October 04, 2015

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends #thankyou #runforthecure

Today was a magical day. I helped to make that magic.

750 participants, dozens of volunteers and an outstanding volunteer committee gathered early this morning to make the magic. And it was phenomenal.

21.5 MILLION dollars worth. Across Canada, we helped to raise 21.5 MILLION dollars for breast cancer research. Simply magical.

As many people know, I've been a volunteer Run Director for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure for the last 5 years. 3 years ago, we brought the Run/Walk to my hometown. I've continued to support the cause, and the fight, through co-leading our team of volunteers and organizing this event. It's a lot of work, but I couldn't do it alone.

And I don't.

It sounds cliche, but it takes a village to make this event happen -- a community of love and support.

I'm here to say Thank You.

Thank You to my co-Run Director, to our phenomenal committee and team members from our local CIBC at Piazza Del Sole. Thank You to my family -- my husband, my girls, my sister, my inlaws, my best friend and cousins. I rope you into helping me every year and you do it, mainly without complaining.

Thank You to Carmela's Angels -- our team raised over $5K so far this year, and 30K in the last 6 years. We rock.

Thank You to my talented colleagues and media folk -- for the blog posts, the newspaper articles, the television coverage, MC duties and the shout outs. To my online network of friends -- Facebook Groups, Swoobs Girls Fitness, Vaughan Moms -- you have surprised me the most. Thank You for your generosity and donations (from some people I've never met!).

Thank You to local community entrepreneurs who give what they can and never ask for anything in return: That's Italian Ristorante, Glama Gal Tween Spa, Trademark Signs, Nove Ristorante.

Thank You to fellow blogger and friend, Renee, who inspired the entire crowd with her story. You had almost everyone in tears. You WILL kick cancer's ass.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You. I'm so proud and grateful to have you in my life.

If you'd like to get involved in next year's event, please email me jsuppa (at) cbcfrun (dot) org.

To donate to my cause, please follow this link.

Thank You all for helping me create a future without breast cancer. Thank you for helping me make some magic today.

October 02, 2015

BIC Fight For Your Write

Call me old fashioned, but I love a good handwritten note. I'm actually known to send real, handwritten thank you notes by....wait for it...snail mail. 

I don't know -- to me, there's something more proper and more respectful about a handwritten letter or card. It shows you've taken the time to literally put pen to paper and articulate your thoughts. And then there's that old fashioned charm. I mean, would you rather have a love letter emailed or beautifully scrawled on fancy paper? 

Here's the thing: despite keeping old traditions, with all the time I spend typing and texting my writing, my handwriting has definitely suffered. It's not as neat as it once was. And I've even heard that schools aren't concerned with teaching kids cursive writing anymore. What a shame. 

With Back to School season in full swing, BIC is rallying Canadians to join the Fight For Your Write movement to encourage Canadian families to save handwriting. Everyone is invited to pledge their commitment to handwriting at www.BICFightForYourWrite.ca

BIC Fight For Your Write is also partnering with Breakfast Club of Canada and donating $10,000 directly to the organization and giving an additional $10,000 (retail value) of stationery supplies to Canadian schools in need.

Here's what you can do: 

  • Visit the website and pledge to Fight For Your Write
  • Head out and buy some new pens and pencils (funky colours encouraged) and get your kids writing!
  • Set aside some time to work on handwriting and printing (You can purchase large lined paper inexpensively at a Dollar Store)

Let's all do our part to save handwriting!

September 22, 2015

Don't Forget to Pamper Your Pets

Years before we had babies, we had a fur baby. Our now 6-year-old Bichon Frise, Rex, gave us our first look at parenthood, Rex, is, what we describe as, a husky trapped in a little white dog's body. He's frisky and energetic, loves to play and is very good with our daughters. He barks annoyingly at the TV (you can't even imagine how many animal shows and commercials there are!), and chases every single squirrel or rodent that dares step into our backyard.

Like our human babies, there are days when he makes us crazy and days when we can't get enough of him. He loves to snuggle and cuddle, sleep at the bottom of our bed (in the sheets!), and always gives Good Morning kisses to the girls. Here's the thing about dogs: they're always happy to see you. Even if you've had a rough day, look terrible or haven't showered. 

Rex has had a pretty great year with me at home, on maternity leave. He had plenty of company, lots of time to roam outside or bake in the sun. But when I got ready for work this morning, I couldn't help but feel sad for Rexy. 

To prepare him for my sudden departure, I took a ride over to our local PetSmart to buy him a few things that would help cheer him up.

If you've ever been to PetSmart, you'll agree the store is HUGE and jam-packed with pet goodness. Toys, bones, food, treats, tools, tricks, books, beds. They sell it all. Plus, they are a good learning resource, too. While I was perusing the aisles, a puppy class was about to begin, with a handful of obedient owners and their not-so-obedient pups.

I decided to get Rex a few things: something to play with, something to chew, and maybe some treats. The toy aisle is simply LOADED. Literally hundreds of items on the wall. But I stopped with a smile when I found the Martha Stewart Pets collection. A squirrel! He'd love it! Or hate it...he does like to chase them. With my PetPerks card, the medium squirrel was less than 10 bucks. Perfect.

Off to find some treats. 
Earlier this year, Rex had his first dental cleaning, which resulted in one tooth extraction. Poor guy. Since then, we've really tried to give him bones and treats that help with his teeth. I love these Meaty Bones -- they don't have any smoke or flavouring and the ingredient list simply says Beef Bone. This is a must, especially with young kids around. 

As for treats, again, so many to choose from! I oped for a minty flavoured dental chew by Natural Balance that will help his breath. Yikes. I was really impressed by the selection of natural, organic and grain options for cats and dogs. Well done, PetSmart.

Here's my gift to Rex for being such a good dog this year, and always. (I had to throw in that tiny T-Rex. It has the LOUDEST, most SCREECHING squeak, but he loves it! And it's his name sake!) Rex was thrilled with this new toys and treats -- we haven't given him the bone just yet but I know he'll gnaw on it for hours. 

It's easy to get caught up in life and sometimes not show our four-legged friends the love they deserve. But at the end of the day, they are family too, and everyone loves a lil' pampering. Doggies too.

For the latest and greatest for your pets (even Halloween costumes!) visit your local PetSmart. For more info: www.petsmart.ca.

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias

September 21, 2015

Brag Post: Remembering Maternity Leave

Today is my official last day of my second maternity leave.
Tomorrow, it's 'back to the grind', back to 'reality', back to 'work'.
Truth is, the last year has been a lot of hard work, too.

For the last few weeks, people have been asking me how I felt about going back to work. I'm ok with it. Actually, I'm pretty happy about it. It's been an outstanding year, don't get me wrong, but I'm yearning for some "me" time, a chance to work with adults and even the luxury of putting make-up on and getting dressed.

I will, of course, miss spending time with my girls. I will miss sleeping in, lounging in pjs, playing for hours, and having spurts of silliness. But I will make sure to take enough time off to enjoy what I can. It's bittersweet, of course; I won't be there for every moment, but I think I'm ok with that.

Reflecting back on the year, I have to give myself a little pat on the back. I did alright. We did alright. Better than alright. I say we because there's no way I could have done it alone. I reached for support in all places. I owe much of my sanity this past year to my mom and husband who helped whenever I called, and gave me the opportunity to shower, or sleep, or escape for an hour. I was very fortunate to have the company of my best friend, who had her second just months after I did. We spent a lot of time together, worked out, hung out, and went to the mall. Mommy groups, our volunteer Run for the Cure committee, and even this blog gave me an opportunity to connect and express. Thank you all.

Maternity leave is a chance to learn your baby. With a new baby and a toddler in tow, it was a challenge. But I wasn't the first to do it, and I'm certainly not the last. Some days were phenomenal, others, not so much. But we made the most of it. It's sounds cliche, but when I sat down and jotted down all the excursions, activities and experiences we chalked up, I was proud. I am proud.

I should also include in the list: Surviving the Everyday. We ate as a family almost every day. Homecooked meals. We baked. I breastfed, and pumped. I made baby food. We watched lots of TV. I taught the kids about the Pan AM Games, brought them to see the Torch and even took Isabelle to an event. We went to vote back in October 2014. It was the first time I went out with both kids, post surgery. We painted and glued and sang and danced.

I'm bragging. And that's ok. We all need to brag a bit. We're moms. Supermoms.

No, really, I simply did what I had to do, and what I wanted to do, for me, for my girls and my family. And we had fun doing it (most of the time).

For all the stay-at-home moms out there, bless you. It is HARD WORK. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. For all those, like me, heading back to the "work" force, enjoy it. This next stage will come with a whole new set of challenges, but I'm ready for it.

Hug your babies, take lots of pictures, and when you're home from work, be silly.

I intend to do just that.

September 17, 2015

Madeline's 1st Birthday Party #twinkle #party

I officially have a one-year-old.

Boy, that went quickly. Everyone said the first year would go faster the second time around, and they were right. Somehow, before my eyes, my baby isn't such a baby anymore.

We have a beautiful, funny, sweet, smart little girl, who's a full-fledged crawler, squealer and giggler. It's a bit bittersweet, but it's also cause for celebration.

When it came time to planning my baby's 1st Birthday, I thought about what Madeline likes. She doesn't really watch television yet, and isn't attached to a particular toy or book. Her favourite song, though, is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. It's a song we sing every single day -- to calm her, put her to sleep, make her laugh and make her smile. And seeing as she is a little star, it was only a fitting theme.

I started generating ideas and wrapping my theme around two of my favourite colours: gold and peachy pink. Diane from Little Monkey Designs helped me tremendously with the invitations, turning my vision into a reality. And of course, I got lots of ideas from Pinterest (although I still kind of believe Pinterest is ruining party planning in general. More on that another time.)

Once the invites were out it was time to start thinking decor and activities. I essentially planned two different parties one day apart. One was for friends and kids at a local venue, and the other, a gathering of family at home.

Little Monkeys Designs created an adorable Printable Decor Set, all matching my theme. The Printable contained everything from a Welcome Sign (seen below), to a custom banner, cupcake/decorative tags, Thank You squares, Water Bottle Labels and Food Labels. The set was easy to print (at a local print shop) and simple to put together. Best part: I could use the same decor for both parties and achieve similar looks.

I really loved the printable set. It was a cohesive way to bring the party to life, regardless of the venue. The theme was carried through the entire event. Plus, when you have a pro like Diane designing, it's so much easier just to print and cut! I added my own crafty touches, too, from the glittered ONE sign to the 7 foot fabric banner. There are plenty of ways to have a beautiful, stylish party on a budget.

To punch up the cake table, here are some easy, affordable tips:
  • Use a table cloth (dollar store) to create a uniform backdrop to hang the banner
  • Use a clear ribbon or fishing wire to hang the banner. Punch a really tiny hole with a hole punch in each banner piece and string it.
  • Opt for 3M hooks to hang your decor - they are easy to use and won't damage your walls
  • Create levels by wrapping old boxes with fun wrapping paper
Once your decor is worked out, you can think about the details: cake, snacks and activities. I was able to carry my theme through the party -- even down to the loot bags!
Madeline's DELICIOUS cake was ordered from Cake Princess (although she's not currently taking orders as she's 9 months preggers!), and the cookies (Twinkle Treats) from my friend, Dineen. The cake topper was a beautiful touch I ordered from Importer's Gifts in Vaughan. I added visual interest, and a healthy snack, by taking a star cutter to some watermelon and adding real Starfruit to the mix. (By the way, if you want kids to eat LOTS of fruit, cut it up into interesting shapes) Maddie's outfit was a combination of a custom onesie, plus a handmade tutu (I made that!), and soft mocs from Joe Fresh. 

Food wise, guests nibbled on Star Puffs, Starburst, Starfruit, Star Krispies and Stelline (star pasta). And adults were able to enjoy a Tall Starbucks while they partied, too. I had a great time coming up with the "menu" and finding interesting ways to describe our stellar snacks. Get it? Stellar.

And when planning, don't forget to consider your guestlist. 10 kids attended Party #1, so I made sure to have a variety of age-appropriate crafts and activities, from colouring to painting. The biggest hit was the star-shaped glasses and the glow sticks.  

Oh, and the loot bags. I love giving something useful, and not too junky. In addition to the star goodies from the party, each kid received a star t-shirt. The girls' shirts said Shine On, and the boys' shirts said Future Rock Star. 

All in all, I had a great time planning Madeline's First Birthday. While it is a lot of work planning all the different elements, it really shows once it's put together. Plus, it was actually a lot of fun.

If you're planning a party, large or small, I really suggest taking an idea and running with it. You don't need to find a "theme" -- you can create a magical look from just about anything. And don't forget to contact Little Monkey Designs to help you out.

To receive 15% off your entire order at Little Monkey Designs, enter the code SuppaMonkey when checking out. This code is valid until September 30, 2015, so hurry!

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

September 01, 2015

Product Review and Contest: Boogalu Baby #contest

As everyone knows by now, I love to support local businesses and local moms who have local businesses. I first met Cassondra and learned about her business, Boogalu Baby, at the Toronto BabyTime Show this spring. Madeline was starting to teethe and in addition to teethers and toys, I was intrigued by Chewable Jewellery, aka Chewlry. 

Long story short, I spent about 20 minutes at her booth and bought two awesome necklaces that were a hit with the baby, and my toddler, who LOVES to play with them, too. 

Boogalu Baby is both mom and baby friendly. The silicone chewlry is BPA, PVC and phthalate-free and doesn't contain lead or heavy medals. The designs are stylish, come in a variety of colours and is affordable.

I love how the products coordinate and complement one another. Opt for a silicone bangle, or a "pearl" necklace for yourself and maybe get your babe a matching pacifier clip or Chewgalus! (the elephant :)) Of course, the chewlry comes in all different colours -- perfect for boys and girls.

Boogalu Baby JUST launched their website (like, yesterday!), so you can buy any of her products online and in select stores in Ontario and Montreal. 

To celebrate, Boogalu Baby has given ONE Simply Suppa reader $50 to spend on ANYTHING on their website. Enter below and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 06, 2015

Product Review: Custom Personalized Pillow

My name is Julia Suppa and I have an addiction to purchasing decorative pillows. Euro, accent pillows, sofa cushions, bejewelled and bedazzled, fuzzy, patterned and plain. And now, personalized.

Admitting is half the battle, right?

Seriously, though, I love personalized anything. And personalized pillows? Ummm, yah.

Little Monkey Designs makes AMAZING personalized pillows. Donny surprised me with a Family Pillow for Mother's Day and I've been hooked ever since. You can select from a few standard designs, colour match to your room or create an entirely custom design. Diane is super easy to deal with and the service is fast and local. Everything is made right here in Ontario.

My latest acquisition? The Personalized Birth Announcement Pillow.

How awesome is this pillow? It has all my baby's birth information, looks amazing in her room and will be a beautiful keepsake for years to come. Donny actually asked me why I didn't get one for Isabelle, too. Tee hee. It's coming....

I opted for a fairly neutral colour pattern, using light greys and peach/coral -- my favourite colours right now.

Girly and pretty, but still dainty and elegant. It also won't go out of style when I move it to her big girl room. These pillows would be an excellent Christmas gift, 1st Birthday gift, Welcome Baby gift.

Honestly, I don't know ANYONE who wouldn't like this personalized pillow.

On another note: it's very difficult to get a 10 month old to stay still to take a photo!

Simply Suppa readers get an awesome deal on them, too. When checking out from the Little Monkey Designs website, be sure to enter promo code SuppaMonkey to get 15% off your entire order. That's on anything you order, not just pillows. 

And I read somewhere there's only 18 Fridays left until Christmas....so, why not get started early!?

My gift to you. You're welcome.

Disclaimer: I am a Little Monkey Designs Brand Ambassador and receive special perks as part of my affiliation. The opinions expressed on my blog remain my own.