Why You Should Follow More Dog Accounts on Instagram

(Scroll down for my top 6 favourite Instagram accounts [3 humans and 3 canines])

Photo 2017-04-06, 12 29 58 PM.pngInstagram is hands down my favourite social media network. I use it far more than any other platform and it tends to make me happy. Not only do I share positive moments in my life with my own followers, but I take in great snapshots and funny captions of those who I follow. In my opinion, this is how it differs most in comparison to Facebook or Twitter.

My Facebook newsfeed tends to fill up with generic memes, commonly shared stories, or rants both for and against topics that are controversial. As the Twitter feed updates, I’m led to articles of varying importance and I generally learn all my local news here. Both Facebook and Twitter definitely have their benefits, but they are more likely to expose me to depressing or upsetting content. Instagram is (largely apart from sponsored posts) curated by me, for me and I keep it feeling pretty light.

Photo 2017-04-06, 12 30 07 PMI technically run two Instagram accounts, one for me (@cassythemusicalfox) and for our dog (@summit.the.sweetheart). Before our last dog passed, my personal account was filled with photos of our dog Daq and I followed many other dog accounts. Daq had such an incredible personality that I loved sharing her with the Insta-universe, but she was an old girl and I didn’t want to create an account for her only to have to close it after she inevitably died. It was then no question as to whether or not I would start a dog account when we adopted Summit – she would rule the world… I mean approximately 300 followers on Instagram.

Having two accounts is actually very helpful to me. The dog account allows me to follow hundreds of animals online with zero shame and they all do one thing: they make me happy. Like real life dogs, Insta-doggo accounts are very loyal, it’s a faithful online community. Seeing those slobbery smiles doing pretty much anything keeps me feeling good and maybe it would help brighten your day too. Take a break from photos of your friend’s lunch and search for a cute canine going on an adventure.

So, who are three of my top humans and doggos to follow on Instagram? (Feel free to look through accounts I’m following through the Instagram profiles as well because it was really hard to choose only three of each)

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Account: @grumpyandgeeky
Followers: 12,700
Species: Human

@Grumpyandgeeky seems like a fun guy (not to be mistaken with a fungi) who posts a lot of ‘nerdy’ pop culture content. He has access to a ton of the newest and nerdiest merchandise that you will see and possibly then want to buy for yourself. He’s a man of good taste and he also occasionally posts pics of his dog which I 100% support!

 

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Account: @koda_and_moo
Followers: 809
Species: Dogs

Koda and Moo are St Berdoodles (just like my fur-babe Summit), they are brothers who have the best smiles and take frequent naps. Not only are they handsome unique looking bros, but they also give back to the community – Koda and Moo are actually therapy dogs! Sometimes they have Instagram posts featuring these two doggos making people happy offline out in the real world which then in turn makes me happy when clicking that like button online.

 

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Account: @shaundowneyart
Followers: 8261
Species: Human

Shaun Downey is a Canadian artist who is from my hometown, but currently lives in Toronto with his wife (she is another of my favourite artists [@kellygraceart]). His work is incredibly stunning, the colours are gorgeous, the details are

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My Shaun Downey print in the bedroom beside my lingerie chest.

meticulous, and his depictions of fabric textiles blow me away. Every piece by Shaun Downey stands on its own as true beauty and when you think that you have a found your favourite, you will discover his next painting. I was also lucky enough to win a print of Shaun’s last year and I love the way that it brought my girly nook together.

 

 

 

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Account: @dog_wears_hat
Followers: 1520
Species: Dog

I’ve been following @dog_wears_hat for a long while now and they are one of my all time favourite accounts. Every photo and every caption is perfection in a way that the account doesn’t take itself too seriously. This dog, Ol’ Bluey, is a star. I can only hope to look half as good in hats as Ol’ Bluey does because he totally owns it. His serious faces, that might be referred to as Ol’ Bluey-Steel, are the greatest and I hope you check them out!

 

sarahkbenning computer shotAccount: @sarahkbenning
Followers: 402,000
Species: Human

Sarah K. Benning is a talented hand embroidery artist that I happened upon during a time of needlework research. Her work is often intricate and amazes me, she was one of the first embroidery artists to inspire me to go beyond traditional hand embroidery styles and combine it with modern concepts. She has approximately 400,000 Instagram followers who all love her work, but if you can beat the rush, you can purchase your own Sarah K. Benning hoop art off of her Etsy store.

 

waitingdogstoronto computer shotAccount: @waiting.dogs.toronto
Followers: 4296
Species: Dog(s)

This account pretty much posts what you’d expect: dogs waiting to come home; dogs waiting outside the store; dogs waiting for a treat; dogs waiting at the window. The account really makes you realize what a patient species they are and they don’t even have cell phones to look at Instagram to pass the time! It’s a fun account that lets me see a good variety of dog breeds in a nearby city centre (because this is a priority when you are a crazy dog lady like me). You can also submit photos of your waiting dog by tagging them!

 


There you have it folks, a little glimpse into the behind the scenes of my Instagram priorities. What are some of your favourite accounts? What types of curating do you do? Does it make you smile? I hope so.

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Cord-Cutting in Canada: Separating, Streaming, and Saving

Over four years ago, just as we were starting to date, my husband bought the house we now live in together. I remember helping him move in and him telling me about his plans to forego getting landline or cable services in his home. It all made so much sense to me and I had the easiest transition when I moved in. I rarely used the landline when I lived with my parents, except for times of frustration when hanging up on telemarketers, and I had already started watching a lot of television shows online. Flash-forward to today where Chris and I happily live (essentially) wireless and are extremely content with the money we save and the services we use.

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Our media set up!

Per month, we pay approximately $12.00 for Ultra 4K HD Canadian Netflix and have just subscribed to CraveTV services as well for another $9.00. On top of our streaming services we watch a lot of streamed TV on our computers so as you might have guessed, we definitely use a lot of internet. We pay roughly $62.00/mo. for our internet services (50 MB/second and 400GB internet usage which we have never gone over) with TekSavvy (a company that has lowered our rates twice now without any prompts [thanks TekSavvy]). What do you currently pay for television and internet services combined?

In terms of living without a landline, do it. If you presently pay monthly fees for mobile phone plans, why bother paying for the landline? I think we have come to a point in time where it is largely unnecessary in a household setting. It’s been so long since I’ve wondered “is it for me?” when a phone rings because I know that if someone needed me, my cell phone would be ringing.

We’re definitely not alone in this popular cord-cutting trend (we are technically cord-nevers rather than cord-cutters as we have never paid for cable or satellite since living on our own).

In figure 1, Statistics Canada survey results indicate that less and less Canadians are choosing to keep their landlines with each passing year.

Figure 1:

Cellphone and landline ownership rates in Canada 2011-2014
This table is from the CRTC’s “Communicaitons Monitoring Report 2016: Canada’s Communication System: An Overview for Canadians” (p. 19 of the downloadble PDF).

In figure 2, the graph shows the steady increase in prices for Broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs). Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) researchers state that their findings suggest “that the rise of mobile-only households does not solely reflect changing preferences but may also be driven by affordability.

“What are BDUs? Broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs) provide subscription television services to Canadians. They redistribute programming from conventional over‐the‐air television and radio stations. They also distribute pay audio and discretionary services (i.e. pay, specialty, pay‐per‐view (PPV) and video‐on‐demand (VOD)). Most BDUs are cable, national DTH satellite, or Internet protocol television (IPTV) service providers.” CRTC

Figure 2:

Price indices for communications services compared to the CPI
This table is from the CRTC’s “Communications Monitoring Report 2016: Canada’s Communication System: An Overview or Canadians” (p. 12 of the downloadable PDF).

Emily Jackson of the Financial Post writes that over half a million Canadians got rid of their landlines “between the first quarters of 2015 and 2016” alone. The number of Canadian cord-cutters during these quarters came to approximately 540,000 people – that’s almost double the population of my home town and it’s a lot of customers to lose in a short time period.

A huge reason to cut your ties with cable and landline companies is the cost saving which is why it makes sense that many millennials are involved in the movement. So many of us have post secondary school debt to worry about and are still struggling to find work in our fields with a lack of entry level job openings (a rant for another post). It’s important to note that cord-cutting isn’t just a youthful fad and that people of all ages are benefiting from changing over to streaming services.

My main reason for loving streaming services in comparison to BDUs is the lifestyle. I am no longer bound to the schedule of my television programs and don’t have to fast forward through commercials of PVR’d programs. The two most common questions that I get asked when preaching the cord-cutting lifestyle are:

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Screenshot from my current Twitter newsfeed.
  1. How do you get your news?
  2. What about sports?

For news, I follow local Twitter accounts to stay informed about my city and province or I access Reddit’s /r/WorldNews to keep up with international events. Both internet sources pride themselves on consistent updates from news platforms as well as citizen journalists and keep me possibly more up-to-date throughout the day than TV news viewers.

Sports…? Sports-smorts – Chris and I don’t really watch sports, but just because I don’t like to watch sports doesn’t mean that you don’t so I did a little homework for you and found out that the following sports oriented streaming services are available in Canada: SportsNet Now, Rogers GameCentre Live, MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, and NFL Game Pass.

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Another alternative is the program Kodi, this streaming method allows me to find shows that aren’t available on Netflix or CraveTV, like Jeopardy! Kodi also provides you access to live sports streams and even the news.

So there you have it folks! Join Chris and I on the dark side of being thrifty and cutting the cord(s) – babies don’t need them and neither do you. Start by getting rid of your landline, it’s okay to slowly sever the cord with a knife if you want and this is the easiest way to start.

cordcutting.jpgHere’s some further reading on pros, cons, and some how-to’s on cord cutting. Maybe you’ll get lucky and start hating sports (it’ll save you money)!

  1. “Pros and Cons: Streaming Services vs. Cable TV”
  2. “10 Things to Consider before Cancelling Cable TV”
  3. “Cord Cutting 101: How to quit cable for online streaming video”

Let’s Talk about Bell and Cause-Related Marketing

If your Facebook newsfeed was anything like mine was yesterday, it showcased an ongoing list of conflicting opinions over Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign.

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The main argument:

Side A:
Believes that the capitalist nature of Bell as a conglomerate outweighs the benefits of their pseudo-do-good-campaign (that Bell itself is profiting more than the charities that receive the donations).

 

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Bell’s Tweet this morning, the morning after the #Bellletstalk 2017 campaign.

Side B:
Believes that the money donated and the encouraged discussion of mental health issues outweigh the branding benefits that Bell receives from the campaign.

 

This actually takes me back to many ethical discussions had in university over Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Cause-Related Marketing.

Definitions:

Corporate Social Responsibility: “A company’s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates. Companies express this citizenship (1) through their waste and pollution reduction processes, (2) by contributing educational and social programs, and (3) by earning adequate returns on the employed resources” – Business Dictionary

Cause-Related Marketing: “Joint funding and promotional strategy in which a firm’s sales are linked (and a percentage of the sales revenue is donated) to a charity or other public cause. However, unlike philanthropy, money spent in cause-related marketing is considered an expense and is expected to show a return.” – Business Dictionary

Essentially, corporations are facing more criticism on their bad-guy-reputations, public relation teams then work to combat that negative image by associating themselves with a good cause. The bad guys aren’t going anywhere, they’re just wearing the mask of their non-profit partners. Does this really hurt anyone though? Some argue that Cause-Related Marketing is good thing, yes, the rich continue to get richer, but a charity benefits at the same time.

 

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A screenshot of the Let’s Talk home page today.

Since it’s creation in 2006, Bell Let’s Talk has donated 79 million dollars to Canadian mental health initiatives, this year alone they raised over 6.5 million dollars. On Bell’s Results/Impact page, they list which programs they are donating to each year and how much is allotted to each organization. The benefiting partners of 2017 are: CISSS de Lanaudière ($300,000); Embrace Life Council ($250,000); McGill University’s Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital ($250,000); Queen’s University ($1,000,000); St. John Ambulance ($150,000); and Strongest Families Institute ($2,000,000). I’m not a math whiz, but those numbers don’t add up to 6.5 million dollars. Apparently, the rest is divided into smaller grants that you can apply for (if eligible) through their Community Fund.

 

typingThose are the monetary benefits of this Cause-Related Marketing campaign, but there are also social benefits like the efforts taken to minimize the existing stigma around mental health. #BellLetsTalk encouraged many people on my social media feeds to share personal anecdotes about their own struggles that I would never have known otherwise. However, I am sure that many people continue to hold back personal truths online so that future employers cannot discover that they have a mental illness. For those who are brave enough to disclose their mental health histories online, I applaud you. You are taking a risk at exposing your true self and letting others no that they are not alone.

While perusing Twitter, I came across another trending hashtag: #BellLetsActuallyTalk. The following examples highlight a common issue that many tweeters had with Bell’s campaign.

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My argument is similar to that of last week’s Blue Monday blog post; just because we are focusing on a good cause for a day, doesn’t mean that people cannot continue the practise for the rest of the year. Isn’t bringing attention to a worthy topic a good thing?

Let’s look at #BellLetsTalk as a conversation starter for the rest of the year and recognize that help from a conglomerate is better than no help at all.

Netflix and Nostalgia: My Magic School Bus Reboot Expectations

 

In 2014, Netflix revealed some of their early plans for an updated animated series based on the hit scientific show The Magic School Bus that ran from 1994-1997. This show has a special spot in my heart as it taught me so much at

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Fact: Ms. Frizzle wore the best themed clothes.

such an early age! For example, there were many times throughout high school and even university when I would get a Frizzle-flashback (I’d like to believe I just made that up) and I would know that the cartoon had taught me this information years earlier.

Netflix Canada has had the original series available in their library for a while now and I absolutely still watch it. Obviously, I enjoy it mainly for nostalgic reasons, but I remember the episodes and characters so clearly that it feels like I’m rehashing personal stories with old friends. The nostalgic element is what makes this reboot a risky move to me; I believe that they will likely disappoint their grownup fans in order to properly hold the attention of and educate today’s youth (a valid reason).

My mixed feelings surrounding the Magic School Bus revival lie mainly in my fear that the animation will be too modern for my taste and that the writing will be less punny. I honestly loved every Carlos pun and I think

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The other kids had poor taste in jokes.

that the innocence of dad-humour played a large part in the overall likability of the show. The Magic School Bus captivated young audiences with visual learning in a way that wasn’t common in elementary schools of the 90’s. Kids today may not fully understand that teachers had to book one of maybe three tube-televisions that would be wheeled down the hall for an allotted hour or so, and that this was a big deal because you rarely got to watch videos in class. The Magic School Bus took textbook knowledge and relayed it in an entertaining fashion!

Although I have my reservations, I am trying to have faith in the reboot and I will definitely give it a watch.

Netflix has kept a lot of secrets since the reboot’s 2014 announcement, but here’s what we do know so far:

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Season 1 episode 3 “Inside Ralphie” was always one of my favourites.
  1. It will be computer generated animation (this makes me nervous [I’m not always a fan]).
  2. Stu Stone, the voice actor who played Ralphie (one of two characters who we got to know from the inside-out), is on board as one of the producers of the reboot!
  3. Multiple other cast members have signed on to help in some way (I’m hoping that they pull a Degrassi-The Next Generation and have the original cast play parents)
  4. Top secret celebrities will lend their voices throughout the new series.
  5. It will likely be titled “The Magic School Bus 360˚”
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Early concept art of The Magic School Bus 360˚.

The early concept art indicates that the Ms. Frizzle character seems to be a similar age as she was in the 90s. If the original Ms. Frizzle were to have aged with us, I would love for

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Lily Tomlin (right) co-stars with Jane Fonda (left) on the Netflix original Grace and Frankie.

her to still be voiced by actress Lily Tomlin and I also hope she married a woman (I just feel like she could have)!

It has been twenty years since The Magic School Bus ended, this has allowed for extensive technology advancements and many new discoveries about our planet. These changes in scientific development are enough reason to justify why the reboot’s relevance. There is a large amount of educational content to teach the modern generation that so many youth television shows are simply not covering.

Topics that I would love to see covered in the new Magic School Bus:

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Me, when I took a tour at my sister’s work’s visitor centre. Very proud of my sister who works as a Nuclear Operator.
  • An emphasis on women in STEM careers
  • Wearable technology
  • A new space episode talking about changes within our galaxy (*cough* Pluto)
  • Global Warming
  • Corrections on new discoveries with dinosaurs (our apparently fine-feathered-friends)
  • Life before cell phones
  • Robotics
  • Crime Forensics (to an extent)
  • Wireless everything
  • Hovercrafts
  • Drones

There are so many choices in topical scientific studies that I’m really excited to see what the creators decide to showcase. Hopefully it will be just as successful as the original series and we will have a positive program that is trusted by parents who learned from an familiar fiery Frizzle.

I think that we (as older viewers) need to either

  1. watch it and love it if they do it justice nostalgically (Fuller House did this well, but the original was already geared toward both kids and adults) or
  2. let go of our nostalgic reigns to let a new generation benefit off of an educational program aimed to please and educate kids, not adults.

the-friz-and-the-liz-share-a-wink-magic-school-bus-1954677-500-375-e1321546050246The show is currently in production and I’m hoping to see it released soon!

Are there some quality scientific television shows already out there for youth today? Let me know some of them! I’m thinking of shows similar to Bill Nye, The Science Guy or the Magic School Bus for us 90’s kids.

 

A Dog Lover’s Gift Guide: Top Three Tips

Earlier this week I wrote an update about my recent rescue so I thought that I would keep the dog theme going this week by picking my top three favourite dog-owner Christmas gift ideas. One let’s everyone know who they’re dealing with, the second helps avoid backyard backaches, and the third keeps your furry-friend fit.

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For Owners Who Wear their Hearts and Interests on their Sleeves: Dog Themed Clothes
Like most dog-lovers, any product sporting a furry face catches my eye when I pass by. I am a huge sucker for dog-themed shirts and I’ve been searching for a good dog patterned dress for a while now. This is a perfect present for “loud and proud” dog lovers and the website Animal Hearted makes your search that much easier by curating a collection of pet oriented products. Not only will you make that pet-person on your list happy, but you will help some pups too – 25% of Animal Hearted proceeds go to no kill animal shelters!

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Mine’s green!

For Practical Pet People: Top Paw All-In-One Scoop Set
What is it?
It’s a pooper scooper! You use the little rake to scoop the poop into the long-handled poop-pan.
You’d think that a pooper scooper would be an odd gift, but it was given to me and I think that it’s the best thing in the world! My 60lb St. Berdoodle leaves me 120lb St. Bernard sized poops so this handy rake and pan tool is a life/backache saver.

For some reason, I had never owned a proper device for this chore, I have always stooped and scooped with bags or old oversized kitchen spoons to help, but we still had pooperscooperto bend down every couple of feet. It’s simple, but it’s helpful and as much as giving or receiving this item will make you all laugh, it would be one of the most useful gifts a pet owner could get.

I’d also like to take a moment and direct you to one of my latest favourite Instagram accounts: @ipoopinbushes – definitely give them a follow.


collage-3For the Trendy Tech Owner: WonderWoof BowTie
What is it?
WonderWoof is an activity tracker (yes, like your Fitbit) for your dog that connects to your smart device with real time stats on exercise, sleep, and, GPS. The device also calculates
the exercise that your dog needs based on its weight, age, and breed so that you can help your dog reach its healthy goals each day.

Wearable technology is constantly expanding and improving so it can be hard to keep up with the latest and greatest. One thing that I love about the WonderWoof is that it’s available to purchase now. Many wearables collage-2look exciting (like the Kyon Collar), but are not finished being funded which means that wait times are not only long, but sometimes delayed.

If you research the pet wearable market (obviously, a leisure task for us cool kids), you’ll find that there are a ton of activity trackers to choose from. This is similar to wearables in the human departments, except that these collar accessories don’t wrap around wrists. What makes WonderWoof stand out then? It’s in the style. The sleek bow tie comes in seven different colours and patterned bands for those doggos with bold personalities!

The last awesome thing about WonderWoof is that you can buy it online or in the store while you’re doing your other Christmas shopping – Best Buy had it on sale just last month, keep your eyes open!


I hope that my top three tips helped inspire you, let me know some of your favourite pet-presents!

Home (Shopping) for the Holidays: Ordering Gifts Online

Christmas is less than 40 days away – how are you prepping for it?

Thinking and purchasing gifts for your loved ones can be intimidating, but with technology these days you can be comfortable and even drinking a glass of wine during the process! It’s still November so shopping in stores is pretty doable, but December is closing in fast and so are those grumpy shoppers. I suggest that you avoid the lineups and checkout online instead.


History and Numbers

Online shopping has actually been around since 1979 when computer and electronics innovator Michael Aldrich invented the original concept in the United Kingdom:

“In 1979 he connected a modified domestic television via a telephone line to a real- time multi-user transaction processing computer. He marketed the system from 1980 onward and sold mainly Business-to-Business systems.”

Fast forward to 2016, and online methods have obviously advanced quite a bit and, if you haven’t already, so can you!

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Big Commerce Infographic.

According to Big Commerce, “96% of Americans have made an online purchase at some point in their lives, and four in five (80%) have done so in the last month alone.” The statistics sound high, but when you think about it, a lot of people that you know probably shop online – my husband and I definitely do. Although this shopping trend may be associated with younger generations, people of all ages are discovering the benefits for themselves.

Big Commerce’s infographic on age demographics shows that the percentage of shoppers decreases with age, but that it is not just millennials who are sidestepping department store lineups:

Laura Stevens, of the Wall Street Journal, discussed the results of UPS’s annual online shopping survey earlier this June. She explained that for the last three years the percentage of what online shoppers are buying has increased – this year they made approximately 51% of their purchases online.

I hope that these numbers help to ease reader’s minds who may have been nervous about online shopping. If you are on a secure retailer’s website that has positive reviews (always read reviews), then you, like millions of other people, will likely have a safe and enjoyable shopping experience.


Connecting to Christmas

So why am I writing about this today? It’s a great time to shop online for Christmas.

 

As a rule, I like to give myself at least 14 days in advance to allow for unforeseen circumstances with postage. That’s the one thing about purchasing gifts online – waiting for them to arrive can be nerve racking if you have never ordered before. think-geek-free-shipping-over-75Most retailers provide multiple shipping options, but these can add up quickly for the sake of convenience. You’ll find that many sites promote special deals where you don’t have to pay for standard shipping if your virtual-cart total hits their target price – if you do all your shopping in one spot, this will be perfect for you! Mid November means that you have plenty of time to wait for ordered gifts to arrive.

If you’re reading this before November 28th then you’re in luck! Now you can really think about what items you want to purchase and plan ahead. Some of the best deals are approaching with Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales between November 28th-December 1st. Canadian stores have also started participating in cutting prices for these traditional days over the years which has been nice for Christmas shopping. When you’re purchasing presents online during these sale days, you won’t find yourself in physical brawls which is an added bonus (unless you fight over the laptop with a family member)!

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Even Amazon.ca is advertising Black Friday sales!

Another great site to shop on and save money with is a family favourite in our household – Amazon. You can find items at a lower cost year-round and their search-engine-esque system makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.


Shop Local-Globally

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I’m a big fan of the “Think. Shop. Buy. Local” movement in which people support artisans within their communities instead of shopping in department stores. Look for advertisements about craft sales, Christmas fairs, and other local events with hardworking vendors to shop at this year.

Check out The LivingRoom Community Art Studio’s Handmade with Heart Arts and Crafts Marketplace this Saturday the 19th if you live in Durham Region, ON, Canada!

With technology, artisans are now selling beautiful handmade items online! I really love sites like Etsy because the reviews on sellers allow you to feel confident when purchasing unique and personalized items for your loved ones. In the past, I have ordered: a hand carved Lord of the Rings sign from Mississippi, US; an engraved pocket compass from Turkey; an engraved tie clip from Wisconsin, US; and a lot more.

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You can find items from almost any niche fandom and your recipient will be lucky enough to own a one of a kind product (or limited edition).


So what do you think, do you like to shop online? Maybe give it a chance this year so that you don’t have to stress about finding a parking spot or waiting in line behind customers yelling at innocent cashiers at the insanely busy mall.

Two more interesting infographics from Big Commerce:
consumerbehavior_infographics4_page_05-750x1225consumerbehavior_infographics4_page_09-750x762