The Brand Sampler

Has anyone else out there heard of this glorious offer from P&G? It’s called the P&G brandSampler, and mine just arrived today! I’m pretty sure I was put on the brandSampler trail by Bargain Moose, but I can’t quite remember, and maybe that’s because my mind was busy being blown by what I perceived to be unbelievable free samples.

What the P&G brandSampler does is provide you with the chance to try out some of their products absolutely free, and today in the exciting package that was wedged in my mailbox was travel-size Scope Outlast Mouthwash in Long Lasting Mint and $3 in coupons for Scope, Crest, and Oral B; mini-sized Secret Scent Expressions Cocoa Butter Kiss Body Splash; a full-size Febreze Set & Refresh Air Freshener in Hawaiian Aloha scent; a one-load sample of Tide Acti Lift; and $2.75 in coupons from Pantene.

All you have to do to get the brandSampler is register, answer a few questions about your shopping habits and household-product use, and then choose which samples you want to receive. I’m not sure if you get everything you sign up for, because I thought I checked the Head & Shoulders sample, but beggars can’t be choosers, after all! The Scope and Febreeze samples are no longer available, but the others I mentioned are, as well as a Crest 3D White Whitestrips Advanced Vivid sample. (I shied away from this one like a frightened animal, after repeated use of Crest Whitestrips about six years ago has left me terrified of the singing-and-sensitive-teeth reaction I had and still continue to have in the way of a phantom-limb-type sensation. *Shudder*). However, I do suggest trying out what’s left of this cycle’s P&G brandSampler before more of the products run out!

I have had some other samples arrive in the mail lately, and these include: travel-sized bottles of Pantene Fine Hair Solutions Flat to Volume Shampoo and Conditioner; a single All-Bran Bar, Honey Nut Flavour, plus a $0.50 coupon; and one Purex Complete 3-in-1 Laundry Sheet. I haven’t tried the shampoo and conditioner yet, so no review there, but I did give Darcy the All-Bran Bar in his lunch a couple weeks ago, and he liked it enough to encourage me to buy a box of them. So, the $0.50 coupon was put to good use! I also used the Purex Laundry Sheet today, and while I thought it was strange that something resembling a fuzzy Bounce sheet could wash my clothes, as well as soften them and guard them against static, I was too curious NOT to try it. The Spring Oasis scent smelled great, and the clothes seemed to be clean when I pulled them out of the washer, but Purex didn’t send a coupon, and my mom told me she’s noticed the expensive price of the Purex Laundry Sheets at the store, so I’m doubtful about actually purchasing them. The sheet was fun to use for the novelty of something new, but as Darcy has said a few times, is this product really saving me anything? The sample’s tagline says “Laundry Simplified,” but I don’t exactly feel exhausted (or confused) after pouring soap into the washer, and then taking a Bounce sheet out of the box, so unless the cost of the package of 24 sheets in the store is less than a bottle of Purex 2X Ultra Concentrate and a box of Bounce sheets (my chosen brands), and would last longer than both, I am not sold. Besides, the Purex soap I DO use often goes on sale – I just bought a 40-load bottle at Sobey’s for $3.99 two weeks ago.

What are your thoughts? Have you received any good samples lately?

*ADDENDUM* I was just going through my coupons, and it turns out Purex DID give me a coupon for the 3-in-1 laundry sheets. It’s for $2 off the starter kit or a refill pack, but I still don’t think I’m convinced. Here’s the link to the free sample if you want to try it our for yourself:

The taxman arriveth

Happy about the undercover debut of my first Victoria’s Secret bra.

(Earrings from Mango, and sweater-dress from Winners.)

Since moving back to Ontario, one of the biggest financially related changes I have had to face is taxes. In Alberta, I paid a 5% GST, and that was it. No PST (or HST), and it was bliss. Three years is a long time to get used to something like that, and when I made those first big purchases at IKEA in August, I almost cried when I saw how much the added tax was. Five percent to 13% is quite a jump! A month and half later of Ontario spending galore, my heart still sinks a little when I look at my receipts.

But that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying good sales, and enjoy them I did when out shopping two weeks ago at the Mapleview mall for a wedding Darcy and I were going to in Sarnia. My list of things to get/do before we left was about a mile long, and it included everything from a very precise need for a black-strapped bra with wide shoulder-strap spacing to KMS hair putty for Darcy. I was successful in finding the bra, but not in finding the KMS product. Darcy had to settle for something from Joico, and while not happy at first, in the end he agreed that it produced the same result. Another mutiny avoided!

The bra I bought was from Pink by Victoria’s Secret. This is my first Victoria’s Secret bra, and I am sold! A couple of my friends have been singing Victoria’s praises for a while now, but I never took the plunge. However, after extremely unsatisfactory bra-shopping experiences at La Vie en Rose and La Senza, I think it’s going to be Victoria’s Secret all the way. The bra fit exactly right, and kept everything in and up so well that I thought the whole effect to be very ad-like. So while your hair might not be that long or shiny, or legs so coltish and shapely, your breasts CAN be as high and perfectly placed as the ad displays! It was a good day in bra shopping, and as many women know, those days can be rare.

On this trip to Mapleview, I also bought a pair of sky-high patterned stilettos from Sears, and a green and brown snake-skin miniskirt from H&M. I wore the shoes to the wedding, as well as the bra, and while I didn’t get a full outfit shot (or a shot of the bra – and don’t expect one, either), you can see me below, full-length with pursed lips and looking pissed off beyond all hell in this action shot from the reception:

I look like an evil Debbie Downer! If you can tear your morbid fascination away from my pinched face, however, you can see the tips of my fabulous shoes that I can’t wait to show off in a much better light when I get my new camera.

Total spent:

Stilettos on clearance at Sears – $33.89

Snake-skin miniskirt on clearance at H&M – $5.65

Leopard-print, black-strapped bra at Pink by Victoria’s Secret – $33.33

Grand total is $72.87, bringing the Tally It Up Experiment to $537.60 spent so far in 2010.

Keeping house

Birthday time for the brother. Me, nine years old; him, three years old.

My brother Darcy turned 22 on Sunday, so while this picture turns out to be appropriately timed, it also serves another purpose – it shows us at the ages of the diary entry I’m about to share with you. I’m sorry this feature went away for a while, but I packed my diaries without thinking, and I just unearthed them the other day.

While I was cleaning the kitchen sinks today, I was thinking about how much I hate cleaning, and yet how much more of it I am going to do before my parents arrive on Friday for their weekend visit. And later, while thumbing through my diary, I came across two entries in a row in which I was exhausted (but proud) of the “chores” I had done. Oh, to be nine years old again!

July 6, 1992

Dear Diary,

Today I helped my mom a lot! I swept the floor, watched Darcy, did the lunch dishes, helped with the supper dishes, and bathed Darcy. Whew! What a working day!

July 7, 1992

Dear Diary,

Today I am not really going to write to you. I am going to make a list. A list of what chores I did. Is that OK? Good!

1. Made bed

2. Washed lunch dishes

3. Played with Darcy

What a rough life I had!

Camera woes

Shoes, American Eagle via Payless; tights, Secret; dress, Kensie Girl; jacket, Urban Outfitters; purse (from Mango), gift from Caroline; bracelets, vintage; cuckoo-clock necklace (vintage), gift from Mom; multi-strand gold necklace, gift from Susie; earrings (Bitten brand), gift from Erin.

A great antique mall find!

If you follow me on Facebook, you will know by now that my camera is broken. I have turned it on many times over the last week, hoping against hope that “lens error” is not going to pop up on the screen again. Those two little words are persistent buggers, though, and they just won’t go away. So, while I figure out my next move in camera-purchasing and/or repairs, I have to get Darcy to take pictures with the camera on his phone. They’re obviously not the greatest quality, but in a pinch, they’re just going to have to do!

Darcy and I went out on Friday night to the horse races at  Mohawk, and since fall is on its way and the nights are becoming cooler, I decided tights and a jacket were in order. I was excited about  this look, and how the fabrics and patterns of the jacket and purse contrasted for a fun, autumn-like feel. I have worn this dress, tights, and shoes combination before (see it here), but the jacket (seen in a better light here) added enough of a difference that I figured I could brave showing the whole ensemble to you, my discerning readers!

Now, what about my cuckoo-clock necklace? I love, love, love it! When my mom was in Alberta helping me pack, etc., we went to the Old Strathcona Antique Mall in Edmonton (Carol, you were there too. Hi!), and this amazing necklace was tucked away in a glass cabinet, just calling for my scrounging skills to dig it up. Good ol’ mom bought it for me, and Friday night was its debut. Carol (my mom’s pen pal since they were 13!) actually laughed out loud when I showed them the necklace. What was so funny? She said when she passed by the case that the necklace was in, she saw it, and thought, “Who in the world would wear THAT?!” Haha! Along comes Carla…

P.S. These pictures were taken in my new kitchen. What do you spy? I see a pre-outing bottle of wine, a meat thermometer, a Brita water jug, an IKEA cutting board, and, yep, a vegetable steamer by my head. With my camera limitations, I had to go where the best lighting was, OK?

Extra, extra, it’s a deal!

(Or me.)

I like deals, bargains, and saving money in unexpected places. Anyone who has kept up with my blog knows this about me. And so, a few months ago when my mom recommended signing up for the e-mail newsletter from Bargain Moose, I was optimistic, but not overly excited about any immediate deals. How great could it be? Fast-forward to the present, and I am now checking my Bargain Moose newsletter every day! And, if I miss a couple e-mails because I’m busy, I save them all because each one is worth checking out. The whole point of Bargain Moose is to let you in on sales, coupons, and freebies that are available in both the virtual and bricks-and-mortar retail worlds – in other words, sales, coupons, and freebies that you might not otherwise hear about, including “exmoosives,” promotions that are exclusive to Bargain Moose subscribers. Anna, the woman behind Bargain Moose, is Canadian, so all the deals she posts apply to and are valid in Canada, and she often features Canadian companies.

I have told a few friends about Bargain Moose, but I get the feeling my suggestion was given the brush-off, as in “Oh, there’s Carla again, going on about her bargains,” because no one ever told me they took advantage of anything Bargain Moose had to offer. Don’t you know I badger because I love?

So far I have used Bargain Moose’s tip-offs to get a free appetizer and meal on a night out with Darcy at Milestone’s, a percentage off one of Darcy’s recent Kobo books, a $25 discount off a purchase Darcy just made at, and 50% off a gift I bought at I am racking my brain for more examples, because I know I have used Bargain Moose more than these four times, but my mind is failing me. Dumb mind. Pretty bird.

Anyway, the point is, if you like to save money, sign up for Bargain Moose’s daily e-mails! I truly think there’s something for everyone’s greedy intentions of keeping their money to themselves. For example, today’s deals included the discount code I just mentioned, a notice about reduced tea prices at, 15% off at, a “bogo” type deal at Bath and Body Works stores, an Always/Tampax free-sample kit, a free gift with minimum purchase of Melissa and Doug toys at Mastermind Toys, 20% off back-to-school clothes at Purl Mama, free shipping at Bluenotes, and a free photo album with minimum purchase at

For more discounts, I also use, which sends grocery-store coupons right to your door. Where do you like to find your deals?