Category Archives: Cash Prizes

Win #6: West Coast Express Prize

Shortly before I left for Europe at the end of May, I received a call from West Coast Express.  I was delighted to hear that I had won $60 towards transportation on the commuter train.

I won by entering the “Care to Comment” contest. I filled out an entry form with my feedback on a question posed by the West Coast Express’ Commuter News:

“Which of the following foods would make your breakfast better during your morning commute?”

A series of options were presented and I think I chose “toast and jam”, but frankly I don’t remember!  In any case, this brings my total winning for the year up to $190.  Now that I’m back on Canadian soil, I have renewed efforts to win contests.  Hopefully, I will have some big wins to tell you about soon!

Meditation and Win #3

My Saje purchase
My Saje purchase
Saje diffuser at work
Saje diffuser at work

We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship. – C.S. Lewis

All too often we embrace the raucous and break-neck pace of 21st century life. I think there should come a time in every day when we stop for a moment and seek out solitude and silence. For me, the best way to do this has been meditation.

I don’t always succeed at remaining focused on the present moment. In fact, I often find my mind coming up with amazing ideas about future creative projects during that time. While some might say that that is a failed meditation, I disagree. To free oneself from the bombardment of sights and sounds, is a success in itself. The fact that my mind is at its most free and imaginative when relieved of so much outward stimuli is wonderful.

Thus, in an effort to facilitate my meditation practice I have bought a Saje Nebulizer with my $50 gift card from Metropolis. I won the gift card in an online contest and this is my third win of the year. More about the other two wins in a moment.

I have used the nebulizer twice and so far I think it is helping me to breathe more easily and feel more relaxed in my meditation environment, which is generally my bedroom. Now, if I were reading this blog post, my comment at this point would be, “Hey, wait a minute Rsaloust, I thought you said that you needed to reduce stimuli in order to have a creative and fruitful meditation. By using a nebulizer, aren’t you adding stimuli to your environment?”

My alter ego has a good point…which I will now refute. The nebulizer changes the stimuli in the room. Scent is always present. You cannot totally get rid of it in any location and, believe me, as a clean-freak I have tried. Thus, your only option is to change it to something pleasant, but not overpowering. In choosing a scent for meditation purposes, I would recommend also choosing something you enjoy, but not love. That way, you won’t focus on it, but it will simply make the overall environment more pleasant.

In the coming weeks, I’ll keep trying this particular nebulizer and will provide a more review-style post about the product itself. Right now, I’m just enjoying the wanderings of my imagination.


Wins 1 and 2 were very small. So small, in fact, that I didn’t think they merited a blog post. The first occurred in Chinatown during Chinese New Year when I spun a fortune wheel and won a red and white baseball cap. It has some Chinese characters on it and I’m not sure what they mean. I have made it a practice never to wear anything that displays words in another language unless I know exactly what the translation is. A cautionary tale: a friend of a friend went to China and got what she believed to be the word “temptress” tattooed on her back in Chinese characters. Unfortunately, she later found out that the true translation was “whore” – ouch!

Win #2 was a magnet from Nutella I won in an online contest that could result in a $10,000 trip to Italy, so fingers crossed that the chocolate gods continue to be generous!

Total estimated winnings so far this year: $60

$50 Win from Brentwood Town Centre

After a long hiatus, I am a winner yet again. I recently won a $50 gift card and two David’s tea vouchers from Brentwood Town Centre. I put my gift card towards a new bathrobe and will definitely be saving my David’s Tea vouchers for some of their fabulous Fall collection brews.

I’d like to devote this post to why I go to Brentwood Mall. It’s to see the most wonderful hair stylist there is: Rob at Regis Salon. Rob and I have known each other for almost two decades. We first met when I was a beauty advisor at Merle Norman Cosmetics in Lougheed Mall and he was a hair stylist at a salon two doors down.

When I first went to Rob, I presented him with a tangled and drab brown hair that had never looked good. I had all but given up on it. Rob, however, was undaunted. In a couple of hours, my mane looked better than I could ever have imagined. I knew I had found a true artist who I would never stray from.

As the months and years went by, I learned that Rob was more than just a talented hair stylist; he was one of the most generous, kindest people I have ever had the pleasure to know. I treasure our friendship and look forward every couple of months to our chats over cups of tea and tabloids.

So, today Rob, on your birthday, I’d like to thank you for everything and wish you many happy returns and much love! Everyone else: find your way to Regis Salon and get the hair you’ve always dreamed of from the best hair stylist I know!

Win #6: A $50 gift certificate from Clayburn Comforts and Body Works

Imagine coming home after a day of running late for the train; writing to meet a deadline; and trying to ignore the irritating blister on your toe. You feel stressed and tired, so you empty some Juicy Mint Aromatherapy Bath Salts into a warm bath. Slowly insert one foot, then the next, and finally lie back. Feel relaxed? Well, I do, because I’ve actually done this!

Thanks to Clayburn Comforts and Body Works and my own leprechaun spotting abilities, I had $50 to spend at their shop in Clayburn Village, Abbotsford. Yes, there were several leprechauns hidden on the company’s website in late March and after hours of diligent hunting, I found them. I do mean hours, as they were hidden extremely well. In any case, I went to their shop and came back with five products:


1. Juicy Mint Aromatherapy Bath Salts
5. Muscle Rub


As you can tell, I love the bath salts. They smell fantastic, as the combination of grapefruit, lemongrass, lime, and spearmint is a real winner! What I’m amazed by is how fragrant the whole room becomes when I use them.


The Juicy Mint Soap has the same scent, so it is also very pleasant. The texture is nice, as it has ground up lemongrass and candula flowers in it that makes it into a kind of exfoliating scrub, as well.

The deodorant has a similar fragrance to both the soap and the bath salts. I think it’s the lemongrass that makes it smell so great. I find the deodorant lasts all day and does work during my rather intense one-hour yoga class. The price is a bit steep for the full-size version. I gasped when I saw it was $17.95 for 75 grams, but the quality of the product is so much better than any five-dollar brand I’ve bought from the supermarket.

I have only tried the foot butter and muscle rub once, so I will provide you with a review of those products when I’ve had more of a chance to put them through their paces!

Anyway, I’m hooked! These products are all-natural, made locally, and, most importantly, they work. I recommend you take a little road trip out to Clayburn Comforts and treat yourself.

Whole Foods prize

I apologize for neglecting my blog of late. I was in Europe for a month and curtailed my online activities while abroad. Now, however, I am back home and ready to tell you about my purchases at Whole Foods with my $50 gift card.

The items I bought were:

1. Burt’s Bees Color Keeper Green Tea & Fennel Seed Conditioner

2. Bolthouse Farms Mango Lemonade

3. Varietal No. 47 (Bungalow) Full Leaf Black Tea – Steven Smith Teamaker
4. a Whole Foods deli sandwich
5. a Whole Foods bakery scone
6. figs
7. goat cheese


I chose these items because they were somewhat indulgent and not what I might normally buy during a weekly shopping trip. I am still using numbers 1 and 3; the other items are long gone, alas. Thus, I feel it is fair to review only the conditioner and tea.


I have never used the Burt’s Bees conditioner before. I usually buy whatever conditioner my hair stylist recommends at the salon. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this hair product. First, the green tea, fennel, and other herbal ingredients give this conditioner the most amazing aroma. My hair smells great! My hair also seems to retain its colour quite well. I wouldn’t say it is noticeably better conditioned than it has been before, but it is no worse. The price of the Burt’s Bees conditioner is comparable to what I pay for salon products. Some people may argue that it is too steep for a grocery store hair product, but as the results are equally as good, I would not hesitate to purchase it again.
The No. 47 Darjeeling tea is also new for me. I often purchase Darjeeling in loose form, but this was one of the first bagged varieties I have ever bought. Steven Smith describes this tea as follows:


“Grown in the high elevation in the foothills of the Himalayas, this blend of organic first and second flush Darjeeling tea produces a light, yet exceptionally complex tea with the aroma and flavour of fruits, nuts and flowers complemented by rich, toasty, buttery notes. A tea of daily celebration.”


I will agree that the aroma is exactly as described, but as with many teas, the taste differs significantly from its scent. I cannot find anything fruity or floral about this tea. The nutty, toasty, and buttery notes are definitely predominant. Consequently, its taste is not as complex as I’d hoped. On the other hand, it does deliver what a black tea must-a significant jolt of caffeine to the drowsy sipper.


My biggest complaint about this tea is the lingering dryness it leaves in the throat. I’ve experienced this with other black teas and it tends to ruin an otherwise pleasant experience. Would I buy it again? Probably not, as it is as costly as many loose teas that deliver more.


I thank Whole Foods for this great prize and enjoyed trying new products and shopping in their store.


*Watch for my next entry on my $500 prize from Where Vancouver

A winning end to a tough day

So, today was a tough day. The details are unimportant. It was just one of those too much to do, too little time in which to do it scenarios. Thus, I find myself on a hot Tuesday night feeling tired and just a little nauseated. Imagine this shell of a woman opening up Twitter and finding she’s won another prize! Yes, for telling Whole Foods what my husband and I do with local ingredients (blackberries – great for homemade tarts and quick breads), I have won a $50 gift certificate. I do promise amidst helping my brother with his wedding, working, and preparing for a trip overseas I will post what I buy with this great prize.

I Won $100 Worth of Cheese!

Today, as I was working diligently on curriculum development, I received a phone call from the Holland Shopping Center.”Hello, you have won $100 worth of cheese,” a friendly voice said. The grey day outside suddenly seemed brighter and the month of March a little less dreary. I remembered lamenting to my mother only a couple of days ago that I guess I hadn’t won the draw prize from one of our favourite shops. Both of us were very delighted and surprised to find out I was wrong.


The Holland Shopping Center is an oasis for those of us with Dutch heritage who yearn for the kind of products we only tend to see on the rare occasions when we get back to The Netherlands. They have products that go far beyond wooden shoes: high quality dish clothes, blue and white tiles, liquorice both salty and sweet varieties, stroop waffles, and, of course, cheese!


After getting over my initial excitement, I realized that I must have a Dutch cheese party and include my competitor. I will be happy to watch her enjoy some cheese, even if she is tempted to pair it with whine. Just kidding, M.


So, watch this space for cheese photos in the weeks to come and my review of West is West later this week.