May 14, 2018

Ready for Another Season of Wonder?

Nearly 37 years ago, in the middle of farmer's fields and streets that would be unrecognizable today, a mountain was built in Vaughan. Vaughan wasn't even a city then, but Wonder Mountain may have put the community on the map. That beautiful mountain --and its surrounding area-- have evolved and changed over the years, but Canada's Wonderland has continued to be a focal point and tourist "must see".

Growing up in Vaughan, as soon as Victoria Day hit, it was time to get your season's pass. It was almost a given. It's safe to say we grew up at the park; we were so fortunate to have a world-class amusement park nearly in our backyard, and because my mom was a teacher, her summers off meant we had ample time to enjoy the amenities. As kids, we would spend entire days (from park opening to park close), riding the rides, catching the shows, and of course, eating a funnel cake. That, too, was most certainly a given.



As we got older, we continued the Season's Pass tradition, even though I refused to go on the thrill-seeking rides. We spent long, hot days at Splash Works, taking in the spectacles at Medieval Castle (at the time it was the only spot that had A/C!), and people watching on "the hill", which sadly, is no longer there.

Canada's Wonderland 2018 is much different than Canada's Wonderland 1988/89 (likely when those photos were taken). But it remains an amazing place to spend the summer. In fact, I still get the feels when I walk into the park and look out over the fountains to the Wonder Mountain.


We've been taking our girls to park since they were babies, fully immersing them into the culture of Canada's Wonderland. Some of the old school rides are still there, and there's always something new and exciting happening at the park, from rides, shows, festivals and events all summer long. With a season's pass, you get access to all these happenings, and lots of other perks, too. 





New to the park this year, a Canadiana tribute with two new rides -- Lumberjack and Flying Canoes. It's all set up in a quaint corner of the park (on the way to my fave ride -- White Water Canyon!). In this area, you can sit on a Muskoka chair, enjoy some Canadian craft and take in the rustic, woodsy atmosphere before heading off to the next zone. See, there's lots to do even if you DON'T do rides, like me.









Coming this weekend is Victoria Day (May 19-21), and as the unofficial start of summer, it's also a great time to be at the park. Of course, fireworks happen on Sunday, May 20 at 10 p.m. (weather permitting). The park also lights up the sky for Canada Day, Civic and Labour Day Holidays, as well. And Splash Works, as well as Splash Island, open the following week -- May 26!

What does this all mean?! It's time to get your season's pass, cause, prices go up May 21! 130 days of fun for $71.99 per person online, or 6 payments of $11.99, which, when it's put that way, is totally reasonable. Of course, when you're buying online, you can also add parking and dining plans to your pass for extra savings.


After a crazy long and cold winter, I'm ready for summer! And I can't wait to spend it with my family at Canada's Wonderland. 



Disclaimer: I am a 2018 WonderBlogger and receive perks as part of this affiliation. As always, the opinions on my blog are my own.

May 09, 2018

Roll Out the Red Carpet

Now in it's 6th year, the Vaughan International Film Festival rolls out the red carpet starting May 14!

What's this about a film fest in Vaughan?!

It's true. And it's an International one at that. Filmmakers from around the world submit their short films to be screened at the VFF, and the week is capped with an impressive Awards Ceremony on Thursday, May 17. It's like the Oscars, but in Vaughan. The Vauscars. (It's not called that, by the way)

Screenings take place on Monday, May 14 and Wednesday, May 16 at Cineplex Vaughan and tickets are still available. Also part of the festival is a speciality industry night featuring pros from the field, also held at Cineplex (on Tuesday, May 16). This year's theme is Sound Design.


Simply Suppa and Suppa Media (yes, there's a Suppa Media! More on that later) is a proud media sponsor of the VFF. Check out the video for more details, and hey, hit Subscribe while you're there!


See you on the red carpet!

May 07, 2018

Need Help Finding a Gift for Mom? Here's Some Inspiration From Lee Valley

With Mother's Day less than a week away, some people are probably struggling to find ideas for a great gift for mom. The ultimate gift, if you ask me, is to sleep in, have breakfast or coffee in bed and then just lounge in my pjs and spend time with my family. But I appreciate the sentiment of wanting to buy your mom (or the mom in your life) a present to recognize her. 

As you know, we do a DIY gift from the kids each year and we're working on one for this year, too. Still top secret :) For my mom, though, my sister and I usually take my mom's interests and find a gift from there -- whether it's a girls day out, a beautiful plant or flowers for her garden, a manicure...you catch my drift. 

Moms don't need extravagant presents, but taking the time to notice her likes and interests goes a really long way.


This year, I took a trip to Lee Valley for some inspiration in finding a perfect gift for mom. Honestly, if you need inspiration for just about anything, go to Lee Valley. In addition to outdoors and gardening equipment, books, knick-knacks, tools and decor items, you'll also find a vast assortment of kitchen gadgets, baking supplies, woodworking items, crafting, nutrition and novelty items for just about everyone (kids included). 

I came up with just a few ideas I would love, and I'm sure others would, too.


This is the Cadillac of watering cans. Whether mom is a gardener or not, everyone needs a watering can, inside or out. This HAWS slim watering can makes watering easy and balanced. And it doesn't even need to be wrapped up, because it's simply gorgeous. It comes in a few colours. Add a bow, or a little plant, like I did, and present to mom. Tres impressive.


Seeding Square, $34 CAN.

This is a great gift for the mom who DOES like to garden, or the mom with little kids who may want to help. This seeding square makes growing fruits and veggies from seed easier, with colour-coded holes that are pre-measured for accurate rows. 



Add some of your favourite seeds and you've got an activity mom can try solo, or with the fam. The seeding square is a template and can be reused time and time again. I'm looking forward to seeding with the girls this weekend. 




The NutraTrack Mini Kitchen Scale is perfect for the mom who is active, health conscious, or just curious to learn more about the foods shes taking in. It takes the guesswork out of calorie counting and tracking, with dozens of pre-programmed foods in the memory and 999 others that can be added by entering nutritional information from the food package. Simply place your food on top of the scale, enter the code and reveal the weight, calories, carbohydrates, salt, fibre, fat, etc.

The scale is small and easy to store, about the size of a tablet, and it can be wiped down. Pre-weigh or measure your portions to ensure you're consuming just what your body needs and wants.


Gifts for mom don't have to be complicated or expensive. Try to find inspiration in everyday life. And when it doubt, spending time, a big hug and an "I love you" is priceless.

Happy Mother's Day!

May 02, 2018

Easy Mother's Day DIY

Mother's Day is around the corner, and every year, the girls and I ambitiously make gifts for my mom, mother-in-law and grandmother. It's become a simple tradition that is always appreciated and really shows the growth of the kids over the years. We've done photos, handprints, footprints, garden stones, potted herbs, picture frames; I'm always on the hunt for an impressive DIY.

Last year, if I do say so, we knocked it out of the park with customized dish towels.


This DIY doesn't take a lot of time, isn't messy and can even be done as a last-minute gift. 

Here's what you'll need:

- plain white cotton dishtowels (You can also use bar rags)
- iron-on heat transfer paper that will work with a colour printer (available at craft stores)
- scanner or free scanner app on your phone (I use Tiny Scanner)
- markers and paper
- iron

To start this craft, ask your kids to draw a picture on plain white paper with colourful markers. Their job is done! If you're making more than one dishtowel, each one gets its own image. Then, scan your picture and flip it so it's a mirror image. You can do this on your phone or with a scanner. Print the scanned image directly onto heat transfer paper.
Trim around the heat transfer so there isn't too much transfer paper showing that isn't marked up. Place it onto the dishtowel, properly oriented and face up, and slowly and carefully run the iron along the image. Do not steam. Also, make sure you've protected the surface underneath.


Start to lift and peel away the transfer paper. Depending on the style you purchase you may have to allow the ironed image to cool before lifting, others allow you to lift while it's warm. Confirm the procedure on the back of the box.

Your finished dishtowels are revealed. Tie with twine or ribbon and present to Mom or Nonna this Mother's Day!


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.