Saturday, January 28, 2012

ESSIE’s new nailpolish collection is a small splurge worth investing in

When I started my quest to become financially fabulous almost 18-months ago, the first thing that I removed from my monthly expenditures was pedicures and manicures. Every three weeks I was paying $80 to refill my gels and every 8 weeks, I was paying another $65 to beautify my toes. No wonder my credit card was charged to the max! In the last year, I’ve only visited the nail salon once as I’ve perfected DIY’ing my nails at home.

Tomorrow I will be leaving for Cancun, Mexico for our National Sales Meeting (la chance!) and fortunately for me, ESSIE is launching a perfect spring-time nailpolish collection and I was given a sneak peak at the shade wardrobe. 

Her new collection, Naviagate Her, is financially savvy so it’s no wonder that I could not resist the pastels and pearl finishes. Essie Weingarten, brand founder of Essie, put together this collection for every woman on a mission and for all the ladies who in both fashion and finance, are willing to strike out and try something new. Who doesn’t love that attitude?

I chose two shades in fun pink hues that are a great way to represent my upcoming beach escape from the dreary Montreal winter. For my nails, I’m wearing a pretty peach A Crewed Interest and on my toes, Tour de Finance, a flirty fuschia.

The colour pay-out is exactly what I’ve come to expect from ESSIE – salon sophisticated and rich-looking. As an avid runner, I have embarrassing deep blue bruises on my toenails, but in one swipe, ESSIE covered those right up. Now my feet feel athletic and pampered! Experience has taught me that a top coat is the key to a successful at home DIY manicure or pedicure so I’m expecting my ESSIE indulged nails to last well beyond my upcoming 5-days of sand and sun.  

ESSIE’s Navigate Her collection is available right now at salons and professional beauty trade stores, but it will be hitting shelves of mass retailers like Shoppers Drug Mart and Wal-Mart at the end of March for about $9. If you’re looking for a hue to reflect the financially fabulously you and a small way to splurge on yourself, then I cannot recommend this collection enough. Shouldn’t your nailpolish colours always reflect your personal mantras?


A collection made for fashionistas and personal finance bloggers. 
My beach ready choices: A Crewed Interest & Tour de Finance.

Upon posting this, my Eye Candy's reaction was, "Dear, you are definitely not a hand model." None the less, I am all peachy keen for this shade.

I have a theory that women wear the colour they want others to view them like on their fingernails. And on their toes, they reveal their inner divas. In which case, I am definitely a vibrant Tour de Finance!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

All good things must come to an end

I’ve been a saver for as long as I can remember and while I love watching my cash grow, my saving sprees tend to be goal oriented. As a child, I would save up my Dad’s spare change for book purchases, or as a teen I diligently put away baby-sitting money for tuition fees, and as a summer intern, I’d stash away my salaries for European travels during my semesters abroad.  

It comes as no surprise then that I’m in love with ING. Their motto of “save your money” speaks to my soul in the same way that Madonna’s music does. In addition to switching from CIBC to ING's THRIVE chequing account and a having Registered Investment Savings Plan with them, I have several savings accounts that receive automatic deposits with each pay cheque.  My favourite part of their savings accounts is that I can give each account a cute nickname and establish a goal for the account. ING then sets up a bar graph to show me how I’m doing and their CEO, Peter R. Aceto even e-mails me to congratulate me when I’ve reached my goal. 

At the moment, I have 5 savings accounts: one for a cash down payment on our next home, another for vacations, one for Fergie & Fernando should they need unexpected vet care, another for Christmas gifts, and finally an emergency stash that also covers out of pocket medical bills like my glasses or enormous bulk purchases of Reactin from Costco.

This morning I went to set-up another 2 savings accounts: one for our wedding in summer 2013 and the other for a king size bed. The only problem? A giant error messaged appeared announcing that ING limits the amount of savings accounts you can have. Darn! While I appreciate the other accounts that ING offers, they don’t suit my savings needs and I really love having one account per goal.  

In one Error message, ING broke up with me.
It's almost as bad as doing it via text message!

What’s a girl to do? I’m considering taking out the cash each month and stashing it into two giant piggy banks, but this seems unpractical. 

My love affair with ING savings accounts has reached its peak, and I’m going to have to look elsewhere for my savings options. I feel like I’m about to cheat on  my favourite bank, but then again, ING is the one who is ending our relationship out of the blue. 


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Resto review: Cayo Coco

Fun money well spent for a taste of Cuba
Restaurant Cayo Coco
7671 rue Saint-Hubert
Montreal, QC
Mojitos - the frugal way to escape Montreal's winter.
photo source

Last night I went out for dinner to celebrate the 30 & Flirty birthday of a dear friend and we were joined by our respective Eye Candies. Since she is a beach-loving girl who lives for sunshine and sand (and there is not much of that around Montreal this days), I wanted to bring her to a Cuban restaurant. There is not a lot of choice in Montreal for Caribbean food, but UrbanSpoon did not lead my astray when it recommended Restaurant Cayo Coco in VillerRay. 

This is restaurant is low key and as it turned out, my 8 p.m. reservations were not necessary as other than a few bar hoppers, we were the only diners in the place. What a shame! Montreal does not know what it's missing yet. 

The vibe at Cayo Coco is fun, laid back and mojitos are mandatory. Even my Eye Candy who had vowed not to have a single drink until he runs the Montreal Hypothermic Half-Marathon next month was persuaded. The restaurant owner/manager/bartender practically salsa'ed mojitos into our hands! It turns out that my friend & I knew him as Hector used to be the be the barista in our coffee bar at work. It makes me happy to see someone pursuing their own business - especially in the difficult restaurant industry. 

For a $15 table d'hote, we each had 2 mojitos, shared tapas for the table, and a main dish. The tapas were basic - grilled shrimps, toast with garlic, and fried yuca, but they set the beach-mood and went well with our mojitos. For the main, we had the choice of grilled chicken, pork or the fresh fish catch of the day and our table opted for the chicken and pork. Our mains were delicious, flavourful, and served hot right from the kitchen. Each meat was accompanied by a bed of brown rice, plantain, yuca, and a side salad.

For $82 total with tax plus tip, dinner out for 4 of us was one-week of Fun Money well spent! I would recommend Restaurant Cayo Coco to any friends looking for a fun restaurant off the beaten path. The best part? At Cayo Coco you don't have to fight the usual Saturday night crowds so you can dine and get some R&R  - you can't much closer to a beach holiday than that!


Friday, January 6, 2012

Pantry love: Rocco's low cal brownie edition

Perhaps you’re like me and its day 6 of the New Year where-by you’ve resolved to be healthier and live below your means … but you’re already finding it difficult to resist temptation. In an effort to indulge my chocolate craving in a low-cal way while avoiding the grocery store, I mixed up a batch of Rocco’s Low-Cal Brownies.

I take no credit for the deliciousness of this recipe as celebrity chef Rocco Dispirito is the gorgeous man who created this dessert and shared with the world via Dr. Oz & ABC Good Morning America.

That being said, the point of this activity was to use ingredients already in my pantry so if you want a 100-cal brownie, follow Rocco’s suggestions. The ingredients in (brackets) are the ones that I had on hand… because seriously, what is Truvia?


  • Nonstick cooking spray (I used Coconut Oil as I have a fear of using anything that comes from an aerosol on something that I will eat.)
  • 1½ cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder (1/2 tablespoon of ground coffee beans)
  • ¾ cup egg substitute (3 eggs)
  • 2 tablespoons low-calorie sugar-free chocolate syrup
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 24 packets (84 g) Truvia or 8 tablespoons granulated Splenda (6 tablespoons of Granulated Fructose… but I think sugar would work if you’re not obsessing over the 100-cal thing)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Spray an 8×8-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray or in my case, smother with the coconut oil.
  3. Combine the beans, cocoa powder, espresso powder (coffee grinds), and egg substitute (eggs). Rocco suggests a food processor, but I don’t have one so I just used my basic hand mixer and it works well. Opt for a deep bowl for mixing to keep those beans from flying all over your kitchen. (Been there, done that.)
  4. Making those beans disappear is the key to this recipe’s success so keep blending/mixing/processing the mixture until it is pure chocolate smoothness – about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the chocolate syrup (finally – you’re using it for its intended purpose), sour cream, melted butter, Truvia (sugar, splenda or granulated fructose) and mix until everything is combined – about 1 minute.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared dish, and smooth the top.
  7. Book for 30 minutes, turning the dish halfway through the baking time. A toothpick inserted into the centre will come out with soft batter clinging to it.
  8. Let the brownies cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into 12 squares and serve on the pretty snowflake plate that you received in last year’s family Secret Santa exchange.
  9. Et viola: delicious low-cal (ish) chocolate brownies to enjoy without breaking any New Year’s Resolutions.

I bet you never thought black beans would be the best secret ingredient ever for brownies.

Dear Rocco, thank you for bringing low-cal sweetness into my New Year
photo source
My pantry-found ingredients
Mmm... don't be fooled. Cocoa + beans is a delicious combo
The secret is to mix, mix, and mix some mor
Sorry Miss Fergie, no licking the bowl for you!
It's just not right on so many levels. 

Bonus points if you also have a high-heel diamond cake server

Monday, January 2, 2012

I'm back! Just in time for a fabulous New Year

I'm back!

I suppose I have some explaining to do for my recent 3-month hiatus from the blogosphere. You know how good things apparently come in threes? I've been a lucky lady recently as I believe that fabulous things come in 5s.
  1. I took a last minute trip for work to Paris. La chance! 
  2. My business trip turned into a vacation as my Eye Candy met me in London... where we got engaged! 
  3. My dear cat Fernando came home after almost 4 weeks of roaming our neighbourhood. 
  4. I was promoted at work and  I now have a job that little girls dream about.
  5. I joined a Boot Camp that is so painful it's wonderful.
Please excuse my recent MIA-ness, but I've had a lot of celebrating to-do and I simply wasn't able to keep up with my blogging. 

I think that I suffer from an-all-or-nothing-mentality where if I couldn't blog 5 times a week, I decided not to even bother. I've been reading The Happiness Project this weekend and it's the ideal book for New Year's when one is pondering resolutions, transitions, and achievements. Author Gretchen Rubin talks about the idea of perfection getting in the way of good enough. She is so right! 

There have been way too many moments where I've decided that if I can't be absolutely perfect at something, then it's not worth the effort. While striving for excellence is a commendable goal, it shouldn't get in the way of just having fun. I've enjoyed writing my blog as a way to manage my money, and in turn, strive to live a fabulously rich life. While I might not be able to keep it up every single day, my blog is an outlet for me and one that I plan to enjoy throughout 2012. 

I've also been inspired a quotation that I read over at Curly Girl Design: The real secret to the fabulous life is to live imperfectly with great delight. And this is exactly what I'll be doing. On that note, HAPPY NEW YEAR!