Upgrade Your Breakfast: #KraftPeanutBetterIt

May 3, 2016

The game goes like this: You’re stranded on a deserted island and you can only have three things with you until you’re rescued. What do you choose?

For me, it’s fairly simple. A case of water purification tablets, my e-reader (pre-loaded with hours of chick lit) and of course, a jar of Kraft All Natural Smooth Peanut Butter. A spoon is optional.

Kraft Peanut Butter makes everything better. It’s endlessly versatile and you can find inspiration just about everywhere, from protein-packed morning smoothies to savoury satay-style chicken at dinnertime- it’s not just a spread! My family loves the nutty goodness and depth of flavour Kraft All Natural Smooth Peanut Butter adds to meals; I love that it’s made with natural ingredients and packed with peanuts, a great source of protein and vitamin E.
DSC_0245Are you ready to think outside the jar? Here’s a recipe for Peanut Butter Granola your whole family will love. Sprinkled on top of Greek yogurt or enjoyed on its own, chances are you already have all the ingredients in your pantry. Bonus: you can get the kids involved, as the prep is super simple. Remember: Make Together. Stick Together.  (more…)

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Driving Change with Financial Literacy

May 1, 2016

I am a proud Ryerson University graduate. Class of 2001, I earned a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Human Resources Management, with a double-minor in Communications and Finance.

Today, I’m a blogger. But I’m much more than that.

I am an entrepreneur. I am a marketing professional and I dabble in public relations, too. I am a media spokesperson and a contract negotiator. I employ subcontractors, manage day-to-day finances and write, edit and publish an online journal.

I am a woman empowered by financial literacy, which has allowed me to make sound, timely decisions for my business and my brand. In fact, when asked about the “secret to my success”, it’s simple: I have a basic knowledge of money and finances. And it’s my wish that every entrepreneur has access to the same knowledge – especially in developing countries, where the need is greatest.
enactus2Introducing Enactus. Enactus stands for “ENtrepreneurial ACTion for others creates a better world for US all”. It is an international non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring students to improve the world through entrepreneurial action.  (more…)

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Twitter Party Alert! #CMRLovesMoms

May 1, 2016

One of my first memories of being a new mom was signing up with the Canadian Mother Resource. It’s the source for everything from preconception to pre-school and beyond, and I was pleased to receive offers and samples from many of their partners. (Receiving free samples in the mail is like winning the lottery when you’ve got a newborn in the house.) That’s why I’m happy to recommend their services to all the moms-to-be and new moms I know.

The CMR loves Moms, so in honour of Mother’s Day, they’re throwing a party just for you! (And me!)
cmrlovesmoms_2016_twitter_partyJoin us on Tuesday, May 3rd for the second annual #CMRLovesMoms Twitter Party. We’ll be tweeting about all things Mom-related, so pop by and join the conversation. Of course, it wouldn’t be a party without fabulous prizes, so they’re giving away over $500 in gift cards so that some lucky Moms can indulge themselves this Mother’s Day!

RSVP here to be eligible for prizes, and we’ll see you on Tuesday night!

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Listed… Loved… Lost. The Role of FOMO in Home Buying.

April 28, 2016

It’s a time in our lives we try not to dwell on, and yet, it’s also a lesson we won’t soon forget.

That time we entered two bidding wars on homes for sale… and lost.

Thinking back, I recall the sense of urgency we felt when we first found what we believed to be our “forever home”. In a booming neighbourhood, close to the best schools and just the right modern styling to suit our tastes, it was love at first sight – and we fell, hard. As fates would have it, a similar property was also for sale, just one street over – ensuring we’d have two chances to score the home of our dreams.
virtual-tour-203394-02“You should visit soon. Homes like this sell on average in 3 days. There is an 75% chance that this home will be sold within one week of listing.”

Okay, no pressure. I mean, I wasn’t quite ready to pack up my house, but of course we’d find a way. And since the boys were still relatively young, changing schools wouldn’t necessarily impact their social development.  (more…)

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Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Yeti?

April 25, 2016

Okay, so perhaps it’s not the Yeti that has me so freaked out.

Perhaps it’s the backwards portion of the roller coaster. Or the fact that a large part of it takes place in the dark. Now that I think about it, it’s probably the ascension to the top of the mountain, the 80-foot drop, or the basic reasoning that it’s labeled a “thrill ride”.

Whatever the reason, I’m scared of Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain.
Walt Disney World Photo Gallery Disc“My 7-year old rode it!” one IG follower said in encouragement. Well, the thing is – so did mine. And that gives me cold comfort, because now I realize that I’m the biggest wimp ever.

“It’s nothing – you hardly feel anything and then it’s over,” my husband assured me. However, I can’t help but remember that time I ate chips from his private stash, and he promised he’d get me back… and I can picture him saying “Ha! Ha! Gotcha!” as we barrel down the mountain. Shudder.

Alas, for all the times I’ve been to Walt Disney World, I do believe it’s time to conquer my fear. Wish me luck, friends. I’m ready for the Forbidden Mountain.

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Insurance That Fits

April 22, 2016

I remember it like it was yesterday, even though it happened eight long years ago. Having just celebrated my baby shower – and my 30th birthday – I sprawled out in the family room, staring up at the ceiling.

“We’ll need a will,” I called out to my husband, “and an RESP…. and life insurance,” I finished, mentally listing all the things I knew I had to figure out in anticipation of our first child.

“And we’ll get to it,” he assured me, one eye on the baseball game.

That night, I lay awake in bed thinking about worst case scenarios. I chastised myself for worrying about things that were unlikely to happen, but nevertheless, my feeling of unease grew throughout the night as I tossed and turned in bed. The next morning, unwilling to put it off a moment longer, I made several appointments to get my affairs in order before our baby arrived. A will was drafted; an RESP was created; life insurance was purchased. I felt ready for the birth of our child.

(But, ready for motherhood? Never. That’s a whole other story!)
289054_10150756961090182_4711909_oSignificant milestones, like the birth of a baby, are the perfect time to re-evaluate your financial and insurance options. When one is anticipating life, I know it can be difficult to think about anything else. However, in the past few years alone, the passing of a few friends has been a grim reminder of how precious life is… and how life goes on, for children, spouses and even parents. (more…)

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#DermWednesday: Spring Clean Your Cleansing Routine!

April 18, 2016

NEW OBSESSION! CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar. Check out my video testimonial here.

Facebook Graphic (2)This week, our #DermWednesday Twitter Chat introduces CeraVe’s newest product to gently cleanse dry, sensitive skin. I’ve been using the bar for just over a month now, and my skin is soft, smooth and never dry, thanks to the 5% CeraVe Moisturizing Cream included in the bar. (And, it’s fragrance-free and non-irritating.) I’ve raised the bar with my cleansing routine! I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

As always, Dr. Ben Barankin from The Toronto Dermatology Centre will be there to answer any of your skin care questions and/or concerns.

To thank you for joining the conversation, three (3) attendees will win a CeraVe Prize Bundle, including a selection of CeraVe’s must-have cleansers and moisturizers!

Follow @CeraVeCanada and @DermatologyTDC on Twitter, and see you on Wednesday night!

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Kids will Flip for Flip4Gold!

April 18, 2016

“I hate math,” my seven-year old says, pushing his homework aside.
“But you’re so good at it!” I counter, trying to find the right level of enthusiasm.
“It’s boring,” he replies, as if it’s obvious.

Truth is, math IS boring. Arithmetic, with its rules and repetition, goes against everything my free-spirited little dreamer embraces. He loves colours, musical notes and a world that’s lit in bright, vibrant technicolour. (Translation: he’s like every other child growing up with technology at his fingertips.) And today, there’s no shortage of educational apps and games available, created to make learning fun and assist in the development of essential skills.

One such app is Flip4Gold, a math game consisting of four rows of nine tiles each using dice and flash cards to create multiplication, division, addition and subtraction equations to be solved.
IMG_2190Now, you may be thinking – Another educational app? What makes this one different from the others? Well, it’s simple: Flip4Gold concentrates on strengthening one core skill – mental math – and does it really, really well.  (more…)

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Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup) – The Fast Slow Pro Way!

April 14, 2016

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

Growing up, it was the most horrific small appliance in my mom’s arsenal of horrific small appliances. I can still picture it: a turbulent aluminum contraption, rattling, hissing and spurting bursts of steam violently until I was certain it would explode, blanketing the kitchen with shards of beef bones and perfectly flavoured broth.

My few encounters with my mom’s pressure cooker was enough to put me off them for life.

However, rave reviews for Breville’s Fast Slow Pro started popping up everywhere. A modern day combination pressure and slow cooker, which moms like me – with no HAZMAT or ninja training – were using with ease and producing mouth-watering results… it was almost too good to be true! I had to check it out for myself, and Breville graciously obliged, sending over a Fast Slow Pro for me to experience.

Folks, I am in love. Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup), made on my very first try with the Fast Slow Pro. It was flavourful, authentic-tasting and ready in under an hour.
DSC_0198aI suppose the first, and most important, fact to share is that today’s pressure cookers are nowhere near as frightening as models from years past. Breville’s simple controls and exclusive dual sensor technology remove the guess work – detecting when and how the pressure should be released, while monitoring time and temperature for perfect results every time, no matter the dish.  (more…)

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It’s Tax Time! Your Questions… Answered! #HRBrep

April 11, 2016

If you’d rather (insert torturous activity here) than do your taxes, trust me, you’re not alone.

April is upon us, and that means it’s tax time! If your 2015 return has been prepared, filed and you’ve already spent your refund, congratulations – you are a much better person than me. I’m still trying to sort through receipts, invoices and… oh, never mind. I’ll worry about it next week :)Now, if you’ve been attending our #HowtoRefund Twitter Chats with H&R Block Canada, you’ve already been privy to a wealth of knowledge and advice from their tax experts. And this year, it’s easier than ever to get things done: you can DIY with H&R Block’s FREE Online Tax Software or visit your nearest H&B Block tax office and have an expert do the work for you. And step to it! There are less than three weeks to the deadline!

(Tax questions? Our third and final #HowtoRefund Twitter Chat is taking place on Tuesday, April 19th at 8PM EST. Tune in for last-minute tax advice and the chance to win Visa Gift Cards!)  (more…)

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The Chic Retreat

April 7, 2016

If you didn’t attend our #TimetoRefreshContest Twitter Party last night, it may already be too late.

On trend pieces for home décor? Check.
Affordable prices? Check.
A desire to purchase everything in the collection? Check!

And, it is selling out like crazy. I may have placed a piece or two in my shopping cart last night!
824pmLENAIntroducing the Chic Retreat collection from Walmart. A limited offering for Spring 2016, this style driven collection offers a full range of linens, furniture, décor and accessories, making it easy and affordable to decorate an entire room or simply add a piece or two to update existing décor in bed, bath and living.  (more…)

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Make Your Teeth a BIG Deal

April 4, 2016

Confession: I’m only *mildly* obsessed with my teeth.

I brush and floss twice a day and use an interdental pick to get in between my bonded retainer. I rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash at least once daily and visit my dentist like clockwork every four months. I used to whiten my teeth aggressively with at-home whitening strips, a practice I abandoned in recent years, preferring to simply stay on top of my oral hygiene for a more natural look.

odaAnd what can I say? I have a great smile.

April is Oral Health Month! If it’s been a while since you’ve seen your dentist, now would be a perfect time to make an appointment. Regular dentist visits are the very best way to detect oral (and overall) health problems you might not know you have, and prevent them before they start.

Need a little more convincing? Here are 10 Reasons to Make Your Teeth a Big Deal!

1. Your Appearance. *Of course, * I’m going to get a little vain here. Your smile lights up your face; it’s high on the list of “attractive qualities” for both men and women alike. Your smile is also part of your first impression, which is essential for both social and professional interactions.

2. Your Self-Esteem. Oral health affects physical, mental and social well-being. If you have tooth pain, are missing teeth or experience frequent tooth infections, it can have an impact on how you speak, eat and socialize. Keeping your teeth in optimal condition goes a long way to boost your self-esteem.  (more…)

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A Cleaner Dishwasher? Now THAT’s Affresh!

April 2, 2016

Have you been lucky enough to come across a product you just can’t live without? You know, one that totally changes your life, and you can’t believe it took so long for you to discover it?

That’s exactly how I feel about affresh Washer Cleaner. And, if you’re one of the thousands of Canadians who have Googled “how to get rid of sewer smell in front load washing machine”, chances are it’s your miracle product, too.

And now, I’m over the moon about affresh Dishwasher Cleaner! I had started to suspect that my dishwasher was under-performing; my stemware was slightly filmy, my plates and bowls were often not clean enough.

(Not to mention, but I will anyways, a musty odor. No one wants to eat off dishes that came from a funky washer, am I right?)

I fiddled with the rinse agent and even poked around the dishwasher to see if there was a problem, when all of a sudden, the heavens parted and I realized my dishwasher likely just needed a good cleaning. Of course! I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it sooner – it was pretty gnarly in there! And since I consider affresh Washer Cleaner my personal salvation, you know I couldn’t wait to get my hands on affresh Dishwater Cleaner.
DSC_0185bThe promise: affresh Dishwater Cleaner powers away hard water and mineral deposits to keep your dishwasher working its best.

The outcome: Heck yes! If you’re just about to begin your spring cleaning, you’ll want to add this product to your shopping list. Promise. And don’t worry – if you’re feeling mildly alarmed that you’ve never cleaned your dishwasher before, you’re not alone: while cleaning inside your appliances is an important step to keep them working their best, only 25% of Canadians have cleaned inside their dishwashers in the last 12 months.  (more…)

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It’s Tradition! Toronto Blue Jays Season Opener Party!

March 31, 2016

Today, traditions are falling by the wayside. The rituals that generations before me delighted in – like family get togethers, religious commitments and more – have been shrugged off because we simply don’t have the time to keep them going.

Truth is, we don’t make the time.

2016 is the year for me to begin new traditions with my family and friends. To start, what better way to get people together than with sports, food and fun? That’s why the Toronto Blue Jays Season Opener on Sunday, April 3rd is the perfect way for me to start a new Almeida Family tradition.
bautistaHere’s what I’ll need:

Food. Of course I’ll need food, it’s a party after all! And since Schneiders is the Official Hot Dog of the Toronto Blue Jays, you know I’ll be serving up Schneiders hot dogs and sausages. Additionally, I’ll be sure to have other ballpark favourites on hand, such as popcorn, nachos and cheese, ice cream bars and of course, beer! (With a designated driver, always.)  (more…)

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COVERGIRL: Embrace Your Face

March 29, 2016

Welcome to Spring! It’s my favourite season of the year – and I’m not just saying that because my birthday is coming up in two weeks!

Spring is about renewal. It’s about shrugging off the heavy layers (both physically and metaphorically) that we endured all winter, and looking forward to longer, brighter days. It’s also a great time to lighten up: our diets, clothing, hair colour, and even our makeup routine.

This Spring, embrace your face with COVERGIRL! In just 30 seconds, you can get matched to your perfect foundation based on the coverage you need, your skin type and skin tone, and the preferred makeup finish you are looking for. Personally, I love buildable coverage for my dry skin, with a natural look for my medium complexion. According to the #EmbraceYourFace Makeup Finder, I was matched with TruBLEND Liquid Makeup!
IMG_1765cTruBLEND Liquid Makeup is available in 14 shades and features a new shade matching system. To find your perfect blend, first determine your shade family. Second, choose your number. Coordinate complementary truBLEND products based on your number for a seamlessly flawless nude look that blends in and virtually disappears.

I’m wearing truBLEND foundation in Golden Beige M-3, with a light dusting of TRUblend Pressed Powder in Translucent Honey 3. I wore a strapless top to illustrate how closely the liquid makeup matches my natural skin tone; as you can see, it is a touch more rosy than my yellow-based skin, but overall, I’m quite happy with the shade and ease of application.  (more…)

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When Spring Gives You Ice Storms…

March 24, 2016

… You curl up into a ball and cry. Sure, I thought I was incredibly cool, posting just a few days ago how I had survived March Break.

“Get out of my house!” I said.
“Go back to school!” I said.
“I finally have freedom!”…. I thought.

And then, thanks to a little ice storm, the kids are home again. Just before the Easter weekend. Which means a FIVE-day weekend, less than a week after March Break.

I haven’t survived at all.

Today? Today I’ve got nothing for you. Today I will be making breakfast and lunch for the little ones, rescheduling one meeting and two conference calls, and counting to five before I snap. Today is a day for decorating Easter Eggs and watching Disney movies in pajamas.

So, here’s a smorgasbord of a few things I’ve been working on. Wishing you a joyous Easter!

1. EASTER GIVEAWAY! Hop to it Canadians – Enter to win 1 of 3 $1,000 Mattel Easter Baskets!
EasterSweeps_FacebookThe sweepstakes ends on April 1, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. ET, so you’ve still got time to enter! Good luck – what a special treat for a lucky child (or children) in your life!  (more…)

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At the Table: Easter Traditions

March 21, 2016

Family and food, in that order. That’s what is on my mind every time a holiday approaches, and Easter is no different. Growing up, we didn’t have an Easter tradition, per se; we simply enjoyed a robust, home cooked meal – perhaps on a slightly grander scale than average. On the other hand, my husband’s European family celebrates Easter with a decidedly lighter menu: a selection of meats and cheeses, complemented with freshly baked bread and assorted pickles. And now that I’m all grown up, and a wife and mother, I’m in charge of starting our own family tradition. For Easter, it’s a blend of the two: I like to serve an abundance of finger foods, with substance.

Moroccan-spiced lamb kebabs with mint chutney. Tangy watermelon and feta salad. Roasted eggplant with Parmesan and parsley. Ricotta-stuffed pasta shells. And this year, a brand new addition: Rosemary and Onion Flatbread with Mozzafina di Latte, Prosciutto, Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula.
DSC_0136aNever before have I tasted such a heady, earthy flavour combination. The fresh Mozzafina di Latte, a fresh soft cheese ball with a creamy, delicate white texture, adds necessary richness without overwhelming the palate. The salty prosciutto is offset by the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes, and the peppery arugula punches through at the end. All this is balanced by an herb-encrusted flat bread, which brings comfort and structure to the dish.  (more…)

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I Survived March Break.

March 21, 2016

I survived two spilled milks (one on my bedroom rug). I survived twenty-two temper tantrums. I survived one lost remote control, four late night arguments, forty-six rounds of “he called me ____” or “____” or “____” and six broken boxes. I survived another March Break.
DSC_0150Sure, kid, you’re cute. Now get out of your box house, rip off those sunglasses and go to school. Yes, I know you’re sad that the holiday is over. No, you can’t stay home with mommy for one. more. second.

K BYEEE!

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2016 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

March 18, 2016

If you’re lucky enough to visit Walt Disney World from March 2 – May 30 this year, you’re in for a treat! You can experience the annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, FREE to guests with valid park admission. This year, it takes place for an unprecedented 90 days!The festival authentically has something for everyone. For foodies, Outdoor Kitchens offer delectable small plates and flavorful non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. The kiddos will adore the brand new Harmony Gardens Musical Playground, featuring state-of-the-art net climbers. And for the nature-lovers in your travel party, feast your eyes on more than 70 world-renowned Disney-themed topiaries, vibrant gardens and wildlife habitats.  (more…)

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Do It Yourself: Baby-to-Be Baskets

March 17, 2016

I’ve always been hands-on when it comes to gifts for little ones, and if I can make it myself, I prefer the personal touch. For a while after my first son was born, I went through a phase of creating custom scrapbook pages for fellow new parents. It was therapeutic and a great way to have a little time to myself, especially after spending most of the day (and night) with a newborn.

Later, I discovered the simple joy of putting together baby-to-be and new baby gift baskets. Using novelty items like teddy bears, weaved in with necessities like body and bath products, it was a great way to add a personal touch to gift giving.
Aveeno Baby-Soothing ReliefAlthough it’s been some time since I’ve created a baby basket, the principals remain the same! Pictured above, a “Welcome Baby” basket from The Basket Company.

If you’re creating your own baby-to-be or new baby basket, here’s what you need to do.

1. Select a theme. It can be as simple as girl or boy-themed, or a little more imaginative, like a “Baby Essentials” basket for new parents or perhaps a “Calming” basket to promote good sleep vibes. Choosing a theme for the basket will make it easier for you to decide on the contents and establish a spending budget.  (more…)

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