I also wanted to pass along a link to a website I was given: For the cost of shipping ($5.99 in the US) you can get two free LARGE reusable grocery bags. The more reusable bags we use, the less plastic, and this means there will still be a world to travel on. Several countries have banned free plastic bags, charging a tax if you require one, and many US cities are giving it consideration, too. I’m all for it. We leave the reusable bags in the trunk of the car, so we always have them when we go shopping. Up here, I’ve been taking my backpack with me to the grocery store along with an insulated bag ($2 at Weis markets), and between the two, I manage pretty well. Most grocery stores sell reusable bags for about a dollar these days. Even Wal-Mart gets into the act. Wal-Mart in the US had been selling black reusable bags for $0.50, Wal-Mart here sells large plastic reusable bags for CDN$0.97, made from recycled plastic bottles. Some stores even offer credit for bringing in bags to reuse. Weis Markets gives a three cent credit per bag you bring in (when they remember). Use a bag 33 times and it’s paid for itself!

Sarah and Joe have done a lot to their house so things are more environmentally friendly. From special windows, to cork floors, to a special toilet that uses less water. You can read all about the changes on their blog. The post is about a year ago when they were still in the process of moving, but it explains things far better than I possibly could!

Oh, and because I thought this photo was cute, here’s naptime for the cats:

(click for bigger)


You Can Take the Girl out of Lancaster County…

…but you can’t take Lancaster County out of the girl!

I wanted snack food. For the past few days I’d be watching TV or something around 10PM and just wish I had a handful of pretzels or chips to munch on, so today I decided to go get something to munch on in the evenings. There’s no Gibbles, no Utz, no Hanover….not even Snyder! The only pretzels I could find looked…not very good, so I settled for some salt and vinegar chips…and I bought the brand closest-sounding to home:

Old Dutch.

Oh, and how cool is it that the potato chips are in a box?

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Rude Canadians?

Wow, I really bought into the old stereotype of “All Canadians are nice and polite” until today. I finally had my experience with a rude Canadian.

Last night, I really wanted a milkshake. I couldn’t remember which A&W Sarah told me was okay to go to, so today I decided to just walk down to the McDonald’s and get a milkshake. There was a family ahead of me – two kids, and two adults, and a teenager, who I wasn’t sure if she was with the family or on her own, since she was significantly older than the other two children. The counter person called “next”, and I hesitated for a minute to try to get the teenager’s attention to see if she was next or part of the family, when the man behind me not only barreled in front of me, but banged into me and practically sent me to the floor in his rush to get to the counter! Wow. I mean, if he had really wanted his Lunch that badly, I might have been nice and let him ahead, but I see no reason to push forward.

My second incident of rude – In order to get to the grocery store from Sarah and Joe’s, you have to cross the “highway” – it’s 4 lanes, but there *is* a crosswalk, and I was told that usually people will stop if they see someone waiting to cross, otherwise, you wait for it to be clear and then walk across like a normal crosswalk. I approached the crosswalk, and the cars on the opposite side of the street both stopped, and the car in the left lane on the side I was on stopped. There was a car coming in the right, but I figured as long as the other cars were stopped, it would stop too, so I started across. That jerk sped up! I had to RUN across the right lane so I could finish crossing. Seriously, what? If all the other cars are stopped for the pedestrian….shouldn’t you?

On the flip side….I talked to the man at the small vegetable stand outside the safeway,and he told me how to find the farmer’s market for next Friday (I’m too pooped right now!) and he sold me a cucumber for CDN$0.25, when he was selling them as “nine for $5”!

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of McDonald’s, I noticed what we would refer to as the “dollar menu” is called the “value menu” and most of the items are CDN$1.39, which when you do the conversion, is US$1.30. So even the fast food is more expensive here! But, they do have a CDN$0.99 Mini Milkshake – it’s the size of the happy meal drink and perfect when you just wanted a little bit of milkshake!

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Shopping in Canada

I was so concerned before my trip about being able to figure out what the current temperature was outside (Multiply degrees in C by 9, then divide by 5, then add 32 to get degrees in F), that I never really stopped to think about the actual act of grocery shopping in another country.

So, here’s a few things I’ve learned so far that might be of help to other travelers:

  • Become familiar with the currency and the conversion rate. I’m fortunate that Canada uses the Canadian Dollar and so the denominations are all the same with the exception of using a one dollar and two dollar coin instead of bills. This morning, I had $10 in loonies and toonies in my purse! Also remember that when you go to convert money back to US currency, most places won’t take coins, even if they are the dollar and two dollar coins. The Canadian dollar is worth about US$1.03, so it’s nearly an even exchange. I can easily convert in my head to figure out how much I’m spending in US Dollars. (And it’s not pretty. Wow, stuff is expensive here!)
  • Learn the Metric system. I wanted to buy some cheese for sandwiches, and I stared gobsmacked at the signs for a good 10 minutes “$2.09/100g”. What’s 100g? 100g is a little less than 1/4 of a pound. So, if you wanted “one pound” of cheese, you’d need to order 100-500g. Fortunately, the deli scale at the Safeway measured in both pounds and grams, so when I explained I was a poor confused American who wanted a half pound of cheese, she was able to measure it out in pound format.
  • Be prepared to spend more money on “American” items. I didn’t come with any toiletries because I wanted to save on the room in my suitcase. I sort of wish I had brought some along, anyway. I still haven’t bought any body wash, because I haven’t been able to justify the CDN$6.99 (US$6.70) for a bottle of body wash. I’ve been using the crappy bar of soap I snagged from the hotel in Winnipeg. I usually get the cheap store brands for around US$2.50….that kind of stuff doesn’t exist here. I also couldn’t find my cheap shampoo. I use the VO5 .99 stuff because it’s good and it’s inexpensive. I couldn’t find VO5, but I did find Suave shampoo in the same strawberry scent I usually get. CDN$2.53 for a double pack of the Shampoo/Conditioner. Not a bad price, but not the brand I usually get. I wonder how much space/weight a bottle of body wash would have taken up? Oh well, too late now! I wonder if Bath and Body Works ships to Canada?
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