beauty

30 Days of Beauty = 30 Fabulous Looks!

One of my favourite pastimes is trying to decode a celebrity’s “signature beauty look”. Often, it’s very easy – Gwen Stefani’s red lips, Lauren Conrad’s winged eyeliner, Beyoncé’s long blond extensions – but sometimes, it’s downright challenging. Think Christina Aguilera – who loves to completely overhaul her image every few seasons. Or Katy Perry, who can sport blue hair one night… and blonde hair the next. And I must pay homage to Madonna, who has been a beauty and style chameleon for decades.

I too have a signature beauty look. Can you guess? (The question is probably easier to answer for those who see me on a regular basis.) My favourite look is precisely lined eyes, cheeks defined with bronzer instead of blush, and dewy, nude lips. In fact, you could say I watched Jennifer Lopez’s If You Had My Love music video a few too many times in 1999… and decided the look was one worth hanging on to. But you know what? For tanned girls, it’s a classic beauty combo that never goes out of style.
Shoppers_drug_mart_Logo-e140831503938330 Days of Beauty has returned to Shoppers Drug Mart! In its 4th year, this national event (the biggest of the year!) runs now until September 14th, 2014.

0176-14-30-DOB-BB-alu-e1408314937903Pop into your local Shoppers Drug Mart throughout the month, where 30 Fabulous Looks will tell the story of 30 Days of Beauty through visuals, instructional “How-To’s”, and exciting 1-day only offers as well as campaign offers on all of your favourite beauty brands. Online, you can check out behind-the-scenes videos available on youtube.ca, and visit www.30daysofbeauty.cawhere you can uncover the 1-day offer for each day and be schooled on how to achieve all thirty of the 30 Fabulous Looks.

(Guess that’s a challenge to broaden my beauty horizons!)

BONUS: An exclusive gift with purchase is available August 23-August 29, 2014 when you spend $75 or more on Cosmetics, Skin Care or Fragrance. A beautiful Cosmetic Pouch, filled with over 25 beauty and fragrance samples, is fabulous and free!

And rest assured, the team of beauty experts at Shoppers Drug Mart is there to help, so if you have any makeup or skin care questions, it’s the perfect time to drop in for a consultation. Customers can even book a 5-minute makeover in-store and ask for their favourite 30 Days of Beauty look!

I stopped by Shoppers Drug Mart multiple times during the event last year, and I can attest that the savings are fabulous. Have a fave Cover Girl mascara? Like to stock up on your trusted Lancôme moisturizer? Bookmark www.30daysofbeauty.ca to stay on top of the offers and promos, so you’ll know when to pop in. (I think I still have a few unopened lip glosses from my haul last year.)

Tell me – do you have a signature beauty look?

Although this post has been generously sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart, the opinions and language are all my own, and in no way do they reflect Shoppers Drug Mart.

Contests

Back to School with #airmilesshops!

I have fond memories of back to school shopping with my parents. Shuffling from store to store; checking the flyers, prices and sales, wading through crowds of kids and frazzled parents.

My boys won’t have the same memories – because I’ll be completing ALL their back to school shopping online! And with www.airmilesshops.ca, it’s easier than ever to reward yourself - from August 25th until September 1st, Collectors earn 5x reward miles just for shopping at their favourite online stores through #airmilesshops!

Earning AIR MILES reward miles while shopping online through airmilesshops.ca is as easy as 1, 2, 3:

Step One: Sign In – Sign in with your AIR MILES Collector Number and click “Shop Now”
Step Two: Shop – You will be taken to the retailer’s online site and shop as you normally would
Step Three: Earn – You will earn 1 AIR MILES reward miles for every $20 you spend!

All you have to do is remember to sign in through the portal and you’ll automatically earn rewards. And since your privacy and security is of the utmost importance, each and every retailer that is under the “virtual roof” of airmilesshops.ca uses a secure SSL checkout. Hence, you’ll always have peace of mind when shopping online – especially during the hectic back to school season.

So beat those crowds, grab the best deals, and get ready to WIN – join us for an @AIRMILES #airmilesshops Twitter Party on Monday, August 25th at 8pm ET. We’ll share tips and trips for finding the hottest back to school gear and showcase the latest and greatest from top fashion retailers like Old Navy, The Gap, TOMS, Hudson’s Bay and more! Plus, we’ll be giving away some pretty sweet prizes, guaranteed to receive an A+ for awesomeness.

AIR MILES back to schoolRSVP for a chance to win, and see you on Monday night! 

*Please be sure to enter your Twitter Handle “@yourTwitterhandle” in the Link/Blog Title field, and your Twitter URL “www.twitter.com/yourtwitterhandle” in the Link Field* (more…)

family

When They Sleep Better, I Sleep Better.

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

This post was sponsored by the makers of BENADRYL®. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

It’s a warm summer night, and the day has been long. Play dates, splash pads, dining out, oh my! I’m just about ready to put my feet up and relax, when my husband gives me “that look”.

Oh no, I think to myself. Not tonight.

Sensing my hesitation, he raises his eyebrows and nods solemnly. “Yes”, he says before I can turn away. “You can’t avoid it tonight. Come on, Lena, no excuses.” I flinch. “It’s your turn to put the boys to bed.”

Ugh! Bedtime at my house is the worst. thing. ever. Sometimes it’s cute - tiny feet padding into our room after lights out; a tiny figure climbing onto our bed. But it’s endearing for about five minutes… and then the screaming begins.

“Get back to bed!”
“No more water! Time to sleep!”
“I’ve already read three stories! Go to bed!”
“Stop fighting! You’re supposed to be sleeping!”

Benadryl Sleep(Captioned Above: “Can’t trust my boys to actually go to bed. Found Ryder sitting in a bucket reading a book to Reid, who somehow got his hands on two cookies – WTH?”)

I could go on, but I won’t. I’m not sure why my boys are so opposed to bedtime – to tell the truth, if this is foreshadowing into their teen years for curfews, I am downright terrified. But even though I hate the ongoing fight, I really do have their best interests at heart.  (more…)

musings

#ThrowbackThursday #tbt: The Model

In 2014, I will be participating in #tbt courtesy of the Epson Expression Premium XP-810 Small–in–One printer, the ultimate choice for scanning and printing. Ultra powerful and ultra slim, it produces stunning borderless photos and documents quickly and affordably. Featuring the ultimate in wireless printing, the XP-810 makes it easier than ever to print from your iPad, iPhone, tablet or smartphone, whether in your home or out and about.

My morning giggle came courtesy of a photo I unearthed of my husband, back in September 2009. You know how they say it’s healthy to laugh at yourself from time to time? I’d rather laugh at my husband. He’s such a good sport!

Blue SteelSunglasses at night? Check. Photo shoot pose? Check. Tri-coloured wool socks? Every male model needs a pair of those. But what actually has me guffawing with glee is the fact that was a serious, bona fide pose for him. Like, he wasn’t trying to be funny or ironic! He was simply mugging for the camera. Of course, at the time the photo was taken, I don’t think he had any idea I’d one day feature him in a throwback post. Love you babe!

food

Food + Family = The Flavour of Together

As a child, I truly believed summer was filled with long, lazy days. As a parent, I appreciate all the work that goes into creating those long, lazy days for my children. Camp has to be researched and booked. Play dates need to be organized. Vacations have to be scheduled, and then executed, with the least amount of drama. Road trips must be mapped out. Whew! All so we can milk every moment of sunshine, warm weather and patio time… and create the illusion of a perfect, endless summer.

Of course, one of my favourite ways to savour the season is to enjoy a good barbecue with friends and family! I’m always looking to elevate my food in simple and stress-free ways. That’s why I adore Club House La Grille. With a delicious selection of seasonings, rubs, marinades and BBQ Sauces, La Grille will make you the hero of the grill!

Now be honest. Hands up if you’ve paid $10+ for a “gourmet” burger. I know, right! Since when did an order of a burger, fries and drink cost $15.65! And just what constitutes gourmet? While I’d like to believe the quality of the meat patty is improved, some restaurants will simply play up the toppings to justify the inflated price. Special cheese? That’s a gourmet burger. Avocado spread? That’s a gourmet burger. Secret sauce? That’s a gourmet burger.

Well friends, I’m here to show you how to make the most delicious “gourmet” burger featuring Club House La Grille Wild Whiskey Smoked BBQ Sauce. Sweet and smoky barbecue flavours, along with herbs, spices, and a splash of whiskey are blended with the tanginess of tomato and sweetness of molasses, to create a rich, bold BBQ flavour. It’s the perfect way to elevate a burger, and trust me, it won’t break the bank either. I use turkey burgers in my recipe, as I find the pungent, smoky sauce complements the milder-tasting meat nicely.

#FlavourStory4 turkey burger patties
1 bottle Club House La Grille Wild Whiskey Smoked BBQ Sauce
4 hamburger rolls, toasted
4 slices gouda cheese
1 Spanish onion, thinly sliced
2 cups shredded lettuce

Barbecue turkey burger patties for 12-14 minute on medium heat, or according to manufacturer’s directions if you’re using frozen patties. During the last two minutes of grilling, add gouda to the burgers to melt the cheese. Place hamburger rolls (cut side down) on indirect burners to toast them lightly.  (more…)

Contests

Do You Prefer to Live #ONatural?

It’s not a fad, or a trend. It’s not backed by the celebrity du jour. It won’t come with a long list of cautionary side effects. It’s not a miracle cure, and will never claim to be one.

It is found in nature, and perfected by science. It’s homeopathic medicine.

Introducing Orange Naturals. They make professional quality, naturopathic health products that are convenient to use and easy to understand. Designed by licensed, Canadian naturopathic doctors, Orange Naturals combines the core components of natural medicine into a line of professional-grade, yet family-friendly, naturopathic products.

Want to learn more? I’m so pleased to be co-hosting the #ONatural Twitter Party with @OrangeNaturals. Together, we’ll share information on their best homeopathic health products, including tinctures, supplements and ND shakes. And… the prizes will be amazing. Trust me.

Orange Natural Twitter Party GraphicRSVP below for your chance to win, and we’ll see you on Wednesday night!  (more…)

family

#DisneyVacayCA: Disneyland, Here We Come!

The kids are running around, my bedroom is a disheveled mix of suitcases, clothing and lightsabers, and I’ve got a to-do list taped to no less than four doors in my house… but it’s all awesome because we are headed to DISNEYLAND!

disneyland-guide_596x334I’m on a t-minus 5 day countdown until we leave for the #DisneyVacayCA media trip to Disneyland, California. We’ll enjoy a stay at the stunning Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which boasts a breathtaking 6-story lobby constructed of stone and wood plus stately American Craftsman-style décor in all rooms. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is a premium hotel that celebrates the grandeur of the great outdoors.

grand-californian-overview-g14Of course, we’ll spend tons of time in Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park (three days of fun!), so you can bet this Disneyland newbie will be all over the attractions. And speaking of attractions, you do know I have two Disney Cars fanatics, right? I predict we’ll be spending a LOT of time in Cars Land!  (more…)

musings

Their Not Interchangeable and Never Will Be

If you caught the grammatical error in my post title, Hallelujah! We can be friends.

I found this post from August 2010 – almost four years ago to the day!

“Lately, I’m finding more and more people simply don’t take the time to use the words there, their and they’re in their proper context. Frankly, unless you’re in second grade and have yet to learn the subtleties of grammar and pronunciation, you really have no excuse. There, I said it. It all comes down to this silly notion that intelligence is constantly conveyed in everything that we do.”

Okay, I was pretty self-righteous, no?? But you know what? I’m not going to apologize for it. I am a proud grammar cop! And in the last four years, I can only say I’ve become worse – kind of like a crotchety old man on a park bench. Back to my post -

“I wouldn’t dare insult you by posting the different uses of the three words; I’m under the assumption that we all know what they mean and how to correctly insert them into a sentence. What I am going to say, especially to the violators, is please, take a moment to proofread your work. Anal-retentive perfectionists such as myself (who clearly have a lot of time on their hands) take offense to those who don’t show respect for the English language. Some actually exhibit a marked rise in blood pressure when confronted with this popular grammatical error. Trust me, they’re out there.”

I went on to bash people like only a blogger with mildly inflated readership can do, but over the years, I’ve learned to bite my tongue and reserve judgement for whale poachers and fashion criminals.

As such, I had put the post out of my mind almost completely – until recently, when Weird Al Yankovic validated every. freaking. word with his new single and video, Word Crimes. It’s like he wrote it for me, and other grammar snobs (we tend to stick together, since few people can stand us).

So go on, give it a listen. And may I just say – Weird Al owned Robin Thicke here. It’s pretty bad when the parody is better than the original, just sayin’. (With that, enjoy your weekend friends!)

Do you have any grammatical pet peeves?

Contests

Enjoy the Flavour of FREE: #AIRMILESCash

Now raise your hands if you blinked… and found yourself in August. Yeah, me too!

It’s safe to say that the summer is in full swing, so it’s definitely time to kick back and relax. Whether it’s with family, friends or your significant other, this season is officially the best time to take a break and treat yourself. However, with demanding schedules for many of us, there’s often not enough time to plan a carefree outing. (Or, if I decide to bring the kids… it’s an outing, but not necessarily carefree. Lesson: leave the kids at home.)

But don’t fret – it’s easier than ever to break away from the grind with the newest AIR MILES Cash feature!

Heads up, peeps, because if you’re a foodie, you’ll want to take note: You can now redeem AIR MILES reward miles instantly online for any Cara Restaurant – think Swiss Chalet, Milestones Grill & Bar, Montana’s Cookhouse, Kelsey’s and Harvey’s…. and East Side Mario’s, Casey’s Grill + Bar, Bier Markt and Fionn MacCool’s from the Prime family of restaurants. That’s a whole lotta deliciousness – time to enjoy the flavour of FREE with AIR MILES Cash!

With these new mouth-watering dining options to choose from, it’s a snap to share the reward with family and friends. Forgot to send a birthday gift to a steak lover on the east coast? No problem! You can use reward miles in your AIR MILES Cash balance to redeem for electronic vouchers (called ‘eVouchers’). Simply redeem 95 reward miles for $10 towards your purchase with a Reward Partner of your choice – up to $750 worth of reward miles per day. That’s more than enough for your next night out at The Keg Steakhouse + Bar, one of the latest Sponsors to join current partners such as Cineplex and Starbucks. Bring on your appetite!

Want to learn more? We’re serving up a fun-filled chat with @AIRMILES at the #AIRMILESCash Twitter Party!

AIRMILES Cash Graphic v2Join the fun on Tuesday, August 12th at 8pm ET. To whet your appetite, of course we’ll have some ah-mazing prizes up for grabs. Plus, we’ll give you all the scoop on AIR MILES Cash eVouchers, the latest Reward Partners, and more! (See our official rules.)

RSVP below for your chance to win, and we’ll see you on Tuesday night!

(more…)

Contests

Food Hackers Unite! #IAmFoodHacks Twitter Party

“Get these. Do this. Done.” Sounds pretty simple, but do YOU have what it takes to elevate a meal, perfect a cooking method, or create an epic flavour fusion?

As you’ll recall from my post - Are YOU Kraft Canada’s Ultimate Food Hacker? - Kraft Canada is searching for our nation’s #IAmFoodHacks ULTIMATE Food Hacker. The selected winning candidate will be Kraft Canada’s official Food Hacker, develop new Food Hacking recipes and drive food hacking content through Kraft social channels. (BONUS: This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes with a one year contract including a total of $25,000 in compensation and a generous monthly food allowance designed to inspire creative food hacking solutions.)

Well, the finalists have been chosen, and it’s time to put their food hacking skills to the test! They’ll be the special guests at the #IAmFoodHacks Twitter Party on Monday, August 11th at 8pm ET! (See official rules here.)

IamFoodHacks v2At the Twitter Party, we’ll share our best tips and tricks – hacks, if you will – with a keen emphasis on creating delicious food, expanding your knowledge of cooking techniques, and combining simple ingredients for quick and easy meals. And just as you answer our questions, so will the finalists… so be sure to send some love (RT’s, mentions) if you like what they have to say! (You *could* say this is their official “Twitterview!”)

As always, there will be fabulous prizes up for grabs – RSVP below for your chance to win. And, start thinking of your own food hacks and get ready to share- we’d love to hear them! See you on Monday night!  (more…)

food

Piri Piri Spiced Chicken Drumsticks

It’s the long weekend, so of course we’ve been barbecuing.

This time around, my husband challenged me to find an award-winning recipe for a spicy, fragrant piri piri spice mix to coat our Maple Leaf Prime Naturally Chicken Drumsticks. Well, it turns out it wasn’t such a challenge – a quick Google search produced only a few spice mix recipes, so the field to choose from was quite narrow. Let’s just pretend this one’s award-winning, shall we?

Piri Piri Spice MixThanks to the good folks at Foodmania, I loosely followed the instructions for their Piri Piri mix. Now if you didn’t know, Piri Piri (a Swahili word that means “pepper pepper”) is one of the hottest flavour trends! Reminiscent of the famous sauce from Portugal, its rich and unique blend of warm earthy spices, herbs and vegetables brings a spicy, tangy character to chicken and fish dishes. Here’s what you’ll need:

16 Maple Leaf Prime Naturally Chicken Drumsticks
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamon
½ teaspoon powdered sugar
½ teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil

You can (and should) taper the cayenne pepper to suit your taste. Also, if you can find packaged dried lemon peel (I’ve only found it in the US), or you have some homemade dried lemon peel on hand, you should absolutely add 1/2 teaspoon to the spice mix. Otherwise, simply hit your cooked Piri Piri chicken with a generous splash of fresh lemon juice before serving.

Mix all the spice mix ingredients together in a medium bowl. This recipes yields about 1/4 cup, so, remove one heaping tablespoon and store the rest in an air-tight container. If you love the mix, next time, double the spices and store in the fridge for up to two months.

In a large zipper-style bag, add drumsticks, olive oil and spice mix. Close, and toss to coat. Adjust amount of seasoning depending on how intense you’d like the flavour to be. Refrigerate for up to 12 hours, but no less than two.

Barbecue over medium, indirect heat for approximately 30-35 minutes, turning frequently. Enjoy!

family

Grab A Taste Of The Big Leagues

It was a day like any other day, when two little league teams in urban Ontario arrived for what they thought would be a routine evening baseball game. On the field: the Scarborough Stingers vs. the North York Blues.

Little did they know this would be the most memorable game of their lives – “A Taste of the Big League”.

In celebration of Baseball Day in Canada on August 10, Schneiders employees, in partnership with the Toronto Blue Jays, surprised the Scarborough Stingers and North York Blues with a once-in-a-life time “big league” experience – upgrading their baseball diamond, inviting Ace the Blue Jays Mascot, play-by-play announcers, and bringing scores of fans, Schneiders volunteers, hot dogs and sausages to make the little league game larger than life.


Says Cam, a 9-year old player with the Scarborough Stingers: “Mommy, do you think that is what the Blue Jays players feel like? I mean, everyone cheering for you and wanting you to do well? It makes you feel like a hero, and like you want to try with your whole heart to do well, even though you know you may not win. That was the best sports experience of my life. My whole team felt special.”

Be still my heart! Is that not the most enduring quote ever? “You want to try with your whole heart to do well” – I feel like this saying belongs in a Disney movie. Truly, such a wonderful experience for all the lucky players.

Schneiders, you done me proud. Not only are Schneiders Country Naturals Jumbo Beef Wieners the yummiest way to light up a barbecue; Schneiders also happens to be the official hot dog of the Toronto Blue Jays! Now THAT’s when you know your product is a home run.

So… do you love the video as much as I do? Thanks Schneiders!

food

Are YOU Kraft Canada’s Ultimate Food Hacker?

Are you a ninja in the kitchen? Can you take a meal from bor-ing to brilliant! by swapping an ingredient or two? Maybe you’re the queen of one-bowl meals, prepping and cooking dinner with lightning fast precision. Or, perhaps you’ve found the most versatile way to use ordinary cooking appliances (waffle sandwiches, anyone?).

Kraft Canada knows that consumers have never been more committed to eating better, yet busy lifestyles force many to make compromises for the sake of convenience. Enter food hacking — a growing movement aimed at helping moms cook tasty meals, using unexpected twists and elements of inspiration.

Food Hacking is serious business. It’s not just a fancy title for a foodie who can Instagram a picture of their meal. It’s an emerging food trend and social conversation. And it’s something Kraft Canada is helping to amplify, showing consumers that when it comes to meal preparation, it can be as easy as “Get these. Do this. Done.”

To bring Food Hacking to a new level, Kraft Canada is launching a national talent search for our nation’s #IamFoodHacks ULTIMATE Food Hacker. This is the real deal! A real PAYING opportunity with real credibility. The selected winning candidate will be Kraft Canada’s official Food Hacker, develop new Food Hacking recipes and drive food hacking content through Kraft social channels. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes with a one year contract including a total of $25,000 in compensation and a generous monthly food allowance designed to inspire creative food hacking solutions.

Need some inspiration? Check out this One-Pot Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta. Everything goes in at once! The water, the seasonings and the pasta. Bring to a boil, then 12 minutes later you have a pot of perfectly cooked pasta!

IamFoodHacks220 g spaghetti, uncooked - 3 cups water - 1 cup halves cherry tomatoes - 1 onion, thinly sliced - ¼ cup Kraft Extra Virgin Olive Oil Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing - ½ cup fresh basil, divided - ¼ cup Kraft 100% Parmesan Grated Cheese

Bring spaghetti, water, tomatoes, onions, dressing and ¼ basil to a boil in large skillet. Cook on medium heat 12 min. or until spaghetti is tender and most of the water is cooked off, stirring and turning spaghetti frequently with tongs. Add cheese; mix lightly. Top with remaining basil. And just like that: Get these. Do this. Done.

So, you think you have what it takes? HURRY! It’s your last chance to enter the Kraft Canada #IamFoodHacks contest. For official competition guidelines and complete program details, visit: http://offerpop.com/foodhacks 

beauty

Summer Hair Care: The Choice is CLEAR

When it comes to beauty essentials, I’m a creature of habit. Although my position as a blogger allows me to review a variety of products, at the end of the day, I tend to stick with my tried and true favourites. In fact, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll see that my product recommendations for beauty products are few and far between… simply because I feel like a fraud if I endorse a different beauty product every other day.

Hence, if I’m talking about something, chances are, I use it. A lot.

Now when it comes to CLEAR Scalp & Hair, I love introducing it into my beauty rotation to “shake up” my routine. I’m a firm believer that your body can get used to the products you repeatedly use, which over time, lessons their effectiveness. In the case of hair care, I generally switch my stand-by products every few months with a quality system, such as the CLEAR Intense Hydration line.

CLEARResilient, beautiful looking hair starts at the foundation. CLEAR Intense Hydration Shampoo, Conditioner and Deep Nourishing Mask are clinically proven to help replenish the scalp with essential 24 hour hydration, making hair resilient to dryness for soft, silky tresses. CLEAR Intense Hydration products are infused with Cactus extract, a known hydrator.

It’s very hard to put into words exactly how much I truly enjoy CLEAR Scalp & Hair. I love the luscious fragrance which lingers on after my hair has dried. I adore how the shampoo lathers with ease and the conditioner rinses clean away with minimal effort. And I’m convinced the texture of my hair has improved since I started regularly using the Deep Nourishing Mask.

But if I had to name one thing that has me sold on CLEAR Scalp & Hair, it’s that I just have many more good hair days when I use the products.

It’s not complicated. I spend less time heat styling my hair, because my locks are more tamed. I find fewer hairs in my comb and brush, because my hair seems to resist breakage. And most importantly, I receive more compliments about the overall healthy appearance of my hair.

(Even my husband notices! And he’s, like, impervious to most things beauty-related.)

So take a long look at your hair, and your hair care routine. Do you need a break from your every day? Try CLEAR Scalp & Hair. I’m quite confident you’ll be impressed with the results. And remember, for a limited time, you can try it for less! Here’s a coupon for $3.00 off your purchase of a CLEAR product.

Visit www.clearhaircare.com.

food

#FlavourStory: The Great Canadian Grille-Off!

Some people vie for the best car. Others, the best lawn or garden. And for a long time, in a room full of strangers, I needed to have the most frivolous designer handbag. (It’s okay, you can roll your eyes at me.) And my husband? Well, it’s simple – he needs to be the best grill master ever. Honestly! He’s constantly comparing his barbecuing expertise with every person he meets. And – shhh - he judges people based on theirs. I know he does.

You could say that he’s the perfect candidate for a Grille-Off! Introducing the Club House La Grille Spice Challenge. Throughout the summer, eight celebrity chefs from across Canada will compete in four culinary duels to determine the BEST barbecue recipes using Club House products.

Grille-OffWhat’s in it for you? Well, besides the opportunity discover new and delicious recipes that you can steal for your own backyard barbecues, if you vote for your favourite Great Canadian Grille-Off recipes, you’ll have the chance to win a $500 pre-paid credit card! And, you’ll also be automatically entered to win the grand prize: a sizzling summer grilling party hosted by a celebrity chef for you and five lucky friends. PLUS, you’ll get a $2,000 pre-paid credit card to put towards the grill of your dreams!

This week, we’ve got two amazing Toronto chefs going head to head; Chef Joanna Tymkiw debuts her Crispy Thai Tacos using Roasted Garlic and Peppers Rub Marinade, while Chef Rocco Agostino presents his Montreal Rubbed Flank Steak Speducci featuring Montreal Steak Spice Rub Marinade. And great news! I just happen to have a copy of their recipes to share with you!

Chef Joanna: “Toronto has a colourful blend of ethnicities and cultures which is celebrated throughout my cuisine. The city offers the newest fusion food creations which you’ll find anywhere, from renowned restaurants to foodie favoured food trucks. I believe a recipe featuring warm weather fare like tacos with the refreshing yet satisfying elements of Thai cuisine is sure to be a hit with home cooks.”  (more…)

family

BMO Ready, Set, Goal!

This summer has been infinitely more enjoyable for me, and it’s not because of the weather (obviously), the time spent on the patio (since that’s dependent on the weather), or the copious amounts of icy drinks I’ve enjoyed (I’ve lost count). The reason this summer totally rocks is that I am officially a soccer mom! That’s right, Ryder started a house league back in June, and now, I find myself participating in a whole range of soccer mom shenanigans.

I’ve stood on top of shaky folding chairs to cheer him on; hollered encouragement at him during warm up drills, and *tried* to avoid hanging my head in embarrassment that time he almost scored in his own net. Oh dear.

The point is, I’m his biggest fan and he absolutely deserves my love and support! And that’s why I’m so happy to partner with BMO to spread the word about the BMO Ready, Set, Goal! contest. The contest celebrates the sense of team spirit and camaraderie that makes soccer special – and, they’re on the hunt for the most spirited cheers across Canada! The lucky winners will have a chance to attend a Major League Soccer (MLS) game. Goal!

girl_on_grass_englishHere’s what you need to do:

Submit your team’s cheer video to www.BMOSoccer.com until September 26, 2014. Amateur videographers are welcomed! In fact, submissions can be shot from smart phones or home video cameras as the focus is on team spirit, rather than elaborate production. Youth soccer teams aged 7-12, from any level can enter their team’s cheer.

Reward for Entry Prize: By entering this contest, each entrant will receive a prize pack for their team that includes 15 water bottles plus a special offer from BMO!

Early Bird Prize: The first 500 entries will receive a Coaches Kit that includes 1 mesh soccer bag, 2 soccer balls, and 1 clipboard.

Weekly Prize: Each week up to 100 names will be randomly chosen to receive a $75 Prepaid MasterCard. This is a rolling prize over 10 weeks; every name that does not win will continue to be entered in the draw for the next week.

Grand Prize: One random team will win a team VIP weekend to a MLS match in October.

Furthermore, 26 coaches across the country will also receive $1,000 to go towards their soccer team. This cheque will be presented to them at a local BMO branch in their neighbourhood. (See official rules here.(more…)

fashion

Step into the World of Onyx

Standing behind the velvet rope, I stepped on tiptoes, craning my neck for a better look. The attendant at the door frowned slightly, shifting to the right to block my view. I crossed my arms at my chest, silently willing him to move aside so I could once again peek through the door. I heard the deep laughter mixed with clinking glasses. I felt the pulsating beat of music escaping onto the sidewalk. I saw the onyx walls alternating between dark and dangerous, with every flash of a strobe light.

Determined, I adjusted my facial expression from surly to sultry. Smiling at the attendant, I asked:

“So, what can I do to hasten my entry tonight?”

He looked at me shrewdly, and then, leaning forward, whispered: “How much have you got?”

I leaned forward boldly, aware that to enter the world of Onyx, there is only one thing I had to do.

I had to keep being me.

“Six thousand,” I stated quietly, raising my eyebrows in challenge.

With a lop-sided grin, he retreated and released the velvet rope. Taking a deep breath, I stepped through the threshold, my eyes adjusting to the dark with ease as my gaze shifted from side to side.

The World of Onyx.

AIR MILES OnyxAnd that, is how I was introduced to AIR MILES’ Onyx program: a way to thank their best Collectors with exclusive benefits, including personal shopper service, discounts on flight and merchandise rewards as well as priority customer service, to name just a few. An event held recently in Toronto announced the program for high-earning Collectors who earn 6,000 AIR MILES reward miles during one calendar year (from January 1 – December 31). So, keep doing what you’re doing, collecting those reward miles and living life.  (more…)

musings

Make the Promise to End Distracted Driving

Every time I leave my house, I have to confront the memory. The nightmare.

I can’t avoid it; I can’t turn around and take another route. I can’t NOT think about it as I approach the intersection, because it’s the only way for me to make it onto the main road. I can’t do anything but place my foot on the gas and take a deep breath as I drive ahead.

Three years ago, I was in a serious car accident – just moments from my front door. Now I won’t be so dramatic as to say it changed my whole life, but it did give me profound insight into one truth: FOCUS on the Road.

Distracted DrivingIt was a sunny, cold morning and my husband was uncharacteristically working from home for the first part of the day. Seizing an opportunity to run to the grocery store without toting two tots, I threw on a coat and jumped into his car, yelling that I would return in less than 20 minutes.

IT ONLY TAKES ONE SECOND TO CHANGE THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

The grocery run itself was unremarkable; loading up on baby cereal, assorted fruits and veggies, I left the store and drove the 4-minute commute back to my house. (Repeat: the 4-minute commute.) At the major intersection before my side street, I waited patiently for the light to turn green.

I remember glancing out the window; thinking about what I should make for dinner that night, chewing on my bottom lip. The light turned green, and I calmly stepped on the gas. Rihanna sang away on the radio.

And the next thing I knew, I felt the force of impact; air bags exploding all around me; the smell of burnt rubber assaulting my nose. I opened my eyes and was acutely aware that although I was travelling westbound, I was now facing north… in the southbound traffic lanes. What the hell had happened?  (more…)

food

Bring Out Your Inner Brrrr-rista

Since letting y’all know about the Second Cup Summer Drink Festival last week, I hope you’ve had a chance to try out the NEW Frozen Lemonade and NEW Black Cherry Smoothie! I mean, let’s put it in perspective… you’ve got one drink that is crisp, clean and refreshing; with a light and tangy real lemonade flavour – and another that is made with real black cherry fruit puree (and everyone knows that cherries are the BEST fruit on earth). Super yum!

All summer long, Second Cup will feature one of five icy beverages – Chillatte, Matcha Green Tea Frappé, Frrrozen White Hot Chocolate or the above-mentioned Frozen Lemonade and Black Cherry Smoothie – at a special price, but for those of you who want to take this tasty trend home, the experts at Second Cup offer the following iced coffee recipes and tips to help you bring out your inner brrrr-rista.

Beverage_Iced-Vanilla-Bean-LatteIced Latte: Fill a tall glass 2/3 full with ice. Prepare a fresh double shot of espresso, and simply pour over ice. Top up glass with dairy of your choice; stir and serve. Barrista Tips:

- Espresso should be used immediately after preparation.
- Stir chocolate syrup into the espresso shot before pouring over ice to make your Iced Latte an Iced Mocca.
- For a healthier choice, switch your milk to skim.

If your Iced Latte is too milky, add an additional shot of espresso. Most people switch to large glasses when preparing iced drinks, and if your standard espresso shot is 2oz, and then you add both ice and milk to the espresso, you’ll naturally end up with a latte that is very milky.

To get sugar to dissolve completely in an Iced Latte, put the sugar into your espresso cup/pitcher before you drop your espresso shot, then stir it together after you’ve produced your shot. This will dissolve the sugar entirely before you pour the espresso over your ice.

If you’re an Iced Latte lover, visit Second Cup for Latte Tuesdays throughout the summer, where customers can enjoy any iced or hot latte for a special price!  (more…)

fashion

I Never Met a Coupon I Didn’t Like.

If you look back… way back… into my blog archives, you’ll uncover a not-so-dirty little secret. And that is… when I first started my blog back in 2008, it was simply a way for me to share coupons with my friends and family. You see, I had long been applauded for my deal-finding prowess, and decided to set up a central location where I could post all my epic finds. I was a couponer, loud and proud.

Of course, as my blog transitioned to more of an editorial journal, my frenzy of deal-related posts cooled off. But I never truly lost my frugal nature; I rarely pay full price (I have infinite patience when it comes to waiting for sales), I constantly look for the best promo of the season, and when shopping online, I always, always, ALWAYS look for online coupon codes.

It usually happens like this: I am speeding along in the online checkout process, and then, I see it. The field that says “PROMO CODE”. I am momentarily paralyzed as I wrack my brain for recent emails, searches, Facebook posts - anything that can save me a few extra dollars on my purchase. And then, if my mental catalogue of deals pulls up nothing tangible, I’ll often enlist the expertise of the coupon experts.

shopster-11Shopster is a brand NEW site that provides Canadian online shoppers with the biggest discounts from the biggest online stores. And here’s what sets them apart from the competition: while other coupon and deal sites think more coupons are better, Shopster believes big discounts from big names are way better! High five if you’re down with that!

A quick glance at the site reveals coupons for SHOP.CA, Canon, GAP, Cafe Press, The Home Depot and more.

Another pet peeve about most coupon sites? Well, they use automated programs to pull information from thousands of different online stores, many of which I’ve never even heard of. In fact, several of these stores don’t even ship to Canada! Really, what a colossal waste of time.

Shopster hand-picks every single store they work with and builds relationships with these stores. It’s all about the partnerships, folks! Then, they select each and every coupon or deal before it gets published to ensure that the discount is big enough to get people excited.

Because you don’t want 15% off at Martha’s Shirt Store, you want 60% off at Macy’s.

At Shopster, they aim to make it happen. I’ve been watching the deals for a few days now, and I’m curious to see how they’ll evolve as more coupons and savings are loaded onto the site. Regardless, it’s always good to have one more outlet that helps you save money. If you’re looking for online coupon codes, pop on over to Shopster and let me know if you find what you’re looking for. Click here to visit www.shopster.ca.