July 06, 2015

Protein-Packed Salad #lunchtime #protein

Since Madeline was born almost 10 months ago (where does the time go!?), I've been on a wonderful healthy ride and weight-loss journey. Not just to lose baby weight and additional poundage, but to eat well and build strength and muscle. I don't diet. I'm not good at diets. I'm also not good at following orders of being told what I can or cannot eat. I love good food, and I love to eat. Eliminating every bad food from my life is simply not an option.

That said, since balancing exercise with a healthier approach to eating, I've lost weight, I have more energy and I feel good. And there is still a way to enjoy healthy foods without sacrificing taste. Speaking of sacrifice -- I don't. Sacrifice, that is. I still enjoy treats and the occasional junk, but when I eat it, I make sure to over-indulge in the good stuff to make up for it. 

One trick I've taught myself is to over-compensate on the protein to avoid over-indulging on the carbs. There was a time I would have toast for breakfast, pizza for lunch and pasta for dinner. Too much bread! So while I'm not in a position to never eat pasta again (I love it!), I ensure if I have pasta, my other meals are protein packed and limited in carbohydrates. 

Pretty simple, right? If you have bread for breakfast, avoid having it for lunch and very little at dinner. Or vice-versa. 

Today I had peanut butter and toast for breakfast, and I'm making fish with rice for dinner, so I didn't want any carbs for lunch. So I made a DELICIOUS protein-packed salad that will fill me up and sustain me until a snack later on. There are no rules, just use what you have!

In a large bowl, I mixed a can of bean medley (drained and rinsed), a can of tuna in water, an avocado cubed, half a can of sliced olives, chopped parsley, a handful of heirloom tomatoes (halved), evoo, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a squirt of lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Toss it all together and it's done. Oh, and I also threw in 2 handfuls of Hemp Hearts for good measure. 

This salad will just get better as the flavours come together and will be perfect for leftovers, or tomorrow's lunch. It even got the approval of my 3-year-old. 

What are your favourite protein-packed meals?

July 04, 2015

How Tall Am I, Mommy? #littlemonkeydesigns #productreview

When Isabelle was born, we were warned that she was "a little on the small side." Well, she's been consistently small through her three years, teetering at the 3rd percentile on growth charts for most of her life. It could be a combination of her prematurity, but it's most likely her genes. What can I say? I'm not exactly Shaquille O'Neal, breaking records at a lanky 5 foot nothing. (Daddy has the opposite problem by the way; he's always been off the charts and stands tall at 6'2".)

Still, we always like to celebrate growth -- whether it be physical, developmental or motor.

I've recently become a Brand Rep for Little Monkey Designs, a great local company based in Oshawa, ON. Diane Reitano started the company while on maternity leave with her first child. Her first creation? Custom Personalized Growth Charts.

These growth charts are awesome; not only are they designed and made in Canada, they are affordable and come in a variety of different patterns. Isabelle's growth chart is made of canvas and the colours match her room perfectly. How lucky was that!? Not really. To ensure perfect colour matching, Diane has her online boutique set up to accept photographs of the room, or the specific paint shade. Ingenious, really. Ordering is also really easy; once the design is ready, you'll receive a proof and it's in the mail shortly thereafter.

Funny sidebar: when our growth chart came in the mail, I happily announced it was my package from Little Monkeys, to which Isabelle excitedly questioned, "There's a little monkey in there!?" Super cute.

Hanging the growth chart is also very simple. It's so lightweight a single nail will do, or you can go for a removable 3M hook, like I have. I opted to use a metallic permanent marker to add my daughter's height, complete with the date. I also like how portable the growth chart is; if we ever move, we can roll it up and take it with us to our new home.
Simply Suppa readers will have an exclusive opportunity to score a beautiful Personalized Growth Chart (and anything else on Little Monkey Designs). Use the promo code SuppaMonkey to take 15% off your entire order. Visit their website to start your order.

Disclaimer: I am a Brand Rep for Little Monkey Designs and receive special perks as a part of my affiliation. As always, all opinions expressed on my blog remain my own.

July 01, 2015

Meal Plan or Price Match?

Do you Meal Plan or Price Match? Or both?

Let's get real: groceries are expensive. Donny and I are "perimeter" supermarket shoppers -- stocking up on lots of fresh produce, meat, poultry and fish. We rarely buy processed or packaged foods and our grocery bill shows it. We can rarely leave a supermarket without dishing out at least $150 -- and that's not including diapers.

And so, every Thursday or Friday we sift through the local flyers or our app and contemplate which grocery store we'll visit and decide, do we attempt to price match to save money?

I'm a fan of the Meal Plan. I love taking my time going through the flyers and deciding where I'll shop based on what's on sale. From there, I make my menu for the week. We have a different protein each night, and prepare pasta once a week. This allows me to be creative with my meals (like my zuppa di pesce, below), try new foods if they're on special and only buy what I really need. I also like clearing out my fridge each week, ensuring fresh produce and supply.

But I've heard of so many people price-matching and couponing their groceries that it got me thinking: "Can I really save THAT much money?"

Here's the thing: price matching and couponing isn't exactly hard work. But, it's time consuming work, and well, pretty tedious. You need to scour through all the local flyers (or Flipp app, which I prefer), and cut out or save the sale. You need to be organized or it just doesn't work. Then, once you have your list together, you go to the store and shop. For me, the shopping takes longer because I'm constantly checking what's on my list and what's on sale at another store. And when you're finally done, you find the shortest possible line and apologetically nod at the people behind you, whispering, "This may take a while...I'm price matching." Eye roll.

The last time I price-matched I spent $200. Ouch. Not including diapers, once again. And I think I figured out why -- I bought everything that was on sale at EVERY store, not just the one at which I was shopping! So I left the store with some pretty good deals, but SO MUCH STUFF. My fridge was loaded, the cupboards were packed and I spent more money than I normally do!

So here's my verdict: I love a great sale, a good deal, and an outstanding coupon. I think price-matching is an effective tool when you're buying big ticket items, or consistently expensive stock (like diapers!), but for day-to-day purchases, and when you're only saving $.08/lb on asparagus, for example, I say skip it.

What do you think? Are you a meal planner or a price-matcher? Any tips for saving money at the supermarket?

June 29, 2015

Varage Sale is Expanding! #varagesale #VSReward #craftymom

A few months ago, I introduced you to VarageSale -- the online marketplace where you can buy, sell and connect with people in your local community. This virtual garage sale is open 24-hours a day, is free to use and can be accessed via desktop or mobile app on iOS, Android and Kindle devices.

VarageSale has had a significant presence in the US for a while now, but is rapidly expanding in Canada, and specifically local communities within Toronto and the GTA. In the last couple of weeks, VarageSale has soft launched communities in Toronto Downtown and MidtownToronto East End, Toronto West End, North York and Surrounding Areas, Mississauga, Brampton, and Hamilton

What does this mean? It means now there are thousands of more ways to make a sale online. More opportunity means more money in your pocket!

Can I join more than one community? Absolutely. You are welcome to join multiple communities, so long as you abide by the pick-up/drop-off considerations. (ie. If you join Brampton, you must be willing to pick-up/drop-off your items in Brampton, or as agreed upon with the buyer/seller)

What can I sell? Honestly, you can sell almost anything. For a full list of PROHIBITED items, follow the link. You can also promote your local business, which is a bonus perk. Online advertising FOR FREE!

I'm obviously a fan of the "Handmade Items" category, where crafters and moms can post their unique creations. Find everything from knit and crocheted items, canvas art, refinished furniture, handmade jewellery and more. 

VarageSale has a great promo on right now: the first 500 new VarageSale members who join any of the above communities + post 1 item + hashtag #VSReward in their item description will receive $10 at the end of their soft launch promotion period. 

How's that? Free cashola, just for signing up and posting. Easy-peasy. 

Happy posting, and happy shopping!

June 17, 2015

5 Stage Teething Toys with Caaocho #caaocho #contest

We're teething...well, we have been teething for months, actually. I think we're in the second stage of teething. Did you know that there were 5 stages of teething? It's true. Some babies start to cut their gums before 6 months, but the drooling can start much earlier still. It's not a fun time for babies or parents and can mean irritability, problems eating, sleeping and general discomfort to extreme pain.

Recently I was able to test Caaocho teethers -- well, Madeline was able to test them. We are in stage 2, as I said, one tooth poking out and more coming soon. I can feel it. And I'm sure she can, too.
Between the drool and the cries, the hard gums and the chomping at every possible bit, I know another chicklet is on her way.

Caaocho teethers are made of 100% pure, natural rubber that is chemical-free, eco-friendly and designed in Canada. The teethers and toys support baby through all the stages of teething, from early incisors to more challenging last-molars and come in a variety of cute shapes and animals.

Maddie has been playing with Mia the Lamb and the all-stage Teether Fish for weeks. On first glance, the all-stage Teether Fish doesn't look like anything special. It's a natural rubber, so it's not a bright colour, but once you take it out of the packaging, you'll notice a variety of fun textures to stimulate baby's mouth. This teether is free of any colours and pigments. Bonus.

I like the cut out in the fishie -- it makes it easy to attach to hooks for the car or stroller and allows Maddie to hold and position easier. The Teething Fish can also be frozen or cooled in the fridge for calming inflamed gums. 

And Mia the Lamb, what can we say? She is oh, so cute. Again, made of 100% pure natural rubber, certified BPA, PVC, Phthalate- and Nitrosamine-free and painted with food-grade paints. Mia is the perfect size for little fingers and mouths; she has a lovely squeak that isn't annoying or shrieking and also has different textures on her body to aid tactile exploration. I like that Mia's body isn't too long or lanky, so her body parts don't get stuck in a baby's mouth or throat. 

Caaocho Teethers and Toys are available at Mastermind Toys and range in price from $11.99-19.99. They make a great gift, too. 

Mastermind Toys has generously provided Simply Suppa with a $50 gift card to spend in store -- on Caaocho, or otherwise!

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter details below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

June 15, 2015

Eye Spy...Boutique Optometry Shop Opens in Markham #AngusGlenOpt #contest

I got my first pair of glasses when I was 10 years old. At the time, more than 20 years ago, glasses were not cool. Actually, they were the complete opposite of cool, and mine were no exception. 

My first frames were pink translucent plastic; I picked them, I liked them, and I wore them -- every single day. Over the years, I've had many different styles: the large metal round ones my sister still teases me about (left), the silver titanium, rectangular, oval, and shiny. Oh, and I had braces to boot. 

While I NEEDED glasses to see every single day, I hated being teased for wearing them. That's why when I started Grade 9, I got contact lenses. And I didn't wear my glasses AT ALL in high school. Barely still in university. (I couldn't even find a photo with me wearing glasses during this time...)

But that's when things started to change. 

In the last ten years or so, glasses have become the "it" fashion accessory. With thousands of designer frames on the market, glasses are a statement piece -- a little bit of your personality that you wear proudly every single day. Yes, proudly. Magazines are peppered with occhialli ads, and celebrities are often showing off their favourite frame.   

In fact, many people today opt to wear glasses without a prescription lens inside. 

It's true. Glasses are now cool. 

Shopping for new frames has always been a challenge for me. I have a kid-sized head with gigantic eyes and long lashes. I've forever had the challenge of finding a frame that centres my eyes, doesn't hit my lashes, doesn't hang too low, and hey, looks good too. Since we're now combining function and fashion, why not, right?!

So it takes patience, perseverance and positivity.

For my newest set of glasses, I visited the brand new and beautiful Shoppes of Angus Glen Optometry in Markham. Shoppes of Angus Glen is owned by a husband and wife team of optometrists who provide quality eye care and fashionable lenses and sunglasses for the entire family. So, not only can you pick up a stylish pair of shades or frames, but you can get your eyes checked all at the same time. 

I'm not exaggerating when I say I tried on practically every single frame in the store. It was a bit overwhelming, but I did it. I was able to narrow down my hunt to a few favourites and then cut even more from there. 

The staff was so very patient with me, offering both style advice and eye care knowledge, so I was equipped with the must-haves for frame purchases. It actually made my search a lot easier. 

Here are a few tips:
  • Be willing to try each and every frame available; don't dwell on designer names. Focus on how the frame feels and looks on you, not on other people.
  • Your eyes should be centred in the glass, and you should be looking through the frame, not over.
  • Frames come in different sizes. Make sure you're picking the right size frame for your face.
  • Make sure to inform the salespeople of your prescription. Depending on your prescription, your choices may be slightly limited.
  • Once you start trying on frames, put aside the ones you like and narrow it down from there.
  • Take selfies as a way to compare the frames.
  • Don't be afraid to experiment with different colours, patterns and shapes. Remember, glasses are an expression of your individuality.
In honour of their grand opening, The Shoppes of Angus Glen Optometry is hosting an amazing contest on their Facebook page.  Enter to win a pair of Oakley shades and a two-some at Angus Glen Golf Club. The value for this prize is $600! Wouldn't Dad just love that!? 

So which one did I choose? You'll have to visit my Facebook Page or my Instagram for the final reveal! But, honestly, there were a few that I really liked -- I may just have to go back for another pair. Hey, I don't just have one pair or shoes or one purse, why should I only have one pair of glasses?! 

If you'd like a new pair of glasses or sunnies, be sure to visit the Shoppes of Angus Glen Optometry, and if you needed an even bigger push, Simply Suppa readers get 20% off until July 15. Now's the time to score your new look!

June 06, 2015

Celebrate World's Best Dad #fathersday #contest

Father's Day is around the corner -- June 21, 2015 to be exact.

I don't know about you and your dads, but it's always tricky to buy my dad a gift:
a) he doesn't need or WANT anything
b) when he does need or want something, he buys it himself
c) he doesn't dwell on designer garbs or uber expensive accessories, and,
d) he's honestly just happy spending the day with his girls and his grandchildren.

I guess I can't blame him for the last bit.

For the last decade or so, our Father's Days have consisted of going for a burger and then hanging out on the deck in the backyard. Last year, we presented him with a new hose, which he loved.

I don't think my dad is the only one who enjoys simplicity and practicality. My hubby is very much the same way. To this point, they rarely take the time to take care of themselves, say, the way a woman does. I mean, if I can only squeeze a trip to the spa once or twice a year, I think it's safe to say that most guys rarely step foot inside (unless to buy their wives a gift -- thank you!).

But I'm all for abolishing these gender stereotypes. It's about time dads get to enjoy the spa just as much as moms. (And believe me -- once they try it, they'll love it. I brought my husband last year for the first time.)

My good friends at Sanctuary Day Spas agree. They're actually celebrating the World's Best Dads with a special Dad's Spa Package, available at all their locations.

Pamper dad with a Gentleman's Facial and a Sports Pedicure. It's a manly package for the manliest of daddies. No flowers, no perfumes, no polish. (Insert grunt here) They will likely enjoy the cucumber water, though!

Hey, and if your hubby or dad is too shy or wary to go alone, why not bring a friend? Guys day at the spa. A novel concept...

And ladies, it's the gift that keeps on giving -- we get to enjoy soft, smooth feet in bed! Hooray!

Simply Suppa readers have a chance to WIN this great World's Best Dad Spa Package, just in time for Father's Day.

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below and good luck! If you don't win, you can purchase this amazing package at a Sanctuary location or online at www.sanctuarydayspas.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I am a Sanctuary Day Spa Brand Amabassador and receive special perks as part of my affiliation. As always, all opinions expressed on my blog are my own.