Questions About Skincare? Ask a Dermatologist Anything!

October 16, 2015

Do you need professional help? Sometimes we all need therapy … for our skin, that is.

However, it’s not always easy to reach an expert when we need one most. Questions about your skin care routine? Changes in aging skin, or adult acne? If you’re like me, you may want to know more about Botox, microdermabrasion or laser hair removal.

Facebook Graphic (2)Here’s your chance to ask an expert – join the @CeraVeCanada #DermWednesday Twitter Chat on October 21st at 8:00PM EDT. Dr. Ben Barankin from The Toronto Dermatology Centre will be on hand to answer any of your skin care concerns.

To thank you for joining the conversation, three (3) attendees will win a CeraVe Prize Bundle, including a selection of CeraVe’s must-have cleansers and moisturizers.

CeraVe is the first brand to contain the essential ceramides, cholesterol and fatty esters that healthy skin needs, delivered through a controlled-release MVE system over 24 hours. The daily regimen of cleansers and moisturizers helps repair, replenish and protect the skin barrier to leave your skin looking and feeling soft, clean and healthy.

It promises to be an informative chat! Mark your calendars!

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On the Go with Little Ones? Introducing Play-Stow-Go!

October 15, 2015

I’m not exactly sure why they call it a “diaper Bag”, because truth be told, it held everything but the kitchen sink.

Diapers – for sure. A change of clothes, a stack of wipes, a selection of snacks. Bottles, binkies and blankets. And toys… oh, the toys.

Back when the boys were little, it was a mission to find portable toys that were child-friendly, promoted sensory play and were small enough to take everywhere. Because whether it was a trip to the mall, a plane ride or an afternoon at grandma’s house, keeping them entertained on the go was a top priority. The toys had to be storable, portable and adorable!

stowngoToday, I cherish the time I spend with my little niece. She’s not quite two, but she’s quite the busy-body! Watching her learn through play, fine-tune her hand-eye coordination and perfect her motor skills is a joy to behold. And today, it’s even easier to entertain her on the go with Playskool’s Play-Stow-Go toys.

The toys are easily compacted, collapsible or include a handy little travel clip for the ultimate in portability. So, playtime can happen nearly anytime, anywhere! They can be stowed inside a stroller, some even into a jacket, and of course – a diaper bag. Yep, consider these toys, which aid in developing fine motor skills and sensory play, a diaper bag staple for on the go fun.

The collection also makes at home play much easier because as the toys collapse into a smaller size for easier storage, the pieces conveniently fit inside the toys, so you can avoid having to search for missing parts. It’s as easy as Play, Stow, Go!  (more…)

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Back to Basics. Because Our Life is Deep ’n Delicious.

October 14, 2015

I resent the term “basic”.

Used in its current context, it’s used to describe something, or someone, as being uncool or passé. (It may even have ties to the Kardashians, which is a truly scary thing.) There’s no doubt about it; being “basic” is not the bandwagon you want to be riding on.

But you know what? I like basic. I like simple things – watching television with my husband; playing board games with my kids, window shopping with my mom. In fact, I truly believe that some of the most rewarding things in life are the tried-and-true foods and activities that bring families closer together. And often, it’s as easy as a warm, welcoming kitchen and a delicious slice of cake.
DSC_1410aMcCain Deep ’n Delicious Cakes have been a basic – but legendary – part of our family nights for as long as I can remember. Fluffy, flavourful and always guaranteed to put a smile on my boys’ faces, the cakes are my go-to treat for family nights, celebrations, or just because.

(I tend to find “just because” occasions multiple times per week. Who can blame me? The Marble Cake is a game changer. And the kids never say no to chocolate and vanilla.)  (more…)

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From Sag to Swag, A True Story

October 13, 2015

From time to time, my ovaries do that little twinge thing. Hey Lena, they’ll say. How about another baby? A wee one to snuggle and cuddle and love to bits!

Down, ovaries, down.

First, I’m dangerously approaching the “Sell By” date on my eggs. Let’s just say that the big 4-0 is around the corner, and the only dates I want to be tracking are the date nights I have with my husband. Without kids.

Second, I have a new(ish) niece! She provides me with all the enjoyment I need, because she checks off the three major requirements: she looks like a baby, talks like a baby and walks like a baby.

Er, actually, she doesn’t walk like a baby at all. Because she just went from #SagtoSwag.

If there’s one thing I remember about my boys, it was their saggy diapers. As they grew and became mobile, I became increasingly aware of their overly bulky, bulging diapers which caused them to waddle around like most toddlers. At first, I began to change diapers around the clock, thinking that it must be terribly uncomfortable! But I soon realized that no matter what I did, the sag stayed.

That was then. Today, new and improved Pampers Cruisers diapers with Extra Absorb Channels help little ones stay drier and do not sag like ordinary diapers – helping babies go from sag to swag!
PampersThink about it. A poor fitting or saggy diaper can limit babies’ freedom of movement. As babies grow, develop and explore their world, they need a diaper that allows them to play freely, provides a great fit, and stays drier. Plus, a recent Pampers survey found that more than 80% of moms who notice sag are bothered that their baby’s diaper sags. The same survey also found that 78% of moms feel that saggy diapers can weigh their baby down.  (more…)

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Do You Spoon? Start Spreading the News… REESE Spreads is Here!

October 13, 2015

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only. 

Imagine if you could experience the taste of REESE Peanut Butter Cups Candy with just about any dessert or snack. I know, incredible, right?

Introducing REESE Spreads, the perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter flavours in spreadable form. Based on the iconic candy, one of Canada’s favourite snacks, REESE Spreads deliver the unique, one-of-a-kind combination of chocolate and peanut butter taste to any food, anytime, anywhere.

The possibilities are endless! How about Peanut Butter and Chocolate Coated Bacon? Or Reese Peanut Butter S’more Pie. And I can’t forget one of my personal favourites, REESE Spreads Banana Buttons. These perfectly sweet and salty treats are addictive beyond comprehension!

However, you simply must try my Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Banana French Toast featuring Reese Spreads. It’s a great indulgent breakfast, or, swap the sliced bread for brioche for a delicious dessert! Serves 2.
DSC_13732 large bananas, sliced in half and lengthwise (8 pieces total)
2 tbsp salted butter, divided
4 slices white bread
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp REESE Spreads
cocoa powder, for dusting (optional)  (more…)

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Your Best Disney Vacation: How to Stretch a Weak Dollar

October 12, 2015

It’s the most magical glow.

It’s a particular warmth you feel after returning from a Walt Disney World or Disneyland vacation, led by the intense desire to do it all over again. In fact, immediately upon returning from a visit to the most magical place on earth, I begin planning our next vacation! And since we returned from Disneyland Resort just two weeks ago, you can guess what’s currently taking up my time – yep, consulting calendars for 2016’s epic adventure.
FullSizeRender 6Addicted? I like to think I’m converted. Because now, I prefer to only vacation at world class resorts with world class theme parks. What’s wrong with that? You only live once!

Of course, one of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked since I announced our getaway is:

“How can I afford a Disney vacation with the falling Canadian dollar?”

To all those who’ve emailed or messaged me, thanks for your interest! The truth is, my Visa statement was indeed impacted by the weaker dollar; I’m not going to sugarcoat it. You need to plan ahead for increased prices. However, has that stopped me from wanting to do it all over again? NEVER! Because I have a great handle on how to stretch a weak dollar for an incredible Disney vacation. And today, I’m happy to share my best tips with you!  (more…)

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Dance to the Beat with Fisher-Price Dance & Move BeatBo!

October 9, 2015

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

We’re a family of dancers. My husband, bless his heart, will be 40 this year… but he moves like a 24-year old, especially at corporate events.

(I’ll wait while you click this link to an Instagram video from earlier this year.)

Did you spot Ryder busting a move? He was *slightly* overshadowed by his father’s theatrics. And of course, you all know that Reid has been in dance for years… and there’s been more than one reference on this blog of me grooving on a speaker in my clubbing days. Yeah, we like to move it to the beat!

Does your child like to boogie? Introducing Fisher-Price Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBo, an adorable animatronic pal that encourages baby to get up and move – and helps teach baby, too!

pTRUCA1-20920855dtThe toy includes 3 modes that “grow” with baby:

In Dance ‘n Move Mode, BeatBo’s shaking hips, nodding head and lively music encourage baby to move around. Think of it as a mini concert, just for baby!

Next, Learning & Games Mode helps teach baby ABCs, colors, counting and more, and even features the “Freeze Dance” – far and wide one of the most entertaining games for little ones.

Finally, the Customized Sing-Along Mode lets mom or baby record a phrase, and – I’m not even kidding – BeatBo will remix it into his favorite song. Isn’t that just awesome?

(See BeatBo in action here.)

Now, we know that babies learn through play. In fact, as children play with toys, with one another, and with adults, they acquire and improve the skills necessary for formal learning in later stages of their lives. BeatBo’s fun music and motions encourage baby to move, shake and dance along, helping to exercise gross motor skills. The colorful lights, dancing motions, music, lights and variety of textures all help stimulate baby’s senses of sight, hearing and touch. And by pressing BeatBo’s tummy or feet, baby’s discovering that their actions make fun things happen – a great introduction to cause and effect.  (more…)

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Cheese the Day!

October 8, 2015

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only. 

Melted. Grated. Crumbled. Baked. No matter what you do with cheese, it makes everything taste better. In fact, I will literally take cheese any way I can get it.

A toasted bagel slathered with Philadelphia Cream Cheese to start my day. A warm bowl of spicy chili topped with shredded Cracker Barrel Cheddar Cheese for lunch. And at dinner, a hearty grilled burger with – what else? – Kraft Singles Processed Cheese.

You could say I Cheese the Day.

Case in Point: Recipe for this addictive Cheesy Nacho Bake coming up.
DSC_1291aAre you a fellow cheese enthusiast? Kraft Heinz has teamed up with Loblaws to encourage families to Cheese the Day, which means having fun with cheese in new and unexpected ways!  (more…)

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Make Thanksgiving EASY with Butterball!

October 6, 2015

Confessions of a suburban housewife: I’ve never cooked a turkey.

Don’t be so surprised. Frankly, I have an aversion to cooking anything that needs to be thawed, prepped, cooked, carved and packed for leftovers. And the dishes… oh, the dishes! Before marrying into my husband’s family, I was in turkey-less bliss.

Then, I met my future mother-in-law. And I tasted her Thanksgiving turkey… and I became a forever fan. Yep, I joined the gobble gang. More turkey please!

Juicy, moist and flavourful – with herbed stuffing and thick, rich gravy – just the thought of a Butterball turkey always makes me drool with anticipation. It’s been a holiday tradition for me for 10 years now, and for millions of Canadians, much, much longer than that.
DSC_1374So, what if I told you that the above turkey, stuffing and all, was cooked from frozen?

The Promise: pre-stuffed with delicious homestyle stuffing, this Butterball Stuffed Whole Turkey is tender and juicy every time. Simply remove the frozen turkey from the plastic bag, place it on a rack in a shallow roasting pan, brush the skin with vegetable oil and roast according to the time listed on the roasting chart. (Click here for full instructions.)  (more…)

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Join us for an #AvoSocial!

October 2, 2015

Love an avocado today.

Tomorrow, 18 awesome influencers from Toronto will enjoy an ‪#‎AvoSocial‬ brunch at my home! (And I don’t even have to cook! Thanks Avocados from Mexico!)

Fresh, delicious, authentic, and available year-round, avocados contain nearly essential 20 vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds like 81 micrograms lutein and zeaxanthin, which research suggests may help maintain eye health as we age. And, more than 75 percent of the fat in avocados is considered “good” fat, with 3g coming from monounsaturated fat and 0.5g from polyunsaturated fat (per 1-ounce serving). Not only that, but avocados are also free of cholesterol and sodium.

Want to learn more? You’re invited to follow along! Join us as we share delicious Avocado-inspired recipes, and one lucky tweeter will have a chance to win an Avocado Green KitchenAid blender!
AvoSocialBe sure to tweet us with any questions you may have. See you on Saturday!

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Face of the Day, Galactic-Style

October 2, 2015

A short time ago in a theme park far, far away…

Okay, so it’s not *that* far away. (Only a 5-hour direct flight!) I had looked forward to this event for months, and when the time finally came, I was ready to morph into one of the greatest, most sassy droids known to mankind. This past Monday, at Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland, I dressed up as the iconic R2-D2. (Click here for more details on my costume.)

My husband went as himself.
IMG_0739Okay, okay, he didn’t actually go as himself. He dressed up as the ultimate nerd! High-waisted pants and a matching bow tie to boot. (He even has that mouth/ jaw thing going on… it’s quite precious.)

To offset the whole Star Wars-geek thing, I opted for sultry, come-hither makeup using ARTDECO Cosmetics. Identified by its on-trend and fashion-forward designs, ARTDECO has been a cult favourite in Europe for years, and is now available in Canada at select Shoppers Drug Mart stores! Here’s how you can emulate the look, whether you’re trick-or-treating or enjoying date night.  (more…)

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Fall into Better Digestive Health: Take Control and #OwnTheThrone

October 2, 2015

It’s the season for tall riding boots and warm, cozy sweaters. The crisp, clean air is accented with the tempting aroma of Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Leaves are changing, days are shortening, and the holiday rush is just around the corner.

Welcome to Fall.
seasonNow, besides your wardrobe and your choice of coffee house beverage, can you think of any other changes you’ll make this season? Chances are, some of your adjustments will be so subtle, you may not even notice. Like, you’ll probably sleep earlier as the days get shorter. You may even spend a little more time selecting clothes as you layer and accessorize for the cooler temps. And you’ll likely alter your diet and lifestyle, eating heavier meals while exercising less, which can lead to digestive troubles.  (more…)

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Honey, You’ll Love this Natural Sweetener.

October 1, 2015

It’s been called “liquid gold”, and I concur – I love honey for its complex taste and amazing versatility. No matter how you enjoy it, honey is nature’s perfect sweetener!

(Psst! Recipe for Strawberry, Honey and Mascarpone Tartlets coming up – featuring my favourite, Billy Bee honey!)
DSC_1364Did you know: Honey is an organic, natural sugar alternative with no additives. It’s easy on the stomach, adapts to virtually all cooking processes, and has an indefinite shelf-life when stored in optimal conditions. What more could you ask for?  (more…)

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On Being a Spectator and Rediscovering Nature

September 28, 2015

It’s occurred to me that the older I get, the more content I am to simply be a spectator.

Don’t get me wrong: I never pictured myself as the soccer mom or camping enthusiast. Truth is, I’m kind of allergic to anything that isn’t labelled 4-star (it’s a real illness, I checked – it’s call “snobism”). However, I’ve noticed more and more, on the rare times we are outdoors as a family, I tend to hold back. I’d rather watch the action unfold than be part of it myself. And, having two energetic, boisterous boys… that means I’m often on the outside looking in.

This is not a post declaring that I’ve changed my ways.

Because I haven’t. Although we’ve had so much fun crossing items off our Rediscover Nature Summer Bucket List, I can’t say that I immersed myself in the activities much beyond being present for them. However, something did occur to me on #RediscoverNature Day; the realization that my boys HATE being a spectator. Being on the sidelines is a punishment; they always want to be part of the game, in the middle of the action. Whatever the activity, they need to be involved. And when it’s time for a time out, it’s not always pretty.

I captioned this photo, “He hates being a spectator.” It was taken during a hike in our local park on September 20th – #RediscoverNature Day.
DSC_1161When will it happen? When will they decide that they’d rather be tethered to their electronic devices than playing a game of freeze tag in the park? I’m not naive; I know the day will soon come. But it’s my duty to cultivate my boys’ love for the outdoors, and ensure they remain part of the action for as long as possible. Because statistically speaking, less than 10% of kids today are spending time in nature.  (more…)

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It’s Halloween Time at Disneyland!

September 27, 2015

Can you guess the single most important event in my children’s lives right now? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not the birth of Jesus. Or the first day of school. It isn’t even their birthday.

It’s Halloween, of course.

Think about it. The chance to dress up as their favourite superheroes or idols. Free candy. Tons of spooky and ghoulish decor. Free candy. Songs and stories dedicated to witches, goblins and ghosts.


Keeping their obsession in mind, when planning my family vacation to California (psst – hello! I’m currently blogging from the beach!), I was thrilled to see that our dates coincided with Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland Resort. I’ll be back to tell you all about it after we join the party tomorrow night!

In the meantime…. drum roll please… may I present to you, my costume!
r2d2aOkay, so the dress – which I picked up from Hot Topic – definitely isn’t as short or low cut as pictured. Or maybe I just don’t have the same height and boobage as the model. What I’m trying to say is, it’s very PG! And, I posted both the blue and red lipsticks as it will be a last-minute decision – not sure I can rock blue lipstick, know what I mean? Finally, thank goodness Reid offered to lend me his R2D2 Mickey Ears… it really completes the costume! Though he *did* wear it better, I’m sure.

I’ll be sure to post photos during and after the event – follow me on Twitter and Instagram for all the fun! And, if you’re wondering what my two little Halloween lovers are going as… we’ll have a little Captain America and Spider-Man trick-or-treating tomorrow night!

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Get Back to Natural Sleep.

September 24, 2015

“With PASCOFLAIR you can fall asleep quickly and stay sound asleep.”

That was the plan. Over a month ago, I had turned to PASCOFLAIR with the hope that I could achieve a restful sleep with the help of this safe, herbal alternative to traditional sleep aids.

Truth be told, I was mildly skeptical.

As an A-type, overstimulated, multitasking mom and mompreneur, it’s hard to simply turn off and fall into a peaceful slumber. In fact, after banning my nemesis – the cell phone – from my bedside table, I still found myself waking up 2-3 times per night, simply to go through everything I had to do the next day. (And maybe to reach for the cell phone that was no longer there.)

I know many of my readers were interested in hearing my experience with PASCOFLAIR after I wrote about it in a previous post. However, for those that are just joining us, here’s what turned me on to the product:

Passionflower is traditionally used in Herbal Medicine as a sleep aid, in cases of restlessness or insomnia due to mental stress. PASCOFLAIR is a high dose of Passionflower which helps promote relaxation and calmness resulting in a better night’s sleep.
passionflowerNow here’s the important part: Passionflower does not act as a sedative: in the brain, it regulates neurotransmitters associated with calming rather than sleep. Therefore, you’re less likely to feel drowsy or “foggy” when you use PASCOFLAIR. It is fully registered with Health Canada and has been found to have no known drug interactions, no toxic effects for overdosing and have no known dependency potential.  (more…)

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… Also Known as Pumpkin Spice Latte Season

September 23, 2015

It’s the first day of Fall!

Also known as the BEST season of the year: crisp, cool air… breathtaking foliage… cozy sweaters and riding boots. Between the hot, humid summers and bitterly cold winters, Fall is the perfect transition season, especially when you’re looking to experience the beauty of the Canadian landscape.

Check out my Top 5 Fall weekend destinations here.

Of course, Fall is also synonymous with Pumpkin Spice Lattes. If you’re cool and hip, you’ll want to be spotted (preferably on Instagram) with this American staple… but if you’re smart and savvy, you’ll make it at home for a fraction of the coffee shop price!

I first tried this recipe from The Food Network last year, and it has since become my go-to favourite.
coffee1 cup milk
2 tablespoons pure pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup hot espresso or strong brewed coffee
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

It’s super easy to make this recipe, because all you have to do is combine the first five ingredients (milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla) in a medium, microwave safe bowl or extra large mug. The original instructions state to cover the bowl with plastic wrap and vent with a small hole, but I’ve not vented (just used a large mug) and it has turned out fine.  Microwave until the milk is hot, about 1 to 2 minutes. Finally, using that small whisk at the back of your cutlery drawer, whisk vigorously until the milk mixture is foamy.

Pour the espresso or coffee into a separate large mug and add the foamed mixture. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.  (more…)

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Counting Down to Date Night with COVERGIRL

September 21, 2015

Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only. 

Ah, date night. Those elusive few hours, every few months, that I spend the equivalent of a few days scheduling… and after a few cancellations, normally takes place a few days later than originally intended.

But when it happens… magic.

What is it about spending time – alone – with your significant other that is just so good for the soul? Before I had children, I took the little things for granted: eating without interruption, ordering a second glass of wine, sitting at a restaurant table without crayons strewn everywhere. Fact: it takes a little practice and a whole lot of patience to master the art of dining out with kids. Hence, when we do date night, we do it right.

Of course, there’s one pre-children luxury I’ve had to give up: the primping session two hours before our night out. Today, the makeup I apply in the morning has to last all day long, because I know I won’t have another chance to get ready in peace. Translation: if it doesn’t get done before the boys wake up, it doesn’t get done. And since date nights are few are far between, I like to look my best.
DSC_1334aWondering how I keep my glow from dawn ’til dusk? I trust COVERGIRL for my lasting look, so I can focus on tackling my to-do list rather than touch-ups. Straight from their beauty experts, here’s how to ensure your make-up will outlast your day:

Step 1: Use COVERGIRL Outlast All-Day Primer to prep your skin. Its formulation not only extends the wear of any foundation it also hides pores and reduces imperfections, providing a smooth canvas.

Step 2: Apply COVERGIRL Outlast Stay Luminous Foundation for fresh, glowing skin. Its innovative new formulation with unique light reflecting particles and over 40% skin conditioning agents hydrates the skin to help keep it looking healthy and lit from within. It’s lightweight feel and medium coverage leaves skin with a natural luminosity that lasts all day long.  (more…)

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Love at First Sight: Your Child’s Precious Peepers

September 21, 2015

“Your son will soon need glasses,” our optometrist declared, examining Ryder’s eyes.
“That does not surprise me,” I replied, nodding my head.

You see, I’ve worn glasses for the better part of 25 years. A quarter of a century! And I know that eyesight can be affected by both hereditary and lifestyle components; a parent with poor vision (strike one), extended computer, television and video game use (strike two). Strike three? Often, there’s no underlying reason; it’s often just chalked up to bad luck. Boo.

Can’t you just see this cute little face with Italian designer frames? The fashionista in me has already started planning a statement look for my little guy.
DSC_1313aOf course, other than the superficial (Horn-rimmed Gucci! Vintage Prada!) and obvious reasons (he needs to see!), there’s a truly imperative reason for staying on top of my boys’ eye health: 80% of a child’s learning is vision based.

In fact, vision problems can affect learning and development, preventing children from reaching their full potential. Complicating matters is the fact that most vision problems have no easy-to-detect symptoms; many children accept their vision as normal because they don’t know any different.  (more…)

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Dining Out: Mont Tremblant Edition

September 20, 2015

I’ve been holding out on you guys.

You see, for the past little while, I’ve had these gorgeous food photos on my phone, just waiting to be shared. But life is hectic, and this summer has been one for the books. So, they’ve just been sitting here, buried in a folder, begging to see the light of day.

And no one puts Poutine in a folder.
IMG_3100The sinfully delicious concoction above – a must-do when in Quebec – can be found at La Forge Bistro-Bar Mont Tremblant, THE place to have an après-ski drink or a delicious seasonal meal on the terrace overlooking Place St-Bernard. I opted for the Classique (cheese and gravy) because I’m a traditionalist at heart, but you can just as easily indulge in Saucisse fumée tout bœuf C.A.B. (smoked C.A.B. all-beef sausage), Viande hachée et oignons caramélisés (ground beef and caramelized onions) or Bœuf effiloché (house smoked beef brisket, pepper sauce, onion rings and fried pickles). (more…)

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