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

October 2013: What I bought, watched and read


Note to other bloggers: I do like to feature newer or lesser-known blogs to pass on the good blogging karma/love….. so don’t be miffed! You may just be too popular for your own good.


She could be my online shopping twin. Her about page says:

#10: Fave question friends ask me is: “What did you buy now!?”

Umm.. yes.

Have you all seen my “What I bought” posts?

Anyway I find her style of writing refreshing and I am not just saying that because she’s a fellow Torontonian and semi-reformed-shopaholic sister-in-arms. 😉


Elementary. I AM SO HAPPY it is back on air!! I love everything Sherlock-Holmes-esque.

Castle too. Love me some Nathan Fillion.


Tiger Babies Strike Back: How I Was Raised by a Tiger Mom but Could Not Be Turned to the Dark Side



What a mindblowingly AWFUL BOOK.

I knew I shouldn’t have downloaded this ebook, I had read her earlier work: The Dim Sum of All Things, and couldn’t help but shake my head at it in disgust.

Her writing is just appalling, and so is her ability to string together a properly structured book without coming off like a spoiled, rant-y brat who makes me itch to reach through the pages and slap her.

Don’t read it. She’s just playing off the very popular and controversial book about being a Tiger Mother with her catchy title, and I fell for it, hook, line and sinker.

Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook (P.S.)



I like anything and everything Bourdain writes.

He can be crude at times, but his honesty comes right through in the book, and it’s exactly what I want to read about — the nitty, gritty details that no other polished book would ever reveal to you.

A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines



This is a great book because it made me want to take the next flight down to Vietnam and stuff my face with pho and delicious Vietnamese food.

Oh, and he’s an excellent writer.

All Marketers Are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works–and Why Authenticity Is the Best Marketing of All



Seth Godin is another fabulous writer. Very engaging (his blog is awesome too). He basically tells it like it is in a simple, easy to read manner, that if you want to succeed in business and in life, you have to tell stories and they have to be authentic.

Done. That’s it. The whole book in that sentence. Curious? Read it, it’s worth it.

The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness (P.S.) 



An excellent book. A bit dense to read (not a fluff read that’s easy to get through), but it really does cover STYLE in the sense of the word.

Not style as in fashion, but style as a feature and an element that is pervasive in everything we buy and see.

I thought it was a fashion book but it ended up being so much more than that for me.

It truly talks about the philosophy of style and what makes it so important to us, even if people might think it is not a big deal that I want a cherry red bowl not a burgundy one.

Brand Sense: Sensory Secrets Behind the Stuff We Buy



I really like everything Lindstrom writes but this was not a good book to read for me, as I am truly not its audience.

If you are a brand manager or a marketer, this is the book for you. You will go through all the exercises and steps to build your brand and make it better.

As a casual consumer and reader of marketing strategies, mostly about the psychology of purchasing and shopping, this was not a good read. I found myself wanting desperately to give up after 3 chapters, but forced myself to finish it because I am a sucker for punishment.

Also I am pretty sure some jackass exec at Bed, Bath and Beyond read this, decided that a signature BBB scent was missing from all the stores, and piped in this disgusting, air freshener monstrosity of a smell in all of their stores in North America.

Every single time I walk into BBB, I hold my breath, and/or like in NYC, I had to run out for fresh air because it was SO DISGUSTING you could taste the smell of that nasty air freshener being piped in all over the store.

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef



I don’t even know who Gabrielle Hamilton is (chef-wise), but I saw the book title and was intrigued.

What a good book.

Not great, because I can see it isn’t a book I’d consider one of THE BEST I read all year, but if you want to become a chef, or are interested in how chefs work, or are just a plain foodie who LIKES chefs, this is a good read.

She gets really personal, and as a woman reading this, I felt for her. It is really disgustingly tough on women in this industry and she gives it to you straight, which is something I don’t really get a feel for in other book written by male chefs.

Only a female chef can tell you how nasty it is in that world, and how hard it is to be pregnant and working right until you are to give birth only to have 2 chefs quit on you and make you decide to be induced to have a baby right away.

Serious stuff. Good read.


Let’s face it, you all skip down to this part, don’t you!?

What was that I said again about wanting to not spend money this month?


Revanche suggested that my shopping has kicked into overdrive for 2 reasons:

  1. Nesting instinct (nesting for .. the .. baby.. of course..)
  2. I am preparing for the prison that will be my home once the baby is born and I am sleep-deprived

I’ll take it!


..until Mel said in the comments that she couldn’t believe all the stuff I had listed on my baby tracker.

Honestly, I went through the list again and didn’t think I went all that nuts!

We also didn’t want things made in China or that were plastic, so that eliminated a bunch of items as well, and we could have bought many things for cheap (e.g. who buys organic cotton wipes for a baby?) but we chose to buy the higher-end stuff.

Here’s what I got in general:

  • Few maternity pieces — am not working so I don’t need work clothes, but I do need baby bump clothes
  • The last remaining pieces of baby wardrobe — we got a suitcase full of stuff, we filled in the gaps
  • Cedar blocks to keep moths away from those clothes — we’ve gotten a few bites already
  • Baby’s bed to use for life along with the linens like the washable waterproof mattress cover (also good for when they get older & wet the bed), plus the bedding and pillow (we don’t keep extra bedding aside from what we use)
  • 2 toys — one set of bath tub toys, one wooden toy to play with
  • 1 teething ring
  • 1 glass baby bottle with nipple covers
  • Stuff for myself — cocoa butter, vitamins, a yoga class, pads, hospital panties
  • Changing table clothes and wipes — we just don’t have the actual changing pad itself yet
  • Stuff to wash the cloth diapers and to store it when we are out and about — plastic pail, and bag

What’s left?

The major items: Cloth diapers, baby car seat, baby high chair, and stroller.

I will buy a breast pump if I go to work before the kid is weaned off milk.

In total, I am looking at $4000 max for everything for this pregnancy, which will last through the entire first year and a little beyond.

We already tried looking through our own things to see what we could repurpose but we didn’t have any of that stuff. We didn’t even have a single, thin cotton blanket we could use to swaddle the baby!!!

The only things we’ve received so far are old baby clothes and an old cotton blanket to swaddle the baby.

That’s it.

Am I crazy!?


When I saw this coat in the store (Holt Renfrew), I gasped.

Then I saw the price tag and almost fell over.

It’s perfectly tailored, the yoke (the front V part) of the jacket sits perfectly on my torso and doesn’t accentuate my already larger-than-my-body shoulders.

It also comes in black.



I was also told that this jacket had made an appearance a few years ago as “the perfect camel coat” (no, really!? it IS perfect), and they brought it back out again this year (2013) because it was so popular.

I tried on the size 4, and it fit perfectly but perhaps a bit too tight across the shoulders for me (I’m an inverted triangle). I needed the size 6 to fit my shoulders, and Holt Renfrew said they’d take in the sides and the sleeves, as well as the length for free.

The back pulled a little in the size 4 when I hugged myself (it’s how I test to see if a coat is too tight for my bulky shoulders), and in the size 6 on me, it looks more like this on the model (if she wasn’t trying to arch her back), laying flat and slightly loose rather than it being wrinkled and tight.

The brand does run a little tight for tailored pieces like this. Their other coats that are looser however, are too big in a Size 6 for me, and Size 4 fits perfectly.


I left it on the rack.

Came back to visit it twice (we had tea, cupcakes and a nice conversation and everything), and then purchased it because I knew it would haunt me if I didn’t, as the “purchase that got away”.

Just look at the sleek lines!!

I will be honest and say the pockets are pretty much useless, because if I did, I’d probably look like a hobo bag lady with squirrels to feed with bulging pockets rather than having a crisp, clean, minimalist look to the jacket that drew me in, in the first place.


Also, it’s MADE IN CANADA! In TORONTO! 🙂 100% wool shell and polyester lining, it really feels like a proper suit jacket or blazer, made in a longer style.

I will definitely bring it in to be re-tailored. I want to bring up the length by about 2 inches, the sleeves by about an inch and a half and possible bring in the sides just a bit.

I just don’t know why they chose the name “Reefer” coat to refer to a style of a double-breasted peacoat that is longer in length. I hear it’s a boating term, and it was originally designed for officers in the navy, but all I can think about is drugs when I hear “reefer”.

Anyway, it’s classic. It’s so classic I could die. I could and WILL wear this until I croak.

Funnily enough, Maegan bought this coat in September 2013 and I didn’t even realize it was the same one until I Googled “Smythe Reefer Camel Coat”!



Doesn’t it look divine!?



If you love the coat but don’t want to spend a positively insane amount of money on it like Maegan and I did, then you can check out these options:


This bag just caught my eye at Holt Renfrew a while ago, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I don’t actually own a grey (let alone a dark grey) bag, NOR a duffel bag that I can use that is light enough for a full-day excursion.



It’s the kind of bag I like — masculine-looking. The “wool” feels like real wool, and so does the leather. It doesn’t feel cheap or plasticky at all, and although I find the thin strap a bit pathetic for a crossbody (I like big, manly straps), it is a nice minimalist look and the handles go easily over my shoulders (which is how I normally carry my bags anyway).

It’s very lightweight, with 3 pockets in side (an inner zipped pocket, and two open cell-phone sized pockets).


Then came the sales……


Belle mentioned it in one of her 10 Commandment roundups as being perfectly draped, fully lined and 100% wool, all things I agree with as being awesome.


It drapes very nicely, it isn’t a straight-leg, but a true trouser, which balances out my bottom half to make it look wider to match my shoulders, and is the most incredible blue you have ever seen.

I love that it’s fully lined (won’t cling to me), I hate that it’s polyester lining but.. for $80 what can you expect?

Made in Bahrain, as seems to be all the Martin-Fit trousers (I own another pair from a few years ago I use for work).

Fits my butt perfectly, is mid-rise (I love their Martin fit), and that pop of blue gives me shivers of excitement for future possibilities. I can imagine it with a sleek white top, a striped blue top, a blazer… !!!

I bought them in a Size 2, and I would consider myself a Size 4. (Most brands / designers are a size 4 for me).

UPDATE: Exchanged it for a Size 0, because I realized that my top half is a BR 2 but my bottom is a BR 0, seeing as I am an inverted triangle shape.

I am still in general, a US 4 in all clothing sizes, but a BR 2 for tops (or XS / S) and BR 0 for the bottom.

NOT a petite. I’m 5’5″ and Petite sizing looks like I shrunk the pants.


Want to know something hilarious?

I had looked at this EXACT same type of pants from January 2013, and bought them for $40.

My review of them was:

A size 2 is not a size 2 any more. My old pants in a size 2 Martin Fit from Banana Republic fits well. This particular pair, was at least 2 sizes too large. I’d need a 00!!

It also looked lumpy, didn’t feel heavy enough as a thick, luxurious wool and although I gave it points for being lined, the whole fit threw me off.

I don’t know what they did to these pants in between January 2013 and October 2013 (now), but it is $80 (double the price I paid for the original white pair), and far better in my opinion. The wool is still thin but not “super thick and luxurious”, but the fit was much better this time around.

The butt fit better anyway, and even if I have to take in the waist a bit, the butt and the drape is perfect.

Anyway, they’re exactly the same as the cobalt trousers above, but in white. Still almost 100% wool, still made in Bahrain.


(They sneakily photoshopped out any of the transparency white issue with the pockets)

I will say that these are NOT quite as amazing because you can see the pocket liners when you put it on. I don’t care how pale you are, these are not lined enough for white pants. The lining needed to be double or triple, or in another more opaque fabric.

My solution? I’m going to get all the pockets removed and sewn shut to get rid of those weird squares on the butt and in the front.

I rarely use trouser pockets anyway, especially when they’re this slim because I don’t want to ruin the look of the clean line of the pant with huge bulges in front and on my butt.

I bought them in a Size 2, and I would consider myself a Size 4. (Most brands / designers are a size 4 for me).

UPDATE: Exchanged it for a Size 0, because I realized that my top half is a BR 2 but my bottom is a BR 0, seeing as I am an inverted triangle shape.

I am still in general, a US 4 in all clothing sizes, but a BR 2 for tops (or XS / S) and BR 0 for the bottom.

NOT a petite. I’m 5’5″ and Petite sizing looks like I shrunk the pants.


I liked the colour but it is not a brilliant COBALT BLUE which is the main reason why I took it back.

It is Azure blue which is a slightly muted colour of cobalt blue.


(It sneakily looks like the same shade of blue as those fantastic pants but it’s NOT!)

I returned it as well because I couldn’t really get it zipped up over the bump to feel whether or not it would ride up to my ribcage over the course of a day, or stay where it is.

I’d rather not take chances especially with stretchier fabrics as they don’t tend to cling to me (they tend to ride up). I could also feel that the waistband was nice and large, which MIGHT have kept the skirt at my waist, but that is never for certain on my hipless body type.

I picked it up in a Size 2, but ultimately when I compared it to my other 2 tailored pencil skirts, I would need a Size 0.




With this super comfortable, stretchy top, I circumvented my rule (very tinily) of not wanting polyester anything. I can’t help it.

It was too comfortable, the blue was too alluring (very cobalt-y, but with less of a red tone to it), and it fit over my bump perfectly without showing any skin.

Can I call this maternity wear?



97% cotton with 3% spandex was what sold me. It is hard to find tank tops that fit nicely and don’t stretch out too much. The navy blue is a true, dark almost black navy blue, and it fits like a glove.

I am also going to call this a purchase under maternity wear because it covered the bump really nicely.

It’d be a great top to wear underneath a blazer (a black one or even white!), and is a good general tank top.

BETTENHAUS CANADA GOOSEDOWN DUVET – $600 x 2 duvets = $1200 spent in total


King-sized, ALL FOR ME. And another one for BF because that is the secret to our very happy and joyous relationship — separate blankets when you sleep.

This one is made of German-fabricated cotton, with goose down from Canada (Hutterites).

It was $600 instead of $300 (the $300 one is made in China), and I am quite pleased with it. It’s super soft, fluffy, puffy, warm and quilted so that the feathers don’t sink down in one end over another.

Very happy. I’ll also be toasty warm this winter.


In an attempt to replace soy sauce with a version that does not have soybeans (duh), I found coconut amino acids.


Why am I trying to replace soya sauce?

Because apparently feeding the baby soy sauce before the age of 1, or things like peanuts and so on, can cause allergies in children early on. I am skeptical that soya sauce falls into this category seeing as a whole continent practically lives on this stuff, but better safe than sorry.

Also, the commercial soya sauce is really bad stuff. Like horrible for your body.

You should all really buy the old-fashioned, fermented stuff that is not commercialized, that is raw and organic as possible. I’m fairly sure Kikkoman is commercial and not the true stuff.

Since I am quite dependent on soy sauce in general, so I thought I’d try and find a better alternative, seeing as BF is convinced soy sauce is really bad for you.

I bought a bottle of this stuff for $8.49 CAD, and I tried it today with some vegan sushi (brown rice, strips of vegetables, wrapped in nori), and it was surprisingly delicious.

It is absolutely NOT soya sauce, and I can taste it is not as salty, and it’s even a little bit sweet, but it doesn’t contain soyabeans and it does the trick for me, in terms of being a soya sauce substitute.

So for anyone out there who is allergic to soy, this is really a great alternative to soy sauce. I’m going to try cooking with it, but I’ll bet I won’t even really be able to taste the difference.

Apparently it is also better for you with more amino acids in it than in soy sauce itself.

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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  1. Tania

    BR Martins used to be my go to office attire trousers. Now I generally don’t wear pants except for denim and one Eileen Fisher black jersey harem pant that I absolutely love (but I think of it more like a maxi than a pant).

    The camel coat is beautiful, I think the way the pockets are placed are so flattering to the waist. Love…Love Maegan too, she’s a great blogger, lots of fun DIY projects.

    This is one my favorite features, I always get to add some stuff to my “to read” list.

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @Tania: Hmm.. black jersey harem pant you say?

      BR Martins are still my go-to trousers. That and their trouser jeans.

      I LOVE the camel coat. I’ve been wearing it and wearing it.. and can’t stop loving it. When the baby comes out, and the weight is gone, I’m getting it tailored so it’s perfect.

      My reading list has been growing like mad. I can’t stop.

      1. Tania

        @save. spend. splurge.: Oh yes, the EF’s are one of my favorite pieces, I always receive compliments when I wear it too. Here’s the link (the petite fits 5’1″ me just right so the regular would be better for you). It is made in the USA of imported fabric (she does have some lines made in China but is actively trying to decrease that, including building a factory in the US since the current garment district has dwindled). It sold out last season but they brought it back. Also available at Nordstrom’s, Neiman, etc.

        1. save. spend. splurge.

          Oo thank you! I will look into her. I have heard good things about the brand.

  2. Michelle

    Thanks again for the blog love! 🙂 We should be twins, we both love to shop for beautiful clothing. I love that Smythe camel coat! I love to wander through Holt Renfrew too…was there last week wandering through the Yorkdale store. Saw a beautiful Dolce dress and was tempted to try it on.

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @Michelle: We’re shopping twins.

      I always try on whatever I see in Holt Renfrew then I get in trouble with my wallet.

  3. Sara

    BR’s Sloan is a great fit, too. Although the Sloan LBD is made for a woman with tiiiny shoulders compared to the rest of her body, so that was a bummer.

    Just how itchy are the wool Martins? I bought a few of JCrew’s “lightweight wool” pieces earlier this fall and they all went back. Even my dry cleaner was like ‘please stop buying jcrew. it’s all crap now, except for their cashmere and maybe their jeans” (which she doesn’t see)

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @Sara: I like a higher rise in my pants which is why Martin works for me.

      The wool Martins are LINED!


      Not itchy at all 🙂

  4. LAL

    Is it wrong to say I lust after your clothes all the time. I never spend that much. But then I don’t have to go out to work. I do think what you spent on the maternity clothes insane and crazy and ridiculous. You can get a lot of maternity stuff used, free, or cheap. And like I said earlier wait on crib. It’s easy when they don’t move, it’s when they move that its harder. $4k, wait until the baby comes. But fortunately for you in Canada the medical is covered. I just shelled out for two kids ear tubes put in today. I would have to say that what I spend in medical for just the kids this year was probably close to $4k.

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @LAL: Not wrong to say. It’s probably the only reason why people come to my blog to read it once a month *LAUGH*

      Oh yeah, I’m sure I can get maternity clothes for cheaper, but these are pieces I would wear even if I am not pregnant. I just call it “maternity” so make myself feel better.

      I am not buying a crib. I bought a futon instead, and if they move, they move. They’ll be in an empty room, there’s not much they can do in there.

      $4000 on medical = $0 for me here in Canada, which makes me love my country even more, especially after living in the U.S.

  5. Michelle

    Why do you not like polyester and prefer cotton? Just wondering… 🙂

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Polyester makes me sweat. In a bad way. Cotton breathes better, even though I know it’s laden with pesticides.

  6. AdinaJ

    LOL … my husband and I have been rocking separate duvets for years. I thought we were the only ones! That, plus a king sized bed, is the secret to marital bliss 😉

    A word of caution: once the baby comes, and you get a bit settled, monotony can start to set in and drive you batty. Online shopping is a major pitfall at that point, at least in my experience. During my last mat leave, I didn’t have an iPad or cell, so I didn’t have easy instant access to the Internet, and it was far better for my wallet. Now… it’s sooooo easy to “just take a peek”.

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Marital bliss.

      …. Oh dear. I have started going through eBay to take a look at stuff and it ended up in 2 pairs of shoes 😐

  7. Alicia @ Financial Diffraction

    Gosh I love the luxury of so many of your purchases. That coat looks astounding – I just want to touch it!

    We do the same with blankets – then I don’t have to worry about the fact that I like to cocoon myself in my duvet and hog the blanket from my fiancé.

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      It’s fabulous, really. I am so happy when I have it. I can even wear it in Spring when it warms up some more.

      Guess this blanket thing is a common thing 😉

  8. Untemplater

    There sure are a lot of things to get and prepare for with new baby. Congrats btw! I started doing my Christmas shopping. So far I’ve resisted buying sweaters and a coat for myself but I may cave if some good sales pop up during Black Friday.

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Coats, sweaters… I’m a sucker for all that.

  9. SarahN

    OMG my post tomorrow is full of BR love! I prefer the Ryan trousers, and have bought them on my trips to the US every second year (but this year, no US trip :(). I bought 5 pieces from their Vietnam store, as we don’t have them (yet) in Sydney, as far as I know.

    See do kids become allergic from exposure, or from lack of? Cause I know my mother ate everything, and I have no allergies? I think the issue is with medications, or some additive, rather than actual foods, but I have no basis for that.

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I find the Martin-fit a lot more comfortable because it’s midrise.

      I have no idea what to believe anymore as a pregnant woman if they are allergic because of exposure or lack of. I hear peanuts are not a good idea for sure, but then I read another research study that said it was true ONLY if the mother was already allergic (a bit) to begin with.

      Me = Confused pregnant woman

      1. dunny

        @save. spend. splurge.: The latest wisdom is that early exposure is best including feeding babies all foods earlier, exposing to pets, etc.
        Google “allergies and early exposure” to find lots of recent articles. It certainly feels right as common sense as the enormous rise in allergies and asthma only started after we stopped being exposed to everything as kids. Also read a book called The Book of Kale by Vancouver write Sharon Hanna, which anecdotally says that kids with horrible asthma can be cured by eating kale.

        1. save. spend. splurge.

          I think I may start introducing some things early.. definitely spices have been on my list so far. I can’t seem to get enough.


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