For a rather petite gal, I lug around a gigantically hefty handbag!

I’m not proud of it, but I guess you could say I’m a traveling shoulder-strap hoarder.

I’ve always thought of it as “being prepared for anything”, but I recently had the ultimate Mary Poppins moment while standing at the grocery store checkout and digging for my wallet at the bottom of my handbag abyss.

I was “that” gal…the one holding up the line while I laid out everything from my leopard print make-up pouch to a container full of cucumber slices…sunglasses, a water bottle, umbrella, Lego Star Wars action figure, table lamp…

Kidding about the table lamp, of course… (Although I’m pretty sure I could fit one in there!!)

Come on, I’m sure some of you can relate!  My purse is like a black hole, or as my hubster calls it… LUGGAGE!!

Once I finally got my paws on my overstuffed wallet, the cashier then asked if I had a points card.  I couldn’t bear to keep the line waiting any longer while I sifted through the giant stack of rewards cards crammed inside, so I said no.  It was then that I decided I was long overdue for a handbag overhaul aka - intervention.

Meet my new traveling mate…

 

Ain’t she purdy?!

This little Rebecca Minkoff number from Joelle’s is the perfect summer sidekick, and the best part is, there’s no room for table lamps!

I went through my old purse and wallet very strategically to isolate only the necessities that needed to travel with me on a daily basis.  It’s amazing how much lighter (literally and figuratively) I feel having ditched the excess cargo!

What took the most effort during my overhaul was pouring through those bazillion rewards cards…

“Buy 5,000 lattes and get a free muffin”… “Give us your first born and we’ll BOGO your next purchase”… “Visit us on your birthday and we’ll give you a free high-five”

Was it worth stuffing my wallet with these little plastic rewards cards?  And was I even using them???

I did a little research to figure out exactly what the incentive of each cards was, and if they were worth lugging around.

I have to say… the majority found their way into my trash bin for various reasons.  Some stores I never shopped at enough to make it worth my while, and others didn’t offer enough incentive to be a part of the program (ie. free birthday high-fives).

There was one card though that I was pleasantly surprised to find had some new rewards features…

For years, I have been faithfully collecting AIR MILES reward miles, and in the past I had redeemed for movie tickets, grocery certificates, and even a facial steamer once.   But I must admit that it had been a while since I’d even checked my reward miles balance, let alone redeemed at one of the participating Sponsors using my collector card.

When I logged into my online account recently, I was happy to discover that I had accumulated a rather handsome collection of reward miles, and decided to redeem for their new AIR MILES Cash eVoucher feature that was being promoted.

Here’s the 411…

This is a new way that AIR MILES has introduced to redeem my Cash balance instantly online for everyday purchases at participating partners that I already shop at such as Starbucks, FanXChange and iTunes.  For every 95 reward miles I collect, I can earn $10 worth of eVouchers!

 

 

But here’s what I think is the cat’s pajamas about the new feature… You can gift an eVoucher to friends and family, even if they aren’t currently an AIR MILES Collector.  How rad is that!!!

And since I’m feeling fab with my new sleek handbag and lighter wallet, I’m also feeling rather generous today…

I want to share the AIR MILES Cash eVoucher love with one of my awesome blog readers!

Oh, that’s right…I’m talking to you!!

I’m going to gift someone 760 AIR MILES reward miles…and for those of you (like myself) who aren’t great at math, that’s worth 80 buck-a-roos if you deposit those miles into your AIR MILES Cash balance!!

All you need to do to be eligible is first, have an AIR MILES Collector account!

Second, check out THIS link about the program and decide which of the Reward Partners you would redeem your dough for!!

And third…well, I’m always a sucker for a silly selfie… so snap a pic of yourself holding your AIR MILES Collector card and post it on Instagram with this tag:

“I want to win an @airmiles_canada eVoucher from @LeighAnnAllaire and #huelala to redeem at ___________”

Or post THIS version on Twitter:

“I want to win AIR MILES reward miles from @LeighAnnAllaire and #huelala to redeem at ___________”

Better yet, post on both for two chances to win!!!

Be sure to fill in the blank with the name of your participating Reward Partner of choice!!

…And PLEASE remember to cover up your Collector number on your card in the photo :)

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, right?!

Now, go flash those pearly whites and snap a fun AIR MILES pics!!

But first, let me take a selfie…

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Contest closes at 11:59pm on June 27, 2014 and is available to all Canadian residents who are currently enrolled in the AIR MILES Reward Program.

Good luck!!!

XO

L-A

 

*This is a sponsored post and all opinions expressed are mine, and mine alone :)

 

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If you have champagne dreams of tackling a kitchen reno, but you’re working with a beer budget, don’t be discouraged!!  In my opinion, great style and taste has little to do with how much money you spend, but rather how creative you can be with the budget you have.

It’s true that an updated kitchen can add tremendous value to your home, but if you’re planning an economical redo, it’s important to determine where you really want to invest (ie. appliances) and then think about smart ways that you can save.

I recently completed a “before” and “after” kitchen makeover for Chatelaine magazine with a very modest budget and a heap of elbow grease.  It just goes to show that you can create a luxe look for less…

chatelaine kitchen makeover   After” photo credit: Erik Putz

Here are 5 ways that I saved on this makeover project that you can easily do in your own home…

1.   Work with the elements that are staying…not against them

At the beginning of any décor project, it’s important to make a list of which elements are staying and what is going.  In the above kitchen, we decided to keep the existing natural stone countertops to save a chunk of change.  They were in great condition, and their creamy beige colour instantly became a key ingredient in our overall palette.  I always say that the more you ignore a colour in a space, the more it will stick out like a sore thumb.  By taking the existing counter colour into consideration, I was able to determine colours for new paint and finishes to compliment the overall look.

chatelaine colour plan

*All paint colours via Benjamin Moore

2.    Give your existing cabinets a facelift

If your cabinets are in good condition and you like the profile, consider transforming them with a simple coat of paint!  Cabinets take up a huge amount of visual space in a kitchen, so by updating the colour or finish, you can affordably change the entire look and feel of a space.  If you’re planning to tackle a cabinet facelift on your own, it’s important to use the proper products and thoroughly complete each step of sanding, cleaning, priming, and painting.

3.    Choose a budget friendly backsplash

In the Chatelaine kitchen makeover, we removed the old backsplash ourselves which helped to save on labour costs, but we also saved by selecting an affordable, yet classic white subway tile for only 34 cents each from Lowes.  It’s important to know when to DIY and when to call in the pros, and when it came to the installation of the new tiles, we opted for a professional to ensure they were perfectly spaced and in line.  We also selected a light gray grout to define the tiles and for no added cost, it created a customized look.

4.    Update your hardware with a fresh coat of paint

I always think of hardware as the “jewelry” in the kitchen, but if new handles or knobs aren’t in the budget, then give them an instant budget makeover with a new metallic coat of paint.  One of my favourite DIY tricks is to actually buy budget lighting and knobs in a less expensive brass finish and then transform them myself to pewter, bronze or brushed nickel with spray paint.  It’s an easy way to get a high end look for little investment, and no one will ever know the difference.

 5.    Customize with colour

A simple paint application that I love to do in kitchens is to wrap the wall colour onto the ceiling.  Because the cabinets typically take up a large portion of visual space, there usually isn’t a lot of wall space for colour, so by bringing the wall colour onto the ceiling you create a seamless transition for the eye and a unique, customized look for very few extra dollars.

What’s your favourite budget makeover trick or tip?  Leave a comment below, or better yet, tag me to an Instagram pic of your own project:  @LeighAnnAllaire

For a closer look at this makeover, check out a collection of behind-the-scenes videos available on Chatelaine.com