October 14, 2014

It's almost Hallow'Tween! #gghallowtween2014 #contest

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it's time to look forward to the next big celebration on the calendar -- Halloween. As a kid, I loved dressing up in costume, going trick or treating in my neighbourhood and spending hours sorting through our candy loot before heading off to bed. (My mom tells me we rarely even ate the candy as kids. I don't have that aversion anymore!) 

As I got older, I loved being the one handing out the treats to those who came to my door. Truth: I've always been a scaredy cat, so I wasn't one for haunted houses or mazes, but I still really enjoyed October 31st. Now, as a mom, I get to relive my youth, dress my girls up and take them out in the neighbourhood. OK, we only go to a few houses, but still. 

This year, Halloween happens to fall on a Friday, so it's the perfect excuse to extend the special day beyond one night. After all, it's nice to wear your costume for more than a few hours. Glama Gal Tween Spa has a full WEEK of Halloween events planned for young girls (and boys!) at their various locations: Vaughan, Newmarket, Unionville, Toronto, Ajax, Oakville and their newest location, Sudbury! What I love about these events, in true Glama Gal fashion, is they are designed for kids of all ages and have great age-appropriate fun that will be somewhat spooky but super memorable, too.

Hallow'Tween Party

On Thursday, October 30 from 6-8 p.m., Tween Ghouls are invited for Witches Brew Dinner with Spider Web Pizza, Cider and Eyeball Cupcakes! Sounds delish.

Plus, tweens can enjoy a lip gloss creation station, manicure station and Monster Mash Dance Party! 

$40/tween, available for purchase here

Little Munsters Bash

This one has my little munster's name written ALL. OVER. IT. 

On Halloween morning, Friday, October 31st, from 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m., Lil' Munsters and their Mummies (so cute, right?) can visit Glama Gals for a bash! 

Boys and girls will have a blast decorating their own mini pumpkins, creating handprint bat bags, decorating mummy cupcakes and more!

$35 per Lil' Munster and Mummy, available for purchase here. This is my kind of Halloween partay.

And if that wasn't enough, Glama Gals has a Halloween Spa Special until the end of October!

Visit your local Glama Gals Tween Spa to enjoy a pumpkin spice mani/pedi, spider web nail designs, a trick or treat gummy worm mist facial (intriguing!), and take home a witches brew bath bomb!

To buy your tickets, click here.

To celebrate Halloween, Glama Gals and Simply Suppa are offering one lucky tween a ticket to the Hallow'Tween Party on October 30! To enter, complete the Rafflecopter below. Good luck and may the ghastliest ghoul win! Muahahahahahaha!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I am a Glambassador and have received special perks as part of my affiliation. As always, all opinions expressed on my blog remain my own. 

October 11, 2014

A New Beginning for Walmart #babyregistry

6 years ago, when Donny and I got engaged, I was so excited to register for my wedding. We signed up for china, and crystal and all kinds of trinkets for our home. Truth be told, while I still love it all, I haven't used much of of the "stuff" we put on our registry -- namely the crystal and china.

When it came time to registering for baby gear, we took a bit of a different approach. We wanted to register for items that were practical and useful, and easy for people to purchase, no matter where they were. Now, moms and dads-to-be (and second-timers like myself) have something uber-exciting to celebrate, because Walmart.ca just launched their very own Baby Registry site. 

This online service, available at www.walmart.ca/mybaby allows moms and dads to create a baby registry in just minutes, and virtually shop through the site, while adding items to their baby registry in a single click.

You can register for anything and everything baby-related, including diapers (we buy ALL our diapers at Walmart!), monitors, baby gear, formula, breast-feeding equipment, clothing and more. Plus, sign up for brands that you already know and love, like Child of Mine by Carters and Medela (two of my faves). Once your registry is complete you can share it online and via email. 

And for those attending your baby shower or wanting to surprise you with a gift post delivery, shopping on your registry is easy. Just search for your name and buy online like you normally would. And guess what? Standard shipping is absolutely free* (there may be a charge in remote areas), but this is an ultimate bonus. I don't know about all the moms out there, but since having a second just a month ago, I do a LOT of shopping online. Saves me from trucking two kids out, especially with the colder weather looming. And who's going to complain about a box of diapers being delivered to your home!? Not me! Buyers can choose to ship to their home, the registrant's home, or pick up at a Grab & Go location (some products not applicable). 

Even if you're not having a formal shower or sprinkle (for future children), having an online registry is a great idea for guests to know what they can bring you and baby. They'll know exactly what you want and need without having to ask. 

The online registry also offers a few additional benefits like the Baby Resource Centre with advice, tips and articles on topics like how to throw a baby shower, or choosing the right stroller and it's totally mobile friendly, so you can set up, view and edit your registry from your mobile device, and on the go. Because how many moms to a newborn actually have time to sit at a computer!?

The Walmart Baby Registry is officially LIVE so help spread the word and make life so much easier for those with wee ones at home, or on the way!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All opinions expressed on my blog remain my own.

October 06, 2014

A Thanksgiving Favourite #GayLeaFoods

I don't know where 2014 went, but Thanksgiving is this weekend. You know what that means, right? Thanksgiving, then Halloween, Remembrance Day and poof! Santa's sliding down that gas fireplace and before you know it, we're singing Auld Lang Syne and ringing in 2015.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year, and every year. Of course, the new addition to our family brings us so much gratitude and thanks, especially after a second challenging pregnancy. I'm so thankful for my family who has been exceptionally supportive all year, my health, my career, my friends -- we are so very fortunate.

This weekend, I, along with thousands of other Canadians will be paying thanks at Thanksgiving dinner or lunch. Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays -- it ALWAYS involves amazing food (my mom's rice stuffing is TO.DIE.FOR), beautiful weather and colourful leaves and great family to spend the holiday with.

I wanted to share one of my favourite foods come thanksgiving (I actually eat it year-round, but it's perfect for your thanksgiving dinner) and believe me, you will be thankful after you try it. Kudos go to my mom for this recipe as it's her staple and I love when she makes it. It's her famous Potato Pie.

What's great about this dish is it's a great double-duty dish, meaning, you can use leftovers to make it!

Here's what you do:

  1. Start with a great mashed potato. Use Yukon Gold Potatoes, milk, LOTS of Gay Lea butter, salt and pepper. You can make this as a side the night before and save the leftovers for this dish, or make double and reserve half. 
  2. Make sure your mashed potatoes are smooth. If not, reheat and whip them up. Add 2 eggs to the potatoes as your glue. 
  3. In a baking dish, add a layer of potatoes, then top with a layer of mozzarella cheese and provolone cheese. Don't be shy with the frommage :)
  4. Top the cheese layer with another layer of potatoes
  5. If you have a LOT of potatoes left over, you can add a third layer
  6. Top the entire dish with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese
You can prepare this dish in advance and then when you're close to dinner, pop it into the oven at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes or until it's golden brown on the outside. You can also prep in advance and freeze for easy, weeknight meals -- that's what I do.

When you dig into this pie, the result is a warm, gooey, cheesy pie that is the perfect complement to your turkey dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Disclosure: I am part of the Gay Lea Ambassador Program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

September 26, 2014

New Mom...Again

Two weeks ago, we welcomed another beautiful baby to our family. It goes without saying the last 14 days have been a bit of a blur. Between the c-section recovery, unexpected UTI, visitors, adjusting from a family of 3 to 4, we also have to remind ourselves what it's like to be "new" parents again: the middle of the night feedings, breast feeding, swaddling, baby diapers, baby poop, and so on.

Of course, this time around, we're all a bit more calm and collected -- we know what to expect, how to soothe baby, how to sleep on a dime -- but still, there is a bit of a learning curve. It's amazing how quickly you forget techniques and tricks, and even more remarkable how quickly it all comes back!

The baby industry is outstanding; even within the 2 years since we had Isabelle, there's tons of new "stuff" on the market: new bottles, nursing tanks, swaddles -- all to make our lives easier. What else is new? Well if you're in Toronto, there's a brand new Baby Show coming to town for the first time.

The Baby Show runs all weekend -- September 27 & 28 -- at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online here or at the door. 

Highlights of the show include: 
  • Massage Area for moms courtesy of Spa My Blend by Clarins at The Ritz Carlton, Toronto
  • Well.ca Green Zone
  • Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stage

Plus, tons of great entertainment for the entire family, including speakers, bouncy castle, and my DD's favourite -- Daniel Tiger and Patty from CBC Kids!

Did I mention the shopping!? I'm personally hitting up the show to check out the double strollers! You can catch some great deals at the show, which is what I'm hoping for :)

For more information on The Baby Show, visit their website. Hope to see you there!

September 08, 2014

Our Generation for a New Generation of Doll Lovers

It goes without saying that when you have a daughter, you're bound to have a few dolls laying around. Without getting into a whole gender stereotype discussion here, while we encourage our LO to play with ALL sorts of toys, she just happens to love dolls. They are her babies and I find them very nurturing and think they have really helped her prepare for becoming a big sister. That said, I also don't think there's anything wrong at all with boys playing with dolls, either.

There are literally thousands of dolls on the market today. If you take a trip to a toy store, it is so easy to become overwhelmed by the babies in the aisles. What makes a "good" doll?

I appreciate a doll that educates as well as offers some entertainment; I'm not saying they need to talk or walk or be battery-operated. Quite the opposite, actually. In my opinion, a good doll will simply encourage imagination and make-believe -- whether that is feeding, potty training, caring, etc.

A few months ago, Isabelle received an Our Generation Doll to test and play with. Our Generation Dolls are Canadian-designed, with each doll having her own story. Our Generation is about girls growing up together, and the accessories speak to the "multifaceted lives girls live". The girls are animal lovers, detectives, campers, charity workers -- they strive for excellence and hope to inspire young girls to make a difference in the world.

It goes without saying that Isabelle was excited with her doll as soon as she saw it. Shannon is an 18" doll who enjoys the "Magic Under the Stars". She comes with her own storybook, and various camping accessories. While she is trendy and cool, her two outfits are anything from frilly or stereotypically girly; Shannon is comfortably cool in her plaid dress and hoodie with cargo pants. She's a modern girl ready for the open air. 

There are many reasons to love Our Generation Dolls: they're lifelike and beautiful, but their stories speak volumes to kids and parents alike. Teach your child about volunteering at the animal shelter, or raising money for the local charity, or going on a detective mystery adventure. Awesome lessons for our next generation. 

And with so many additional accessories to choose from (see motorcycle above) it's easy and fun to create a whole new world of Our Generation Dolls. After months of having her in our home, Shannon is still one of Isabelle's favourites. She loves putting her in  her little tent, dressing and undressing her and taking her for a ride around the room. She treats her like a friend, has discussions with her and one day, when we take her camping, I'm sure Shannon will come along, too!

Our Generation Dolls are priced well, with an outstanding selection of accessories available for each girl. Starting at $29.99. Available at Mastermind Toys.

Disclosure: We received an Our Generation Doll and accessories for review purposes. The opinions expressed on this blog remain my own.

August 21, 2014

Gourmet Grilled Cheese Panini with Ivanhoe Cheddar #GayLeaFoods

Cheese is a staple in our home. It's not uncommon for us to have at least 3-4 cheeses in our fridge at any given time. It's our go-to snack while waiting for dinner, our apres supper dessert, our late night munchie. Parmeggiano, Gorgonzola, Bocconcini, Cheddar, Asiago, Piave -- we love it all and we eat it all.

I also love sampling new and different cheeses and have a great time at the specialty cheese section of the supermarket. If I'm in a cheesy mood, it's not uncommon for me to spend an upwards of $30-40 on new cheese selections. One brand I had never tried was Ivanhoe -- until now.

Ivanhoe Cheese is an Ontario-based cheese manufacturer that has been around for nearly 30 years. About 5 years ago, they joined forces with Gay Lea Foods. They make everything from specialty cheddars to gouda and mozzarella, and thousands visit their factory each year in the Hamlet of Ivanhoe (just north of Belleville). 

Seeing as cheese is such a part of our every-day living, I wanted to sample the Ivanhoe cheese in the best way I could -- au natural. The Ivanhoe Old Sharpe Cheddar is moist and almost crumbly; it's buttery and smooth, a bit salty and delicious. Isabelle loved it right away; I knew we had a winner.

So I decided to use the cheese to make a twist on a fan-favourite for dinner: Gourmet Grilled Cheese Panini.

For these Grilled Cheese Panini, you will need:
  • Ivanhoe Old Sharpe Cheddar
  • Prosciutto slices
  • Arugala or other delicate lettuce
  • Ciabatta bread
  • Panini Press (not necessary but helpful)
This isn't much of a recipe, because, well, it's a sandwich. Unlike a traditional grilled cheese, I didn't use buttered toast bread, but you totally could. I opted for a truffle ciabatta loaf, layered lots of prosciutto, slices of the cheddar and topped it with arugala. Then I pressed the panini in my press for about a minute to melt the cheese and the prosicutto together. If you don't have a press, you could toast in the oven for a few minutes. 

This is such an easy sandwich, loaded with flavour and there are so many options to customize it to your own liking. But, if your two-year-old enjoys it, go with it! Winner, winner! Gourmet Grilled Cheese Dinner!

Disclosure: I am part of the Gay Lea Ambassador Program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own

August 19, 2014

It's Paint Canada Pink Week! #cbcf #paintcanadapink

Me, doing my Run Director thing, in 2012
Photo by Gennarino Photography
This week -- August 18-24 -- is Paint Canada Pink Week and marks 50 days until the annual Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure.  As many people know, I've been volunteering as a Run Director for the last 4 years; I have led both the Richmond Hill and the Woodbridge/Vaughan events.

Last year, in our inaugural year in Woodbridge/Vaughan, we raised more than $200K for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation! It takes thousands of hours of hard work to put on an event of this magnitude, but the feeling we get when we look into the eyes of survivors, or reveal our grand total makes it all worthwhile. It is actually a very emotional and humbling experience.

One of my amazing cousins, Matthew Evans, edited this highlight reel of last year's event at Kortright Centre. I invite you all to watch and reflect how amazing our first-annual event was.

And, now the call to action. While I've been working on the event since early 2014, there's a chance I will not be present on Run Day, October 5, as I may be tending to a a newborn.

So I ask and implore you to support anyway -- donate for the cause, for the cure, and for the tireless efforts of the volunteers who devote themselves to making an event like this a great one.

We are all affected by cancer -- one way or another. For my family, breast cancer hit very close to home. We are all so happy my mother-in-law is a survivor. We participate in her honour, but also in honour of all those who have fought. Some are with us today, and others aren't.

I also volunteer my time and walk for the future. A future without breast cancer. A future for my girls, and the possibility of a life without this disease.

To donate to me personally, please click here. If you are interested in volunteering for our Run, here's the link!

I thank you in advance for your generosity and contribution.