Staying Alive in the 905


When I go to the One of a Kind Craft Show tomorrow in Toronto I will seek out one of my favourite vendors – Joanne Jones of Mined Recreations, Cambridge.  In fact, I purchased my discount admission via the email link she sent to me. I met Joanne a few years ago at Toronto’s The Clothing Show. 

Her product caught my eye because it had a polished, well finished, professional look.  I’ll be honest I usually walk by most vendors of clothing or accessories made from recycled materials.  Let’s face it – I’m 53 and I have no desire to revisit my granola chick days.  Been there, done that! It’s a style best reserved for the young.

However Joanne’s handbags and mitts are tasteful and stylish.  My Midgey bag has served me well and… because of the real wool blanket used it keeps my lap warm in arenas.  I wish I’d purchased those cashmere mittens I tried on!

“Mined” doesn’t just refer to the mining of old sweaters, coats, ties and denim for her materials.  Mined is denim spelled backwards and the first bags she made were from denim. 

(Above) One of Joanne’s Shearer bags!

What I really like is that Joanne does this as a hobby and donates part of her proceeds to help educate young women in South Africa.  Visit her web site and learn about those young women.  Also check out her section about custom orders.  I love the story about using a WWII blanket to make bags for the daughters of a veteran.

Happy shopping!


I can’t put this factory sale in the Bargain Buys category but it is definitely a discount on a quality product.

Two years in a row, while accompanying my husband on business related trips, I admired the very simple but chic bag carried by his colleague.  She used it as a purse and carry-all combined and…. though made of waxed cloth…it looked just like a brown paper bag.  I later discovered they are made in the Cambridge area and then learned of this annual sale.

This event only happens once each year.  Last year I ventured to this very old Hespler neighbourhood and inside an old factory (or is it a mill?) I found the headquarters of the Brave Brown Bag company.  The sale inventory was not vast but I bought gifts for several people.  I enjoyed being in the actual work room where the product is made and meeting the women behind the product. 

Brave Brown Bag (le sac de Charlotte) is a division of the Charlotte McKeough Co. Inc., 125 Guelph Ave., Cambridge (Hespler). Apparently Charlotte started making these bags years ago in her home in Toronto – then had the sense to move herself and the business west to Cambridge.

Last year at this event some of the fabric was available for sale also.  It would make wonderful outdoor table cloths. The bags are becoming popular in New England.  Lucky for me – the factory sale is a short drive from my home in the West 905.  You may want to look at their web site before you go.


I read about this fundraiser today on the f word.  The f word  is an email fashion newsletter published by F-List. I subscribe to it.  I am assuming they won’t mind if I help spread the word about a fundraiser that helps fund hockey for those who could not otherwise afford to play.   

Greenshag gives a puck and so should we!  I will definitely log -on to shop December 3 if I can’t get into Toronto to visit the store.  I salute Greenshag menswear for supporting this cause and… for making the offer available both to in- store shoppers and online shoppers.  Mark your calendars.  After years of raising money for my sons teams it will be nice to support an initiative to make hockey available to the less privileged.

I CONFESS – I COPIED THE FOLLOWING DIRECTLY FROM  Greenshag’s website. (but I added the link to their site) 


GreenShag hockey cufflinks

Give a Puck Shopping Event

We’re Giving a Puck… so should you.

WHEN:    Thur, Dec 3rd 10am – 10pm 
WHERE:  670 Queen Street West and/or

$20 from every pair of GreenShag cufflinks sold on Dec 3rd will go to the Hockey Night In Canada Help Fund – helping kids who can’t afford to… play.  Giving a Puck has never felt so good.

Also up for sale: various signed memorabilia from your esteemed HNIC announcers and NHL players – including genuine NHL game pucks and jerseys. 100% of these proceeds go to the HNIC Help Fund.


Read about the HNIC Help Fund.

Visit the F-List blog, sign up for email and follow-on Twitter.

Last night my dinner was prepared by a personal chef.  My friends and I were able to relax and watch Chef Jonathan McDonough prepare our four course meal.  Chef Jono is his corporate identity.  We were among 24 people gathered at tables in the test kitchen at the Hamilton Spectator for the one of the GoCooking fall sessions.

I subscribe to the Spectator and I’ve seen the advertisements for their cooking sessions on numerous occasions.   Each time I thought I would like to attend one of them.  Each features a different theme and chef. 

Thanks to friend Denyse, who made the booking in October, six hockey moms had a well deserved night out.  We came away with many tips we are eager to try.  Chef Jono presented a novel salad idea that I want to save as a surprise for my next guests. 

We watched and learned as Chef Jono demonstrated at an island with large mirrors mounted overhead.  He made a sophisticated looking salmon appetizer look incredibly simple.  He demystified some other culinary tasks and shared some recipes.

Our chef has an impressive list of creditentials.  He has worked at many top restaurants in Toronto and is the co-founder of ShaSha Bread Co. Inc.  As a self-employed personal chef he currently runs a catering business and conducts cooking classes.  Last night his company was involved in catering the It’s Always Something event held in Toronto to raise money for Gilda’s Club Toronto.

Two of his creations made use of  his own vinegars/dressings available in three flavours at specialty food stores such as Denningers and at Longo’s supermarkets.  We sampled the Pomegranate Balsamic and Blueberry Pepper.   I purchased both.  I will try the Hot Mango Pepper Sauce another time.

I see that the Spectator still has room at the table for the last fall session on December 1.  It features a Mediterranean theme with local chef Mark Farrugia.  Watch in early December for information about the upcoming winter series of events.

I hope to attend another of these sessions in the New Year. 

I visited the Chef Jono’s site today.  There are tips for party planning, recipes and information about his product.

Wines were presented by Roisin Furlong of Abuccuz Wine & Event Services, Dundas.


Smilebox is a fun program that allows total amateurs such as myself to put pictures and music together like this slide show below.

You can also use it to make cards, invitations and scrapbooks.  Smilebox provides hundreds of templates – seasonal, special occasion, or plain.

It’s free, unless you want more elements than provided.  Then you would have to pay for a premium membership to have access to more music selection or download your own etc. 

I made a few things with the free program and have recently paid for more selection and sharing options.

This is a collection of pictures I took during the grey days of late October when the only sunshine was provided by the leaves at Joe Sams Park in Waterdown.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Mellow Yellow '09
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox slideshow

As a result of my Twitter experience with the TassimoCanada product give-a-way I decided to change the topic for my bookmarking project.  I was such a newbie!  The more I used Twitter, the more  annoyed I became by the promotion of product on the real-time site.  I came to realize that I was in the minority so I decided to educate myself about the use of  Twitter for business, specifically marketing purposes. 

I am finding Twitter harder to grasp than Facebook.  That is because it is not as social as I expected.  I was unprepared for the self-promotion of businesses, blogs and products.  The constant re-tweet of tweets to counteract the immediacy that may have been missed first time around.  Almost like seeing the same commercials on television, over and over and over.  It really has become more business oriented than Facebook which I find is mostly social.

After reading many of the articles and blogs I bookmarked I realize that TassimoCanada is not unique in using social media for promotion and marketing.  I am impressed that they don’t tweet repeatedly.  However, I do have suggestions for them.  I think it is time for TassimoCanada to make their Twitter account into more of a two-way affair.  They are offering a magnificent give-a-way in return for followers and re-tweets.  How about posting links to coupons for discounts toward the purchase of the beverage pods?  How about information about where to purchase the pods?  How about a chance to purchase the machine at a discout for followers who tried but did not receive a “free” one?

I found some good advice and articles about best practices and measurement when using Twitter for business and learned about Twitter tools I did not know existed.

Now I really want to know how the number of tweets and followers translates into sales. If that is measurable.

Here is a link to my delicious bookmarks.



It seems my posts last week about the  Bosch/Kraft Tassimo promotion were actually read by some people.  Remember how I said that it seemed the online Twitter community was much like a real community and I felt left out?  (It did seem like the machines were first awarded to established bloggers. This could be because they are so active on Twitter that they knew about it first) I became very cynical after reading so many tweets.  Then I learned about the contest.  If Twitter users first followed @TassimoCanada and then tweeted about the brand they might win a Tassimo.  Hundreds of Twitter users set out to receive one. 

I think there was some truth to my statement about online communities resembling real communities.   Someone on Twitter, who I do not know, felt sorry for me and began to tweet for me to receive one also.  A couple of her followers did the same.  That was very kind.  There are good people everywhere – both in face to face and online communities.  Thank you @marcyberg for trying to get a Tassimo machine for me.  Thanks also to @blueskies29, @LydiaFernandes and @oceansj who tweeted on my behalf.

Please know this was not my intent – to somehow attract enough attention to receive a Tassimo by being cynical. 

 I then decided if you can’t beat em, join em! I decided to see if I could receive a Tassimo in their Twitter give-a-way without tweeting ad nauseum on their behalf.  I am following @TassimoCanada and I did mention the brand in some tweets. 

If I do receive one of these machines I will take it to my social media class and brew up some quick and easy beverages for all 20 students and our esteemed instructor, Martin Waxman.  Then I know  a couple of non-profit places that may like to have such a machine in their staff room and I would make it a donation to them.  I would even buy pods/discs for them.

This experience has inspired me to learn more about how companies use Twitter and to gather the stats re the Tassimo promotion on Twitter.  Perhaps it’s no different from a phone-in or mail-in contest except now we can see everyone who enters and how often they enter.  We also see all the thank you tweets and all tweets of praise.  Will we always be so willing to tweet and RT (retweet) on behalf of a company for a give-a-way product?

 Looking back over the past month @TassimoCanada produced 15 tweets on nine different days.  They only tweeted nine days in one month but asked for others to follow them and mention them.  They were successful.

 When I did a Twitter search I saw amazing results.  Early this week there were enough tweets mentioning @TassimoCanada  in five days to fill 100 pages on .  This search site stops at 100 pages of 15 tweets per page.  So in 5 days there were 1,500 tweets – most asking for a Tassimo coffee machine.  This could mean that the company is mentioned in 3,500 tweets or more since the Smart Talk event on November 7. That’s what I call a big return on investment for Tassimo’s original 15 tweets. 

When I checked I saw that TassimoCanada joined Twitter on Sept. 25, 2009.  twittercounter shows that as of Nov. 20 (today) Tassimo Canada has 1,801 followers and is following 438. If they follow you,  your chance of receiving a machine is greatly improved.

Bosch and/or Kraft is giving away a multitude of machines( I think 300).These are in addition to those already given out at the November 7 event in Toronto. They have invested in this promotion in terms of product but are relying on Twitter users to spread the word. It is a great freebie – worth $160 to $200, depending on the retailer.  It could be argued that in return for giving away a premium prize the Tassimo company is justified in asking for lots of mentions.  

One thing is certain – sales of the beverage pods will rise.  Everyone who received a free machine will be buying the pods.  Is this the new way to advertise?  Will we see many more campaigns like this?

Maybe I should have joined the chorus sooner.  I’m not sure.  I have learned through this experience that Twitter can be whatever we want it to be.  We can follow those individuals and companies who give us the information we want.  For me, that is information about events, social media, blogs, news, health, public relations, entertainment and travel. 

Henceforth, if I feel bombarded by endless product promo and sharing of successful give-a-way procurement I will adjust whom I follow.  I won’t criticize those who are participating.  I felt very “tweepish” after doing so.  This also resulted in some justified payback. 

I have no desire to get into any more twisticuffs.  I should not have mentioned specific tweeters by name in my protest tweets. As I prepare this post I see that many people have received the latest installment of Tassimo machines and are once again gushing.  I’m ignoring it.  Meanwhile, it doesn’t look good for this tweeter to receive one – they are not following me.  Perhaps this chapter is almost closed.  Am I finissimo with Tassimo?

What do you think?  Would you multiple tweet for a company in order to receive a prize or give-a-way?  I’ve learned never to say never.

What do people at advertising agencies think?  It doesn’t cost much to run a promotion on Twitter.  I see that Tassimo also has some new print ads in addition to the Twitter promotion. 

For an objective review of this “on-demand” coffee machine visit Bargainista’s blog. This was the first blog I ever bookmarked on my home computer two years ago and it remains my favourite.  The creator, Eden Spodek, passes on information about sales, discounts and writes unbiased product reviews.  I find we have similar expectations regarding customer service.

I do want to congratulate all who received a Tassimo on demand coffee machine.  Cheers!

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