WP Staff


When it comes to discounts, ask and you shall receive

By Doreen Binder

Most people love to get a deal.

Several weeks ago on a Wednesday morning I was in Banana Republic and I could not believe how busy it was. The fitting rooms were filled with people who were queued up waiting to try things on and the lineup for the cash snaked around through the store. It all made sense when I realized that people who received Banana Republic’s promotional emails had received a 40 per cent off coupon to be used that day.

It is great when we discover the price has been slashed on a much coveted accessory or piece of clothing we have been eyeing for several weeks or when we are privy to one day sales. But what about when we buy something and then discover that if we had only waited a few days, we could have gotten it cheaper.

These days several chain stores offer price adjustments. The rules and regulations vary from retailer to retailer, so it is best to ask. I was recently in The Gap and noticed that a cowl scarf I had purchased the previous week was reduced by thirty per cent. I asked a sales associate the time limit on price adjustments and was told it was seven days. It was the last day that I could get a price adjustment on the scarf. I did not have my receipt with me and I was not sure if I could make it home in time to pick up the scarf and the receipt and return to the store before closing. I was surprised when the sales associate asked the method of payment I had used for my purchase. He was able to track it through my bank card and within minutes I had the discount accredited to my bank account. I love it when everything comes together — store policies, customer service and technology — and it results in a deal.

It pays to ask about price adjustments.



Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

RECIPE: Chicken pot pies

Makes 6 main-course servings

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 thin carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Leaves from 1 bunch tarragon
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Two 1-pound packages all-butter puff pastry, thawed overnight in the refrigerator if frozen
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon salt

Divide the chicken evenly among six 1-cup ramekins. Sprinkle the mushrooms evenly over the chicken, dividing them evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the carrots over the top and finally the tarragon. Press down on the filling in each ramekin so none of the ingredients rise above the rim. (If the ingredients touch the pastry, the pastry will tear.) Pour 1/3 cup of the broth and 21/2 tablespoons of the cream evenly over each filled ramekin. Season again with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out 6 rounds about 2 inches larger in diameter than the rim of the ramekins. Using a sharp paring knife, and working from the center to the edge, make a series of arcs, like spokes, on the surface of each round, being careful not to cut through the dough. Flip each round, brush with the beaten egg, then invert a round over each ramekin (the scored side will be facing up). Press the dough firmly against the sides with your palms until it adheres securely. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg. Place the pies on a sheet pan.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake the pies for about 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and has puffed. Serve at once.


Reprinted with permission from Meat: A Kitchen Education by James Peterson


Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Residential real estate market is slowing

By Hanna Mohammed

The growth of Canada’s residential real estate market is slowing.

Home sales declined 5.8 per cent across Canada from July to August, the largest single-month decline since June 2010, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Weak consumer confidence, high unemployment and tight credit conditions continue to weigh heavily on housing demand and pricing, said the Bank of Nova Scotia in a report released Friday.

The GTA saw a 7.7 per cent decline in new listings.

Sales declines were also apparent in cities like Vancouver, Greater Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa.

Although the Canadian market is expected to slow further, European housing markets remain the weakest. Signs of modest improvement were shown in countries such as the United States, the U.K., Australia and China, the Scotiabank report said.

The report added that it will likely take a considerable amount of time for sustainable recovery to emerge in the global market. Stronger job and income growth will be required to generate the consumer purchasing power that is needed to support higher home sales.

Canadians are too comfortable with debt

By Hanna Mohammed

A new poll suggests that most Canadians are too comfortable with debt.

In the survey done by bankruptcy trustees Hoyes, Michalos and Associates nine out of 10 people would consider taking loans to cover unexpected costs.

The Harris/Decima poll asked borrowers if they could comfortably raise $2,000 within a month to cover unexpected costs; 92 per cent of people said they would rather borrow.

One-in-five Canadians surveyed said they believe it would take them two months or longer to come up with $2,000, even if they could borrow. Among those who said they couldn’t raise the money within a month, 26 per cent said they couldn’t raise the money no matter how much time they were given.

The poll results come as Canadian debt-income ratios sit at a record 152 per cent. Officials are warning those who have borrowed to pay down debt before interest rates increase.

The findings suggest that consumers have been unmoved by warnings.

OPINION: Does the focus on women only events help us or hurt us?

By Karolina Bialkowska

At the risk of making many enemies and few friends, I think we should decrease the public focus on women only events – particularly those that involve business conferences and organizations. Instead, I think it is time to make equality about bringing together equals, not separating entities.

Second-wave feminism shaped our society into what it is today. It was the movement that rigidly defined femininity and established the sexes as two binaries on opposite ends of the spectrum of humanity. Our mothers and grandmothers successfully fought to establish women as members of the workforce, as executives, leaders, and intellectuals.  For that I am eternally grateful. But here I will argue the merits of third-wave feminism. When the world itself knew only two strict definitions of gender and sexuality, second-wave feminism was our saviour. Then, the approach of banding together as one and segregating ourselves as women was necessary in order to prove our merit against the oppression of institutionalized patriarchy.

Today, however, I find it unrealistic to segregate ourselves into such strict gender binaries. Our world, our culture, our understanding of the variety of human selves mediates our own identities. In recent years we have begun to understand that self-identity is not a mixture of rigid binaries but instead a fluid spectrum of in-betweens. Why, then, do we still feel it necessary to distinguish ourselves and separate ourselves so severely as to organize ‘women’s only’ business conferences? Is it not more effective to fight for equality by integrating all people under one umbrella, one level playing field?

And, I ask, where do people of ambiguous sex fit in? Where do women of ethnicity fit into the predominantly white, middle – upper class, feminist models of gender equality? Are we missing a whole other side to the narrative by stunting the evolution of feminism? Gay, transsexual, people born with the anatomy of both, and others who find it difficult to fit either mould as male or female will find themselves subject to the same prejudices as women did 30 years ago. Except this time women are the ones closing the doors and refusing them entry.

I still think it is important to recognize the unique roles that women play in society. Social mixers and networking events that propel women to the heights made possible by activists before us are a beautiful way to celebrate our achievements amongst sisters, friends, and mothers.

I am simply cautioning against focusing on binaries, and perhaps thinking about changing our game plan. Inclusion and equality are not synonymous with segregation and elevation of one sex over the other. One cannot be the ‘better’ sex, women cannot be held in higher regard than men, and we must work together to experience true equality. We still have a ways to go.

Splitting headaches: Understanding the aura, fear, and pain of the migraine

by Kait Fowlie

It starts with an ‘aura,’ a visual disturbance involving shimmering and missing pieces. Gradually, the aura impedes sight entirely, and disorientation takes over, making basic communication impossible. That’s when the headache starts.

These sensations constitute some of my first memories. I’ll never forget standing in the hallway on my way to school one morning and telling my mom she only had half a face. At the time, this was as worrisome and baffling for her as it was for me, and what followed were many attempts to understand the strange and volatile event that just kept happening. Most of my childhood memories are characterized by confusing trips to doctors, countless prescriptions, and a persistent fear that I’d turn a corner to see a half-faced person standing there.

If I had a hard time trying to articulate this experience when I was a child, it hasn’t gotten any easier 15 years later. “Unless you know someone who suffers with migraine you likely have no clue how debilitating it can be,” explains Dr. Christine Lay, of the Women’s College Hospital. “Headache is poorly diagnosed and managed because it is under-taught, with the average medical student getting only four hours of training over four years! So, doctors on the front line have been left ill-equipped to manage these disabling conditions.”

Currently, there’s no cure for the disease, perhaps in part because symptoms vary greatly from sufferer to sufferer. Some people are able to identify triggers (cheese, wine, lack of sleep) and for others, myself included, attacks are seemingly random. Generally, a sufferer can manage migraine by being mindful of their daily habits. “Lifestyle factors such as hydration, nutrition, exercise, and sleep routine are important. Equally important is to be honest with yourself about ongoing stressors or anxiety/depression — even if mild — as left unmanaged these can aggravate headaches,” explains Dr. Lay.

Taking note of the patterns that occur around times of an attack is a common starting point to finding a solution. Beyond that, most migraineurs need more help than what they can provide for themselves. The wait for good help can be long. I waited over a year to see Dr. Lay, but it was worth it. The Women’s College Hospital’s Center for Headache is Ontario’s only medical centre dedicated solely to headache diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. A patient can expect a comprehensive, one-on-one examination where there’s no such thing as a stupid question. All of mine were answered in a way that satisfied the discouraged child in me, who has lived in fear for a long time.

The Centre for Headache at the Women’s College Hospital caters to a niche demographic that requires specialized attention. “Migraine is three times more common in women than men and we think one of the primary reasons is hormones, particularly estrogen,” Dr. Lay explains. Many women may not be aware, but the way we experience stress, a prominent migraine trigger, is significantly different from the way men do. Studies have proven that higher levels of estrogen amplify the stress response in some areas of the brain: When exposed to stress, female lab rats’ ability to learn and function normally proved impaired, and that of male rats didn’t.

Rising above the threat and fear of migraine started with equipping myself with the right information. As Dr. Lay explained, this means being honest with yourself about the one factor many believe to be the root cause of illnesses ranging from canker sores to cancer: stress. There’s no need to keep migraines in the dark. “Empowered by knowledge, migraineurs can gain control of their headaches,” says Dr. Lay. Resources like the Center for Headache truly do illuminate the lives of sufferers.

5 things I learned about investing — at the mall

By Candi Munroe

I love to shop. Since I have started investing for myself I have noticed something else: I observe things. They may seem like simple things, but they are really indicators of something much bigger. This is what I see at the mall – you can test them out this Holiday season for yourself.

1.      Supply and Demand – This is the most basic economic principle. A product that is in great supply or has too much supply is cheap. A product that is rare or in short supply is expensive. The most drastic example of this is Apple. Think about Apple stores with the long line-ups of people eagerly awaiting the latest Apple iPad or iPhone. Meanwhile, Wall Street boasts of the great margins Apple is getting. Their stock has also experienced an explosion in price. From its 2008 price of $90 to today’s price of around $550 (which is already down 20% off the high), the stock has impressed.

2.      Fads vs. Classics – The mall always has the latest fashions deemed ‘in’ this year. This is not unlike Wall Street. Yes, analysts study the numbers, but then they make estimates on what they think will sell this year and make recommendations accordingly. These companies and their stocks are hot and everyone wants to own them. A more classical girl, I like buying good quality products and wearing them year-to-year. I would never buy a fad and expect to wear it into retirement.

3.      Are there job openings? – When the economy is better more people have jobs. When the economy is depressed, people lose their jobs. I recently vacationed at a hotel where I had vacationed the year before. This year it was much harder to be served. I waited in line more often and the staff were agitated and overworked. This tells me that the staff has been reduced to save money in a bad economy. So when you are at the mall, look around. Are the stores well staffed? When you eat out, are there plenty of waitresses and waiters? If so, this is a sign that the economy may be on the way up.

4.      Are the stores well run? Are they concerned about their brand and reputation? This is more about individual companies. Which companies take care of their employees? Starbucks give their U.S. employees health care and opportunities to invest in the company’s stock. The employees I encounter there are happy and engage the customers. Good hiring? Good management? Solid Policies? Probably a bit of each.

5.      Are people buying at or near full retail prices? Observe the shoppers in the stores. Do they have lots of bags? Are the bags large? (Discount the effect if the discounts are high.) Many people out shopping puts money back into the pockets of businesses and is a good sign that better days are ahead.

Do not let these simple observations pass you by in the Christmas haze. Keep in mind that these general indicators tell us how people feel about their job security and how much optimism they have about the year ahead. They can also help guide you to products and ideas that are good targets to research and invest in yourself. And this is fun! After all, ladies, aren’t we all about multitasking?

#TOpoli with Thomson March 3: Chow’s numbers helping Ford against Tory?

Sarah Thomson and Travis Myers are joined by Ashley Csanady and Andrea Houston for Toronto’s political panel as they discuss How Olivia Chow’s polling numbers might help Ford win, how John Tory’s campaign will fare in the long run, David Soknacki’s meme campaign on Twitter, and police presence at Toronto District School Board meetings due to issues with bullying and intimidation.