A Visit to The Box by No Frills Store in Hamilton

box-no-frills-store

Yesterday was the opening of a new grocery store in Hamilton.  While No Frills have opened a few of their small format stores “The Box by No Frills” across the country, this is the first within a reasonable distance to me.

Most The Box by No Frills stores are only 10,000 sq ft, compared to 25,000 for most No Frills and even larger stores for other Loblaws banner stores but they strive to sell the majority of things you will need in this small space.  They promise each The Box store will be tailored to the community, so no identical stores across the country, what sells well will be stocked and what doesn’t will not be restocked and the space used for items that do.

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As you can see from the images above, the selection of each type of product is limited, there is no full aisle of anything in The Box.  The aisles are arranged to maximize shelf space, so it can feel a little claustrophic, especially if people decide not to go up and down the aisles in order.  There are only four aisles (yes just 4 small aisles) , a little more than half of the store with a large produce section in front and the cash registers in front of them.

The prices will not vary weekly at The Box like most stores do, they have a few “Weekly WOW” deals (this week included 4L milk for $3.65, bread for $1.80 and Jane’s chicken for $5) but most prices are every day rock bottom prices.  While you can find these items cheaper if you wait for a sale, they are reasonable and if you are on a budget, it is great to know how much items will be before shopping.

For most items, they carry No Name and just a single brand name for the same product (Kraft and No Name peanut butter for example).  Rather than an aisle of pasta related items, there is two sections of pastas and one of sauces, just one section for all of the canned vegetables and a small bakery section.  The biggest shock to this is the cereal section which is tiny compared to most stores.  Items are often still in the boxes and they do not waste time making them look pretty.

One of the biggest complaints I heard while in the store was the household cleaners were in the same aisle as food and that strong “cleaner” smell you find in most household aisles seems to stick to the food.  There was no fresh food in that aisle, but it did include some bakery and cereals which absorb scents through the boxes.

box-carts

With the small format of The Box by No Frills stores, they also only have small carts.  This helps a little with the traffic of customers through the store but it is still a tight squeeze when people are on both sides of the aisle so a lot of waiting for people to pass to get items from the shelves.  Not much that can be done with this given the smaller size (except to recommend everyone follows the up one down the next aisle format).  It is probably not the kind of store you want to go shopping with children who run around.  The carts cost $1 rather than the usual $0.25 but staff were on hand with cart keys we got to keep for future visits to the store.

I can’t think of any items missing from The Box by No Frills but they did not always have my preferred brand.  While I will definitely be stopping by to pick up the fresh goods I can’t get at the Target store next door, I do not see it replacing my regular grocery store.  I tend to be brand loyal for some items and like the one stop shopping other stores can give me.  For those who do not drive and want to pick up the basics close to home (and on several bus routes), The Box will be a lifesaver.  With Sobeys now closed, there is little in the area until FreshCo opens across the street – but I think FreshCo will give it some serious competition.

I will be interesting to see if The Box format works for No Frills/Loblaws and if new ones open.

Garnier Fructis Color Shield Hair Care Influenster Review

Garnier Fructis Color Shield Review

I recently received a set of Garnier ColorShield hair care products from Influenster to review. Included in the box was

  • Garnier Fructis Color Shield Shampoo for colour treated hair
  • Garnier Fructis Color Shield Conditioner for colour treated hair
  • Garnier Fructis Color Shield Heat Protect & Shine Spray for colour treated hair

Garnier-Fructis-Color-Shield-Shampoo-and-ConditionerGarnier Color Shield Shampoo & Conditioner for colour treated hair

Stop dry out, fight fade out even after 45 washes! Color Shield Shampoo & Conditioner keeps colour bold and brilliant, hair silky and soft. Their unique, double-action formulas combines acai berry, a natural antioxidant that protects colour, and grapeseed oil, which prevents dryness. Garnier Fructis Color Shield is proven to perform.

This shampoo is a light pink colour and lathers well with a sweet smell.  My hair still felt a little greasy while washing, likely due to the grapeseed oil but did not look greasy once dry.  The conditioner is light and did not weigh my hair down but also did not leave it frizzy which often happens when my hair feels softer and has more volume.

Garnier-Color-Shield-Heat-Shine-SprayGarnier Fructis Color Shield Heat Protect & Shine Spray for colour treated hair

Protects against heat damage and boosts shine & vibrancy.  Formulated with camelia seed oil and acai berry extract, garnier Fructis Color Shield spray’s unique technology defends freshly coloired hair against heat and nourishes to extend shine and softness.    This complete defence product helps your fresh colour to last longer, protects against heat damage and boosts shine & vibrancy – for hair that shines with all its strength.

A little goes a long way with this spray, otherwise it will leave your hair feeling greasy.  My hair seemed to straighten more easily and you can almost feel the barrier on your hair protecting it as you straighten.  My hair is normally quite frizzy after drying and you can see from the image above that it was more wavy than frizzy after just blow-drying and straightened with less passes which also helps with protecting m hair from heat.

Overall

I like this product but will likely stick to Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser for shampoo/conditioner and only buy the Heat Protect & Shine Spray as it seems to work well for my hair.  The Damage Eraser seems to clean my hair better and not leave it feeling as greasy (even though it looks clean).

Full disclosure: we were only give a week to review this and my hair takes a while to get used to get used to new hair products and it is not enough time to review its colour shield properties of 45 washes.  These products were received free of charge from Influenster but I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own

CH-CHING: Get Rewarded For Watching TV

CH-CHing

Hamilton’s news station, CHCH TV is celebrating 60 years on air this month and to thank their loyal viewers, CHCH is introducing CH-CHing! – the country’s first ever broadcast TV loyalty program.

CH-CHing! is FREE! Just register at www.chch.com, and earn points to redeem for rewards such as gift cards, discounts, special offers, experiences and various goods from CHCH and its broadcast partners.  Viewers earn points by interacting with the CHCH brand on air and online, entering keywords from television programming, and watching and sharing news clips online.

Earn with CH-CHing!

Register for CH-CHing by June 30th and get a 6000 bonus point sign up bonus (plus there was a code during their 60-minute retrospective on CHCH’s history entitled 60 Years Strong with a bonus keyword code (if you missed it, the code is in the title – hint hint – enter it in all capital letters).

You get 100 points for sharing stories on facebook or twitter (max 3 times per day), 30 for watching shows like Sportsline and Square Off online and 50 for every 5 minutes of news you watch online.  Share by email and get 50 points and watch a news clip attached to a story and get 20 points – they really add up over time.  They will also have occasional partner content where you watch a popup advertisement for 2000 points.

Redeem Your CH-CHing points

You do not have to be in Hamilton to sign up, CH-CHing! is available across Canada excluding Quebec, but many of the prizes are from Hamilton area partners.  Just the sign up bonus and code from the retrospective was enough for me to redeem for a $10 ECS coffee gift card.  Most gift card redemptions are 1000 points per $1 but there are also physical prizes like CHCH ball caps and jackets, calendars and other items.

You can also redeem a small amount of your points for entries into contests.  Current contests are for a Nissan Micra, Holiday Valley Golf Stay for 2 and a Wild Water Kingdom pass for a family of 4.

Click here to register at CH-CHing! and see ways to earn points.

Herbal Essences Naked – BzzAgent Review

bzzagent-herbal-essences-naked

I received a package of Herbal Essences Naked Volumizing Hair Care to review from BzzAgent.  This was a very generous package of full size products plus travel sizes for friends and while I did have some issues with the Volumizing line, I paid for and tried the Herbal Essences Naked Moisturizing line and my review for that is included.

Herbal Essences Naked Shampoo

I was really torn by the volumizing shampoo, it leaves my hair feeling squeaky clean (crazy clean like they wash your hair in a salon) and the mint in it leaves your scalp feeling tingly and clean.  I could easily go an extra day between washes too.  As much as I loved the clean feeling, it did not leave my hair feeling manageable.  The whole line does help with volume but my hair was very frizzy after using this shampoo.  So when I was out last week, I saw the Herbal Essences Naked Moisturizing line on sale for $2.49 and picked up a set of that to try.  I likrf the Herbal Essences Naked Moisturizing line.  I got the same squeaky clean feeling as with the Volumizing but my hair was sleeker and easier to manage.

Herbal Essences Naked Conditioner

While I did buy the Herbal Essences Naked Moisturizing Conditioner, the Volumizing Conditioner works just as well.  It seemed to only be the shampoo that was giving me issues with manageability.  The  Volumizing Conditioner does help a little with the weight of my hair but the Moisturizing Conditioner left it shinier (at this point I feel like Goldylocks and want one that is in between!).

Herbal Essences Naked Souffle

By far the best of the set.  The Herbal Essences Naked Souffle smells great and really held my curls without any stickiness or visible residue.  A little goes a long  way to.  I have fairly long thick hair so often I need so much product it weighs down my hair and defeats the purpose of using it.  That was not the case with the Souffle at all and is the one I will carry on buying from the ones sent to review.

Herbal Essences Naked Line & Friends Reviews

Overall, I love the way that the moisturizing shampoo cleans my hair, but I have been following up with my regular conditioner to get that usual manageability.  I just do not have the time to spend an extra 10-15 trying to curl or straighten a frizzy mess but I will be passing on using the volumizing shampoo and conditioner in the future, they just do not work for me.

That being said, I gave the samples to both a friend and a coworker and they swear by the volumizing line.  Both have finer hair than me and more issues with volume (mine is naturally weighed down by its weight, their hair is shorter and helped by the product).  One has shoulder length hair that tends to be limp and no shape and she was literally bouncing around with happiness at her volume and the fact her hair was holding a curl.  The other has short curly hair and it helped give her hair a little more “ooomf” but she generally uses a lot of volumizing products anyway.  Both loved the clean feel of the shampoo and the scent of the entire line too.

So I guess it is just whether it works for you.

Check out other reviews as part of this BzzCampaign here.

imPRESS Press-On Manicure By Broadway Nails: Influenster Review

impress press-on manicure review influenster

I have actually tried imPRESS press-on manicure fake nails before as part of the first ever Canadian Influenster VoxBox last year but was delighted to get the design I mentioned I wanted to try back then.

The newest Influenster VoxBox comes with two sets of imPRESS press-on manicure nails, it looks like there were various colours sent out.  I received Control Freak (a bright pink) and Holla!  The Holla! design is hard to describe, depending on the light, the colour can look muted pink, purplish or a silvery bronze with a black lace and flower design over it.

imPRESS press-on manicure application

impress press-on manicure review influenster instructionsApplication is easy with imPRESS press-on manicure nails.  Go through the various sizes to find the nail that best fits your natural nails.  While it says go with the smaller size for best results, I personally found that a larger one filed to fit works better as the curve on the smaller ones can make it lift.  Lay the ten nails out in the order that you will use them (with patterned ones like these, you need to make sure the matching ones go on the right fingers).

Prep your nails as you would for painting your nails, wash your hands well and dry.  You do not want to be applying them when your nails are still damp.  Use the enclosed prep pad to wipe each nail to remove any leftover dust/debris/stay cat hair / whatever else.

Then you can start applying the nails.  Start from the baby fingers and do your thumbs last.  For each nail you just peel away the backing and press it down firmly.

To remove, you can soak your nails to help then apply some nail polish remover around the edges and they peel off.  Do not try to just rip them off if they are still well stuck, you will wreck your nails.  Then just buff your nails to remove any leftover glue or damage and smooth/shine before your next manicure.

imPRESS press-on manicure: My Experience

impress press-on manicure review influenster problemsI am really torn on these, I love the design and did not find them difficult to apply but I have quite a long nail bed and I found them quite short even after cutting my nails down completely.

I have read from other influenster reviewers that imPRESS press-on manicure nails did not last and came off after just one day.  I found the opposite.  I applied mine on Thursday during the day and wore them all weekend removing them today.  Some had lifted from the nail a little but despite washing my hair twice and a lot of typing and handwashing, they did stay on.

One of the mail reasons I removed them sooner than the 7 days they say they last is that I cannot stand tipwear and the beautiful design on my imPRESS press-on manicure was wearing away.  Now I put my nails through a lot, it is one of the reasons I often take the time to do an at home LED gel manicure so it is not surprising that they did not last a full week on my nails but the lifting was an issue for me.  As you can see from the image (right) the lifting was enough that my hair caught in it when I ran my fingers through my hair and the little tab on the tips of some of the nails makes them noticeably fake.

Overall, I can’t see myself wearing them on a regular basis but would definitely wear the design ones for a special occasion.  imPRESS Press-on Manicure by Broadway Nails have some beautiful designs and you know exactly how they will look (because you know a trip to the nail salon can end up looking like a 4 year old painted that cute flower on occasion).

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 Tips for wearing imPRESS nails:

  • You can heat it a little with a hair dryer before removing the backing, then flatten or curve it to match your natural nail so they fit better and stay on longer.
  • Nails have a tiny number on the back side at the tip, use this to match the nails for each finger and to remember your size for next time
  • You can file off the tabs if you are careful but they are not always the exact same colour under the tab when you go for printed nails

 

Live Below The Line Days 4 & 5

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Wow, the last week has been absolutely crazy!  On to days 4 and 5 of the Live Below The Line.   My week turned crazy busy so I did not have time to go looking for free fruit/vegetables with the new snapsaves rebates sadly but we still managed.

Over the two days we ate the rest of the pasta with meat/canned veggies in sauce we made (the next night using some cheese to make a pasta bake), some more beans on toast, chicken wit sauce).  On Friday I just could not face the oatmeal again and he was really hungry so he had two packets of Oatmeal and I used some of the potatoes we had prepared the night before for lunch to mash and make a couple of potato pancakes with 1/3 of the beans.

Friday was a crazy day for me and I was so tempted to grab my usual Second Cup smoothie when I finally left the office after 7.  Thankfully I had saved that orange for the last day and ate it on the train which gave me the sugar rush I needed.  I did however give in to my tea addiction and have a cup at a meeting on Friday, we had been in meetings for 4 hours with no breaks and 7 hours since breakfast, I just could not say no.  A cup of Tim Horton’s steeped tea has never tasted so delicious.

We came in under budget for the week with $0.74 left from the grocery budget but because we spent less on the first day we were very close on the daily budgets.  We had some pasta left over too.

I am very happy to say that I have not eaten cheese, oatmeal or beans since last Friday and we have nice bakery bread and not cheap sliced bread (oh Denningers, how I love your potato & onion bread).  While it is easy for us to go back to our normal eating/shopping habits, I really could not imagine being on that budget long term.  Our meals were very limited and far from healthy.  While you would not be stuck on daily budgets as well as weekly ones and could stockpile some items for various weeks and have more choice in meals, it still is very difficult.

We did treat ourselves to dinner out on Saturday, which even at a local family style restaurant cost over double our budget for the week.  A real eye opener seeing the bill for the meal compared to our grocery bill.

Live Below The Line Day 3

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Day 3 was harder for me.  I had a series of meetings at work starting with a breakfast meeting.  It was sobering to think that the $19 per person plate cost for the breakfast is more than we are spending for the two us all week.

In my head it makes sense to eat the free meal, which smelled delicious (and usually I complain about the heat lamped food at these things) but Live Below The Line doesn’t allow for free meals.  I guess it makes sense, most people living on so little would not have the kind of job where you are at meetings and offered tea/coffee and pastries or paid breakfast/lunches.  It was tempting to take a Tim Hortons at one though.  I am craving a steeped tea.

Live Below The Line Day 3 Meals

Breakfast: Oatmeal (what a surprise) $0.13

Lunch: We shared a can of the beans, I had beans on toast with 1/2 breast of chicken and he had 2 potatoes with beans and the other half of the potato.

Mine: $0.06 (beans) $0.16 (bread)  $0.43 (chicken)

His: $0.06 (beans) $0.14 (potato) $0.43 (chicken)

Dinner: We used the rest of the ground to make a huge bowl of pasta to last a few meals.  2/3 ground $1.66, rest of the mushrooms $0.66, rest of pasta sauce $0.58, zucchini $0.12 and I made him pull the kernels off the cob of corn (free) plus a packet of pasta $0.49. So only $3.51 for this huge bowl of pasta (although it is not very saucy for that much pasta, it is mixed with some of the starch water from the pasta).  This will do two filling dinners for each of us and a lunch portion for one of us (we find we are eating more without a salad on the side). $0.70 per portion.  We also had a slice of bread to mop up the sauce.

Cheese was sprinkled on both $0.15 each for the day

Live Below The Line Day 3 Total Costs

$0.13 (breakfast) + $0.65 (lunch) + $0.78 (dinner) + $0.15 (cheese) = $1.71 (his was $0.02 cheaper)

How Do You Feel About Friends Adding You To Facebook Groups

facebook groups add automatically

Before I start this little rant, I personally think that people should have pages not facebook groups if they are for a savings site/company/website.

Recently a website ran a referral contest.  On a page this would be fine, it would be my choice to like the page and choose my settings when I liked the page.   However this site runs a facebook group, I was automatically added to the group with autosettings sending over 40 alerts  within an hour  about posts, photos and replies to my cell phone and email.

I have my facebook set to ask me before showing any tags, mentions etc to protect my privacy, so why is it that facebook allows people to just add me to groups without permission (and for their own gain, it is a contesting friend set to limited profile who added me, not a personal friend who I can call and say WTF).

Facebook says that you can just leave the group, sure I can – but what if I was roaming and paid for data for those crazy number of emails you sent me and what if I do not want to be a part of that group?   Should it not be my choice what groups I like, just as I can choose what pages to like.

The person has been defriended, the group left but groups still leave a bad taste in my mouth (and that is hard on live below the line because everything looks and smells so delicious)

Live Below The Line Day 2

Live Below The Line Day 2 - Oatmeal

I know oatmeal is healthy, filling and nutritious for a low cost but bleh.  Oatmeal without added fruit is gross.  I may never eat oatmeal again after this week.  I did find it a bit easier today without tea, but my partner will not last the week without a coffee.

Live Below The Line Day 2 Meals

Breakfast – A packet of oatmeal made with water $0.13 each

Lunch – We used the leftover “chili” from last night $0.45, plus a potato $0.07 and cheese $0.15 (the cheese is for the day again, my stomach will hate me for all this cheese).  $0.67

Dinner - Chicken breast (I used the two smaller ones, the others can probably stretch to 2 meals if cut and used well) $0.87 , an ear of corn each (free) plus a potato $0.07.  Corn without butter just isn’t the same.

I didn’t take a photo of the chicken, but we usually buy fresh boneless breasts.  Frozen seasoned, while easier to stockpile, are just not the same.  I found them quite salty.  We cooked them in the big boss and when they were cooked, sliced them and stuffed the remaining cheese.

Live Below The Line Day 2 Total Costs

$0.13 (breakfast) + $0.52 (lunch) + $0.15 (cheese) + $0.94 (dinner) = $1.74

We managed to stay very close to the daily budget today which is good, and while I was out shopping I found two cans of no name baked beans for just $0.12 each.  They were dusty and expire in 2 weeks which means they have been in the store a long time but they were not dented and $0.12 is cheap!

I have realized that to live on such a low budget means you are eating more carbs and sodium than you should.  I made an effort to buy fresh where possible but canned vegetables were cheaper when there was no rebate and since pasta and potatoes are filling and fairly cheap – they are staples.

Live Below The Line Day 1

live-below-the-line-day-1

This actually looks quite delicious for a meal while living on less than $1.75 a day doesn’t it!  Here is our food diary for Live Below The Line Day 1

Breakfast – this will be the same every day, a packet of oatmeal made with water.  $1.29 for 10 packets = $0.13 each

Lunch – grilled cheese, made with no butter because I am not sure it will fit in the budget and 1/2 orange each.

Sunshine bread was $1.44 and contains 19 slices of bread. $0.16 for two slices of bread.  The orange was $0.12 each.  It is hard to guess how much cheese we are using per meal so I split the block into 5 pieces, one for each day.  The cheese for lunch and dinner came to $0.30 for both of us/$0.15 each.

Dinner: Chili on a baked potato with cheese.  We cooked up 1/3 of the ground but kept some to add to lunch tomorrow, combined this with 4 mushrooms and a can of beans with some of the pasta sauce.

Pasta Sauce $0.30, Mushrooms $0.22, Ground Beef $0.81, Beans $0.67, Can Vegetables $0.72 = $2.72 this will make 3 servings, two for dinner and one dinner size portion to shared for lunch tomorrow (although we pushed most of the beans to tomorrows serving). = $0.91 per serving.  13 potatoes per bag = $0.07 per potato. = $0.74 for dinner with the cheese calculated separately above.

Live Below The Line Day 1 Total Costs

$0.13 (breakfast) + $0.28 (lunch) + $0.15 (cheese) + $0.98 (dinner) = $1.54

We will have to budget more carefully per day, we were under today but the allowance is per day as well as per week (one of the other reasons we left $1 unused in the budget).

Today was not bad, oatmeal is gross but all that will fit in the budget and fills you until lunch but I really miss drinking tea, and milk.  I tried but could not fit milk in the budget so water is all we will drink this week.  I know from last year that tea will not fit in the budget so I just kept myself busy in the hopes that I did not find myself rocking in the corner due to a lack of tea.