In Life, Style, What I bought, What I read

February 2014: What I bought, watched and read



(I even love the name)


I love that she’s an older blogger (and a role model!), and her style is not so perfect, prissy or polished like some of those other style bloggers out there. I can think of at least 3 mainstream bloggers who are like this, and it is just not practical to run around in 4″ heels all day with your hair perfectly coiffed and not a single item mismatched or out of place.

It just isn’t.

Nothing is super perfect and there are days when you don’t want to look perfect.

She’s not a very girly blogger so there’s no pink, glitter, bows.. anything that kind of makes you think: UGH this is way too sweet to wear without it being a sartorial joke on fashion, which is completely up my alley.

(Yes I am specifically thinking of ONE fashion blogger who basically loves bows, glittery things, pink and things that make me gag.)

Anyway, while I don’t love ALL of the outfits she wears, I like them all, and hate very.. very.. few of them.



I had to. I’m pregnant.

It’s REALLy interesting, and you even get to see creepy 4D ultrasounds of a baby, along with the actual birth of a baby girl (literally… the ACTUAL birth, with the birth canal crowning shot and everything).

Anyway, I watched it to know what my baby has been feeling for the past while inside my womb, and I can now understand or at least vicariously feel how a baby might feel coming out into a cold, bright, kind of annoyingly loud world after being in such a warm, comfortable cocoon.

This does not make all the painful kicking the baby is doing to my body inside feel any better, but I am a lot calmer now that I kind of know what to expect and am reassured that it’s a sign of a very healthy, active baby.



To all my European readers (and American Europhiles) who are interested, this is a fantastic book for you to read as it is from an American perspective.

An excellent, extremely interesting book that contrasts between Europe and the U.S. written from a perspective of an American who claims to not be a Europhile, yet the whole book contrasts all the things wrong and right in America versus Europe.

Surprisingly, it had a personal finance twist, comparing the living situation of a woman in Europe versus a woman in the U.S. He has a bit of a “why are we spending so much money on crap we don’t want to feel better about our horrible lives that we can’t seem to enjoy living?” commentary that I’ve come to realize over the past decade of consumption (being a shopaholic) and turning into whatever I am today.

Topics he writes about that contrast between the U.S. and Europe (specifically Germany, and to a lesser extent, France):

  • Consumption / Spending — Enough said.
  • Healthcare — a HUGE problem in the U.S., even I was shocked at this
  • Working conditions — another massive problem in the U.S. especially with at-will employment*
  • Childcare — I’m envious of their government daycares in Europe
  • Time spent working — He has a great chart that shows Europeans working 1500 hours and Americans at 2400 hours
  • Fear of the workplace — Goes with working conditions, but Americans have a fear of being fired (my aunt worries about this a lot)
  • Education — Filtering and quality of education is far superior in Europe in my opinion; he actually validated my assumption for me

..really, REALLY fascinating. It isn’t dry in the slightest and he gives real-life examples of people he meets as well as conversations, and lots of great data to back it all up.

*The American At-Will Employment Explanation for Europeans

This is something that shocked me in the U.S., but basically some states let you fire an employee just because they want to fire you, for any reason at all such as they don’t like the colour of your tie or their husband doesn’t like you.

Employers do not need a “valid” reason and this really surprised me as a Canadian that it was still allowed.

No wonder Americans live in fear of losing their jobs, work a lot, take no vacations, and have a lot of stress.

A great book that would go quite nicely with this other book I read last year:



Basically it is kind of ridiculous that Americans work so hard.

My aunt is 76 and STILL working in a factory because she never made much money her entire life, her husband was a bit of a bum and her stepchildren hate her. She only has about $40,000 saved in Social Security and is scared to death of losing her job.




Anyway.. long story short, it’s a great book.


This book was lent to me (in paperback format.. how retro!) by a friend who is planning her wedding. I read through it and loved that it basically resonated with why I don’t want to have a big wedding (let alone get married to begin with).

The first half of the book was way more interesting than the second half for me, because it goes through how wedding consultants sell to you, what it costs, how they ‘close’ on a newly engaged bride and so on.

Then it also talks about the cost of making a wedding dress (it’s a SERIOUS business), and later on, goes into wedding venues that are destination weddings and how the dream of a perfect, big American wedding is costing a lot of people a lot of money and is a big business.

What I find interesting is that when I mentioned some of these facts to BF while reading the book, he looked at me bemused and said:

North American weddings are a scam.

In Europe, particularly in France, we do not have such ideas.

At least.. not when my friends were getting married.

They could go directly to the vineyard and buy crates of wine from the producer to have at their wedding rather than paying corking fees and buying the wine through the venue.

Food was also a really good deal and a REAL meal in France, unlike here in North America where they cook some cheap pasta and throw a can of sauce on top and call it a dish.

It was an even better deal before the EUR came in because in francs, it was a steal!! 

Europeans? Thoughts?

PETER RABBIT BABY BOOK = $11.80 (used points for $5 off)

Printed in Italy on eco-friendly inks and papers.

I really don’t like paper in general, but I truly appreciated that my mother created a memory book for me when I was a baby. Even though she half-heartedly filled in the pages with random notes (she didn’t really do the job!!) she still made an effort and I still enjoyed flipping through it as an adult.

I’m keeping ultrasounds in here, anything people give me in terms of cards and making notes.

It only goes through the first year, and frankly that’s all I need or really want.


Some people want a baby book that goes up to 5 or 10 years, but frankly who has time with a baby to write all that stuff in!? Not me.

Sure, it would have been cute to have later years but it is a lot of work and I want to do this for every one of my children so no one feels left out, so I need to keep this simple and up to the first birthday is good enough for me.


This is a book I am going to use to start the baby off on learning piano. I can already play and love playing it, so this will be easy to teach for a starting course.

If the baby enjoys it and wants to progress then we’ll pay for lessons but if it’s something they don’t seem to be interested in at the end, then at least I will have only spent about $9 finding it out.

Of course, this is way in the future.. but I like being prepared.


!! BUT DIDN’T !!!

…’Cuz I am starting to run low on my “free and not invested” emergency fund cash (down to my last $13,000 because I put $5500 of it to max out my TFSAs for 2014) and I am also on a retail shopping ban.

Anyway, in lieu of what I actually bought, this is what I’ve been eying lustfully.


This gorgeous Olive Green coat from Burberry that was marked down from $1300 to $950.. (a steal I tell you)…


I wanted it because.. uhhh… wait, do I even need a reason? It’s a WANT.

A LUST for a coat I do not own in that colour or style. Plus olive green looks particularly good on me.. in my opinion.


Not that I’d ever actually splash out $3400 CAD on a DRESS but a girl can dream and window shop online when she isn’t spending money, right?

My goodness it’s gorgeous.


I am basically waiting for a Sephora VIB sale for 20% off to buy these palettes, and I think the sale comes in November…




Matte, neutral eyeshadows I can wear to work. Sold.



This one is a maybe because it has shiny colours in it.. and I kind of really liked the first palette the best, although the second Naked #2 palette was way too grey for my skintone.



I hear it makes your skin look amazing a la Arianne of Glitter Geek. I’m willing to give it a shot although at $52, could I get a sample first?

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2012 Year in Review: What I bought and read

Posted on January 18, 2013

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  1. SP

    I bought the Naked Basics pallet for the reason you mentioned: wearable to work, no shimmery stuff. I pretty much love it.

    Despite being employed “at will”, I can’t name a single person I know who was fired for no cause at all. Most often, it is part of general downsizing / layoffs. Most people don’t live in fear of losing their job. And trust me, at big corporations, there are pleeeenty of people who SHOULD be fired, but aren’t due to fear of lawsuits. (Because there are a few specific reasons you CAN’T fire people.) The fat gets trimmed during the first round of layoffs. You can find exceptions, but it isn’t common.

    The story about your aunt doesn’t make sense, maybe you can elaborate in a future post if you feel like it? Particularly this: “She only has about $40,000 saved in Social Security”. Social security isn’t an account, it is defined benefit based on the amount you made in your highest earning years. Anyway, that sucks that she is 76 and scared of losing her job.

    That book looks really interesting and I’d love to read it! I have a huge “to read” list right now….

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Okay, officially sold. I am definitely buying that palette come VIB sale in September (?)

      Oh yes! That’s right that you can’t be fired for basic human reasons like skin colour, ethnicity, etc. I remember reading that. Maybe it was just in my area that I felt like people got fired for nothing.

      When I say “saved in Social Security”, I meant in her retirement benefits as a whole (sorry, should have been more clear / precise).

      She has worked minimum wage her entire life and she told me on the phone that she would only have about $40K in Social Security. We have the same setup here in Canada, where it is a defined benefit rather than an actual account.

      She has not worked much / saved much and hasn’t lived in the U.S. for her whole life (she lived in England before), so that’s why her retirement benefits are so low. She is about to quit her job and find another one that is less back breaking (she has to lift heavy boxes)… I just feel awful for her in general.

      In Canada we’d have GIS (supplemental retirement income plan for low-earners) and CPP (government plan all employed people pay into) which is barely anything ($1000 a month I think, someone told me) but they are retirement plans that are SOMETHING for people like my aunt who couldn’t / haven’t saved enough. I am not necessarily a fan of these plans because people like me who save a lot their whole lives are penalized to support those who haven’t, but in this case, I can see how I’d wish she lived here instead.

  2. Tania

    I love these wrap up posts and I’ll be straight up, I’m totally gonna do it too, inspired by yours (which I’ll be sure to mention). You always make me add new bloggers and books to my reading list (O’s book club has nothing on you).

    I love the blogger you shared today. She is very much along my own sense of style including the undone hair. Although she’s taller than I and can get away some things I can’t. Definitely checking out the first book too.

    Btw, I finally got a new library card and trying to get in the habit of checking whether something is available to borrow first instead of buying. The library has made some strides too, now we can download audio and ebooks (woo hoo!). I also picked up a new domain where I can write about simple living/minimalism more. I may talk about debt/money a little but not too much since I won’t be anonymous and as a rule don’t share my salary ever, especially with co-workers. Mauishopgirl will still exist but I wanted a platform to explore other topics a bit more. I should get back into the writing swing of things (I used to post as frequently as you do) but I just got out of a very long and difficult breakup and my writing chi was seriously blocked for almost all of last year (it took months to fully be done, long story).

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Haha thank you 🙂 I do read a lot but it’s only in spurts, when it inspires me to do so. Otherwise, I tend to not read much if I let myself become lazy.

      I’ve ONLY been borrowing e-books as of late. I don’t buy them any more, it’s surprisingly versatile (the public library)!!

      Are you starting a whole new blog completely, then?

  3. A Money Goddess

    I LOVE the Naked Basics palette, but alas, I realized that I basically had 4 out of the 6 shades already in MAC shadow pots. I figured that if I finished my MAC shadows, I would replace it with the NB palette.

    Glad you liked “One Perfect Day”, it was definitely an interesting read!

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I have the book! I’ll have to remember to return it to you. 🙂

      I’ll be buying the NB palette for work I think.

  4. Bridget

    I totally have a guess about who the super girl fashion blogger is. I like her and follow her blog but I would NEVER wear the outfits she does! She looks like a birthday cake. A very beautiful birthday cake, but still.

    I read One Perfect Day a few years ago and love it.

    Annnnd I need the Naked 3 palette. Need. But waiting until I use up the last of my Mac shadows.

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      There are other super girl fashion bloggers who wear heels all the time and look like a birthday cake.

      I’ve never actually hit the pan on any of my eyeshadows 😛 Maybe this is a sign I shouldn’t buy any more.

  5. Anonymous

    Yes I live in an at-will state in the U.S. however I’m not sold on making laws where its hard to fire employees because sometimes companies take a chance on employees and they find out that they are lazy or incompetent.

    So when you create hard to fire laws and then find out your new employee is lazy how do you get rid of them? Even though I live in an at-will state I have found out that employers are hesitant to fire employees and that’s because most American businesses don’t want to deal with lawsuits and yes people still sue their former companies even in an at-will state.

    Nobody likes that headache (lawsuit) and the companies I’ve worked for would rather re-train and work with the employee rather than fire them from the get-go. It also costs them time and money to train someone and thus they would rather keep their talent than start from the beginning with someone who is green.

    At times when we hear of Euro laws, they do sound good on the surface but when you begin to look into it more then it doesn’t seem too perfect either. I don’t think that American ways are better either, for example when my bf found a job as a software developer. The job advertised as 9-5, weekends and holidays off.

    However he found out pretty quickly because he’s part of the IT department, that during crunch time for projects he had to work 80 hour weeks many times, then it went back to 40 hours after the projects were done for a week or two, then the 80 hour weeks would start up again during crunch time on the next project.

    A couple of times he had to go in during the weekends, one time at Christmas, and another time at midnight. I told him he needs to leave that job and find something better with a company that respects his time.

    Unfortunately in the U.S. I’ve found even when jobs advertise they are 9-5, weekends and holidays off, PTO, etc. This is not always so. Sometimes bosses get offended if you don’t want to participate in company events. It’s almost like it’s not enough to give 40 hours, it’s as if they want your soul!

    At one company that I worked for we were told to come in on a Saturday which I thought was ridiculous.

    While Europeans and Canadians do enjoy many benefits from their respective countries, the problem is that they are also taxed more and there is a huge unemployment issue especially in countries such as France and Germany. I also believe that companies like France create a welfare state.

    The welfare state mentality is also a huge problem in the U.S.

    In addition in countries like Norway sometimes they want to ignore the fact that men and women are wired differently. A while back there was this controversial Norway documentary about why men and women choose different jobs and there were scientific findings that men and women are wired differently biologically. Some of the experts in Norway didn’t want to admit this.

    I believe this is the documentary.

    Interestingly enough this is also happening in the U.S., the medical and scientific community in the U.S. doesn’t always acknowledge biological differences even in regards to peoples health!

    I’m not saying that Europe and Canada are bad and that the U.S. is better, but I’m saying neither are perfect and both have their good and bad things. I do not want socialized health care. There is no such thing as a free lunch. That’s the # 1 thing that you learn in any economics course.

    So having socialized health care would mean higher taxes. I also do not plan on participating in Obamacare, in short I’d rather pay the fine than find a health care package through an employer or individually. The fine would be less expensive especially since I’m trying to put myself through college right now.

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I absolutely 100% agree with not keeping on workers because they’re lazy. That’s one of the reasons why BF got disgusted with France and left because he wanted to fire 50% of the people there who were not doing their jobs properly, but couldn’t do it because the severance packages would have destroyed the company.

      That said, I think at least a 2-week severance minimum (as we have here in Canada) is needed. France is too extreme and the U.S. is too extreme on the other end.

      There’s no good way to do things, and no good balance, to be honest. This is why everyone struggles so hard to make it work. Germany seems to have a good plan in place however…

      Thank you for all the links (as usual) 🙂

  6. Michelle

    I love where I live in America-HOWEVER what we keep reading in posts is a beginning rejection of the current Capitalist model and how it affects the people who live in it. For those individuals who are able to figure out the key to making money in America they are able to tap into amazing wealth, good health, safety etc.

    I live in Colorado and I have to say I love it. I do work too much, but I’m in the process of transitioning to a Freelance lifestyle. Then, I’ll work hard for me! The U.S. is now in the beginning stages of required health care and that is one of the reasons why I can make this switch. I currently aggressively protect my quality of life and am very aware of the importance of work life balance. I don’t actively worry about guns or violence because if I did I would never leave the house. I should also admit that even though I’m over working my job the work culture in my specific organization is fantastic. I go hiking or to yoga during lunch. Or, I’ll go on long walks. We are discouraged from working too much and our supervisors mention that they are concerned about our work life balance. Last year we went to look at bears that had wondered down the mountain. I also work in Boulder, CO so….

    I’ve lived in Europe and there are a number of things I do love: the food, sense of fashion, access to health care, and an awareness of other cultures/languages. I don’t love the lack of ethnic awareness, the fact that there are very few people of color in representative government in most European countries (though this is slowly changing). I don’t like the deeply entrenched classism and do feel that in some countries people are feeling just as stuck financially as a lot of Americans are feeling

    Personal finance bloggers and their readers are already different than the norm because we are already questioning why do we continue to buy into “the system?” As technology introduces new possibilities I think you will find a lot of people like myself taking a leap. Thank God I discovered PF blogging. Question everything!!

    Ultimately, the biggest problem is the American citizen continuing buying into the current system. Until we stop buying into it nothing will change. Also, until we lower our monthly expenses/desires we will remain trapped in the system. I’m happy to say I’ve rejected the system.

    I love that coat and want it now!!

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      You make really good points about trying to figure out the balance — I think Europe is extreme in some ways, and the U.S. is extreme in others. Canada isn’t perfect either, I find it quite inefficient and wasteful at times, and the mentality of folks here is not that different from Americans, especially if you look at our housing bubble (pending crisis?)..

      I think the change starts with the company itself, and its executives as well as employees. It can’t just be one-way, where it’s the government forcing companies or employees to do certain things, people have to work together in harmony to build a culture of trust where a company cares about you and vice versa.

  7. eemusings

    I like a lot of things about the US but the BIG things are what would keep me from moving there (unless I was to be offered like a $300k job which ain’t gonna happen!) Namely, employment rights – or lack thereof – and healthcare. Guns also scare me but to a lesser extent. I had an interview on my blog last month with a couple of Brits who want to move to the US and it was hard for me to bite my tongue and not weigh in on that…

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @eemusings: Until you move and live there you don’t know what it’s like. It’s hard to describe, to be honest. It has good and bad points, but for working it is an awful culture.

    2. Anonymous

      @eemusings: What’s wrong with guns? They are the great equalizer since the police can’t always get to you immediately if you are in need of help.

      1. save. spend. splurge.

        A lot of people are scared of guns, especially if you’re not used to living in a country that allows firearms (e.g. New Zealand, Australia, Canada..)

  8. Cassie

    I love my Urban Decay Naked Basics pallet. You’re not going to get a tonne of variation being a basics pallet, but in terms of putting yourself together quickly it’s awesome.

    You’re definitely not helping with my Burberry coat obsession. I already have 2 and I keep eyeing up a 3rd. Just sayin.

    I’m going to have to get ahold of that “One Perfect Day” book. It sounds like it should be required reading (because holy crow are they out to get ya when you mention the word wedding!)

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @Cassie: I am missing a basic palette for sure, which is why I am eying it.

      Oh! I thought you only had one Burberry (tan trench?). What’s the second one?

      1. Cassie

        @save. spend. splurge.: My first Burberry is actually a burgundy cashmere dress coat with funnel neck, my second one was a tan Manston (I believe?) trench coat.

        1. save. spend. splurge.

          OMG.. cashmere dress coat..


  9. AdinaJ

    My son is 2.5 and LOVES looking through his baby book. Granted, I’m like your mom and didn’t do a very thorough job of it, but he likes looking at the pictures I put in there. I filled out the major milestones, put the ultrasound pics and a few of the birthday/Christmas cards he’s received, and figured I can fill out the rest later. Maybe. Probably not, lol! But at least it’s something. I would have loved having a baby book too. Great idea!

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @AdinaJ: It’s the one thing I wanted to do.. and I’m getting BF to write in it too!

  10. jane savers @ solving the money puzzle

    So I guess you aren’t considering a move to the USA any time soon?

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @jane savers @ solving the money puzzle: I already moved there and came back to Canada permanently.

  11. summerlude

    The “American Dream” wedding is becoming extremely popular in Europe as well (thank you Hollywood, thank you reality tv). In Italy, you wouldn’t get married before being able to afford buying a house. Now, you wouldn’t get married if you can’t afford a big American-style wedding (things like expensive engagement rings, or bachelor and bachelorette parties are becoming “a thing”). As a result, nobody gets married or has children anymore, because they can’t afford it (and if they do, it looks like My Big Fat Greek Wedding). I am from Italy and married an American here in Germany. We still went for a rather big thing (we got married in a small castle here in town and had a big dinner and party afterwards), because we wanted to, but also to convey the importance of this big step for us (cultural conditioning may have played a role as well). We tried and be smart about budgeting (the dress and photos were way cheaper in Germany than it would have been in Italy, rings were the opposite so we got them in Italy, we designed and printed our own invitations, guests paid for their own accommodation.. and so forth and so on). Our families chipped in too. You can save a lot and spend mostly for what is important to you (for us it was the location + good food and wine at the party), but to do so you need to get some of that cultural conditioning out of your head.

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @summerlude: In North America, I will point out that the parents are not necessarily on the hook to pay for their children. I know this is more of a cultural thing, as many Europeans (Italian, Greek, French, Spanish etc) and Asians (Indian, Chinese, Korean) will pay for their children’s weddings or at least contribute but North Americans have a different view on this as it is essentially seen as a big party, and perhaps wasteful / parents do not have the money to pay for it.

      It can be difficult to pay for something like that, that costs at least $20,000 for a “basic” wedding here.

      How much was it in Europe if you don’t mind me asking? A ballpark figure would be fine. I am always curious what people spend on such days.

      It’s kind of sad that a wedding is now seen as a big party rather than something simple, as it was in the past.

      1. summerlude

        @save. spend. splurge.: more or less 10.000 EUR for us. 1000 for bureaucratic stuff and ceremony (translations, fees, renting the place, car, photographs and flowers), 6500 for the dinner & drinks (we are talking lots of very good food & wine and German beer for 75 people – buffet), 2500 for clothes, rings & grooming, 1000 for other things (stuff to print, favors, cake). Music was free (my husband’s band played) and so was translating the ceremony (two friends did it, it was very nice). It was “basic” because it was self-organized and we got good bargains for many things, but it wasn’t really “basic” because we didn’t neglect anything we would want (music, nice location, good photos, good food, good wine) and we had a blast, which was both fun and also very meaningful (as most of our family is scattered around the world, it was a very touching reunion).

        1. save. spend. splurge.

          @summerlude: 10,000 EUR would be a dream here. The average cost here is $33,000 or 24,000 EUR, and it isn’t for a wedding that is impressive, but more of a standard / basic one with as I mentioned, canned sauces on pasta.

  12. Clarisse @ Reach Financial Independence

    Last month my seven-year old daughter started her violin class and she will have her class every Tuesday for one hour. Her violin teacher has a high hourly rate, but I just didn’t mind it because he is the only one who teaches violin lesson in our small city.

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @Clarisse @ Reach Financial Independence: How much is it for an hour? When I was a kid, we paid $30/half hour for piano lessons.


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