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Burt's Bees- Helping to Keep the Bees Buzzing

I read in the newspaper last month that 50 percent of all the bees in Ontario died last winter. As another winter approaches, I find myself worrying over the idea that more bees will disappear. This alarming news makes the efforts of bee conservationists all the more crucial. Just to refresh our memory, I would like to point out that one third of the food we eat is dependent on bees. Without bees pollinating, much of the food we get from plants will disappear, leaving us humans in an awfully hungry situation.

One company that has caught my attention is Burt’s Bees, a United State’s based beauty product manufacturer with substantial Canadian operations. The company is leading an unsung battle to save the bees. Burt’s Bees' goals include building hotels for bees, educating the public - especially its customers - about the importance of bees, and initiating a program to have people adopt bees.

The company's history is rooted in bees, understanding the importance of insects to the earth's ecosystem. The company is at the forefront of the battle to ensure that bees keep buzzing. It’s partnering with some organizations to promote the health of pollinators and fund honeybee sustainability projects in North Carolina through its Greater Good Foundation.

And here in Canada, the company is building bee hotels to help protect solitary pollinator bees from extinction by giving them a place to find food, water and nesting sites. Burt’s Bees is committing a significant portion of its profits from its special products to the Pollinator Partnership Canada to fund the bee hotels.

The disappearance of bees has caused major headaches for scientists and governments worldwide. It's not possible to save the bees alone; responsible corporate organizations need to come forward like Burt’s Bees and join the government in trying to salvage this situation. Let’s keep those bees buzzing.


Popular Athletic Shoe Brand Fun Facts!

There are many athletic shoe brands that have stepped onto the scene, but we can't deny the popularity of the oldies and goodies that seem to stick around. These brands have withstood the test of time, both physically and metaphorically, but have you ever wondered what brought them here today? Well, we're bringing you some fun facts about a few of the world's most famous athletic shoe brands!

1. Nike
Nike is an American company founded in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports. It changed its name in 1978 to Nike after the Greek goddess of victory. Its “Just Do It” slogan and swoosh logo are some of the most recognizable marketing items in the world today. It is considered to be the leading supplier of athletic shoes and apparel.

2. Adidas
Adolf Dassler established Adidas in 1948 in Germany. Its roots, however, may also be traced back to 1924 when the Gebruder Dassler Schuhfabrik was founded by Adolf and his brother, Rudolf. The two split up in 1949 with Rudolf establishing Puma. The basic design of Adidas is the three parallel bars which is also incorporated in the company’s logo.

3. Reebok
The company was founded in 1895 as J.W. Foster and Sons in England. It came from a desire to create a spiked running shoe for his sons. In 1958, his grandsons, Joe and Jeff, renamed the company Reebok, which is the Afrikaan spelling of rhebok, a type of antelope or gazelle native to the continent. Paul Fireman brought it to the United States in 1979 after seeing a pair in an international trade show. Reebok has been a subsidiary of Adidas since 2005.

4. Converse
Marquis Mills Converse established the company in 1908 as the Converse Rubber Shoe Company. In 1915, it began making tennis shoes. A company milestone occurred in 1917 when a basketball player named Charles H. Taylor walked into its office because of sore feet. He designed a high-top sneaker that became the classic we know today as “Chuck Taylor.”

5. New Balance
New Balance was established in 1906 as the New Balance Arch Support Company. Its shoes are typically more expensive than its rivals because it maintains manufacturing plants in the U.S. and the U.K. Its shoes are known by its model numbers as the company prefer not to give it names that would distract from the emphasis on the New Balance name.

6. Fila
Fila Ltd. was established in 1911 in Italy. It is known for its logo that features its name in snakelike letters. It used to be endorsed by Boris Becker and Bjorn Borg. It collapsed in 2003 forcing it to sell to a hedge fund company. Fila Korea, however, was a distinct company and bought all the rights to the company in 2007.


Top Five Cinemas in Toronto

Through the eyes of Amy...

Toronto is a staple in the film industry, being used as the setting for numerous blockbuster movies. But not only is Toronto a film star, it's also a great city to go see movies in. Whether living in the East or the West, midtown or down near the water, Toronto cinema lovers with insatiable appetites for classic, foreign, and challenging cinema are never likely to go hungry. Here are five of the best places to watch movies:

1. TIFF Bell Light Box
Not only is this a world class movie theatre that plays host to the Toronto International Film Festival, but it also includes a cinema museum along with room for exhibitions, new art house releases, schlocky cult fare, children's programming, avant-garde screenings, a bookstore that sells the best film books in print, and space for a couple dozen film festivals.

2. The Bloor
The beloved single-screen Annex theatre entered a new phase of its life in 2011 when it was sold to the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. They renovated the theatre and reopened it under the name of Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in 2012. With a long history of showing cult, genre, and classic screenings, there is no doubt that the Bloor is set to become Toronto's chief venue for documentary work and will most definitely be the hub for North America's largest documentary film festival.

3. Toronto Underground
The Chinese cinema, formerly known as Golden Classics, opened its doors in the Spring of 2010 to cult and genre seekers. The Underground tends to stay true to its name by avoiding ostentatious signage and neglecting to update their screening schedule, relying more on word-of-mouth from their Facebook and twitter accounts to promote upcoming events.

4. The Revue Cinema
Located in the heart of Roncesvalles, Revue is a great venue for many of the better independent and foreign films. The self-proclaimed "only not-for-profit cinema" in Toronto, hosts some interesting series certainly worth watching.

5. The Royal Cinema
A staple on Toronto's independent cinema map since it opened as the Pylon in 1939, it remains a cherished Little Italy landmark, possessing one of the most beautiful art deco theatre interiors in Canada. This is one of Toronto's premiere venues for local and up-and-coming filmmakers to show their films, and also hosts a variety of popular film festivals.


Top Four Summer Smoothies

When the temperature outside heats up nothing goes down easier, or tastes better, than a frozen smoothie. Here are 4 healthy smoothy recipes for the summer. The directions for each recipe are easy, just combine all the ingredients into the blender and blend until everything is smooth and frothy, then pour it into a glass and enjoy.

1) Banana-Berry Bliss

This smoothie is chock-full of high fiber berries which will help you feel full and satisfied throughout the day.
- Ingredients
1/3 cup raspberries
1/3 cup blueberries
1/3 cup blackberries
1/2 ripe banana
1/2 cup Artic Zero vanilla ice cream
1 cup ice

2) Acai Berry Banana Smoothie

Acai berries are a super food, and the perfect addition to any smoothie. Not only do they taste great, but they are also packed with antioxidants, omega fats, protein, fiber, and amino acids.
- Ingredients
Unsweetened Acai Smoothie Pack
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 banana
1/4 cup skim milk
1 cup ice

3) Applecado Smoothie

This creamy smoothie is good for your waistline and your heart. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, which can help to lower cholesterol. They also provide essential fatty acids needed to build cells and maintain skin health.
- Ingredients
1 Granny Smith apple, cored with the skin on
1/4 avocado
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon cilantro
1 cup ice
3 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

4) Peachy Keen Smoothie

Almond milk is a great base for any smoothie. This milk substitute adds sweetness while being a good source of calcium. It is also low in calories and is free of saturated fat.
- Ingredients
1 peach, pitted
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1 cup almond milk
1 cup ice


Top Eight Activities to Make Your Work Commute Productive

Your daily trip to and from work doesn't have to be a complete waste of time. With some strategic planning you can easily use your commute to recharge and boost productivity. There are things you can do to change a lengthy commute from a frustrating time-eater to a productive part of your day. Here are 8 productive things you can do during your commute:

1. Bicycle or walk to work: Depending on how long your commute is, this is a great way to get in some exercise. It helps wake you up and keep your mind sharp, in addition to keeping your body in shape.

2. Reflect: Taking time each week during your commute to check in on your goals is a great way to stay on top of your to-do list. It's the perfect time to think about what in your life needs to be worked on.

3. Check emails and voice messages: If you’re not driving or riding a bicycle, your morning commute is a great time to get a head start on your workday. Attending to messages and answering emails on your way to work will help you get a good start on the work day.

4. Check in on your social networks: If you’re not driving, use your phone or tablet to interact with your network of business contacts on social media by sharing information and engaging with them.

5. Listen to music or audio books: These activities can help you relax and support your ongoing learning and development.

6. Mentally prepare for the day: If you'd like to get a head start on your day, you can use your commute time to get ready for what's on your calendar. You can also use this time to plan the rest of your day outside the work place. A workday without distractions relating to after-work responsibilities or activities can be far more productive.

7. Create a to-do list: Your commute is the perfect time to create a to-do list or fine-tune the one you’ve already made. By creating a to-do list and prioritizing the day's responsibilities, you're setting yourself up to have a more organized and focused workday. If you can't actually write a list because you're driving, it can still be useful to use a voice recorder.

8. Check in with your friends and family: You may have very limited time for this type of communication throughout the rest of the day, so use your commute time to call your parents, chat with your significant other, or text your friends (as long as you’re not driving).


Lacoste Bags Great Customer Service

What makes a great customer service experience? Well for me, one of the greatest factors is when a sales associate goes above and beyond to ensure a customer is satisfied. I recently experienced this type of service when I went shopping at my local mall for an airline messenger bag.

When I entered the store I browsed their selection and eventually asked the sales associate if they had the specific bag I was looking for in stock. She told me that they sold out since it was one of their best selling bags. The sales associate told me that my best bet was to go to the Lacoste at Yorkdale Mall since they had a larger store, thus a larger stock selection.

I asked her if she could double check with the store just to make sure they had the bag in stock at Yorkdale before I headed there. She agreed and called them for me. After she spoke with a sales representative at the other store, she told me that they only had one left and she asked them to keep the bag on hold for me.

I made my way to the other location and was greeted by a sales associate upon entering the store. At the cashier desk I asked for the bag that they kept on hold for me. The sales associate asked me to wait while she brought the bag out from the stockroom. When she came back, she had the airline messenger bag I was looking for.

She gave me a brief explanation about the material of the bag, including how to care for it. She also told me that it was their last bag and was on sale for 30% off. I decided to purchase the bag and after that purchase I was very satisfied with how smoothly the process went and how helpful the sales associates were.

Do you remember a shopping experience where the sales associate ensured your satisfaction? Share it in the comments section.


Best Money-Saving Shopping Tactics

We are blessed to be among one of the countries that have the highest selection of goods on our store shelves. Retailers devise all kinds of techniques to attract and retain customers. Usually quality customer service holds the key in customer retention. However, beyond quality service, you should look at some ways to save some money each time you shop. After all, who doesn’t like to save money? Here are nine tips you can use to save money whenever you shop:

Vendor Coupons: Whenever you come across any coupons, either in the mailbox or in the pages of a magazine or flyer, take a look at it. Don’t just toss it away, you may need it for your next shopping trip to save some money.

Price Matching: With retailers trying to outsell their competitors, price matching has become commonplace. Whenever you find a product for cheaper at a store other than the one you frequent, let the cashier or customer service associate know about it and ask them to match the price.

Price adjustment: Some big retailers like Walmart offer price adjustment. Last week, I purchased a bicycle at Walmart. Three weeks later the price went down by 15 per cent. I went back to the store and they adjusted the price. However, price adjustment must be within one month of purchase.

Multi-buy discount: For some items, you pay less when you buy more, usually from two items upwards. It wouldn’t hurt to buy two packs of gum for two dollars instead of one for $1.50.

Scanning code of practice: It’s a provincial law, but retailers are not obliged to practice it. Whenever an item scans more than the display price you get it for free, provided it’s not more than ten dollars. And if it is more than ten dollars, you’re supposed to get ten dollars off the normal price. For stores that practice it, such as Walmart, most cashiers won’t offer it to you unless you ask for it.

Promotional sales: Sales promotions are a great way to save money on purchases. It’s not enough to browse store flyers for sales, certain items may be actually on sale but not published in the flyer for lack of space. Ask the customer service employee or cashier what items are on sale in the store.

Rain check: Whenever you find some items on sale that you think you may need in the near future, ask for a rain check. That will enable you to buy it at a later date at the same promotional sales price.

Miscellaneous discount: It’s not uncommon to walk into a store and discover that the item you need has almost sold out and the stock that's left has damaged packaging. If you feel you can’t wait to return to the store another day to get it or can’t go to another store for the item, go to the customer service desk and ask for a discount. Most stores prefer to sell items with damaged or roughened packaging at 10-20 percent discount rather than claim it.


Top Six Personalized Father's Day Gifts

With Father's Day just around the corner, it is time to find the perfect gift for the man who spent far too much time and money raising you. Financially you may never be able to pay him back, but here are a couple gift ideas to show your dad you appreciate all he's done for you:

I. Personalized Wine
Pick up a bottle of your dad's favourite wine and  replace the label with a personalized label. Have some fun with it, come up with a witty name. Even if the label doesn't come out how you wanted it to, it'll be the thought—and the wine—that counts.

II. The Right Tone
Unique art prints of all tones and styles are readily available to order online. Find a unique piece of art that really captures your dad's interests and personality. Finding the right tone might just brighten your dad's day.

III. The Pre-Paid Myth
There's a faction of the gift-giving world who still consider giving pre-paid cards to be thoughtless and uncreative, but there is a way around this. With a pre-paid music card, you can download the music beforehand and create a personalized playlist for your dad.

IV. Homemade Soap
Help your dad smell like his favourite scent. Whether it's the fresh outdoors, vanilla, or even coffee, you can either make the scented-soap yourself, or custom-order it online.

V. The Sweet Tooth
Nothing will hit your dad's sweet spot like a jar of personalized candy. Head down to Bulk Barn and pick out a variety of your dad's favourite sweets and then put them in a jar with a personalized message. Your affection will never have tasted so good.

VI. The Classic Tie
There's a reason the tie is seen as a classic gift. Whether it has a humorous or standard print, subtly personalize the tie by getting it in your dad's favourite colour. This little touch will make all the difference.


Top Five Labour Day Activities in Ontario

It is almost the end of summer and there is only one more weekend to get the most fun out of the season. Listed below are 5 exciting things that you can do with your friends and family on Labour Day around Ontario!

1. Canadian National Exhibition: Visit the CNE fair that will open from August 14th to September 1st. Enjoy the shows, rides, food, games, and some shopping!

2. Niagara Falls Buskerfest: This year, from August 29th to September 1st, Niagara Falls will have its second annual Buskerfest at the Seneca Theatre! With over 50 performances, great food, and amazing artisans, Buskerfest will undoubtedly be a memorable cultural event!

3. Artfest at the Distillery: From August 28th to September 1st, visit the Distillery District to celebrate the art of painting, photography, and music. There will be live music and art shows featuring Canada’s top artists!

4. Ashkenaz Festival: Visit the Harbourfront Centre between August 28th and September 1st to enjoy a festival of Jewish music and culture. There will be over 200 artists at the festival showing off artwork from traditional to modern styles!

5. Hispanic Fiesta: Celebrate Hispanic heritage at the Mel Lastman Square from August 28th to September 1st this year. The festival will consist of cultural music, food, and local and international Hispanic performers!


Top Eight Reasons to Exercise in the Morning

So you gained a bit of Holiday weight this season. We know, the turkey was so good... and so was all that cake. Looking to get rid of that Holiday food baby? Well, exercising first thing in the morning plays a major factor in weight loss. Even if it's only a 5-10 minute walk, it is important to get in some kind of exercise every morning. Here are some other reasons to exercise in the morning.

1. Most people that are consistent with exercise, complete their exercising in the morning. It's easier to stay dedicated if you start a morning routine.

2. Morning exercise jump starts your metabolism and keeps it elevated for hours (sometimes up to 24 hours). This means you’ll be burning more calories all day due to morning exercise.

3. By exercising in the morning, you are keeping your body energized for the day. This will help you feel dramatically different on days when you have and haven’t exercised in the morning.

4. If you wake up at the same time each morning and perform exercises for approximately the same length of time, your endocrine system and circadian rhythms of your body will adjust to the routine. This means that it’ll be a lot easier for you to wake up in the morning since your body is prepared to wake up. You’ll feel more energized and be ready to exercise when you wake up since your metabolism and hormones involved in activity begin to elevate a few hours before you wake up.

5. For most people, morning exercise becomes second nature to them and becomes something they look forward to doing. It is the time they have set aside to care for their body, mind and soul.

6. Getting your exercise done first thing in the morning will assure that something else doesn't crowd exercise out of your schedule.

7. If finding time to exercise is a problem, try waking up 30 to 60 minutes earlier to exercise. If necessary, you can go to sleep a little earlier.

8. You'll feel great! Do it!