Tag Archives: shopping

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Recap: The Big Birthday

Now that it’s May, I can look back at my most recent birthday, which was in early March.

Allow me to explain.

My birthday is on the 3rd, which means my champagne birthday happened when I was 3 and barely knew what “birthday” meant. Womp. Other significant birthdays ranged from very good (Sweet 16) to verrrry stressful (Quarter-Century), and overall the birthday to beat was March 3rd, 2014 (spent living it up in Dubai, shopping and fly boarding and going up the tallest building in the world). For my reverse champagne birthday (someone else can think of a cool name for it) I decided to go all out, celebrating 3 decades of life in 3 different countries over a span of 3 months.

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I already had my ticket for Trinidad Carnival, so I kicked off the celebrations there and you can read all about it in my last post.  I came back home and danced the night away at a fete with a few of my girlfriends, then released the trailer for my new webseries-to-be and released a radio single. I celebrated my actual birthday by leaving work early to go to 2 auditions before taking myself shopping.

Almost showtime!

Almost showtime!

The birthday fell on a Thursday; that weekend I got to see the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre perform with the added bonus of watching it with my little cousin. This was our first show together! And she’s the same age I was when our Grandma took me to my first concert, which I think is awesome. There was a family dinner after that, and then I went to my curlfriend Nicole Stamp’s place to learn how to work natural hair magic like she does. I’ve been in love with my hair ever since. I got to show off my curls the next day at a delicious and hilarious brunch with a bunch of friends and cousins.

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Harlem Underground

Harlem Underground

The next weekend I was reshooting sections of my Digital Dossier, and then I had new headshots taken by Denise Grant. It did rain that day, which ruined my plans for my hair, but MUA Christine Cho waved her magic wand and the pictures look pretty damn good in my opinion ;-)

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I almost ran out of time to squeeze in my third country, but in April I went to New York City (where I hadn’t been since 2012, and where I definitely need to be more often). Just looking at Manhattan, or walking up and down the streets there, feels like celebrating to me. Even better that I got to spend time with friends I hadn’t seen in years. And I got some good buys in on the way home, tee-hee!

Haven't "seen" her since she was in her mom's belly!

Haven’t “seen” her since she was in her mom’s belly!

So I did it: celebrated in 3 countries, between the beginning of February and the end of April, and the good times keep rolling. Other things have added to my birthday celebrations over the 3-month time period: I left my day job, auditions have picked up, I’ve booked a play in Peterborough and one in Toronto for this summer, and I’m leaving for Haiti in a week!

Happy Birthday to me, and Dirty Thirty is looking exquisite so far . . .

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10 REASONS 2014 ROCKED

Sometimes, quotes that go viral are bang on. Like this one:

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So, full disclosure, spoiler alert, be warned! For this, my final Top Ten Tuesday (maybe ever . . . maybe just for the year 2014), I am choosing to focus only on my highlight reel. I encourage you to do the same as you reflect on that year that’s ending and the new one coming up. Here are 10 of my favourite memories from 2014 . . . they started out in chronological order but you’ll see why that didn’t last long. Enjoy!

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1.   DUBAI, AKA THE FIRST 5 MONTHS OF THE YEAR

This is not a copout, you guys. If I tried to count and categorize my favourite individual moments from my stay in Jebel Ali, I would never ever ever finish writing this. I mean, really, which was more memorable: fly boarding, or ascending the Burj Khalifa? Swimming in salt water, or strutting in heels? Organizing photoshoots, or creating videos? Shopping for new clothes or chopping new men?

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10am in Toronto, and 6pm in Dubai

flyboard10 IMG_0110Suffice it to say that my entire trip there, especially from January 1st until early June when I came back home, will ever be forgotten.

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2.   FAM JAMS

And when I did come back? Family reunions galore! A roti picnic on my mom’s birthday, my cousin Derek’s wedding in Ottawa, a Thanksgiving feast in London, ON (with STUFFING!!!  WHY was that so hard to find in Dubai???), reunions with cousins I rarely see even when I am home.

IMG_2319 IMG_2322I gave and received many bone-crushing hugs, and I loved every squeeze.

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3.   MEETING 5 NEW BABY COUSINS

Reunions are one thing; meeting and holding a new baby for the first time is, like, next-level awesome. And I was blessed with 5 (yep, 5) new baby cousins this year. In birth order: Carter, Amaya, Quinton, Iyla, Adalia.

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Baby bliss!!!

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4.   GETTING BACK INTO AUDITIONING

And not just because I booked one or two roles! But the whole process, which used to feel really stressful to me, is getting more and more fun.

Pre-audition selfie ... last chance to check my eyeshadow ;-)

Pre-audition selfie … last chance to check my eyeshadow ;-)

Shoutouts to the people booking the roles I didn’t =)

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5.   FRIEND-LY REUNIONS

Every coffee date or breakfast date or jerk chicken date with a friend I hadn’t seen in months and months was a heartbeat for me. I’m especially grateful for the CAMO Cruise, my reintroduction to Toronto’s fête society, where I cruised across Lake Ontario with good people and good music and good drinks (and okay food, lol) and thought to myself, “Man, do I love this city.” (Thanks, Nish!!!)

Nish, Dija and me!

Nish, Dija and me!

Likewise, the day after the Caribana parade, some friends and I went to a day party that gave me so much life I’ve run out of words for it. Amazing music (shoutouts to hometown hero DJ Starting from Scratch and DJ Dany Neville, from Dubai, who I finally met here in Toronto!), pretty venue, awesome people, new and old friends, randomly running into my cousin Kari . . . vibes. Loved it. (Thanks, Lincoln!)

Clockwise from the gorgeous blond-tipped curly fro, lol: Tiff, Shana, me, Nish. DJ Dany Neville is at work in the corner

Clockwise from the gorgeous blond-tipped curly fro, lol: Tiff, Shana, me, Menisha. DJ Dany Neville is at work in the corner

And let me not forget the wedding of my homegirl Allison, who I’ve known since tenth grade, to the ultra-cool Derwyn . . . I’ll just leave this picture here because with words, I literally can’t.

IMG_2203Love y’al!

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6.   CREATING MY OWN ROUTINE

Overseas, my routine was determined by my work hours and the times that the buffet was open. Here at home, it took me awhile to settle back in, and there are still some days that get crazy, but at least I have control over the first hour or so after I wake up and the last few minutes before I go to bed. Carving out time every day to read and write and express gratitude, and even to YouTube sermons, has made a huge difference. photoIt might be the least exciting thing on this list, but it’s for sure going to be one of the most beneficial, long-term.

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7. RELAUNCHING MY SIDE HUSTLE ;-)

Spending the first chunk of the year overseas, in some ways it was like an extended vacation. But to be honest, there were times when it felt a bit like exile. This was especially true when it came to my beauty/health/wellness business, and it was a relief to jump back in with my colleagues and my appointment lists, and some sweet new products, when I got back.

IMG_1325IMG_2444Onward, to ENVP!

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8.   REALIZING THE POWER OF VISION BOARDS

me and Missy.002You can read all about it here, but from here on out I will be even more mindful of how powerful these things are, as material declarations. I mean, really. Wow.

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9.   SHOOTING THE AALIYAH BIOPIC

What an experience!  Everything about this for me, from the audition process to the backlash, was important and I’m grateful for every second. But what makes it onto this list, for me, is actually being on set for this project.

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#90s. The first scene

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Set life. L to R: James Shipp, Izaak Smith, Alexandra Shipp, AJ Saudin, me

The environment and the goal and the people, especially the people, had me really really wishing that somehow I could have stayed on set longer. As in, I would have gone on set every day just to watch and be a part of it from behind the scenes (I did, actually, on one day). Thanks to everyone involved; much love!

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10.  UNSCENE

Ah, my baby. For those of you who don’t know, I’m developing a new TV show called unSCENE and this year it grew from just a pilot episode to a pilot, the finale, plus several other episodes written, numerous meetings and pitch sessions, and now (shhh, this is insider info) possibly a casting change that will turn everything I’ve already written on its head.

L to R: Sagine Semajuste, Kelsey Willmott, Jazz Testolini, Kerron Schullere, Chattrisse Dolabaille, JaNae Armogan

Queens Quay.  L to R: Sagine Semajuste, Kelsey Willmott, Jazz Testolini, Kerron Schullere, me, JaNae Armogan

Frustrating as it’s been sometimes to take care of this finicky, fussy, slow-growing project, I love it and I’m looking forward to sharing it with more of you.

And that . . . is a wrap. I have this policy where every year should be better than the year that just passed, so if you’ll excuse me, I have some work to do in advance of 2015! ;-)

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Dubai recap – two months left!

Well hi!

130 days in Dubai … has everyone back home forgotten about me yet?  Haha!

With two more months til hometime, here are a few updates for the curious …

 

IMG_0144Our shows continue to go well, especially on Friday nights when we get to perform outside on the beach.  Here’s a clip from two Fridays ago – hopefully I’ll be able to share more with you soon!

instatrisseI now have an Instagram account, and I post new pics and/or videos every day, so you can peek in on the highs and lows of my #Dubailife =) Just follow @chattrisse

jan 30 2014Coming up next, I have my sights set on the Caribbean!  There is an incredible opportunity to spend July and August on the beautiful island of Tobago, and now that my video and bio are in, I need your help to get me there.  I’d be so grateful if you could take the time to “Like” the 60 Days in Paradise Facebook page and leave a comment about why Chattrisse Dolabaille should be the first-ever Island Connoisseur, and/or do the same thing on Twitter by mentioning @60daysparadise and @chattrisse and using the hashtag #60days … the Top Ten finalists will be announced on April 21st, and if I’m one of them I’ll need all the votes I can get to land the gig!

flyboard10Some of the experiences I’ve enjoyed here so far are camel riding, fly boarding (now that was a thrill), some shopping, lots of tanning, and even more peacock-watching.  Last week I posted ten more things that are on my to-do list … so far I’ve completed #9, booked #4 and #6, picked a tentative date for #2 and #5, and I hope to get #7 done this month as well …  stay tuned!

DSC07672And last but not least, I set a personal goal to write 50 new songs during this Dubai sojourn of mine; as of yesterday, I’m up to 37, planning to blow that goal out of the water.  Will I end up with 55?  60?  Time will tell …

 

All in all, I’m excited to go home, but I’m glad it isn’t time to go just yet.  Til next time!

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10 THINGS TO DO BEFORE I GO HOME

I came to Dubai at the end of November 2013 …

… and so far I’ve done a lot!  And I know that some of my still-undones, like souvenir shopping, will be done soon.  There are actually way more than 10, but for this week’s TOP TEN TUESDAY here are some of the fun things that I reallllly want to cross off my list — let’s see how many I can do in the next 8 1/2 weeks!

 

1. FLYING HIGH  My first time fly boarding I made it to about 20 feet in the air; when my friend and I visited the Burj Khalifa’s observation deck we were 124 stories up.

skydivedubaiI’m always looking for a new way to get high (haha!), so I just might go sky diving, or do a seaplane tour, or coast over the sand dunes in a hot air balloon.

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2. FINDING NEMO  I love anything to do with water, and pretty exotic fish are right up my alley.  You can see the huge Dubai Mall aquarium from the outside for free, but I would pay the 70 or 80 dirhams to go inside for a better look …

diverHey,  how cool would it be to put on the mask and flippers and go diving in it??

 

3. VROOM VROOM  I’m not even a big fan of cars, or most roller coasters!  But I hear the Ferrari World theme park in Abu Dhabi is a must-see.  A must-do.  Whatever.

ferrariworldThis would have to be during the last few days of my stay, when our gigs are done and I don’t mind running the risk of losing my voice from screaming.

 

4. LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION  Since November I’ve had this idea to do a bird-themed photoshoot or video shoot in front of a cliff at the resort entrance, and/or a fish/mermaid-themed one on some rocks at the water’s edge (though the chances of security ruining this are fairly good).

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That cliff … and those rocks …

The pics above are from my intro and outro shoot for 60 Days in Paradise, and I’d love to revisit the locations with a good photog for some concept shots.  Fingers crossed …

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5. WINTER IN THE SUMMER  Obviously I left winter behind me on purpose this year … however, not many malls have skating rinks in them (the Dubai Mall does), and a ski hill inside of a mall (Mall of the Emirates) is pretty unique …

ski-dubai-1Plus, when the temps get to 40 degrees I’ll probably be begging to do something wintry!

 

6. BEACH BBQ, BEACH PICNIC or DESERT SAFARI  Although I’ve been to a desert barbecue before (Abu Dhabi, 2008), I’d love to go out into the wilderness again for some good food with cool people.  The desert safari is a package deal, very popular with tourists, which usually includes a meal, henna for the ladies, belly dancing, a camel ride, and dune bashing.  Or there’s the option to just hang out with some friends around a bonfire.

Me and my Mama! This was my first beach bbq

Me and my Mama! This was my first beach BBQ

Either one works for me!

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7. TAILOR MADE  Oooh I’m excited for this!

Lipsy.045After next payday, I’m meeting up with Iqbal from City Land Tailors — this shop came highly recommended in a blog I found — to see about having alterations done on a shirt I already own, plus having one or two dresses (and maybe another blouse) made from scratch based on designs that I’m going to bring in and tweak.  Will they look as good and fit as well as they do in my dreams?  The suspense!!!

 

8. MERRILY MERRILY MERRILY MERRILY …  I’ve spent lots of time in/near water on this trip (hey, I’m a Pisces after all) but I’ve only set foot on a boat once in all these months, and that’s unacceptable!  So I’m keen to go yachting, or do one of the dinner cruises on a dhow (pictured) on the Dubai creek.

dhowOr it might be fun to charter a water taxi into the city, instead of going by cab or metro or car like most people do.  =)

 

9. A LATE-NIGHT SWIM  This sounds easier to accomplish than it is!  If I’m found in one of the pools past 7 or whenever they close, I’ll get chased away and maybe reprimanded by management (which is not something you want when your employer owns your work visa).  If I go into the sea instead, it’ll be hard to get good pictures and I’ll be somewhat terrified, since I found jellyfish washing up on the beach recently.  If I do neither, I’ll be forever unsatisfied.

... but where are its tentacles?

… but where are its tentacles?

So stay tuned.

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10. OFF STAGE  Hey, remember the time I saw someone perform in Dubai other than one of my coworkers?  Nope, me either.  So it would be nice to!

concertThis is also harder than it sounds.  Weekends here are Friday-Saturday, and I get one night off per week, which was first a Sunday and then a Monday and is now Tuesday.  So far I’ve missed out on performances by Cirque du Soleil, Jennifer Lopez and Carlos Santana, and I’ll miss Lionel Richie on April 17th, as well as Justin Timberlake in Abu Dhabi on May 23rd.  But there’s gotta be some fun show I can catch, other than our own!

Let’s be honest, I’ve already had an incredible experience full of incredible experiences out here … from fly boarding and bargain hunting and meeting famous athletes to singing on a beach and hanging out with peacocks and making new friends from all over the world … so it won’t ruin my mood if any of these 10 things don’t get accomplished before I leave.  Besides, there’s always another trip ;-)

For up-to-the-minute pic and vid updates, follow me on Instagram!  @chattrisse =)

This top cost me $1. Yes, $1. And these headshots will be viewed a bazillion times!

Your Wallet can Thank Me Later

I’m about to do something rare: I’m going to give you some financial advice.

I know. What? Does she have any background in that? Not really, although I’ve been reading some awesome books on it. But as far back as 2009, I’ve been sharing this one rule with people who promptly laugh at me, then stop to think about it, and usually end up telling me it really works. It is one of the tools I am using to become free of consumer debt by March 3, 2016. (Now you all have to hold me accountable to that goal, okay? Thanks!)

When you want something but you’re not sure if you should buy it, there are many tried-and-true methods to determine whether to get it or forget it.

David Chilton, author of The Wealthy Barber, suggests stopping to figure out how many hours it took you to earn the price of the thing you want, and ask yourself if it’s worth that much of your time. Rapper Xzibit said in an interview for VIBE Magazine that if you can’t buy three of whatever it is you’re considering, you shouldn’t buy it, and I think that’s brilliant (yes, even for huge purchases like houses).

Where the hours-to-buy-this rule fails me is that my cash flow is often sporadic, things like royalties and residuals make it hard to say what my hourly wage is, and many of my purchases are things that contribute to my money-earning capacity. Xzibit’s rule is awesome for medium and large price tags, but when the small buys add up — “Oh, these earrings are only $9.95 a pair, of course I can afford three” — you can be fooled into thinking you’re a smart spender when you’re really bleeding to death by pennies.

So what do I do? I look at the price and forecast how many times I’m going to use the thing. The amount of times I will (not might) use it needs to be equal to or greater than the amount of dollars I pay. (NOTE: I realized after writing and editing this piece that Gail Vaz-Oxlade, whose work I admire, has touched on this rule and published it before I did. But my version of the rule, while similar, is better *sticking my tongue out* so keep reading! And if you’re familiar with Gail’s “‘how much per use’ calculation” keep reading anyway, because I’d love to hear how you think this stacks up against it.)

A dollar per use. It’s so simple, but it works. Say there’s an all-white party coming up and I see a gorgeous white clutch. It’s on sale for $19.99 and there’s no tax. Should I get it?

“Well, I’ll wear it to tomorrow night’s party for sure. And maybe to one more all-white thing this summer, and I have a couple of other outfits it could go with” … If I cannot see myself using it 20 times before it gets dirty, lost, ruined, whatever, it goes back on the shelf.

This blouse is a great example. It cost me less than $25 and I’ve worn it to numerous meetings, at least 2 auditions, at least 2 dates, at least 2 performances, a news taping, a party (probably more than one), a family reunion, plus literally countless other times. And I still love it!

Not only does this curb impulse shopping, it helps you focus on quality over quantity of stuff. Shopping for fall boots on a budget? Don’t get the adorable expensive suede ones, because you can’t wear them on wet or muddy days and they’ll be back in the closet before you know it. Shopping for winter boots instead? Here in Toronto, you can easily wear those 100 times in a year, so you don’t have to be as frugal — especially if they’re good enough (waterproof, warm, comfortable, the heel doesn’t wear down easily, etc) to last you several winters. If you’re buying a new piece of equipment, seriously considering how many times you’ll use it before you upgrade again. It might be worth getting the better model now, especially if you make money with it and you’ll soon receive from it more money than you paid to get it.

Honestly, how many of you have closets full of clothes you’ve only worn once, drawers full of gadgets you never use, things you bought to go with other things that ended up just draining your bank account? Stop it. Your money is worth more than that.

If you’re shopping for children, I advise using this rule even more. Sure it’s back-to-school season and everybody wants new stuff, but will she grow out of that jacket before she wears it enough times to make it worth the purchase? He asked for this game for his birthday, but does he tend to get bored with new games after a week and never play them again? We’re all going to spend and we’re all going to shop, but if we do it more carefully we can feel better about it after.

I’m a big fan of dollar stores, especially since adopting my rule. Most things there work just as well as their other-store counterparts. When my designer classes case got really beat-up from living in my purse, I found a new one at Dollarama. Cost: $1.13, taxes in. Uses: 760 and counting.

As with all rules, there is an exception. When pictures are going to be taken, or video, you have no way of measuring how many people will see you wearing or using that purchase, so go nuts. I plan on getting married once; I don’t expect to find a wedding dress for $1. But I think you’ll find if you use my rule regularly, you’ll also get better at not going over-the-top when it comes to your other spending.

Let’s look at this pic again. The top cost me $1. Yes, one dollar. And these headshots will be viewed a bazillion times!

Now, my dollar-per-use rule does have a serious flaw when it comes to buying food and buying experiences — clearly most meals are only eaten once (although I adore leftovers) and I don’t have the knowledge or the desire to figure out how many different muscles and organs will “use” a plate of food; and how am I supposed to know whether the trip to Puerto Rico will be worth that special sale price? These are times when David Chilton and Xzibit’s rules will probably serve you best.

But I do advocate this from years of personal experience. The amount of times you will use it should be equal to or greater than the amount of dollars you pay. (Convert from other currencies if necessary, lol.) Try it out for yourself and let me know how it goes!