Monday, April 20, 2015

Putting On The Ritz At The Ritz-Carlton Montreal

This past weekend I had the great pleasure of staying at and reviewing the stunning Ritz-Carlton, Montreal with my family. Montreal has always been one of my favourite cities because of its history and culture, and also because it is charming and beautiful.

Not many hotels are linked to the history of the city in which they are located; the Ritz-Carlton Montreal is one of those hotels. After all, it's not called the "Grand Dame of Sherbrooke Street" for nothing. This hotel is an iconic part of Montreal. The hotel first opened its doors in 1912 and perhaps that is part of its charm.


The lobby area (also called the Palm Court) is a great place to people watch and enjoy afternoon tea. The Palm Court makes me feel like I've stepped into the world of Gatsby. There is also a Dom Pérignon Champagne Bar in the Palm Court – exclusive to the Ritz-Carlton Montral and the first of its kind in Canada. (I'll have to come back for that!)


I stayed at this hotel a couple of  times before the renovations that took place between 2008-2012.  The Ritz-Carlton Montreal is one of Canada's most award-winning hotels, and it is actually only one of four hotels designed by César Ritz himself (in addition to London, Paris, and Madrid.) It's luxurious, for certain—and the service is like no other from the moment you walk in the historic doors.

The old charm of the hotel combined with the comtemporary design (I love that they've kept some pieces of antique furniture in the rooms—I think it adds to the charm) makes a stay here very memorable. You'll never want to leave. The boutique rooms and suites blend historic elements with modern features in an effortless way.






The rooms are luxurious and breathtaking. My children loved the washrooms the most—from the large tubs and TV's to the heated toilet seats, they were so happy. Our two connecting rooms were very spacious and the boys enjoyed a scavenger hunt in our room as soon as we arrived.



What they loved even more than the amazing bathrooms and candy, though, was the rooftop saltwater pool. With views of downtown Montreal, this pool was breathtaking and a great place to relax with a book, too.




I loved the cute and soft robes they were given to wear to and from the pool. It's the little things the hotel thought about that made this stay so lovely.


Later in the evening, the boys were treated to an in-room movie complete with drinks and popcorn. It was perfection.




Although there is so much to do in Montreal, (we walked around Crescent Street, had dinner at an excellent Greek restaurant, and more) we enjoyed being inside the Ritz-Carlton the most. There was no need to leave.




 
We were also treated to a delicious breakfast at the renowned Maison Boulud restaurant the next morning, too. The restaurant features an open-kitchen concept and modern cuisine with a twist. It's a great place to eat, whether you're enjoying breakfast or dinner. There is a fine wine menu, too, as you can see...


I loved the features and attention to detail in the hotel rooms; the heated bathroom floors, the beautiful views and large windows in the rooms, the neutral colour scheme, the Nespresso machine and turndown service, complete with slippers and lavender hand lotion, the pillow menu, the towel warmer, and the motion sensors that activate lights at night. Absolutely everything was perfection, including the service.

Thank you so much, Ritz-Carlton Montreal, for this incredible stay. We truly loved every single moment, and can't wait to be back soon.

Kraft Peanut Butter Snack Bites: Snacking Made Easy (And Healthy!)

As busy as we all our in our day-to-day lives, there is nothing more important to me than spending time with my children, doing things we love. Weekends (although we're usually heading out the door somewhere) are a great time to slow things down, and connect. One way to do this, I have found, is baking in the kitchen. Now, I'm not great in the kitchen—I've definitely had my share of disasters—so when I come across a recipe that is super easy, I'm all over it. And when it includes ingredients I know my boys love, that are also healthy? Total bonus.

Kraft Peanut Butter is a staple in our house, and I am thankful we don't have any nut allergies, although I am very careful when guests are over who do have allergies.



I recently made Kraft Peanut Butter Snack Bites with my boys for them to snack on. Sure, a peanut butter sandwich is a great lunch or after school snack idea, but using Kraft Peanut Butter for baking is an excellent alternative. We all call these delicious bites the Kraft Peanut Butter Sweet Bites of Goodness!

Kraft Peanut Butter Snack Bites of Goodness are bite-sized, delicious, and incredibly easy to make. Did I mention they're NO BAKE snack bites? That's right. You can even get this done during the morning madness as you're getting the kids out the door for school. They take about five minutes to make, and then all you have to do is leave them in the fridge for about 20 minutes so they harden.

Here's what you need:

1 cup large flaked rolled oats
1/2 Kraft Smooth Peanut Butter
1/4 cup honey

You can then incorporate two additional ingredients that you love. We chose chopped peanuts and chocolate chips, because a little bit of chocolate is always a good idea, right?

Once you have all your ingredients, mix them all together in a medium bowl until blended. Next, roll them into 1-inch balls, using about 2 Tbsp. for each. Chill for about 20 to 30 minutes, and voila—the perfect snack for day or night!

I loved that my oldest son took a huge interest in baking these delicious treats with me. It as a great time to connect with home, one on one, and talk about his life, his interests, and so much more. We laughed a lot, and had a great time. When things are not complicated in the kitchen, things can be fun!


 
Suggested serving size is 2 to 3 of the bites represented in the above photo.
 
If you want to make your own, visit sheblogs Canada so you can enter the My Peanut Butter Snack Bites Make It Yours photo contest. By sharing a photo of your Peanut Butter Snack Bite recipe, you'll be entered to win 1 of 4 Kraft Peanut Butter prize packs. 
 
Follow the hashtag #MyKPBsnackbite to join the conversation on Twitter and for more Peanut Butter Snack Bites recipes plese visit www.sticktogether.ca.

Good Luck and happy snacking!

Disclaimer: Although this post has been generously sponsored by Kraft Canada, the opinions and language are my own, and in no way do they reflect Kraft Canada. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Visa Checkout Night Out With Cineplex (And a VISA Giveaway For You!)

I love going out to the movies—especially because it involves popcorn. (And for the record, I don't share my popcorn, so you'll have to get your own.) Anyway, I've missed seeing many great movies on the big screen, like Interstellar. (I just saw Interstellar at home and it was amazing. And confusing, but mostly amazing.) I wish I had more time to go to the movies, but with two young and active children plus working full-time jobs inside and outside the home, it is not always easy to make that great escape.

This is why I'm really glad to have been asked to work with Visa Checkout and Cineplex—because I had to go to the movies—no excuses.



Visa Checkout is great. It makes online shopping more enjoyable and much more convenient. Basically, Visa Checkout provides a single account sign-in that can be used across all your devices.

Just enter a username and a password, and then you can speed through your online shopping with no need to re-enter the card number or address.  I'm a fan of anything that makes my online shopping experience easier.


You can sign up here: http://checkout.visa.com. From there, just create a username and a password, enter your payment and shipping information, and go to the movies—with our without the kids!

Using VISA Checkout for me was simple and fast—and going out to the movies was an even more enjoyable experience.

The best part? I'm giving away a $100 VISA gift card so you can enjoy a night out at the movies, too. (This giveaway is for my readers who are Canadian residents over 18-years-old.) Just leave me a comment below telling me why you're excited about using VISA Checkout! I'll pick a winner on April 30th.

Here's a bonus: Cineplex is offering a free movie ticket to anyone who uses VISA Checkout. (This offer is available until May 3rd.)



Disclaimer: I received compensation and the chance to go out to the movies, all expenses paid, thanks to VISA and Cineplex. All opinions and views are my own.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Hazelton Hotel: An Intimate And Luxurious Stay

Last week I was in Toronto, staying at The Hazelton Hotel–Toronto's most exclusive five-star hotel. It was every bit as wonderful as I imagined it would be.

I'm thankful to have been invited to review this gorgeous property because it's one hotel I've always wanted to explore. The Hazelton Hotel is an important part of Yorkville's vibe and culture. And boy, do I love Yorkville—this is Toronto's most stylish district, after all, with plenty of amazing shopping and fine dining. Yorkville is where you'll find me when I'm in Toronto, no matter the season. I was curious to find out just how lovely a stay at The Hazelton Hotel would be, especially because it is the number one hotel in Toronto, according to Conde Nast Traveler.

The service was amazing; similar to the service I received at the Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour. Everyone was incredibly friendly and ready to help with any request I had, morning or night. The rooms are stunning, especially the gorgeous, spacious bathrooms, complete with heated floors, a built-in television in the mirror, and L'Occitane bath products. It was absolute heaven.




After falling in love with my room, I was whisked away to the world-class Hazelton Health Club and Spa where I was treated to a 75 minute pedicure. It was so relaxing and the service was, once again, perfection. (Special thanks to Vickie for taking such good care of me!)

The Hazelton Health Club and Spa has plenty of services, from world class facial and body treatments to manicures and pedicures. (The spa uses the Swiss product line Valmont, which I love.) You'll leave the Spa at the Hazleton feeling revitalized and rejuvenated.

If you want to work out before hitting the spa, the Health Club is open 24 hours. There is also a beautiful lap pool, with a private elevator taking you right to the pool from your hotel room floor.




After my spa appointment, I went back to my room to catch up on some work and relax. I ordered room service, (which is available 24 hours) and enjoyed my relaxing night in my beautiful hotel room before leaving for an event the next day. The rooms are intimate with "... a splash of 1940's inspired Hollywood glitter."




My favourite part was the large dressing room and all the closet space. I also loved the floor to ceiling mirrors. Often, there is not enough room to place luggage and hang up clothes when I'm traveling,  so this was great to see. 


I was very impressed with the car service The Hazelton Hotel provided me, too,  taking me to and from my event as well as making a stop at a nearby store in Yorkville for me so I could pick something up.


Before I left the hotel, I enjoyed a delicious lunch in One Restaurant with the Sales Manager of The Hazelton Hotel, Christine, and Cassie, who helped organize my wonderful stay. The company was wonderful and the food was amazing, and I cannot wait to go back again soon—the menu has a lot to choose from and dining at One Restaurant is something you have to experience. (One Restaurant is headed by Chef Mark McEwan, and is especially popular during TIFF—The Hazelton Hotel is always the place to be if you want to spot celebrities!) 



The Screening Room in The Hazelton Hotel was quite impressive, too–this theatre holds up to 25 people, and is used for many functions, from sporting events to movie screenings.


Although my stay at The Hazelton Hotel was short and sweet, I will certainly be back soon. From the service to the location, this five-star hotel left me wanting more.

Thank you, Hazelton, for making my first experience with you so magical.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

P&G Spring Cleaning Giveaway

Disclosure: I am a P&Gmom. As part of my affiliation with this group I receive products and special access to P&G events and opportunities. The opinions on this blog are my own.

It was a long winter, but spring is finally here. We've had a few chilly days this spring, but for the most part, all the winter gear has been put away—far, far away, in the depth of the basement so I don't have to remember how bad it was and how long it lasted. I mean, really—it was never-ending!

Spring means making a positive change to our routine and spring makes it easier getting out the door in the mornings—no need for the kids to put on their snow pants and boots, and no more snowy mess in the entrance way. I love slipping on my favourite heels without having to worry about getting cold or ruining my shoes.

Spring cleaning is my favourite, too—seriously. I love to de-clutter, and change things up with new home accents and accessories, and I love to clean, really clean, all the rooms in my house. Especially my closet, so I can make room, naturally, for all the new colourful clothes I'll be buying to welcome spring back into my life. (Shopping is an essenetial part of spring cleaning, you guys!)

To make spring cleaning easier for you, I'm giving away an awesome Spring Cleaning Prize Pack worth $85 (thanks to P&G) that includes the essentials you'll need to get started:

  • Dawn Ultra Original
  • Dawn Original
  • Bounty Basic
  • Cascade Platinum with Dawn
  • Febreze Air Effects
  • Swiffer WetJet Starter Kit
  • Swiffer WetJet Cleaner
  • Swiffer SwetJet Pad


  • With these products you can start your spring cleaning to make your home fresh and spring-ready. Out with the old and in with the new, right? Open all the windows, and get started.

    Here are some Spring Cleaning Tips:

    Kitchen: The kitchen is where we always gather; even though I'm no master chef, the kitchen, eating area, and family room are all conneted and are the busiest parts of our house. How to tackle kitchen cleaning? Easy! Put things away as you use them, and keep the counters clean and clear of things that don't belong on them. Here are some kitchen essentials you should always have stored under your sink and in your kitchen:
    Keep it simple: Store things where you use them. For instance, pots and pans should be stored near the stove, and smaller items should be grouped together—like bakeware in one drawer, wooden spoons together, and so on. Keep a pen or pencil and a writing pad near your phone, too, and keep an orderly filing system for your mail and school information coming in from your children. If you know where everything is and where everything is supposed to go, you'll have an easier time living in a clutter-free home.

    Organizing Closets: Organzing closets is a great first step to organizing your home. Donate clothes you know you won't wear again, toss old boots that have seen better days, and de-clutter. I's hard to give up clothes that have been sitting in your closet for months, but realistically, if an entire year has gone by and you haven't worn certain clothes, it's time to let them go. For the clothes that you do keep, make sure they're clean and ready to be worn again. Hello, Tide! (My favourite P&G product I could not live without.)

    De-clutter: This can be really hard to do, especially if you like holding onto things like I do. Just get rid of things you don't need or use. Donate, give away, and toss—make these three piles as you're going through all the things in your home, from clothes to shoes to books and toys. It'll feel good to donate, and your house will be less cluttered, too—win-win!

    Phew... now after all your hard work getting your home clean and ready for spring, it's time to celebrate with a drink on the patio—cheers!

    To enter the Spring Cleaning giveaway, just leave me a comment below telling me what you love about spring. Winner will be picked randomly on April 29th. Good Luck!

    P&G has only provided me with the products that I am using as the prizes for this contest. The contest is not otherwise endorsed, designed and/or administered by or associated with P&G.

    By entering the following contest you are accepting that, if you win, your contact information will be shared with a P&G PR and shipping agency for the purpose of mailing your prize. Please allow 4-6 weeks from the contest closure date to receive your prize.

    This giveaway may appear on other blogs as part of the #PGmom/#mamanPG program. However, to be fair, you can only win once per giveaway. If your name is chosen more than once, another winner will be selected. All winners must be from within Canada.

    Friday, April 10, 2015

    Join The Journey With Energizer And Win

    Once you become a parent, some things become absolutely essential to have in the home. Locks that work on bathroom and bedroom doors, erasable markers, waterproof mascara, and batteries. If you've got kids in the house, you need a constant supply of batteries. For toys. For wii controllers. For Nerf guns. For the TV remote. And especially for Christmas Day.

    I was recently invited to Toronto (thanks to Energizer) with my family for the weekend. (A special thank you to the beautiful Renaissance Hotel for taking such good care of us and for the warm welcome. The children especially loved the large indoor pool, and I loved the downtown location—we were literally next to the CN Tower!)


     


    Energizer invited us to spend some time at the Ontario Science Centre so we could learn more about their recently launched Energizer® EcoAdvanced™ battery, which is the world's first AA battery made with four percent recycled batteries. Isns't that great?  To celebrate this innovation, Energizer launched a national content that encourages young Canadians to engage with science, technology, engineering and math. (STEM). Kids (along with their parents) can submit drawings of their dream creations for the chance to turn their creations into a real working, battery operated toy. How cool is that? Start drawing!

    The Energizer Bunny is asking parents of children, aged 5 to 12, to submit a drawing of their child's most creative creature for the chance to see it become a reality. Canada will then vote to see which creature will be turned into a playful and powerful toy. The winning submission will also receive $10,000 towards their education.

    Every submission will also be entered into a secondary prize draw for a chance to win 1 of 100  Energizer® EcoAdvanced™ and Spin Master Ltd. toy prize packs.

    I love that Energizer encourages children to find the joys of STEM-related subjects at an early age. My oldest son is science obssessed, and I love to see his love for science grow every day. I knew both my boys would love exploring the Ontario Science Centre after taking part in a fun battery-operated science experiment with Energizer.
     


    Thank you so much for a fun and eventful weekend, Energizer! We loved being a part of the excitement. For more information on the contest, and to find out more about Energizer, click here.

    You're Invited To Have Breakfast With Me At Urban Barn Barrhaven!

    Spring is finally here, and with that, it's time to start again—from getting back on track with personal goals and routines of eating better and exercising, to freshening up the home, both inside, and outside. Spring cleaning is my favourite, because it's out with the old and in with the new—new furntiure, bright accessories and pillows, and flowers everywhere. It's time to open the windows and let the sunshine in!

    I am inspired every time I step into Urban Barn. My partnership with Urban Barn—working as their Brand Ambassador and Spokesperson—came at the most perfect time for me, since I was (and am still!) in the middle of bedroom and family room renovations. I always find exactly what I'm looking for whenever I'm in Urban Barn, and seeing everything in person helps me visualize what my rooms will look like. Sometimes all you need are a few new frames, vases, and pillows. Or, you might need  new furntiure to freshen up a room in your home, too. Urban Barn has it all.

    I'm thrilled to be hosting an in-store spring style session this Sunday at the new Urban Barn in Barrhaven. You're invited to come have breakfast and tea with me, as we chat about getting your home ready for spring! (And everyone will take home a special gift, too.)


    We'll be talking about the new spring pieces in Urban Barn, from the furniture to the decor items and so much more. I love all the colour Urban Barn has incorporated into all the rooms for spring. It's refreshing, and bright, and makes me happy.



    Urban Barn has tons of great pillows for your living room, family room, and bedroom, too—I'm in love with his palm tree pillow and I know it would make a perfect addition to my new couch in my family room.


    Here's a peek at my new Urban Barn Sophia couch, by the way... I just love it so much! It's comfortable, (which is key) and durable enough for my two boys who love to play and wrestle each other.

     
    Anyway, I hope you're able to join me on Sunday as we talk about home decor and how to welcome spring back into your life. I look forward to seeing you in Urban Barn!
    

    Smile–it's your best accessory!

    When I was a teenager, I had to get braces because I had crooked teeth. I loved having braces and they never bothered me; after all, I knew it would result in a beautiful smile. Oral health care is a big deal in our household, and I make sure my children are going to the dentist at least once a year—regular appointments are the best way to prevent any dental and oral problems, after all, and it's nice to see my boys learn from an early age the importance of taking care of their teeth with daily brushing and flossing. By visiting your Ontario dentist and taking other proactive measures, you can skip the costly and painful treatments that can result from neglect.

    It's the strangest thing, actually—my boys LOVE going to the dentist! They are so well behaved, and they actually enjoy the thorough cleaning they receive. Of course, leaving with a new tooth brush and a small toy is always a bonus, too, and these regular visits to the dentist reminds them of the importance of regular brushing at home.

    Thanks to the Ontario Dental Association, you can learn about your dental care options and find a dentist near you, online. (I know it can be hard to find a good dentist!) Often, we put off visiting the dentist because we are so busy doing other things, but going to the dentist should become as regular a thing to do as going for your annual check-up at the doctor. (Which you're also doing, right?) It can be overwhelming to find a dentist that can look after your family, so you can click here to find one in your area. Being proactive leads to good oral health and if you're taking care of your teeth, your children are learning the importance of good dental care from a young age, too.

    Here are some great tips to help you get a great smile and a healthy mouth!

    • Brush your teeth for two to three minutes at least twice a day. This, of course, leaves you with a gorgeous clean mouth and also prevents tooth decay and gum disease. 
    • Eat a well balanced diet that includes grains, fruits, veggies, and meats. It's all about balance and eating well. 
    • Visit your dentist on a regular basis.
    • Wear a mouth guard if you're playing certain sports.
    And remember... smile! It's your best accessory. 





    Disclaimer: Although this post has been generously sponsored by the Ontario Dental Association, the opinions and language are my own, and in ny way do they reflect the Ontario Dental Association. 

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