The Circle of Trust.

August 3, 2016

My husband and I are movie junkies – specifically, we love comedies. We laugh along with our favourites, never tiring of the slapstick humour or unlikely escapades that seem to drive the storylines.

And, I’m not sure if you’d find this endearing or annoying, but we also love to quote one-liners from the movies, several times per day, every day. It’s not unusual to hear my husband mutter jewels from Superbad, There’s Something About Mary or Wedding Crashers, and I have a penchant for pulling the best quotes from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Sideways and Dumb and Dumber.

So *of course* my boys know about the “Circle of Trust”, made famous by Meet the Parents.

This past long weekend, we once again had a beach day up north. As I watched Reid construct what I believed to be an intricate castle, I asked him to describe what he was creating.

“This is the Circle of Trust,” he said. “You sit over there.”
13704217_918062424987793_1453145228_nWait a second – “You don’t trust me?” I asked, pretending to be hurt. “No,” he answered. “You always say you’ll do things and then you don’t. You told me we could go to the park if I cleaned my room, and when I finished cleaning my room you said it was too late. You told me I could have a popsicle when I finished my dinner, and when I finished it you couldn’t find any in the freezer. You’re always lying.”  (more…)

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Reward Me: AIR MILES Dining Discount Book

July 29, 2016

Friends, I’ve found a way to turn Dream Miles into dinner. Oh yes.

So let’s just say you’ve been sitting on a handful of AIR MILES Reward Miles you’d love to redeem, but just can’t settle on the best way to do it. I get it! Choosing a reward is almost more difficult than purchasing something, isn’t it? It’s one of the reasons I both love and loathe gift cards – I spend *way* too much time deciding how to go about my spending spree!

If you’re in the same boat, I’ve got the perfect option for you (and your loved ones!). Introducing the AIR MILES Dining Discount Book. For a limited time only, redeem just 250 Miles and get over $1,000 in restaurants savings!
airmilesCurrently offered in the Toronto and Vancouver markets, using the AIR MILES Dining Discount Book is simple:

1. Use your Miles to get the Discount Book for your desired region.
2. Present your coupon at participating restaurants.
3. Enjoy the Savings!

I nabbed the Discount Book for Toronto – which includes the Greater Toronto Area – and was so pleased to find incredible savings for many of the restaurants my family loves. Plus, with a large number of participating restaurants offering BOGO deals, there’s incentive to try new ones we’ve been wanting to check out!  (more…)

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Multi-Generational Travel: Airport Screening Tips for Seniors

July 27, 2016

A trip with grandma? It’s my son’s dream come true.

As multi-generational travel increases in popularity, so does the need to address the specific concerns of all members of the family – from age two to seventy-two. In the past, I’ve concentrated on screening tips for families and children. Today, with the help of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), I’m sharing ways to make airport screening a breeze for seniors.

CATSA-GeneralPins-Set2-12-EN (2)1. Pack large liquid containers in checked baggage. When packing your carry-on bag, remember that only liquids, gels and aerosols of 100 mL or less in a one-litre clear, resealable plastic bag are accepted. Larger items like shampoo, toothpaste, creams, shaving cream, perfume and suntan lotion over 100 mL must be packed in your checked baggage.

2. Keep your medication with you. The 100 mL limit on liquids, gels and aerosols in your carry-on doesn’t apply to medication — whether it’s prescribed or over-the-counter. Just be ready to present them separately to the screening officers for inspection.

3. Arrive early and ask for help, if needed. The more time you have to go through security, the less stress you’ll feel. If you have difficulty lifting or carrying your bags, advise airline staff when you check in.

At the checkpoint, look for the family/special needs line if you need more time or assistance to move through security. Have your boarding pass ready to present to the screening officer and place your cell phone and other small electronic equipment, coins, keys and small metal items in your carry-on. Be sure to let screening officers know if you have any medical devices or metal implants.

For more information on how to breeze through security visit or call 1-888-294-2202.

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Cineplex Popcorn Parties: The PERFECT Way to Celebrate

July 23, 2016

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

Let’s be real: if I’m calling something perfect, you know it’s got my stamp of approval.

Cineplex Popcorn Parties. A couple of weeks ago, I filled you in on the ins and outs of this fun, affordable and entertaining service offered by Cineplex Cinemas. Having received countless invitations for the standard indoor playground, I was determined to do something a little different for my boys’ combined birthday party. And, after researching Popcorn Parties, I realized that it’s an easy way to round up kindergarten and primary-aged children for a fun birthday celebration.

Go ahead and check out my last post. It details what Cineplex Popcorn Parties are all about. Today, I’m here to show you why Popcorn Parties are the perfect way to celebrate your child’s next birthday, milestone or special occasion.
DSC_10151. The Kids Are Alright. If there’s one thing I fear most… even more than hairy spiders, confined spaces or hairy spiders in confined spaces… it’s a gaggle of children, running around and screaming. I think that’s why I shy away from the traditional backyard parties or playground celebrations; it causes me too much stress to oversee kids while they work through a sugar rush. If you’re like me and would prefer for kids to look but not touch, a Cineplex Popcorn Party is the answer. You decide a) if you want to rent out a party room before or after the movie, and b) how much time you spend in the party room during your allotted time slot, if you go that route. The rest of the time, kiddos are comfortably ensconced in a movie theatre, munching on delicious snacks while being heartily entertained.

It’s my idea of party perfection.  (more…)

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A Destination for Everyone: This is Mont Tremblant

July 20, 2016

My love affair with Mont Tremblant, Quebec during the summer months is well established, and well documented. (See here and here for further inspiration.)

It’s more than the picturesque pedestrian village. It’s more than the lush greenery and peaceful surroundings. It’s more than the feeling that you’ve entered another country entirely, even though you’re only a 1-hr flight from Toronto.

It’s because Tremblant truly offers something for everyone. And this summer, if you’re looking for a break from the ordinary, here’s a Canadian destination you’ll want to place on your “must visit” list.

The Family Fun Seekers. Of course if you’re vacationing with your family, especially young ones, you’ll want to know about how to keep busy (and keep the kids entertained). Maximize your value and purchase an Activity Card; you’ll have a choice of 14 summer-themed activities for all ages (save 10% when booked in advance).
13562034_252731145098793_1417017690_nFrom Eurobungy, Climbing TowerLe Petit Géant Mini-golfAquaclub La Source and more, there’s always something to do! Bonus: many of the activities are rain or shine, so you’ll never be at the mercy of the elements. The activity card is valid 7 days per week, from May 21 to October 16, 2016. You can purchase 3, 5, 7 or 10 accesses, to be used consecutively or not, at a great rate.  (more…)

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Is There a Science to Great Skin?

July 18, 2016

Heredity. Genes. Sheer, dumb luck.

I’m actually not certain what contributes to naturally fabulous skin. I suppose it could be a combination of genetic and environmental factors, coupled with an individual’s commitment to care. How do I define a “commitment to care”? Simple –

1) The good sense to live a healthy lifestyle, which includes being mindful of diet and exercise
2) The ability to abstain from smoking, excessive drinking and of course, recreational drugs
3) The desire to practice safe sun habits, including wearing sunscreen and protective clothing

And 4) – the willingness to help nature along, by being open to trying new things.

13549448_940751226051443_298707666_nThis year, I’m trying new things.

As the first cosmeceutical brand in Canada, NeoStrata offers Canadians of all ages greater confidence in themselves through healthy, beautiful skin from proven, superior skin care solutions that really work. Having recently celebrated their 25th anniversary, NeoStrata  continues to develop leading-edge technologies that are supported and endorsed by the medical community.

I’ll admit it: Although I’m very familiar with the brand’s name and reputation, NeoStrata is new to my skincare regime. Based on incredibly positive feedback from friends who have tried the line, and a desire to select innovative, dermatologist-recommended products for my skin, I am so excited to have the opportunity to try their products throughout the year!  (more…)

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Live a Cheesy Life. Trust Me.

July 14, 2016

I can’t remember who it was that said, “Live a Cheesy Life!”, but frankly, it’s a motto I’ve trusted for more years than I can count.

(EDIT: My husband just informed me that he’s only heard me say it, so technically, I could have made it up. Which I probably did, while heaping cheese into my mouth.)

I’m an equal opportunity cheese lover. Melted, grated, cubed, sprinkled or sliced… serve it up, I’ll eat it. However, I am partial to smooth, buttery-soft Havarti; its creamy and semi-soft texture makes it perfect for a sandwich or snack, and Arla® Havarti is made from 100% Canadian milk, making it a delicious cheese that’s naturally good. It’s a simple & healthy snack option even for healthy lifestyles.

Recently, I’ve been enjoying a few varieties of flavoured Havarti, including Arla Sundried Tomato Havarti and Arla Herb & Spice Havarti. The savoury additions lend just the right contrast to the milky creaminess of the cheese, rounding out the mild yet satisfyingly full flavour. It’s a must-have addition to any cheese or charcuterie tray, particularly when served with barbecued foods or as game-day fare.
DSC_0994aOf course, I’ve never been one to enjoy a cube of Havarti without fantasizing about its potential, so I’m happy to share a kicked-up version of cheese and crackers with my Warm Havarti Dip(more…)

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Pure + Simple: Beautiful Skin, Naturally

July 11, 2016

Take a moment to exhale.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, in between the meetings, the carpool responsibilities, the grocery runs and the daily commutes, there exists a common truth: we need to slow down. We need to take care of ourselves, inside and out. We need to prioritize our health and happiness.

We all have our preferred indulgences, of course. For some, it’s food; for others, a quiet spot and a good book. And for most moms I know (including yours truly), it’s a little bit of “me time”, with a chance for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation.

Is it time to press pause? Pure + Simple, an all-natural skincare and wellness spa with locations in Toronto and Waterloo, is celebrating a month-long pop up event showcasing beauty brands that are natural, effective and proudly Canadian.
Wellness Centre Sign (2)FRESH CANADIAN BRANDS is an initiative designed by Pure + Simple to highlight locally-sourced talent and provide clients with fresh alternatives to their routine products. If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, visit one of their four locations to try innovative, better-for-you products and meet with the founders on select dates/times. Featured brands include da’lish, FitGlow, Healing Haus, Sattva Pure, Skin Essence, Thera Wise and more.  (more…)

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How to Live Your Life in 4K

July 10, 2016

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

If you caught my last post, 5 Reasons to Live Your Life in 4K, you’ll know that I enthusiastically endorse the Samsung 4K SUHD TV and Rogers NextBox 4K. And really, why wouldn’t I? With a new era of picture quality, allowing users to view an even wider range of brilliant and vibrant colours, deep contrast, incredible brightness and 4K resolution, you can think of it as an investment into your happiness.

And I’m pretty damned happy living life in 4K.

However, I would be remiss to equate a vibrant life with simply a high quality (okay, ultra high quality) viewing experience. Life in 4K encompasses so much more! So, now that I’ve provided reasons to live your life in 4K, I’m here to show you *how* to do so, with gusto.

1. Take a Dream Vacation. Did you know that 26 per cent of Canadians are not using paid vacation days provided by their employer? It’s no secret that one of the barriers to travel is simply not having the funds to do so. But I’m here to tell you that’s hogwash. (Clearly, I’ve decided to tell you in a British accent.) We can all find the time and money to get away – we just have to prioritize travel and attribute a value to the benefits we derive from it.
10387805_1674863439421167_313603232_nSit down with family or friends and decide on your dream getaway, and then take steps – every single day – to save for it. Perhaps it’s collecting the change from drive thru orders or setting aside a fixed amount on each paycheque. Then, open a savings account strictly for your vacation. Living in 4K includes realizing that rest and relaxation are keys to happiness.

(Travelling soon? Check out my post on things You Can (Totally) Leave Home Without.)  (more…)

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DeeBee’s TeaPops: The Next Pop Star

July 9, 2016

“Can I have a glass of fruit punch?” my son asks, pointing to the carton in the fridge.
“Water,” I respond, steering him away from the sugary beverage.
“I’m so sick of water,” he counters, woefully accepting a bottle.

While staying hydrated over the summer months is incredibly important, it can also be a drag for little ones. We’ve all been told that water is the simplest (and most effective) way to prevent dehydration, but kids crave variety and often get frustrated when the only option for refreshment is plain old H2O.

However, what are the alternatives? Pop? Juice? Super sweet icy treats? They’re a favourite among kids, there’s no doubt, and they do offer hydration benefits… but they’re not ideal due to the high caloric and sugar content. I’m constantly looking for refreshing options that the kids will love while keeping them safely hydrated throughout the summer.
DeeBees-SpecialTea-Foods-LtdIntroducing DeeBee’s TeaPops. TeaPops are the ultimate treat; created by Dr. Dionne Laslo-Baker to satisfy her own kids’ cravings, each of the seven flavours are bursting with a delicious combination of organic super fruits and a heart-warming cup of organic tea. These tealicious treats are certified organic and vegan, non-GMO, kosher and gluten-free – for absolutely every taste out there!  (more…)

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Let’s Make it a Popcorn Party!

July 8, 2016

Having two boys in the primary grades at elementary school, we’ve done the birthday party circuit a time or two… or twenty-eight.

That’s right. Between Ryder and Reid, twenty-eight invitations have made their way into our home this past school year. And don’t get me wrong; I’m thrilled that they’ve been included in the celebrations of their peers, as social acceptance is high on the list of desires for a 6- and 8-year old. However, not so thrilling is the standard script: snacks, cake and an hour or two at the local indoor playground, featuring a bouncy castle nirvana.

You know I could never adhere to the standard script.

I began thinking, what do my boys love? Well that’s easy – they love movies. And, I was willing to bet that their classmates loved movies too! Yet, in all the invitations we’ve received over the past school year, not one had been for a movie theatre party. What’s up with that? It seemed like the perfect solution (food, friends and fun entertainment of the less-rowdy variety) and I was determined to learn more about what was offered.
popcornparties_655x250_en2So, I began researching Cineplex Popcorn Parties. And I decided – within minutes – it was perfect for Ryder and Reid’s combined birthday bash.

Do you have a child’s birthday around the corner, and you’re looking for a fun, affordable alternative to an indoor playground? Listen up, because here’s how Cineplex Popcorn Parties will help you flip the script, too.  (more…)

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Be the Most Prepared Mom!

July 7, 2016

It’s here, friends! The hot, hazy days of summer!

And, if you’re lucky enough to take a weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle, you’ll want to pack up the kids, pack up your troubles, and be the most prepared mom! Today, I’ll show you how to ensure you’ve got the essentials you need for safe, summer fun.
13408849_296159470723601_1877003576_nEssential #1: Sunscreen. (I am totally NOT going to tell you to pack sunscreen. It’s 2016, folks! We know the negative effects of damage caused by harmful UVA and UVB rays. And if you don’t know, look it up! Trust me on this one.)  (more…)

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Babies 101: The Importance of Healthy Sleep.

July 5, 2016

Last week, I shared information about my collaboration with P&G as they support Canadian athletes at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Over the next two months, I’ll continue to spotlight Mark Oldershaw, a third generation Olympian, and his partnership with Pampers – the only brand I’ve never cheated on.

Today, I’m speaking to parents of little ones. We know that well-rested children learn more rapidly. Their attention, memory and decision-making abilities are all directly impacted by their sleep patterns; particularly, their ability to have an adequate night’s sleep.
Reid_armsIn fact, well-rested children have improved hand-eye coordination, which impacts fine motor skills and development. Conversely, basic skills like crawling, walking, running, and climbing can be affected by lack of sleep. Children that are tired can be more irritable, hyperactive, and oppositional. Even more troubling? Behaviour problems have been linked to sleep deprivation.  (more…)

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Hamilton Beach Ultimate Summer Giveaway!

July 2, 2016

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

I see you, summer. And I raise you the Ultimate Summer Giveaway.

If there’s one thing that’s synonymous with warm weather, it’s ice cream. And grilled foods. And we can’t forget shaved ice, cold milkshakes and mixed drinks. You know, the basic, yummiest foods and beverages you can think of.

When I think of yummy foods, I think of Hamilton Beach.

Did you know that as one of Canada’s leading distributors of small kitchen appliances, Hamilton Beach Brands, Inc. sells over 35 million appliances every year? Chances are, you’ve got a few of their innovative products in your own home – ready to chop, sear, mix or blend your favourite ingredients into a delicious culinary creation.

Of course, if there’s one time I love to pull out my Hamilton Beach standbys, it’s summer! That’s why I’m so thrilled to partner with them to bring you the Ultimate Summer Giveaway. One lucky Listen to Lena reader will win ALL FIVE of the summer-themed small appliances pictured below – for a total prize value of over $300!

HBSo, what’s up for grabs? Only the most popular, most cutting-edge small appliances for your summer entertaining needs!  (more…)

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June 30, 2016

Standing in the bathroom, I moved closer to the mirror. “There,” I murmured, finding the dark spot near my right eye. “And there and there and there,” I continued, pointing to the pigmented markings that were dusted across my cheeks and nose. “Age spots,” I sighed in defeat.

Freckles. Age spots. Sun spots. Liver spots. No matter what you call them, they’re essentially the same thing: collections of pigment, also known as melanin, that often appear after exposure to ultra-violet light.

Sun damage.

Naively, I thought I was immune to the effects of the sun. Being of South Asian descent, I’ve always believed that I have a “built-in SPF”, allowing me to skip a daily application of sunscreen and occasionally, tan with reckless abandon.
DSC_0549Technically, I’m not completely incorrect; darker individuals have a higher natural SPF thanks to the increased amounts of melanin in our skin. However, no one’s natural SPF is enough to keep the effects of sun damage at bay, which includes, but is not limited to, skin cancer, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.

Back to those age spots.

You have to look closely, but you can see them. Scattered across my nose and cheeks; the darkly pigmented spots that seem to increase with gusto as I get closer to age 40. To me, they represent years of taking my skin for granted; a lax skin care routine coupled with sporadic sunscreen use.  (more…)

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Thank You, Mom: Road to Rio 2016

June 29, 2016

It takes a special kind of heart. It calls for fierce determination. An unwillingness to give up; a remarkable resilience, a selflessness marked in integrity and profound in perseverance.

Thank you, Mom.

Because it takes someone strong to make someone strong, this year, I’m pleased to partner with P&G as they support Canadian athletes at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and celebrate the strength of moms who helped get them there.

Need a tissue? Don’t worry, I’ll wait. I understand.

Of course, my introduction could have also pertained to any one of our Canadian Olympic hopefuls; an immeasurably focused group of athletes vying for gold at this summer’s Olympic Games. (more…)

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Let’s Start a Conversation

June 28, 2016

A few days ago, my girlfriend sent me an email entitled, “Clean Conversation Starters.”

I’m going on a blind date, she wrote, and I want to know which conversation starters I should throw out there to get to know him better. Which ones should I bring up?

ratherFirst, I have mad respect for anyone who will attempt a blind date in 2016. With dating apps, photoshop, internet creepers, etc – it takes a special kind of confidence (bravery? foolishness?) to meet a stranger for drinks.

Second, conversation starters!! How delightful!

I spent the next little while pouring over the questions, pausing to mentally answer most of them (and surprising myself with some of my responses!). So, let’s play a little game today – go ahead and select one or two of the following conversation starters, copy and paste the question and leave your answer in the comments!

Would you rather eat your favourite meal for every meal for the rest of your life or never be able to eat your favourite meal again?

Would you rather live in a place where it is always hot or always cold?

Would you rather be poor with lots of good friends or rich with no friends?

Would you rather lose all of your money and valuables or all of the pictures you have ever taken?

Would you rather never be able to eat warm food or never be able to eat cold food?

Would you rather be a famous director or a famous actor?

Would you rather take a vow of celibacy or take a vow of silence?

I look forward to reading your answers! And in case you were wondering, I’d rather live in a place where it is always hot, and I’d much rather be a famous director!

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Fun in the Sun… with $500 in Fisher-Price Toys!

June 23, 2016

Popping in today to tell you about an AH-MAZING summer contest from Fisher-Price!

Three (3!) Canadians will be treated to a Fisher-Price prize bundle valued at $500 each. Included: everything you need for an entire season of summer fun! (I’m looking at you, Jeep Wrangler!)
201606-SummerSweepsClick here to enter the sweepstakes. I really hope one (or all) of my readers nab this awesome prize. After you enter, don’t forget to check out the Fisher-Price Playtime Guide to find the best toys for any age. I have it bookmarked for all my gifting needs… and okay, to engage in a little nostalgia. How I loved being a Fisher-Price mom! Good luck all – contest ends July 3, 2016.

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Sally’s Cereals DIY: Under the Sea!

June 21, 2016

Note: The following contest is open to Canadians only. 

We know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So, why not have a little fun with it?

Challenged by Sally’s Cereals, a delicious line of cereals that come in a re-sealable bag, I created a fun, distinctly oceanic-themed breakfast table for my kiddos. Using easy-to-find, creative and budget-savvy materials, I’m pleased to show you how you can recreate your own “Under the Sea” DIY table!DSC_0499aAll of the items for your themed summer breakfast table can be found at your local party store. At first I wanted to surprise my boys with the breakfast table, but then decided that half the fun is having them involved! So, we channeled our inner “Martha’s” and went right to work.

Here’s what you’ll need to create your “Under the Sea” adventure:

One burlap table runner
Decorative fish netting
Blue or green place mats, napkins, cereal bowls and plates
Three glass votive candle holders (or small vases)
Blue tissue paper (light and dark blue)
Assorted seashells
Coloured foam paper, cut into sea creatures such as starfish, fish and sea horses
Your favourite Sally’s Cereal!  (more…)

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Summer Sixteen

June 20, 2016

It’s finally here! SUMMER! And it arrives with a blaze in Toronto, reaching temperatures of 41°C with the humidity this afternoon. Hands up if you’d rather be running through a backyard sprinkler today!
13402308_634847196670543_894784101_nI’m putting up my “Out of Office” for the day, whipping up some homemade popsicles for the kiddos and fruity sangria for the adults. Wishing you all a wonderful start to the work week, and to summer!

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