Contests

Make Yourself #RightAtHome with Urban Barn

It’s not every day that I have the opportunity to work with one of my most favourite brands. As a self-professed Urban Barn junkie, I’ve coveted their furniture from the moment we signed the purchase agreement for our home. (In fact, I’m quite positive I buggered off work for the rest of the day so I could pop into a nearby store.)

Regardless, when I think of effortless style with a contemporary flair, I think of Urban Barn. And my Yoshi Bedroom Set. And my Groove Chair… Lucent Round Damask Mirror… City in Motion Collage… Aldo Bar Stools… London Bedding Collection… Carradine Leather Sofa Chaise… Strike Coffee Table…

Am I obsessed? I prefer the term, “fan girl”.

And it gives me great pleasure to announce the GRAND OPENING of Urban Barn’s newest location – 18166 Yonge Street in Newmarket, Ontario. If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, pop by the store this Saturday, March 15th from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. as they welcome customers to the Green Lane Centre.

BONUS: You’ll enjoy 20% off all Décor Accents! AND, use this EXCLUSIVE coupon to save 15% off furniture! Remember, both promotions are valid on Saturday, March 15th at the Newmarket store only.

Urban Barn offers a stunning array of contemporary furniture, home decor and gorgeous accessories that will look #RightAtHome in your place, for years to come. By shaking up a winning cocktail of great design, quality and value with liberal splashes of fun, they’ve become a true favourite of the style conscious shopper. (<< That would be me.)

Whether compact condo or roomy rural retreat, Urban Barn has the right furniture and accessories to bring sophistication and comfort to every room of your home. If you love your home, you’ll love their stores…it’s a given.

In the mood to Spring into a new season of style? Join us for the @Urban_Barn #RightAtHome Twitter Party!

We’ll chat about the best design and decor trends for Spring 2014 with Urban Barn, the original purveyors of effortless style. All those who RSVP below will have a chance win AMAZING prizes, including Urban Gift cards to get your shopping started off right!

Follow @Urban_Barn, RSVP using the linky below and tweet using #RightAtHome to be eligible to win. See you on Thursday night – and if you live in the GTA, be sure to pop by the Newmarket store on Saturday! (more…)

Contests

Protect Yourself with #FellowesProtects

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. And I’ve been fooled before: a victim of credit card fraud, over $12,000 was charged to my account in just over six hours. I found out in the most inconvenient fashion; while exiting a parking garage after a rare romantic dinner with my husband, both our credit cards were declined at the checkpoint. Confused and frustrated – though lucky to have carried some cash that day – we arrived home to find two voice messages from VISA, asking us to call their fraud centre immediately.

So, we knew one of our credit cards had been compromised. However, thanks to insurance and card-user safeguards, we wouldn’t be responsible for the fraudulent charges. Still, we were impacted in the following ways:

1) My credit card was immediately cancelled, which meant that for this shopaholic, I had to wait up to 10 business days before a replacement would arrive. As I had holiday shopping to complete, it was highly frustrating.

2) A new card meant a new card number – which required several phone calls to creditors who auto-charge my card monthly. Between the insurance company, the cable company, utilities and various charitable organizations, I reckon I spent hours getting everything updated in their systems.

3) That feeling of being victimized. So, someone got a hold of my financial details and someone went on a shopping spree in San Francisco. But who? And more importantly, HOW?

The truth is, I have no idea how my credit card was compromised. But I immediately realized that there were steps I could take to prevent fraudulent activity; everything from safeguarding my PIN to ensuring that I don’t give thieves access to my personal and banking information – especially via documents that have been carelessly thrown away. Think about it – when was the last time you tossed a credit card statement in the trash? You could have tossed a thief everything he needs to steal your identification.

March is Fraud Prevention Month. According to Sylvain Patry, senior vice president of ProtectionPower.ca and identity theft expert, “shredding documents isn’t just for businesses and people with something to hide. Canadian households are full of documents that contain potentially compromising information.” (more…)

food

Show of Hands: YAY-con or NAY-con for Bacon?

Introducing the ‘Piggylicious’ Bacon Cupcake with Maple Frosting and Pretzel Crunch, available at the 2014 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival at Walt Disney World.

I’m saying yes… although I’m trying to reconcile the taste sensation between the creamy maple frosting and the salty bacon bits. What do you think? And more importantly, who’s heading to Epcot soon? Be sure to try one of these bad boys and let us know! The 2014 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival runs through May 18, 2014.

(Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World)

food

#SimplePleasures: All You Need is #CDNcheese

Long before being a homeowner was ever an option, I fantasized about the intricate soirees I’d throw. Hosting friends while offering a sublime spread, I pictured myself as an impeccable hostess, a talented chef, a tastemaker.

However, after struggling to get together with my girlfriends post-family, I realized that the best parties require the simplest measures: good friends, great appetizers, and an excellent bottle of wine. And just like that, I forever became a fan of the Wine and Cheese.

An excellent – and affordable – way to bring friends and family together, Wine and Cheese parties are my preferred “girl’s night in” activity. In addition to offering a variety of tastes and textures, cheese platters satisfy the delicate balance between sweet and salty, especially when paired with fruit and nuts.

The perfect Canadian cheese platter is easy to make! Just mix and match your favourite Canadian cheese types to ensure different textures and intensities in flavour. I always look for the 100% Canadian Milk symbol when I buy cheese because it ensures that your cheese is made from Canadian milk renowned for its purity, high quality and great taste. You should too!

Smooth, wrinkly, mouldy, smelly… there is a great variety of deliciously different Canadian Cheeses to seduce the palate. I always stick to my tried and true favourites – a nutty, smooth Canadian Double Cream Brie (the texture and mild flavour is sublime!); a spicy, firm Jalapeno Havarti; a mild and milky Gouda; a soft, subtle Mozzarella; and a sharp, salty Aged Cheddar.

I love adding a small bowlful of sweet berries and a handful of crunchy almonds as well, especially when I’m looking for the right balance of flavours while allowing the cheese to be the star attraction. (more…)

musings

#ThrowbackThursday: Mario Talks Menstruation

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.

San Diego, 2011. It is my very first BlogHer experience, and I am in my element – taking in the city and conference, bouncing from party to after-party, collecting swag bags and exchanging business cards. It is the epitome of social learning, and it will take at least two more BlogHer Conferences (New York 2012 and Chicago 2013, respectively) to convince me that I really have outgrown the institution.

August 6th, 2011 – I’ve printed out three Eventbrite invitations. Party hopping heaven! The first invite is for the Softcup soirée… with special guest, Mario Lopez! Squee! Mr. Dimples is making an appearance at a blogging conference for women? Is this what happens at blogging conferences?

But wait… WHAT is SOFTCUP? And why is Mario shilling for it?

“Softcup is a flexible cup that is worn internally, around your cervix. It collects, rather than absorbs menstrual flow. It’s hypo-allergenic, latex-free and completely safe when used as directed.”

WTF. Seriously, A.C. Slater? You’re pushing a menstruation cup? Do I really want to hang around for your speech… or worse, a demonstration?

Saddened, I was embarrassed for both of us. So I did what every self-entitled blogger would do: when Mario arrived with his entourage, I hopped the velvet rope and asked for a photo with him, declaring that frankly, I had a better party to get to. He looked at me with surprise, as did everyone around me – I mean, who was this crazy blogger?

As soon as the photo was taken, I skipped away, calling out, “I got the first photo with Mr. Dimples! And now I’m gone! Enjoy your period product!” True story.

beauty

Rate and Review: Must-Have Mandarin

There are few greater pleasures in life than sinking your thumbnail into the supple skin of a mandarin orange.

First, one must exert just the right amount of pressure while digging through the peel to avoid piercing the delicate flesh below. Then, as you pull back, the sweet, tangy, incredibly vital aroma hits you at once, sending a burst of citrus fragrance into the air as it sprays from the juicy fruit. You try to keep the peel intact as your hands swirl around the delicate, spherical fruit, poking and prodding as you work. Finally, you’re left with sweet, segmented perfection: an invigorating experience that is a ritual unto itself.

This spring, bring the refreshing citrusy fragrance of mandarin oranges, lemons and limes to your shower with Skintimate Signature Scents Mandarin Burst Shave Gel.

The ultra-moisturizing gel provides a combination of aromatic scent and hydrating properties – perfect for warming and smoothing through neglected, rough ‘winter skin’. With six moisturizers, including antioxidant Vitamin E and Olive Butter, Mandarin Burst will help replenish your skin’s natural moisture and maintain healthy and beautiful skin, all while providing an invigorating, spirit-lifting shave.

Perspective: It’s a shave gel, and its very existence is rooted in performing one of the most hated duties known to womankind. However, with its lighter-than air texture and sweetly perfumed foam that permeates seductively through a steamy bathroom, the ritual belonging to Skintimate Signature Scents Mandarin Burst has just as much pleasure as peeling a perfectly ripe mandarin orange. After shaving, the fragrance lingers on as legs are smooth, supple and come-nuzzle-me perfect.

Ready to experience the tantalizing aroma of Skintimate Signature Scents Mandarin Burst Shave Gel? I’m looking for twenty (20) readers who would like rate and review the product. I’ll randomly select 20 readers tomorrow night – and, to thank you for your honest feedback, one lucky participant will win a $100 Visa Gift Card. Good luck, and thanks for your interest!

Put your best legs forward; visit skintimate.ca.

beauty

I Am an Aveeno Active Naturals Brand Ambassador

Brand Ambassador
/brand/ amˈbasədər,-ˌdôr

noun
1. A brand ambassador is a marketing term for a person employed by an organization or company to promote its products or services within the activity known as branding. The brand ambassador is meant to embody the corporate identity in appearance, demeanor, values and ethics.

I am an Aveeno Active Naturals Ambassador. And I am proud to align with this company because I have confidence in the products, trust in the brand, and most importantly, an affinity for quality skin care essentials.

Why do I feel it’s a partnership made in heaven? Let’s just dissect this line: “The ambassador is meant to embody the corporate identity in… values and ethics.” By reading this, I am to assume that Aveeno selected me as an ambassador because they believe my values and ethics align with THEIR own. And while this is a true statement, I’m so proud to share with you an example of how Aveeno’s values are aligned with MY own – and how that is a beautiful thing. Please read on for an example of excellence in blogger/brand relationships. 

It has been a cold, unforgiving winter in Toronto. Many have used the term “Polar Vortex” to describe the relentless, bitter cold temperatures that we’ve experienced. Now you may not know this, but Ryder attends private school. A small, primary campus of an accredited Montessori school that offers an enriched curriculum and differentiated teaching and learning experiences designed to engage each student’s unique learning style.

They also offer a pretty awesome pick-up and drop-off service; I simply pull into the front of the school, and a teacher removes Ryder from the car and takes him to the class, or, brings Ryder to the car and ensures he is seated so I can secure him in. While this is an added convenience or “perk” of the private school system, the reality is, rain or shine, sleet or snow (or Polar Vortex), the teachers at Ryder’s school face the elements every single day in order to bring our children safely to our warm, dry vehicles.

So, I began thinking, what could I do to say thank you? You know that it’s within my ethics and values to give back to those who deserve recognition, and one of the wonderful benefits of blogging is that I’m able to connect with brands who can help me reward those special people. Hence, I used my partnership with Aveeno as an opportunity to give back to the handful of special teachers at Ryder’s school. Specifically, I mentioned that it’s been a particularly rough winter up north, and if they could spare a few Aveeno Active Naturals pampering products (body care, hand lotions, etc), it would be a great way to help rescue, repair and remedy their winter-beaten skin in time for the warmer temperatures ahead (in theory; it’s -24°C with the wind chill right now!).

What did I expect? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe a box containing a handful of hand creams (their Intense Relief Hand Cream is THE BEST thing since sliced bread) or a bag full of Daily Moisturizing Body Washes (which is also my go-to all year round). I let Aveeno’s amazing PR team know that there were about 8-10 teachers in total that manned the front door on a rotating basis. So… about 8-10 hand creams, right? That’s what I expected. (more…)

food

Warming Winter Meals: Italian Chicken Meatloaf

As a young girl, and the daughter of immigrant parents, I didn’t grow up with the “traditional” Canadian comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, chicken noodle soup, or – everyone’s favourite – meatloaf. Instead, I stared at my plate of curried chicken and rice with dismay, dreaming about the wonderful taste sensations that were advertised as electric orange pasta in a box.

Years later, as an adult, I learned how to buy chicken noodle soup in a can and make the said electric orange pasta. And then, I craved my mom’s spicy, homemade curried chicken with unmatched longing and nostalgia. Who knew – I grew up with comfort foods after all.

However, there’s one comfort food I missed out on – warm, dense, perfectly moist meatloaf. How I love meatloaf! One of the easiest made-from-scratch meals you can serve your family, it’s my favourite go-to dish when I want minimal fuss and maximum comfort factor. And for a meal my whole family gobbles up (especially the boys!) I always make my Italian Chicken Meatloaf, featuring Maple Leaf Prime Naturally Extra Lean Ground Chicken.

This recipe yields a moist, delicious meatloaf without all the fat and calories of a traditional ground beef loaf. I like to serve it with additional warmed tomato sauce, however, it’s great on its own or thinly sliced for sandwiches too. Best of all, it freezes beautifully.

INGREDIENTS

2 lb Maple Leaf Prime Naturally Extra Lean Ground Chicken
2 eggs
1/2 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp each salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of your favorite tomato or pasta sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
parsley, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a loaf pan with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, eggs, breadcrumbs, garlic, onion, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Place the combined mixture into your prepared loaf pan. Evenly spread pasta sauce on top of the loaf and bake in pre-heated oven for 45 minutes.

Remove meatloaf from oven and sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top. Place back in the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing. Serves 6-8.

For more delicious winter warming meals, visit Maple Leaf Prime on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest

fashion

Over 80 Years of Oscars Fashion

Last week, I was a bit turned off when US Magazine wrote an article outlining the contents of the Oscars Swag Bag… for losers. In fact, it’s safe to say we are all a little peeved at the sheer wastefulness (is that a word?) and social irresponsibility of the sponsoring companies.

This week, in anticipation of the big show on Sunday, I have something a little more lighthearted to share: from Cosmopolitan UK, “Every Best Actress Oscars Dress Since 1929″. The lovely little infographic, created by the digital geniuses at mediarundigital.co.ukhas been making its rounds on Facebook and Twitter, but I just had to post it here as well. Take a peek! And if you’re tuning into the Academy Awards this weekend, don’t forget to join our #EpsonRedCarpet Twitter Party at 7:00pm EST, where you know we’ll be chatting about Oscar-night fashion!

family

#ThrowbackThursday #tbt: The Front Porch

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.

August 1979. I have no memories of the first home I lived in, as I was barely 18 months old when we moved from Toronto to Mississauga. Back then, Mississauga was nothing more than suburban farmland, but at a population of 294,331 strong, Toronto’s neighbour to the west was already showing much promise.

Two months after we moved, the great Mississauga Train Derailment occurred, forcing us from our new home for three days as the entire city was evacuated. But the disaster was contained, the city was restored, and it went on to become one of the most vibrant cities in the world.

But before Mississauga, there was 133 Norseman Street in Toronto, and the porch where this photo was taken. Me and my brother, the two original curly swirlies.

(Is there any doubt we’re related?)

Years ago, I drove by the home, situated on the corner of Norseman Street and Islington Avenue in Etobicoke. I tried to form a connection with the house; the place I lived as a newborn and infant. I pictured my mother walking up the porch steps holding my brother’s tiny hand. I saw my father pulling into the driveway after a long day at work. I wondered how different my life would be if I had grown up in this corner house in Toronto.

Through the magic of Google Maps, I can show you what the house looks like today. 35 years later, it has resisted most attempts at modernization and retained much of its charm. Though sadly, it appears that the porch has been renovated. Perhaps my brother and I will have to take new photograph :)

Contests

March Break Madness: Join the #CAAChat!

If you had a chance to join our super fun #FamilyTravelCA Chat last night, you’ll know that half the fun was having @CAASCO as our amazing prize sponsor! Now I know y’all know all about CAA’s 24/7 roadside assistance, but did you know that CAA offers Member-exclusive savings and rewards on gas, clothing, movie passes, restaurants, attraction tickets, hotels, travel services, insurance and so much more? It’s true!

And…  those exclusive savings could really come in handy if you’re staying in the city this March Break! Join us for the #CAAChat on Tuesday, March 4th, 2014 between 12-1 EST. If you’re looking to make the most out of March Break with fun family activities (and maybe a prize or two), you won’t want to miss it.

So what does CAA have up their sleeve? Oh, only the best suggestions for family activities over March Break, road trip survival tips, staycation ideas, ways to save money and more. For full details, pop on over to CAA’s blog.

Tweet with us and you’ll have a chance to win one of the amazing prizes up for grabs, including CAA Memberships valued at $70, gift cards to CAA partners such as East Side Mario’s, Payless Shoe Source and more, plus the GRAND PRIZE of a $500 CAA travel voucher!

No RSVP is required; simply follow @CAASCO, tune into the conversation and include the #CAAChat hashtag in your tweets. Good luck everyone, and see you on Tuesday afternoon!

fashion

Warning: Ovaries in Overload

Hands UP if this makes your ovaries ache. I can’t stand the cuteness. Can’t even deal.

I’m excited to share the news: Carter’s Child of Mine apparel is now available at Walmart Canada – in stores and online! The adorable selection of mix-and-match, two and three piece sets for boys and girls are priced below $10. Yup, under ten bucks! If you’re like me and have a new baby to spoil (hello little niece!), this is great news – now I can give the gift of fashion – like this Child of Mine by Carter’s Monkey Dress – for just $6.94, about the price of a venti frappuccino. I know, right??
Styles range in size for newborns, infants and toddlers (sizes 0-24). And remember, you can shop in the comfort of your own home and enjoy free shipping every day with Walmart.ca. So… anyone’s ovaries aching a wee bit?

Contests

Join Us on the #EpsonRedCarpet!

Ah, the Academy Awards. Honoring achievements in the film industry; interest and anticipation builds to a fevered pitch leading up to the telecast, when hundreds of millions of movie lovers tune in to see who will take home the coveted statue. It’s about art… it’s about industry greats… it’s about cinematic masterpieces.

And oh yes, there’s also that itty bitty thing called the RED CARPET!

Join us on Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 from 7:00pm – 8:00pm for the #EpsonRedCarpet Twitter Party. We’ll be chatting about your favourite celebrities, fashion critiques, winning movie predictions, Oscar night traditions and more!

It’s guaranteed to be a fun chat – but that’s not the only reason you should join us. Epson Canada, makers of state-of-the-art, innovative home theatre projectors, want you to have the ULTIMATE Oscars viewing parties in years to come. That’s why our GRAND PRIZE is this brilliant PowerLite Home Cinema 750HD 720p 3LCD Projector, valued at $899.99! Oscar Night – Superbowl – Movie Night and more – you need this in your life!

We’ll also have a few more AH-MAZING Epson Canada prizes up for grabs, including the star of my popular #ThrowbackThursday posts – the Epson Expression Premium XP-810 Small-in-One Printer!

Follow @EpsonCanada, RSVP using the linky below and tweet using #EpsonRedCarpet to be eligible to win. See you on Sunday night! (more…)

food

3:00pm: It’s #KraftPBChocolate Smoothie O’Clock

It happens every day without fail. I blame years of taking a 3:00pm coffee break. Or maybe I’m just wired to get positively, irrevocably, irrationally hungry every day at the same time. But when the clock strikes three, my tummy doth sayeth to me:

“How ’bout a little something, Lena?” 

Now I try my best to make healthy choices, and for the most part, I succeed. It’s been a very long time since I’ve succumbed to a 3:00pm vending machine chocolate bar (due in part to the fact that I do not have a vending machine in my home office), and I generally choose fresh options like fruit and veggies, cheese and crackers or the always filling dried fruit and nuts. And, my newest obsession: this low-fat, highly satisfying Peanut Butter with Chocolate and Banana Smoothie. Oh yes, I may have uncovered the best mid-afternoon taste sensation ever. I am hooked.

Fair warning: I’m not a barista, so my chocolate syrup designs leave much to be desired. But who cares? It’s the taste that counts and let me tell you, this smoothie is taaassty. Super easy and super on the waistline too!

1/4 cup crushed ice
1 tbsp Kraft Peanut Butter with Chocolate
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup non-fat (0%) Vanilla Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup skim milk
chocolate syrup, for drizzling or doodling

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Enjoy!

musings

It’s Good to be a Loser… In Hollywood

File this one under… “We can solve world hunger one Hollywood swag bag at a time.”

This morning, I came across an article on US Magazine online that I simply had to share. Entitled “Oscars 2014 Celebrity Gift Bags: Losing Nominees Will Receive $80,000 Worth of Products”, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. NOT because I think celebrities don’t deserve a goody bag – or because I have a pseudo-political agenda that urges the rich to distribute their wealth. The truth is, I love actors, I love movies, and I love the Academy Awards… and what they choose to gift to their nominated attendees is their prerogative.

So why the eye roll? The contents, dude, the contents of the gift bag.

“While a select group will take home those coveted gold statues at the Oscars on Sunday, March 2, some of the losers will at least have their $80,000 ‘Everyone Wins at the Oscars’ gift bags. For the 15th year, L.A.-based marketing firm Distinctive Assets will give the gift bags to the losing nominees in the Best Actor/Actress, Supporting Actor/Actress, and Director categories.

Us Weekly takes a sneak peek inside each parcel – and highlights the most outrageous products.” And…. here are my personal faves:

Weird Procedures, $18,070

Uh O! Celebs will receive the O-Shot procedure, which supposedly “rejuvenates and enhances the genital tissue of a woman.” The $2,700 procedure is said to enhance sexual response and slow urinary incontinence. For the gents (and some ladies): hair restoration surgery using ARTAS Robotic Hair Transplant system ($16,000) is also offered.

Er…. I’m not sure how to respond. Do I picture Cate Blanchett sitting in the waiting room of a local clinic, reading the 16-page disclaimer agreement pertaining to her orgasm shot? No. Would she gift it to her assistant? Maybe.

A Walk through Japan and the Best of Vegas, $24,000

Explorers will have the chance to tour and discover the authentic, non-touristy side of Japan by foot from Walk Japan ($15,000). Celebs will also have the chance to live it up through the Best of Las Vegas offering ($9,000), which includes a face-to-face meeting with Boyz II Men.

While the Japan walking tour is cool – if a celebrity actually thought it safe to walk through a 127.6 million-populated country without being recognized - I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if Leonardo DiCaprio wanted to have a face-to-face meeting with Boyz II Men, he’d just… you know, call them up. No need to wait for the coupon included in the swag bag!

Maple Syrup — and a Maple Tree!

Celebs will receive $280 worth of pure organic maple syrup, salad dressings, jellies, mustard, and an apron. But that’s not all! Each star will receive an adoption certificate of a maple tree in Notre-Dame-Des-Bois. Cost? Invaluable.

WTH? Invaluable? I actually checked out the cost, and it’s $138. Why a multimillionaire celebrity needs to adopt a maple tree in Quebec, I do not know. But, if you want to feel like a multimillionaire celebrity, good news! It’ll only set you back a bill and change.

Okay I’m done. I can’t even continue because my eyes have rolled upward for so long I’m afraid they’ll stay like that permanently. Click here to see the entire list of highlights, including a horse shampoo for humans ($95), his and hers Mace pepper spray guns ($120), and a narrative clip that gives its users a shareable photographic memory ($279).

family

#FamilyTravelCA: We’re Chatting Staycations!

This month, me and my girls @ChildMode, @FeistyFrugal and @SassyModernMom are whipping out the board games… making reservations at our favourite kid-friendly restaurants, and scouring the city for fun ways to spend time with family – without spending a fortune. That can only mean one thing: YES, we’re chatting about our go-to staycation ideas!

Join us on Tuesday, February 25th at 9pm EST. We’ll tweet up a storm with suggestions for how to keep the kiddos entertained over March break if you’re staying in the city.

But hey, a chat wouldn’t be nearly as fun without prizes! This month, please say thank you to CAA of South Central Ontario – they’re our official prizing sponsor and have provided AH-MA-ZING prizes for a few lucky staycationers:

(2) Payless Gift Cards ($50 value each)
(2) East Side Mario Gift Cards ($50 value each)
(2) CAA Memberships ($70 value each)
A Family Pass (4 tcikets) to Medieval Times ($250 value)

Plus a GRAND PRIZE of an iPad mini 16gb ($319 value)!

(Shout out to CAA: Canada’s largest not-for-profit Automobile Association with over 1.9 million Members in South Central Ontario. Offering a number of products and services ranging from Roadside Assistance, Home and Auto Insurance, Travel Services and Travel Insurance, as well to savings at hundreds of shops and attractions across North America.)

No RSVP is required; simply follow @FamilyTravelCA and @CAASCO and tweet on the hashtag #FamilyTravelCA between 9-10pm EST and you’re automatically entered to win. (Winners will be randomly chosen via www.twitterdraw.com) See you there – and bring your best staycation ideas to share!

family

#ThrowbackThursday #tbt: The Second Bump

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.

Today’s throwback is actually “Part II” of #ThrowbackThursday #tbt: The Second Wedding. It seems that weddings are good luck in my family; every time a loved one celebrates a sacred union, we also celebrate an itty bitty baby.

August 2009. Remembering the marriage of my brother and sister-in-law, here’s a picture of me and my mom, waiting our turn in the round-robin of professional family photos. My husband snapped the pic and later remarked that there was something off about my face.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It looks fuller. Kind of brighter. It’s like you’re glowing.”

Turns out, there are three people in this photo: my mom, myself… and a tiny little miracle we now call Reid.

Of course, the difference is that I wasn’t trying to hide a pregnancy here – I had no idea I was knocked up! And yes… I may have had a glass of wine or two… but I assure you, Reid turned out perfectly!

musings

Spotted: A Snowman and A Rogue

This past weekend, we presented Ryder with a ticket to his personal heaven: The 2014 Canadian International AutoShow. Thanks to the amazing folks at Nissan Canada, Ryder had an opportunity to indulge in his need to speed (er – at least, a theoretical speed as displayed by stationary showroom models) and get his fix of automobiles big and small.

Of course, we were *slightly* concerned about Evil Snowman sightings, as alluded to in a previous post:

“Friends, you can never be too prepared for the Snowman Apocalypse. They’ll pillage and conquer unsuspecting towns, wreaking havoc and taking no prisoners. They’ll cast a shadow of doom and desolation, reminding Canadians everywhere that we are slaves to the unforgiving season. In fact, recent reports out of Toronto show the projected target being the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, which will host the 2014 Canadian International Auto Show. The good news? The Nissan Rogue will be there, ready for battle.”

Well, we did spot an evil Snowman. As predicted, Ryder wouldn’t go anywhere near him – and with good reason! Look how freaky that freeze bomb is!

Regardless, as soon as we spotted the Evil Snowman, Ryder knew just what to do – seek out the 2014 Nissan Rogue. Sure, the all-new 2014 Nissan Rogue is more distinctive than ever, but it’s also more practical, with room for up to seven. From headlights to taillights the stylish all-new 2014 Rogue maintains a perfect blend of classy and sporty, for a look that’s easy-on-the-eyes. Check out all the the features and specifications here. (more…)

food

Thai Chicken Pizza for Two

This past weekend, I set out to discover if there was indeed a way to marry my two favourite comfort foods: Asian cuisine and pizza. Normally I’ll toy around with a recipe a few times before coming up with a winner, but in the case of my Thai Chicken Pizza for Two, I do believe I knocked it out of the park on the first try.

Now I call it a “pizza for two” mainly because naan-style flatbreads are limited to about 10-inch diameters; hence, it’s a stretch to feed a family of four. However, this is easily overcome by simply making two pizzas :)

I swapped traditional tomato sauce for a nutty concoction seasoned with ginger, garlic, soy sauce and vinegar – essentially, the making of any delicious peanut stir-fry sauce. It complements the tender morsels of chicken perfectly, and makes for a very satisfying lunch or dinner.

The husband suggested that mushrooms would be a great addition, but frankly, with the complex flavours and savoury twist, I’d almost rather add chopped florets of steamed broccoli – and will be doing so next time. Also, be generous with the basil; I only used about two torn leaves, but have upped that number to four in my recipe.  (more…)

Contests

What Would You Do if You Had #ZEROInhibitions?

Sometimes, you really, really, really want it… but something holds you back.

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.

What would you do if you had #ZEROInhibitions?

Introducing 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. Think you’ll miss the fat and sugar? Think again. The bread is soft, dense and flavourful – the perfect feel good bread that you can feel confident serving to your loved ones.

Bonus: It won’t just make you feel good, it’ll make you feel sexy. That’s right, I said SEXY.

Have you ever dreamt of being the sexy star of your own romance novel? New Dempster’s ZERO is going to make your fantasies come true. Visit Dempster’s on Facebook and create your own personalized romance novel starring you and your friends. Best of all: it’s quick, easy – very easy – and you can read it on any eReader, tablet or computer.

“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.”

Oh my! I’m blushing!

So, what would you do with #ZEROInhibitions? We want to know – and you can tell us at the @Dempsters #ZEROInhibitions Twitter Party! Join us on Wednesday, February 19th at 9:00pm EST. We’ll be chatting about how you release your inhibitions… oh yes, I do believe it will be quite the chat :)

RSVP below and tweet on the hashtag, and you’ll have a chance to win FREE bread for 6 months, or the GRAND PRIZE of a $500 Life Experiences Gift Card!  (more…)