Tag Archives: rsaloust

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.

Win #5: a pair of tickets to the Vancouver Women In Film Festival!

Here we are in March and I’ve already won five contests: a Canucks t-shirt; a pass to the opening of Arctic Air; tickets to Colourful World with the Turning Point Ensemble; a bag of goodies at a friend’s Oscar party (I guessed the winners of 13 categories correctly); and my most recent win, a pair of tickets to the Vancouver Women in Film Festival, courtesy of 24 Hours.

I was allowed to go to one festival screening of my choice and I selected Hopes, Dreams + Schemes. I chose this screening because it showcased a series of short films from various countries and I have always enjoyed international films and have wanted to see more short films.
While watching all the films, one thought kept resounding in my mind: the roles that a woman takes on are seemingly limitless: artist, intellectual, nurturer, friend, adventurer, etc…We move so seamlessly from one role to the next, too. I know this may seem like an obvious idea, but the suddenness of this realization made it very powerful. I was in awe of my own gender, my own femininity in a way I never have been before.


The two films which I enjoyed the most were Move Out Clean and The Soldier Game (Le Jeu des Soldats). In about 12 minutes, Move Out Clean encapsulated the reflective and transformative nature of cleaning. Before you say, “Huh?” hear me out. Yesterday, when I cleaned an orange spot off the kitchen cupboard, I remembered the ripe, juicy mango I ate the day before. This morning, when I swept up pieces of thread, I recalled that I sewed up my coat pocket which ripped when I jammed my hand into it on a cold winter day. And, as I emptied the shredder into the recycler, I watched the half-remembered pieces of words and phrases tumbling into the bin, thinking I should write this review tonight.


Move Out Clean is about this experience. An artist cleans out the apartment he shared with his girlfriend. He plasters up holes in the walls and remembers how he put them there. He cleans up the empty beer bottles, recalling how they transformed him into someone he ultimately decides he doesn’t want to be. In the end, the apartment is clean and he has reached a new level of awareness. He knows who he was and what it cost him: the love of a wonderful woman. He can now resolve to be his best self as he starts anew.

The Soldier Game was beautiful. First, it was a visual indulgence. The green fields of Northern France. The home with its vintage charm. The storybook that Antoine, the boy at the centre of the story, reads. Yet, at the same time, it was also beautiful in its poignancy. Antoine’s world is turned upside down when his father leaves to fight the Nazis, so he decides to secure his home with the help of his grandfather and the Napoleon of his imagination. Through all this, his mother tries to comfort him, telling him they are safe from invasion. Yet, no one feels safe. In the end, however, it is Antoine who offers his family comfort.

A truly enjoyable evening for me. I wish you good luck this morning, as we all attempt to “spring forward”.

A Night with the Mythbusters

The Mythbusters
Tonight, we made our way over to the newly renovated Queen Elizabeth Theatre to spend the evening with the Mythbusters. Well, thousands of others joined us, but that was okay. I’d been looking forward to this show for some time, as I’d won the tickets late last year, courtesy of miss604.
My husband is a great fan of Mythbusters and I became interested as well when Grant Imahara built a robot for The Late Late Show in 2010.


I watched with fascination when Adam Savage lay down on a bed of nails and had a cinder block smashed on his stomach. I cringed when I saw footage of his previous injuries and heard about the 40 stitches he’d had in his hand. I cheered when an audience member put on a suit of armour and got shot multiple times with paintball guns and emerged unscathed. I was thoroughly entertained.

Then, I started to think about why this show attracts so many people, especially parents and kids. I came to several conclusions. First, it makes science look cool. Blowing stuff up is chemistry. Hitting the high striker with the right amount of force and the right size hammer is physics. Other than biology class, which I enjoyed due to a morbid fascination with dissection, science was something I just tried to get through in school. I never saw it through the eyes of Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman. Also, Mythbusters makes you ask questions about questions. For example, “How tall is the mountain?” The Mythbusters pointed out that the answer all depends on the answers to other questions, “Where do you start measuring? From the Earth’s core? From sea level?” Making these inquiries helps propel us on journeys of discovery. Instead of sitting in the cave, we’re exploring the valley. Rather than staring at the TV screen, we’re becoming something worth watching. Finally, Hyneman told us never to underestimate the importance of play. I found this a profound and almost radical statement in a world that applauds us for crossing items off our to do lists and nods understandingly at us for our sedentary pastimes, but raises an eyebrow at any other activity that doesn’t fall into either of those two categories.

All in all, a fun and memorable evening that gave me some deeper things to think about than I expected. So now I’m off to test the myth that bodies decompose more slowly because we eat preserved foods. I’ll need two mice. One will eat only preserved foods and the other healthy food. Then, I’ll have to kill them…just kidding! Mice are cute and they scare elephants-really! The Mythbusters told me so.

Note: For those of you who have been following my contest odyssey, I will give you two quick updates:

1. I miscalculated and really did have 12 wins in 2011; I forgot my Avon prize pack for being the second quickest person to complete a word search at my sister-in-law’s bridal shower.


2. This year, I am entering contests on my own and have won two already – a 200K Canucks T-shirt from @VanCanucks and entrance to the premiere of Arctic Air, which sadly I was not able to attend.


My Review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

As some of you may remember, I originally won passes to an advance screening of The Descendents. Unfortunately, the screening filled up very quickly and I could not get in. The Georgia Straight kindly then gave me two passes to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and I attended the screening last night.

I’d like to preface my review of the film by saying that I have obviously been living under a rock and did not know anything about this movie before last night. So, I went in not knowing about the novels or the Swedish films. Upon watching the opening credit sequence, I was prepared to watch something similar to a James Bond movie. The images presented were like something out of Goldfinger interpreted by someone who had seen The Matrix. Yet, I was in for a shock when I quickly realized that I was watching something far edgier and deeper than a Bond movie.

The basic plot involves disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) investigating a 40-year-old crime. He is asked to find out what happened to Harriet, a 16-year-old girl who disappeared from an island inhabited by the most dysfunctional family you are ever likely to meet. His assistant on the case is Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) who has considerable issues of her own. There is also a secondary plot involving Blomkvist and the source of his disgrace: a conviction for libel.

This movie is very, very graphic in its depictions of violence, particularly violence against women. The title of the original novelMän som hatar kvinnor – Men Who Hate Women, prepares the audience for this. The dark, misogynistic world these characters inhabit is a difficult one to watch. I was certainly not the only one cringing during the screening of the film. However, the main story is a compelling mystery and the character of Lisbeth Salander is incredibly complex. At times, she is an avenging angel. At other moments, a skilled and brilliant investigator. I found myself feeling sympathy for her throughout the film, too. She yearns for love and compassion, but is understandably reluctant to open herself up to it.

I was glued to the screen whenever the main, mystery story was in progress and when Salander’s life away from the case was being presented. The libel subplot was not as compelling and I felt that the way the movie was bookended with it was unnecessary. Without giving anything away, it seemed that the movie had come to a natural conclusion long before the actual conclusion was shown. I would recommend The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with the following advisory:

If you are looking for a heart-warming, Christmasy story – go see Hugo; it’s great! The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo lives up to its tagline: “It’s the feel bad movie of Christmas.”

A Winning Year in Review

Around this time last year, I was having dinner at the Waldorf Hotel.

It was during this dinner that my friend and I conceived of the idea for this blog: enter as many contests as possible and the biggest winner buys the other dinner and cocktails at the Waldorf in January 2012, should the world still be here.


Well, 2011 is almost at an end and I have won 11 contests:

1. Two tickets to the opening of the Talking Stick Festival, courtesy of hummingbird604 (approximate value: $72.24)
2. Two tickets of an advance screening of the movie, West is West, courtesy of The Vancouver Sun (approximate value: $25.00)
3. $100 worth of cheese, courtesy of Holland Shopping Center ($100)
4. Two tickets to Taking Your Experience for Mine (part of International Dance Day), courtesy of hummingbird604 (approximate value: $30.00)
5. Two tickets to the movie, Something Borrowed, a regular popcorn, and a DVD of the movie, Blue Valentine, courtesy of The Georgia Straight (approximate value: $50)
6. Two tickets to a double bill of The Far Country and The Man from Laramie, courtesy of Pacific Cinematheque  (approximate value: $25.00)
7. $50 gift card to Whole Foods, courtesy of Whole Foods (value: $50)
8. $500 gift card to Pacific Centre, courtesy of Where Vancouver  (value: $500)
9. Two tickets to see Mythbusters live, courtesy of Miss 604 (approximate value $105 – $196 – I’m not sure which section we are seated in)
10. Two tickets to an advance screening of The Descendents, courtesy of The Georgia Straight (approximate value: $30 – This may change, as when we arrived, the movie theatre was full and the representative has yet to contact me, regarding tickets to another screening)
11. A razorpit unit, courtesy of Sharp Magazine (value: $25)


I’d briefly like to discuss my last win because it is the only prize I have won due to ability. First, I entered this contest because I thought my husband or dad would like some new shaving products. Second, I entered because I liked the premise: come up with a definition that describes the moustache-check out more details here:
You will see my definition listed on this page, too:
Heforestation: noun.

The regrowth of facial fuzz after a long lack of cultivation.

I was awarded one of the six runner up prizes-a razorpit unit, which is designed to sharpen razors. The contest was across Canada, excluding Quebec, and I was very excited to have won a prize.

So far, my total winnings add up to $1012.24 – $1103.24. I am still hoping to win one more prize before the end of the month, so I will have won one prize per month in 2011. I’ve loved the new experiences, products, and excitement of winning throughout the year. It has definitely made me a lifelong contest enterer. My advice to anyone wanting to enter contests is to use social media-Facebook and Twitter provide so many opportunities to enter contests. Also, set up a free e-mail account, just devoted to entering contests-the spam quotient is very high. Go local, rather than national. The number of entrants is lower and your chances of winning are much higher. I entered many national contests and only won one. I wish you all the best of luck! And, to my competitor/friend, you’ve got 19 days left to beat me. Otherwise, I’m inviting you now to dinner and cocktails on me!

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.

My Review of The Far Country and The Man from Laramie

On June 30th, my husband and I went to a double bill of The Far Country and The Man From Laramie at the Pacific Cinémathèque.  Before I present my review of the films, I’d like to pay a brief homage to the cinema itself.

The Pacific Cinémathèque has been our go-to cinema for classic and foreign films for decades.  It was there we first saw Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, David Lean’s Oliver Twist, Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, and many other unforgettable movies.  Long before we got Turner Classic Movies, the Cinémathèque was where we went for something other than the summer blockbusters.  Soon, the Cinémathèque will be relocating and becoming part of the TELUS garden development in downtown Vancouver.  Next year will also be its 40th anniversary, so I strongly recommend checking it out and enjoying a truly memorable moviegoing experience.


The Far Country and The Man From Laramie were two Anthony Mann westerns from the 1950s starring Jimmy Stewart.  The former depicts Stewart as a nomadic, self-reliant man in the late 19th century.  He makes his money driving a herd of cattle from the United States to Canada and then taking his profits to stake a claim during the gold rush.  The latter shows a highly ethical, yet vengeful Stewart on a quest to find the man responsible for selling repeating rifles to the American Indians.


It was fantastic to see these two films back to back, as the range of Stewart’s talent is clearly evident.  Stewart is often thought of as playing himself in every movie, but I strongly dispute that claim.  It is hard to believe that the same man embodies both these characters, as one is easy to dislike and the other evokes sympathy even as he exacts his revenge.  The Man from Laramie is by far the better movie, though.  The complexity of the story and the supporting characters outweigh the rather thin plot of The Far Country.  Yet, this gold rush odyssey is still worth watching for its strong female characters and the beautiful scenery of Jasper, Alberta, where the movie was filmed.


All in all, I very much enjoyed my sixth prize and am looking forward to win number seven! Wish me luck for July!

My Review of Blue Valentine

After many days of doing other “delightful tasks,” I finally sat down and watched Blue Valentine. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, given that all I knew was the movie was “critically acclaimed” and the DVD cover has Michelle Williams (Cindy) and Ryan Gosling (Dean) looking lovingly at one another. It turned out I was in for a very emotional cinematic ride.

The movie intercuts the early days of Cindy and Dean’s relationship with their present day relationship. The former depiction is that of a passionate and tender pair who are a delight to watch. The best scene in the movie involves the two displaying their hidden talents. According to director Derek Cianfrance, this scene was entirely improvised, with the actors really showing each other their hidden talents for the first time. It looks very natural and the joy of their respective discoveries is incredibly palpable.


Juxtaposing the youthful enthusiasm and joyous love of this pair with the embittered and pained duo we see years later is almost a cruelty to the eyes and heart. We don’t see the degeneration of the relationship, but we can guess what has taken place and how Cindy and Dean have grown apart.


I won’t reveal more than this, as it is easy to give away too much in describing this film. Suffice it to say, that I was hugely impressed by Blue Valentine. Williams and Gosling give fantastic performances and the dialogue is incredibly real. It is not an easy movie to watch for two reasons, though. First, its realism has a bluntness and in-your-face quality that is almost confrontational. It’s like Cianfrance is challenging his audience to examine their own relationships; to juxtapose in their own minds what they were like when they first met their significant other and how they interact with that same person now. Second, the film is also very honest about the sexuality of its characters and it depicts their physical interactions with the same unrelenting boldness it does all their other interactions. The film was originally given an NC-17 rating, but had it reduced to an “R.” That said, the sex scenes are in no way gratuitous. I didn’t find them offensive in any way and thought they were integral to the story.


So, given all I’ve just written, I think it’s clear that this movie is not for the You’ve Got Mail/Bridget Jones’ Diary fans. However, if realism, rather than escapism is what you’re in the mood for give Blue Valentine a shot, though maybe not on Valentine’s Day.


*So, where am I at in my winning streak? For those of you keeping score, I have won five prizes so far: Tickets to the Talking Stick Festival; Passes to West is West, $100 worth of Dutch cheese; Tickets to an International Dance Day performance; and passes to Something Borrowed, a regular popcorn, and a DVD of Blue Valentine. The approximate total of my winnings is $282.24. I should mention that I have won a $5 off coupon to East Side Mario’s, a free Tim Horton’s coffee with Roll up the Rim, and other percentage off coupons, but I am not counting those, as I don’t really consider coupons a prize and, well, I had to buy a tea to get the cup to roll up the rim, so yeah, that doesn’t count either. I’m quite happy that I’ve basically won one prize a month since I started, so here’s hoping for an even bigger win this month!

Something Borrowed

How I ended up watching Something Borrowed:


As I mentioned in my last post, I was happy to receive two passes to A Wake, courtesy of The Georgia Straight. Unfortunately, the movie’s run ended prior to my win. So, the paper kindly rectified the situation by giving me two passes to Something Borrowed, a free regular popcorn, and a DVD of Blue Valentine, about which I will write a review in a future post. I was really happy about this because I wanted to see a movie about a wedding this year, as my brother is getting married in September and I’m feeling a bit sentimental these days.


In any case, I dragged my husband to the movie, as none of my friends were able to make it on such short notice. I did feel slight pangs of guilt as I knew chick flicks were not our usual movie-going fare. Yet, we enjoyed the convoluted plot; the shameless Heineken product placement; and the Tom Cruise clone that is Colin Egglesfield. I think, on my own, I wouldn’t have laughed out loud. So, I guess what I’m saying is that my husband, 15 years after I met him, is still my pal.


Win tickets to Something Borrowed or watch it when it comes on T.V. Spending money on it is probably not a good idea. However, spending a Thursday night with someone you love definitely is.