food

Cafe Boulud: A Feast for the Senses

One of the wonderful things about Toronto is the wealth of dining options. Every cuisine, every taste, every whim and fancy is catered to, with varying degrees of punch and panache. From food trucks to street meat; fine dining to fusion fare, Toronto offers diners the best the world has to offer, amidst a vibrant, trendsetting city backdrop.

“Located at the exquisite flagship Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, Café Boulud serves a menu inspired by Chef Daniel Boulud’s French roots, inflected with international flavors. Dishes are timeless and expertly executed by Boulud’s talented team of chefs, from the signature Potato Wrapped Sea Bass over leeks and pommes purée to a hearty Slow-Roasted Veal Shank for Two. Downstairs from the café is dbar, the lively bar and lounge serving an array of bar-friendly faire, extensive wine list and unique mixed cocktails.” – Cafe Boulud Toronto

Recently, my husband and I had the fortune of dining at Cafe Boulud, where we experienced a celebration of delectable French cuisine. While I teased photos of our selections via Twitter and Instagram, here is a tribute to our meal from beginning to end.

NOVA SCOTIA LOBSTER SALAD
iceberg lettuce, marinated quail’s egg, cucumber
avocado cream, marie rose

Cafe Boulud TorontoThe plump, delicately poached lobster meat is complemented beautifully with a creamy, refreshingly bright sauce. As soon as the dish starts to border on over-indulgent, a sharp, acidic bite of marinated quail’s egg restores the palette’s equilibrium and balances the richness of the dish.  (more…)

fashion

Deal Detective: Michael Kors Hamilton Large Tote

I often receive e-mails from deal-seeking readers who are looking for the best price on beauty or fashion finds. Normally, I’ll try to steer them in the right direction, whether it be through re-sellers, coupon codes or the location of their nearest outlet store. Playing “deal detective” is a hobby and a challenge!

Michael Kors Luggage ToteRecently, I’ve been tasked to find the best price in Canada for a Michael Kors Hamilton Large Tote. A classic, designer handbag that never goes out of style (and therefore, never goes on sale), it is available at Canadian Michael Kors retail stores for $395.00.

Okay, first things first. It sells for $358.00 in the US, so there’s definitely a price discrepancy for north-of-the-border shoppers. However, only you can decide if the $37.00 surplus is worth your time, gas and duty charges to cross the border and find it in the States. And don’t even think about ordering it online and shipping it home; the delivery and extra charges will surely surpass the $395.00 Canadian price.

Hence, we’re working with a Canadian selling price of $395.00 plus tax, which totals $446.35 if you’re in Ontario, like me.

If you are a Costco member, your first option is to purchase the handbag from Costco online or in-store. Curiously, it is referred to as the “North South” tote, but for all intents and purposes, the bag is seemingly identical to the original.

Pros: The Hamilton Tote retails for $319.99, with shipping and handling included. That’s $75.00 off the retail price! The total, plus HST, is $361.59.

Cons: Since Costco is not an authorized dealer for Michael Kors, the manufacturer’s warranty does not apply. In place of the manufacturer’s warranty, Costco will refund your purchase price if you are not completely satisfied with the product. Since Costco is known to have a very liberal return policy, this does not bother me.  (more…)

musings

Brace-Bound Teeth: Keeping ‘em Clean

It’s a time I remember very well, because really, it didn’t happen too long ago. Yes, I was an adult with braces. You know, the gal who studied and worked during the day, and at night, went clubbing with her girlfriends. That was me! And when that tall, dark stranger approached, I gave him a shy, reserved smile… because anything would be better than revealing a mouth full of metal at age 21 – UGH!

(Oh, and when the orthodontist tells you that your braces will be off in 12 months, it’s a lie. Two full years of brace-face, baby! You don’t forget stuff like that.)

Okay, so clubbing sucked. And so did the removal of four teeth. And getting the braces on. And the elastics. And that damned retainer. But if I had to single out the worst experience of wearing braces, it was definitely keeping my teeth clean and healthy while trying to navigate through all the wire. Even though it’s only been 15 years since I had my braces, electric toothbrushes weren’t a thing back then, so I had to rely on good old fashioned brushing (and pretty much failed miserably). I truly wish I had taken better care of my teeth when I had braces, because when they came off, I was the proud owner of straight teeth – but they were discoloured and I had acquired two cavities. (Insert sad face.) Weeks of whitening strips and two filled cavities later, I could finally enjoy my brand new pearly whites.

But don’t make the same mistakes I did! If you, or someone you know, is currently wearing braces, I want you to have a better experience. And that begins with proper oral hygiene. Today, I’m pleased to share the following intel for brace-faces everywhere:

3M is working with Crest and Oral-B to ensure the necessary information is readily available on how to care for brace-bound teeth. According to certified orthodontic clinical assistant, Cathy Sundvall, there are six key steps that should be followed by brace wearers to ensure a good oral hygiene routine:

1. Rinse: Start by removing loose food particles.
2. Tree brush: Use an interproximal brush to check behind your archwire for any remaining food debris.
3. Water flosser: Use a water flosser to ensure you’ve removed food particles from around the brackets.
4. Floss: Remove any food that’s in between your teeth with floss.
5. Power brush: Brush using a specially-designed electric toothbrush head, which removes plaque in tiny, hard-to-reach spots, like the areas around your braces.
6. Final rinse: Now that you’re done cleaning your teeth, make sure your mouth is fresh and toothpaste-free with a quick rinse.

Not inspired? Consider this – research indicates that a clean mouth prevents various life-threatening diseases like aspiration pneumonia, gum disease and heart disease.

3M has set up a nifty little website that explains the above steps in detail, so you can avail yourself of handy oral hygiene tips and tricks. Best of all, you’ll find the appropriate suggestions for all types of braces, whether you have metal, ceramic or the brand new incognito style. (Hello! Where were incognito braces in 2001? Pfft.)

Brushing with Incognito BracesSo, I have a confession to make: as soon as my braces were off, I literally tuned out the orthodontist as he cautioned me to wear my retainer. Nope, didn’t happen. Didn’t care – didn’t listen. And now 2-3 of my teeth have shifted… and I’m looking into getting braces again. And if/when they do reappear in my life, you can bet I’ll be paying very close attention to my oral hygiene regime. Let’s just say I’ve bookmarked this post.

(Psst - Are your kids about to get braces? Check out www.PaintYourSmile.com which allows them to see what they’re going to look like with braces. Super cool and a fun way to prepare them for their new smile!)

family

Planes: Fire & Rescue – Win a Family Pass! (GTA)

If you have Disney-loving offspring in your household, chances are, you’ve got July 18th circled on your calendar. Why? Well, it’s the North American release of Planes: Fire & Rescue, of course!

“Planes: Fire & Rescue” is a new comedy-adventure about second chances, featuring a dynamic crew of elite firefighting aircraft devoted to protecting historic Piston Peak National Park from raging wildfire. When world-famous air racer Dusty (voice of Dane Cook) learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again, he must shift gears and is launched into the world of aerial firefighting.

Dusty joins forces with veteran fire-and-rescue helicopter Blade Ranger (voice of Ed Harris) and his courageous team, including spirited air tanker Dipper (voice of Julie Bowen), heavy-lift helicopter Windlifter (voice of Wes Studi), ex-military transport Cabbie (voice of Captain Dale Dye) and a lively bunch of brave all-terrain vehicles known as The Smokejumpers. The fearless team battles a wildfire and Dusty learns what it takes to become a true hero.

Planes: Fire & RescueI’ve got two little fans who cannot wait to see the new movie, and I’ve got a special surprise for them – we’re attending the advanced screening on July 16th in Toronto! Yup – they’ll get their Dusty-fix before anyone else (which translates to two more days of hearing roaring plane engines for me).

The best news: you can join us! I’ve got one Family Pass of 4 to give away to the advanced screening of Planes: Fire & Rescue on July 16, 2014 in Toronto. The show will take place at Cineplex Yonge & Dundas at 7:15pm.

If you’re interested in treating your family to this epic aerial adventure, simply leave a comment on this post. I’ll randomly draw for a winner on Sunday, July 13th, 2014. Good luck everyone!

family

Let’s Go: Family Travel at Four Seasons Toronto

Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of being a guest of the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto. We enjoyed family-friendly amenities without sacrificing refinement, and explored the city’s most lavish surroundings while making lasting memories. Our flawless stay included a romantic dinner for mom and dad (sans kids!) at Café Boulud; an in-room family movie night; breakfast in bed; an aromatherapy massage at The Spa for mom while dad and the kids enjoyed the pool; lunch at d|bar, and more.

And while I have so many aspects of our incredible stay that I’d love to cover, today, let’s discuss the little details that make Four Seasons Hotel Toronto a luxury family-friendly destination.

Stepping into their dazzling lobby, I was greeted by whimsical artwork and overflowing floral arrangements, lending a peculiar combination of warmth and chic opulence all at once. My instinct was to hush the boys, who, after a long car journey peppered with summer construction, were ready to stretch their legs (and voices).

Four Seasons Hotel Toronto

Yet within moments of checking in, the friendly representative came from behind the front desk and took my boys to strategically hidden vending machines, where they were each offered a coin and a treat. If I believed for a second that Four Seasons Hotel Toronto was not geared towards young families, this one act of candy courtship effectively erased that doubt. We were presented with our room keys, and herded the boys (who were now blowing kisses to their new friend) into the elevator.  (more…)

family

#FamilyTravelCA: Introducing Four Seasons Toronto

Have you ever wanted to hear tips and tricks for successful family travel… from a hotel’s perspective? I mean, think about it – they could tell you what to look for, what to expect, and most importantly, how to make the most of your family stay. Sounds pretty helpful, right?

Well, we just don’t have *any* hotel joining us for the next #FamilyTravelCA chat – we’ve got a leader in service and luxury; the epitome of opulence and innovation. Introducing the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto.

FamilyTravelCA 1pmFour Seasons Hotel Toronto offers 259 spacious luxury hotel guest rooms, including 42 suites, in Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood. Relax and rejuvenate in their 2,787-square-metre (30,000-square-foot) state-of-the-art spa, or enjoy spectacular cuisine by international chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud at Café Boulud and d|bar.

Join us on Tuesday, June 24th at 1:00pm EST (mind the NEW time!) for the #FamilyTravelCA Twitter Chat, where we welcome @FSToronto as our very special expert guest. They will share ways to make the most of your family travel experience from the hotelier’s point of view – which can be invaluable if you’re wanting a truly seamless and wonderful experience. And, thank you for joining us, they’re offering one tweeter a *very* special prize:

ONE NIGHT STAY FOR TWO GUESTS IN A DELUXE ROOM
DINNER FOR TWO GUESTS AT CAFE BOULUD (excludes alcohol and gratuities)

A total value of $900.00! Having just returned from a flawless stay at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, I can authentically say that for one lucky winner, this will be a stay of a lifetime, and a meal to remember!

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

food

Savour the Summer: Belvedere Vodka Martini

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed my tweets toasting World Martini Day, celebrated every year on June 19th. But do we really need a reason to indulge in a martini? Just thinking out loud here.

World Martini DayCourtesy of Belvedere Vodka, the original and true expression of luxury vodka, I channeled my inner Bond and created a classic dry martini. But for all my savvy and sophistication, I know very little about martini culture - except to only accept one from a stranger at a bar.

(I’ve done the morning-after walk of shame after accepting two – I won’t be repeating that any time soon!)

So, what exactly is a vodka martini? A vodka martini is a cocktail containing unequal portions of vodka and dry vermouth (somewhere in a ratio of about 2:1) served chilled, in a conical stemmed glass, garnished with either a green olive or a lemon twist.

Shaken or stirred? Well, here are the facts. Shaking cools a drink more quickly, but is more likely to chip small shards off the ice, some of which will make their way into the drink, no matter how carefully one strains and pours. Which may be part of the reason why some people prefer their martini stirred. At the end of the day, neither option is better – it’s simply what you prefer.

Though it’s decidedly cooler to say #BelvedereShaken.

What’s the big deal about vodka? Premium vodka, specifically the iconic Belvedere brand, is created exclusively from Polish Dankowskie Rye and quadruple-distilled to create the perfect balance of character and purity. It is completely free of additives and is sourced from purified water from Belvedere’s own artisan wells.  (more…)

family

Planning the Perfect Trip: Summer Travel Tips

Are you gearing up for a family trip? Flying with family is no simple task. Getting everyone packed, organized and ready to go through security with little fuss can present quite a challenge! Thankfully, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has a few pointers to help make your summer travel experience run smoothly.

Know How to Carry-on: Children get hungry for snacks. You know this and you want to be prepared. Solid foods such as apples, granola bars or sandwiches can be packed in your carry-on for the plane ride, and any liquid food – such as yogurt, pudding or peanut butter - must be in containers of 100ml or less and placed in a clear, closed, resealable one-litre plastic bag.

catsa_family_1However, if you’re traveling with a baby (under the age of two), items such as baby food, breast milk, formula, water and juice are exempt from the 100 ml limit and do not have to be placed in a plastic bag. Still, you must present these items to the screening officer for inspection.

Other personal items to keep the kids entertained, like iPods, tablets and toys, can go in your child’s carry-on baggage. Always be sure to leave toys that look like weapons (e.g. water guns, toy grenades, etc.) at home.

Check Wait Times: Preparing for your departure is easier with CATSA’s online wait time indicator. Wait times for security screening checkpoints major airports provide extra convenience when planning your trip. (I check it obsessively before travel! Super convenient.)  (more…)

Contests

#ArmYourself Ladies! It’s a Bliss Spa Twitter Party!

We’re just a few days away from the official start of summer! You know what that means… drinks on the patio, freezies and fresh fruit, and… tank tops! Take a peek under that heavy clothing… are you putting your best arm forward?

Introducing Bliss Spa products, available exclusively at Sephora and at Sephora.ca in Canada! Who says serious skincare has to be so, well, serious? Not the brains behind Bliss: Though their cult-favorite products pack seriously effective ingredients, Bliss’ cheeky names never fail to make you smile (FatGirlSlim, anyone?). Each blackhead-busting, cellulite-ridding, skin-smoothing treatment is created for the needs of actual Bliss Spa-goers. And even better, every Bliss tube, tub, bottle, and bar is injected with the same signature blend of humor, science, luxury, and ease that the Bliss spas are famous for—leaving you looking and feeling like you’re in a constant state of Bliss.

And now, we’re pleased to share with you the NEW FatGirlSlim Arm Candy.

What it is: An arm-perfecting cream to reduce redness while providing a firmer, smoother, and more toned appearance.

What it is formulated to do: Formulated with a complex of lactic acid, caffeine, white sapphire, and moisture beads, this powerful Arm Candy provides optimal results and beautiful, flaunt-worthy arms. It’s the only arm-perfecting cream, complete with a massaging applicator, proven to clinically reduce redness, firm, smooth, and create a more even skintone.

What else you need to know: This is not a weight or fat loss product. As part of your body-bettering routine, use in conjunction with regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular vigorous massage, and the rest of the Bliss fatgirlslim regimen.

Based on a clinical study of healthy females from 22 to 45 years of age after 4 weeks of use:
- 96% said arms felt soft
- 90% said arms felt smoother
- 80% said skin feels smoother
- 93% said it was easy to use

Want to learn more about it? And… want a chance to WIN ONE OF SEVEN Bliss Spa Gift Baskets, valued at over $250 each? Join the #ArmYourself Twitter Party – Thursday, June 19th at 1pm EST!

Twitter Party Invite - Bliss Rev5 (1)RSVP now for a chance to win, and we’ll see you on Thursday night!  (more…)

family

Hot Wheels Track Builder Challenge. {We Failed}

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only. 

There a few things my boys love more in life than die cast cars. (Popsicles and Christmas immediately come to mind; however, both are seasonal occurrences, whereas their love for Disney Cars and Hot Wheels is steadfast and endures throughout the seasons.) Hence, when I was approached by @HotWheelsCanada to join the Hot Wheels Parent Connector Club, of course I jumped at the opportunity. Heck, why wouldn’t I take all the credit for being a hero mom? I sensed exultation and accolades, and I wanted in.

Before long, a veritable cornucopia of Hot Wheels tracks, stunts cars, playsets and more arrived at our front door. The boys were in heaven! They immediately wanted to rip into the toys, but I cautioned that they’d have to wait, as we were tasked with participating in a Hot Wheels Track Builder Challenge. This meant that I’d be inviting over some of their friends, having a little party, and challenging them to build the most epic Hot Wheels track ever. Sounds like fun, right? Gentlemen, start your engines!

Hot Wheels Track Builder ChallengeOkay, so there’s only one car at the start line. And that’s because there was only one boy at our “party” – Ryder. Now before you start feeling sorry for him for having no friends, let me explain.

It’s been a hard month. We’ve had an illness in the family, and I’ve been struggling to juggle the demands of momhood, business, family travel… and life’s little curve balls. Although we had originally settled on a date for the track challenge party, our guests had to postpone. Then we had to postpone. And then life got crazy. And every time I thought to myself, “Damn, I really have to host that party with the boys and the cars and the tracks and the noise…” … I shuddered a little.

So yes, it’s pretty much my fault.

But then, in between planning yet another playdate and trying to sync everyone’s schedule, it occurred to me that Hot Wheels are about play. So, I unceremoniously tore apart all the boxes, dumped some tracks on the backyard patio, and I told Ryder to play. And he did. From generation to generation, the trusted Hot Wheels brand has ensured hours of fun for children of all ages. The newest playsets are just as enjoyable, with innovation and ingenuity that is both anticipated and appealing.  (more…)

family

Baby on Board: #CMRCarSeatSafety

They’re a part of your child’s life for a very long time. Sure – they’ll outgrow their cribs, high chairs and strollers – and mercifully, you’ll be able to say goodbye to diapers after a few years too. But from infant car seat to combination to booster seat, your child’s road safety for many years is dependent on a quality, correctly installed car seat.

Have a child or one on the way? Join The CMR’s Car Seat Expert for a #CMRCarSeatSafety Twitter Party, tomorrow night at 9pm EST. We’ll share car seat safety tips and answer your most frequent questions surrounding purchase and installation. Of course, to thank you for joining, we’ll be giving away over $1500 in prizes, including FOUR Evenflo Platinum Symphony car seats!

cmr_carseatsafety_twitterparty_promo_4This chat is especially important for parents-to-be, as we’ll be sharing some valuable insight surrounding car seat legislation and our Car Seat Expert Wendy (@mapsgirl) will be available to direct you to local resources should you require further assistance.

In addition to car seats, we’ll have other terrific prizes up for grabs that EVERYONE can enjoy! Click here to RSVP now and see you on Thursday night!

Contests

AIR MILES Cash = Instant Gratification

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only. 

Chances are, you participate in at least one rewards program you don’t quite understand.

How many reward miles  equal a dollar? How are rewards applied? How do I earn reward miles? And most importantly… how the heck can I redeem them?

It can be *slightly* tricky, especially when you have to convert reward miles into dollars. Now for those saving up for a dream vacation, I suppose the learning curve is well worth it. But what if you’re an “in-the-moment” kind of person who wants instant gratification? That is, what if you want to simply earn, spend, and repeat? If this sounds like you – rejoice! AIR MILES Cash is right up your alley.

AIR MILES Cash

And now, there’s a NEW way to redeem with AIR MILES Cash! Not only can you redeem instantly in-store at participating Sponsors, but you can also redeem online, giving you even more flexibility and the chance to choose how your AIR MILES reward miles are redeemed.

(I’m an online shopaholic and I approve this redemption feature.)

The new AIR MILES Cash eVoucher feature makes it easy to take cash off everyday purchases like movie tickets, groceries, apps and music, cab rides or even your daily latte fix, thanks to a variety of popular participating partners. Here’s what you need to know:

1) First, sign up for AIR MILES Cash at www.airmiles.ca/cash and set a balance preference. Any reward miles earned going forward will be deposited in your AIR MILES Cash and/or Dream balances related to the preference you have set. For example, 100% Cash, 100% Dream, or a preference in between!

2) You must have at least 95 reward miles in your AIR MILES Cash balance in order to redeem. Ninety-five (95) reward miles from an AIR MILES Cash balance can be redeemed online for $10 or more worth of value at participating Reward Partners, or you can redeem right in-store at participating partners for cash off your bill. For example, if you have 960 miles in your AIR MILES Cash balance, you can redeem for eVouchers up to $100 in value (950 reward miles = $100 in eVoucher value). What did I tell you? Instant gratification.

3) You can redeem up to a maximum $750 value in eVouchers per day, across all eVoucher partners.  (more…)

musings

Quality Essentials: Your Day-to-Day Must Haves

This post was brought to you by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers via sheblogs. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of CAPP.

This morning began like any other; after smacking my blaring alarm clock, my feet hit the soft shag carpet next to my bed, while I stretched and made my way to the bathroom. Flicking on the light switch, I stared bleary-eyed at my sallow reflection (too little sleep) and contemplated the bags under my eyes (too much wine). Grabbing my toothbrush, I vigorously cleaned my teeth, followed by the daily steps needed to complete the beautification process: a quick shower, 10 minutes with a hair dryer, 10 seconds with a hair brush, a swipe of lip gloss and a dab of sunscreen.

Okay, so it took me at least 5 minutes to select my lip gloss. Note to self: sort through various plastic tubes.

Lip Gloss EssentialsAfter much consideration, I settled on a lip colour (shimmery peach if you must know). Popping my contact lenses onto my eyes and an assortment of vitamins into my mouth, I felt much more ready to start the day.

That is, until I stepped on a stray toy lying outside my bathroom door. OUCH! I checked under my foot, contemplating whether the puncture was deep enough to warrant a band aid. Deciding it wasn’t, I made my way to the kitchen, where I grabbed the coffee pot and hunted in the fridge for the milk jug. After putting the coffee on, I grabbed my camera and scrolled through the photos I had taken the night before, smiling.

Less than thirty minutes into my day, I have already used at least 15 products made from petroleum.  (more…)

Contests

Baby’s First Summer: #DisneyBabyCA Twitter Party!

Often, when I look at my boys with fondness and wonder, I ask myself, “HOW are they 4 and 6??” It seems like just yesterday that they were experiencing their very first summer. Walks down to the lake in the stroller; testing the texture of grass, peeking out from a cool sunhat and even cooler shades. (I think my ovaries twinged for a moment. Hmm… nope. False alarm.)

Baby’s first experiences are major milestones every mother loves to share (and re-live!). To make sure this summer’s moments are magical, we’re getting together for a #DisneyBabyCA Twitter Party! Join us on Monday, June 16th at 9pm ET where we’ll share our best tips and advice for upcoming summer travel, ways to enjoy the outdoors with baby, keeping sun safety at top of mind or simply what to pack if you’re heading to the park. In short, we want you to get outside – with baby in tow!

Disney Baby GraphicSo what’s in it for you besides fabulous conversation? Oh, just OVER $700.00 in Disney Baby prize packs! That’s right – if you’ve got a little one under two, or know someone who does, you won’t want to miss the party!

RSVP now for a chance to win, and we’ll see you on Monday night!  (more…)

musings

Let’s Be Friends! Introducing FriendshipDNA

It’s a question married couples are often asked. “How did you two meet?” And the answer invariably goes something like this: We met at a bar, through friends, at school, at work, at the pharmacy, at a funeral, while running a marathon, while purchasing mulch at the Home Depot… {insert your romantic story here}. And, if you’ve dated in the last 10-15 years, chances are you may have even met your partner online.

And why not? Life is busy, time is scarce, and if it can work for me (one-half of a proud Internet couple here) it can work for you. But just as people are curious about how spouses meet, people rarely ask how you met your friends.

Er… how did I meet my friends?

I suppose a few are from school; others I’ve met through work, and of course, I inherited friends when I married my husband. However, if I really stop and think about it, I’d say it’s hard to meet friends, wouldn’t you? It’s difficult to meet NEW like-minded people who are already not part of your social circle.

That’s where FriendshipDNA comes in. With FriendshipDNA, you can find others who share similar interests with you, and match well on 86 personality attributes (yes, they’ve got this down to a science). Imagine the power of realizing that a Facebook acquaintance, or someone you are following on Twitter, is actually very compatible with you friendship-wise! All of a sudden, the vast world of social media can seem a little bit smaller and more meaningful.


And what about those IRL (in real life) situations? FriendshipDNA connects you to people in your community who you are “meant” to meet! Someone with similar values, lifestyle, likes and interests who is in the same boat as you. The possibilities are endless – you just need to get started by filling out a profile to get to know who you are and what you’re looking for in a friend.

In essence, it takes “friending someone online” to a whole new level. 

Remember: It is not a dating site – it’s a platonic friendship site, with users connecting in their local communities. Therefore, your default matches will be set to the same gender, unless you state otherwise. So, what do I think about meeting friends online?

Well, it’s nothing I haven’t been doing for years, whether it be via my blog, on Facebook, or through other social media channels like Twitter or Instagram. Online friendships help bridge the distance and connect people socially. But, it’s still not the same as having a friendly coffee, a night dancing at a club or taking in a museum or art gallery. Because online friendships stay online, whereas FriendshipDNA makes the introduction on their website, but then brings the friendship to life. It’s actually quite ingenious. Click here to read about the science behind FriendshipDNA.

The best part? It’s affordable! Users receive a FREE personality report for completing the registration process. So, get to learn a little about yourself before you start adding to your social circle. When you are ready to start enjoying the benefits of FriendshipDNA, a subscription package is only $8.99 a month, charged on a monthly basis. (For a limited time, new users can take advantage of 30 days free.)

Have you moved recently? Lost touch with friends? Find yourself wanting to expand your social circle – or add people with similar interests and values? You may want to check out FriendshipDNA.

food

Luxury Travel: Four Seasons Toronto

It’s rare that one has the opportunity to experience a destination, luxury hotel – in the heart of their own city. The Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, soaring 55 storeys in Toronto’s most glamorous quarter, blends warm sophistication with spectacular design.

This weekend, my family will be embarking on a family staycation at the Four Seasons. Here, we’ll enjoy family-friendly amenities without sacrificing refinement; we’ll explore the city’s most lavish surroundings while making lasting memories. On our agenda: a romantic dinner for mom and dad (sans kids!) at Café Boulud; an in-room family movie night; breakfast in bed; an aromatherapy massage at The Spa  for mom while dad and the kids enjoy the pool; lunch at d|bar, and more. Follow #FamilyTravelCA on Twitter as I chronicle our adventures in luxury family travel.

Before I pack, I wanted to share with you a little “taste” of what’s in store for us at Café Boulud tonight. My husband has followed the career of Chef Daniel Boulud for years; a renowned Michelin-starred French chef and restaurateur, he effortlessly pairs the cosmopolitan flavours of Toronto’s diverse cultures with classic and contemporary French dishes. On the menu -

CRISPY DUCK EGG with button mushrooms, glazed onions, smoked bacon and parsley.

Cafe Boulud 1 (more…)

musings

#ThrowbackThursday #tbt: Family Picnic

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 little ones came along, my husband and I were avid picnickers. There’s just something so very romantic about stretching out on a big, soft blanket and enjoying a rustic meal… all the while being surrounded by nature on a warm, sunny day. In fact, almost 8 years ago I received a proposal for marriage while we were picnicking – which essentially made me a #Fan4life.

Our very first family picnic happened just about a year after Reid was born; we put out a simple spread of finger foods (cooked chicken nuggets, vegetable sticks, sandwich halves and chips) and stocked our travelling toy chest with balls, Frisbees, squirt toys and picture books. And of course, before the fun began, we captured the moment.

throwback thursdayI later added this photo to my scrapbook, with the caption: “You have defined and justified my existence.”

musings

I’m Ready to Capture Nikon MOMents

About six months ago, I purchased my very first DSLR camera. Almost overnight, my blog’s photography component went from Jennifer Lopez to Meryl Streep. Sure, I was taking better photos, but that was mainly due to the fact that I simply owned a better camera. But for the most part, I was only shooting in two settings: “Auto” and “No Flash”.

Well, what good is a DSLR camera if you don’t have the training, skills and expertise to go with it?

That’s why I’m so pleased to be working on the Nikon MOMents campaign with Mom Central Canada for the next 12 months. Today, I’m off to enjoy a full day of training, which I’m hoping will give me the confidence and knowledge to get creative with my brand new Nikon DSLR camera. So I suppose what I’m saying is… get ready for gorgeous new photography on my blog in the months to come!

Nikon D3300So, what’s my new machinery? It’s the Nikon D3300.

Creating beautiful photos and videos has never been more fun! Life is full of surprising, joyful moments—moments worth remembering. The D3300 makes it fun and easy to preserve those moments in the lifelike beauty they deserve: stunning 24.2-megapixel photos and 1080p Full HD videos with tack-sharp details, vibrant colors and softly blurred backgrounds.

With its included zoom lens, the new ultra-compact AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II, the D3300 is a small and light HD-SLR and easy to use, too. Like sharing photos? The D3300 photos can appear instantly on your compatible smartphone or tablet for easy sharing with the optional WU-1a Wireless Adapter*!

Whether you’re creating high-resolution panoramas, adding artistic special effects or recording HD video with sound, the D3300 will bring you endless joy, excitement and memories—just like the special moments of your life.

Follow the #NikonMOMents hashtag for a great conversation about photography. Have a great day all!

family

Celebrating Dad: The #CAAChat for Father’s Day!

It is my humble opinion that dads are unsung heroes. Think about it: moms get all the glory! Large corporations invest in expensive commercials applauding their efforts. Crafty aprons proudly proclaim a woman’s work is never done. The busiest day of the year for international telephone calls is Mother’s Day. I could go on and on.

But what about dad? What about the men who fearlessly make spiders disappear, take out the garbage without a peep of protest, and teach junior how to ride a two-wheeler? They braid hair, kiss boo boos and pick up your dry cleaning – when they’re not grilling the most delicious homemade burgers for their families, of course. Dads deserve every ounce of recognition, and more!

Well, it’s time to show dad just how much you love him – by winning a prize for him at the @CAASCO Father’s Day Twitter Party! And trust me – you won’t want to miss this one!

Twitter-party-with-logoSimply tweet with the hashtag #CAAChat on Thursday, June 12, 2014 between 12-1 ET. We’ve got TWO grand prizes to give away, including a 16GB iPad Air and a $300 Home Depot Gift Card! Other amazing prizes include gift cards worth up to $300 from East Side Mario’s, Hard Rock Cafe, Kernels, SportChek and tickets to Toronto FC, Argos & The Hamilton Bull Dogs. I’m pretty sure I know a lot of dads who would love any of those prizes.

No RSVP required, so all you have to do is show up! With Father’s Day right around the corner, the question on most people’s minds is “what do I get for the man who has everything?” Get ready to swap Father’s Day gift ideas, great Dad stories and more. See you on Thursday!

Contests

Delissio Vintage Pizzeria: Official Pizza of Pizza Night

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

It’s no secret. We go through a lot of frozen pizza chez Lena. And can you blame me? I’ve got two boys (and a husband) with hollow legs, limited time to put together snacks fulfilling enough to keep their hunger at bay, and a swanky new pizza maker that cuts down on baking time.

In fact, you could say we’re frozen pizza connoisseurs. 

We know what we like. A thin, crispy crust; rich, flavourful tomato sauce; crisp and tasty toppings. And to top it all off, the perfect ratio of bread:cheese. I thought I had zeroed in on the boys’ favourites, allowing them to indulge on a regular basis, until we discovered Delissio’s NEW Vintage Pizzeria.

Delissio’s NEW Vintage Pizzeria is the official pizza of #PizzaNight! This new great-tasting line is inspired by the traditions of authentic pizzerias with the crust drizzled with olive oil and free of artificial flavours. The four Delissio’s Vintage Pizzeria varieties (Pepperoni, 4 Cheese, 3 Meat and Deluxe) will satisfy the entire family.

DelissioWE LOVE IT. It’s everything we look for a pizza, and more! Super deliciousness packed into every bite. Now normally, I’m not a crust person – tossing them to Ryder to finish off. But Vintage Pizzeria are infused with the fruitiest of olive oils, making them soft, scrumptious and incredibly flavourful. THIS is the frozen pizza we’ve been waiting for!

Want to make Delissio’s NEW Vintage Pizzeria the official pizza of YOUR #PizzaNight? Enter to win a Pizza Night Prize Pack, which includes coupons for Delissio pizza as well as a pizza cutter, pizza pan, napkins and a great board game – everything you need to have a fun pizza night with the entire family! (Total value$100.)  (more…)