April 19, 2014

Happy Easter from Simply Suppa! #GayLeaFoods

Easter has got to be one of my favourite holidays of the year. First of all, I adore the spring. After a long winter (2014 especially), it is so wonderful to celebrate the start of a new season, a rebirth, a renewal. As a Roman Catholic, this is also one of our high holidays -- mourning both Jesus' death on Good Friday, but also His resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Of course, like any holiday, we tend to celebrate with food -- LOTS of delicious, delicious food. Traditionally, Good Friday is not a day of feasting, but a day of fasting. Many people (my family included) will refrain from eating meat on this day. Seafood and fish dishes are a staple on Good Friday, but for us, the major day of feasting comes on Easter Sunday. We will indulge in homemade ravioli, baby goat prepared various ways, vegetables, salads, and desserts. I'm hungry just thinking about it!

I treasure these family traditions; whether it's about the food or the activities, there's a certain comfort in traditions. Here's another funny tradition: wearing an Easter hat. My mom tells me I always had an Easter hat, to go with my Easter outfit or dress. It's a tradition I've embraced as a mom, too -- and Isabelle will have her Easter hat for Sunday's lunch. Or the traditional Easter egg hunt. On Sunday morning, we will lead our LO through the house picking up colourful eggs. I'm sure the hunt will grow and change as she does, but even as a baby, we had fun hiding and hunting. What Easter traditions does your family partake in?

In the spirit of spring, of rebirth and of tradition, I wanted to bake a special treat that I knew my family would enjoy this Easter: a Chocolate Chip Banana Loaf.

This is the perfect, symbolic dessert -- you take something old and ripe (bananas) and turn them into a brand new dessert. Of course, to complete my dessert I'm using Gay Lea Spreadables!

You can use a standard banana loaf recipe (there are thousands out there), but I decided to use a brand I recently became a fan of -- Grainstorm. It's Canadian, and has a few blends of flours and grains that combine real, healthy ingredients. This is also an easy way to get some added nutrients into your dessert.

My recipe:
  • One pouch of Grainstorm Ancient Grain Muffin & Loaf Blend (500g)
  • 1/2 cup Gay Lea butter, melted
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • cinnamon
  • Gay Lea Spreadables butter
What you may notice right off the bat -- there's no sugar in this recipe! Well, there's no ADDED sugar. The bananas are sweet, and the chocolate chips will give a bit of sweetness, but this dessert is not overly sweet.

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees, and lightly grease a loaf pan or prep a muffin tray with wrappers. In one bowl, mash the bananas, and leave aside. In a second bowl, whisk the eggs, and add the vanilla and melted butter. Add the Muffin and Loaf blend to the egg mixture, followed by the bananas and chocolate chips. Do not over-mix. It will look grainy and thick, but that's ok. Pour the loaf mixture into the pan and drizzle with cinnamon. (You can also add some melted Spreadables Cinnamon and Brown Sugar.....mmmmmm)

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

I prefer to eat my Banana Bread warm, but this loaf is great cold, too. When it's fresh out of the oven, the chocolate is melted, the banana is rich and the loaf is delicate and tender. Of course, you need to add some Gay Lea Spreadables to the warm loaf for some added flavour and creaminess! It's so, so good! 

To celebrate the Easter season, Gay Lea Foods has two amazing giveaways on the horizon! The first, hosted by Simply Suppa, is a YEAR'S SUPPLY of Gay Lea Product! To enter my contest, please enter via Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ANNNNNNNDDDD....you can also enter to win A Waring Pro Double Belgian-Waffle Maker valued at $190! There will be one winner across all participating blogs, but test your luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to all, and for those who celebrate, I wish you and your families a happy and blessed Easter.

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.

April 14, 2014

Spring BabyTime Show Coming Soon! #contest #babytimeshow

In just 10 days, thousands of moms and dads (and future moms and dads!) will flock to the International Centre for the Spring BabyTime Show. The bi-annual event caters to parents-to-be all the way up to parents of toddlers.

I've been attending the event every single season since I found out I was pregnant more than 2 years ago. In addition to the great shopping (of course!), I've found a wealth of information from breast feeding to car seat safety and have even met Ann Douglas, author and parenting expert. I've visited with my mom, my best friend and my husband, and in the fall, even brought our toddler along for the ride. She, too, had a great time meeting some of her favourite characters, playing in the Fisher-Price zone and sampling some of the newest treats designed for toddlers' tastebuds.

This year will be the first time I'm attending the event both as a mom to a toddler, while pregnant with baby #2. I'd like to think we're already pretty prepared when it comes to having a child, but having another is a completely different ball game. Still, there's tons to know and a lot of information to soak in.

And so, as any planner-mom would be, I've already made a list of some of the things I want to see and learn about. At the top of my list: a double stroller. The BabyTime Show is known for having its share of sales and deals and baby gear is no exception. I'm in the market for a double stroller. Which one, though, is still up for discussion. Do I get a side-by-side or one that sits in front of the other? Brand? Model? Price? So many factors to consider and it will be a large purchase. (If anyone has any advice, please let me know)

What else will I be checking out? More gear, of course.

Diono has recently launched the Rainier, a new Convertible Car Seat with a full steel frame. This one can be used from 5-50 lbs rear facing and 22-65 lbs forward facing. It then turns into a booster for kids between 50-120 lbs. What's great about Diono, though? It's narrow enough to fit three car seats across in a mid-size vehicle.

It retails for $379, but in my opinion, you can't put a price on your child's safety.

Up next, some home decor, or nursery decor. I recently learned about Signature Little Ones, a local Vaughan-based company, who makes everything from personalized pillows to robes, growth charts, bedding and even stuff for mom and dad. This will be their first time at the BabyTime Show and I would love to see what they have for Isabelle and Baby #2.

On a recent visit to one of our programs at Rogers TV, the girls from Signature Little Ones brought alone some personalized announcement pillows and I just fell in love with them. What a great gift idea and beautiful addition to your baby's nursery.

Of course, there are so many great causes to learn about at the show, as well. I'm thrilled to learn that Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation will be in attendance promoting their Rock 'N Stroll. This is a super-unique fundraising walk to support high-risk births at Mount Sinai. While my preemie wasn't born at Mount Sinai, I do know some babies who were, and hold the NICU there, and the nurses and doctors in high regard. I think this is a wonderful way to support the cause.

And lastly, you can't visit the show without spending a little bit of money on clothes or baby supplies! Sears Canada will be there, and you can register or pick up inexpensive and useful onesies or pjs, muslin blankets and bottles. Well.ca will also be around, and in the past, they've sold diapers! We'll see what's in store this time for this fabulous e-retailer.

For those visiting the first time, let me offer some tried-and-true tips:

  • Buy your tickets in advance if you can! You can buy here in addition to the Box Office
  • Check out the schedules online and plan your trip
  • Leave your jackets in the car!
  • You're welcome to bring snacks for the little ones
  • There are convenient diaper change areas and feeding areas, so you're welcome to bring baby
  • Be patient! It can get quite busy and crowded with strollers, but it's worth the trip!
  • For up-to-date info, follow BabyTime Shows on social media! facebook, twitter, pinterest
  • For more great tips click here
And for a chance to win passes to the show, enter my Rafflecopter below!

The BabyTime Show runs from April 25-27 from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. at the International Centre. 

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway\

Disclaimer: I am an official BabyTime Show Ambassador and will be receiving special perks as part of my affiliation. All views expressed are my own.

April 03, 2014

Shoe Sale?

I know I've been mysteriously absent for a bit...
Posts have been scarce....
Reviews and Contesting too...

But I have a good excuse!

The last three months have been particularly challenging for me. Now that I've entered into my second trimester, I'm feeling a bit better, have some more energy and can pay a bit more attention to Simply Suppa.

Of course, taking care of myself, baby and my family will always remain #1, so thank you in advance for your patience. The reviews and the contests are coming your way very, very soon! I promise.

PS - a special thanks to Sabrina from Picture Perfect Designs in Vaughan for taking the above pregnancy announcement. All the shoes are ours, and well-loved ones :)

March 20, 2014

Get Ready for Spring with Sears Days! #SearsMom

Spring has sprung! And while you wouldn't know it based on the weather we've been having, if you take a step into a mall, you will be hit in the face with bright colours, shorts, dresses and bathing suits.

Normally, I'd be annoyed seeing bikinis in March, but after the winter we've all endured, I LOVED it!! Bring on the sunshine and the short-shorts! I won't be wearing them, but it's time to bare some skin! (Can you tell I'm a teensy bit excited?) Today I was actually able to sneak into a shop (alone!) and was able to soak in all the pretty dresses out for little girls -- it's almost Easter season and that means it's time for a new frilly frock. 

For those who celebrate, Easter does fall later in the year for 2014, but it's not too early to do some shopping. Easter is an important holiday for us, both religiously and emotionally. 

In 2012, we brought our daughter home a few days before Easter. She was able to meet our entire family that weekend and even wore an itty-bitty onesie that said "Some Bunny Loves Me".  Last year, Isabelle had her first egg hunt and wore her first Easter dress. (She was just learning to walk here) I even bought her a fancy floppy white hat, because my mom said she bought me one every year as a little girl. 
Speaking of me as a little girl, I dug up this beauty! I was probably 3 here, and while the hat is absent from the photo, the ruffles certainly were not!
As for what Isabelle will wear this year, I can't wait to go shopping! (I'm going to wait a couple more weeks in case she has a massive growth spurt -- you never know.) Luckily for me, and you, Sears Days are on right now and they have just started to bring out their latest Spring Collection

Check out these beautiful pieces for little girls!

For more of my spring favourites, I've set up a Pinterest Board -- I'm using it as my window shoppe for inspiration. Let me know what you think!

Sears Days are on until April 6, so you have plenty of time to get to a mall near you. And to celebrate spring fashion and dresswear season, Sears is giving away an AMAZING Grand Prize. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck and Happy Spring!

Disclosure: I am part of the Sears Mom 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.

March 19, 2014

What Are You Made Of? #GayLeaFoods #MadeFrom

What are you made of? Like, what makes you click? Who are you? What do you believe in?

Why all the philosophical questions?

Well, spring is literally within arms reach (thank heavens!) and with that, the first quarter of 2014 has already disappeared. The change of the seasons is always a good time to reflect on the last few months and see what went well, and what didn't. 

Looking back on the last 3 months, I'm pretty proud of all that I've accomplished. I've been super busy at work and have successfully produced a few large projects that have taken a lot out of me. I was able to plan a very fun and creative birthday party for my daughter, and was even able to see my extended family and cousins a few times since the year started. I've been able to make time to play, to visit my family and friends, to work, and to have fun. 

So, what am I made of? I'd like to think I'm made of hard work, family, dedication, commitment. These are values I instil on myself and on others. I'm also made of passion, creativity and love. 

Gay Lea Foods recently launched their brand new campaign telling the world what they're made of. 

I love this new campaign for a few reasons; it's not presumptuous or complicated. Yet, it strips this company down to its roots on the farm, where they were born. It's always great to know where your food comes from, and with Gay Lea, you know your dairy is coming from a dairy farmer.  

This is actually a philosophy I try to adopt as much as possible when it comes to my food. I don't live on a farm, but I do grow some of my own crops and visit the local farmer's market through the summer to pick fresh ingredients that have been grown with passion and hard work.

In honour of Gay Lea's new ad campaign, and in celebration of the start of spring tomorrow (yippee!!) I wanted to share a super simple recipe that I love, and pays tribute to a few ingredients and lets them shine. This recipe is not clouded with too much "stuff" and you can really tell what it's "made from"!

Super Simple Spring Scones

You will need: 

- 3 cups of flour
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 5 tsp. of baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. of salt
- 3/4 cup of Gay Lea unsalted butter (room temp)
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 cup of milk
- handful of raisins or cranberries (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and lightly grease a baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and then cut in the butter.

In a separate bowl, combine the egg and milk and stir into the flour mixture until moistened.

Knead the dough briefly but don't over knead.

To create your scones, you can choose to do round scones or triangular ones. For triangle scones, roll the dough into a 1/2 inch circle and cut like a pizza. For round scones, shape the dough into a log and cut into rounds.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with local jams, honey or devonshire cream!

Super simple, right? You likely already have all of these ingredients in your house. This recipe is fast and easy and will make a delicious breakfast, or you can use it to impress your friends and family for a fancy brunch or high tea!

So, what are you made of?

Disclosure: I am part of the Gay Lea Blogger Campaign 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.

February 28, 2014

Barbie Pearl Princess Makes Waves this March

Meet Lumina. Lumina is a Barbie mermaid who dreams of being a princess. She has magical powers that change the colour of pearls and make them dance and glow! 

Lumina is the main character in the newest Barbie movie, Barbie The Pearl Princess, which will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD, March 11, 2014. 

Girls everywhere can follow Lumina and her best friend, Kuda, a pink seahorse, as they discover that Lumina's magical pearls may be the key to unlocking her true destiny. 

But for those little princesses who want to meet Lumina beforehand, you're in luck! Premiere screenings for Barbie The Pearl Princess are taking place across Canada next weekend - March 8 - at theatres in Toronto, Mississauga, Scarborough, Hamilton, Halifax, Langley, Calgary and Edmonton. 

Tickets are available for the screenings online at www.barbie.com/mydreams. All you have to do is sign up for a "Dreams" account, build your own DreamBoard and poof! You're eligible to receive FREE tickets (while quantities last!). 

If that wasn't exciting enough, if you are lucky to come and see the screening in Toronto, audience members are encouraged to dress up in their favourite pink outfit, pearls or Barbie style to be entered to win a Pearl Princess prize pack.

Good luck! And don't forget to hashtag #PrincessLumina if you'll be at the screenings and let everyone follow in your fun!

February 15, 2014

Happy 1st Birthday to Carter's and OshKosh @ Sears! #contest

At the beginning of February, my daughter celebrated her 2nd Birthday. I don't know even where the year went. We had a party with our friends and family and she had a blast. She even sat with her buddies and ate pizza and drank from a juice box. Although it was a bit emotional for me, I was beaming with pride; she was very much a little girl. 

It's amazing how quickly babies grow. The other day, I was reminiscing her 1st Birthday. We had set up a Sesame Street themed-party at our house. She couldn't walk yet and was still on pureed foods, but it was such a fun day. 

Thanks to Pinterest and Etsy, I was able to come up with some easy and inexpensive ways to parlay that theme. (I didn't make the cake though, that's all thanks to Designer Desserts by Lucia Moia) I've always loved birthday parties; they didn't have to be overly fancy or expensive, it was just a great time to spend with your friends and family, and have some cake! 

Isabelle's not the only one who celebrated a birthday this month. February marks the one-year anniversary of the Carter's & OshKosh brands at Sears Canada and they're celebrating in a BIG way.
By the way, I'm sure you're all familiar with the brands, but if you're not (time to get up from under the rock!) and you can check out the collection here. (As an aside, Isabelle's 2nd Birthday party theme was monkeys and all her little friends got Carter's monkey PJs as their loot bag!)

As I mentioned above, babies grow fast, and Carters & OshKosh makes clothes that are cute, wash well and above all else, are affordable.

To celebrate their one-year anniversary, they are giving away a trip for a family of four to Orlando, Florida! You can win:
  • Trip for four to Orlando, courtesy of Carter's & OshKosh
  • Trip includes hotel and air (direct flights from Canadian destination)
  • Full-size rental car with unlimited mileage and loss damage waiver insurance
  • Passes to an Orlando attraction and dining passes
The approximate value of the contest is $4,000 and the contest closes March 9, 2014. For more information and to enter, visit www.sears.ca/carterscontest.

And if that wasn't enough, I have a special prize, too! How would you like $50 FREE BUCKS to spend on Carter's and OshKosh gear at Sears?

To enter my contest, enter the Rafflecopter below and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I am part of the Sears Mom 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.