July 25, 2014

Why Today is a Milestone

Photography by Picture Perfect Designs, Woodbridge

Today is a milestone for me. I'm 29 and 6. What does that mean? It means I'm 29 weeks, and 6 days pregnant. Tomorrow, I'm 30 weeks. Isabelle was born exactly on the 30th week mark. It was on this day of my pregnancy, nearly two-and-a-half years ago, that I was sick and asked my husband to bring me to the hospital, and therein started my journey into motherhood. (I do believe I was preparing for motherhood while being pregnant, but nothing could have prepared me for that day)

I think about that morning when we got to Markham-Stouffville Hospital often; I had a lovely nurse, Michelle, who didn't leave my side. A great on-call OB who spoke with such a calm demeanor I couldn't have been able to tell my situation was a very serious one. They were the professionals who took care of me and quietly rushed me to Sunnybrook to have my baby. The staff at Sunnybrook will also always be in my mind -- my first nurse there, who was with me right into the OR, the surgical team, the NICU team and the nurses who took care of me post-delivery. One of my nurses was from Wiarton, and on February 2, groundhog day, I made a joke about it. I was definitely still loopy from all the meds, and it was probably not funny, but she still laughed. Oh, boy.

This pregnancy so far has been different, a bit more positive and relaxed. And I'm going to keep it that way. Every day from today is time Isabelle didn't have to grow inside me. And when I look at her, I can hardly believe it. She amazes me every day. So, I'm going to have a nice, calm day and just like I did when Isabelle was born, I'm going to celebrate all the little milestones from here on in.

Thanks for everyone's best wishes on a healthy -- and full term! -- pregnancy.

July 24, 2014

Saturday Night Spa Night at Sanctuary #contest

I don't know a mom who isn't busy. Between taking care of our kids, preparing meals, cleaning and having SOME FUN, not to mention those of us who work outside the home, there is rarely free time in the day, especially to take care of yourself. I'd lump my hubby into this busy category too, but I'm dealing with moms today :)

Every so often, though, it's nice to pamper ourselves -- be it a girls night out, a movie, dinner, or even a spa treatment. Sanctuary Day Spas recently extended their hours on Saturday nights to accommodate clients. That means you can get a treatment done up until 9 p.m. on a Saturday night. How amazing is that?!

My mom, sister and I recently treated ourselves to a girl's night out with manicures at Sanctuary in Vaughan. Sanctuary has the capabilities of treating 4 people at a time for manicures and 5 at a time for pedicures, not to mention the massage and facial treatments available. 

For us, the treatment was a nice reminder to spend some quality time together (especially before baby #2 greets me) but think about the possibilities! Why not host a bachelorette or spa party on a Saturday night? Bring all your gals and friends! Or a romantic night with your hubby? Go to the spa and then for a late dinner or drinks. Should you wish, snacks can be provided at Sanctuary for a small surcharge, too. Or take your best friend for manis and pedis before hitting the town on her birthday. The convenience of being open late makes life so much easier, especially for us busy people.

To celebrate the extended spa hours, Sanctuary is awarding a Simply Suppa reader with 2 free manicure treatments (for you and a friend) at any of their 4 locations (Burlington, Newmarket, Vaughan, Waterloo). To enter the contest, fill out the form below. 
Good luck!
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Disclosure: I'm an official Sanctuary Day Spas Brand Ambassador and receive special perks as part of my affiliation. The opinions expressed on my blog are always my own.

July 20, 2014

Summer Treats with #GayLeaFoods #Contest

I love indulging on cravings in the summertime. While I'm usually a "salty" gal, this pregnancy has definitely played with my sweet tooth. Of course, it's really important not to overindulge, pregnant or otherwise, so I'm always looking for sweet treats that won't send my sugar levels spiking. 

I don't know many people who don't like Jell-O. And, I don't know many people who don't like Whipped Cream. Why not take the best of both worlds and put them together?

I give you my Super Simple Summer Jell-O Treat, with Gay Lea Whipped Cream

There's not much to this "recipe"; in fact, it's hardly a recipe at all. Follow the instructions on the Jell-O box, allow the Jell-O to cool and top with Gay Lea Whipped Cream. Here's where you can have some fun: play with the vessel. I used paper cups for Isabelle, large plastic margarita glasses, and even mini wine glasses! (I cooled the Jell-O on an angle in the mini-wine glasses to add a little bit of pizazz!) Of course, you can DEFINITELY add some vodka to the adult Jell-O drinks, but I can't partake in that fun. Not this year.

Here's the thing: when you add the whipped cream to the Jell-O, it adds this delicious creaminess and actually tastes like a low-fat panna cotta! It's so yummy and addictive.

We had never given Isabelle Jell-O, until today, and let me tell you -- she ate the entire cup, whipped cream and all. Flavour is up to you, but I do recommend the strawberry Jell-O; after all, who can fight Strawberries and Cream?

We have two AWESOME giveaways this month, courtesy of Simply Suppa and Gay Lea Foods! First, who wants to win 12 free Gay Lea coupons? Enter my rafflecopter below.

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ANNNNNNNDDDD, if that wasn't enough, would you like to win a perfect patio entertaining kit this summer?! Prize Pack includes BBQ Utensil Kit, Cornhole Game, 4 Plates, 4 Side Plates, Big Bowl, Tray, Place Mats, and Picnic Basket. Value is $250.

The rules for both contests are the same -- entrants must be 18 years or older, Canadian residents only (excluding Quebec). Entrants may apply across many blogs, but can only win on one blog.

Good luck and happy entertaining!

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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.

July 08, 2014

Always a Great Time at Canada's Wonderland

I've lived in Vaughan for much of my life. That said, when I was a kid, a teen, a young adult, I spent a LOT of time at Canada's Wonderland. Vaughan has changed a lot since the 1980s and 1990s, but Canada's Wonderland remains -- a beacon in the centre of our beautiful city, the roller coasters towering over the subdivisions and strip malls. 

Every time I drive through the parking lot and walk through the front gates, I'm hit with a bunch of emotions: happiness, pride, comfort. I've always felt safe at Wonderland; it's kind of like my home.

All of these emotions are tainted with a bit of irony, actually, because I'm probably the most uncharacteristic patron. I'm a chicken you-know-what. I don't love thrills or shrills, rides or roller coasters. Still, there were many years where I was a loyal season's ticket holder, going on a couple of rides each time, catching a few of the amazing productions put on at the park, and savoring Wonderland's most finest cuisine: the funnel cake. I also loved "hanging out" at the park -- those were my teen years, of course. We'd meet up with friends, sit on "the hill" and spend a few hours on a summer weekday minutes from home, yet in another world. When Splash Works opened in 1992, it was the largest water park of its kind and we had a blast. (It's so much bigger now, much like the thrilling rides and entertainment)

So when it comes to my impressions of Canada's Wonderland, I can't help but smile. And now that LO is 2, we can introduce her to what Wonderland is all about. Sure, it can be an expensive day out, there's a lot of walking, it can be hot in the sun, long lines and enough sugar in the park to make a dentist faint, but it's WONDERLAND! 

Last week, we crossed another item off our bucket list. We took Isabelle to Canada's Wonderland. She's actually been before, but I think she really enjoyed herself this time. She was able to go on a few more rides, and even expressed interest in the characters and the games! 

We only spent a few hours at the park, because, really, that's all a two-year-old and a preggo mommy can handle, but I left so proud. I was proud that my baby a) isn't as scared as mommy to go on rides b) that I'm able to share this Wonderland experience with her and c) that she may grow up to have such fond memories of the park as I do. Next year, season's pass!

Disclosure: I was invited to Canada's Wonderland as part of a blogger event and received free entry to the park for my family. The opinions expressed on this blog remain my own.

July 04, 2014

Home Decor Make-over with #LinenChest

Last week, I wrote about our Summer Bucket List. It was the perfect pre-curser to our staycation this week. Not only did we get a few of our family experiences checked off the list (and we had a blast doing them!), I was also able to knock off a few of those pesky "to-do's" that have been sitting on my other list for a while.

I think everyone has one of these "to-do" lists -- you know, the small little fixer-uppers, or the non-priorities? These tasks always get bumped to the bottom due to time, money, laziness, forgetfulness, or the like. I had quite a few home make-over projects on my list, and I still do. These include clean the basement, organize the closets, wash and store all our winter jackets, buy an end-table for the family room -- they hardly compare to strawberry picking or spending the day at Canada's Wonderland. Sigh. But alas, these little tasks are also the ones that drive you (or me) nuts.

So this week, I decided to cross a few off the list and was able to get it all done in one place -- Linen Chest. If you haven't been to Linen Chest yet, it's like a suburban department store with everything from bedding to small appliances, decor and bath products. And they probably have the most gadgets and trinkets I've even seen in a store. Honestly. The quality and selection is pretty outstanding, and the price points are great (they actually have a price-match guarantee in the store -- if you find the same product within a year of your purchase at another store they will honour that price!). 

Here's what I was able to get accomplished in about an hour, and less than a hundred bucks! And bonus -- 3 things off my list.

We LOVE, repeat, LOVE our Le Creuset pot. We use it so often it doesn't even leave the stove top. But the bugger gets hot and I've already burnt my hand quite a few times. So, I finally got the Le Creuset silicone sleeve for the handle. Before you tell me I could have used another brand -- believe me, I've tried and they fall off. This one is made for my pot and it holds nicely in place, and now my hands won't get harmed. Check one.

New towels in my powder room. See above photo. They were ratty and yuck, and if you could feel through a photo, you'd notice they were very well worn. I liked the taupe colour I originally had, but thought, "Let's brighten up the space!" The ivory towels I purchased are luxuriously soft and feature a Swarovski detail which I loved. It's nice to have the pretty stuff out for guests and these towels definitely wow. Check two.

I have a very large, formal dining table and I could never find a runner long enough for the table. I've bought a few only to bring them home and realize they're too short and they look funny. When I found this taupe/champagne one, I loved it! It's a great addition to the table, and now it doesn't look so bare. Check three!

It's funny how little things like this really make you feel better;  it didn't take much -- not much time, not much money, and really, not much effort. But I was finally able to get three things done and just like that, I was able to give my home a mini decor make-over with a few simple purchases at Linen Chest.

What's on your pesky to-do list?

Disclosure: I participated in a Linen Chest blogger campaign and received special perks as a result. As always, the opinions expressed on my blog are my own.

June 27, 2014

Set Your Intentions This Summer #bucketlist

I'm your typical "Type A" personality -- so it goes without saying that I make To-Do Lists. A LOT of To-Do lists. I really love planning schedules and organizing how to spend a day or weekend or vacation. I do believe that making a list encourages accomplishing these items; it's such a great feeling to check off another task off the list.

The thing is, the To-Do List often becomes a list of things you don't really WANT to do, but you HAVE to do: clean basement, vacuum car, laundry, etc. So last year, I decided -- in addition to the practical To-Do List -- to make a SUMMER BUCKET LIST.

This was a list of experiences, fun outings and excursions to do as a family. These were all the things we WANTED to do, but somehow the regular To-Do List items got in the way. Simply put: we put our family first.

So here's our 2014 Summer Bucket List. We plan on getting a few of these fun experiences checked off as soon as possible, if they haven't been already!
  • Trip to the Zoo
  • Spend the day at Canada's Wonderland
  • Bake with Isabelle
  • Strawberry Picking
  • Take in a Blue Jay Game
  • Go for a walk and ice-cream in Kleinburg
  • Take a Trip to the Splash Pad
  • Dip our toes in a lake
  • Mommy-Daughter Spa Day at Glama Gals

I'm pleased to say we've already crossed off "Bake with Isabelle" -- last week, we made brownies and she was a wonderful helper. She's already asked to bake cookies and we will obviously comply. Here's the thing: when you take the time to spend with your kids and your family, you make memories, and that's the most important. Special thanks to Sugar Baby Aprons for sending us matching aprons with Eiffel Towers on them!

Bucket List items do not have to be expensive or time consuming, but a chance to bond, even for a few minutes, with your loved ones. What's on your summer bucket list?

June 19, 2014

Linen Chest Grand Opening Sale Starts TODAY #contest

When it comes to decorating my home, I can't get enough. When we first got married, I went on a decor overload. I thought DH was going to kill me. Now, 5 years later, I still get excited about getting a new decorative piece for the home, although I've scaled down my purchases quite a bit.

Luckily for me, and everyone else who lives in the GTA, Linen Chest is celebrating its Grand Opening this weekend with a MASSIVE SALE. It starts today and runs through Sunday in all GTA stores and online. You can pick up some great products for the home: kitchenware, bedding, bath, decor, furniture, even appliances at great discount prices. It's a perfect time to refresh your home for the summer season!

I did some online browsing and was amazed at not only the number of items you can get at Linen Chest, but the awesome prices too.

I love this bedding set. The light-weight quilt is perfect for warm nights, and I really like the neutral tone-on-tone with the beige and pale grey.

And what about adding a bench to the foot of your bed? I've always wanted to do that, but have never gotten around to it. I think it's very designer chic!
As soon as I saw this reclaimed wood bookcase, I loved it. It's a great showcase piece to display unique trinkets and items and doesn't sit too high on the wall. Best of all, it would work in a family room or great room without looking too office-like.
Towels. After 5 years, our towels need some some lovin.....errr...make that replacin'. These cabana towels are nice for the home, the beach, the pool. Classic colours and patterns that work for everyone.

In honour of Linen Chest's Grand Opening, Simply Suppa readers can win a $50 gift card to the store! Enter the Rafflecopter below, but don't forget to follow Linen Chest on Instagram and tag the above ad with the #LinenChestGTA to be officially entered. Contest closes Sunday, June 22.

Good luck and happy decorating!