It’s Tradition! Celebrate the Toronto Blue Jays with Schneiders

March 25, 2017

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

With mere days to go until the start of the Toronto Blue Jays 2017 season, I know so many of my friends and family are gearing up for another Championship race.

Rooting for Canada’s team? It’s tradition.

This year, we’ll once again be hosting a home opener party, and I’ve grabbed tickets for a few games too! My husband and I love reinforcing our love for the game with our sons, and our hope is that they’ll also become baseball-obsessed as they grow. Hey, what can I say? It’s more fun when everyone’s rooting for the home team.

Of course, if there’s one brand that’s steeped in tradition, it’s Schneiders. From Juicy Jumbos Wieners (my fave!) to everyone’s favourite, Schneiders Country Naturals Bacon, the possibilities for delicious crowd pleasers are endless.
14032940_292587061110042_193811059_nSchneiders wieners are once again the Official Hot Dog of the Toronto Blue Jays! And to celebrate the Jays, baseball, and – of course – traditions, they’re offering my readers the chance to win $100 in free product coupons.  (more…)

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Hashtag, No Sick Days

March 23, 2017

Smack in the middle of what seems to be the worst cold and flu season – well, EVER – I know some of y’all may be thinking, No Sick Days? Don’t even go there Lena.

I get it. Everyone I know is sick, has been sick, or is getting over being sick. And just in case you’re wondering, heck yes I was sick, too. (It took a full 10 days to recover!) In Canada, seasonal flu activity begins as early as September and continues until late May, affecting a large percentage of the population.

My entire family got the flu shot almost as soon as it was available. I’ve practiced obsessive hand- washing and other virus-evasion techniques, including, but not limited to, holding my breath until I almost turned blue to navigate a checkout lane filled with hideous hackers. I’ve sanitized surfaces, avoided crowded malls and declined invitations to all non-essential events.

And then I took a 9-day vacation with my family. Two airplane rides, three hotels, one cruise ship.

65,000 people at the happiest place on earth.
16465433_1623753451266724_6140890307916464128_nOh yeah, I was due to wave that white flag.

So here’s the scoop. I was down, but never out. I managed my cold to the best of my abilities, using a few tried and true methods. Need relief from your cold and flu symptoms? Here’s what you can do.  (more…)

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So My Life Isn’t Perfect …. #butIvaccinate.

March 23, 2017

It always amuses me when friends and followers praise me on social media.

“You’re killing it, girl!”
“You’re such a good mom, your boys are so lucky!”
“Wow, everything looks perfect! You’re my inspiration.”

To which, I only have one response:
DSC_0210Photo Caption: HA HA HA HA HA HA.

The truth is, I don’t always discuss my #parentingfails, but trust me, there are many. Like the time I sent my boys to a birthday party – a week too late. Or my inability to remember any of the “special coloured shirt days” at school. Or how about the time I slept through, not one, but TWO alarms and had to usher them off to class a half hour late? (more…)

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Snacking Just Got Fresher!

March 23, 2017

This work-at-home mom is on the go.

Sure, I spend a fair bit of time in my home office, but I’m also, well, all over the place. Client meetings and radio segments. School drop offs and pickups. Errands, photo shoots, press events, media trips.

Did I mention I’m a snacker? The most serious kind, too.
_DSC1547bI love to snack. Who doesn’t? It keeps hunger pangs at bay between meals and gives me that second wind I desperately need, especially mid-morning. (Yes, I would vote to make “elevensies” a thing.) But not just any snack will do – for me, the perfect noshing food is delicious, packed with quality ingredients and most importantly, contains important nutrients such as protein, fibre and a whole lot of whole grains. And, if it’s equally easy to sneak in my crossbody bag as it is to pack in the kids’ lunch, we’ll call it a winner.  (more…)

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Hit the Ice at a Life-Changing Event!

March 22, 2017

Wendel Clark. Darryl Sittler. Darcy Tucker and Al Iafrate. These are just a few of the hockey legends I grew up watching, huddled in front of the television on Saturday nights. I can recall the voices of the commentators, the sound of a slapshot and the feeling of euphoria when a goal light flashed red. Truly, following the Toronto Maple Leafs on their road to the Stanley Cup – er, post season? – will always have a special place in my childhood.

You too? Well, what if there was a chance to lace up with these hockey greats and more… all for a great cause?
pro-am-various56Introducing the Scotiabank Pro-Am for Alzheimer’s in support of Baycrest. It’s the largest on-ice hockey charity tournament in North America! The tournament takes this year on May 5th and 6th, and allows everyday hockey fans the chance to team up with some of hockey’s greatest players. Now I’ll break down the ways you can participate in just a moment, but first, I wanted to chat about some of the recent wins in Alzheimer’s research, all thanks to the tournament.

Since its inception in 2004, the Scotiabank Baycrest Pro-Am has raised over $30 million to support Baycrest Health Sciences, a global leader in brain health and aging. And, the event is the largest source of new donors to the foundation year over year. In fact, ALL contributions to the event will help support Baycrest Health Sciences’ mission, part of which is to conduct research into cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s. Seeing these tangible results, and knowing that my support is helping those with dementia or cognitive impairment, is all the motivation I need to get involved. (Donors to the Baycrest Foundation play a critical role in keeping Baycrest running, because government funding only makes up about 64% of revenues.)  (more…)

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Kids Get Arthritis, Too

March 21, 2017

“You’re too young to have arthritis.”
“It’s just growing pains.”
“The arthritis is temporary and can be cured by diet.”

You know the old saying, “Kids say the darndest things?” Well, kids hear the darndest things, too – especially when it comes to their juvenile arthritis (JA) diagnosis. The fact is, most people think of arthritis as an “old persons” disease, but that’s not the case. And, for more than 24,000 Canadian children who live with arthritis, active play can be a challenge.

March is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, and I’m on a mission to help bring awareness and build understanding about the disease.
CAM-2017-kaajal-facebook-ENJuvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disease. To put it simply, the immune system goes a little bit haywire and sends out white blood cells to attack the body’s own healthy cells. The result is inflammation in joints, as well as other health issues such as fatigue, rash, vision problems, slow growth or swollen lymph nodes, to name a few.  (more…)

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DIY! All the Details on H&R Block Online Tax Software

March 20, 2017

It’s a fact: Not all tax software is created equal.

Welcome to spring – also known as tax season – er, #PaybackSeason! By now, you may be thinking you *really* need to get those income taxes done, but may lack the money, and motivation, to begin. And the truth is, with all the different tax software options available, the process can be a little daunting.
C5Sr8k-UYAEpyhdWhat happens if you have questions along the way? Who can you trust to give you the most accurate result? When is “free” really free?

If you find yourself dragging your feet, looking for the right solution, muddle no more – trust the tax experts at H&R Block. They proudly offer free tax software with a high level of personalization, allowing you to choose the best option for your needs.  (more…)

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Do You Want to Build the Perfect Land and Sea Vacation?

March 12, 2017

Yes, I did that on purpose. No, I don’t feel bad that you’ll be humming Do You Want To Build A Snowman? all day. I’ve been singing the catchy tune ever since I settled on the title for this post!

Here’s the thing – I’ve thought about this article for a long time. Never one to rush out of the gate like the proverbial hare, I’ve been making notes, conducting research and trying to collect my thoughts. Because it’s hard to tackle the subject of land AND sea vacations, and if you’re going to plunk down the money to do it, I want to present it in the most rewarding way possible.
16585275_1100486463412235_8796706588351004672_nNow, please take note of the words “most rewarding”. And realize that most rewarding may not equate to least expensive or least amount of planning. This post, simply put, is for my Canadian readers who have decided they are open to – or looking for more information on – booking a tandem vacation at Walt Disney World and aboard Disney Cruise Line, and want my advice on the best way to do it.

And to those, I say… read on, Disney lovers, read on.  (more…)

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How Winter Tires Change You

March 9, 2017

Winter tires – they change you.

They change your attitude about the weather. While you’ll still check the forecast, every single day, you’ll no longer stress if the words “5-10cm” flash across the screen.

They change your comfort zone. Suddenly, a 4-hour road trip through winding roads is no longer off-limits; you’ll navigate the terrain, slowly, safely, knowing each tire’s traction with the road is improved.

They change your work habits. You can make it into the office in all types of inclement winter weather. You can get the kids to school, too. When you’re not worried about how you’ll get there, your productivity improves.

However, one thing never changes. It’s the reason you purchased winter tires in the first place. It’s the people they protect; the ones that matter to you most.
_DSC1491 (2)I’ve never thought so much about winter tires. I mean, I’ve always had them; for as long as I can remember, we’ve considered them necessary to safely navigate winter road conditions. However, partnering with Michelin Canada over the past few months has allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding for exactly why they’re so important.

For every Canadian. For every car.  (more…)

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When You Spring into Action… There’s No Stopping Them!

March 2, 2017

Last week, I shared details about the Erin Mills Town Centre “Spring into Action” Sports & Camps Show. If you’ll recall, the single most motivating factor for my own attendance was the convenience of signing up the boys for spring and summer activities – all at one time, all in one place.

We were not disappointed.

With a record exhibitor turnout (the show was packed with 40 vendors!), enthusiastic Mississauga residents had a chance to meet the organizers, ask questions, take advantage of special offers (more on that later!) and most importantly, introduce their children to sports and activities that may not have been on their radar… like fencing! Yes, FENCING!
IMG_4414Here’s why the Erin Mills Town Centre “Spring Into Action” Sports & Camps Show was a success:

1. Easy Access to Information. Every parent craves information, especially when signing up their children for extra-curricular activities. However, it’s safe to say that if you’ve ever tried to navigate a local sports organization’s website… well, it’s not necessarily the most user-friendly experience. So, rather than searching through a list of FAQs, I was able to bring my questions directly to the representatives. It saved time and frustration, and of course, allowed me to get the answers I needed!  (more…)

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150 Hidden Gems: This Is Riverwood Conservancy

March 1, 2017

In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is launching a fun contest to find the top 150 hidden travel gems in our country. IHG sponsored this post and my participation in this campaign, but all opinions are my own.

It’s official: Canada tops the list of places to visit in 2017 (New York Times). Of course, Canadians have always felt fiercely proud of our beautiful country; from the rugged coastline of Gros Morne, Newfoundland to the breathtaking scenery of Haidaa Gwaii, British Columbia, our land is filled with hidden gems.
_DSC1522Know of a little place off the beaten path? To celebrate Canada’s 150th, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) wants you to share your best Canadian hidden gems! From March 1st to May 31st, submit your entry for a chance to win one million IHG Rewards Club points.

So, what is my favourite hidden gem? Picture it –

A steady stream of automobiles enter and exit the parking lots of Square One Shopping Centre, one of Canada’s largest and most trafficked malls. Nearby, community college students pile out onto the streets, weaving their way through retails stores, residential condominiums and municipal government buildings. A street festival has closed down a major road for the afternoon, rerouting pedestrians and motorists through the jungle of office buildings. A makeshift mobile office is erected on the only uninhabited space on the landscape, aggressively selling units to future highrise residential.

It is downtown Mississauga, the very definition of the urban experience.  (more…)

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Focusing on the Future: Saving for Retirement

February 27, 2017

Friends, I’ve got a plan.

The last time we chatted, I expressed fear over being able to adequately balance my short-term financial obligations with my long-term savings goals. Of course, never one to simply lament and move on, I created an action plan with one clear objective in mind: meet with a financial advisor.

(Of course! Leave it up to the experts!)
jarRecently, I had the opportunity to chat with Simpreet Sivia, Senior Financial Advisor at Scotiabank. And I’ll be honest – discussing my financial triumphs (few) and shortcomings (many) with a stranger is not easy. However, I attended the meeting with an open mind, and by the time we were through:

– I had a better understanding of my current financial situation
– I had a path to help attain my long-term savings goals
– I was better prepared for unexpected life events
– I learned how to work toward the things I’ve always dreamed of  (more…)

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Protect Yourself: Don’t Be a Victim of Identity Theft

February 26, 2017

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only. 

It’s not a subject that is at the top of everyone’s mind, but in my humble opinion, it’s not discussed enough. This year’s identity theft statisitcs are in. And, they are downright scary.
Almost one in five Canadians have, or know someone who has, been a victim of identity theft. Think about that for a moment. Statistically, that means by the time you’re done reading this post, hundreds of Canadians will have been victimized.

Don’t be one of them.

Identity theft is the most serious, non-violent crime and fastest growing type of fraud in North America. When someone takes your personal information and uses it for financial gain, it is classified as identity theft or fraud. According to Statistics Canada, identity fraud has increased by 8.62% from 2013 to 2014. In 2014 more than 20,000 identity theft cases were reported in Canada, with a loss of more than $10 million, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.  (more…)

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Focus on the Facts: Be a Nutrition Fact Finder

February 24, 2017

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

I’ll never forget when my family – and really, Canadians as a nation – learned about serving sizes.

The year was 2003. Before then, it was not mandatory for packaged goods sold in Canada to display nutritional information of the contents. And so, for many years, we simply helped ourselves to a portion we considered fit, without knowing exactly how we were impacted by our choices. When serving sizes were listed on the label – among other things, such as number of calories, amount of fat, etc. – we all took a step back.

Like, whoa.

Suddenly, many Canadians received a wake up call when it came to consumption habits. While the information on the nutrition facts label helped guide our understanding of portion sizes, it also helped us make better food choices. Suddenly, words like “calorie counting” become synonymous with dieting, and the demand for fat-free snacking foods and sugar-free beverages was at an all-time high. For better or for worse, we were informed.

Today, the Nutrition Facts table, found on most packaged food products in Canada, is key to making more informed food choices for you and your family. With the help of my little Nutrition Facts Finder (note the detective hat and magnifying glass!), we’re going to make it easy for you to focus on facts!
_DSC1497Step 1: Start with Serving Size. You can find the Serving Size under the header “Nutrition Facts”. Remember, if you eat a different amount than the serving size, you will need to adjust the corresponding information in the Nutrition Facts table.  (more…)

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Spring into Action, Mississauga!

February 22, 2017

“Have you signed up the boys for soccer yet?” my husband asks.
“Not yet… I have to find the website,” I reply.
“What about swimming? Skating? Karate? Summer camp?” he continues.
“It’s on my to-do list…” I hedge in response.

The truth is, it’s the bane of my existence. Trying to coordinate multiple activities for multiple kids… while visiting multiple websites (with varying degrees of user-friendliness) over multiple days of the week for multiple months…

Let’s just say it’s not my favourite thing to do.

I think the most frustrating thing about scheduling activities for my boys is the sheer amount of time I spend in the planning stages. I have to decide if they’ll be interested in an activity or sport, research the organization that offers the services I’m looking for, compare dates and schedules, check if the fees fit within my budget… and so on. But the worst part is the very real FOMO I feel when booking a sport or activity – what else is out there? How do I know I’m choosing the right league? What is the newest class or activity they’ll be dying to try out?

Thank goodness for Erin Mills Town Centre ‘Spring into Action’ Sports and Camps Show.
8120_ErinMillSportsCamp2017_24x36_New (2)This fun, family-oriented event takes place on Saturday, February 25th from 10am to 5pm at Erin Mills Town Centre in Mississauga. Visitors will have the opportunity to ask questions from knowledgeable experts and sign up for sports programs, while enjoying exciting displays, demonstrations, fun interactive activities, a free photo booth and the chance to win great prizes.  (more…)

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Smooth Move: Is it Time to go Glycolic?

February 19, 2017

If you haven’t heard of Glycolic Acid, chances are, you’re missing out on the secret to smooth skin.

But first, what is it? Glycolic acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA). Alpha Hydroxy Acids are a family of naturally occurring mild acids that work as exfoliants. Remember those sharp, beady scrubs you grew up with? Same principle, except there’s no manual scrubbing component. Instead, by speeding up the skin’s own natural shedding process (which slows down as we age), they encourage the skin to slough off dead cells, allowing newer ones to reach the surface more quickly and evenly. Glycolic acid, the AHA of choice, is a discriminatory exfoliator, as it only affects the dead cells.

Did you hear that? Science, friends.

The small molecular size of Glycolic acid makes it effective in removing the build-up of dead cells on the surface of the skin.

So, do you need Glycolic acid in your life? It really depends. If you have uneven, dull or flaky skin, the answer is yes. If the texture of your skin is rough or “ruddy” to the touch, it’s a yes, again. If you’re looking to reveal your skin’s radiance and decrease the look of fine lines, DEFINITELY yes.
FullSizeRender (2)Here’s where to start. Introducing NeoStrata Glycolic Renewal Antioxidant Smoothing Serum. Harnessing the exfoliating power of Glycolic Acid, as well as the antioxidant protection of Lipochroman, NeoStrata’s new Glycolic Renewal Antioxidant Smoothing Serum “works like a daily fitness regimen for your skin, revealing smoother, more radiant skin while protecting against external aggressions.”  (more…)

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News You Can Use: Smart Diabetes Management

February 19, 2017

Often, when my husband and I see one of our little guys struggle with life’s basic lessons – like tying a shoelace or cracking an egg – we often say, “If this was an app he’d have it mastered in 15 seconds.”

There’s no denying it – we live in a digital world.

I embrace advancements in technology, particularly when it comes to healthcare. Visiting with my family doctor, he can pull up my medical history before we’ve finished our small talk. After having blood work done, I love that I can view my results online within 12 hours. And when I have appointments with specialists, it’s terribly convenient they can chat with my family doctor – in real time – via their own messaging app.

We know app technology has paved the way for digital healthcare management, helping us to take charge of chronic health conditions, stay fit and focus on healthy eating. Today, I’m pleased to introduce you to CONTOUR® NEXT ONE. If you, or someone you love, is living with diabetes, you’ll want to read on.

Ascensia Diabetes Care was recently issued a Health Canada license for the CONTOUR® NEXT ONE blood glucose monitoring system (BGMS) in Canada. The CONTOUR NEXT ONE is a new smart meter that presents blood glucose (BG) results in a simple and easy-to-use manner that is personalized to the user.

The meter features smartLight Technology and Bluetooth to connect to smartphones. When used with the CONTOUR DIABETES App, patients can:

– View results over time
– Add events to the readings
– Share results and reports with healthcare professionals  (more…)

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DIY or DIFM (Do it For Me)? Hardwood Installation with The Home Depot Canada

February 16, 2017

If you’re lucky enough to know a general contractor or someone who specializes in flooring installation, I am really, really, jealous.

Seriously. A home reno that involves a flooring install is a BIG deal, and it involves time, money and a general upheaval of your living conditions. And, when you have to trust the work to strangers, it makes it all the more ominous: will I like the results? Can I trust the quality and workmanship? You’re gluing what to where and how?

Yeah, it can get a little ambiguous.

Thankfully, you’ve got me – I’ve recently survived a hardwood install! Today, I’ll tell you what you need to know to make it as painless as possible.pic1Tip #1: Buy Your Own Wood. If you call a contractor, chances are they will offer a selection of hardwood or engineered hardwood for you to peruse, and may even try to lure you with their “contractor’s discount.” Don’t be persuaded, unless they present you with a sample you love at a price you can live with. There are other options, promise.

You see, the selection at The Home Depot Canada is unsurpassed! From the type of flooring to the species and finish, YOU get to decide what is best for your home. And remember this advice: ALL wood species are suitable for everyday use. An associate in the flooring department can help you find a look and finish that you’ll love.  (more…)

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Your Road to Retirement: Let’s Chat about Financial Planning

February 15, 2017

I know, I know. The subject makes you want to turn and run, right? You’re not alone – I can think of very few people who actually enjoy the process of dissecting their spending and saving habits. But you know what? It’s truly not as painful as it seems, and today I’m here to show you (nay, convince you) why it’s the perfect time to sit down with a financial advisor. At Scotiabank, they offer this service for free with no minimum balance – so what do you have to lose?

First, let’s look at the calendar. March is creeping up on us! And in advance of the March 1st RRSP contribution deadline, it’s important to uncover where you are with your retirement savings, and where you want to be. Last week, I wasn’t all that certain.

You’ll remember from a previous post, Your Road to Retirement: What are Your Savings Goals for 2017? – I was once a smug saver. Today, I’m not as comfortable – with a brand new home (and brand new mortgage) on the horizon, I’ve been under mild stress (read: panic attacks) trying to figure out if I can afford to save. Rather than trying to crunch the numbers myself, last week, I visited my local Scotiabank branch and sat down with Simpreet Sivia, Senior Financial Advisor.
IMG_4206 (2)Here’s what I learned from my visit.

1. Overcome your fear of financial judgement. I get it. It’s hard to be so transparent with a stranger – even one who’s trying to help you sort through your finances. No one likes to have their spending habits judged; we’re all just trying to do what’s right for ourselves and our families. But the logical first step in the financial planning process is admitting that there’s room for improvement, and then, being open to advice. (more…)

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5 Steps to the Perfect #PizzaNight!

February 9, 2017

Tell me, when was the last time you celebrated… pizza night?
_DSC1088I know, I know. The script usually looks like this:

OMG I’m working late and junior has hockey practice… let’s make it a pizza night.
We have no food! We need to do a grocery run – but not tonight. Let’s do pizza.
I literally CAN’T. Too tired. Won’t cook. Pizza night it is.

See? Pizza is normally treated like a second-class citizen; universally relied on for its deliciousness, broad appeal and affordability… yet never fully given the appreciation it deserves.  (more…)

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