Fancy Winning Toys for a YEAR? #fpsmartstages

September 18, 2014

Picture it: You’ve just purchased a toy for your little one, or a little one you know. It’s cute, it’s colourful, and you’re sure he or she will love it… between the ages of six to twelve months, because according to the manufacturer’s claim, that’s how long it’s appropriate for. After that, you’ll have to buy a new toy, of course. And another. And then another.

Well, that’s great. And I’m sure it’s a great toy too! But what if I told you that you could purchase a universally-loved, quality toy from one of the most trust toy companies on the planet… and that toy would grow with the child for months and months – or even years?

Introducing Fisher-Price Smart Stages technology, an exciting new way to change learning content as baby grows. Every baby develops at his/her own pace, and Smart Stages gives you the ability to select the stage that’s best for your child. There are a variety of developmentally appropriate songs, phrases and sounds within the three levels of play – just slide the switch or enter baby’s age for automatic level changes.

In a nutshell, that means you can get A LOT more play out of the same toy!

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn products reward curiosity and encourage experiential learning through play. We know baby develops dramatically in the first two years of life, so Fisher-Price has created the first line of toys that evolves with age-appropriate learning content as your baby grows. The content keeps the baby engaged as he/she develops, and offers longevity of play value to parents!

(Now THAT’s ingenious.)

Want to learn more? Let’s make a play date… we’ll call it, oh, the #fpsmartstages Twitter Party!
FP GraphicIn addition to sharing the latest information on Fisher-Price Smart Stages technology, we’ll have some incredible prizes up for grabs:

2 prizes of a Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Chair (value $49.99) + a $50 Visa Gift Card
4 prizes of a Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Chair (value $49.99) + a $100 Visa Gift Card
Grand Prize is TOYS FOR A YEAR! (12 of Fisher-Price’s Most Popular Toys!)

RSVP below for your chance to win, and see you on Wednesday night! (more…)

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Win It! Second Cup Gift Card

September 17, 2014

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

It’s bold. It’s rich. It’s velvety. It’s a Flat White: an espresso-based coffee that has become a favourite of espresso lovers around the world – and now, it’s available at Second Cup. Second Cup is the first Canadian specialty coffee retailer to introduce the Flat White to its espresso menu. To help celebrate its availability in Canada, I’m so pleased to offer you the chance to win a $100 Second Cup Gift Card.

Second Cup Flat White
For more information please visit SecondCup online. #espressoloversrejoice #flatwhite  (more…)

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AIR MILES Onyx: Meet Your Personal Shopper

September 16, 2014

From time to time, I get ridiculously excited and just have to share some shopaholic intel.

This is just like the time I uncovered those UGGs at 50% off. And almost better than that unadvertised Black Friday sale at Tory Burch. And it’s definitely as good as the Urban Barn Outlet in Scarborough. Now ladies and gentlemen… I’d like to introduce the Personal Shopper Service, available only to AIR MILES Onyx members.

But first, a refresher. The AIR MILES Onyx program is a way to thank their best Collectors with exclusive benefits. There’s no application process, or hoops you have to jump through, because you will automatically qualify for the AIR MILES Onyx program by earning at least 6,000 AIR MILES reward miles during one calendar year. Onyx members enjoy a variety of perks and special services, including greater access to airline seats, 20% fewer reward miles needed to redeem for seasonal activities, free movie passes to select films, special monthly giveaways, and more. And, in my humble opinion, the best benefit of all? Access to the personal shopper service.

(Let us all pause for a moment to pay homage to this shoppertunistic service.)

To fully understand the awesomeness, I’ll need to break it down for you. Now pay attention, because once you achieve Onyx status, you’ll want to take advantage of this tout de suite. Trust me.

First, the scenarios. Let’s just say you’re an AIR MILES Onyx Collector and have a bunch of reward miles in your Dream balance, but aren’t really sure how you should redeem them. You’ve perused the AIR MILES online catalogue, but you just can’t decide what to choose. You want to treat yourself, but aren’t sure if you want to part with your miles unless something really rocks your world.

In the second scenario, you are lusting after a pair of designer shoes. You are desperate to have them, but always talk yourself out of the purchase, because it seems like a lot of money, and you rationalize that it could be better put to use. You are an AIR MILES Onyx Collector, but strappy Sam Edelman sandals are not in the reward catalogue.

kate-upton for Sam EdelmenBut what if you could use AIR MILES reward miles to “buy” merchandise that is NOT in the catalogue?

Welcome to The World of Onyx; specifically, the Personal Shopper Service.

Says AIR MILES: “We have a team dedicated to finding and getting you a variety of rewards outside of the online catalogue using reward miles from your Dream balance. Whether it’s the latest tablet for your daughter’s birthday or that designer watch you’ve had your eye on, we dare you to dream of new ways to be rewarded.” YES!!

(more…)

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Get the Look: Jennifer Aniston

September 15, 2014

The truth is, I was on Team Jolie.

Yeah, I know the supposed feud went down about 10 years ago, and the only people who still care are the overly enthusiastic commenters on gossip websites. (Side note: have you ever read the comments on www.usmagazine.com? They’re actually more entertaining than the article!)

But I digress. My reason for sticking with Ms. Jolie was one of simple fact: you can’t steal a man. Either a man wants to leave his wife, or he doesn’t. Unfortunately for both Angelina and Jennifer, they were unwilling participants in the tug-of-war of the century.

Of course, when Brad Pitt is the grand prize, I *almost* understand, and forgive, the hype.

And aside from Jennifer’s stoic resolve to stay respectful when speaking to the media, I had to admire one thing…. her otherworldly incredible hair and skin. Truly! There is just something so flawless about her beauty, from her perfectly bronzed skin to her thick veil of stylishly coiffed locks. She is a beauty and style icon; an ambassador to those who revere a fresh, natural look.

Recently, AVEENO Global Ambassador Jennifer Aniston showed off her glowing skin at the premiere of her upcoming film, Cake. Aniston’s make-up artist, Angela Levin, created the star’s natural look, which she debuted at the Toronto Film Festival. And I just happen to have all the beauty tips, straight from Angela Levin herself!

"Cake" Premiere - 2014 Toronto International Film Festival“I started the day by prepping Jen’s skin with AVEENO POSITIVELY RADIANT Skin Brightening Daily Scrub. It’s very gentle and leaves the skin feeling clean and fresh, making it a perfect surface for makeup application.

I proceeded by applying AVEENO POSITIVELY RADIANT Daily Moisturizer SPF 15 on her face and neck. Jen loves this moisturizer – it feels light on the skin and is very effective in keeping it hydrated and toned throughout the day.

I then applied a light coat of foundation by CHANEL Perfection Lumière Velvet, in two colors – 60 Beige on her neck and outer areas of her face and 50 Beige in the center.

I then used CHANEL Les Beiges in N50 as a bronzer on her forehead, chin and cheek using the brush that comes with the compact. I love this product because it’s matte and I can build the application to heavier or lighter.

For her cheeks, I mixed CHANEL Cream Blush in Chamade with Make Up Forever Cream Blush 335 and gently applied using my fingers, creating a sun kissed natural look.  (more…)

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Welcome to My NEW Website!

September 13, 2014

Come on in! Make yourself at home. Take a look around (but don’t look too closely, as I’m still ironing out the glitches). Welcome to my brand new website; a little more grown up, a little more sass.

This project was a long time in the making, because frankly, I was pretty attached to my old site. But when my trusted design guru, Juan Beltran, convinced me that he could create an even better site than the first one he conceptualized for me, I gave in. “Have at it,” I said. “Impress me.”

So, he set out to design a custom website that is inspired by the unique elements of my old Listen to Lena site, while introducing new touches that modernize the overall look. And I couldn’t be happier! It looks like me. It feels like me. It is me.

There’s a reason I have design gurus in my life. 

So stay a while! I hope you love the refresh as much as I do.

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Brush Up on the Benefits of Rinsing

September 13, 2014

53367_Blogger_Badges_V2-01You know how some things in life are supposed to be easy… but end up being terribly difficult? I just have one question for you: WHY is it so hard to choose a mouthwash? I mean, there are a million varieties, and they all come in pretty colours, and some are “intense” while others are “mild”… decisions, decisions!

Need a cheat sheet? Pop on over to the Shoppers Drug Mart Social Hub where I break down the different types of mouthwash, and provide other tips on oral care, so you can have a smooch-worthy mouth. On the site, you’ll also find helpful articles on beauty, health and well-being…. perfect as we settle in for fall.  (more…)

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‘Tis the Season to #PurifyYourAir

September 11, 2014

Take a peek at the calendar. Allergy and flu season are here! And Canadians invest $9.1 billion annually in janitorial and sanitation supplies to clean surfaces, remove odours and kill germs with touch-free hand sanitizers – all of which address an issue that does not kill the key contributor to illness from air transmission. Because even with all these products, if your child has asthma, there’s a 1 in 4 chance he or she will be heading to hospital in September.

How scary is that?

Every year, up to 25% of the annual hospital admissions for asthma flare-ups among Canadian children occur in September. With the new school year approaching, so comes some of most frequent asthma triggers: germs, low use of appropriate asthma medications over the summer months increasing vulnerability, and unventilated classrooms that may contain dust, mould spores.

Most asthma exacerbations are caused from the air we breathe. The dirty truth is that inside air is five times more polluted than outdoor air and we spend an average of 90% of our time indoors. Hopefully with preventative care we can decrease asthma sufferers’ reliance on steroid-containing inhalers as a first line of defence, an issue which has been receiving much dialogue among parents.

This is a subject I’m passionate about, as we have both allergy and asthma sufferers in our family. And that’s why I adore Fellowes AeraMax Air Purifiers. The ONLY Air Purifier to be certified by the Asthma Society of Canada, AeraMax units safely remove 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns. That means cleaner, safer air for you and your loved ones.

Learn more at the @FellowesCanada #PurifyYourAir Twitter Party on Monday, September 15th at 8pm ET.
PurifyYourAir Twitter Party GraphicIn addition to providing you with information on how you can keep your air clean this fall and winter, we’ve also got some terrific prizes up for grabs:

2 x $100 Staples Gift Cards
2 x AeraMax 100 Air Purifier (value $189.99)
2 x AeraMax 200 Air Purifier (value $290.99)
1 x AeraMax 300 Air Purifier (value $349.99)

RSVP below for your chance to win. – and see you on Monday night!  (more…)

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Surprise! I’m California Dreamin’….

September 11, 2014

Psst! I have a secret. It’s not a HUGE secret, but it’s a pretty AWESOME one.

I’m currently in Los Angeles! 

Yup, I’ve been whisked away for a very special assignment for Proctor & Gamble. As a #PGMom, you know I’ve received a few amazing perks over the years… well, none could be more amazing than this!

Now I can’t give away the details just yet, but think photo shoot. And modelling. And North American campaign. Told you it was awesome, no? Pinch me!

As soon as I can share information about the campaign, you know I will! In the meantime, I’ll be squeezing in some pool time today at The Standard Downtown LA, my home for the next three days.

The StandardWhat are the odds I can score one of those red private cabanas? Wish me luck!

I’ll be back home Saturday night and it’ll be business as usual… in the meantime, I’m going to order room service, head out to soak up the sun (and do a little shopping!) and of course, strike a pose. Have a great weekend friends!

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Double Down on Breakfast!

September 10, 2014

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

It’s September. The kids are back in school. The days are getting shorter; the weather is getting cooler, the nights are long and spent huddled under the covers. It can only mean one thing: It’s time to get back into the groove. 

You see, summer is a luxury. Summer means lazy mornings watching television with the kids, while calmly sipping my second cup of coffee. I miss summer. I miss it A LOT.

These days, mornings are busy. And before I send the boys off to school, I need to ensure they’ve had a filling, healthy breakfast to build their stamina, stay focused, and be ready for an awesome day of learning. And I’ve found the small appliance I just can’t live without: the Hamilton Beach Dual Breakfast Sandwich Maker.

Dual Breakfast Sandwich MakerWhy do we love it? Let me count the ways.

Your Favorite Breakfast Sandwiches – Use eggs, cheese, precooked meat and English muffins (or bread of your choice) to make quick, hot and tasty breakfast sandwiches in less than 5 minutes.

New Countdown Timer with Audible Beep – Cook your breakfast sandwiches to perfection and to your preferences, and know when it’s ready with the built-in digital timer.

Easy to Clean – Cooking surfaces are nonstick! And, the removable cooking ring with egg cooking plate is dishwasher safe, making for quick and easy clean up.

No Added Fat – Because the cooking surfaces are non-stick, you don’t have to add oils or butters to fry the eggs. So, your breakfast sandwiches are less greasy, and you can customize your sandwich to suit your dietary preferences, such as using egg whites only or substituting gluten-free bread.

Dual Breakfast Sandwich MakerWithout a word of lie, by the time it would have taken me to preheat a pan and fry an egg, I have two mouthwatering breakfast sandwiches ready to go – with minimal prep and maximum versatility. Ryder likes his sandwich with egg, straight up – while Reid is a bacon and cheese kind of guy. And although the Dual Breakfast Sandwich Maker will not cook the meat for you, adding pre-cooked bacon bits, a slice of smoked turkey or even a few slices of pepperoni is as easy as can be.  (more…)

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DIY with Benjamin Moore

September 9, 2014

Normally, I don’t need a push to change things up. I am a serial re-decorator and proud of it! In fact, from year to year, we’ve changed at least one thing about our home at my insistence, whether it be re-painting the entire house, adding a backyard oasis, creating a live-in dining room or designing a man cave. It’s all me and it’s all because I thrive on change.

Think I’ve run out of ideas for my home? Ha! My husband wishes! I’ve got my eye on refinishing our second floor, cleaning out the laundry room, adding shelving to our walk-in closet and am strongly considering an enclosure for our front porch. And then, maybe I’ll give it a rest for a while.

Now the truth is, my fireplace was not on my list of things to overhaul. I mean, it’s just a fireplace, right? However, I recently came across a house listing where the living/dining area was described as having a “statement corner fireplace”. Wait a minute – I have a corner fireplace! But, it’s far from being a statement; painted in the same warm beige tone as the majority of my first floor, it actually blended into the wall with a decided lack of ambition. And that’s when I learned about Benjamin Moore’s new ben & ME promotion:

ben&ME BagFor a limited time (until October 5th, 2014), Benjamin Moore is offering exclusive ben & ME kits for just $109 (a $169 value)*. In the kit, you’ll receive:

• 2 gallons of premium paint with 1 quart for trim
• a sleeve roller, paintbrush, paint tray
• a drop cloth, paint can opener and green painters tape
How-To Guide and even a playlist to keep you on a roll!

Perspective: for just over a hundred bucks, you’ll have everything you need to add colour vibrancy, softness, glam or interest to a room you choose. And fall is the perfect season for change! To take advantage of the promo, pop into your local Benjamin Moore Signature store or visit the Ben & Me website to find your nearest participating dealer.

I’ll be honest – I’m living a charmed life, because my father-in-law is a professional painter! And, he just happens to be a Benjamin Moore enthusiast, trusting the brand for over 40 years for all his clients. To quote him, “you can’t find a better paint.” So, of course I asked for his expertise (and his perfected technique!) when painting something as finicky as a fireplace. Consulting the ben & ME How-To Guide, he asked that I share the 3 top tips that have served him well over the years:

1) Preparation, Preparation, Preparation. Prep your walls by sanding down any lumps or rough patches first. Then use a slightly dampened sponge to wipe all the dust away (don’t forget the trim). Clean walls ensure your tape will stick, and no dust will muck up your pretty paint job.

2) Protect Your Goods. You have stuff. Some of it may even be nice stuff. You don’t want paint on that stuff. So move it, cover it and you won’t have to worry about it. Don’t forget the floors too. Drop cloths are your friend.

3) Tape Trick. Here is a master taping secret: heat seal the tape’s edge (with friction!) by running a smooth tool like your finger, a spoon or a paint stick along the edge. Heating up the sticky stuff helps it form a stronger seal against paint seepage. You don’t want paint seepage.

Without further ado, here’s our statement-less fireplace, also known as the “before” photo:

ben & MEOkay, so we had a candy jar on the fireplace. And some haphazard candles. I know, I know! But the point is, the fireplace blended into the background, so there was no point in dressing it up. Our bad.  (more…)

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Friday Harbour: Turn Every Day into Friday

September 5, 2014

From time to time, my husband and I sit down and have a frank discussion about the life we want to live. What should we do? Where should we travel? How have we grown – as a family, as a couple, as individuals? And, what is the best way to maximize our income, while balancing life and leisure?

Lately, we’ve been thinking about investments – ones that make sense for us financially, but also make sense for our family. And at the top of the list: a weekend escape.

If you grew up in Ontario, chances are that you, or someone you know, has a summer cottage. Escaping the city has long been a summer tradition, with tens of thousands of commuters making the trek up north every Friday from May to September. And the options for cottages are limitless; traditional or modern, big and small. However, I’m *not exactly* the cottage type. While I love the lake, small town vibe and the opportunity to get away from the city, I still prefer the amenities of resort living – the luxe details, urban atmosphere, and most importantly, the ability to get away all year round.

Introducing Friday Harbour, Lake Simcoe’s most successful All Seasons community.

BOARDWALK CONDOS2At Friday Harbour, you’ll discover a four-season 600-acre waterfront resort with an ever-changing selection of recreation, entertainment and activities to enjoy, just 45 minutes outside the Greater Toronto Area. Now taking shape on the shores of Lake Simcoe just south of Barrie, Friday Harbour is accessible along major highways and by GO Train from Toronto.

Four Seasons of Lakeside Vacations: Today at Friday Harbour, the marina is being excavated to accommodate 1,000 boat slips – from runabouts to 100-foot cruisers. From here, boaters may choose to cruise the Trent-Severn Waterway, catch a few hours of fishing or practice their sailing techniques. Kayaks and canoes will skim along the shoreline; jet skis and wind-surfers will share the waves. In winter, this same body of water offers skating, cross-country skiing and ice fishing.  (more…)

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Thank God for Good Teachers

September 4, 2014

No really, it’s okay for me to thank God, because I’m Catholic. So it’s not blasphemy or anything.

And today I’m thanking Him for good teachers. Because if you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I own a sweet little guy with a social anxiety disorder. (Remember this post?)

Getting him diagnosed was half the battle, and when we did, I spent a lot of time describing the condition to his teachers and school helpers – trying to communicate in a succinct way that he’s fully capable of speaking, but in social situations, he often chooses not to.

(In other words, so NOT like his mama.)

Hence, with a brand new school year and a brand new school, it was my responsibility to find some time to have a quick chat with his teacher. Warn her, if you will! You know, just casually inform that there’s a super cute kid who’s super smart and super silly but may have a problem borrowing a pencil crayon from a classmate. Even though he has no problem ripping it from his little brother’s hands. *shakes fist*

Well, this afternoon, I decided to break the news to his teacher, who had three full days to spend with him and therefore, would have likely cottoned on to the anxious kid with light-up shoes. (Empire Strikes Back shoes y’all! Totally bought them for my own perverse enjoyment.)

RyderI began the conversation with “So, how’s his anxiety?” – as if we had already had an in depth discussion about it and she knew all about his behavioural history. It was either that, or say: “You don’t know me, but I have a kid whom I can’t relate to and I kind of want to give you money because you take him off my hands for hours each day and I know you don’t know me from Adam but I’m putting all of my eggs in your basket with the hope you can make him talk at school cause Lord knows (again, not blasphemy) that he talks too much at home.” Riight… not happening. So let’s just say I was pretty happy with my opening.

However, within moments of chatting with her, she asked, “Is he a selective mute?” 

Hand on heart, I almost cried on the spot. Then I wanted to break out in a dance of joy. And I even briefly considered pausing and buying an expensive handbag online, because these moments of kismet need to be celebrated and nothing marks the occasion like Marc Jacobs.

After years of trying to describe his social disorder to teachers, parents, friends, strangers, you name it! …

Here was someone who understood. Who spoke Ryder’s language… even when he doesn’t speak.

I nodded my head enthusiastically and rushed to tell her everything I could about Ryder and his social quirks. And, by the end of our conversation, I walked away with a skip in my step, knowing that he will undoubtedly get the help he needs to emerge from his shell this year. I’m so happy! Thank God for great teachers.

p.s. That’s Ryder on his first day. Those eyes! Love him to pieces.

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A Summer of KINDER Smiles :)

September 4, 2014

And look at that! A completely appropriate smiley face in the post title.

strip (1)This past summer, I killed it. I told you I would! At the start of the season, I made a commitment to my family that we would seize every weekend and get out, enjoy the weather, take a dip in a pool, do something different, try something new, capture the memories, spend time together…all that and more. And we did it! We totally treasured every moment together (sometimes to a fault; let’s just say that I only have so much patience for two rambunctious boys) and made this summer count.

Don’t believe me? Just stroll through my blog from the past few months. See, told you so.

Looking back, it’s a summer for the scrapbook! And if you’re looking for fun way to share your summer smiles with family and friends, KINDER offers a cool little “Smile Booth” app on KINDER Canada’s Facebook Page. It’s a fun and interactive way for parents to capture and share moments of joy in a playful way. Once you’re a KINDER Fan, it’s just a few simple steps:

Step 1: Fan KINDER on Facebook
Step 2: Start your photo-strip
Step 3: Upload your photos
Step 4: Choose a fancy KINDER frame
Step 5: Choose a filter (make yourself look silly!)
Step 6: Save & share

My photos were slightly too small to apply the silly filters, but you can bet I’ll be zooming in and recreating the script for the boys. Sharing the photo strip is super easy, with a link to share on Twitter and/or Facebook available immediately upon completion.

Where did your summer travels take you? Was it the summer of Flora, Lynda, Jaime, Judy or Chandra? Or maybe… the summer of George? (Any Seinfeld fans out there?)

What was the single best memory from summer vacay 2014? Do tell!

 

I’m part of the Kinder Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.
The opinions on this blog are my own.

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Shell V-Power Formula for Driving Excitement

September 3, 2014

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

Whether you’ve been on a road trip across Canada or cruising to your local watering hole, we bet you’ve been on some exciting drives this summer. That’s why Shell just launched the Shell V-Power Formula for Driving Excitement Contest – to honour and discover the best drives in Canada.

From now until September 9, casual road trippers and driving enthusiasts can enter to win a chance to make their exciting drive a reality at www.shell.ca/shellvpowercontest. One Grand Prize winner will receive a week-long luxury car rental and a year’s worth of Shell V-Power Premium Gasoline!

ShellYou can also win $100 in Shell Free Fuel Gift Cards here! Simply fill the form below with you qualifying entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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BACON MANia, Huntington Beach: Because, Bacon.

September 3, 2014

All I ever wanted… all I ever needed is here in my arms.
Words are very unnecessary… they can only do harm.

Enjoy the silence bacon.

Bacon MANia Food TruckPictured Above: Bacon MANia Food Truck’s “Jack Back Sammie” – Thick-sliced egg bread, crisped and stuffed with Sharp Cheddar Cheese and Hickory Smoked Bacon.

If you find yourself in the OC (Orange County, California), there are a few things you *need* to do. First, make your way down to Huntington Beach – Surf City USA. Then, take a leisurely stroll on the boardwalk, and seek out BACON MANia Surf City, just steps from The Waterfront Beach Resort, a Hilton Hotel. Here, you’ll dine on bacon, bacon and more bacon (with a side of bacon).

What’s on the Menu? Here are my picks of the bacon bunch:

STARTERS

Bacon Ball Trio: Three of our most delicious bacon-wrapped bites of brilliance – The Mac’n Bac’n (Cheddar Bacon Mac n’ Cheese), the Bacon Mignon (Petite Filet and Gorgonzola) and the PB&J (on crustless Wonder Bread). Wrapped in Applewood Smoked Bacon and Deep Fried.

Speedy Gonzales: Arriba! Whole jalapeno stuffed w/ Sharp Cheddar Cheese and wrapped with Applewood Smoked Center Cut Bacon. Sauced with our Spicy Chipayo.

Dog Nuts: Always served in pairs, this occasionally featured ball is a Greek Pepperoncini wrapped in Carne Asada and then wrapped in Applewood Smoked Center Cut Bacon!  (more…)

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Winning at Life: #MyWeekend with Lincoln MKZ

September 1, 2014

It’s not often that I accept car review opportunities. Frankly, for a long time, it just didn’t make sense. I liked my cars. I had no reason to test out a new ride. I didn’t want to gush about a car I’d never purchase (don’t you hate that?) and had no business telling you to purchase. End of story.

Welcome to Fall 2014… and now, we’re in the market for a new car. For the most part, I’ve kept an open mind, but I’ll be honest; the car needs to have a certain “level of Lena” for me to be satisfied. Truth is, I work really hard.. and from time to time, I like to reap the rewards! So yes, we’re in the market for a family vehicle (sedan, SUV or crossover) with luxury features, at a moderate price (Range Rovers need not apply).

We currently have an SUV, but with no longer a need for a double stroller (hooray!), we’ve once again included sedans on our wish list. Hence, when Lincoln asked if we’d like to take the MKZ 3.7 for a long weekend – appropriately dubbed #MyWeekend – I enthusiastically obliged. Marketed as “nothing you’ve ever seen before from Lincoln” – and starting at a reasonable $42,355 for a luxury-class vehicle – it accomplished something that no other loaner vehicle has been able to do in a very long time.

It got my attention.

My Weekend 1Was it the refined lines of the signature Lincoln split-wing grille, and its unified, modern design? Perhaps it was the SYNC with MyLincoln Touch, which provides access to important information with a vivid 8-inch touch screen on the centre stack. Of course, it could have been the impeccable craftsmanship, with careful attention given to every detail. In the end, I realized the MKZ 3.7 is just one of those cars that will blow the socks off anyone and everyone who sits inside (even my car-snob brother, who was won over after just one ride).  (more…)

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Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper Dip

August 31, 2014

My husband and I are pretty set in our ways.

“I don’t like red peppers.” – Me
“I don’t like feta cheese.” – Him

However, if you saw us inhaling my sister-in-law’s Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper Dip last night, trust me, you wouldn’t know it. Creamy and flavourful, with just the right amount of heat, the dip is a perfect late-summer appetizer and pairs wonderfully with barbecue and beer. My SIL admittedly scooped the recipe from Emeril Lagasse and adapted it as her own, serving it with Twistos (so good!).

Roasted Red Pepper DipWe were well into noshing on the dip when I decided I simply had to blog it, so forgive the “eating-in-progress” photo. And if you happen to have leftovers, do this:

– Use it as a spread for sandwiches and wraps
– Heat through and toss it with freshly cooked pasta
– Use it as a topping for baked potatoes
– Spread it over a pizza crust in lieu of tomato sauce; top with roasted veggies

Of course, you could always simply enjoy round two of dipping. Click here for the recipe - Enjoy!

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Your Fashion Fix: Welcome to Canada, Chico’s!

August 29, 2014

One of the wonderful things about living in Canada is the plethora of fashion choices at our disposal.

Trendy or contemporary! Classic or fad! Comfortable or club wear! Business casual or haute couture! The options – and available retailers – are seemingly endless. And so, when I tell you that Chico’s has made their way north of the border, you may ask: “What’s so special about Chico’s? What sets them apart?”

I suppose the simple answer is that Chico’s offers everything I look for in my day-to-day wardrobe: chic prints, one-of-a-kind details, quality staples and just enough “oomph” to stay on-trend without being too “15 minutes of fad”.

I was recently invited to attend the Grand Opening of Chico’s first Canadian store, which just happened to be at one of my favourite malls, Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga! Within moments of arriving at the brand new store, located on the upper level outside Hudson’s Bay, I could tell Chico’s had found its home in Canada. A stunning, dark modern façade decorated the exterior, while inside, a chic and elegant shopping experience awaited.

Chico's Square One Shopping Centre(Above, Chico’s donates $10,000 to Stand Up To Cancer, one of their chief philanthropic partners. This season, they’ve also collaborated with the charity and Harper’s BAZAAR, with a portion of the sales ($10.00) from this luxuriously soft and silky scarf to be donated to Stand Up To Cancer from August 18, through October 31, 2014.)  (more…)

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Tips: How to Handle a Hot Superhero

August 28, 2014

The sun is high in the noon sky, casting rays of powerful heat onto the civilians below. As you make your way through the hoards of mortals gathered by a galactic structure, a broad shadow looms, covering the land in darkness. Wary – but determined – you amble forward, stepping across the threshold. And instantly, you’re transported into another time. You’ve crossed the “cosmic bridge” into Asgard.

One of the highlights of our #DisneyVacayCA at Disneyland, California was the ability to get up close and personal with some of our favourite Superheroes at Innoventions. Located in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park, Innoventions is a 5,000-square-foot home of the future, where you can learn how the advancements of today—and the technology of tomorrow—seamlessly interconnects within the home, the surrounding community and the whole world.

It also happens to be the home of Thor, the Mighty Avenger!

“Ready yourself for a thunderous encounter as you come face-to-face with the crown prince of Asgard.”

Hint – he’s hot. No really, I know he’s Thor and all – and never once did he break character, so it’s all good for the kids – but really, kudos to Disneyland for this casting decision. Someone up there decided that a young Brad Pitt-lookalike made perfect sense for the role, and set out to find him. Well, he’s there folks. From 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM every day.

“Begin your journey by first entering a fascinating display where you can learn about the rich culture and history of Thor’s home planet. Examine the walls where you’ll find formal portraits of Thor and Loki, in addition to other treasures and artifacts—including the fabled book of Yggdrasil.”

Yes, there’s the anticipation. In fact, no one does anticipation better than Disney – from the many “artifacts” of Asgard on display (recognizable props from the Thor movies, such as weapons used by the Warriors Three and Heimdall) to the possessions of the dark elves, we’re given a glimpse into Thor’s world. And then, upon entering the Bifröst, the voice of Odin himself can be heard, welcoming us at the gateway to Asgard. Finally, Odin’s throne room opens – revealing Thor standing in splendour.

So… how do you handle a hot superhero?

Tip #1: Bait the hot superhero into a sidelong glance. You know, the type where he looks at you from the corner of his eye. Confirm his hotness, and then move over to a more central location to get a better photograph.

Thor: Treasures of Asgard DisneylandTip #2: Creatively blur out your husband (accidentally on purpose?) and focus on the hot superhero. Note that your 6-year old is touching his mighty hammer, Mjolnir – which Thor is also touching – which means that in a way, Thor is actually touching you. Be secure in this knowledge and accept it as truth.  (more…)

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Back to School: Set Me Up Best Buy!

August 26, 2014

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

Back. to. School. If you’re a parent, those three words rule your world right now! And with the kiddos set to enter the classroom for another year, the crunch is on to get ready, get prepped, and go!

You’ll likely be partaking in a little shopping – and, you’ll have a choice on where to spend your hard-earned money. So, what should you look for in a retailer? Let me make a case for Best Buy – they’ve got everything to set your kids up for success this back to school, making it easy for you to shop for what you want, where you want and how you want all at the lowest possible price.

i. Lowest Price Guarantee: Best Buy’s Lowest Price Guarantee to customers is the best in Canada. They guarantee it both in-store and online.

ii. Reserve and Pick-up: Customers can reserve their product online without entering any credit card information and pick up their item at the store of their choice in as quickly as 20 minutes.

iii. Assortment: Nobody in Canada can offer a better selection of products.

iv. In-store Pick-up and Web kiosks: If they don’t have something in-store, their Blue Shirts will assist customers to purchase the product online at one of the in-store web kiosks and have the product shipped to their home or the store for easy pick-up.

Okay, so maybe you’ve considered Best Buy for your electronic needs. But not only does Best Buy have all of the latest and greatest in technology for back to school, they also carry a wide assortment of backpacks, lunch bags, school supplies, musical instruments, educational toys and more. It’s true!

FACT: Best Buy carries more than 300 backpacks online from top brands including JanSport, Swiss Gear, Roots, TUMI, OGIO, High Sierra and many more in a number of different styles, sizes and colours to suit every student going back to school.

BTS_Backpack_Campaign_ElementarySchoolFACT: Best Buy carries over 3,500 school and office supplies online so while you are shopping for your new laptop or tablet, you can also get your pens, notebooks and pencil crayons all at the same place.  (more…)

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