fashion

End Violence: Shop for Hope #Giveaway

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only. 

Did you know that half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16?

I’ve witnessed the effects first hand. When I was just 17 years old, I volunteered at a battered women’s shelter in my hometown. I offered makeup application to women who had job interviews, and provided resume writing services to those who were ready to get back into the workforce. At the time, I felt very detached from the residents; to me, violence against women was a small, isolated occurrence confined to the spaces of the shelter and its inhabitants. Never have I been so wrong.

Today, I’m proud to support The Canadian Women’s Foundation; Canada’s only national foundation dedicated to giving women and girls in Canada a chance for a better life.

“We invest in the strength of women and the dreams of girls. The Canadian Women’s Foundation raises money to end violence against women, move women out of poverty and build strong resilient girls through funding, researching and promoting best practices. We are a leading voice for women in Canada.”

In its continuing efforts to end violence against women, the Canadian Women’s Foundation has paired up with Winners and HomeSense to create the Shop for Hope campaign that runs throughout April 12th to May 11th, 2014. This unique program donates net proceeds of specially marked Canadian Women’s Foundation products to help raise hope for women and their children across Canada who experience violence.

From pillows with inspirational quotes, to throws, candles and jewelry boxes, this exclusive line of products has something for everyone, with the added benefit of helping women in your community.

Clockwise from top: Charity Plush Elephant with Embroidery $14.99; Charity Candle $9.99; Ladies T-Shirt $14.99; Charity Quote Pillow $19.99; Mirror Box $14.99/ $19.99; Charity Bag $1.49; Charity Teacup $5.99; Charity 5 PC Set Nail Polish $12.99. Center: Charity Throw $24.99; Charity Sport Towel $7.00; Charity Hydration Flavour Bottle $9.99.

Visit Winners and Homesense and check out their exclusive, specially marked Canadian Women’s Foundation products in the Shop for Hope aisle. Net proceeds will help raise hope for women who have experienced violence.

To help spread the word about this incredible initiative, one lucky reader will win ALL the products pictured above (retail value over $150.00). To enter, simply fill the form below with your qualifying entries.  (more…)

musings

Whiners and Weather Woes, Why Of Course.

A few weeks ago, I whined about the weather. Today, I pledge to shut my mouth for good.

If you live anywhere in the country except Ontario, you’ve likely been subjected to the worst whining you’ve heard since – well, the last time Ontarians received any sort of accumulation of snow. Cue the weather woes!

“OMG it snowed overnight!” “This is BS Mother Nature!” “I thought it was Spring?” “NOOOOO!”
 Only in Canada can one province get #SnowinApril trending across Canada. And so, I’m here today to apologize for our collective temper tantrum. I see you Saskatchewan, and know you’ve had to deal with snow this whole damn time without so much a peep of protest. And yes, Quebec, I’ve heard you’ve had quite the unwelcome blanket of the white stuff this month too. And Nunavut? Well, don’t even get me started. The way you accept record amounts of snowfall is akin to Jesus turning the other cheek.

But Ontario? Can’t. Even. Deal.

Hence, I’m shutting down Facebook today. I realize that every one of my fellow Ontarians thinks it’s their God-given duty to post a picture of their front yard or patio today (complete with clever anti-weather caption), but it was only funny the 12th or 13th time I saw it.

(As I confessed, I whined about the crappy weather myself over March Break, but at least I compensated by posting a picture of a cute kid and a recipe for cookies. See? I can whine and be useful at the same time.)

Yes, it’s snowing after the end of the winter season. No, it isn’t the first time it’s happened, I promise. Temperatures plunged to a chilling -2.7°C in Calgary, Alberta on July 15, 1999, and residents braved snow flurries and winds gusting to 69 kilometres per hour. Yeah, THAT.

food

Recipe: Ste. Anne’s Almond Cookies

Friends, I’m off to the spa for two glorious days! And since I’ll be spending most of Monday morning at a private baking lesson with Ste. Anne’s Pastry Chef Khushroo Khambata, I thought it was only polite to share his recipe for Almond Cookies. These addictive treats are easy to make, chewy and flavourful – as well as being gluten and sugar free (win-win-win!). I’m very much looking forward to my mini vacation!

2 1/2 cups Almond flour – 1 cup Raisins – 1 cup Walnuts – 1 cup Unsweetened coconut – 1 cup Chocolate chips – 1 cup Pecan chopped – 1 cup Currants – 1/2 cup Melted butter – 2 cups Honey – 3 Eggs – 2 tsp Baking soda – 1/3 tsp Salt – 4 tsp Almond extract – 1 pinch Cinnamon – 1 pinch Clove

Preheat oven to 300ºF. Mix together the melted butter and honey. Mix in one egg at a time until combined. In a separate bowl, combine the almond flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Gradually combine the wet and dry ingredients together. Stir in raisins, walnuts, coconut, chocolate chips, pecans and currants. Drop by teaspoon onto parchment lined baking tray, slightly flattening cookies with fork. Baking for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Ste. Anne’s Spa Bakery specializes in freshly prepared, gluten-free baked goods. Click here for more information.

family

Because Sharing is Caring: Be Generous

Generosity. What does it mean to you? Defined as ”the habit of giving without expecting anything in return”, it can involve offering time, assets or talents to help someone in need. However, through the years, the word “generosity” has often been equated with charity as a virtue; that is, a generous person is someone who donates monetary aid. When one states, “He’s so generous!” it’s quite natural to immediately assume the tone of the statement somehow involves a generous donation, offering or financial contribution.

Yet generosity encompasses so, so much more, and Canadian parents are in overwhelming agreement that raising caring and generous children is one of their top priorities. Of course, one of the easiest ways to instill a behaviour in our children is simply to model it ourselves. A Minute Maid Moments poll conducted earlier this year showed that more than half of parents demonstrate generosity through spontaneous good deeds such as shoveling a neighbours’ driveway, holding the door for a stranger, or giving gifts to friends and family including homemade art and baked goods.

This is the true definition of generosity; giving a piece of your time and talents to make a difference. 

The poll also shows that an overwhelmingly high number (83 per cent) of parents want their children to show generosity, including:

• Random acts of kindness, like writing friendly surprise notes for friends and family (77 per cent)
• Offering to help neighbours in simple ways, such as carrying groceries (67 per cent)
• Acknowledging their friends /family birthdays with gestures like a phone call or handwritten card (53 per cent)
• Making gifts for others, including baked treats and homemade crafts (43 per cent)

(more…)

family

#ThrowbackThursday #tbt: Thirteen-Oh-One

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.

Thirteen. My mom became pregnant with me thirteen months after my brother was born. I was thirteen days late, born on the thirteenth of April… at thirteen-oh-one in the afternoon.

Think the number thirteen is bad luck? I beg to differ.

So, here I am, moments after I was born. Fist-pumping my way into the world (solidarity, sister!). And yes, I am quite aware that I was a funny-looking baby. Seriously, you don’t have to be nice! I can take it. Truth is, between the comb-over, ruddy red cheeks and bulging eyes, I often look at this photo and groan inwardly.

But then I realize that every baby is absolutely beautiful, and to my mom – who wished for a girl with all her heart – I’m sure I looked like the tiny little miracle that I was.

(And hey! I grew up to be a total babe. So there’s that.)

This Sunday I celebrate thirty-six years. And even though the forecast is calling for rain, I have no doubt my day will be filled with good luck and great laughter. Happy Birthday to me!

Contests

The #cleanwater Twitter Chat

Most of y’all are used to my fun and catchy post titles – especially when promoting Twitter Chats or other online shindigs. However, I recognize that the upcoming #cleanwater Twitter Chat is simply one of the most meaningful initiatives I’ve ever aligned with, and hence, wanted to give it the respect it deserves.

FACT: The majority of Canadians take clean drinking water for granted… while one billion go without.

It can be said that nearly all Canadians enjoy an unlimited supply of clean water, so it’s no surprise that a recent survey by P&G and Walmart Canada found that 80% of us take safe drinking water for granted. And, many of us may be shocked to learn that one billion people in the developing world do not have the same luxury.

FACT: Diseases from contaminated water kill more children than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.

To help combat this global issue, P&G and Walmart Canada have teamed up to donate one day of clean drinking water for every P&G product purchased at Walmart or Walmart.ca during the month of April. The Canadian initiative will support the Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program (CSDW) that aims to save one life every hour by 2020 through the provision of two billion litres of clean water each year. For a 12-month period, a selection of more than 20 P&G products will continue to generate donations for each purchase at Walmart Canada.

FACT: Canadian actor and #cleanwater activist, Jason Priestley, supports the initiative.

“More than 1,600 children die every single day from water-borne illnesses,” says Jason Priestley. “I believe that everyone should have clean water. As a dad, the thought of children dying every day from preventable diseases caused by lack of clean water is an unfathomable tragedy. I’m proud to partner with P&G and Walmart Canada to educate Canadians about how they can bring clean drinking water to children and families in the developing world.”

Join us on Tuesday, April 15th at 8:00pm ET for the #cleanwater Twitter Chat. We’ll share a wealth of information about this incredibly important initiative, and have amazing P&G prize packs on hand to reward our chat attendees.

Our GRAND PRIZE is valued at over $250, which includes a $200 Walmart Gift Card. Plus, please welcome @Jason_Priestley – he will be our special guest, tweeting LIVE on the chat!

RSVP below for a chance to win. See you on Tuesday night! (more…)

food

Eggs 101: How To Naturally Colour Easter Eggs

If you frequent the Twitter Party circuit (and if you don’t, you’re missing out!) I’m really hoping you caught our #EggsAtEaster Twitter Party last night. Filled with a wealth of information about decorating, storing, and of course, cooking eggs at Easter, it was an incredibly fun and fast-paced party!

For those who did miss out, I wanted to share one of the most popular topics of the night - How To Naturally Colour Easter Eggs. It’s just one of the Eggs 101 tutorials that you can find at eggs.ca. Their how-to articles and videos have everything you need to become a certified eggs-pert (ba-zing!), and I’ve found myself consulting the website for everything from How to Make the Perfect Hard-cooked Egg to How to Make a Meringue. Courtesy of eggs.ca:

Household items you find in the fridge and pantry produce earthy-coloured (and edible!) beautiful Easter decorations. This is a fun and easy way to naturally colour hard-cooked eggs for your family. Here’s how.

Things You’ll Need: Eggs, saucepan, frozen berries, ground turmeric, vinegar and black coffee or tea.

1. Place frozen berries, turmeric and coffee grinds in separate medium saucepans.
2. Add 2 cups (500 mL) water and 1 tbsp (15 mL) vinegar to each saucepan.
3. Add 6 eggs to each saucepan. Set over high heat and bring to boil.
4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Remove eggs from each saucepan. Strain and discard solids but reserve coloured liquids.
6. Cool slightly before placing eggs back into liquids for 30 minutes or until desired colour intensity is achieved.

For a glossy look, rub with a bit of cooking oil once the eggs are dry. Naturally-coloured hard-cooked eggs make great snacks in lunches, or as colourful appetizers at Easter brunch!

Contests

Nestlé Baby: Feeding Time Fun #Giveaway

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

I remember it like it was yesterday. My kitchen was covered with assorted strips of fruit peel and discarded cores. Chunks of pear, apple and mango were simmering away on the stove, condensing into a sloppy, mushy substance. After slightly cooling the mixture, I transferred it to a blender, where it was puréed until smooth. Then, ever-so-carefully, I spooned the puree into washed and sterilized ice cube trays, and set it in the freezer. I tackled all the dishes in the meantime, in between washing formula bottles and distracting little Ryder. After two hours, I transferred the cubes to a zipper bag, and once again returned the package to the freezer.

That was the first and last time I made my own baby food.

Honestly, I have much respect for parents who make their own purées. Because you what? It just wasn’t my thing at all. In fact, I found more satisfaction popping open a jar of baby food than I ever did taking the time to make my own. It’s what worked for me and I am totally cool with that.

And if you are a do-it-yourself parent, remember that while homemade baby food totally rocks, you may be missing the mark when it comes to including enough iron in your child’s diet. Most healthy infants are born with enough iron stores to initially meet their needs, but at about six months, baby’s iron stores start to deplete and breast milk can no longer meet his or her nutritional requirements.

Health Canada recommends babies between six and twelve months should be offered iron-rich foods two or more times a day. Iron is an essential nutrient for an infant’s growth and carries oxygen from the lungs throughout the body, including the brain, and helps a baby remember all of the new things learned each and every day.

Today, Nestlé Gerber is serving up the chance to WIN a “Feeding Time Fun” prize pack, valued at over $100, with special treats including Baby Cereal, which provides 100 per cent of the daily value of iron babies need.

The prize pack includes:

· Three boxes of Nestlé Gerber Cereal
· Deluxe Reclining Feeding Seat
· Snack bowls
· Kiddy Cutlery 3-Pc Set
· Babies R Us 10 pack bibs
· Babies R Us 12-pack super soft washcloths

It’s the perfect gift pack for an expecting mom or parents with wee ones. And even though my little guys are well beyond the mushy food stage, Nestlé Gerber is still the only baby cereal I trust. Each serving of cereal provides 100 per cent of the daily value of iron babies need, without any added sugar, salt, preservatives, artificial flavours or colours. They’re the only infant cereals in Canada with Probiotic B. lactis, which helps contribute to a healthy digestive tract flora. Good luck everybody!  (more…)

food

Thirty-Six Reasons to Go on a Culinary Adventure

There are two things in life you simply can’t escape: taxes, and getting old.

(Except if you’re Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, in which case you’re really just trying to avoid the tax man while growing “young” into a hot babe. Side note – Brad Pitt, circa 2004, was what fantasies were made of.)

Alas, I am growing old… but I’m not old just yet. It’s my 36th birthday this Sunday! Now I’m not one to have over-the-top celebrations, per se… but I do like to do something simple and special to acknowledge the day. Of course, I don’t think I’ll ever beat my 35th birthday, when I met Oprah Winfrey (<< shameless photo plug), but I’ve got something amazing lined up just the same.

As a guest of Ste. Anne’s Spa in Grafton, Ontario – I will be embarking on a healing weekend of rest, relaxation and culinary delights. Voted Canada’s Favourite Spa 2006 – 2013 (Spafinder Readers), the destination spa boasts an invigorating, Old World atmosphere, exceptional spa services and tantalizing menus.

Picture it: The Main Inn and Ontario spa cottages are nestled across over 400 acres of scenic, rolling countryside; each uniquely appointed accommodation features its own style and amenities. More than 35 rejuvenating spa treatments revitalize and soothe the senses while the culinary team creates scrumptious cuisine which delights the palette. Now I *could* go through all the amazing spa treatments that Ste. Anne’s offers, but really, you can simply check them out here. And while I’m very much looking forward to a weekend of pampering, what I’m most excited about is the Culinary Retreat that my husband and I will be treated to.  (more…)

beauty

Introducing: ARTDECO Cosmetics

It’s no surprise that I have an affinity for artfully designed, beautifully packaged makeup. In fact, I often post photos of recent acquisitions… but then become too attached to the impeccable styling and craftsmanship of the items, and simply can’t bear to actually use them.

Let’s just say that if I ever quit my day job, I could open a makeup art gallery.

Hence, of course I am obsessed with ARTDECO Cosmetics. For some, they need no introduction; since officially launching in Canada last summer, they’ve gained a cult following by those inspired by trendsetting couture.

But for the rest of you who have yet to discover the brand, I thought it was only polite that I provide you with an informal introduction. You may have seen their fashion-froward products at Shoppers Drug Mart, where they enjoy residence at 66 select locations across Canada. This year, more than 20 new stores are expected to carry the line.

“The secret to ARTDECO’s success is in the company’s constant focus on the individual wishes and needs of all women, combined with uncompromising quality and reasonable pricing. ARTDECO offers a wealth of special products and refillable and magnetic beauty boxes, which allow users to customize their own color palette to their needs.”  (more…)

Contests

Grab a Taste of the Big League! #Giveaway

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

Take me out to the ball game… Take me out with the crowd!
Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks… I don’t care if I never get back!

Yes folks, the boys of summer are back! It is officially Opening Weekend for the Toronto Blue Jays – Canada’s favourite (okay, Canada’s only) major league baseball team. After a long, cold winter, it’s a treat to welcome the sights and sounds of the ballpark – the buzz of the crowd, the snap of a baseball bat, and my favourite, the call of the hot dog vendor! Hot Dogs! Sausages! Get ‘em while they’re hot!

Sigh. Can’t you just taste it? A plump, juicy hot dog on a soft, fresh baked bun. It is summertime perfection! And in the spirit of things that go great together, I’m pleased to announce that once again, Schneiders is the official hot dog – and Villaggio is the official sausage bun – of the Toronto Blue Jays!

And now, you can grab a taste of the big league at home! Recreate the iconic taste of the ballpark with Schneiders Country Naturals Jumbo Beef Wieners. They’re made with beef raised without antibiotics and crafted with only authentic, wholesome ingredients so you and your family can experience meat the way it’s supposed to taste – free of artificial ingredients and preservatives. Then, wrap it in a Villaggio Italian Style Sausage Bun for the ultimate fan experience. Now that’s a home run!

So, will you be cheering on the Toronto Blue Jays this Opening Weekend? Show your team spirit by supporting the boys in blue… and entering to win a fabulous prize pack!

Courtesy of our friends at Schneiders and Villaggio, I’ve got $100 worth of FREE product coupons up for grabs! So, whether you’re at the ballpark or in your backyard, you can enjoy the most epic Country Naturals Hot Dog or Grill’ems Sausage on us.  (more…)

Contests

Get Ready to #BakeWithStyle!

Tenderflake knows how good you feel when you #BakewithStyle and wants to help women coping with cancer feel good too. That’s why they’ve partnered with Look Good Feel Better, Canada’s only charity dedicated to empowering women by helping them manage the effects that cancer and its treatment have on their appearance.

Sounds amazing? IT IS. And here’s how you can help: Vote on one of their stylish Easter recipes and you’ll be making a $1 donation toward the Look Good Feel Better organization.

Of course, a campaign this wonderful is a cause for celebration – and we’re celebrating with a #BakeWithStyle Twitter Party! Join @TenderflakePie as they share stylish and scrumptious recipes like these Easter Sweet Treats. Best of all, we’re giving away FREE Tenderflake coupons and TWO KitchenAid Artisan Mixers – valued at $499.99 each!

RSVP below for a chance to win, and get ready to #BakeWithStyle!  (more…)

musings

#livein: The Evolution of the Home

If you were a child in the 70′s or 80′s, chances are, you encountered a couch condom.

Okay, so maybe you’re unfamiliar with the term. You may know them as slipcovers, or the shrink-wrapped plastic that our parents layered on the furniture to preserve and protect what was underneath. You know, like a condom.

And what were they protecting the furniture from? LIFE, of course! Sticky fingers, wayward juice boxes, muddy pants, shedding pets, sharp toys, cookie crumbs and baby bums… all the things that come with being blessed with a family. Plastic slipcovers were the equivalent of a velvet rope; lifted with caution – and only for VIPs.

I often wonder why furniture required such proficient preservation. I mean, did our parents think that they’d be handing down that sofa through the generations? Or maybe in the off-chance the Queen visited for tea, the pristine velvet couch would signify grooming and grace.

Regardless, the message was loud and clear: this is our home, but we don’t actually live in it.

Did you grow up in a shrink-wrapped home? Did you have a formal living and dining room that were only used on “special” occasions, and then, just as quickly preserved the second the guests left? Looking back, I often marvel at the amount of space in homes that was for show only; the living room at the front of the house, the overly formal dining room, the guest room that was perfectly made up – and perfectly unused. However, times are changing.

A recent Ipsos-Reid survey conducted on behalf of Urban Barn revealed the majority of Canadian homeowners (71%) are “living” differently in their homes compared to the one they grew up in.

“Homes are evolving to accommodate the ever-changing ways in which Canadians are living in their homes”, says Candice Laughlin, architecture & home design expert, Urban Barn.  (more…)

musings

#ThrowbackThursday #tbt: The Stagette

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.

2007: A rite of passage. The stagette, of course! My girlfriends stuffed me into a posh hotel room – and fed me marshmallows and liquor until I threw up. And THEN we began the celebration!

The photo above was taken before the late night dancing… but shortly after I was subjected to numerous well-planned and expertly executed stagette games I won’t repeat here. Swaying back and forth and stumbling, I protested that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the club, and motioned for the girls to go on without me. Undeterred, they found a walker-styled shopping cart in the hallway and wheeled me to the elevator.

(I shudder to think whose walker they pinched! And sincerely hope it made it back to the proper owner.)

I have almost no memories of that night, including the exact moment this photo was taken, why it was taken, who took it… but I do know that the silly grin on my face ended with a grimace when I face-planted on a couch in the nightclub. Ah, to be young again! This is my throwback.

Contests

We’re Celebrating #EggsAtEaster!

Few things go hand in hand like Easter… and Easter Eggs, of course! And just in time for the EGGcellent feast, the Egg Farmers of Canada are hosting a party of EGGpic proportions. EGGcited? So am I!

(In case you’re wondering, no, I don’t think I’ll ever tire of inserting “egg-isms” where appropriate. Too much fun!)

Join @eggsoeufs on Tuesday, April 8th at 9pm ET for the #EggsAt Easter Twitter Party. We’ll be chatting up a storm about your Easter traditions, creative tips for decorating Easter eggs, and how fresh, local Canadian Eggs play a supporting role in your holiday feast. From Festive Brunch Pie to Chocolate Bunny Bread, there are so many reasons to celEGGbrate the holiday!

We’ll have fabulous prizes up for grabs, including 7 x Easter Get Cracking Prize Packs (includes tons of Get Cracking Swag and an Easter Egg Decorating Kit), plus a GRAND PRIZE of an Easter Quiche-in-a-Box Prize Pack!

The Easter Quiche-in-a-Box Prize Pack includes everything you need to create the perfect Easter morning celebration – Get Cracking Swag, an Easter Egg Decorating Kit, a KitchenAid Mandolin slicer, a Quiche Dish Set from Crate and Barrel, a KitchenAid Box Grater, and a variety of special seasonings like thyme, basil, rosemary, peppercorns and sea salt. The prize is valued at $250.00! (Please see our official rules.)

RSVP below for a chance to win, and be sure to bring your #EggsAtEaster recipes, tips and ideas to share! (more…)

food

Simple Spring Ideas: Orange-Ginger Chicken Salad

The sun is shining; the birds are singing – and the only thing on my mind is a light, tasty salad that is a tribute to the season… and maybe a remedy for the extra pounds I put on over the cold winter months. My Orange-Ginger Chicken Salad is bursting with citrus flavour and features tender, juicy Maple Leaf Prime Naturally Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts.

The salad is actually a great way to #loveyourleftovers; I serve baked orange-ginger glazed chicken breasts with rice the night before, and always remember to reserve two for our favourite salad the next day. The orange segments brighten the flavour and are perfectly balanced against the acidic, aromatic dressing. Enjoy!

(Day 1)
4  Maple Leaf Prime Naturally Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1-1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
salt and coarsely cracked black pepper, to taste

(Day 2)
1 package baby romaine lettuce mix
1 orange, peeled and segmented

Day 1: Whisk juice concentrate, vinegar, oil, soy sauce and ginger in a small bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Set aside two tablespoons and refrigerate.

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Generously brush chicken breasts with remaining dressing and marinate for 30 minutes. Bake in a shallow baking dish at 400°F for 30 minutes, or until juices run clear. Serve with with your favourite side dish, reserving two breasts for the next day’s salad.

Day 2: Toss baby romaine lettuce mix with 2 tablespoons dressing; divide into two portions. Slice chicken breasts and layer over salad greens, finishing with orange segments. Serves 2.

For more delicious simple spring ideas, visit Maple Leaf Prime on FacebookTwitter or Pinterest

musings

It’s Time to Have “The Talk”.

My boys are only about a month shy of their 4th and 6th birthdays, so I’m a little surprised that it’s already time to have “the talk”.

Truthfully, I assumed I had at least a few more years. My sons are barely out of the toddler stages! I had convinced myself that the the dreaded conversation would take place sometime in the distant future, so I did little to prepare myself – I gave it little thought and importance. Let the parents of tweens worry about it, I thought, I’m still PVR’ing Disney Junior shows!

But it happened. It happened and I was caught off-guard; silently cursing the acceleration of childhood. And it happened at the most inopportune moment; I was flustered, disorganized and trying to accomplish about a thousand things at once, and there stood Ryder, hovering in my doorway. I could tell he wanted to ask me something, and I turned to him, my face dripping with annoyance and expectation. “What is it?” I snapped.

If I had known this would be the pivotal moment, the moment I had both feared and dreaded would come eventually (but not now!), I would have been better prepared. I would have had all my key points of love, nurturing and most of all, quiet authority and instruction, ready to dole out with calm, maternal intelligence. I would have called out to my husband, who, as the man of the family, would’ve been able to delve from his own experience.

Yet my perfect vision of “the talk” crumbled at my feet when out of mouth of my sweet, young and naive son, the dreaded words flowed: “Can we get a dog?” Unprepared, I blurted out an unintelligent, garbled response that only the most practiced ears would understand and interpret as no f*cking way.

So, my friends, the hour is upon us and it’s time to have the “No Dogs Talk”. As an aside, I blame my best friend for the premature timing of the discussion, as she recently acquired the most adorable puppy I’ve laid eyes on and I’ve been showing the boys his photos. So I suppose I’ve had a hand in this debacle after all, and now it’s time to set the record straight. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to stand firm – and that troubles me. In fact, my husband is fairly convinced I’ll eventually give in. But for the time being, I will only take care of two babies, dammit.

Do you have pets? Were you convinced by your children – or, as a child, did you convince your parents? 

fashion

Introducing: Pink Tartan at TSC! #Giveaway

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

I *may* have a girl crush on the talented, beautiful Kimberley Newport-Mimran.

From producing sleek uniforms for Porter Airlines and Holt Renfrew, to covering the front pages of FLARE and Vogue, Newport-Mimran’s Pink Tartan label is coveted among fashion lovers the world over. Her modernized classic designs include well-fitted, elegant pieces in easy-wear, easy-wash fashions.

I had the pleasure of meeting Kim backstage at her sold-out runway show at Toronto’s World Mastercard Fashion Week last fall. Charming and approachable, her collections are a testament to her breezy persona.

Worn by celebrities such as Charlize Theron and Gwyneth Paltrow, the designs are updates to modern classics and offer simple yet strong designs complemented by luxurious fabrics. Kim describes sexy as “what you don’t see.”

And now, The Shopping Channel is pleased to announce the addition of Pink Tartan to its roster of luxury brands. On Sunday, March 30 at 8 a.m. ET, Kimberley Newport-Mimran will debut her collection live! The designs will be available online at tsc.ca.

“As a fashion designer, I’m thrilled to be partnering with The Shopping Channel to bring runway to real life into the homes of all Canadian women,” said Newport-Mimran. “My clothes are built with integrity and style, meant to live your life in and easily transition from day to night – what all women deserve.”

Highlights from the easy to wear and care for Spring collection available at The Shopping Channel include closet must-haves like the black and navy legging pant, a tech pencil skirt, a figure-flattering striped dress, a cropped knit tee and a square-patterned wrap dress. The stylish collection ranges in price from the zipper tee for $95, to the knee-length floral trench for $395.

DAY TO NIGHT

From boardroom to bar stool, I love the simple elegance and clean lines of TECH PENCIL SKIRT and SHORT SLEEVE VOGUE DRESS. Both items perfectly balance professionalism with a hint of sultry charm.

(more…)

family

#ThrowbackThursday #tbt: Make a Wish!

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.

Ah, the primary school birthday party.

In 1983, it meant three things. One, my mom insisted that I wear my most showy, most elaborate pink dress – just in case anyone didn’t realize that I was the girl of the hour, of course. Two, chocolate birthday cake. Glorious chocolate birthday cake! I realize I can never show this photo to Ryder, whose classroom code of conduct states that only fresh cut fruit is allowed on birthdays. (Even I think this is sad.) He’ll take one look at my chocolate-sprinkled cake and wish he lived back in the good ol’ days.

And three – the VERY best thing about having a primary school birthday party? You instantly became the most popular kid for the day. Hooray for buying kids’ friendship with sugary concoctions!

food

Five Steps to Five-Minute Pizza #Giveaway

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

Pizza is a BIG thing in my house. As a mom of two boys with hollow legs, I’m constantly looking for satisfying meals and snacks that will keep the boys’ hunger at bay. In recent months, I’ve discovered that often, pizza is simply the best option; it’s loaded with protein, is a finger food, and most importantly, can be customized to suit tastes and preferences.

Yet it occurred to me some time ago that my kitchen drawer was littered with delivery flyers. My freezer was overstocked with frozen pizzas – both family-sized and snack portions. A growing fraction of our children’s diet was dedicated to convenience food; surely there had to be a better way?

Yes, I could make pizza myself. And I do! But I am also realistic: I am not the type to make my own pizza dough from scratch on a weekly basis. I choose my battles carefully, and battling with sticky dough is not a war I will ever win. So, I found a wonderful alternative in flatbreads; they’re easy to work with and offer a desirable thin crust. But the equation wasn’t perfect just yet – because making your own pizza also means you have to preheat your oven. And bake it. And watch it. Hmmm… where were those microwaveable pizza snacks?

But just when I thought I had doomed my boys to a childhood of convenience food, the heavens parted… and I was introduced to a game changer. The Hamilton Beach Pizza Maker. YES, a countertop pizza maker! It’s a snazzy, easy-to-use appliance that makes pizza, snacks and appetizers in a flash. Heat up a 12” pre-made frozen pizza or create your own delicious and nutritious pizza from (almost) scratch!

The kicker: It cooks up to 40% faster and is up to 52% more energy efficient than your kitchen oven.

Do the math, friends: in the time it takes to preheat my oven for a frozen or fresh pizza, we could have pizza on the table. And for this mom of boys who say “I’m still hungry” exactly 8.2 times per day, that is very attractive indeed!

Presenting: Five Steps to Five-Minute Pizza. Made possible ONLY with the Hamilton Beach Pizza Maker.

Step One: Get your hands on a Hamilton Beach Pizza Maker, of course! Available at TruServ, Amazon.ca and SHOP.CA, the unit retails for $69.99 and for pizza lovers, is worth every penny. In addition to cooking pizza, you can also warm appetizers, wings, cinnamon rolls and more. Bonus: the gorgeous red colour looks great on your countertop or tabletop.

Step Two: Add your frozen pizza, fresh pizza dough or flat bread to the pizza maker, and load up your toppings. Did you see that? I created my pizza directly in the pizza maker. So, there are less dishes and almost ZERO cleanup! Because my boys can get picky about toppings, I hide them between layers of shredded mozzarella. On this particular pizza, I’ve buried pepperoni and sauteed mushrooms – a classic combination.  (more…)