May 2016

May 31 2016
Let’s say you don’t want to buy a GIC or open a high-interest savings account because you think the stock market will go up over the next few years. You already have an online brokerage account ... Read More more...

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May 31 2016

Coding camps for kids and teens teach more than just career skills. Critical and resilient thinking, as well as a better understanding of our digital environment, makes it relevant for any kid. Plus, your child could be designing a virtual reality of their very own. Gives ‘living in their own world’ a whole new meaning! […]

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May 30 2016
Despite being a relatively new travel card on the scene, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite is considered by many to be the best airline travel credit card out there and also one of the better overall ... Read More more...

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May 30 2016
In an ideal world, you’ll be able to pay off all of your debt before buying a home. But as more and more Canadians carry credit card debt, the idea of purchasing a home after becoming ... Read More more...

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May 29 2016
Before you change your condo insurance policy or shop for a new one, you should find out more about the most complicated condo insurance claims. This will allow you to have a better conversation with your ... Read More more...

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May 29 2016
If you have a lot of credit card debt and you’re struggling to pay off your debt due to high interest rates, you may want to consider getting a balance transfer credit card. Balance transfer credit ... Read More more...

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May 28 2016
The rise of the smartphone has been meteoric. Living up to the promise to “change everything,” smartphones now find themselves in the hands of 68% of Canadians. While they can be addictive, smartphones can also be ... Read More more...

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May 28 2016
It’s now been more than three weeks since the massive wildfire crept into Fort McMurray in northern Alberta forcing 90,000 residents to flee their homes. The latest official damage assessment shows 2,432 homes and buildings in Fort ... Read More more...

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May 27 2016
It’s a rare there’s an investment that’s almost guaranteed to lose money but it does seem to exist. It’s called a money market mutual fund. Unlike other things in life where you’re pretty much destined to lose ... Read More more...

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May 27 2016

Going on holiday with young children is like doing everything you do at home, but without all the things to hand, and in an unfamiliar environment. Research is your friend here, and with some advance planning, this can also be a holiday for you. Really. Pack it in Small plastic containers of crayons, playdough, stamps, […]

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May 26 2016
In Canada, we’re used to most medical expenses being covered by government insurance plans. However, when traveling to another province or country, medical expenses can become costly. If you find yourself in a predicament where you ... Read More more...

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May 25 2016
This morning, the Bank of Canada (BoC) announced that it’ll keep the target for the overnight rate at 0.50%. The last time the BoC adjusted the rate was back in July 2015, when the overnight rate ... Read More more...

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May 25 2016
When a big storm heads in your direction, you often get a warning and time to prepare. That may mean stocking up on bottled water, getting more groceries, or buying a first aid kit. The dire ... Read More more...

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May 25 2016

There are lots of discussions out there about the benefits of sports, team sports, and sports camps – but arts camps bring some unique benefits of their own. Exposure to new ideas and experiences Arts camps give kids more time to really dig in to new techniques and approaches to expressing themselves. Trying out new […]

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May 24 2016
  We are oh so excited to introduce our staff team of diverse talents and backgrounds! They are nature stewards, good food advocates, seasoned organizers and of course fruit lovers. Get to know these fantastically fruity folks from our conversation with them below: Megan Anevich, Program Manager AK Fischer, Pilot Program Coordinator Tatiana Stewart, Picking […] more...

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May 24 2016
One of the mistakes investors can make is to think of fixed income as a uniform asset class. This would be sort of like assuming that all fruit is the same. A quick glance at an ... Read More more...

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May 23 2016
Scandalous Women is pleased to welcome author Mary Sharratt to the blog today to talk about Aemilia Bassano Lanier, the heroine of her new novel The Dark Lady's Mask, 


Born in 1569, Aemilia Bassano Lanier (also spelled Lanyer) was the highly cultured daughter of an Italian court musician—a man thought to have been a Marrano, a secret Jew living under the guise of a Christian convert.


After her father’s death, seven-year-old Aemilia was fostered by Susan Bertie, the Dowager Countess of Kent, who gave her young charge the kind of humanist education generally reserved for boys in that era. Later, after Bertie remarried and moved to the Netherlands, Aemilia became the mistress of Henry Carey, Lord Chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth. As Carey’s paramour, Aemilia Bassano enjoyed a few years of glory in the royal court—an idyll that came to an abrupt and inglorious end when she found herself pregnant with Carey’s child. She was then shunted off into an unhappy arranged marriage with Alfonso Lanier, a court musician and scheming adventurer who wasted her money. So began her long decline into obscurity and genteel poverty, yet she triumphed to become a ground-breaking woman of letters. 


Aemilia Bassano Lanier was the first English woman to aspire to a career as a professional poet by actively seeking a circle of eminent female patrons to support her. She praises these women in the dedicatory verses to her epic poem, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, a vindication of the rights of women couched in religious verse and published in 1611.


But was Lanier also the mysterious Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets, as the late A. L. Rowse famously proclaimed?  



Is this Aemilia Bassano Lanier? Miniature by Nicholas Hilliard.

Shakespeare’s Dark Lady Sonnet Sequence (sonnets 127-152) describes a woman with an “exotic” dark beauty that sets her apart from the pale English roses. Musically gifted, she plays the virginals like a virtuosa, winning the poet’s heart. She is also of tarnished reputation—a woman of bastard birth and a married woman who lures the likewise married Shakespeare into a shameful, doubly-adulterous affair. Alas, the lady proves capricious and unfaithful, and the bitter end of their affair leaves her poet-lover roiling with disgust. Shakespeare describes her as “my female evil.”



William Shakespeare

Over the centuries Shakespearean scholars have tried to deduce the Dark Lady’s identity. Candidates include Lucy Morgan, a London brothel owner of African ancestry; and Sara Fitton, lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth I.


Aemilia Bassano Lanier herself seems to fit the bill. A woman of Italian-Jewish heritage, it’s plausible that she had raven-black hair and an olive complexion. Her parents’ common-law marriage meant that she was officially classed as a bastard. The illegitimate son she had with the Lord Chamberlain did nothing to shore up her reputation. As a court musician’s daughter and later another court musician’s unwilling wife, it’s likely that she was musically accomplished and a deft hand at the virginals. After being jilted by the Lord Chamberlain and thrust into a forced marriage with a man she detested, she may well have been tempted to look for love elsewhere. The Lord Chamberlain, interestingly enough, was also Shakespeare’s patron, the money behind his theatre company, Lord Chamberlain’s Men.


However, none of this proves that Lanier was the Dark Lady, or even that there was a Dark Lady. Academic scholars will point out that we don’t even know if Shakespeare’s sonnets were autobiographical. Lanier scholars in particular find the Dark Lady question an unwelcome detraction from Lanier’s own considerable literary achievements.


Having established these facts, I must confess that as a novelist I could not resist the allure of the Dark Lady myth. As Kate Chedgzoy points out in her essay “Remembering Aemilia Lanyer” in the Journal of the Northern Renaissance, this myth endures because it draws on “our continuing cultural investment in a fantasy of a female Shakespeare.”


My intention was to write a novel that married the playful comedy of Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard’s Shakespeare in Love to the unflinching feminism of Virginia Woolf’s meditations on Shakespeare’s sister in A Room of One’s Own. How many more obstacles would an educated and gifted Renaissance woman poet face compared with her ambitious male counterpart? 


In The Dark Lady’s Mask, I explore what happens when a struggling young Shakespeare meets a struggling young woman poet of equal genius and passion. If Lanier and Shakespeare were lovers, would this explain how Shakespeare made the leap from his history plays to his Italian comedies and romances—the turning point of his career? Lanier, after all, was an Anglo-Italian trapped in a miserable arranged marriage. The names Aemilia, Emilia, Emelia, and Bassanio all appear in Shakespeare’s plays. His Italian comedies are set in Veneto, Lanier’s ancestral homeland. What if Shakespeare’s early comedies were the fruit of an active collaboration between him and Lanier?


I find it fascinating how the strong, outspoken women of Shakespeare’s early Italian comedies, such as the crossdressing Rosalind in As You Like It and the spirited Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, gave way to much weaker heroines and misogynistic portraits of women in Shakespeare’s great tragedies, such as frail, mad Ophelia in Hamlet. This change in tack leads me to wonder if the historical Shakespeare actually did have a bittersweet affair with a mysterious, unknown woman that cast a shadow over his later life and work.


Most intriguingly, Lanier’s own proto-feminist Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum was published in the wake of Shakespeare’s sonnets bitterly mocking his Dark Lady. If she and Shakespeare were estranged lovers, was this her spirited riposte to his defamation of her character? Did the woman Shakespeare maligned as his “female evil” pick up her pen in her own defense and in defense of all women? 


These two poets had such radically different character arcs. We all know about Shakespeare’s rise to the glory that would enshrine him as an enduring cultural icon. But there was no meteoric rise for Lanier. Though she eventually triumphed to become a published poet, she died in obscurity and has only recently been rediscovered by scholars.


In my novel I wanted to redress the balance by writing Aemilia Bassano Lanier back into history. Her life and work stand in direct opposition to Virginia Woolf’s pronouncement in “A Room of One’s Own” that “it would have been . . . completely and entirely impossible, for any woman to have written the plays of Shakespeare in the age of Shakespeare.” Although Lanier may not have been a playwright, her achievement as a poet speaks for itself. Whether or not she was Shakespeare’s Dark Lady, muse, lover, or collaborator, she has certainly earned her place in history as Shakespeare’s peer.



Mary Sharratt’s novel, The Dark Lady’s Mask: A Novel of Shakespeare’s Muse, is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Visit her website: www.marysharratt.com.

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May 23 2016
Sponsored by: Joe and Andrika were relatively happy living in their condo in downtown Toronto but the decision to move ultimately came down to two things: Space and community. “We were talking about hearing birds chirp ... Read More more...

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May 23 2016
Chris Myden is a travel deals celebrity. He curates and distributes the most outrageous and sought after airfare and travel deals through his site YYZdeals.com and his newsletter (you’ll love seeing this drop in your inbox). ... Read More more...

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May 22 2016
If you have a bad credit history and you’re looking for the opportunity to rebuild your credit, you should consider the Capital One Guaranteed Secured MasterCard. As a guaranteed credit card you’re essentially always granted approval ... Read More more...

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May 21 2016
Purchasing your first home can be an intimidating experience, especially when the extra fees you’ll need to pay during closing start to add up. Legal expenses, inspection fees, and land transfer taxes—the list of closing costs ... Read More more...

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May 20 2016
Most investors hold a mix of stocks, bond, and cash (the latter of which includes GICs and high-interest savings accounts). And over the past several years, many might have started to add commodities to the mix. ... Read More more...

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May 20 2016
The Vancouver real estate market certainly comes with a high price tag these days, especially if you’re in the market for a house and you want the best mortgage rate. To help, we’ve done some work ... Read More more...

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May 19 2016
Car rental companies often try to get you to purchase insurance bundles when you rent a car. This often isn’t worth the investment if you have credit card travel insurance as it usually includes coverage for ... Read More more...

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May 18 2016
No, I do not mean that you grew up liking sandwiches. The ‘sandwich generation’ is… more...

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May 18 2016
A contentious question is whether to buy any life insurance on your children. Most insurance companies only offer protection on adults. As a result, contracts on children tend to be relatively expensive because of the small ... Read More more...

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May 17 2016

  Not every quick food option has to revolve around burgers and drive through. Check out these alternatives. Fresh This local chain is vegan and vegetarian, and if you’re not eating gluten, there’s plenty of gluten-free options too. From giant salad bowls to pancakes on weekend, it’s a handy place to have something a bit […]

The post Healthy fast food appeared first on Toronto Mom Now.

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May 17 2016
If you’re like me, you spend lots of time dreaming about the big events in life. You probably spent your childhood wondering what your wedding day would be like. You might have daydreamed about buying a ... Read More more...

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May 17 2016
We live in a low-interest rate world. As such, finding the best returns for your money is increasingly important. If you’re not going to make a huge return on your savings, you might as well go ... Read More more...

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May 16 2016
I know I have been neglecting this blog shamelessly. This summer, I hope to endeavor to do better. In my defense, I have been working on multiple writing projects, several non-fiction proposals that I’m hoping to sell as well as some fiction.  Nothing concrete, meaning nothing has been signed, but it has been occupying a great deal of my time.  I’ve also had a difficult job situation this year, I’ve had to leave a job that I loved, since my new boss decided she needed someone with more experience and fundraising, and my boss at my new temp assignment just quit. So 2016 has been a bitch so far, not to mention losing Prince, David Bowie, Ken Howard and Alan Rickman. I dread picking up the paper to see who else we have lost. In my few hours of down time, I have been reading a great deal of historical fiction lately, and I have two books that I absolutely have to recommend.


Rivals of VersaillesSally Christie

Published by:  Atria Books

Pub Date:  April 5, 2016

How Acquired:  TLC Book Tours


The Rivals of Versailles continues the story of King Louis XV and his lady loves, this time focusing on the fabulous Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, the Marquise de Pompadour, a little girl from the middle classes who rose to become the virtual Queen of France.  Jeanne's voice and story are balanced against a few of her many rivals. Pompadour remained by Louis' side for almost two decades, and as the king continued his descent into pure libertinage, she was along for the ride.​​


I read and reviewed Christie’s first book last year The Sisters of Versailles about the de Mailly sisters, all of whom at one point mistresses of a young Louis XV.  I adored the book and couldn’t wait to read the sequel, Rivals of Versailles.  I was not disappointed in the slightest.  If anything, Christie has topped herself with this novel. I was captivated from the first sentence, meeting the young Jeanne de Poisson. I thought I knew who Madame Pompadour was, having seen her images in paintings over the years, but I realized that I only knew the tip of the iceberg.  What a remarkable woman.  I have to say after reading both novels that I no longer envy the life of a royal mistress, particularly at Versailles.  Charles II’s court seems like a walk in the park compared to the back-stabbing and jockeying for position that went on at Versailles. I supposed that is why reading about Louis XV’s court is so intriguing.  By this time in the UK, the British were stuck with the Georges, I and II, neither of whom had very interesting mistresses.


Pompadour loves the King, but he’s wearing her out with his sexual demands, which don’t seem to diminish with age (Damn those Bourbons!), and the courtiers who are constantly pushing forward their candidates to replace her. I admire the way that Jeanne continued to educate herself to make herself worthy of being a royal mistress.  Knowing that she couldn’t keep up with him sexually, Jeanne made herself indispensable as a confidante and an advisor.  That was the one thing that her rivals didn’t count on, that the King kept her around because he couldn’t do without her advice.


One of the fantastic things about this novel is that we get to meet women who are less well known than Madame de Pompadour, each sort of representing a different phase in the King’s life. Christie does a remarkable job of making each woman so individual that you almost don’t miss Pompadour.  One of my favorites is Marie Louise O'Murphy (Morphise) a young prostitute who also modeled for the painter Boucher.  Marie Louise has been on the game since she was a young girl of about ten.  Concerned about losing the favor of the King, Pompadour has one of his men choosing women and setting them up in a house for the King to visit, like a private brothel for one. Seriously, can you imagine loving someone that much that you are willing to help pimp for him? Mary Louise’s time with the King is short but her section of the book is amongst the most vivid in the novel as is her backstory.  I don’t want to spoil anything but I could easily have read a whole book just about her life. Both Marie-Louise and Pompadour had a great deal in common, both rose from humble origins to great heights.


I also enjoyed the fact that the reader is introduced to two of the King’s daughters, Henriette and Adelaide who is destined to be a main character in the last book of the trilogy, as well as to the Dauphin and Dauphine.  I highly recommend this book, particularly if you enjoy reading about royal shenanigans and are suffering from Tudor fatigue. To me, it is a more fully realized book than the first one.  If you are a fan of Outlander, you should definitely pick up this book because the second season of the series is set in Paris at Louis XV’s court.  


Marlene – C.W. Gortner

Published by:  William Morrow

How Acquired:  Edelweiss

Pub Date:  May 24, 2016


What is about:  From the gender-bending cabarets of Weimar Berlin to the tyrannical movie studios of Los Angeles, this sweeping story of passion, glamour, art, and war is a lush, dramatic novel of one of the most alluring legends of Hollywood’s golden age: Marlene Dietrich. Raised in genteel poverty after the First World War, Maria Magdalena Dietrich dreams of a life on the stage. With her sultry beauty, smoky voice, and androgynous tailored suits, Marlene performs to packed houses and conducts a series of stormy love affairs that push the boundaries of social convention until she finds overnight success in the scandalous movie The Blue Angel. For Marlene, neither fame nor marriage and motherhood can cure her wanderlust. As Hitler rises to power, she sets sail for America to become a rival to MGM’s queen, Greta Garbo.

An enthralling account of this extraordinary legend, MARLENE reveals the inner life of a woman of grit and ambition who defied convention, seduced the world, and forged her own path.


I’m always looking for interesting historical fiction to read, particularly about women and time periods that I know very little about.  Two reasons, the less I know about a period, the more enjoyable I find the book (the more I know about a time period, the pickier I get with writers), and I love discovering new things.  Now, Marlene Dietrich was not unknown to me, I have seen several of films and frankly I think she’s an underrated as a film actress.  But I only knew the bare bones about her life before she made it to Hollywood.  I’ve raved before about Gortner’s books. He has an uncanny ability to get deep inside his female characters so that the novel reads as if Marlene is confiding in the reader, telling him or her secrets that she has never revealed before.  The novel is told in the first person, in an almost intimate tone. At times it almost felt too personal, as if Marlene were peeling herself like an onion for the reader.


I have to admit that my favorite part of the book is the first section, Marlene’s early years, living in genteel poverty with her mother and sister, trying to keep up appearances, her first stirrings of attraction and love for both men and women, her early forays into show business, living in Berlin during the Weimar Republic where almost anything goes.  There are faint echoes of Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin, although that novel is set a bit later. The entire book could have been about Marlene’s early years and ended with her leaving for Hollywood and I would have been a happy girl.  The section of the book dealing with Marlene’s early Hollywood years tends to fall a bit flat, more a catalogue of the films she made and the stars that she slept with.  The book gets a jolt of energy and pizazz dealing with the years that Marlene spent entertaining the troops during World War II, insisting on being at the front, and the aftermath of the war, attempting to find her family and learning how they survived after she left Berlin, the disillusionment.


I also found Marlene’s relationship with her mother, older sister and her daughter to be intriguing although, her relationship with her daughter isn’t fully fleshed out. That maybe because Marlene wasn’t really interested in being a mother, not full-time anyway.  She went through the motions but her heart wasn’t really in it.  In a certain way, she was as indifferent to her daughter as her mother was to her. In the end, I didn’t find Marlene as satisfying a read as I did Gortner’s Mademoiselle Chanel.  But if you are dying to read a novel filled with glitz, glamour, and danger, then pick up a copy of Marlene when it comes out next week. 



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May 16 2016
Many first-time homebuyers assume their mortgage payment is the only monthly payment to worry about but that’s not true. While your mortgage payment will be the largest monthly financial commitment, you’ll also need to pay other ... Read More more...

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May 15 2016
The Shoppers Optimum program is one of the best store loyalty programs in Canada. If you frequently make purchases at Shoppers Drug Mart, you should at the very least have a Shoppers Optimum Card, which is ... Read More more...

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May 15 2016
As the saying goes, past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour. And in that spirit, your credit history is what lenders use to determine your credit worthiness. In other words, they use your past ... Read More more...

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May 14 2016
Your mortgage will be the largest debt you’ll ever take on, but that doesn’t mean you should resign yourself to being in debt for the next 25 years. There are several steps you can take to ... Read More more...

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May 13 2016
In a previous post, we looked at market-linked GICs and whether they’re something investors should consider. In this post, we’ll focus on a similar kind of product called principal protected notes (PPNs). PPNs aren’t nearly as ... Read More more...

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May 12 2016

There are so many summer camps out there, so we’ve created a curated list to solve your burning summer camp problems. The I’ll Break My Ankle If I Teach You This Myself Camp: CJ’s Skateboarding Camp If you’re an ex-skateboarder like my husband is, and your child has suddenly decided they want to skate too, […]

The post TMN Picks: Toronto Summer Camps appeared first on Toronto Mom Now.

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May 12 2016
If you’re looking for a MBNA credit card that earns the highest rewards with no annual point limit or expiry date, you may want to consider getting the MBNA World Elite MasterCard. This MBNA MasterCard earns ... Read More more...

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May 11 2016
At key points in your life, your life insurance needs change. The good news is that term life insurance is inexpensive and may be all you need. If you know about an upcoming life-changing event, you ... Read More more...

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May 11 2016
While the Toronto real estate market, and its future, can be a provocative topic rife with speculation around its sustained boom or impending bust, one thing is certainly not up to debate: How dramatically home prices ... Read More more...

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May 10 2016
Two of Canada’s largest banks are now offering Apple Pay to their customers. Starting today, RBC and CIBC clients will be able to use their debit or Visa and MasterCard credit cards with Apple Pay. MasterCard holders ... Read More more...

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May 10 2016

Seeing a disaster on television relatively close to home can be scary. Naturally, we want to help somehow. Here are some things you can do. Donate money For those of us not close enough to help in person, the quickest thing to do is donate money to the Canadian Red Cross. They’re working on the […]

The post How to Help Fort McMurray appeared first on Toronto Mom Now.

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May 10 2016
If you’re looking to buy a GIC, you’ll have to first figure out what kind you’d like. You can choose between long-term or short-term GICs and redeemable or non-redeemable ones. Most GICs are Canadian dollar-denominated but ... Read More more...

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May 10 2016

Sarah Baeumler is an HGTV superstar, philanthropist through the foundations she and her husband set up, has launched a new lifestyle and travel site, and a mom to four. Just typing it out makes me tired. We talked small spaces, refreshing your space for spring, and the challenges of storing the toy collections of four […]

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May 09 2016
Sponsored by: When Emma and Evan decided to buy their first home, they did something more and more first-time homebuyers have been doing–they struck a deal with his parents. For Evan Cullimore, a 28-year-old financial services ... Read More more...

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May 08 2016
Having bad credit might not seem like a big deal. In fact, you might not even know what a credit score is! But the second you’re ready to make a large purchase like a car or ... Read More more...

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