April 22, 2018

Shoes Kids and Parents Love


When I learn about something really cool, I tell people. It's actually one of the reasons I started this blog -- to share what I discover with others. A few months ago, I met the husband and wife duo behind Shoe Fairy, an online shoe boutique offering exquisite shoes for kids from two brands you cannot find in Canada. The couple is from Toronto, and the shoes are imported; Bibi shoes from Brazil and Pablosky shoes from Spain. These brands are highly regarded in the shoe world. The Shoe Fairy is the exclusive Canadian retailer.

Most people know I love footwear. It's a bit of an obsession, actually. These days, I've cooled my own shoe shopping (slightly) but have channelled it into the kids -- kids' shoes are much cuter, too. The thing is: you can always tell the difference between a really well-made, supportive shoe, and the alternative. The same is true in adult shoes. You get what you pay for, and unfortunately, when you wear bad shoes, you can do some significant damage to other parts of your body. 

Let me say, I'm totally impressed by the selection and quality of the Bibi and Pablosky shoes available on Shoe Fairy. Each brand offers their unique patented technology to help a child's foot development. The shoes offer breathable, flexible insoles, heat absorption technologies, and support through the foot.

            

And when you hold the shoes, you can tell. They are supportive, sturdy shoes with detailed stitching and closures. Even the sandals have substantial insoles that cushion the foot. 





Shoe Fairy is an online boutique, but they do offer returns and exchanges, as well as flat rate shipping of $5.00/item. Plus, if you follow the instructions on how to measure your child's foot (available on their website), ordering is pretty simple. They also offer an In-Home Fitment service. 

And the best part -- my girls love the shoes, too. The styles are out of this world, unique and appealing. There are literally hundreds of options online and when I opened the boxes that were shipped to us, my girls swooned. These are shoes they want to wear, and I'm happy because not only do they look great, they are comfortable and supportive, too. Win-win.


If you want to see the shoes and try them on in person, The Shoe Fairy will be at The BabyTime Show at the International Centre in Mississauga from April 27-29, Booth #256. But I have two free tickets to get in!

To win, enter the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good Luck and Happy Shopping!


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

April 18, 2018

Feel Good, Local Love #LocalLove

Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and Local Love and have received compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.



I'm at a point in my life where I want to focus my energy on happiness

Happiness means different things to everyone, granted, but for me, happiness is that point, that instance, where my heart sings. The moment I relax and my smile is not only natural, it's perma. It's the events, the people, the morsels of food, the new collaborations, the laughs, the experiences that make me pause and sigh, "Yes, this is good.

Between the hustle and stress of life, parenting, marriage, mortgage and work (and everything in between), it's often difficult to find that happiness. And yet, you know it when you've found it -- it's a giddy excitement that can't really be described, but it CAN be replicated if we allow it. 

You know something that makes me happy? Helping people. 

Someone once asked me how I would like to be described. I had to think about that for a while. Of course, I'd love to be known for my talents, my skills, my friendships, my work ethic. But most importantly, I would want to be described as kind and helpful. Being helpful makes me happy. 

And so, when I learned about LocalLove.ca, I knew I wanted to be involved somehow. LocalLove.ca is a brand new website where you can find easy ways to live well and do good in your community. In addition to stories of inspiring local changemakers, you'll also learn simple ways to give back in your community. From Brampton to Bloor Village, King City to Kensington, Local Love will get everyone thinking about how they can do their part to give back to their community. 

Talk about happiness overload. 

As many people know, I've devoted countless hours to local initiatives like the Canadian Cancer Society CIBC Run for the Cure, the CIBC Celebration of Hope, the Shoebox Project, Helpful Hands, The Purse Project and I'm always on board to help a friend or organization in need. With LocalLove.ca, I'm looking forward to learning more about some other programs in my community and meeting the people championing these charges. This way, we can focus on creating impact, and happiness. After all, it IS National Volunteer Week. 

I encourage you to subscribe to the Good News Letter which is delivered every week to your inbox. It's a welcome break from the scary (albeit important) news of the world and starts your week off the right way -- with good news and stories that'll make you want to make a difference. 

And if you know of someone making waves in their community --Vaughan and beyond -- please let me know. I'd love to learn more about these local initiatives -- after all, it'll make me really happy. 

Julia

April 12, 2018

Community is More Than Where You Live


On Friday, April 6, the community of Humboldt, Saskatchewan was faced with the ultimate blow. A bus carrying 29 passengers, members of the Humbolt Broncos Junior A hockey team, was hit by a semi-trailer truck on their way to a playoff game. To date, 16 people have died, and some remain in critical condition. To say hundreds of lives have been impacted is an understatement.

Truth is, this tragedy has encompassed many of my thoughts this week. It's just so, so sad. You think of the parents, the siblings, the partners and friends. I'm reminded of the billet families and the larger community of people who have supported these team members and this organization for years. In small towns like Humboldt, Jr. A hockey is a pretty big deal. The athletes are local celebrities, a title I've been called once or twice.

Community is More Than Where You Live 

It's safe to say the majority of the world hadn't heard of Humboldt, Saskatchewan prior to Friday's crash. And yet, today, we are all Humboldt. I'm not from a small town like Humboldt, but I have visited small towns, both for work and for pleasure; and as a community television producer for more than 12 years, I truly believe that community is much more than where you live. And contrary to what we've been told time and time again, small-town happenings do matter. Local matters. Community matters.

Silver Linings

A little while ago, I went to a conference where a speaker talked about silver linings. She said in the face of bad news or tragedy, try and find a silver lining. It's pretty difficult to do that in this situation, and I'm not sure it would provide much comfort to those who have lost a loved one.

But there are a few silver linings here. Take a look at the support, both financially and otherwise, from the international community. This is more than just hockey. This is human. This is raw. Millions of people have put hockey sticks outside their home as a tribute to the lives lost. Today in Toronto, and beyond, is Jersey Day, a day where the community at large wears jerseys to remind ourselves and honour the Jr. A Broncos.

And of course, the GoFundMe campaign, which, at the time writing this piece, had surpassed $9 Million -- one of the largest campaigns to date.

The Humboldt tragedy will never go away in that small town in the Prairies, with a population of nearly 6,000. This is a loss that will be felt forever; it has changed the history of the town, the province and the hockey community.

But I'll argue that it has changed all of us, at least a little. It reminds us, once again, the fleetingness of life, and how everything can change in a moment. It reminds me to continue to tell the stories in my local community because I believe (and I'm willing to believe others agree) they are important. And people DO care.

Lastly, it reminds me that community isn't where you live, it's about uniting people. It's right there in the word: UNITY.

Today, and for the next little while, we're all united with Humboldt.


March 24, 2018

Mad About Marble Easter Eggs

DIY Marbled Eggs

I have really fond memories of making and decorating Easter Eggs with my mom. Specifically, when we were older, we would blow out the egg, dip them in different dyes and even add wax to make our own exquisite Ukrainian eggs. 

My girls are still a bit young to be handling blown out eggs, and even hard-boiled eggs for that matter, but that doesn't mean you can't create a beautiful egg that is toddler-friendly.

I'm not really a Pinterest mom, but often enough, I see something really neat that doesn't look too difficult or time-consuming. And I love a good craft. This time, it was marbled eggs - using shaving cream. I'm pretty mad about marble right now and love marble anything. Why wouldn't I love marbled Easter eggs?

For this craft, you'll need:
  • a can of white shaving cream (buy cheap)
  • plastic gloves (or your hands will be dyed)
  • eggs (I scored a dozen cardboard eggs at Walmart!)
  • food colouring
  • plastic tablecloth
  • parchment paper or aluminium tray
  • toothpick or skewer
First things first: cover your table and layer two pieces of parchment paper, or place your tray on top. Pour a generous amount of shaving cream and smooth it out if you like. Starting with 2 colours, drip some food colouring into the shaving cream and with the toothpick or skewer, swill around the colour. Don't over mix the colour.

Using gloves, roll the egg into the colourful swirls and out onto the side of the parchment. (I prefer the parchment because you can leave the eggs to dry instead of moving them.


diy art

Repeat with more colours. If the gloves are in the way, scrap them and get messy!

Easter

Shaving Cream

painting

Allow the eggs to dry with the shaving cream for 20 minutes before taking a clean paper towel and wiping them to reveal a beautiful, colourful marbled egg. The coloured marble effect will differ depending on the colour you swirled the egg into.

Roll up the parchment and toss. No muss, no fuss.

Display and show off your beautiful marbled eggs! 

Easter

DIY Easter Eggs

February 23, 2018

DIY Mosaic Tile Backdrop


I take a LOT of pictures. Like tons. Thousands. Tell me I'm not the only one.

I'm also always trying to find cool backdrops and settings for my amateur shots and social feeds. Problem is, I don't have really funky tiles or marble counter tops, nor have I travelled to Morocco or any exotic places in the last little while. But that doesn't mean you can't make those looks yourself.


There's nothing wrong with a little faking, in the interest of artistic creation, right? Ok -- so I'm not saying PRETEND you have all these things when you don't; I'm totally admitting it, so no pulling wool over the eyes. 

But a little project or DIY is always a good idea. Watch this video for a VERY easily DIY Backdrop Hack, perfect for flatlays and social photography.


Let me know your thoughts and send your ideas on what else we can use for a faux backdrop!

Enjoy.


February 14, 2018

I Love You In the Kitchen #CPChef #CPDateNight

Happy Valentine's Day! 

It's the one day a year people openly profess their love for one another. It may be a bit too much at times -- too commercial, cheesy, unnecessary even. 

Honestly, I love love. I've said it before, but I'm a hopeless romantic. For me, the cheesier the better. (That goes for real cheese too, btw). I can watch the same lovey-dovey movies over and over again, and still get butterflies. But I can also totally understand the pressures VDay puts on couples, to show a love you feel all the time.

Donny and I have never really "celebrated" Valentine's Day with large, lavish gifts. There are usually flowers, cards, small gifts. But the best gift of all, is time. 

Ever since we started dating, our Valentine's tradition has been to prepare a meal together. Not used to playing chef in our parents' kitchens, we would buy WAY too much food for two people and it would take us hours to make, and by the time it was done cooking, we weren't even hungry. But, we had fun. And we laughed. And we spent time. (We even took pictures, and if I could find them, I would totally put them up here!)

Now that we're married (almost 9 years!) and have the girls, we often spend time in the kitchen, and involve the kids as much as possible. It may not be as romantic as it once was, but it's cooperative. And we still laugh, joke, and have fun -- even if our meals are a bit more "pressed" for time.



I was recently sent two meals from Chef's Plate to try, and thought this would be a good opportunity to show everyone how you can work together in the kitchen. The best part: Chef's Plate does all the thinking and prep. All you need to do is follow the recipe.




Meals take about 30 minutes to prepare, and are fairly easy to understand and execute. If your partner isn't much of a cook, it's also a good chance to get them involved. And if YOU'RE not the best cook, it's an even better way to SURPRISE your loved one with a home-cooked meal. 

Here are our finished meals: 

Meal 1: Creamy Sundried Tomato Chicken Linguine



Meal 2: Goat Cheese and Lemon Risotto with honey roasted broccoli



Both meals were tasty, and easy to create. And as for our little Valentine's Day photoshoot, props go out to Isabelle for taking all the photos, as she refused to be in the pics.


Enjoy Valentine's Day this evening, and if you're celebrating at home, there's nothing wrong with saying I Love You In the Kitchen!


For more info on Chef's Plate, visit their website.


Disclaimer: I was sent two meals from Chef's Plate in order to write this post. As always, the opinion expressed on my blog are my own.

February 11, 2018

Breakfast to Love

We're heard it a million times -- breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Mmmhm. 

For most of my life, I didn't eat breakfast. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Now, I'm not a nutritionist or doctor, so I can't comment on the "most important" part, but I'll tell you what happens now when I eat a good breakfast: I set myself up for a day of success.

Since I've started working with my friend Gina, I've been paying more attention to my breakfast choices, opting for ideas that include a protein, a fat and most importantly, are easy. I'm not one to make a huge breakfast any day of the week, but that doesn't mean you need to resort to a sugar-filled carb that you pop into the toaster.

Most times, simple works. And when you get sick of the hard boiled eggs (that happens to me), it's nice to have some new flavours that'll jive with your morning -- and your morning java.

Here's my newest breakfast to love, and, because it's all red, would make a nice treat on Valentine's Day morning!


So, there's no cooking involved. And I even feel guilty calling it a recipe. 

Wash and cut strawberries and raspberries. Add a handful of shredded coconut and a mound of hemp hearts. Optional: you can throw some PLAIN Greek Yogurt underneath if you eat dairy.


It's actually quite pretty and snowy like, but it's fresh and satisfying and meets all my breakfast requirements. It's my new breakfast to love.

What's your favourite thing to eat for breakfast?