Am I Buying a Car, Truck, or a Headache?

In the twenty years I've been driving in Canada, I've never bought a vehicle, never even looked for one. That was my ex-husband's job, I just drove whatever vehicle he chose for me. Now, the prospect of looking for a car on my own is more than a little overwhelming, especially if I have to drive around to a bunch of dealerships and talk to more than a few salespeople. Nothing against salespeople, the problem is me. I'm an easy mark and usually end up buying stuff I never wanted. However, there is a big difference between a magazine subscription and a car. If I buy a car I don't need, I could end up broke.

I know I'm gonna need a new car soon, real soon, and the first thing I did was look on craigslist. That's where my ex-husband always looked. OMG, not only do I have no idea if they are worth the asking price, they're spread out all over the lower mainland. Some sounded good, but when I showed up to look, it was just me and some guy at his house on an acreage. Yeah, not a personal security concern at all. Not only that, but the car wasn't what he told me it was. It had dings and I'll just leave it at that. 

I've never taken a vehicle to a mechanic. Seriously, never have. Yep, that was my ex's job, literally because he is a mechanic. If I can start the thing it's mechanically sound in my opinion. Private sales were just too complicated and had too many questions. So back to the dealers.

A friend posted on the all mighty Facebook, a link to a website called, so I clicked on it to check it out. First thing that impressed car challenged me was that I didn't have to know what make or model I wanted to search for. I could type in whatever search I wanted. Red Sports Car. Blue Station Wagon. Fun Little Sporty Car. Anything under $5 000. Any type of search provided me with search results. There is also the 'choose a make and model' search option for those more sophisticated car buyers. 

I can sort by price, distance from me, odometer, or date. There is a photo of every car, the important details, and which dealership it's located at. I can easily compare prices between dealerships and save time. As a single mother, price is probably the most important factor for buying a car, so being able to see exactly what I can get and where I'll get the most for my money is important.

The site has a few features to make life easier for the car shopper. The first is a favourites button, so I can keep track of the vehicles I'm most interested in. The next is a IM chat feature, so I can ask the salesman at the dealership any questions about the vehicle without having to go see him, call him, or wait for him to return my email. It also has a send to mobile option, so I can check out my choices on my phone while I'm out running errands or at the dealership trying to negotiate the best deal. I haven't got that far in the buying process, but when I do, it's there. 

The car's profile page has everything you'd expect to be there. Professional photos, pricing, contact information, features, and the car's deets. There are also bonus features, video of the car, snap to mobile, and IM chat with an available sales rep. Bonus features are always a good thing. 

Now, if I had a car worth anything to trade in or sell, has me covered. Instead of having to negotiate with the salesman, who knows I want to buy the new car right away. I can sell my car on at a dealership type of auction. The dealers bid for your car and that way you can get the best deal possible. Best part, you don't have to run all over town to see if a dealer will give you a few bucks more, it's all there at the click of a button. I haven't tried this feature yet, so any feedback about how it worked for you would be much appreciated. Just leave a comment below telling me what you thought of 

I don't like shopping, I'm not big on spending lots of money, I don't have lots of money to spend. Car shopping, for these reasons, is one of my least favourite things to do. So, having a research tool to help me compare, keep track, and communicate with the seller is important. If you live in Canada and you're buying a car, check out It'll save you time, money, and that nasty car buying headache.

Hunger Games - Catching Fire - Do People Get the Social Message?

I was talking with my son about the popularity of the Hunger Games trilogy and the topic came round to the underlying social message of the stories. That lead to the question, do people who take in the entertainment value of the story see the parallels in the real world?

Take the set up of the twelve districts, all being raped for the glory of the Capital. Well, this one is easy right?

I'm sure everyone can see the first world lifestyle wrapped up in the Capital with the third world suffering to keep up with the first world consumption. Third world starves and we continue to consume without a thought of where our food, clothes, and items come from.

What about cleaning up those select few and then parading them out to the Capital before they send them back to the squaller of their districts to live in the Victor's Village?

It's really blatant contrast of how the two different societies live in PanAm. We do it here too.

We take those whose stories touch our hearts, clean them up, parade them through the media and then send them right back to their slums in the third world. Don't think we do? Take the kids from SlumDog Millionaire. They got a taste of what celebrity in the first world feels like and then were sent back to their homes in the slums of India. Are they better off for it? Or now that they know how we live, feel cheated? How would you feel?

Then there is the 10 year old girl, Nujood Ali,  who faced down her society and got a divorce from her much older husband, who bought her from her family. We put her on talk shows, showed her a life she can never have, and then sent her back to the family who sold her in the first place.

We are doing it again with Malala Yousafzai, but at least she doesn't have to go back to a slum.

Then there is the killing each other to entertain the Capital.

Yes we do this too, with our reality TV shows, but also in our news reports on the wars. We watch the TV, see the terrible images, hear the heartbreaking stories and then we turn the TV off and forget. We can do nothing so why bother. They are 'other' - over there, someone else. They have nothing to do with us. Yet, it is our governments and our economy that effect their way of life and move the chess pieces into place. In the 80's the US backed the Taliban, put them in power, knowing full well how it would effect the citizens there. The US leaders are there because their citizens vote them it.

As a thanks for coming by and reading this post - 
I'm giving away a free download of the e-book  - Thirteen by Shannon Peel.

Jack is a rebellious thirteen year old boy, who just wants to hang out with his new high school friends, but his mom’s curfew is restricting his freedom.

When foreign soldiers invade his hometown, cutting off the power, communications, and any chance of escape, Jack and his friends have to figure out how to survive.

With no way to contact his father, they have no idea if he is safe or one of the people disappearing from their homes. Now all Jack wants is to get his dad back, unfortunately, armed soldiers are in the way.

Thirteen is a roller coaster of twists and turns. It is a story of a boy figuring out who he is and redefining his relationship with his mother. To protect his mom, he puts himself into dangerous situations and organizes a group of kids to brain storm ideas and gather information on the soldiers.

Hunger Games - Catching Fire - Disappointment?

I took my daughter to the opening day of the new Hunger Games movie - Catching Fire. Got there for the 7:30 showing half an hour early and the theatre was packed and the only seats available were at the front. So, I exchanged the tickets for the 9:45 showing and we sat for over an hour in line to get our seats in the Theatre and we weren't the first in line.

We were both disappointed with the movie.

She thought it focused too much on the killing and found it scary, which considering she's watched the first movie and read the books, really says something. I thought it skimmed over the whole book so fast that it didn't really get into the story. Instead showing you the highlights and never really enabling the viewer to 'feel' or get into the character's struggles. They really should have split the book into two movies, it would have done the franchise more in the end.

It skipped through the first half of the book so fast, they should of just not done it. It spend too much time in the arena fighting and not enough time developing the new characters and their relationship with Katniss and Peta. Some of the important character details of the story were inserted so quickly, it was easy to miss them. Since the pace of the story was so fast, scenes like the wedding dress lost their impact.

The acting was great. The special effects impressive and the sets amazing. The issue was in the pacing and the story. Not enough characterization or tension. Had they split the movie into two and focused on the 12 district tour instead of the new games, they would have had a better story. They would have been able to develop the relationship between Katniss and Peta better, they would have been able to show the effects of the brutal new guard better, they could have shown more of Katniss' relationship to Prim and her mom. Then people would have cared more for the characters on the screen and identified them to the characters they read in the books.

I just wasn't all that impressed and neither was my daughter. Should have just waited for the digital edition on Netflix.

As a thanks for coming by and reading this post - I'm giving away a free download of the e-book Thirteen by Shannon Peel.

Jack is a rebellious thirteen year old boy, who just wants to hang out with his new high school friends, but his mom’s curfew is restricting his freedom. When foreign soldiers invade his hometown, cutting off the power, communications, and any chance of escape, Jack and his friends have to figure out how to survive. With no way to contact his father, they have no idea if he is safe or one of the people disappearing from their homes. Now all Jack wants is to get his dad back, unfortunately, armed soldiers are in the way.

Thirteen is a roller coaster of twists and turns. It is a story of a boy figuring out who he is and redefining his relationship with his mother. To protect his mom, he puts himself into dangerous situations and organizes a group of kids to brain storm ideas and gather information on the soldiers.

HomeStars Helps Home Owners Hire Good Trades.

Have you ever hired a company to work on your home? Did you have a good experience or a bad one?

As you sit sipping your cup of coffee, you take in the room around you and think, 'this house needs a face lift ASAP.' But who do you trust with the most valuable thing you own, your home? First thing you think of is to call your friends and ask them who they hired to update their homes. You collect a few names. Of course you trust your friends, so you trust the companies they refer, but this is a huge decision that will cost you big bucks.

Where else can you find information to make sure the company is the 'right one' for you? The Internet, you grab your computer and do a google search, after all, the more information you have, the better. You type in the company name. Google brings up some links that match your keyword search and you notice a specific link, 'the company has 23 reviews with an average of 9.4.' You click on the link and find yourself at

Google sends you to a profile page where you can read reviews written by other customers of the company. Most are good, but there is that one bad one. You notice the company has responded to all the reviews, including the 'bad' review. Yes, the job went sideways, but as the company explains, they did everything possible to fix it, they offered compensation, and the job was completed to the customer's satisfaction in the end. That's what you want. A company that is willing to do work with you, even if something goes wrong. You call them up. is a website that helps home owners make better hiring decisions by gathering reviews on home service companies. On the website you will find both good and bad reviews about hundreds of different local home service companies. The website creates a full picture of a company's story by gathering good, bad, and mediocre reviews of their work. ensures that the information is trustworthy by verifying any questionable review. How you ask? If a review is suspect, they contact the reviewer and ask for proof of payment for work rendered. Plus, they strictly monitor the site's content to keep companies from gaming the system by writing their own reviews. That is not allowed and they are very diligent.

No one wants to hire a home service company and end up with a horror story that costs you more than you budgeted for. is growing at a rapid pace because of the 'bad' rep the home service industry has. Make sure you don't end up with your own horror story, check out what a company's actual customers have to say by going to before you hire.

Don't end up with issues like this:

Books for Middle Grade Boys.

Jack has just left the confines of elementary school for the freedom of high school, problem is his mom treats him like a kid and won't let him grow up. His home is a constant battle field until foreign soldiers invade his hometown shutting off all power, communication, and any chance of escape. Jack and his friends need to figure out how to survive without technology, power, communication or escape. 

Parenting a thirteen year old boy can be extremely frustrating. They go from being the cute little boy who listens to you and follows the rules to a secretive pain in the Keyster. I know I'm not alone here. Many parents wake up one morning, usually on the first day of Grade 8 and find that their son is the victim of body snatchers. We ask ourselves, how did our sweet little boy turn into this new creature and can I send him back? 

When my son was 13, my life became a difficult. I never knew where he was. He broke two cell phones. Skipped class and was hanging out with a whole new crowd of kids I didn't know. He got in trouble at school, almost with the police over a fireworks purchase incident at school. He wouldn't share any of his life with me, except those parts that would make my mind melt trying to figure out if he was serious or not.  Let's just say he liked to mess with my mind. 

My novel, Thirteen, draws from this relationship froth with conflict, rebellion, and love. It isn't a moral story lesson trying to tell kids how they should be. It's a real look at life through the eyes of a thirteen year old boy trying to figure out who he is and how to get away from his mom in the process. 

The book itself has received some good reviews and the feedback from the kids who have read it. They can identify with the character, the situation, and like the story of survival. Once they start reading this fast pace novel, they can't put it down and are asking me for more. 

Get a free e-book download

Why I Will NOT Use again in Canada

My cousin uses Hotwire to book cheap hotels in the US all the time and Since we needed a hotel in Calgary for a few nights I thought - hey why not. So we rolled the dice and booked a 2 star hotel - which turns out is a 1 star. If I had gotten a better deal than any other online hotel site I would of been OK, so what at least we got a good deal - besides all we do is sleep there anyway. I have had my share of crappy hotels for the sake of a deal. When I went to other sites like priceline, travelocity, and hotels for example to see how much I saved using Hotwire's blind service I found out I'd saved a total of --- NOTHING. In fact I could have saved a few more dollars using priceline. Now I'm stuck in a Hotel that they advertise as a 2 star but I know doesn't compare to the others Hotwire gives as examples of 2 star hotels. I stay regularly in the hotels that were given as 2 star examples and know the difference. This one is more of a Econolodge then a Quality Inn. Live and learn!

New Beginnings - WAHM

Today is the first day of my new career! Its been a long road of searching, false starts and huge expenses but the day is finally here where I start new. A month ago I joined MFP and one of my first blog posts was about a horrible day I had interviewing for a job.

It was a dark day but I learned from it and I made sure the next time I went into the city for an interview I took the right suit with me in a garment bag and changed in a hotel washroomthere before I went to the interview. Gave myself even more time to get there on transit and had 15 minutes to sit read and relax before my interview.

That interview I nailed and I got the job, which ended up being the perfect job out of all the positions I interviewed for over the last 2 years. It had everything I wanted in a position and I didn't have to give up anything.

It gives me the flexibility to work a schedule that works with my family. Which means I'm here to get the kids to school and here when they get home. I can drive them to afterschool activities and I can afford to pay for them.

It gives me a good base that we can live on plus commissions to purchase extras - like that new video game system the kids want after the trip to the Sony store yesterday, a 3D PSP with 3D TV. Its all my son can talk about - not this Christmas hun, maybe your birthday IF you come up with 1/2 the cost.

It is a contract position which means I can utilize my expenses as tax deductions, that includes a portion of my home, car, phone, and internet.

Its print advertising which I am passionate about in an industry I am very familiar with, Real Estate - Thanks MOM!!

Really I couldn't be happier about the position and I can't wait to get started. In fact I already have by creating a marketing and sales plan to follow in order to reach my goals. I will blow the owner's mind tomorrow when I give him a copy of it and my sales presentation to discuss and fine tune. I've used one in the past and it is a great communication tool and assessment tool for both myself and my boss when figuring out where I am, where I want to be and what is missing from the process. Of course it takes the right kind of manager to see the value of it and work with me on it.

One goal down, a big one but one that motivates me and provides me with the means to make my other goals a reality. The next goal .... fit into that size 16 navy blue power suit.


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