Contests

Must See TV: The Blacklist #Giveaway

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

Ah, the war of the remote control. While at one time it intensified the power struggle within a marriage or relationship, the truth is, with multiple-television households, this quirky little tug-of-war is now all but extinct. Case in point: in my home, usually, you’ll find my husband holed up in his basement “man cave”, while I snuggle in our bed channel surfing for chick flicks. His preference is ultimate fighting competitions; mine – cooking competitions.

However, we do agree on a few television shows – namely, The Blacklist on Global TV. It starts the brilliant James Spader as Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington. Ex-government agent Reddington is one of the FBI’s Most Wanted fugitives, who has brokered shadowy deals for criminals across the globe. Known as “The Concierge of Crime,” Reddington has mysteriously surrendered to the FBI, offering to help catch high-profile terrorists – but on the condition that he only speaks with rookie profiler Elizabeth “Liz” Keen (Megan Boone).

Following so far? Here’s the Coles Notes version for those who are new to the show:

Monday night has become “date night” at our place as we settle in for an always-thrilling episode. And with a BRAND NEW episode airing Monday, March 17 at 10:00 ET, my husband and I will continue our tradition of actually watching television… on the same floor, in the same room!

“Season 1, Episode 16: The Hunter Becomes the Hunted – The next target on the Blacklist is one of Red’s past associates, crime lord Mako Tanida. After Tanida escapes from prison he is out for revenge. Elsewhere, Tom confronts Jolene after interfering with his mission…”

So… will you be watching The Blacklist this Monday night?

I’ve got a nifty little prize pack to give away: a 4-pack of tee shirts featuring The Blacklist, and a mug for you to start your mornings off right (hopefully without the drama and suspense from the night before!). The prize pack is valued at $50. To enter, simply fill the form below with your qualifying entries. (But please, no spoilers in the comments!) (more…)

family

Family Travel Made Easier? Yes Please.

It’s no secret that I waited to travel with my boys until they were old enough to… well, you  know…. not annoy the heck out of me.

I mean, did I really want to tote diapers, formula (or worse, my breast pump), toys, trinkets and who knows what else along? What kind of vacation is that? So, I waited until the boys were 2 and 4… young enough to be confined to a stroller, and old enough that I didn’t freak out over the details.

However, we are a family of four… and vacations are tailor made for families of four. So really, I sound a bit silly complaining, don’t I? While I worried about losing the odd sippy cup, families of five or six are often faced with hundreds in extra charges to accommodate a third or fourth child.

Think about it: most hotels and resorts allow a maximum of two adults and two kids per room. Car rentals are most affordable in the mid-size range, which of course, transports a family of four comfortably. Restaurants seat parties of four (or less) more quickly than they seat larger groups. Even “family combos” at theme parks are targeted towards the happy foursome.

So what do you do if you’re a larger family? How can family travel be made easier?

Introducing tripcentral.cathe smarter way to plan travel.

“We know that planning family vacations can be a challenge. Finding that perfect vacation destination that will appeal to everyone’s preferences can be a bit stressful, and no way to start your well-deserved holiday. For larger families, one of the biggest obstacles is finding rooms that will accommodate three or more children. Our unique Vacation Package Grid allows you to streamline hotels according to star ratings, duration of stay, meal preferences, and most importantly, the number of children travelling.”

Yes, it really is that easy! Simply visit tripcentral.ca and select your departure city and family size. You’ll then be shown a Package Grid of all available options, including the ability to prioritize your criteria (duration, meal plan, star rating, etc). Narrow down your date of travel, hotel and room – et voila! The perfect vacation that celebrates your family of five or six. (more…)

musings

This Beautiful Life: Lena Almeida

Today, I am super flattered to be featured on This Beautiful Day – a lifestyle blog for smart women.

Founded by Lisa Ng, Editor-in Chief, the site blogs daily about food, travel, style, beauty and life advice and is geared towards women ages 25-35 who are in the post-university and pre-mommy phase of their lives. She is a big supporter of women helping women to live their best lives to the absolute fullest.

Here’s an excerpt from the feature:

“Lena Almeida inspires me. She is a work-at-home-mom who manages her incredibly successful blog – Listen to Lena alongside her work as a social strategist for Chatelaine magazine. On top of all that, she is the mother to two incredibly sweet boys and makes the whole thing look effortless. I mean, I freelance for a living and I have no one to take care of but myself and GOD! I still can’t make it out of my pajamas some days!

What I love most about Lena is how she followed her passion, gave up corporate life and made a go during her mat leave to become a full-time blogger. Meet Lena everybody!”

To read the full interview, click here.

Thank you so much for the feature, Lisa! It’s a pleasure to know smart women.

musings

#ThrowbackThursday #tbt: Spring Has Sprung

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.

After yesterday’s disastrous winter storm – which blanketed us with over 15cm of the white stuff – today, we’ve been graced with a clear, sunny day. Normally, I’d be tickled pink… if it wasn’t for the -30°C windchill factor. Ugh! Will this winter never end?

Today I’m looking back to March 25, 1986, when the temperature soared to a balmy 19°C. Oh, the feeling of leaving the house without a jacket! It was all we could ask for after a cold, harsh Canadian winter. Of course, thanks to my mom’s handiwork, I was always set with a brand new Spring dress to welcome the season.

Pigtails, pink bows and puffed sleeves – could I get any more girly? I often chuckle at the realization that I spent about 10 years of my life living in a predominantly pink wardrobe (which was later countered by mostly blue and black outfits in my teens and twenties).

On a related note – does anyone believe the puffed sleeve trend will ever come back?

So besides posing in new Spring fashions, what was I doing in 1986? I was playing with my Jem doll, of course!

“Meet Jem, the rock sensation with flashing LED earrings that light up at the touch of a button. On stage, she’s the hottest female vocalist in town. Off stage, she’s Jerrica, a sleek executive.”

Show of hands: Who had a Jem doll – or remembers Jem and the Holograms?

family

Dear March Break…

While it’s bad enough that I’m not on a beach right now (I can deal), and those games that I ordered for the boys got held up at the border (I can work around this)… I simply cannot… and WILL NOT… stand for 10-15cm of snow after we have “sprung forward”.

*Shakes fist at Mother Nature*

Blizzard-like conditions could make for dangerous travel in Ontario! screams the headline on The Weather Network.

“The snow will become heavy at times and continue east into the Kingston to Cornwall region through the day with total snowfall amounts of 15 to 25 cm expected by tonight,” warns Environment Canada in the statement.

Snowfall will be somewhat less from southern Lake Huron across the Greater Toronto Area to Ottawa, where up to 15 cm is possible. In addition, strong northeasterly winds with gusts up to 70 to 80 km/h could result in near blizzard conditions in some places.

“The heaviest snow is expected to fall late morning through the afternoon hours, with the strongest winds likely around 2 pm,” says Soderholm. “That means the snow will be blowing around, which could be a huge hazard for commuters.”

In a funk too? S’okay. The day can be saved, as long as you have a few staple ingredients on hand, Martha Stewart’s recipe for Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, and a deliciously cute kid who can strike an angelic pose. Though I’m still giving Mother Nature the stink eye.

If you need me, I’ll be under a pile of warm cookies. Send milk.

fashion

Boomerang Kids: Where Smart Families Shop

If you’re a regular reader of Canadian blogs, you may have come across a post or two about Boomerang Kids, a Canadian franchise with resale stores in Ontario and Quebec. The posts would have told you that Boomerang Kids is North America’s first and only resale chain carrying children’s merchandise that’s available in-store and online. And maybe you would have agreed that nearly-new clothing is a great way to save money – after all, kids grow so quickly! And I’m sure you would have read a testimonial or two about the quality of the clothing, the availability and selection, and the benefits of purchasing perfectly reusable clothing.

This is not another one of those posts.

The truth is, I’m just not into resale. And that’s not a dig against those who choose to buy gently used items; it just means that personally, I don’t prefer it. (I also don’t prefer flimsy umbrellas, zip-lining or chocolate chip cookies.) While I donate used clothing to charity, and have even made a cool $34 after dropping off some of Ryder’s old clothes to a local consignment store, I generally can’t get excited about a purchase unless I’m able to rip off the price tags myself. Must be the shopaholic in me, huh?

So when asked to check out Boomerang Kids online, I was understandably hesitant. After all, I couldn’t authentically extol the virtues of previously-loved children’s clothing and toys while admitting an obsession with brand spanking new items, could I? But then, I found out about 25% of Boomerang Kids stores’ merchandise is new product, or “factory fresh” items. Hooray! I just happen to have a factory fresh niece that I like to spoil. So, I went shopping.

Now I’ll just cut to the chase and tell you that I am deliriously happy with the majority of the process. However, for newbie shoppers shopping for new shoppertunities (say that 10 times fast), I’d love to share the following wisdom in order to make your online experience as pleasant as possible:

First, visit www.boomerangkids.com.

1) Shop one store at a time. You *could* shop the entire online inventory at once, but you’ll be charged $10 (average) or more (oversized items and toys) every time you add items from a different virtual store. Hence, it’s better to see if you can find a variety of items you like at one store rather than jump from location to location. Simply select “Shop Online Stores” to visit each store at a time.

2) Shop by Category, and then by Condition. For example, I selected Baby Clothes, and then scrolled down to “New with Tags”. This helped ensure that I was only perusing through the selection of brand new items. (Alternatively, you could also select “Factory Fresh” – Factory Fresh are brand new items that Boomerang Kids has purchased directly from the manufacturer.) Next, your best bet is to categorize by Gender, followed by Size, if you wish. Et voila! Access to Boomerang Kids’ online inventory. I couldn’t resist this gorgeous Spring dress – check out the epic detailing – it was only $11.99!

3) Place items in your virtual cart, pay, and you’re done. And then get ready for some seriously fast shipping. I ended up ordering a haul of precious baby girl outfits from three different locations, and they ALL arrived less than 24 hours later. The clothing was perfectly packed, folded with care, and oh! Did I mention the PRICES? (more…)

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!