Friday, 27 December 2013

Searching for a Terry Robe

Dear Readers,

Where can I find a cheap Terry bath robe for use after stepping out of the shower? I don't want one of those sleeveless 'dress' looking robes - I want a short one with sleeves!

For some reason they seem to be extremely expensive, but with sales at "$60" it is hardly a sale. I've tried searching every where and can't seem to find one. There must be another way besides raising the amount that I am willing to spend ($30-35).

#OnASearch

Friday, 13 December 2013

Aritzia, no one likes being deceived.

Alright so I'm a pretty big fan of Aritzia. I've been shopping for the last few years, from the time that TNA was the brand to have to realizing that its just a logo that gets plastered around, I've learned to appreciate some of their nicer lines like Wilfred.

When they first expanded onto their online ecommerce platform I was excited. I mean who doesn't like being able to shop online on their own time from the comfort of their own home or even mid lecture (oops).

Now, every so often I get emails from Aritzia, which is great - I mean I get noticed when there are sales and events! However what makes me angry everyone is when I read their misleading emails, they always like to plaster "Free Shipping" everyone from the email title to throughout emails. The problem is that it isn't! And you only realize this if you scroll all the way to the bottom where they say in their misleading fine print "Over $150". I can at least respect the stores who advertise it complete on their website "Free Shipping over $150!!". However the first reaction when you see the first two words (alone) is to think that there are no strings attached. That's why I'm always so frustrated when Aritzia sends out its emails - where's the honesty and transparency?

Furthermore their sale policy is not very customer friendly to say the least. The stores I choose to frequently shop online are those which offer returns, and the icing on top is when they offer in store returns! It allows me to make purchases with much higher confidence, or at least hit the check out button more freely. Aritzia offers neither, their sale items are final sale. Meaning that if you do not know which size you are and haven't tried it on specifically in store then you are in frog or (everything fits differently). So even when I see the best sales on their website, I realize it is only a waste to browse through it as I know that paying that money for something that may not fit or I might not like.

Update : I just realized today (June 17th so about 6 months later from the original post) that their return policy has changed, yay! Now sale items can be brought back to the store within 14 days for store credit. It's not as great as a refund, but I shop there enough that it's not too much of an inconvenience. Hurray Aritzia for looking after their customers and providing great service!

Anyways that's just my thoughts on their online ecommerce.

Does anyone agree?

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Disappointed at Western University's Undergraduate Counselling

Earlier this week I had what happens to be a panic attack. It wasn't just a memory slip, I was feeling nauseous and light headed - not only could I not focus on the exam I couldn't put my thoughts in order or think clearly. I felt extreme anxiety and could barely calm myself down and tried to take deep breathes to slow my body down. The exam wasn't even very hard but when you're in that state it makes it difficult to work through it. I even had a cheat sheet but could barely use it.

Anyways immediately after the exam I walked over to my professor asking what I could do from that point explaining what had just happened. He told me that it would probably be ok if I got the necessary documentation from the doctor and spoke to my academic counsellor.

I went to the student health services and spoke to a doctor who did provide me with a doctors note. It was fair, and mentioned that it was his first time seeing me (its pretty much walk in so that's not surprising) and it seemed like I had a panic attack and put it until mental health.

After handing in the paperwork my counsellor asked me to come meet with him. Here is the part that has me questioning the university's own honesty.
Throughout the school year I have seen its efforts go toward campaigns supporting mental health and any stigma that comes with it. One of the biggest hurdles faced is that people do not take it as serious as a physical illness. My counsellor seemed to question the legitimacy of what I said, and stated that it was a self diagnosis - since my doctor couldn't see what was happening himself. Does that mean that anyone affected with a mental illness will be questioned and doubted?

Furthermore the absurdity of it was there was no future prevention. The university's policy is that you can leave the exam within the first 30 minutes. What was wrong with my request was that I had stayed. The problem here is that you are not allowed to leave after the 30!! By staying you count as having written the exam - but really, is there any other choice? No! Essentially he told me next time 'if I suffered from another panic attack I should leave in the first 30 minutes.' I'm sorry I cannot plan when it happens. Of course I had not planned to have it past the 30 minutes were up. So if this happens again, after the 30 nothing will chance and they will not accommodate you. Does if mean if someone starts vommitting halfway through the exam they will not be excused?

I was also cc'ed on the email sent to my professor regarding why he would not support my accommodation. I found his email unfair and biased as he noted that ' I think I had a panic attack' , as opposed to stating that I had said I had one. By using the word 'think' he puts doubt/question into what I said. This was incorrect as it was also the doctor himself who printed on the note that it was him who thought that it was what happened. He further went to say that the doctors note was 'inconclusive' -failing to mention exactly what I just said; I feel that it implies to my professor that the doctor really didn't find anything wrong at all when this is not the case.

My counsellor mentioned not to go to the exam if it happens again, when this was not something that happened prior that I could avoid. He said that people 'blank' all the time - offending me since he seemed to think that it was not a big deal at all and that what occurred was really just an every day occurrence of little severity. He also commented on how you should just take a Tylenol for a headache - he said he knew that I did not have a headache but it seemed like he was paralleling the two which was again highly offensive.

Not impressed Western.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Hiatus due to University

It's only been two months, yet it feels like so much time has passed already. Currently I am a second year student at UWO (University of Western Ontario) and honestly it's been a struggle.

It started out great with some time-intensive dedication to the first week - O- Week (orientation). Where student leaders known as Sophs dedicate their attention and energy towards creating the best first year orientation/ student experience in the country. The USC worked to make lives easier and improving the experience from previous years, and this was evident - even to me, as a first time soph. Previously volunteers complained about long hours and lack of accomodations. This year, meetings (for my team at least) were no longer held during the early hours of the morning; nevertheless, days spanned from 7am-2am. Furthermore a Soph rest station was created so that down times could be met with naps and snacks. For the first few days, sophs were met with boxes and boxes of Mr. Big bars. It seemed never-ending, until it was gone within a few days. I could have sworn I saw people eat several throughout the day - hopefully this wasn't a meal replacement!

Anyways despite the long post - it turned out a lot differently than what I had initially intended. When I have more time I will definitely go back and update this 'Oweek post'

Anyways as one of the many students with "AEO - Advanced Entry Opportunity" status for the Ivey Business School, I am required to take one business course known to most simply by the course code as '2257'. This along with my science course load has definitely been gruelling.

SO: here are my Second Year tips for Biomed 2257 Kids!

  • Don't put your 2257 and Lab Course (2290) together on the same day! Unlike first year these two courses both require regular work and attention - there are quizzes, cases, assignments and readings due for every single class. With the classes being scheduled two days a week you will either be in for a long day of classes, or doing a lot of work in preparation for that work! 
    • At this point I wish that I had them separated as (MW) and (TTh).
And then to be 100% honest; I decided to write this rough draft of some future entry as a short break from the panic which arises as I realize that I will be getting maybe 4 hours of sleep tonight...

TO BE UPDATED 

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The Tides - Newbrunswick Hotel Restaurant

A
Our second official day here of seafood goodness, and we found a restaurant that had some delicious food!

Located in Alma, NB off the Fundy bay this restaurant is small and quaint. 

The decor is really nice and simple, but yet just enough for it to be really enjoyable. There's a view of the shore where you can watch the tide begin to shrink away pretty rapidly. 
 We ordered quite a few dishes that arrived very nicely presented which reflected a lot of care and attention that was given by the chef. 

The service was great too, we were met by a very friendly waitress who had a great personality. She was helpful, and gave some great tips on how to year apart the 1lb lobster that was ordered. 

Two crab cakes. 

Calamari, it was a little bland but tasted great with the dipping sauce which had just a little bit of 'hot'. 


Two versions of the same seafood linguine. One had a creamy Cajun sauce whereas another was cooked simply with garlic/oil. Both were very colourful and not only looked but tasted delicious. 

Their fresh lobster at market price was ~27. 


Lobster dip- also delicious! The tortilla/nacho chips were definitely deep fried and although delicious, it is definitely not nutritious ( :(  ). 

Deep fried clams, a menu item we had seen a few times since arriving in the maritimes. It was really good! Similar to calamari but with clams. 

A lobster club house, essentially a BLT with an additional layer of lobster. Around $17, pretty good. 

As you can see a lot of food was ordered! It was a great experience and I would highly recommend it. 

Have you been to Alma? 

New Brunswick Restaurant : Grannan Review

Unfortunately my phone died by the time dinner arrived so I wasn't able to take photos! Any how I felt that it really wasn't up to par.

Lets start with the decor, it was definitely nicely decorated. There's a wooden interior, and a lot of memorabilia with steering wheels and a dated diving suit. However I went in the evening and with the sun out of sight it left the sky dark with only the city lights. There's very little lighting inside , as such it was extremely dim inside. My family friend was actually using a phone as a flash light to read an email. At or table (of seven) we had only one light and an unlit candle that remained unlit until the dinner was nearly over. 

So what my problem was with the restaurant was that I felt that few of us got our money's worth. The menus descriptions created expectations that were not met. 

The price range of this money is slightly on the expensive side, as meals ranged from $15-30. You would think that, as a regular North American restaurant (not fine dining), meals would be slightly on the larger size or have portions that reflected its price tag. What I noticed for a few of these meals (there were seven of us) was that dishes would be served in fairly small dishes , but were simply placed on top of a larger dish that was either empty or served with a few vegetables. 

For a ~23 pasta, there was very little vermicelli in the clam dish! For another elaborate menu item priced at $31, it too was met with disappointment as this seafood dish was served in a plate no larger than a cantaloupe! The menu had given it a mouth watering description with a lot of seafood, instead it was more of a dish that was mainly mashed potato. 

Two orders were placed for the lobster linguine, with one special request - a change of sauce. They simply asked for the Alfredo sauce to be replaced with an oil/garlic which is normally something that can be easily done by chefs. Instead the dish was very bland, with a very mediocre sauce. If at all it felt like they hadn't replaced it with anything! The waiter  actually brought it out describing it as 'no sauce'. 

Furthermore, I know that the service of a waitress should not reflect completely on the restaurant, but the employee is still the only contact that customers have with the company. We found the waitress to be not very courteous, we had merely asked for the one candle at our table to be lit (we could not see very well) but we were told "...I'll just add that to my list of other things I have to do.." as if to imply that she was too busy to meet our needs. 

Lastly I ordered the "Seafood Crepe" which was supposed to be savoury filled with lobster white fish and shrimp (I think).  Needless to day it wasn't really what I had expected. The crepe was completely covered in melted cheese, and inside it was filled with a creamy mixture. The mixture was so creamy that I didn't really know what I was eating , all in all I would say that it was just 'okay'. The seafood that was supposed to be inside really could not be distinguished. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

My attempt at Granola

So yesterday I tried to make my own granola for the first time. I didn't really follow a recipe , instead I looked at a bunch to see what ingredients people commonly use and went from there. I basically just used what I already had at home, unfortunately I didn't really have any chopped nuts or anything. It was a spontaneous decision so I didn't really have time to go out to buy anything. 

If was pretty fun, it reminded me of the experience that you get when you're going to one of those places with self serve frozen yogurt. I pretty much added a little bit of everything that I like!

In the very end the granola bars were a little bit of a fail, I guess I didn't use quite enough liquid ingredients or not enough of the ones used to hold it together. Either way I still tried to partition them into sections (so that I wouldn't eat it all at once ) but they ended up falling apart on me! Instead of making granola bars I really just made really tasty granola ( that would typically be added to yogurt or something). 

Ingredients used : rolled oats, chocolate chips, dried cranberries, shredded coconjt, margarine, almond extract, flax seed, one date + water, salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract and sesame seeds. 
Excluding the oats, most ingredients were around .5 tbsp- 1 tbsp. 

I love granola bars but eat them fully aware that I'm eating it for the taste just like a chocolate bar and that many are actually not but much healthier nutritionally. As well a lot of them end up having quite a lot of calories!

Do you have any favourite granola recipes that are still fairly healthy? Leave a comment if you too or just any experience making them!

Bite Bar Review

I'm the type of person who likes to try a little bit of everything - little being the key word. Newly opened at Bay and Elm is a little cupcake store, BiteBar, the only thing is that it's not your typical cupcakes that are sold.

These cupcakes are literally bite sized! They come in over a dozen flavours which means you can pick more than one! The only issue is that because they're so tiny, the size to price ratio seems slightly too imbalanced. In this case it doesn't really seem like you're getting your money's worth. But hey, that's not everyone's first priority especially when it comes to eating desserts am I right? 

Bite Bar Cupcakes Store

Bite Bar Cupcakes Store

Bite Bar Cupcakes Store
They're packaging is actually quite cool and elaborate. It's pretty funny how big the box is for such tiny cupcakes. 

Bite Bar Cupcakes Store

Bite Bar Cupcakes Store

You can use the business card as a reference for how tiny these cupcakes are! The flavours that I chose were PB&J (I might have an addiction here), red velvet, and Oreo cookie ( I think)! They were all pretty delicious and am glad that I could sample a few.
Bite Bar Cupcakes Store

Here is a terrible picture taken by me (terribly distracting background and nails that were heavily chipped- I apologize ), I decided last minute before eating it that I wanted to show exactly how small these cupcakes really were. In the words of my friend " the icing is practically bigger than the cupcake"! 

I feel like this will be more of a one time purchase do me. I just wanted to try it once but it's not really worth it to be a repeat customer. I forget all of the pricing but it starts at $1 each or $5 for 6. 

Have you tried Bite Bar? What do you think? 

Brief Yoga Experience

Personally I learned a lot about yoga and the classes themselves throughout this summer after attending several times a week for approximately three months. I noticed how different power flow classes were to moksha classes.  I feel that the PF ones are a much harder workout since there are so many flows involved! My chateranga is definitely much more stronger now than it was before, and I can flow from one position to another with much more ease. Moksha classes seem to include the balance poses a lot more and are seen as the "intro" class for beginners. Nevertheless I enjoy going to both, it's important to mix it up! I usually just attended the same time slot throughout the week only to find out midway what type of class it was. It was also really great taking classes from so many instructors. Although it might be the same type of class the instructors are what make all the difference and can make the classes completely different and unlike one another. 

Yoga definitely is a great workout for strength (holding those poses will definitely help to tone your muscles) and improving ones flexibility. 

Moksha Yoga Energy Exchange Program

Lets face it, yoga classes can be quite expensive. Although I somehow I came to the conclusion that a gym membership or $50-70 was expensive and unreasonable whereas a monthly /ten class pass of $120 seemed plausible. 

Any how the yoga studio I go to is known for its Hot Yoga, it's a chain (maybe franchise) known as Moksha Yoga. 

There are student discounts which bring the cost of the each class to be approximately $15. I don't know about you, but $15 a class is still pretty expensive and can add up pretty quickly if you plan on going several times a week. One option that is available is their Karma classes, proceeds from these classes go to a charity (I believe) and are donation based with a minimum of $7. They also have community classes which are  classes that are discounted since they are taught by novice instructors. 

Regardless, I had four months of summer and wanted to get into a regular routine if practicing yoga. That's when I heard about their Energy Exchange program. In exchange for your time and effort, they provide free unlimited yoga. No, it's not 'too good to be true'. 

I applied online through their website and shortly got a follow up email from their studio manager.

What you're doing is helping to clean the studio for 3 hours a week. So if you think about it with minimum wage being approximately $10/hour in ontario- you need to be practicing 2-3 times a week in order to get the value and worth out of your labour. 

So, what you're doing is cleaning the studio. This ranges from doing laundry, mopping and vacuuming floors of the studio and change room, washing the showers, refilling cleaning solutions and etc (these tasks being the extent of the duties). 

The three hours can feel somewhat lengthy, so choose a timeslot that fits our schedule. There are many 4-7, and 7-10pm shifts however I don't know much about the day shifts. 

Anyways being a part of this program did indeed have its perks with few 'cons':

•For those germaphobes out there it can help put your mind at ease, as you become part of the cleaning process. You know exactly how frequently the studio is cleaned and exactly what is being done! It's un likely you'll want to slack off seeing as it affects you directly if you're practicing there. 

•No one wants to do free work, as such you want to get your "work's worth (as opposed to money's worth)"! It literally forces you to enforce your practice, and to train and get stronger ("work out" as I would say). There were so many times where I didn't feel like going, but I literally hauled my butt over to the studio because I felt that I had an obligation to myself. Why else had I cleaned for 3 hours? Personally I did end up going between 2-4 times every week this summer and I am soo glad that I did!

•Lastly, it's free unlimited yoga!! The best reason of all!

Side notes: It's pretty interesting, cause its not exactly a volunteer position , people who participate in this program are referred to as "trades" and each shift as "trading". 

I was also super fortunate to live just under 5 minutes away from the studio and thus it was extremely convenient to go so frequently. 

This type of arrangement is definitely an interesting model for the company itself. 
They are able to maintain a clean tidy environment with nearly no additional labour costs. I'd be interested to see now much they were 'losing out on' by providing these classes. What percentage of people attending those classes on a weekly basis are actually traders who aren't contributing to the revenue generated by each class? This program really does motivate individuals to grow as they become more dedicated to the practice, I actually talked to one yogi who went on to become a yoga teacher after having spent months as a dedicated trade. 

All in all, this arrangement was really only just for the summer; with summer vacation coming to an end I am really dreading not being able to go as regular as I was. Not only will it be expensive but as a university student I also have much less time to spare. 

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

3 Reasons Why I Love Kijiji/ Craigslist

This summer I had to get quite a few items off of these classified ads; of course the availability is much more limited than that of a store catalogue but it's was still a really great experience

Reasons Why It's Great

  • Many of these items that are being listed are in great condition, its near 10/10 mint condition; yet soo much cheaper! 
  • You get to meet such interesting people - just the experience of trading with this stranger is pretty cool. I met up with one girl to buy her bed frame and it turns out she graduated from the same University as me, it was a quick/sweet bond and I learned some interesting stuff. There are some interesting stories as to why it is they are putting it up for sale, moving, unused gift, etc.
  • It's eco friendly- you're basically recycling! With everything being bought brand new, there is definitely a surplus of used furniture and just 'stuff' that is being thrown out and wasted when it could be perfect for someone else. Assuming it looks brand new, and it's cheaper, do you really need to go and buy a brand new one yourself? Why not take one off of someone else's hands? You could probably put it to more use than it is sitting in the back of a closet or basement.
As much as you really want to buy whatever it is that you want to buy (there is high demand from yourself), there are people on the other side who really want to get rid of their stuff and have no use for it.

What do you typically buy off of Kijiji or Craigslist? Have you had good/bad experiences?

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

AeonAttire - Up and coming!

So today while I was at work, I was doing what a lot of people do (but shouldn't be) which is checking up on Facebook. I actually saw this jointly posted on Instagram when my interest was piqued! A friend posted a picture of these neat "Sunnies" with a caption that mentioned AeonAttire. From what I could assume, she knew this company and with some quick digging I formed the connection between the two - she knew one of the co founders!

When I find something interesting like that (and am also quickly losing interest in work) I start googling, opening tabs, and pulling sites here and there to form a mental summary.

From their main website I made some mental notes:

  • it seemed to be a clothing/fashion company
  • there was a mention of "tapering" - which seems to be their main product
  • they are definitely new and just starting out
To add on to the last point, the magazine had an interesting caption, it mentioned the idea of crowdfunding which is a concept that is quickly becoming more and more popular. Although I haven't dug into the topic and don't have a full understanding of what it is, from what I can tell it is when the group/organization informs the public of their main goal and asks for their help and support in the form of donations/ funds/ seed money.

For any Torontonians out there I may be wrong, but I believe this concept is what was used when Gawker tried to raise the money (~100,000) to purchase the video of Rob Ford regarding the cocaine scandal.

Anyways that's sort of off track from the main point, what this company AeonAttire is trying to do is campaign for their new line of sunglasses. There is a goal amount, and already in an extremely short amount of time a large amount of money has been pooled through pledges. Looking at their twitter account I've also noticed their heavy online presence as they try to capture the attention of those with heavy media presences, such as Leah Miller and CTV, by Tweeting them about said Sunnies.

What really fascinated me was their story. It may sound somewhat cliche "started from the bottom" but nonetheless their story is extremely unique; I was extremely impressed with their adventure and how they got to where they are today. They truly inspire anyone who is an entrepreneur or who is looking to start something similar. One of the hardest parts of beginning a company (besides finding the selling point or main point) is finding the starting money. 

AeonAttire is formed of three co-owners, three best friends, two of which are twins. Things had been rough at home forcing the two twins to move in with their friend. They realized one day that they could create an extremely interesting product from something that is extremely ordinary and usually used to hold bed sheets in place. Although this was the birth of their product they didn't have the funds necessary to create the product in mind.

 And so they worked hard, and danced hard when they busked at Yonge and Dundas, right in front of the Eaton Centre - you may have even passed them. It was through these hours of hard work that they accumulated the funds sufficient to create an accessory that is used to taper pant legs. Simply roll up the pants, and cuff them with this taper. Of course these boys are fashionable, they wouldn't just rebrand the band with a different function in mind, they gave it a design. Now people through the streets of Toronto could customize their pants giving them an edge over others, truly giving it a different look while falling into the current trend which is the slimming of pant legs. 

I was quite surprised looking at their Facebook group, already a bunch of my friends had liked their page. People who believe to have not been original acquaintances had already heard of their product line! Wow. 

Not only are they creative, innovative, talented at dancing and fashionable they are empathetic. In addition to their tapers, they are also selling circle scarves with a similar model as that of Tom's shoes. With every one that you purchase, they will donate one to those who are homeless and living in the streets of Toronto. As they busked their butts throughout the winter they were exposed to the harsh conditions that many had to endure and wanted to use what they grown and to put it towards good use. Looking at a few pictures, the scarfs certainly look warm! I definitely want to buy one now, unfortunately I don't know if they are still selling them and couldn't find a link on their website. 

Already they are being featured in some stores, and are being contacted by people internationally; their is certainly a demand for what they have designed. 

I look forward to seeing their growth as they gain more recognition (already they have been featured on MuchMusic and FashionArtToronto)!


Sunday, 28 July 2013

So what's your range?

When you're about to buy something, chances is you check out the price and put it somewhere along a scale that may range from cheap - good buy to expensive - is it really worth it .

Here are some of mine, it's funny how different some can be from others ( when $5 can be the high point ) depending on the category or even the store.

After making a bunch of these; I realized that it's really the different end points that I find interesting, the starting points in comparison seem to hold less meaning. End points simply represents the highest I will consider paying for an item whereas starting points may imply that anything under is a good find/cheap.

Flip-flops (Rubber)
|----------------------------------------------------------|
$1                                                                    $15
Exceptions: Michael Kors/ Designers


Heels/Wedges/Booties
|----------------------------------------------------------|
$30                                                                  $100
Exceptions: Jeffrey Campbell Litas I just bought (well actually I considered buying them at $160 but found a way too buy it for $100- See earlier post).

Friday, 26 July 2013

An Ordeal with Nordstrom and Litas

For the longest time I have eyed the Jeffrey Campbell Lita's. Today while scouring the Urban Outfitter's web site I found a deal that made my day! They were on sale for $120 but the deal turned sour when I looked at the sizes that were left. 8.5 .. 9... 10 ..Too big! I needed a 7, 7.5, and with that I was pretty upset that I had missed out. Not only was it an opportunity to save a lot of money but from what I could see, other websites were discontinuing them (left with only the large sizes) and that there would be no more renewal shipments! Side note: these shoes are regularly $160 USD.

I realized that Nordstrom was known for having good price-matching adjustments, and so off I went to talk to some associates via their Live Chat. After showing them the website I realized that Urban was even having a $20 off 100+ orders promotion, this means that the total came to $100! Awesome! It had been worth the wait. 

..I'm not actually 100% sure if the size 7 will fit but I'm hoping it does because reviews say that it should be true to size!

Anyways after talking to two employees and validating that it was an authentic site, they were eager to put the order in for me. I was so happy about the price until they reminded me that there would be duties and taxes at the border of $50. This is absurd, it nearly brings the price back to the original amount! I told them that I would like to think about it (very hesitant about the order) and they said that the price adjustment would still stand later on. I should add in that I was so excited that they confirmed the price-match that I took photos of the chat on my phone!

seven hours later...

I decided that I wanted to place the order! And man, this is where the drama came in. I linked the worker to the website, same as before, because I hadn't been given any reference number earlier. He then told me that price matches can not be made if items are of different sizes! At this point, I didn't really care what the policy said because I was upset - I was upset that I had already been told one thing and that they did not want to follow through. At this point I pursued my case, in retail there is a mantra that is usually followed "The Customer is Always Right". If something is wrong or you are not receiving the proper amount of customer care, speaking to the manager is always a viable option. As such I told them very explicitly that I wanted a phone number to speak to a manager (since this was initially an online chat) and that I was extremely upset with the service and receiving. Not only was this the case, I actually had proof of the aforementioned promises! 

things got even more weird

He had read the chat, and said "I have looked into these chats and I can confirm these are not chats with Nordstrom employees" At this point I was like excuse me?
  "If that is the case then there is a bigger issue at hand. I would like to talk to a manager immediately as there is an issue with your website, you have an issue where the Nordstrom Live Chat window is being accessed by "not Nordstrom employees" who are making false promises. This is ridiculous.
For some reason, this issue was not fully addressed since he decided to accept my evidence for the promised price-match. It mindboggles me how that could have happened, supposedly an employee offered me a policy that shouldn't have been offered and they offered shipping options that aren't even available! 

cats-wonderland.blogspot.com
I was finally about to have my order placed, when I was disconnected with the sales employee due to technical difficulties (which only added to my frustration). Thank goodness I was greeted with some great service, everything else from there was smooth sailing. Entered name, credit card info and etc, and next thing I know I had the confirmation email for my Taupe Jeffrey Campbell Litas!

The last little obstacle that freaked me out was when I noticed reading over the confirmation email that the billing address was wrong! In the past I had gotten orders cancelled due to billing addresses that did not match, so I contacted Nordstrom asap. She was about to cancel my order to fix it when she alerted me that the payment had already gone through (less than half an hour later) and there was actually no need to worry. I don't know if I should be worried that my bank is confirming payments with inaccurate  billing addresses or happy that I am getting my shoes - well of course I know what I'm more excited about.

SUCCESS
Comment if you've had any similar experiences with Nordstrom or online shopping in general!


Monday, 1 July 2013

Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Review

I just came back from my first trip to Cuba. The environment, and culture is completely different than that of North America. I've had plenty of friends who have told me about how great their vacations were but going myself was the real deal. I went with my family to a resort called Melias Las Americas, and for just over $1000 it included a round trip ticket there, shuttle service to the resort, food and drinks.

Places like Cuba, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica heavily depend on tourism, and as such there are a plethora of these resorts. What's different between them is truly the price and the quality. Staying at this resort, we were blessed with a postmark view. Since it's in Veradaro and on a peninsula, it actually works out in such a way that both sides of the hotel has an ocean view. One side; however, is much nicer to look at since it's shallow with the breathtaking blue water, whereas the other is more for fishing and is a lot less glamourous (but a view's a view).

Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Beach View
I kid you not, this is the view when you step through the lobby of the hotel. 

Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Beach View
Unreal.

Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Interior
We walked around and saw a few other Hotels while we were in Cuba, but none could really compare to the level of detail seen in this lobby. 
Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Havana Club
Each room is given a complimentary '26' of Rum. 

Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Room View
We were actually upgraded to this ocean view. 
Food: I've heard some interesting stories regarding the quality of food at these vacation places, but it was actually pretty decent/good. You pretty much receive all your food from their Buffet restaurant which consists of 4 areas.

  • 'Salad'/deli typed food with different cold cuts and cheeses.
  • Already Cooked meat/veggies and Interactive Cooking Station of Fish/Chicken/Beef (Pork?)
  • Already Cooked pasta/pizza and Interactive Cooking Station where you can customize the type of pasta and sauce
  • Dessert and Fruit Bar
Fair warning however, they keep their windows open almost all of the time which is really nice except for the fact that there are always flies around. It's not uncommon to see these flies sitting on some of the food that's already laid out (as such I would suggest eating whenever the buffet opens). 

To be very honest, the level of customer care and service that I received throughout my stay was the best at this buffet. They are extremely polite, and are always around to see to it that you have a beverage and that dirty dishes are taken away promptly. I don't think that there was a single instance where I felt that someone was being rude. One server actually recognized us the next day, and told us that he thought that my mother may have left her cardigan!

However; in addition to this buffet there is a '24 Hour Restaurant (Bar)' and a few stand alone restaurants. Room service is also available around the clock at no charge. Don't expect a large menu for the 24h Restaurant, they sell simple items such as cheese burgers sandwiches and fries. I wouldn't say that it was great, but if you are stuck between meal hours or it is simply the middle of the night it's still great to have the option to eat. 

We were there for 7 nights, and for 3 nights you make reservations for these individual restaurants (I believe you make them at the front desk but apparently ours had already been booked). We ate at the International Restaurant, Il Limoncello and Sakura.

Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort The International Restaurant
The International
 The International actually had a really great atmosphere, it gave off an upscale vibe with the decor and the music that was played by a quartet. The menu was interesting too, composed of an appetizer a main dish and a dessert. I had an appetizer with hummus, shrimp and 'crispy spaghetti', it was interesting and not bad in my opinion. However, we made the mistake of all ordering Lobster. What we found was 3/4 of the lobsters were not of good quality (you could tell by the texture) and  only 1 of our orders was tasty. Ordering something more safe such a pasta may have lead to a higher level of satisfaction at this restaurant. Finally for dessert, I took the waiter's recommendation of their creme caramel - although it was good, I was slightly upset I hadn't ordered the crepe that my mother had ordered. It was cooked in a sweet syrup with a hint of orange liquor - now that I would recommend ordering.

Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Pool
Il Limoncello was an interesting restaurant to say the least. It's quite hidden, and we honestly had no idea where it was until the night that we went. It's right next to the restaurant that's next to the further (shallower) pool behind a hidden door. Walking through it I was pleasantly surprised as the restaurant sits with a wonderful view of the beach (our reservation was around the time that the sun was setting), unfortunately that's about as good as the restaurant gets. We had a waiter who seemed as if he had little patience; he was not friendly, brisk and also quite inefficient. To our dismay, we spent nearly 1 hour waiting for our main course. At this point the restaurant was hardly close to being full, if the staff had made a mistake with our meal (which we were certain they had) they never came to give an apology or any explanation. This followed suit with our dessert, in addition to a mix up of desserts. What's interesting is that they have two types of menus, one is the stardard a la carte while the other one is a 'taste tester'. The latter menu provided smaller sized portions of what seemed like everything on the standard menu. It was also supposed to provide a "Symphony of Desserts", however this was never delivered. Furthermore, as we waited impatiently for our desserts (we had been at the restaurant for a very long time now) we noticed that there was a swarm of tiny ants walking around the table. It definitely freaked out some of us, but instead of moving us to one of the surrounding empty tables or even an apology, the waiter simply took a napkin and swiped them away to the side of the table.

Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort BeachSakura is a Japanese restaurant as one can infer from its name. They serve everyone the same meals, and also have a "Teppanyaki" chef. The meal consisted with three pieces of sushi, miso soup, fried rice, cooked vegetables, beef/pork, tempura shrimp and chicken. Of course we were in Cuba, and it would be unreasonable to expect the same quality of Japanese food one would get in Toronto (which is extremely multiculturally diverse with some wonderful cuisine), but I would only give it a 'satisfactory'. Watching the chef cook the rice seemed to be worse since it was happening right in front of us, an unusual reaction. We watched as he poured extremely generous amounts of soy sauce and sesame oil. He actually would pour the stuff for what seemed like over ten seconds, flooding our meal. Of course the cuisines is quite forgiving and it tasted kind of 'okay' but regardless it is something to keep in mind. The rest of the meat was cooked alright with the seasoning, but I was ready to see what was in store for dessert. Japanese dessert usually consists of just ice cream, but we actually had what seemed to be a Tempura/Deep fried ball of Icecream. I was actually pleasantly surprised, the combination was pretty good and I ended up finishing all of it despite my initial thoughts of leaving half behind.


What my family and I concluded together was that the buffet is actually the safest bet. The food is pretty good, the service and care receive is excellent and the food is readily available.


Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Beach


Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Wind Surfing
That's me windsurfing for the first time!

Leave a comment if this has helped you in your decision or just leave a comment with your own personal experience there! I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!