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…)

Contests

Sing Along Now: I #FeelGood(Bread)!

Now that I’ve started a James Brown earworm, tell me – what makes you feel good?

Is it taking care of yourself by eating right? Maybe you burn off extra energy by hitting the gym. Or perhaps you keep your life a drama-free zone (recommended). Whatever it is, Dempster’s Feel Good Breads are made for movers and shakers who like to look and feel oh so good.

Great taste, good-for-you ingredients and customized to fit your lifestyle. What could be better? From boosting your protein intake to maintaining a healthy diet, Feel Good Breads are satisfying food choices that can help keep you on track and complement your busy lifestyle.

So far so good? Join us at the @Dempsters #FeelGoodBread Twitter Party, where we’ll chat about ways to spread the goodness, including how you can help your city top the Dempster’s Feel Good Index!

Visit www.feelgoodindex.ca. The Feel Good Index monitors what Canadians are tweeting across the country. It then calculates the overall feeling in each region by comparing the number of times people use keywords associated with “good” feelings to the number of times people use keywords associated with “not-so-good” feelings.

If people in a city tweet more “feel good” keywords than “feel not-so-good” keywords, the city is given a positive score – or a negative score if they tweet more “feel not-so-good” keywords. The Index then adds up all the scores from each region and averages them out equally to calculate the mood of Canada as a whole.

Want to improve the Feel Good Index of your city? Use the Feel Good Tweet Generator for a random feel good message to tweet to all your followers. I tried it, and it’s fabulous! See my Feel Good Tweet.

Intrigued? Join our Twitter Party on March 31st at 9pm EDT, where you know there will be amazing prizes up for grabs… up to $1,000 in Feel Good Prizes, to be exact!  (more…)

fashion

Ahoy Matey! Nautical Handbags for Spring 2014

So maybe you don’t belong to a Yacht Club. And it’s possible that the Hamptons isn’t on your list of preferred weekend getaways. But when all else fails, fake it.

Nothing says “I’m with the Vanderbilts” more astutely than a fashionable, nautical-inspired tote. This Spring, cult icon Tory Burch has placed navy stripes in the spotlight, while mainstream fashion retailers like ALDO and Nine West have gained sea legs of their own with affordable, wearable designs.

Nautical handbags are best paired with an all-white wardrobe, but for fun, mix and match with bursts of turquoise and coral. I’ve had my eye on the Michael Kors Tote for some time… is it finally time to join the navy (trend)?


Clockwise, from top: Michael Kors Multi Colour Jet Set Mid Size Stripe Leather Tote Bag, $480; Nine West Strong Current Foldover Clutch, $88; Ann Taylor Nautical Tote, $178; Coach Legacy Weekend Saint James Clutch, $178; Accessorize Nautical But Naughty Clip Frame Purse, $16; Tory Burch Kerrington Shopper, $295; Forever 21 On The Shore Striped Crossbod, $14.80; ALDO Karstensen Shoulder Tote, $55. Tell me – are you nautical by nature?

Contests

Protect Yourself: The #FellowesProtects Twitter Party

If you read my post Protect Yourself with #FellowesProtects, you’ll know that like so many, I’ve been a victim of credit card fraud. And, I don’t want the same to happen to you! Be sure to check out the Top 10 Documents You Should be Shredding, and enter to win a Fellowes Powershred 63cb Cross-Cut Shredder to help protect against identity theft. (Giveaway ends in two weeks! Good luck!)

Since March is Fraud Prevention Month and I’ve got Family Travel on my mind, I’m eager to share the following tips to Protect Yourself from Identity Fraud while on Vacation:

1. Put a hold on your mail. If you are planning to be gone for an extended period of time (a week or more), it’s a good idea to put a hold on all your mail (bank statements, credit card bills etc…).

2. Take out the garbage. Don’t leave any personal items that are not shredded in your blue bins or garbage cans. If thieves notice you are away, it doesn’t take long to go through your bills and obtain information leading to fraud.

3. Alert Credit Card Companies. Be sure to let your credit card providers know you will be travelling, so if any suspicious charges appear on your card, they will know ahead of time. Also, this will help them keep track of other possibly suspicious charges that could appear elsewhere.

4. Limit Online Banking.  If you use internet cafes or other public- usage computers, ensure you log out of all sites that may give out personal information – especially when on a public computer.

5. Keep your wallet light. Travel with as few cards and personal information as possible. Lock all valuables in your hotel safe or your suitcase. Pickpockets are more common than you think!

6. Never leave valuables unattended.  Be sure to never leave your passport, birth certificate credit cards etc. lying around your hotel room. Most hotels provide a safe in each room, so use it!

7. Keep a close watch on your bills. When you get home from your vacation, ensure you thoroughly check your bank statements and credit card bills for any possibly suspicious activity.

8. Choose ATMs carefully. Banks have been reporting more and more ATM-skimming crimes. This is when thieves insert a card reader into an ATM to capture your account information and PIN number when you use your card. It’s best to stick with ATMs located directly in a bank.

Looking for more information? Be sure to like Fellowes Canada on Facebook to gain access to a great variety of ID Theft Prevention Resources, including an ID Theft Prevention Kit, Shredding Tips, What To Do if You’re a Victim and more. And for a great chat focused on keeping your personal information safe and secure, please join us at the @FellowesCanada #FellowesProtects Twitter Party!

Join us on Wednesday, March 26th at 8pm EDT as we tweet up a storm with important, relevant information perfectly timed for Fraud Prevention Month, and in advance of tax season! Of course, we’ll have amazing prizes up for grabs:

2 x 63Cb shredders (retail value $189.99)
2 x P-12C shredders (retail value $99.97)
4 x 4-pk of Fellowes Bankers Box R-Kive boxes (retail $19.99)

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

musings

Need an Escape? The World’s Best Beaches

Mother Nature, how I detest thee! *ONE* day after welcoming Spring, Toronto is set to welcome 5cm of snow tonight.

Now normally, I’d curl up in a ball with a note attached: “Wake me up when April ends.” However, just in time to pull me from the grips of depression, TripAdvisor has released their annual list of The Best Beaches in the World. To some, it serves as inspiration when planning a tropical getaway. To me, it serves as a reminder that somewhere on this great planet, it is sunny and warm. And that gives me the strength to persevere.

Topping the list this year is Baia do Sancho in Fernando de Noronha, Brazil. The rankings are based on trusted reviews and advice from real travellers, adding an element of confidence and authenticity to the selections. The list of 25 beaches covers the world – everywhere from Providenciales, Turks and Caicos to Camps Bay, South Africa. But my money is on Elafonissi Beach in Elafonissi, Greece pictured below… I think there’s just something about pink sand and turquoise water that is so me.

Click here to see the entire list of The World’s Best Beaches. Tell me – which beach will you visit first?

musings

#ThrowbackThursday #tbt: Happiness Is…

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.

Before the controversies, before the public outrage. Before Marineland’s present owner John Holer was accused of subjecting sea mammals at Marineland to inhumane conditions. Before the expose by The Toronto Star where it was revealed too many “performers” suffered from a variety of illnesses caused by problems with water quality and chronic under-staffing. Before Canadians took a stand against the cruel treatment of animals in captivity. Before that… we all proudly sang along… “Happiness Is Marineland!”

Marineland, Niagara Falls Ontario, 1980. I have no recollection of this day; as a chubby 2-year old toddler, I was likely balancing on my mom’s knee as my father took the photograph. I marvel at the lack of protective gear; instead of wet suits, the trainers are sporting a t-shirt and shorts. An unkempt, grassy enclosure marks the location of the sea lion show. Two red balloons, suspended from the ceiling, are demonstrative of the killer whale’s impressive range.

A scoreboard in the background flips through comedic images featuring “Nootka”, one of five orcas captured off the coast of Iceland in 1979, just one year prior.

“During her life in captivity, Nootka went through eight pregnancies. Many of her offspring survived the most critical days in life, but just two of them reached adulthood, Splash and Neocia. Nootka was described as a very protective mother, and although a moody orca, she was long considered the best performer at the park. Nootka sadly died during off peak season at Marineland in 2008. The cause of death has never been released.” RIP Nootka.

family

#FamilyTravelCA: We’re Chatting Theme Parks!

This month, me and my girls @ChildMode@FeistyFrugal and @SassyModernMom are daring you – no, we’re triple dog daring you – to ride the tallest roller coaster… eat the most towering tube of cotton candy… or spend five minutes in the haunted house. You guessed it – this month, we’re chatting THEME PARKS!

Join us on Tuesday, March 25th at 9pm EDT. We’ll tweet up a storm discussing the BEST ways to make the most of theme park time with your family, and hear all about your favourite spots to chase thrills in North America.

But hey, a chat wouldn’t be nearly as fun without prizes! And what’s the first rule of theme park hopping? That’s right – wear comfortable shoes! This month, please say thank you to SKECHERS Canada – they’re our official prizing sponsor and have provided SIX pairs of Memory Foam shoes for our lucky winners!

Follow @FamilyTravelCA, RSVP using the linky below and tweet using #FamilyTravelCA to be eligible to win. See you on Tuesday night – I promise, it will be a thrilling chat!  (more…)

food

Love Your Leftovers: Grilled Chicken Wrap with Lemon-Basil Aioli

I love lunch. No really, I absolutely, positively looooovvvveee it.

But why wouldn’t I? I always have Dempster’s Tortillas on hand, and simply put, they make EVERYTHING taste delicious. Leftover curried chicken – wrap it up. Miscellaneous cold cuts – wrap it up. Last night’s meatloaf – wrap it up. Chickpea salad… trust me, you can wrap it up. The options for weekday lunches are endless! And often, with a little inspiration and a few staple ingredients, I can create a quick, simple meal that my family will love.

Today’s lunchtime inspiration was derived from leftover grilled chicken breast. Normally, I’d throw the chopped breast in a soup or salad, but today I decided on a Grilled Chicken Wrap with Lemon-Basil Aioli. 

(Hint: It was phenomenal.)

INGREDIENTS

2 Dempster’s 10-inch Tortillas
1 cup grilled chicken breast strips
1 cup baby romaine lettuce leaves
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
pinch red pepper flakes

1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp freshly squezed lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

Mix the mayonnaise, basil and lemon juice in a small bowl. Spread generously over the tortilla. Layer the lettuce, chicken and cheese, and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Wrap it up! Serves 2.  (more…)

musings

Secret to a Successful Marriage? The #SwifferEffect

I should probably write a book. Or at the very least, submit my story to those seeking relationship counselling. Because friends, gather ’round: I have found the secret to a successful marriage.

I know what you’re thinking… communication, friendship and companionship, right? Of course. Of course those are important attributes of any fulfilling relationship. And for better or worse, richer or poorer… I married the man of my dreams. He’s smart, he’s charming, and he knows his way around the kitchen just as he knows the way to my heart.

But that’s not why I hang on to him.

My man has something I’ll be hard-pressed to find in another potential mate. Until now, I’ve kept his special skills a secret from the world. Because truthfully, I fear women everywhere will try to steal him away. And before you start to speculate, I’ll just come clean: no, he doesn’t send me romantic texts – or leave doting messages written in raspberries. And – shockingly – he doesn’t whip out an acoustic guitar, serenading me with words of love. But he does have the one thing that keeps me coming back for more – he has the #SwifferEffect.

Yes, ladies, my man does all the cleaning. And when he cleans, he only trusts Swiffer.

By day, he’s a successful business executive. He likes high definition smartphones and a high definition clean. Swiffer Dusters pick up dust and lock it away with thousands of flexible fluffy fibres. Lightly coated with Dust Lock Adhesive, these fibres change shape to reach into nooks and crannies, trapping up to 2x more dust than a dust cloth.

Conference call at 3pm? No problem. He’s on it like dust on shutters. Now THIS is what you call multi-tasking 101.  (more…)

food

ZERO Inhibitions: Maple Rum Bread Pudding

It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon after a very long, very cold week. The kids are at a birthday party; your husband is at a hardware store. You prop your feet on the couch and drape your favourite knit blanket over your body for warmth. Reaching for your latest romance novel, a guilty glance at the clock serves as a warning that you’ll have only an hour or so of complete, uninterrupted, undisputed peace and quiet. For the next little while, you have #ZEROInhibitions.

“The sights and scents of Dempster’s Bakery were sending her into sensory overload. The utilitarian elegance of the stainless steel machinery was a visual contrast to the luscious aroma wafting from the hundreds of loaves of bread that were currently baking to golden perfection. The effect was comforting and sumptuous all at once.”

As you turn the pages of your book, a new craving takes over – and it’s right there. Right in front of you. So close you can taste it: soft, comforting and pleasurable. You know that if you just reach out and take it, there’ll be no going back. And that’s exactly what you want to do; throw caution to the wind and sink your teeth in. Dempster’s ZERO. With no added fat or sugar, you can have your bread, and eat it too. Dempster’s ZERO gives you all the taste and texture you love from a Whole Wheat bread.

And how will you enjoy your Dempster’s ZERO bread? With my recipe for Maple Rum Bread Pudding, made in your slow cooker, of course. The prep work couldn’t be more simple, and the warm, gooey, comforting afternoon treat is just what you need to give into pleasure.

This rustic recipe is assembled in minutes and since the slow cooker does all the work, you’ll have more time to catch up on your reading. You can omit the rum if you wish, but please, don’t omit the maple syrup. Sweet goodness drizzled over warm bread pudding? Yes, you need this in your life. (more…)

Contests

Disney’s Frozen Will Melt Your Heart! #Giveaway

Walt Disney Animation Studios presents a chilly twist on one of the most humorous and heartwarming stories ever told. Widely acclaimed as one of Disney’s best animated features of all time, Frozen will melt your heart.

Fearless optimist Anna sets off on an epic journey – teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven – to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.

Bring home Frozen on Blu-ray High Definition on March 18th, 2014 – featuring a blizzard of never-before-seen bonus extras with gorgeous animation, memorable characters and unforgettable music. It’s dazzling fun for the whole family!

“Oh, I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved the idea of summer, and sun, and all things hot.” << Me too Olaf! But for one lucky reader, I’ve got a Frozen Blu-ray Combo Pack up for grabs!

Simply fill the form below with your qualifying entries. Good luck, and remember: some people are worth melting for! (more…)

family

The Magic of Play: Disney Junior and LEGO DUPLO

Could there be a better combination for tiny tots? The magic of Disney Junior plus the fun of LEGO DUPLO? Oh my, it’s a match made in playtime heaven!

Introducing the Magic of Play tour! Disney Junior and LEGO DUPLO are hitting the road together with fun filled, FREE indoor events in 5 cities across Canada. Children can build and discover the many ways to play with LEGO DUPLO bricks while they watch and enjoy their favourite Disney Junior shows! Plus, all kiddos who stop by will take home a special Magic of Play activity booklet, which is chock full of learning fun. The best part: it’s all totally free! 

My little guys had a chance to check out the tour when it hit Fairview Mall in Toronto, ON. In addition to the bright and colourful stations featuring popular LEGO DUPLO play sets, there were several play agents on hand to help them create, build and be inspired. We arrived just before the mall opened to the public as part of the media preview, so there were a *few* cameras on hand, recording the boys as they played. Lucky for Ryder, he loves to give interviews! (more…)

Contests

Must See TV: The Blacklist #Giveaway

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

Ah, the war of the remote control. While at one time it intensified the power struggle within a marriage or relationship, the truth is, with multiple-television households, this quirky little tug-of-war is now all but extinct. Case in point: in my home, usually, you’ll find my husband holed up in his basement “man cave”, while I snuggle in our bed channel surfing for chick flicks. His preference is ultimate fighting competitions; mine – cooking competitions.

However, we do agree on a few television shows – namely, The Blacklist on Global TV. It starts the brilliant James Spader as Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington. Ex-government agent Reddington is one of the FBI’s Most Wanted fugitives, who has brokered shadowy deals for criminals across the globe. Known as “The Concierge of Crime,” Reddington has mysteriously surrendered to the FBI, offering to help catch high-profile terrorists – but on the condition that he only speaks with rookie profiler Elizabeth “Liz” Keen (Megan Boone).

Following so far? Here’s the Coles Notes version for those who are new to the show:

Monday night has become “date night” at our place as we settle in for an always-thrilling episode. And with a BRAND NEW episode airing Monday, March 17 at 10:00 ET, my husband and I will continue our tradition of actually watching television… on the same floor, in the same room!

“Season 1, Episode 16: The Hunter Becomes the Hunted – The next target on the Blacklist is one of Red’s past associates, crime lord Mako Tanida. After Tanida escapes from prison he is out for revenge. Elsewhere, Tom confronts Jolene after interfering with his mission…”

So… will you be watching The Blacklist this Monday night?

I’ve got a nifty little prize pack to give away: a 4-pack of tee shirts featuring The Blacklist, and a mug for you to start your mornings off right (hopefully without the drama and suspense from the night before!). The prize pack is valued at $50. To enter, simply fill the form below with your qualifying entries. (But please, no spoilers in the comments!) (more…)

family

Family Travel Made Easier? Yes Please.

It’s no secret that I waited to travel with my boys until they were old enough to… well, you  know…. not annoy the heck out of me.

I mean, did I really want to tote diapers, formula (or worse, my breast pump), toys, trinkets and who knows what else along? What kind of vacation is that? So, I waited until the boys were 2 and 4… young enough to be confined to a stroller, and old enough that I didn’t freak out over the details.

However, we are a family of four… and vacations are tailor made for families of four. So really, I sound a bit silly complaining, don’t I? While I worried about losing the odd sippy cup, families of five or six are often faced with hundreds in extra charges to accommodate a third or fourth child.

Think about it: most hotels and resorts allow a maximum of two adults and two kids per room. Car rentals are most affordable in the mid-size range, which of course, transports a family of four comfortably. Restaurants seat parties of four (or less) more quickly than they seat larger groups. Even “family combos” at theme parks are targeted towards the happy foursome.

So what do you do if you’re a larger family? How can family travel be made easier?

Introducing tripcentral.cathe smarter way to plan travel.

“We know that planning family vacations can be a challenge. Finding that perfect vacation destination that will appeal to everyone’s preferences can be a bit stressful, and no way to start your well-deserved holiday. For larger families, one of the biggest obstacles is finding rooms that will accommodate three or more children. Our unique Vacation Package Grid allows you to streamline hotels according to star ratings, duration of stay, meal preferences, and most importantly, the number of children travelling.”

Yes, it really is that easy! Simply visit tripcentral.ca and select your departure city and family size. You’ll then be shown a Package Grid of all available options, including the ability to prioritize your criteria (duration, meal plan, star rating, etc). Narrow down your date of travel, hotel and room – et voila! The perfect vacation that celebrates your family of five or six. (more…)

musings

This Beautiful Life: Lena Almeida

Today, I am super flattered to be featured on This Beautiful Day – a lifestyle blog for smart women.

Founded by Lisa Ng, Editor-in Chief, the site blogs daily about food, travel, style, beauty and life advice and is geared towards women ages 25-35 who are in the post-university and pre-mommy phase of their lives. She is a big supporter of women helping women to live their best lives to the absolute fullest.

Here’s an excerpt from the feature:

“Lena Almeida inspires me. She is a work-at-home-mom who manages her incredibly successful blog – Listen to Lena alongside her work as a social strategist for Chatelaine magazine. On top of all that, she is the mother to two incredibly sweet boys and makes the whole thing look effortless. I mean, I freelance for a living and I have no one to take care of but myself and GOD! I still can’t make it out of my pajamas some days!

What I love most about Lena is how she followed her passion, gave up corporate life and made a go during her mat leave to become a full-time blogger. Meet Lena everybody!”

To read the full interview, click here.

Thank you so much for the feature, Lisa! It’s a pleasure to know smart women.

musings

#ThrowbackThursday #tbt: Spring Has Sprung

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.

After yesterday’s disastrous winter storm – which blanketed us with over 15cm of the white stuff – today, we’ve been graced with a clear, sunny day. Normally, I’d be tickled pink… if it wasn’t for the -30°C windchill factor. Ugh! Will this winter never end?

Today I’m looking back to March 25, 1986, when the temperature soared to a balmy 19°C. Oh, the feeling of leaving the house without a jacket! It was all we could ask for after a cold, harsh Canadian winter. Of course, thanks to my mom’s handiwork, I was always set with a brand new Spring dress to welcome the season.

Pigtails, pink bows and puffed sleeves – could I get any more girly? I often chuckle at the realization that I spent about 10 years of my life living in a predominantly pink wardrobe (which was later countered by mostly blue and black outfits in my teens and twenties).

On a related note – does anyone believe the puffed sleeve trend will ever come back?

So besides posing in new Spring fashions, what was I doing in 1986? I was playing with my Jem doll, of course!

“Meet Jem, the rock sensation with flashing LED earrings that light up at the touch of a button. On stage, she’s the hottest female vocalist in town. Off stage, she’s Jerrica, a sleek executive.”

Show of hands: Who had a Jem doll – or remembers Jem and the Holograms?

family

Dear March Break…

While it’s bad enough that I’m not on a beach right now (I can deal), and those games that I ordered for the boys got held up at the border (I can work around this)… I simply cannot… and WILL NOT… stand for 10-15cm of snow after we have “sprung forward”.

*Shakes fist at Mother Nature*

Blizzard-like conditions could make for dangerous travel in Ontario! screams the headline on The Weather Network.

“The snow will become heavy at times and continue east into the Kingston to Cornwall region through the day with total snowfall amounts of 15 to 25 cm expected by tonight,” warns Environment Canada in the statement.

Snowfall will be somewhat less from southern Lake Huron across the Greater Toronto Area to Ottawa, where up to 15 cm is possible. In addition, strong northeasterly winds with gusts up to 70 to 80 km/h could result in near blizzard conditions in some places.

“The heaviest snow is expected to fall late morning through the afternoon hours, with the strongest winds likely around 2 pm,” says Soderholm. “That means the snow will be blowing around, which could be a huge hazard for commuters.”

In a funk too? S’okay. The day can be saved, as long as you have a few staple ingredients on hand, Martha Stewart’s recipe for Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, and a deliciously cute kid who can strike an angelic pose. Though I’m still giving Mother Nature the stink eye.

If you need me, I’ll be under a pile of warm cookies. Send milk.

fashion

Boomerang Kids: Where Smart Families Shop

If you’re a regular reader of Canadian blogs, you may have come across a post or two about Boomerang Kids, a Canadian franchise with resale stores in Ontario and Quebec. The posts would have told you that Boomerang Kids is North America’s first and only resale chain carrying children’s merchandise that’s available in-store and online. And maybe you would have agreed that nearly-new clothing is a great way to save money – after all, kids grow so quickly! And I’m sure you would have read a testimonial or two about the quality of the clothing, the availability and selection, and the benefits of purchasing perfectly reusable clothing.

This is not another one of those posts.

The truth is, I’m just not into resale. And that’s not a dig against those who choose to buy gently used items; it just means that personally, I don’t prefer it. (I also don’t prefer flimsy umbrellas, zip-lining or chocolate chip cookies.) While I donate used clothing to charity, and have even made a cool $34 after dropping off some of Ryder’s old clothes to a local consignment store, I generally can’t get excited about a purchase unless I’m able to rip off the price tags myself. Must be the shopaholic in me, huh?

So when asked to check out Boomerang Kids online, I was understandably hesitant. After all, I couldn’t authentically extol the virtues of previously-loved children’s clothing and toys while admitting an obsession with brand spanking new items, could I? But then, I found out about 25% of Boomerang Kids stores’ merchandise is new product, or “factory fresh” items. Hooray! I just happen to have a factory fresh niece that I like to spoil. So, I went shopping.

Now I’ll just cut to the chase and tell you that I am deliriously happy with the majority of the process. However, for newbie shoppers shopping for new shoppertunities (say that 10 times fast), I’d love to share the following wisdom in order to make your online experience as pleasant as possible:

First, visit www.boomerangkids.com.

1) Shop one store at a time. You *could* shop the entire online inventory at once, but you’ll be charged $10 (average) or more (oversized items and toys) every time you add items from a different virtual store. Hence, it’s better to see if you can find a variety of items you like at one store rather than jump from location to location. Simply select “Shop Online Stores” to visit each store at a time.

2) Shop by Category, and then by Condition. For example, I selected Baby Clothes, and then scrolled down to “New with Tags”. This helped ensure that I was only perusing through the selection of brand new items. (Alternatively, you could also select “Factory Fresh” – Factory Fresh are brand new items that Boomerang Kids has purchased directly from the manufacturer.) Next, your best bet is to categorize by Gender, followed by Size, if you wish. Et voila! Access to Boomerang Kids’ online inventory. I couldn’t resist this gorgeous Spring dress – check out the epic detailing – it was only $11.99!

3) Place items in your virtual cart, pay, and you’re done. And then get ready for some seriously fast shipping. I ended up ordering a haul of precious baby girl outfits from three different locations, and they ALL arrived less than 24 hours later. The clothing was perfectly packed, folded with care, and oh! Did I mention the PRICES? (more…)