June 26, 2017

Get Grillin' for Canada Day! #PerfectPairings #SummerFresh

We're days away from the first summer long weekend in Canada, and it's a pretty big one. It's Canada's 150th Birthday and unless you're living under the Canadian Shield, you're very much aware. I'm super pumped -- we are definitely proud Canadians and rest assure, we'll will be sporting our fave red on July 1.

One of my favourite things to do on a summer long weekend is to have a BBQ. My family happens to use the BBQ year-round, but somehow everything just tastes better in the summer. Even better outside. Especially with friends.

If you're hosting or attending a BBQ this Canada Day long weekend, I'm going to give you some quick and easy meal ideas with perfect pairing options. I've teamed up with Canadian company, Summer Fresh, to give you some super simple grilling options this Canada Day.

Appetizer: Lemon Dill Hummus Flatbread smothered in Mozzarella, Pistou Basil & Vine Tomatoes

Ooooh, fancy huh? Everyone likes pizza. Call it "Flatbread" and you're rockin'. Top it with a yummy, savoury hummus and you'll have people talking.

This app takes minutes to make, and it's all in the preparation.

After rolling our your dough (as thin as possible), and you've oiled your grill, place the dough directly on your BBQ.

After a couple of minutes, flip, so both sides get pronounced grill marks.

Smother the top of the flatbread with Summer Fresh Lemon Dill Hummus, which is fresh and light with a definite zing. Don't be chintzy either -- coat that baby up.

Then, top with your cheese, vine tomatoes, fresh basil and sprinkle with Parmeggiano Reggiano.

Close the lid to your BBQ and cook on medium heat for a few minutes until the cheese has melted. Cut and serve. This pizza flatbread is perfect right off the grill, and makes excellent leftovers, too.

Entree: Homemade Beef Hamburger topped with Canadian Cheddar and Roasted Red Pepper Dip. 

The King of the BBQ is the Burger, hands down. And there's nothing quite like a homemade beef burger. I make my burgers in advance and freeze them for easy meals, and while I use a typical meatball recipe, this time, I added onion and parsley to my meat mix for extra flavour. 

If you don't have time to make your own burgers, don't sweat it. A frozen burger or store-bought will do just fine. Make sure you have a great bun and excellent toppings.

If you're hosting, this is a great time to have a selection of Summer Fresh products out and have your guests play with flavour. Who wouldn't appreciate a personalized Burger Bar!?

For my custom burger, I smothered my bun in Summer Fresh Roasted Red Pepper Dip and topped my patty with classic Canadian Cheddar cheese. For good measure, a squirt of ketchup and mustard, but that's all. This nearly naked burger was juicy and delicious all on its own.

Salad: Grilled Watermelon Salad topped with Green Goddess Dip

Have you ever grilled a watermelon?! It's kind of cool, actually, and definitely unexpected.

Cut your watermelon into chunks and brush lightly with olive oil before placing it on the grill. BBQ the melon for a couple of minutes on each side until you have grill marks.

For a super simple salad, arrange your watermelon and drizzle with Summer Fresh Green Goddess Dip. If you've never tried Green Goddess Dip -- let me explain its versatility -- it's creamy and herby and loaded with flavour. We're talking basil AND parsley, which gives you a classic Italian taste, but with a twist. This Green Goddess Dip would be excellent in a pasta salad, as a crudite dip, with flatbreads and crackers.

And it's really good on watermelon.

Sprinkle some sea salt for an added kick and enjoy. If you want to jazz it up even more, sprinkle some feta cheese, place the watermelon on a bed of arugula, and maybe even drizzle some balsamic vinegar on top. Or, eat it straight up. It's Canada Day. Enjoy your company!

Summer BBQs are NOT supposed to be fancy or pretentious -- so you don't have to make them that way. Stick to the basics, give your meal a little twist with Summer Fresh, and have fun creating your Perfect Pairings.

Want some more inspiration? Visit Summer Fresh's Perfect Pairing Guide for all your Canada Day meal planning. Happy Canada150!

Disclosure: I received compensation in order to write this blog post. As always, the opinions expressed on my blog are my own.

June 20, 2017

Why Laser and Sun Don't Match

Here we are -- summer in Canada. About a week left before school's out and time to signal the parties, late nights and trips to the beach. It's also almost time to bust out that summer wardrobe if you haven't already -- capris, shorts and dresses! Woo! I love summer fashion.

You know what else comes with all that exposed skin? The need to shave my legs. You may remember earlier this year, I started on my journey to be Hairfree in 2017. Well, I'm afraid I won't be completely hair-free in 2017. I have been quite diligent and have almost finished my laser treatments on my upper lip and underarms (which is AWESOME, by the way!), but as for my legs, I was a little too late. 

Summer's coming and I've heard you can't mix laser with sun or suntans. 


So unfair, right!? 

Here's the thing: I don't even really tan. Like, I don't roast. But let's be real, I do love sitting outside in the sun after a long day, and there's a chance my legs will get slightly bronzed as a result. But is that enough to make a difference? 

To answer all my millions of questions, I went to the woman I trust with a highly-powered laser inches away from my eyes, Daniela Hoffman at Freedom Medi-Spa in Vaughan: 

J: Why can't I go in the sun once I've had a laser treatment?

Freedom Medi-Spa: If you have completed your treatments – then you are ready to slowly get back into the sunshine, using sunscreen of course!  However, if you are in the middle of your treatments – a tan can really set you back.  The laser doesn’t know the difference between melanin in the skin and melanin in the hair – therefore if you come in with a tan at the start of your treatments – it might not be so bad as we are likely treating darker, courser hair and the laser settings will be quite modest.  If it’s in the middle or towards the end of your treatments – the hair is likely finer and lighter – this is when we need to make sure we are treating quite aggressively to be able to permanently destroy those hairs (which are much harder for the laser to see). If your skin is darker than your hair, the laser will be attracted to the darkest pigment, which can result in surface burns.

J: What is the best way to prevent damage to my skin?

Freedom Medi-Spa: The most successful laser clients stay out of the sun, wear 40 + sunscreen and re-apply every 2 hours in the sun, wear a wide brimmed hat or light coloured clothing to cover the areas, and always be honest with any time spent in the sun – including walking, biking an impromptu patio lunch, etc.

J: Can I use a self-tanner?

Freedom Medi-Spa: Yes – however, you must stop their use a minimum of 2 weeks prior to your laser appointment.  After your laser appointment, we recommend waiting at least 5 days before resuming use. 

J: Oops! I forgot to reapply my SPF! What happens to my laser treatment if I get a tan?

Freedom Medi-Spa: If you suddenly present with a tan during your treatment package, then we would have to reduce your settings so that you do not burn from the laser.  Again, the laser is looking for darker pigment – we only want it to see the hair – however, it’s not always easy.  If there is a substantial amount of colour difference – we would likely test patch the area prior to treatment – sometimes a few days prior.  We want to prevent any surface burns.  They will resolve – however, they can take time, so we want to avoid that. 

J: When is an ideal time/season to start a laser procedure?

Freedom Medi-Spa: Generally we say the Fall – however any area that is not tanned and likely won’t be tanned through Summer, you could begin anytime.  Some people would rather treat through Summer and be hair free for a Winter vacation instead.  It really depends on lifestyle.  Some people are great at using their sunscreens or keeping covered – we can treat them at any time. 

So the verdict (at least for moi) -- while I can complete your laser treatments year-round, to avoid unnecessary risk or burn, I'm going to hold off. But only until Fall when I can guarantee my pasty white legs will be concealed from daylight for months on end.

In the Fall, I'll start lasering my legs.

And it's perfect timing, really -- I'll be Hairfree for a Winter 2018 Holiday!

PS -- Photo Credit: Silvana Marshall Photography

June 04, 2017

Little Lake Lifestyle in Midland, ON

Imagine living in a quiet town, minutes from the lake, yet still accessible to city life. Slower pace, fresher air, hiking, biking and affordability. Sound impossible? 

Earlier this week, a few bloggers and I took a trip out of the GTA to get a glimpse of a whole new world -- a community that combines homes, natural parkland, green space, boating, fishing and active lifestyle.

Intrigued? Read on.

The Seasons on Little Lake is a new 247-acre, master planned community from Hanson Development coming to the shores of Little Lake, in Midland. Approximately 90 minutes from Toronto and 45 min from Barrie, this new development could very well let you balance work and life, really. Midland is a tiny town rich in history and culture; it's also a very popular spot among tourists and cottagers in the summer months, when its population grows from about 15,000-100,000. You may remembering visiting the area as a child; the famous Ste. Marie among the Hurons is a popular school-trip destination, educating visitors on 17th century Canadian history. 

Minutes away, and right smack in the middle of Midland, is Little Lake. 

Little Lake is a protected 232-acre lake, and the new community will give lake living a whole new definition. 

Over the course of 8-10 years, about 1,200 homes will be built in The Seasons, providing housing for about 3,500 residents. Cottagers, young families, retirees -- if you're looking for an alternative to bustling, urban city life, this may be it. 
In addition to thousands of feet of shoreline and a lakefront boardwalk, all the homes in The Seasons are walkable to the lake via path and trail. (Vehicles also allowed on roadways) And speaking of trails, there will be 13km of trails within the community, some of which is raised to protect the Indiginous lands of the Huron-Wendat people. A 10,000 square foot Members Club unites the community, along with a fitness facility, tennis courts, meeting rooms, party room, swimming pools and future retail area. 

Sound too good to be true? Add snow removal, lawn cutting, garbage pick up and maintenance to that pretty impressive list. 

The renderings and drawings are pretty adorable, and remind me of Pleasantville meets Dirty Dancing. Each home (ranging in size from 724-2000 square feet) has a front porch, a back deck and grassy areas. 9 foot ceilings, deluxe kitchens and gorgeous finishings. 

In other words, you are not roughing it at The Seasons. 

It's pretty appealing, I'm not going to lie. So let's talk money. 

From the low $200,000s to mid-$400,000, these homes are much more affordable than most in the GTA. Phase 1 is currently being sold, with hopes to start construction by the end of 2017. Tenancy is expected for 2018. 

Retiring? Work from home? Telecommute? Crave that quiet, lake life? Or maybe you just want to make an investment for the future.

For more information on The Seasons on Little Lake, visit their website or take a trip to Midland and see the beauty of the area all for yourself. 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. As always, all opinions expressed on my blog are my own.

May 24, 2017

Summer's Here -- Outdoor Dining #AlFrescoAtLast

This post is sponsored by Wayfair.ca. As a member of Wayfair's Homemakers Program, I receive compensation in order to write a feature. As always, all the opinions expressed on my blog are my own.

There's something special about eating outdoors -- al fresco. Whether it's a restaurant patio or my own backyard, there's a certain comfort in enjoying your natural surroundings while enjoying a meal. Maybe it's the fresh air, the fact that as Canadians we've been cooped up inside for months, or the warm sunshine on your face. Whatever the reason, I just love dining outside. Minus the bugs. I don't like the bugs. Anyhow, I digress.

When I was a kid, dining outdoors was so rare, it was a treat. I remember having to haul out all the dishes and cutlery outside so we could sit down to eat. But dining al fresco doesn't have to be a big ordeal and it certainly isn't at my house. We try and eat outside whenever we can -- weeknights included. It's become our new summer normal. 

Here's the thing: we don't have a table. No table? No problem! And, we have two kids. Again, not an issue. There are so many shops and online retailers like Wayfair.ca that sell the most exquisite Outdoor Dining products that are easy to use and affordable, too.

A few years back, we swapped our patio table and chairs for this beautiful couch and ottoman and it was one of the best decisions we made.When the kids are playing, we can lounge, relax, hang out, and eat!

This year, we wanted to give our little outdoor family room a makeover. My inspiration was the beach and the colour turquoise. I just love turquoise waters when I'm on vacation, and that was the starting point for this decor project. The carpet is easy on the eyes and functional -- not only does it prevent weeds from growing through the patio stones, it saves the tootsies from being burned in the afternoon sun.

To create the dining table, I simply threw a round boho scarf on the ottoman. A tablecloth would work too, but I just love all the various shades of blues in this scarf, and it translates well with the beachy theme. 
And then it was time to infuse some colour. Having two kids under 5, there's no way I'm risking breakables outside. Let's be real: adults with alcohol aren't much better. 

Start a collection of beautiful, melamine or shatterproof tableware. And don't be afraid to mix and match patterns and style. I added some bright lemony yellows, orange, and one of my favourite accessories of the year -- the pineapple. 

I literally had to clink each piece to confirm it wasn't glass. That's how good they are. 

Layer them, stack them, pass them out, drop them, stick them in the dishwasher. There's no fuss; outdoor dining doesn't have to be formal, but it does have to be fun.

And then all you have to do is sit back, and enjoy your surroundings -- a well manicured garden, your kids playing, the smell of the BBQ in the distance. Wait, who's cooking?!

Wanna give your backyard dining a little pop? Visit Wayfair for literally hundreds of options for outdoor dining, serving and entertaining. Cheers to dining #AlFrescoAtLast!

May 07, 2017

Mother's Day Craft #mothersday

So, Mother's Day is in a week and if you're looking for an easy, yet impressive, Mother's Day gift to surprise the mother of your children, or the grandmothers, or if you want to get your kids to make YOU something, here's what I made with the kids last year.

Pretty awesome, huh?!

Here's what you need:
  • Clay Pots (Dollar Store or Walmart, Garden Centre) and base trays
  • Chalkboard Paint. I found these colourful paints at DollarTime last year.
  • Soil and some herbs
  • Chalk or Chalk Crayon
  • Foam brush
Step 1: Paint the pots. While Chalkboard paint dries very quickly, it's a good idea to do this at least one day before. You may need a couple coats. If you don't like the bright pots, go for one colour, or even black. 

After the pots and the bases are dry, it's time to write on them. Step 2. I found great chalk crayons at the Dollar Store; the colour adheres, unlike traditional chalk, and they write like a wax crayon. You can even get them in different colours. Coloured Sharpies could work here, too. You'll want to write on the pots before there's soil in them -- makes it easier to tilt. Of course, if your child can print, this is the best part of this craft. I love seeing Isabelle's little letters on the pots. Even if some are backwards!

Once the pots are labelled, fill with a potting soil, or vegetable soil. Decide if you'd like to fill the pots with herbs or flowers. I went with herbs, and customized the trio depending on the mom. My mom likes oregano, while my mother-in-law likes thyme. 

Water them, put them in the sun and most of all, keep them alive until Mother's Day!

My mom had her set on the deck all summer long and used the herbs for most of the season!


April 27, 2017

Happy Birthday, KODA NIVOLI!

I have some pretty talented friends. Like, out-of-this-world creative, whizzy, entrepreneurial friends. Why am I telling you this? Because I believe in supporting others and when someone you know is doing something pretty cool, you tell other people. 

I first met Ksenija Dias at a local networking event where she introduced me to her fashion handbag and accessories line, KODA NIVOLI. Fast forward to a year later and coincidentally, our daughters happen to be in the same class at school and dear little friends. Funny how that happens, huh? Also a year later and KODA NIVOLI is celebrating their first birthday. 

And they're doing so in a big way.

Founded by Ksenija, the name KODA NIVOLI was formed by combining letters from Ksenija's and her daughters Olivia and Anivia's names. Her designs are bright and bold, fashion forward and unique. And best of all, the handbags are made with luxurious leather from Italy and Spain, which is also ethically sourced.  When I first learned of the brand, I thought she carried and sold purses -- I didn't know she was the DESIGNER! Ksenija designs the bags in her collection, with an undoubtedly talented team, too. 

While the company is celebrating its first birthday, Ksenija admits wanting to start her business almost two decades ago, but never did. In that time, her focus to create a kids' and small purse collection has morphed into the luxury ladies handbag line it is today. 
My favourites in the collection? The Annie Clutch, of course. It comes in a bunch of different colours, has a unique shape, and with a price point of $149, it's not too bad on the wallet, either. I love the coral leather. Or the grey suede. 

And the Steffi. This handbag is not only beautiful in soft blush pink leather, but a portion of every sale will go to the Canadian Cancer Society. Don't fall instantly in love, though; the Steffi needs a few weeks to order. Perfect for the summer!

Recently, KODA NIVOLI has been featured at Toronto Fashion Week and on some fancy red carpets in the arms of celebs. Not too shabby. And I wish them, and my friend Ksenija, nothing but the best as this line grows and grows.

See? I told you I had some pretty cool, talented friends. You know what else is cool? KODA NIVOLI is giving all Simply Suppa readers 10% off plus free shipping. When you're checking out, enter promo code: SIMPLY10. Expires: August 31, 2017. 

KODA NIVOLI bags and accessories are available for purchase online

April 11, 2017

Product Review: Angel's Newest Sweetness

I've been wearing Thierry Mugler's signature scent, Angel, for about 20 years now. No joke. It's my all-time favourite scent; I adore the sweet offerings, the tickle of vanilla and soft powder. Angel is not overpowering, yet distinct; it's become a recognizable favourite for many worldwide.

I've attempted to try other fragrances -- they just don't do it for me. They either give me a headache or are too robust to be wearing to work. I prefer a hint of gentle fragrance.

This winter I was fortunate to be able to try Thierry Mugler's 2016 Limited Edition Angel Eau Sucrée. Based on its name, I assumed a sugary sweet fragrance; I wasn't sure I would like it.

I was wrong. I love it.

In comparison to Classic Angel, the two are similar, but not identical. Eau Sucrée is sweet, yet seductive. And while some people have said Angel is strong, I find Eau Sucrée is lighter and less formal -- like a warm spring day. I love to wear Original Angel to weddings and sophisticated evenings out, and Eau Sucrée is slightly more playful, like a garden tea party, if you will.

I'm thrilled to be adding this new fragrance as a sidekick to my loyal favourite. It's become my new daytime go-to scent.

You can get Angel Eau Sucrée at Sephora, Shoppers Drug Mart Beauty Boutique and The Bay, among other retailers.