My Moment of Relief

November 9, 2016

As the sun sets and the day winds down, we begin the nighttime ritual. Homework is checked; the boys are bathed and bedtime stories are read.

We have a few false starts.

Ryder is bathed while we holler at Reid.

Reid is tucked into bed while Ryder dashes downstairs for a glass of water.

Both boys beg for one more chapter, enthralled with their bedtime story.

Finally, finally the boys are off to dreamland, warm and secure in their beds. And as I wrap myself in my fluffiest robe and join my husband for some quality time with Netflix, I breathe a contented sigh.

This is my moment of relief.

Today, I’m seeing if I can extend that relief straight through to the next morning, with La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Overnight. We know that waking up to calm, rested skin is a sigh of relief – but for many women – including myself – itchy, irritated, ultra-sensitive skin is the reality.
img_3698Recently, I’ve been discovering the Toleriane range by La Roche-Posay. It contains high tolerance products formulated with a minimum of ingredients to limit the risks of allergies. Toleriane promises extreme, instant and lasting comfort in a fragrance-, preservative- and alcohol-free formulation to soothe damaged or irritated skin.  (more…)

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Best Buy Baby: Big Savings on Brands You Trust

November 8, 2016

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

It’s been a while since I shopped for baby gear. Everything has changed… and yet, it all stays the same.

Because when it comes to strollers or swings, breast pumps or bassinets, in the end, it all comes down to two things: quality and price. The first is easy to prove: find out the longevity of the brand in the marketplace, read online reviews, ask friends and family. And for the second, it’s even more simple: just shop at Best Buy.

YES, Best Buy!

Best Buy has the best products from reliable brands that parents trust. In a previous post, I shared my top picks for baby-to-be… fitting, because my brother and sister-in-law are expecting another little girl! It’s true – this princess is just a few short months away from becoming a big sister.
_dsc0545Now, I know you’re probably zeroing in on my adorable niece in her “Peaches n Cream Barbie”-inspired dress, but I really want you to look behind her, and take a peek at the gorgeous Stork Craft Princess 4-in-1 Crib. The solid wood crib converts to a toddler bed, daybed, and full-sized bed, and the heirloom scrollwork and beautiful bow detailing make this crib an enchanting piece for any nursery.  (more…)

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Love It or List It? The Case for Decision-Making Renos

November 4, 2016

Next July, we will have been in our home for 10 years.

Our home was supposed to be a “starter home”. The first real estate purchase as an entry point into the market; a tidy semi-detached house in the suburbs that would be a stepping stone to a more expansive property down the road.

Except, while we were unpacking boxes and re-stocking kitchen cabinets, I was running to the bathroom with bouts of sickness.

Folks, I am a statistic. We conceived a honeymoon baby.

Suddenly, the dark hardwood we had selected for our main floor was doomed to show scratches from children’s toys. The expensive, hand-woven berber carpet on the second floor would no doubt be victim to spills and stains. The money we had spent on builder upgrades – oh, all the upgrades! – should have been spent on strollers and diapers. However, we had no choice but to plough ahead, effectively turning our starter home into our “TBD” home.
img_1343It didn’t make sense to move. The boys were growing and the house grew old with them. As predicted, the hardwood floors became scuffed and the carpet bore stains. But, we also put a lot of love into the home, finishing the basement, landscaping the front and updating the back with a stamped concrete patio.

And every so often, we got the itch to move.  (more…)

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Busy Families, Hectic Mornings: How to Start out Smart

November 2, 2016

It’s no secret: Mornings are hectic. From the moment I hear the dreaded “5 more minutes!” until the boys are finally out the door, it’s a mad rush against the clock. This means that sometimes, one of my kids will go to school with mismatched socks, and more often, breakfast will be rushed (or in my husband’s case, skipped altogether).
_dsc0602aWe’re working on changing that. Using simple techniques to encourage a more seamless morning routine, the boys and I have been able to get more out of our time together before school. Curious? I thought you might be! I’ve partnered with Minute Maid to provide you with some easy tips and tricks to start out smart!  (more…)

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Discover the Fresh Taste of Fall.

November 2, 2016

I love fall. I love walking with my boys in the morning, hearing the sound of freshly fallen leaves crunching under their footsteps. I love stopping by my local coffee shop, chatting up my favourite barista as she prepares a foamy, spiced latte.
_dsc0459aMost of all, I love scrolling through my Instagram feed, smiling at photos of children posing in a pumpkin patch, families picking apples and grandparents joining in for hay rides at a nearby farm. It reminds me that even as generations pass, the harvest is a time of togetherness.

I’m not sure if it’s by design or coincidence, but I tend to entertain more often in the fall months. The bountiful fresh produce offerings make it easy to create one-dish meals and rustic desserts, and my local Walmart is the perfect place to find colourful squash, earthy root vegetables, tree-ripened fruit and crunchy, cruciferous favourites. There is always a large selection of high-quality, locally sourced produce that is refreshed daily. (more…)

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Because the First MINUTE of the Day should be a Nutritious One.

November 1, 2016

In Canada, one of every five children is at risk of starting the school day on an empty stomach due to a lack of access to nutritious food. That means that nearly one million Canadian children are at risk of getting nothing to eat before they go to school in the morning.

This is not only alarming, but also something that I feel truly requires our attention as parents, and as a society. As I urge my children to finish their breakfasts in the morning, I’m caught thinking about this statistic. I think about it when they turn up their nose at the food options I present, or leave the table without finishing their meal. I think about it after they’ve left for school, as I scrape food remnants from their plates and bowls into the garbage bin.

Sounds familiar, mamas? I know it does.

A generation ago, my own mother chastised my brother and me for skipping breakfast; she reminded us how lucky we were to have the opportunity to go to school on a full stomach. At the time, I placated her – just as my kids do now – scarfing down my meal to avoid a lecture.

Today, I realize that it’s about more than just food waste and rumbling tummies. I know there are real benefits to going to school nourished, including heightened concentration and learning potential. And, when you realize that 60% of learning happens before lunch, it becomes clear why breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day.
_dsc0626aIn fact, according to Breakfast Club of Canada, when children get a balanced meal in a positive, stimulating environment, there are marked improvements in:

– Behaviour and concentration
– Academic performance
– Social skills, self-confidence and the ability to interact with peers and adults
– Overall interest in the subjects being taught
– Incidents of bullying (more…)

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Powering Halloween Safety

October 28, 2016

Trick or treat! We take Halloween seriously. I mean, remember the “Zombie Minnie Mouse” from 2015? Well, I won’t let you forget her.
12145525_182846688723752_346863970_nMy boys are equally excited about the spookiest day of the year. They’ve been asking to wear their costumes daily (“for the last time, NO!”) and we’ve already planned out our trick-or-treating route. And, like every mom getting her kids ready for a night of Halloween fun, safety is a top concern.  (more…)

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Create Cold-Weather Curb Appeal from Recycled Rubber Products

October 26, 2016

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to residents of Ontario, Canada only.

Oh the weather outside is frightful…

Okay, not quite yet. But it IS getting cooler – much cooler! – and with winter around the corner, Canadians are doing their best to get their homes ready for the season. The patio furniture is stored; flowers are uprooted from their beds and decorative urns are emptied and stashed away.

Is it just me, or are Canadian homes lacking a certain curb appeal over the winter months?

I know, other than holiday decor, the northern climate doesn’t exactly allow for a host of ornamental options. However, there are a few simple ways to create curb appeal during the cold-weather months, and I’m happy to share them with you today!

1. Start with a Solid Base. Winter lacks a certain greenery, but with earth-savvy planters, you can infuse a little life into an otherwise bare space. Crescendo Urns, made by Multy Home, are a great option – they’re made using Ontario recycled tire rubber that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill.

(You may recall an earlier post, Simple Steps to Mini Garden Success with The Home Depot, where I featured the multi-season slate rubber urn – pictured below.)
dsc_1031aBecause this planter is designed to withstand the cold weather – with no cracking or fading – it will take you through all seasons seamlessly. You can also find recycled rubber mulch from a variety of Ontario-based manufacturers to fill the base which drains rapidly and efficiently, resists mold, mildew and fungi, and is also non-toxic.  (more…)

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Now THIS is a #nextlevel Opportunity!

October 25, 2016

The most *amazing* contest is happening right now – and I have to share the details!

But first, a little background. Earlier this year, I shared that Max Domi, professional hockey player (and son of the infamous Tie Domi) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12. By opening up about his personal experiences with diabetes, Max hopes he will inspire Canadians to visit poweredbyaccuracy.ca to learn more about diabetes.
maxresdefaultEssentially, the CONTOUR® NEXT Powered by Accuracy website offers a support system for people living with diabetes, helping them to take their management of the disease to the #nextlevel.

Well, in partnership with CONTOUR NEXT, Max is offering Canadians a chance to participate in the Powered By Accuracy 16 Reasons Contest. Listen up friends, because it’s a good one!  (more…)

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Celebrations Made Remarkable!

October 22, 2016

Note: The following contest is open to residents of the Greater Toronto Area only. 

‘Round here, we used to take celebrations very seriously.

I’m the daughter of a perfectionist. Growing up, my mother did not serve a single appetizer, meal or dessert to dinner guests unless she had made it, purchased it, perfected it ahead of the celebration. She believed in triple-testing her menu before it was presented to company, and her tenacity and unwillingness to settle for anything but the best earned her “entertainer extraordinaire” status among friends and family.
_dsc0375aToday, I’d like to say I follow her lead, but the truth is, I’m more willing to live on the edge. I don’t mind trying new meal ideas for guests, and if it doesn’t turn out the way I intended, there’s always wine in the cellar and a La Rocca cake waiting in the fridge. You see, to me, getting together with family and friends is more about spending time together and less about achieving culinary perfection. And while I’d like to be taken for a domestic goddess, I also want to be known for my humour, wit and willingness to welcome others into my home.  (more…)

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A Pantry-Inspired Refrigerator? Now that’s Smart!

October 21, 2016

Moms are masters of their domain.

We know how to stretch a dollar and roll with the punches. We can carpool six children and feed a party of twenty. We have eyes at the back of our heads and a sixth sense for when our kids are up to something, well, shifty.

We know how to organize a refrigerator… just kidding! We don’t. We have no idea how to organize a refrigerator.

Mom truth: if you have offspring under the age of 25 who are currently living in your household, your fridge is likely crammed with a variety of delicious foods (and some forgotten leftovers). There is no rhyme or reason as to how the food is stored… which ultimately leads to a decrease in overall storage space. But let’s face it: conventional refrigerators don’t allow for creative storage options. Until now.

Introducing the Whirlpool® Smart French Door Refrigerator.  

Completely and intuitively re-imagined on the inside, the pantry-inspired layout in the Whirlpool Smart French Door Refrigerator is designed to use space more efficiently with a unique shelving system for families to fit and find all their edible favorites, making it the easiest refrigerator to organize1.wp_232-2(If you just uttered Sweet Moses that is an incredible fridge… you wouldn’t be alone.)  (more…)

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Skincare 101: It’s a Hand & Stone Twitter Chat!

October 21, 2016

Coming up: real talk about skin care.

Although “moisturize and go” may have been the extent of our skin care regime during our twenties, it is vital to revisit skincare routines as we age. Skin changes over the years, often becoming thinner and more sensitive with the weakening of collagen and elastin, and what worked for us in in the past… may not work quite as well now.

Think about it. Skin is your largest organ, and proper product use and regular facials beginning at an early age can make your routine a no-brainer. At Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa, the importance of this routine – being easy to maintain and affordable – is well understood. With more than 20 locations in Canada, Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa is bringing affordable luxury to the masses.
twitter-party-invite_finalI’ll be joining Hand & Stone this Monday, October 24th at 8pm EST for the #Skincare101 Twitter Chat. There, we’ll learn how to combat skin issues and how to adjust skin care routines as we age. They will also be giving away FIVE (5) amazing prizes, including product gift baskets and service gift certificates to the spa. Follow @HandandStoneCA and join the conversation using #Skincare101.

There’s no RSVP for the chat; simply tweet using the hashtag for a chance to win. See you on Monday!

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IndigoKids Holiday: My Wish List!

October 20, 2016

I’m not one to leave anything until the last minute.

Just kidding! I leave everything until the 11th hour. A serial procrastinator, I work best under pressure and thrive on the stress of a looming deadline.

However, for all my dilly-dallying, there’s one thing I never leave up to chance – Holiday shopping.

You see, it’s all well and fine if I fudge my own deadline or miss out on an opportunity. But I would never do that to the little ones in my life: my boys and nieces deserve to have their Christmas wish lists fulfilled, and when I can find everything I need in one place – with an incredible selection at great prices – of course I’ll be proactive!

That place is IndigoKids. This holiday season, I’ve partnered with Indigo to Make it Merry and help you find gifts that every kid on your holiday list will love!

So, why IndigoKids? A long time “must do” with my kids when we’re out and about, they offer a dynamic in-store experience (and stress-free online shop!) that ignites joy, imagination, and discovery in kids of all ages. Plus, they just happen to have one of the largest selections of children’s books in the country, in addition to wish list staples from popular brands like LEGO, Playmobil, Shopkins, Disney and Ty, as well as specialty brands such as American Girl, The Honest Company, Skip Hop, and Melissa and Doug.

Simply put, it’s a joy to shop at IndigoKids for the holidays!

This year, IndigoKids is back with their famed #IndigoWishlist. Selected by Indigo’s book and toy experts, they’ve assembled a line-up of exclusive and in-demand holiday gifts are guaranteed to please every child on your list! And this season, I’ve had the unique opportunity to curate my own wish lists for the boys!
116332_kids-influencer_06Now I don’t want to jinx it, but I think I’ve got a little reader on my hands. Ryder has recently taken a greater interest in books, and after visiting Universal Orlando last month, he’s now officially curious about Harry Potter. (more…)

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Treat Yourself – #NoMilesNeeded! Introducing AIR MILES Perks.

October 19, 2016

Are you Canadian? (√ Check.)
Are you an AIR MILES Collector? (√ Check.)

Did you know that you already have access to a HUGE variety of great deals, discounts and benefits – part of the AIR MILES Reward Program – with NO Miles needed?

It’s true! Prepare to be blown away, friends.

Introducing AIR MILES Perks. Perks have been hand-picked just for AIR MILES Collectors and are available to ALL Collectors, just for having an AIR MILES Card. You can find deals nationwide or ones that are tailor made for your city; simply visit the website, select your region and check out all the promos and savings!

Recently, I stopped by What She Said and shared all the details – check out my segment below!

Now I won’t spoil it for you (and I know how much you love to watch me chatting with gigantic head phones) but the gist is, some Perks are available simply by showing your AIR MILES Card (sweet!) while others have exclusive discount codes or eVouchers.  (more…)

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No Filter? Fabulous.

October 18, 2016

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only. 

Instagram filters. I love them. You love them. They are, without a doubt, the best thing since sliced bread. (Which, by the way, filters well with “Lo-Fi.” Really brings out the crusts and such.)

The thing about Instagram filters is that they hide the little stuff we don’t necessarily want the world to see: fine lines, age spots, pesky under-eye shadows and enlarged pores. In fact, whenever I apply a filter to one of my photos, I visualize a fairy godmother waving a wand and saying “Poof! You’re gorgeous.”

It’s a beautiful thing.

But something happened recently. A few weeks ago, I posted a photo to Instagram. It was a rare selfie of my husband and I (we manage to squeeze in about three to four dates per year), and I was happy to show off my new blonde highlights (I clearly don’t follow the crowd that goes darker for fall).

However, when I accessed the screen to select a filter, something – quite fabulous – happened:  I realized that my skin looked healthy and luminous… and the photo actually looked better without a filter. I looked young, fresh and happy! Hashtag: #nofilter!
13671950_187517688335085_434322412_nNow let’s be clear: I am wearing makeup in this photo. I have concealer under my eyes, a hint of eye makeup and blush, and a fabulous fuchsia lip gloss.

But other than under my eyes? Completely foundation-free. My pores? Almost non-existent. The fine lines and wrinkles around my eyes? I dare you to point them out.

And then I realized that I had recently made a change to my skin care routine – for the past three weeks, I’ve been using NeoStrata® All-in-One Night Serum and All-in-One Eye Serum(more…)

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Kids in the Kitchen? Oh Yes! Look What We Made (This Time!)

October 14, 2016

Last week, I invited y’all into my home as I shared a very special cooking session with my favourite little 6-year old. Reid and I made a flavourful Chicken, Broccoli & Rice Casserole that the whole family loved! And, the most important thing is that we made it together – from reading the recipe to preparing the ingredients, Reid was a fixture in the kitchen.

Teaching children to cook is an essential life skill, and if you’re looking for inspiration, Ben’s Beginners activities and recipes are a great place to get started. You’ll find interactive activities that teach basic cooking skills like peeling and stirring, as well as easy and delicious recipes for kids and parents to cook together.

This past weekend, look what we made! Turkey Meatballs & Rice!
_dsc0405
While Reid is an enthusiastic sous chef, his older brother, Ryder, is more reluctant to help out. He’s at that “awesome” age where things just aren’t cool enough for him. Plus, he has very specific, healthy preferences that aren’t a bad thing – not by any means – but we normally have to alter recipes to suit his tastes. Thankfully, the Ben’s Beginners recipes allow for simple customization, and in our case, we used ground turkey in place of ground beef, and opted for Uncle Ben’s 100% Natural Whole Grain Brown Rice(more…)

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Tell Me Something Good

October 11, 2016

Hello, wonderful friends!

If you’re like me – still in a food coma from Thanksgiving – you’ll forgive me for taking a pass on writing today. Truth is, I’ve got errands to run and appointments to keep, all while greeting the official return of fall (weather wise) in Ontario.
1476073934815Photo: Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images

So, let’s play a game. Tell me something good! I want to know your good news today. I’ll begin: the Toronto Blue Jays are going to the American League Championship Series! If you stayed up on Sunday to watch 10 nail-biting innings of baseball, you weren’t alone: over 4,000,000 Canadians tuned in to watch the game. And now, we’ve got a few days to catch our breath before they move on to face the Cleveland Indians. You know what I’ll be doing this weekend!

Your turn! Leave a comment to tell me something good!

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Step Up Your Menu! Make Your Thanksgiving Feast Even More Special #TasteTheFeeling

October 5, 2016

I have a love-hate relationship with holiday menu planning. Being an type-A personality, I always want to be the one to host special occasion dinners; I like the challenge of conceptualizing a feast, preparing the meal and basking in the glory of thankful family members.

“Oh, Lena, you outdid yourself! Everything is delicious!”

Yeah, I know. I’m pretty awesome.

Thankfully, I have a great partner in crime. Possibly the only person who enjoys entertaining even more than I do is my husband; he’s the first to grab cookbooks, suggest dishes and decorations, and always pitches in with the shopping, cooking and cleanup. We’re a dream team in the kitchen!
_dsc0070aThis year, I’ve decided go rogue and swap our traditional turkey for a savoury beef pot roast. Of course, since I’m already switching things up, why not do something super special? Thanks to my friends at Coca-Cola, an idea was born to incorporate our favourite beverage – both at the table AND in the meal! (more…)

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Look What We Made!

October 5, 2016

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

When kids learn to cook, they build healthier eating habits for life.

There’s no doubt about this. Developing a respect and appreciation, for both the ingredients and process of seeing a meal through to completion, is paramount for making wise food choices. As a young girl, I loved being “invited” into my mom’s kitchen to learn about foods, discover cultural traditions and of course, sample the ingredients along the way. (Though “licking the bowl” is now considered taboo! Boo hoo!)

Today, I have a young, enthusiastic sous chef who shadows me in the kitchen. Together, we tackle meal planning, work together to prep the meal and often, he’ll help me serve. (He’s great at garnish.)
_dsc0307However, I know that this isn’t the norm; many parents aren’t teaching cooking skills because they lack the confidence to do so. In fact, less than half of Canadian parents feel highly skilled at creating a balanced meal, and even have trouble with the most common kitchen tasks, like seasoning, chopping and pan frying. At the same time, 98% of Canadian parents think it is important to cook with their children.

So, we’ve got a situation where we know it’s important to teach our kids these essential life skills, but we simply don’t have the confidence to carry out the instruction. Here’s where Ben’s Beginners comes in.  (more…)

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I’m a Mom and I #ApproveThisLunchbox

October 3, 2016

“Good. Really good. I actually think I may like them more.”

Remember that quote. Because it came from an 8-year old kid who tried a different version of one of his favourite snacks – this time, made with the goodness of brown rice. And he really, really liked it.

Meet Ryder. He’s no stranger to Rice Krispies Squares. Having enjoyed them since he was in kindergarten, they’re one of his preferred lunchbox snacks. He loves the crispy and chewy texture; I love that they’re portable, enriched with essential nutrients and are trans fat free.

However, I recently discovered NEW Rice Krispies Square Bars Brown Rice. They’re made with no artificial colours, contain 8 g of whole grain per serving and offer the same ooey gooey taste that Ryder knows and loves.
_dsc0294aSo, I did what every mom would do – I switched them in my son’s lunchbox without telling him. Ha ha.

Okay, so I’m joking. First, I wouldn’t do that to Ryder – he loves to eat and his lunchbox always comes home empty, but that’s mostly because he has a hand in packing his lunch. We select the fruit, vegetables, protein and snacks the night before, and he lets me know what he prefers and what he’ll eat because he knows it’s good for him.  (more…)

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