Maybe I’m Not Offended.

March 15, 2016

You won’t find this t-shirt at Forever 21. It was removed from its stores and online shop over social outrage (translation: Twitter Fingers) that the t-shirt promoted rape culture. In fact, the backlash was so severe that the brand instantly pulled the shirt off its website, offering, “Forever 21 strives to exemplify the highest ethical standards and takes feedback and product concerns very seriously… We sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by the product.”

Exhibit A: The t-shirt in question. Let’s discuss.maybe2Without knowing the context behind the outrage, at first glance, I’m not offended by this t-shirt at all. In fact, the opposite may be true: I can interpret this statement to be one of empowerment.

Don’t say maybe if you want to say no. To my sons, stand your ground. If you’re considering the moral, ethical or legal ramifications of following through with a decision, err on the side of caution and be true to yourself and what I’ve taught you. Be strong and have the guts to swim against the current, and while others may be persuaded, have the courage to walk away. Saying “maybe” often opens a door that is better off closed; if you want to say no, just say no.  (more…)

Keep Reading

Travel in Style! RALPH LAUREN Parker Leather Tote

March 11, 2016

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

The sun is shining… the birds are singing… it’s the perfect time to get away! Now you *may* have noticed that I’ve had travel on my brain lately – between vacation reviews, our Sunwing Twitter Parties and my radio segments on What She Said – I’m itching to get away! The good news? There’s less than two months to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, which I’ll be once again attending with my family. Orlando, here we come!

Until then, I’m pleased to offer my readers a chance to travel in style with your own RALPH LAUREN Parker Leather Tote! Available at Hudson’s Bay, this classic leather tote is wonderfully lightweight and offers adjustable straps at each side to make it even more spacious. Stash your passport, sunglasses and a few magazines, and you’re ready for your next adventure!

tote– Double top handles, 9″ drop
– Top zip closure
– Removable leather luggage tag
– Signature “LRL” monogram at the front
– Adjustable straps at each side
– Inside slip pocket
– 13″ W x 11″ H x 6.5″ D
– Leather, Imported
– Available in three colours

The tote retails for $248.00 but you can now grab it for $20 off with code SPRING at Hudson’s Bay. And, if black isn’t your jam, you can also purchase it in beige or white.

(Though I love the timelessness of a good black tote, wouldn’t you agree?)

To enter, simply fill the form below with your qualifying entries. Good luck everyone, and happy travels this spring! Click here to purchase the RALPH LAUREN Parker Leather Tote.  (more…)

Keep Reading

Disney Fantasy: Date Night at Sea

March 9, 2016

Today, I’m here to lay to rest any notion that a vacation with Disney Cruise Line is for kids, only.

Adults can unwind at Quiet Cove, an adult-exclusive pool, offering tranquil solitude, ocean breezes and spectacular views. At night, you can delight in live music, cabaret shows, dance parties, karaoke and more at venues that cater exclusively to adults when the sun sets. You can even treat yourself to rejuvenating spa therapies, get a makeover or enjoy an invigorating workout – all in scenic, modern facilities.

And, you can savor fine, elegant French-inspired cuisine at Remy.
DSC_2469aCheers, husband! You make 40 look good. Our date night on board the Disney Fantasy was everything we were hoping for: time alone to reconnect as a couple, a chance to engage in uninterrupted adult conversation, and of course, the opportunity to savour the finest French fare.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that our meal at Remy was the best of our lives.

There are several factors that led to our enjoyment. First, and most importantly, was the knowledge that our children were well looked after, well entertained, and well into forgetting we existed! At Disney’s Oceaneer Club, our boys were immersed in character-driven performances, special storytelling sessions, larger-than-life playgrounds and cool interactive activities. Is it any wonder they were more than happy to give us space for a few hours?

And, knowing that they were in the trusted hands of Disney cast members went a long way to help us relax and enjoy the moment. No fighting traffic, no checking our watches. The boys were a phone call away, and we were in seventh heaven.  (more…)

Keep Reading

Travelling this Spring? Avoid Five Carry-On Mistakes

March 9, 2016

Trust me, I’ve made mistakes when it comes to travel. *Many* mistakes. And if you’re vacationing with kids this season, I really don’t want you to leave your diaper bag on your porch (that’s never happened), forget about a Swiss Army knife in your purse (only one time!) or have a situation with orange soda and white jeans (which we shall never speak of again). In fact, I want your travels to be organized and relatively painless – which is why I’m sharing the Top Five Carry-On Mistakes, and tips on how you can avoid them.
carryNow we all know carry-on luggage is necessary when travelling with your family. Being trapped in an airplane with a child… for hours… is actually a special kind of torture. You’ll need everything from snacks and activities to electronics and stuffies. And the following list isn’t a packing list: you can Google “what to pack when travelling with kids”, and I encourage you to do so. The following list is simply a rundown of some of the most common mistakes parents make when it comes to getting ready for a flight. Avoid these carry-on mistakes at all costs, and it will be smooth sailing (er, flying?) for you!  (more…)

Keep Reading

#DermWednesday: Putting a Spring in Your Step!

March 7, 2016

If I think about one of the most overlooked and neglected parts of my body, it has to be my feet. Dry, cracked heels… chipped nail polish… rough callouses. You too? Especially after a long winter, our tender tootsies are just begging for a little TLC.

Cerave GraphicThis week, our #DermWednesday Twitter Chat tackles the subject of foot care! Specifically, what cleansers and moisturizers you can use to improve the appearance and texture of you feet, just in time for the warmer weather. 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!

For my dry, cracked heels, I always slather on CeraVe Moisturizing Cream immediately after my morning shower, followed by a pair of clean cotton socks. The cream increases the skin’s ability to attract, hold and distribute moisture, and is recognized by the Canadian Dermatology Association’s Skin Health Program.

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

Keep Reading

It’s Not Easy Being Sneezy.

March 4, 2016

“So, what do you like to do on weekends?” he asked casually, leaning back in the restaurant booth.

“Oh, you know, this and that,” I answered dismissively, hoping to discourage further conversation about interests and hobbies.

“Do you like to camp?”

Er… I shook my head quickly, picking at the chips and guac.

“Long walks in the woods? Drives in the country? Beach sports?” he continued, an endless barrage of questions now flowing freely from his lips.

“I have allergies!” I blurted suddenly. “I hate the outdoors!”

And that, my friends, is how to kill a first date.

It’s not easy being sneezy. I’ve suffered with hay fever for more than half my life – that’s almost 20 years of itchy, watery eyes, a drippy, running nose, and of course, relentless, endless sneezing. Outdoor allergens are produced by plants, trees, grass and weeds, but I’m mostly at the mercy of pollen, the most common outdoor allergen. It’s lightweight, airborne, and takes no prisoners.
pollenI’m not alone. Up to twenty-five percent of Canadians suffer from hay fever. For many, “allergy season” starts in early spring (ahem, RIGHT NOW!) and goes until the first frost of autumn. Translation: it’s possible to spend 3/4 of the year in hay fever hell.  (more…)

Keep Reading

March: In Like a Lion…

March 1, 2016

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

Welcome to March! And as I refresh The Weather Network for the umpteenth time to check when the winter storm will arrive, I can only concede that there’s some truth to the ol’ saying.

So today, instead of stressing about the inclement weather (kids have been shipped off to school), the inevitable snow shoveling (it’s a good workout after all) or the incessant storm reporting on the news (not like we live in Canada or anything), I’m going to colour.
colourPhoto: Colourwithclaire via Instgram

Have you tried your hand (pun intended) at the new adult colouring trend? According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is a mental health profession in which the process of making and creating artwork is used to “explore feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem.” (Source(more…)

Keep Reading

ID Theft: Eight “Harmless” Ways to Lose Your Identity

February 29, 2016

There you go, minding your own business. Doing things like you’ve always done, not hurting a fly. And then one fine day, when the sun is shining and the birds are singing – BAM! Someone swoops in and steals your identity.Think it won’t happen to you? Think again.

Identity theft is at an all-time high in Canada. In fact, it’s the most serious, non-violent crime and fastest growing type of fraud in North America, increasing steadily and setting records in the number of data breaches recorded. In 2015, more than 17,000 identity theft cases were reported in Canada, with a loss of more than $10 million.

I’ll just let that sink in for a moment.

So, we know it’s a problem – one that Canadians simply aren’t paying enough attention to. However, it’s actually pretty easy to safeguard yourself and your loved ones against identity theft; there are simple steps you can take to ensure you’re not a victim.  (more…)

Keep Reading

Here’s a “Tip”: Try this Recipe for Bourbon Street Chicken!

February 27, 2016

Tell me. Tell me you’re guilty of spending too much time on Facebook watching 60-second “Buzzfeed Food”, “Tasty” and “Tip Hero” videos.

Tell me that your tummy rumbles as you witness the ooey gooey delicious snack foods, main courses and desserts be created with astonishing clarity before your very eyes. Tell me that you gaze at the calorie-laden, mostly-overloaded-with-cheese dishes and think, OMG that looks soo good.

Me too, friends… me too.

However, I wasn’t necessarily inspired to try to recreate one of the dishes until recently. It was Family Day, dinner was up in the air, and I really didn’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. So, like a sign from heaven, I happened to scroll across Maple Leaf Prime’s Facebook post:

“At home with the family today? FYI there’s still time to make this Slow Cooker Bourbon Street Chicken from Tip Hero for dinner tonight. ‪#‎delish”

I couldn’t believe it. I actually had all the ingredients on hand! And since it was 2:00PM, I had just enough time to pop them into the slow cooker for four hours. I rushed downstairs, followed the ridiculously simple recipe, and that night, we had the most delicious Family Day meal!
DSC_0132a(Confession: I don’t know how to make this meal photograph well. But I promise, it was scrumptious. That was just one of three Bourbon Street Chicken sliders that I had. And I want another right now!)

This easy chicken recipe is sweet, saucy and packed with flavor. Plus – it’s a slow cooker dish! So, you can spend your precious minutes with your family, not slaving over the stove. Here’s how.  (more…)

Keep Reading

A Parent’s Wish. A Child’s Future. Because it Matters.

February 23, 2016

When I was a young girl, the script went something like this:

You need to study hard and go to a good school and get a stable job in an office.

That, my friends, is the extent of the career counselling I received from my parents. And I don’t blame them for their lack of inspirational advice; they were simply following a cultural norm, one that dictated that children should be fed, clothed and educated – with the fervent hope that their post-secondary education would lead them to a cushy, 9-5, “white collar” job.

(Do we still use that term in 2016?)

So I did it. I went through school, I landed the office job, and I proceeded to establish a career – one that, at first glance, seemed glossy and full of promise, but in reality, was far from perfect. Because I carried a chip on my shoulder.

I was angry at my parents for putting education on a pedestal without considering my passions and aspirations. I was angry at myself for complacently following along, lacking the appropriate motivation to challenge the status quo. I was angry that I couldn’t get a raise, couldn’t lose 5 pounds and couldn’t find a way to rewind the clock.

In the end, I got it “write”.

This is a picture of my two boys on their first day of school last September.
IMG_0413 (2)Who will they become? What will they be? As I watch them grow, mature, and find inspiration in the world around them, I’m full of hope for their futures. Because whether they choose to be an actor or an analyst, a fashion designer or a fire chief, the world is their oyster and the opportunities are endless. And, unlike generations before me, I don’t have a set expectation of what defines success.  (more…)

Keep Reading

Vacationing in Paradise? Watch Out for Unwanted Travel Companions.

February 22, 2016

The countdown is on! We’re just three weeks away from March Break, and for Canadians, that means a large percentage of us will be travelling down south to sunny destinations. If you’re one of the lucky ones who is getting away, have a fruity drink for me, mmmkay?
fruityNow, you know I want you to have the BEST vacation ever, which means that *of course* you should be prepared with the information you need for #HealthyTravels. If you missed our Twitter Party last week, fear not! I’m here to share some of the most important takeaways with you today.  (more…)

Keep Reading

Start Enjoying The Great Indoors!

February 20, 2016

Ah, Canadian winter. (Cold, Canadian winter.) As the snow falls lightly to the ground and the landscape turns into a picturesque…

Oh, stuff it. If you need me, I’ll be indoors.

Celebrate #TheGreatIndoors with @Schneiders, @MapleLeafFoods and @MapleLeafPrime and have a chance to TWEET LIVE with Kevin Pillar (@KPILLAR4) of the Toronto Blue Jays! Join our Twitter Party on Tuesday, February 23rd at 8:00PM EST. There is no RSVP; simply join the conversation, tag your tweets with #TheGreatOutdoors and tweet to win.
KP Twitter Party (2)Psst… See that little shopping bag with oh, “$5,000 in Prizes” noted? Heck yeah! We know Maple Leaf Foods Twitter Parties are all about delicious food, helpful tips and recipe inspiration – okay, we know they’re about prizes too! And this time, many attendees will walk away with awesome swag.

Would you rather take the game inside, too? Don’t worry, Appehtite has you covered. Introducing the The Great Indoors Playbook; here, you’ll find fun indoor versions of your favourite outdoor activities, plus delicious recipes that you can snack on while you play.  (more…)

Keep Reading

It’s a Shopping Spree, on a Budget. It’s a Match Made in Heaven.

February 19, 2016

I get it, I really do. It’s an oxymoron, I know. *How* could I treat myself to a shopping spree if I was on a budget? Aren’t the two mutually exclusive?

Folks, it CAN be done. With prepaid cards, it’s easy to splurge while sticking to a set spending limit! Think about it: open loop prepaid cards look and function like traditional credit and debit cards with a significant difference – they access funds that have been pre-loaded by a consumer or business. Therefore, they’re the perfect budgeting tool! They allow me to exert control over my spending and at the same time, avoid interest charges and overdraft fees (win-win-win!).

This past week, my good friend Zeba from Ella Pretty Blog and I went on a prepaid shopping spree. Armed with my American Express prepaid cards, we had a girls’ day at the mall with one mission in mind: spend the entire balance available to me (a whopping $500).

Which brings me to my second point: sure, you *could* spend a prepaid card on groceries (remember my previous post?), but I really want you to do something amazing, just for you. A prepaid card is often a gift – treat it like one! You only live once, and splurging on yourself is twice as nice.

Now, since Zeba is my official style advisor and the only person I trust to advise me on fashion and trends, you could say that we had way too much fun. But that’s the beauty of prepaid cards: you get to spend, spend, spend until the card runs out, and then, you walk away with amazing new things – not credit card debt!

Are you ready for the big reveal? Here’s what we bought!
AMEX IG Giveaway BNow I may be biased, but I think everyone needs a little Chanel, Minkoff, Spade and Kors in their life! Collectively, these are all items I would have coveted excessively but never had the gumption to actually purchase. Thanks to my American Express prepaid cards (which feel prestigious, almost luxurious, not gonna lie!) and a sweet shopping companion, I feel good about my purchases and know that I splurged the smart way.  (more…)

Keep Reading

Wayback Playback: 2010 Edition

February 17, 2016

This morning, searching through my blog for a recipe (Mangia Meatballs!) and trolling in the archives for a makeup review, I randomly stumbled on a post that I published on October 26, 2010 entitled, “Life is Good.” The post was short and sweet:
img_3513“It’s 8:23 PM. I’m getting the boys ready for bed… Life is Good.

Disclaimer: They don’t actually sleep together. Ryder would eat Reid. But they do enjoy snuggling in Ryder’s truck-inspired bed, and Ryder enjoys wearing his truck-themed pajamas. I love my boys, I am thankful for my many blessings, and Life is Good.”

Ugh! This simple post and picture made me weepy to the extreme! First, because they DO sleep together now, and have shared the same double bed for over two years. Second, because just this past weekend, my husband and I were shopping for two twin beds. At almost 6 and 8 years old, it’s time to give them their own spaces (although they still want to share a room, which we’re fine with).  (more…)

Keep Reading

Family Day Brunch: Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding

February 12, 2016

I have a mission in life, of sorts. And although it’s not as noble as say, finding ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is nonetheless heroic to certain segments of the world’s population.

I’m on a mission to turn indulgent desserts into family-friendly breakfast and brunch items. (You’re welcome.) It’s been done before, of course. Cake morphed into muffins, fried dough was branded with a more breakfast-friendly moniker, “doughnuts”, and toaster strudels? Let’s not even go there.

However, I think I’ve hit a home run with my Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding. With the goodness of whole grain whole wheat bread, fresh, ripe bananas and a touch of pure cocoa powder, I feel good about serving this pseudo-dessert. And, with Family Day just around the corner, Healthy Grains Institute challenged me to create a fabulous addition to a brunch menu that features one of our favourite comfort foods… bread!
DSC_0120It’s no secret that food brings families together. Some of our fondest memories are from moments spent around the breakfast table; giggling while we pick marshmallows out of cereal, teasing the boys about their latest crush, or simply enjoying the sheer pleasure of breaking bread (preferably the warm, out-of-the-oven kind) with loved ones.  (more…)

Keep Reading

Snow Time Like the Present.

February 11, 2016

Last week, chatting with my girlfriend who resides in Los Angeles, she gently chided me about our famous Canadian winters.

How much snow, so far? Nothing to speak of, really.
Didn’t you have an epic snowstorm recently? Actually, that was New York. We’re good here.
Isn’t Toronto one of the coldest places in Canada? One word: Prairies.

Now I know I’m not qualified to speak to January’s temperatures as I spent almost half the month in the Caribbean, but this snowman (snow worm? snow totem pole?) that the boys made this past Tuesday was actually our first of the season!
12728597_1756142027953057_1757163740_nWhich begs the question – if we’re waiting until February to make a snowman, what impact does our current climate have on future generations? Should we chalk this up to a mild winter, or be mildly alarmed about global warming? I guess my question today is, how concerned are you about the effects of the Earth’s climate system?

I know, I know, deep thoughts for a Thursday morning. Yet I can’t shake the feeling that one day, I’ll look back at this picture. I’ll stare at the smiling faces of my boys with their snowman, and be truly terrified about the world we live in.

Today, I’m going to take some time to learn about climate change, something I admittedly know next to nothing about. Of course, the fact that it’s downright freezing in Toronto today gives me some solace that we’re not about to melt… at least not yet.

Keep Reading

Chronic Dry Skin? Join the #DermWednesday Twitter Chat!

February 7, 2016

Can you believe that we’re heading into our 12th CeraVe #DermWednesday Twitter Chat? It’s true! For those that have been with us from the start, you know that each chat is a wealth of skin care tips and advice. Plus, Dr. Ben Barankin from The Toronto Dermatology Centre is always on hand to answer any of your skin care concerns.

FB GraphicThis Wednesday, the theme of our chat is “Know Your Options: Treatment Choices for Chronic and Extreme Dry Skin Conditions”. We’ll share tips on how to protect your skin in extreme cold conditions – timely, since the cold weather is really starting to settle in – and help prepare you for everyday commutes or upcoming Family Day weekend activities.

Did you know: many Canadians are unsure if they have chronic dry skin, and have questions about how to care for their skin in the cold, dry and harsh winter climate.

Come to the #DermWednesday Twitter Chat! We have answers.

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. My recommendation? Try CeraVe Moisturizing Cream! It increases the skin’s ability to attract, hold and distribute moisture, and is recognized by the Canadian Dermatology Association’s Skin Health Program.

Stay warm, keep moisturizing… and see you on Wednesday night!

Keep Reading

Wipe Away Winter Blues! Sign Up for eBills for a Chance to Win!

February 7, 2016

Friends, it’s 2016… and we are living in an (almost) paperless world.

Don’t fight it.

For my readers in Toronto, it’s time to switch to Toronto Hydro eBills. Trust me! You want to do this. With eBills, you have 24/7 access to your account from anywhere that you access the Internet. Plus, you can view all your bills for the past two years (great if you own a small business and use your home as a tax write-off). And because it’s paperless, it’s obviously better for the environment.
01-header-graphic-AspenClean-prizingNeed further motivation to sign up? All those who sign up will receive a FREE AspenClean all-natural cleaning product, every new subscriber is entered in a draw to win a GRAND PRIZE: One year (72 person-hours) of natural home cleaning services with AspenClean, valued at approximately $3,000.00 (CAD)!

And if you’re *still* not convinced (work with me, friends), consider this:

1)  According to Pay It Green, a coalition of businesses and financial institutions promoting paperless billing, if you’ve already made the switch to paperless billing, you’re saving 171 pounds of greenhouse gases, 63 gallons of water and 4.5 gallons of gasoline annually. Your household is also reducing paper usage and conserving our nations’ forests by saving nearly a tenth of a tree each year.  (more…)

Keep Reading

Celebrate Family Day! WIN a Disney Infinity 3.0 Prize Pack!

February 6, 2016

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

With Family Day in Ontario just around the corner, I’m sure many families are either a) packing their bags for a mini vacation or staycation, or b) scrambling to find something for the kids to do!

This year, I’m firmly in camp “b”. That’s why I’m so happy my boys love Disney Infinity 3.0! Disney Infinity 3.0 gives my children endless amounts of freedom and opportunity to create their own stories and play experiences, starring their favourite Disney Characters. So, next weekend, we’ll stay in our pjs, eat copious amounts of popcorn, and engage in a galactic battle… Star Wars-style!

And, you can too! My friends at Disney Interactive want YOU to have an epic Family Day weekend! We’ve teamed up to give my readers the chance to win a COLOSSAL Disney Infinity 3.0 Prize Pack. The bundle includes 10 items – including Star Wars Rise Against the Empire and Star Wars Twilight of the Republic power discs – and is valued at $240!
Giveaway_ListentoLena (2)One lucky reader will win: PS4 Disney Infinity 3.0 Starter Pack · Rise Against the Empire Play Set · Darth Vader Figure · Darth Maul Figure · Chewbacca Figure · Ezra Bridger (SW Rebels) Figure · Sabine Wren (SW Rebels) Figure · Zeb Orrelios (SW Rebels) · Power Disc Pack: Star Wars Twilight of the Republic · Power Disc Pack: Star Wars Rise Against the Empire. WHEW! What a prize!  (more…)

Keep Reading

Expect Something More: Disney Cruise Line

February 6, 2016

It’s been just about three weeks since we’ve returned from our Disney Cruise Line vacation… and I’ve only been *this close* to booking another Disney Cruise just about 20 times. It’s true! I’m officially hooked. From the stunning destinations to the superb and spacious accommodations; the unique fine dining to the live Broadway-caliber shows, I’ve found a new way to spend my vacation dollars.

And, I can’t think of a better investment.

Because that’s the crux of the matter, yes? The fact is, when planning a family vacation, your choice is bound to be based on interests, preferences and your total travel budget. And for the first two – interests and preferences – I can assure you that a Disney Cruise Line vacation will easily cover these points. There is authentically something for everyone! (No, seriously, take a look.)
overview-whats-includedBut it’s important for me to address the elephant (possibly Dumbo?) in the room: Why is a Disney Cruise worth your hard-earned vacation dollars? What makes a Disney Cruise different from another cruise line? Why should you consider paying a premium when there are so many last minute “deals” and “promos” offered by competitors?

It’s actually quite simple. With a Disney Cruise Line vacation, you can expect something more. In fact, what’s included in the price of your cruise may surprise you.  (more…)

Keep Reading