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The Good Shopper Blog

"Canadian pride may not rest on our sleeves, but it resides deeply in our hearts."

Steve Miller


30
Mar
2013
18:06:39

Product Review: Canadian-Made BioSnax

By / Par: Andrea Willowcat - St. Jean Baptiste, Manitoba

Category / Catégorie: Product reviews

Dogs are awesome companions. They get us up off the couch and enjoying the outdoors, they cheer us up, help us out and improve the quality of our life. In return, all they want is TLC and healthy food & snacks. That's not too muck to ask, is it? 

I was instantly sold when I read about these made in Canada dog treats, "...the benefit of treat giving with the ultimate peace of mind." Perhaps this statement from BioSnax regarding their functional and healthy treats for dogs resonated with me as that is how I feel about feeding myself and my family. Frankly, it shouldn't be anything but the same for our canine family members, should it?

According to Patricia and Nick Grillo, co-founders of Northern Biscuit Bakery, it started with a bag of Canadian flour, fresh beef liver and a real picky dog. They soon discovered that tasty and healthy treats begin with fresh and simple ingredients. They are passionate about finding the freshest ingredients supplied from local mills, growers and suppliers. This company is also committed to their community in another way: they work with their local Community Living Ontario to employ intellectually disabled people to affix the labels onto the bags.

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I was the lucky one to receive some samples and even though I have not had a dog in my family for sometime now, I couldn't resist the opportunity to go far and wide to visit with some new and old puppy friends.

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Merf is a lab cross who used to be my pup once upon a time. Now she lives happily on a big ol' farm in southern Manitoba with a great family. She chases rabbits, visits neighbors, receives lots of love and hangs out in the shop with the guys. We brought Merf a bag of BioSnax's Shiny Coat, which contains the omega fats from both flax and chia seeds to aid with dry skin and promote a silky smooth coat. I made the mistake of giving the bag of treats to my girls and before I knew it, Merf had eaten the better part of the bag of treats! Probably not a bad thing for a dog who enjoys spending a lot of time out doors in these cold dry winters.

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This is Benny and he is a middle-aged city pug. Benny enjoys bones from the butcher, barking at dogs through the window, visiting his beagle cousin and hanging out with his human. I sent Benny the Fresh Breath BioSnax treats a combination that contains parsley, myrtle and Atlantic kelp all of which help with freshing breath, detoxifying and getting rid of bacteria. Benny sniffed and nudged the treat but to no avail, he was simply not interested. I guess we can't win them all, maybe future tries will change Benny's mind.

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This is Aksel and he's just an awesome northern elkhound lab cross pup. He is quite affectionate, will jump all over you, adores running and if you open the door he will be gone in a flash! Aksel needed a little Zen in his life so I brought him the Calm treats from Biosnax. Calm is filled with chamomile to soothe as well as the amino acid trypotphan found in turkey. Aksel's human sent me a message stating Aksel loved the treats. He also said that he noticed the calming effect it had on Aksel and will be looking for the product the next time he is at the pet store.

The final bag from BioSnax is the hip and joint treats. This treat features New Zealand green lipped mussels tart cherries and glucosamine all to help build cartilage, reduce inflammation and ease the effects of arthritis. I thought of giving the final bag away to another dog, but l couldn't help but keep it. You see, I keep a few in my bag and when I come across a pup I pull out the treats and the information to share with the owner and pup. I mean, how could I not tell everyone about this great Canadian-made treat from a great Canadian company! 

What kind of treats do you give your dog?

Image credits: Northern Biscuits Bakery, willowcat, Benny's human, Aksel's human

27
Mar
2013
18:06:39

My Canadian Weight Loss Journey - Month 4

By / Par: Isabelle Remy - Dorval, Quebec

Category / Catégorie: From Isabelle

Wow, has it been 4 months already!? The calendar tells me that, yes, I’ve been on a diet for 4 months and feeling great. And the scale (and measuring tape) tells me I’ve been doing really well. So far, I’m down 10 lbs with 5 inches less around the waist. YAY! (P.S. with zero exercise…)
 
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Here are the top 3 things I learned about myself and about nutrition in those 4 months (in no particular order):
 
1) Mindless easting & drinking is a killer: the first bite or sip of something is always the best. So I’ve learned to enjoy it to the fullest and reduce the amount of additional bites and sips that come after that first magical one!
 
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2) Having a plan is essential. Planning meals and snacks throughout the day keeps me and my appetite in check. Last-minute decisions made while hungry are always disastrous for me. I keep a food journal to record what I eat each day and how I feel (am I hungry? feeling weak?)
 
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3) Establishing routine eating times helps: I eat 3 meals a day plus 2 snacks. I tend to stick to the same snacks, as I know they work. My breakfasts and lunches are also pretty much the same day in day out, but I do vary the dinners. And I’m not sick of it yet!
 
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But the most important factor has been working with Tina at Thin Evolution. Together we created a personalized plan that integrates some of their Canadian-made snacks with my own home cooking. The gluten-free snacks are high-protein and low calories. They taste great, feel like a treat and keep me on task. Love that! Her support and guidance has helped me THINK about the food I eat in order to make healthier choices. We swap recipes and tips and connect once a week for my weigh-in.
 
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Tina's approach is one of long-term weight loss and maintenance, not just an overnight quick fix that will see you put all the weight back on (and some extra too!). If you’re looking to slim down a little for the warm season ahead, I encourage you to connect with her via Twitter or Facebook. Some of her snacks are available online at Costco.ca (or at Thin Evolution if you live in Montreal) and she can coach you by Skype if you wish! 
 
I am now starting to transition into the “maintenance phase”, where I will integrate some kind of physical exercise (just walking for now) to my new eating habits. This will allow me re-introduce some foods into my diet which I have cut-out during the weight-loss phase (mainly starches and the occasional glass of wine…). We’ll see if I can keep losing a little weight each week, as I have been doing since the beginning. Stay tuned!
 
Are you planning to lose a few pounds in time for summer?
 
Image courtesy of LordsFavors, PacificSource, Isabelle Remy, Thin Evolution and LookAtMyHappyRainbow.  

01
Mar
2013
18:06:39

Canadian Fashion Friday with Samantha Stylish - March 1st

By / Par: Samantha Stylish

Category / Catégorie: Shopping guides

If you are every looking for floral, frills, pastels and all that feminine fuss - Jordan de Ruiter is the label to wear! This young and talented designer named Jordan is from Creemore, Ontario and urges all of her customers to play dress up everyday! Playing "dress-up" is quite simple to do when sporting these fabulous Canadian-made dresses.  
 
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Her collection is sold at over five stores right across Canada, with new fashion boutiques adding on each season. For Spring 2013 we see whimsical dresses with detailed structure sewn into all the right places. These feminine looking pieces are made with Canadian-made quality sewn into each stitch in hopes that you wear these styles forever!  
 
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With the outfits I wore this week, you can see an elegant and vintage essence in each silhouette. My favourite, has got to be the Markova Dress with its modest neckline and subtle lace scallop detail. Jordan is able to take this classic lace bodice and pair it with an extremely fun over-sized ivory tutu. It's brilliant the way these two styles merge together to create a dress that any gal would love in their wardrobe!

Visit Samantha Stylish for more information on Jordan de Ruiter week!
 
Images courtesy of Samantha Stylish. 

15
Feb
2013
18:06:39

My Canadian Weight Loss Journey - Month 3

By / Par: Isabelle Remy - Dorval, Quebec

Category / Catégorie: From Isabelle

I am mid-way through the third month of my Thin Evolution weight loss program. I’m happy to report that I lost 7 lbs and my waist has been reduced by 5 inches! Considering my goal is to lose 15 lbs, I’m almost half way! Yay for me!
 
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As you can tell, this is not an “overnight” kind of weight loss. It’s gradual, manageable and realistic. Once I got over the first few weeks where I sometimes struggled with hunger and cravings, it has pretty much been smooth sailing. I eat less at each meal and feel fuller. My stomach has definitely shrunk!
 
My favourite part of this “diet” is the fact that I get to enjoy a mix of homemade favourites “lightened-up” and a selection of great tasting snacks that are high in protein and low in calories…and Made-in-Canada, of course! My favourites are still the 2 fruit bars: apricot & berry. I usually have them as my morning snack (around 10 AM) and they always feel like a treat. Love’em! Check out my daily eating schedule.
 
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As I mentioned in a previous post, I keep a food journal where I record everything I eat. I find this is the best way to stay accountable to myself and to keep track of my daily intake of protein, fibre, carbs, etc. It’s also useful at my weekly weigh-ins with my coach Tina from Thin Evolution, because she can see how my food choices affect my progress.
 
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I’m feeling great and looking forward to losing the balance of the weight, not to mention the inches! I am now posting once a month instead of once a week. Since the progress is slower (by MY choice) but steady, I’ll have more to report monthly than weekly. Next month: introducing some (gentle) exercise. Now that’s a whole other challenge…
 
How to YOU keep up with your weight loss goals?
 
Images courtesy of Thin Evolution 

14
Feb
2013
18:06:39

Product Review: Canadian-made Dad's Wiper Covers

By / Par: Isabelle Remy - Dorval, Quebec

Category / Catégorie: Product reviews

I confess: I am not a winter person. I don’t enjoy the cold, the wind, the snow, the freezing rain. I don’t ski anymore, I don’t ice skate, nor do I snowshoe. To me, winter means catching up on movies I did not get to see when they were in theatres, trying new recipes, playing games with the kids, planning vacations at the beach, etc. 
 
The only thing I dislike more than winter itself is cleaning off the car, and especially scraping the windows. Arrgghhhh … such a waste of time! And the windshield is the worst, especially when your wiper blades are stuck to the window. Trying to dislodge the blades without damaging them is an exercise in frustration. Clumps of ice stay on the blades and make a mess of the windshield. And of course, the part right in front of your eyes is always the one that doesn’t get wiped properly. Ever tried to clean off the blades at a red light, with your arm sticking out of the window to shake the blade when it comes up? You know what I mean, right?
 
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Recently I discovered an awesome Canadian solution to this decidedly Canadian problem: heavy-duty wiper covers created and made in Ontario by Dad’s Wiper Covers. The covers are made from the same high-quality vinyl used on snowmobile seats, which means they won’t crack or break in cold temperatures. The stitching is top notch and super-resistant, and they are large enough to slip easily on any windshield wipers. Just put them on when the forecast calls for snow or freezing rain, and you’ll be glad you did. Your wiper blades will stay clean and dry. Just slip them off and you’ll be ready to go in no time!
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And when they’re not in use, simply fold them away in your glove compartment or storage nook. They’ll be ready for next time! It’s such a simple idea and it really works. Not only do they simplify things, they also save you money by extending the life of your wiper blades. And at $18.99 a pair (with FREE shipping) these nifty wiper covers are excellent value and a great gift idea!
 
Who do you know would love a pair of these? 

08
Feb
2013
18:06:39

Canadian Fashion Friday with Samantha Stylish - February 8th

By / Par: Samantha Stylish

Category / Catégorie: Shopping guides

Fashion Takes Action

This week was dedicated to the only non-profit organization that focuses on sustainability in the fashion industry  - in CANADA!  This popular organization is called Fashion Takes Action (FTA) and was founded by social entrepreneur Kelly Drennan. She is one awesome lady, who is devoted to making change within the fashion industry - known for its many negative social and environmental impacts including labour, energy, waste, water, and the use of toxic chemicals. The FTA represents several labels that all have a dedication to eco practises and bringing sustainability to their customers through their clothing lines.
 
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Where to begin, when there were so many amazing outfits this week from a dynamic group of labels that manufacture in Canada! It was great to be introduced to several new brands, some faves were the Tess Barbieri Cranberry Fitted dress along with several pieces from the well-known Thieves label by Sonja den Elzen. Particularly loved the sailor jeans made from recycled polyester and hemp, they fit great and with proper care will truly last the test of time in design and quality. 

To read more on my review please visit Samantha Stylish and to see these designs up close, watch my latest video!
 
Images courtesy of Samantha Stylish 

01
Feb
2013
18:06:39

Canadian Fashion Friday with Samantha Stylish - February 1st

By / Par: Samantha Stylish

Category / Catégorie: Shopping guides

Black Daffodil boutique in the Junction Area of Toronto is filled with unique accessories and a variety of Canadian-made clothing labels. Store owner Cynthia does an amazing job curetting her store with everything a gal would ever need in building the perfect wardrobe! She also runs the Black Daffodil clothing label that merges 1940s glamour with wearable modern clothing for the everyday woman. Cynthia and her team love the classic sophisticated pin up woman aesthetic and strive to make that look possible to wear day to day. For their clothing line they choose mostly natural fabrics that breathe and have a bit of stretch for comfort.
 
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Besides the several reason to shop local - one of the best things in my opinion is: Often first prototypes are items the designers themselves are longing for in their own wardrobe! Therefore you are usually getting a quality piece that has been well thought-out. Black Daffodil designer Cynthia Rea went through exactly this - she wanted a pencil skirt that she could easily move in, as they are notoriously rigid. Therefore she created a masterpiece for us women, and believe me all week I have been enjoying the highest mobility in these comfy-chic skirts! See these skirts in action, in my latest video showing behind the scenes from my last photo shoot.

To read more on my review please visit Samantha Stylish.
 
Images courtesy of Samantha Stylish 

24
Jan
2013
18:06:39

Fashion Friday with Samantha Stylish - January 25th

By / Par: Samantha Stylish

Category / Catégorie: Shopping guides

A purse is truly your best friend, it usually lasts several years and can be found by your side at all times!  This week I fell in LOVE with the most beautiful purses and accessories from Montreal label, RIMANCHIK.

Founded in 2003 by a partnership between Sandra Singh and Victor Nolivos, this label today can be found at over 15 retailers right across the country. Sandra and Victor are self-taught designers with an experimental approach to design. They are  heavily involved in every part of their business, ensuring the most unique and quality design for their customers. I find this is common with several Canadian fashion companies, as they really do put their entire heart and soul into their product. This focus and enthusiasm for the business transcends through their product and into your hands! 
 
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Each season the RIMANCHIK collection shows us the highest level of Canadian-made workmanship as they perfect their styles using the highest quality materials. The fuchsia Penelope bag is a work of art, with its unique cut-out detail and brilliant mixing of leather, felt and more!  
 
The design and manufacturing is done in Montreal in-house at their studio where they devote their time to creating the best accessories incorporating edge, femininity, structure and color. To read more on my review please visit Samantha Stylish for more information on RIMANCHIK.
 
Photos courtesy of Samantha Stylish 

18
Jan
2013
18:06:39

My Canadian Weight Loss Journey - Weeks 6 & 7

By / Par: Isabelle Remy - Dorval, Quebec

Category / Catégorie: From Isabelle

In case you’re wondering why this post covers 2 weeks, it’s because I was on vacation week 6. So I gave myself a vacation from posting!

But here I am, back on the saddle! My hubby and I spent a week in sunny (and cold!) Las Vegas, our first time there. No, we did not win the jackpot. Yes, we were completely overwhelmed by the crazyness of that city. Definitely something to see. 
 
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One of the best parts of this week was that we walked SO MUCH every day, that I was able you indulge in food and drink without putting on too much weight. I suspended my diet for the week, but still stayed away from carbs and fried foods. But I did indulge in this sweet trio at the Bellagio:
 
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I can really feel a lifestyle change within me, as I am definitely more aware of what I eat and drink on a daily basis. The above was a mini-trio which I shared with my husband. The old me would have wolfed down the regular size all by myself. Thanks for that, Thin Evolution!
 
So upon my return the scale scolded me by announcing I had put on 2 lbs…rats... But after getting back on my program and showing up for my weigh-in today, I was pleased to see I had shed 1.5 lbs! Yay!

So now I’m back on track and motivated to keep making “healthy lifestyle choices”!

18
Jan
2013
18:06:39

Fashion Friday with Samantha Stylish - January 18th

By / Par: Samantha Stylish

Category / Catégorie: Shopping guides

Canadian Stefany Davies started her first clothing line in 2008, entitled Whirl Girl Design.
 
Today she runs Stefany Davies Design full time and has grown to mature the company and enlist her designer name to tell the world!  
 
This week on Samantha Stylish we saw five beautiful, comfortable and sustainable outfits from this eco-chic label.  
 
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As the wearer, I will brag that Stefany has found a brilliant way to merge structure with comfort and ease, and I promise you - she accomplishes this, every time!  I encourage you to get on her website or read the full five day review on my blog  to learn as much as you can about this great Canadian-made brand!
 
Images courtesy of Samantha Stylish