Thursday, November 20, 2014

Nordstrom Is Hiring—Plus, Get Your Tickets To the Nordstrom Gala Now!

You all know how much I love to shop—and if there was a way for me to shop for a living, well, that would be my full-time job. Since I don't yet make my living as a "professional shopper" I have managed to keep shopping an active part of my life by working as a shopping blogger and expert, and as a Brand Ambassador and Spokesperson for brands and stores I love to shop at and do business with. Next best thing, right?

As you also know, Nordstrom (my favourite store EVER) if finally opening in Rideau Centre this coming March. I am beyond excited for this, because Nordstrom is my go-to department store whenever I'm traveling in the United States. (Special shout-out to the amazing staff at Nordstrom in Aventura Mall!)

I think having a job in Nordstrom would actually be a dream come true, because I'd be spending time in my favourite store, doing what I love—helping people find things they need and want—and getting paid for it. Not a bad gig, right? Well, if you're interested in working at Nordstrom Ottawa, you're in luck, because they're hiring!

I attended the pre-gala Nordstrom celebrate last night, and it was great to see many familiar faces and meet some great people from Nordstrom. I am so excited for the Nordstrom Gala that will be taking place on March 4th, a couple of days before Nordstrom opens to the public.

A gala night in Nordstrom... perfection! There will be a dinner, dessert, live entertainment, a fashion show, and shopping, of course. Shopping in an evening gown while sipping champagne... perfect night!





Tickets to Ottawa's Nordstrom Gala are now on sale, and oh my gosh, you guys—they're selling fast. You better get your ticket before it's too late.

The best part? The $100 ticket gives back in a huge way. 100% of ticket sales are going to the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and to United Way, split 50/50. A glamorous night out as you help these two amazing organizations—can't think of a more worthwhile way to spend an evening!

See you at the Nordstrom Gala!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Old El Paso Giveaway! Ole!

I love cooking, and preparing meals for my family. I am an organized chef in the kitchen, and cookbooks surround me. I'm Canada's Martha Stewart!

Oh, who am I kidding? I actually do not love cooking. I sometimes remember my family needs to eat dinner on my drive to pick up the boys from school—oops! And, cookbooks, for the most part, scare me.


However, despite the fact that I'm no expert in the kitchen, I feed my family well, and I am great at making a handful of meals—meals that my children love, and meals that are healthy. I like to make sure my kids are eating healthy Greek meals a few nights a week, and we eat fish at least once a week, too. We also loving our "Mexican" themed nights where we eat fajitas or quesadillas. To the rescue? Old El Paso, of course.


Old El Paso has been around for as long as I can remember, and they've just launched their new premium Restaurante product line, so even when we're eating Mexican at home, it feels like we're eating at our favourite Mexican restaurant. These new products come in three flavours, so there is something yummy here for everyone: Baja Fish, Steak Carne Asada, and Chicken Tinga.

We all loved the Chicken Tinga best, and it made cooking and dinner time fun, and easy. I don't often blog about cooking but when I do, it's because something went right and I didn't burn the house down... and Old El Paso has done it again, and I was a #MexicanChef in my kitchen. Ole!

I want you to experience how fun and easy it is to cook with Old El Paso, so I'm giving away a Mexican Dinner Essentials package to one of my lucky and fabulous readers, valued at $100! 

This giveaway will include one box of each of the new Restaurante kits, along with a $75 VISA gift card so my winner can purchase all the essential ingredients they need to create and cook their own Mexican meal at home! 

Let me know what your favourite Mexican meal is on Twitter, and make sure to include my Twitter handle, @MrsLoulou, and hashtag  #MexicanChef to be entered to win. Easy, right amigos?

Good Luck! I'll pick a winner randomly on Twitter on November 25th.



Disclaimer: I received compensation for this post, however all views and opinions are my own.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

From Minecraft to Fashion Plates: The Best Gifts For The Kids This Holiday Season

What's number one on your child's holiday wish-list? For my nine year old, anything Minecraft; for my six year old, anything LEGO. Mix it up with some science sets, crafts, and books, and holiday shopping will be a breeze this year—more time for you to enjoy your holiday beverage as you snuggle up by the fireplace!

Here are some cool gifts kids will love to unwrap this holiday season, making you the BEST PARENT EVER.

Minecraft Creeper Backpack:  My son has been asking for a Minecraft backpack since before school started this year; I haven't been able to find one until now. (Thanks for sharing this, Cool Mom Picks!)


Bonus: Minecraft Wrapping Paper! I think wrapping up my oldest son's gift in this paper will be totally cool, right?


Minecraft plush toys: My boy (of course) has most of these, and I love adding to his collection. These are great for stocking stuffers, too and perfect to give as gifts.


Minecraft hoodie: Jinx.com is my go-to place to purchase all Minecraft items that I sometimes can't find in stores, and this hoodie is perfect for my big boy. We're always happy with our online purchases from Jinx, and they have a huge selection of Minecraft everything, from shirts to posters to stickers—everything your little Minecraft fan could ask for.


Minecraft t-shirt: My son has a poster of the elements on his closet; his love for science is great, even greater than his love for Minecraft. This Minecraft elements shirt is absolutely perfect for my little man!



Minecraft: The Complete Handbook Collection: What a great addition to your child's library! I love that these book come in a nice set now, too.


LEGO Minecraft The Cave: There are quite a few great Minecraft LEGO sets, which I love, because it's combining two things my boys love into one great gift. This one is new, and just the perfect gift to give.

LEGO City:  My six year old (like most six year olds, I guess!) has an impressive LEGO collection his room—and he keep running out of shelf room. He loves everything LEGO Batman, Ninjago, and Chima, and he's asked for a few pieces from LEGO City for Christmas, like this Arctic Icebreaker.




Snap Circuits: Snap Circuits are fun, and keep the kids busy for a very long time. There are several different kinds of Snap Circuits, and they are easy to build. "Using the hand-crank dynamo, solar panel, and wind turbine, kid will light up an LED, power a clock, charge a rechargeable battery, run a small radio, measure the energy created on an analog meter, and much more!" I also love that parts are compatible with other Snap Circuits sets.

Baby Grand Piano: If your child loves music, why not get this beautiful piano from Tag Along Toys? I love it!


Fashion Plates: Oh my God, you guys! Fashion Plates are back! Forget the kids... this is on MY want-list this holiday season. Hours of fun... do you remember?



What are your children asking for this year?

And what's on your wish list? I'll be writing my wish-list soon... included on that list? A hot, sunny, beach getaway...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Happenings

Can you believe it's mid-November already? I can, because it's damn freezing outside! Time to bring out my Canada Goose parka. Sob. Bright side? The holidays are around the corner! I don't feel ready yet, but here we are—with only weeks to go before Christmas. Last night the kids and I got the house ready and put up some holiday decorations, so now things are starting to feel festive inside.

It's been an incredibly busy time for me, and I am so excited that I have partnered with Urban Barn as their Brand Ambassador and Spokesperson as the store expands in Ottawa with a second location in Kanata.

I love Urban Barn—and I am always inspired with all the stuff they sell, from the bedroom and dining room sets to the home accents. I want to re-do my entire house with everything Urban Barn! I had a fun segment on CTV yesterday where I talked about different looks for the holidays, from hosting a New Year's Eve adults-only party, to how to make your dinner table look festive if you're doing a traditional dinner at home.



I also had so much fun hosting the Urban Barn twitter party the other night, in celebration of Urban Barn's Kanata location opening—especially the part where we were trending in Canada. Wow!

I'll be hosting an in-store Holiday Style Session on Sunday, December 7th, from 10:00-11:00 a.m.,  at the Urban Barn Kanata on Hazeldean Road, and you're all invited to attend! I can't wait to share my tips and tricks with you on how to make your home holiday-ready. (More to come on this soon.)

After CTV I headed over to Daytime Ottawa (where I always love co-hosting the show with Derick!) to talk about how I turned my blog into my business. (Here's a hint: determination, passion, love, and a lot of hard work!) 



Other great news to share: I am the new Community Manager and Online Editor for Momstown Ottawa! I'm thrilled to have joined this awesome team, and I truly love Momstown. It's such  great website and resource for moms, and I'm happy to have been hired in this role. I love Ottawa and I love being a mom, so hopefully I'll provide the kind of quality content people have come to know and love when visiting Momstown.ca. 

Lots of good things going on right now, and busy is always a good thing. I hope you're having a great November, too!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Gifts Made Easy With Shoppers Drug Mart




It's November, which means we can now officially start talking about and getting ready for... the holiday season! Aren't you excited? There are two times of the year I'm the happiest: summer, and Christmas. I am starting to plan my shopping lists—for myself, and for those I'm buying for this year. I always love shopping at Shoppers Drug Mart because they have a huge selection of gift ideas for my friends, family, neighbours, teachers, and anyone else on my shopping list. This year, shopping is even easier at Shoppers Drug Mart with the new gift finder which is available online.

With so many fragrances, gorgeous gifts, yummy treats and the latest toys and electronics, Shoppers Drug Mart has GIFTS MADE EASY for everyone—and it's one-stop shopping—total bonus!

I think I'm a smart shopper, especially for the holidays—I make my lists early, I know who I'm shopping for, I ask my kids to prepare their "must-have" lists and I even start shopping before Halloween. However... I also wait for the last minute for a lot of my purchases, because I love the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping a few days before Christmas, and because sometimes, I just run out of time. I love that I can pick up last minute holiday gifts for people on my list at Shoppers Drug Mart, including stocking stuffers.

This year, Shoppers Drug Mart has even created an online "destination" so you can filter hundreds of gift ideas by price, categories or even for the type of person you're shopping for, so your holiday shopping can be completely stress-free. Every Shoppers Drug Mart location also has some great in-store sales, promotions, and exclusive holiday gifts sets (ooh la la!) from November 12th to December 25th. (So even if you're a last minute holiday shopper, like myself, you have nothing to worry about.) Plus, most locations are open late!

Mark these dates down in your calendar, too; they are the dates of the Holiday Gift guide launches:

"Give Beauty, beautyBOUTIQUE by Shoppers Drug Mart"—Available now.
"Get Set for the Happiest Holidays!"—November 15th.

And keep an eye out of three additional gift guides/beauty books available in late November and December.

I've created my own "wish-list" from Shoppers Drug Mart... if Santa is listening!

1. Fragrance Sampler and Certificate Collector's Edition For Her: I could spend hours is Shoppers just trying different fragrances, and every year, I add a new "favourite" to my perfume collection. Last year it was Prada Candy and this year... well, I'm just not sure yet! I've always loved the smell of Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue, but there are others I love as well. This Fragrance Sampler set is perfect because it comes with a deluxe sample of ten of the best-selling women's fragrances so you can try them out at home and when you've selected your favourite one, use the gift certificate that comes with this kit to buy a full size bottle.


2. Quo by Orly 18 piece Mini Nail Polish Set: I love nail polish—to receive, or to give, any time of the year, but especially for the holidays. I love this set because it comes with so many great colours, and a big selection of pink shades, which are always my favourite. I also love the festive glitter polish, that'll be perfect for celebrating New Year's Eve, no matter what I'm wearing.


3. Eye Studio Mascara Sampler: This kit is perfect for every single friend I know because we're always on the look out for the perfect mascara. I go through favourites, but I love to try out new brands to see what else is out there and if there is something that's even better than the one I'm currently using. This kit comes with seven of the best-selling mascaras by top brands like Smashbox, Benefit, and more. I would love to gift this to my BFF!


Shopping at Shoppers Drug Mart is one thing, but winning the items on your shopping list is even sweeter. From December 1st to the 24th, visit the Shoppers Drug Mart website and play the Unwrap to win game for a chance to win great prizes from beauty, fragrances, skin care sets to toys, electronics and gift cards. (They are giving away 15 great prizes daily, (360 in total) so you have an excellent chance of winning!)

Also, make sure to join the #SDMHolidays contest on twitter, and retweet for a chance to win 1 of 10 $100 Shoppers Drug Mart gift cards! Contest ends November 21st, so you've got to get in on the fun now—so you don't miss out.


There are great gifts at Shoppers Drug Mart for the Modern Man in your life, too—you can find the perfect gift for your husband or father at Shoppers Drug Mart, from fragrance to grooming essentials like the Gillette ProGlide Holiday Pack (perfect as a stocking stuffer!) and even great electronics gear.

Of course, Shoppers Drug Mart also happens to be my go-to store for all the yummy treats for the holidays... like my favourite chocolates, Turtles, Toffifee, and Toblerone—my favourite holiday chocolates! There are so many great sets just ready for giving away to The Entertainer, co-workers, the mail man, the FedEx delivery guy.. and even your hair dresser. I love how there is so much I can get from one store., inclduing Advil, because after all that gift wrapping, that's what you'll be needing.

This holiday season, I'll be shopping at Shoppers Drug Mart. It's #giftsmadeeasy, every day.


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

Monday, November 10, 2014

H&M Opens Its Doors in Place d'Orleans (Plus, An H&M Giveaway!)

One of the main reasons I loved travelling to south Florida and to D.C. frequently was for the shopping. Of course, the warmer weather was always a wonderful bonus, and yes, even the weather in D.C. is better than the weather we have here in Ottawa—but really, shopping was always a highlight of my travels.

Ottawa just didn't have enough awesome shopping for me, you see, but recently, so much has changed and all the shopping centres I frequently visit here in Ottawa have been or are under massive renovations. These renovations mean new stores have opened up, like some of my personal favourites: J.Crew, Nordstrom (coming soon!) Express and H&M! 

I'm so excited because H&M is opening its second Ottawa location this November 13th in Place d'Orleans and I can't wait to get shopping. I love Place d'Orleans because it's close to home for me and also, free parking is a huge bonus!



This H&M is going to be massive, you guys—20,000 square feet—and it'll carry a huge range of the quality fashion we've come to know and love at amazing (truly, truly amazing) prices, for men, women, and children, including a maternity and sports line. Something for everyone!

To celebrate the grand opening of this second Ottawa location, H&M will offer the first 300 customers in line on November 13th with an "Access to Fashion Pass" which will reveal a gift card of $10-$300 in value, for use in-store that day.

I'll be doing some shopping before the doors open at the H&M breakfast on opening day, and I can't think of a better way to start my day.

To help spread the excitement of this very awesome day, I'm giving away a $50 gift card to one of my fabulous readers!

Just leave me a comment below telling me why you love H&M.

Contest open to all residents of Ottawa, as gift card must be picked up in-store. Winner will be selected randomly, and notified via email. Please include your contact information in your comment below. 

Thank you!

Disclaimer: I have been compensated for this post and for working with and promoting the new H&M in Place d'Orleans. All opinions and views are my own.

Dare2Give




I'm a giving person. I love the holidays because I love to give presents to everyone I love, from friends and family to other special people in my life. But more than that, I love to give where it really counts—I love to volunteer for charities, and I love to give whenever I can, to a few organizations close to my heart, like CHEO and UNICEF, to name two. I love helping organizations that help children, and I also give in other ways, too—I donate to whatever charity event my family or friends are doing something for and I'll give when I'm out at events that benefit worthwhile organizations.

So many Canadians give their time, talent, and money to different charities and by doing so, it makes us better as a whole. Research shows that one of the main reasons people decide to to give is simply because they were asked. It's hard to say no, especially when you're asked. Also, giving feels good, doesn't it?

Dare2Give is the latest in the My Giving Moment Campaign which is inspired by the Governor General of Canada, and the campaign is asking Canadian 'givers' to dare others to donate or volunteer with them. By daring friends and family, Canadians can double their giving impact and will help make Canada a more caring nation. Current 'givers' will have a chance to win big for their favourite charity, including a grand prize of a television commercial.

So I dare you, my friends—I dare three of you—to continue to make Canada even better by giving and by daring others to give, too—dare someone else to give. Imagine how much good we could do if we each challenged, and accepted, to give, donate, or volunteer our time in a worthwhile way?

By daring your friends and family you have a chance to win for your charity of choice, which would be such a sweet thing. This giving contest is going on until December 14th, 2014, so you should start daring others as soon as you can. The more we give, the better we feel, and the more we help others. You could even dare your sister or best friend to buy coffee for the person behind them in Starbucks. Imagine how much it would brighten that person's day? And image that person pays if forward? It's always a win-win situation!

I dared my sister to buy a stranger a coffee.
I dared my best friend to buy holiday cards that give back to charity.
And I dared my boys to be extra kind to one another for one entire month.

Easy challenges that can make a difference! And then I asked each of them to dare three people they know to give to give back in some way.


Visit the Dare2Give website for information about the contest and enter the number of people that you've dared below to be eligible to win!



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

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Get Cozy With The New Urban Barn in Kanata (And Twitter Party With Us On November 12th, 9-10 p.m.!) #UrbanBarnKanata

Hey, Ottawa—I've got some great news for you! Urban Barn—everyone's favourite furniture store—is opening its doors in Kanata on November 15th, on Hazeldean Road in the Grant Crossing mall. (From 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., so you have plenty of time to shop!)

A new Urban Barn in my city makes me very excited, and I've already started planning out my dream rooms—I'm renovating my family room, bedroom, and dining room and I couldn't think of a better place to get all the furniture and home accessories I need. My children are growing up and it's time for me to starting thinking properly about home decor again—the timing is just right, and I can't wait to start shopping.

I have spent so much time online recently, looking at all the gorgeous rooms and furniture from Urban Barn,  trying to narrow down which couch to buy... or which new bedroom set I desperate need. Often, though, I find even more inspiration walking through the store—it helps with the decision making process. Even more reason to be excited for the new Kanata location on Hazeldean Road.

Urban Barn Kanata will be celebrating their grand opening day by giving the first 50 visitors a $20 Urban Barn gift card and 20% off all home accents. Total bonus? Everyone who goes to Urban Barn that day will be entered to win a $1,000 Urban Barn shopping spree. I know, right? Totally amazing!



There are so many beautiful pieces I want to add to my home from Urban Barn, from lamps to end tables,  and I love that they always have the very best contemporary furniture and home decor to suit any style—whether it's modern, or classic, you can find whatever it is you're looking for at Urban Barn.

And now that the holidays are around the corner, there are so many beautiful accessories and items that would be perfect for entertaining in the home—from decorations to new cosy throws for the couch to make things look even more festive, inventing and warm.


To help celebrate the grand opening of the new Urban Barn Kanata, I'll be hosting a Twitter party on November 12th, and I'd love for you to join us! We'll be chatting about home decor, the new store, and getting ready for the festive season. We'll be giving away some amazing prices, too—you are not going to want to miss this Twitter party! Use the hashtag #UrbanBarnKanata to join in on the fun.

Note: This Twitter party is open to ALL Canadians, not just for people who are living in Ottawa/Kanata. The more, the merrier!

I have an exclusive gift for you, too—here's a coupon (see barcode image below!) so you can enjoy 15% off furniture at Urban Barn Kanata. You can print it out or show a screenshot of this coupon to enjoy 15% off! (This 15% off includes items on sales, cannot be combined with other offers, and excludes custom products.)



Friday, October 31, 2014

Giving Back Through Art

Last week, a terrible thing happened in Ottawa that affected us all. In the span of a week, we tragically lost two soldiers, one of whom was shot down as he stood sentry at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at Ottawa's War Memorial.

It was an incredibly difficult day, and week.

However, through darkness, comes light. And as Canadians, and residents of this amazing capital city, we came together in beautiful ways. We went back to work the next day, in the downtown core. We payed respect by leaving flowers, notes, and stuffed animals at the War Memorial. We wore red, and we put on our poppies a little earlier. We saluted our fallen soldier on the Highway of Heroes. We mourned the loss of a young man, because of all he represented; life, joy, youth, and a proud love for his country. He was a also a single father, and now, he's left behind a young child, a little boy who will always know what a brave man his father was.

My mom, artist Katerina Mertikas,  quickly got to work within hours of the attack on Ottawa, and painted a beautiful painting depicting our fallen solider standing guard at the War Memorial, being saluted by his son.



This painting was an outlet for my mom's emotions, but it became much more than that—it became a symbol of something larger, and it touched thousands of people across the city, and Canada. My mom was overwhelmed and touched by the outpouring of emails, phone calls, messages, and likes for this painting, and everyone wanted to know if she'd be making prints, and if this piece of art would benefit Cpl. Cirillo's son.

And the answer is yes... she's been working with the Mayor of Ottawa, past mayor's, (especially Jacquelin Holzman) and with Koyman Galleries to turn this painting into a print with profits going directly the trust fund that is set up for Nathan Cirillo's son.

The print can be ordered online, here

The painting appeared in The Ottawa Citizen on two different days, and again, people were moved and touched. Today, my mom was on the front cover of The Ottawa Citizen (I'm so proud of her!) and a lovely article written by Peter Simpson accompanies the picture.


From today's article: "It was an unprovoked attack on a young man who chose to serve his country at such a distinguished piece of land in Canada. We're just trying to do something that is memorable, and honourable," Mertikas says.

If you'd like to see the original painting in person, you can, at Koyman Galleries this weekend during her annual art show. You can also purchase the print in person at the gallery.

In a time of sadness, I always think about how I can give back to those who are suffering the most. And this is such an excellent way to help this young man's son.

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

From Old School NES To The Brand New Nintendo 2DS (Plus A Nintendo Giveaway!)

It was Christmas Day, many, many year ago, when my sister and I received our very first NES. (Thank you, Santa mom and dad!) Remember this? Of course you do! (And if you don't, clearly you're too young!)



The NES started my love affair with Nintendo, and that Christmas Day, I'm not sure my sister and I did anything other than play Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt. All. Day. Long. 



I'm admitting this to you here, because I'm honest—I never actually completed the original Super Mario Bros. all the way through, and 8-4 is still impossibly hard to finish. (Just don't tell my kids; I'll lose all my gaming credibility!) I spent many, many hours playing these two games, and then Gameboy came along and I got lost in a Tetris world.


Now? I've got two new Nintendo lovers in my house—my two boys, who are almost seven and nine years old. Yup, they have a love for Nintendo that's larger than life, and they love to play everything from Animal Crossing to Super Mario Bros., and Mario Kart on the Wii U.

My youngest son has been Mario for Halloween a few times, and his favourite character ever is Bowser. He's even invented a "Bowser" language when he plays with his Mario figures. Seriously, it's the cutest thing.


My boys love their 3DS, too, and I love it because when we're travelling (road trips or long plane rides) it keeps them busy and I know they're having fun.

I've got a great surprise for my boys, too... thanks to Nintendo of Canada, I've got a brand new Nintendo 2DS for them... and the new Super Smash Bros. game for the Nintendo 3DS! (Which also works in the 2DS.) They'll be testing this out soon and I'll let you know how much they love it.

The beauty of the Nintendo 2DS is that it's an "entry-level" handheld gaming system that's made for kids who are younger because it's kid-friendly and easier for little, cute hands to hold.

It's also much harder to break, so that's a total bonus, especially in my house, especially when my son is acting like he's actually Bowser!

Here's another great feature of the Nintendo 2DS: it plays both Nintendo DS and 3DS games in 2D, so there's no need to worry about young eyes being affected by the 3D, and it's backward compatible with games you already own. Pretty sweet!


Even sweeter, still? Thanks to my friends at Nintendo of Canada, I'm giving away a brand new Nintendo 2DS AND a copy of Super Smash Bros. 

Perfect gift for the kids with the holidays right around the corner, right?

Giveaway is open to Canadian residents, and the winner will be picked randomly and notified via email. Thank you, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Love To Ottawa

Today is an exceptionally hard and difficult day in Ottawa. 

There are a few days which stand out to me as turning points in our loss of security and innocence; of course, 9/11, of course the school shootings at Columbine and Connecticut. Those wounds are still not healed. Today, I believe this city lost its innocence, too. This wonderful city—the capital of Canada—usually a safe, beautiful city where nothing bad happens...

We leave our homes unlocked, we bike to work, we walk to school, we go out at night not having to worry about gun violence, for the most part.

Today things changed and I'm sure many of us are still in shock over the shootings that happened at Parliament Hill, the War Memorial, and in the downtown core. Gunmen on the loose. Lockdowns in all downtown buildings. Stores locked up. Lockdowns, even, in schools. We feel helpless. Sad. Emotional.

So much love to everyone in Ottawa today, especially to the family of the soldier who was killed at the War Memorial. Corporal Nathan Cirillo, Canadian hero. Father. Son. Friend. Soldier. Dog rescuer. The only name that matters today. We won't forget you. And we will rise above.



Also, so much love for Kevin Vickers, also a Canadian hero today, a decorated police veteran and now, Sergeant-at-Arms on Parliament Hill who killed the gunman.

Officers rush forward, into the line of fire, to save us. My God. The bravery. We are so, so thankful, today more than ever, for the first responders who do everything they can to keep us safe.


Today, we pray for Ottawa... my thoughts are with everyone in this lovely city, especially to the brave men and women who risk their lives for us everyday. We can't thank you enough.

Love you, Ottawa. We stand on guard for thee.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Weather The Winter With Tana (And Win a Shoe Shopping Spree!)

Many things make me happy: snuggles with my children, vacations to warm destinations where I'm lounging on a beach with a drink in hand, rainy afternoons where I'm lost in a good novel, dinners and wine with friends, and shoe shopping. Yes, shoe shopping always makes me happy, no matter the season—spring, summer, fall or winter—because no matter the season, there is always something just so perfect that I must shop for.

Even though we're enjoying the crisp days of fall, winter is literally just around the corner, and if I'm not dressed warm, I'm pretty miserable being outside. I also get really sad when I'm wearing a favourite pair of boots and they get destroyed because of the salt and snow... all because I didn't properly protect them. And trust me, I've ruined quite a few pairs of boots over the years.

Living in a city that has such harsh winters, I have learned my lesson—if I'm going to wear boots I love outside during the winter months, I have to protect them. I want my shoes to be ready for the weather, too—so they don't get damaged and so I can wear them year after year.

I spoke to a Tana Shoe Care Expert at one of my favourite shoes stores recently when I went to pick up a new pair of winter boots, and I learned a few things about taking care of my new boots so they'll last the entire season—and years to come, too. It's simple really—purchase the Tana shoe protector you need for your boots, and take the time to get your favourite booties winter weather-ready.


Clean, Polish, Shine and Protect

Tana All Protector is perfect to use on all types of shoes and boots because it creates an invisible shield that protects against all the elements and prevents dirt from setting to make cleaning easier. Perfect for Canadian winters! Just spray on your boots, and let dry.

I love the Tana Suede and Nubuck Cleaner—it really works to remove stains and spots so I can wear last year's boots again this year—because they look like new again. And the entire process takes no time at all.


I also love the Self Shine Cream because it's easy to use and makes my favourite shoes look brand new again. It helps keep the leather soft, too, while keeping them protected. Total bonus.

Also a total bonus?

How about winning a $500 shoe shopping spree? Can you imagine what you can buy with $500 in shoes? A lot of shoes. And boots. 



Join us for a fun Twitter party on October 30th between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m., where we'll be talking all about shoes and boots. Make sure to follow along with host @moeturner and me, @MrsLoulou, @Mom2Michael, @LisaThornbury, and @kidsumers for a fun conversation and for the chance to win.


Good Luck!

Disclosure: I am taking part in the Tana Shoe Care Blog campaign. While I receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this program, the opinions shared are my own. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Me Time = Spa Time With WaySpa

September was a hectic month, and October is off the charts crazy—in a good way, though. Life is busy, you guys. From school to work to after school activities and everything in between—phew! Some days I eat all my meals standing up, if I remember to eat at all. Despite the craziness of life which we can all relate to, I've got no big complaints. Even at my busiest, I make sure to take time for myself to unwind and relax.

A bonus to being busy is not feeling guilty about taking some "me time" and treating myself to a day at the spa. Actually, it's guilt-free also because it's my job to explore spas and salons in my city as part of my duties as a WaySpa Ambassador! That's right, it's hard work, but someone's got to do it.

This month I checked out AmeriSpa at the Hilton Lac Leamy, and the views were spectacular. I've stayed in this gorgeous hotel before, but hadn't experienced the spa yet. They have a full service spa with views of Lac-Leamy, and you feel like you're a million miles away, when really, you're just ten minutes from downtown Ottawa and the Outaouais region.

Thanks to WaySpa, you can buy your gift card online and select which service you'd like to indulge in: relaxation massage, foot massage, therapeutic massage, or even a mother-to-be-massage. The aromatic oil and deep tissue massage sound amazing, too.  You can also choose some great packages, for amazing prices.


Other great options that you should definitely treat yourself to? A Valmont Signature facial or anti-wrinkles and firmness facial by Valmont. Of course, you can finish off your spa day with a manicure and pedicure, and maybe even take a swim in the beautiful indoor (or outdoor, depending on the weather) pool overlooking Lac Leamy. Next time I'm at this beautiful spa, I'm going to try the Gentle Shea Butter Body Wrap—it just sounds delicious and it's supposed to be amazingly relaxing. You can also enjoy the heated jacuzzis or sauna after your treatments.

I enjoyed the most luxurious one-hour, full-body massage... it was so relaxing, and it was just what I needed to recharge my batteries. All my aches and pains were gone, too. It was blissful, and I can't wait to visit this spa again.


If you haven't yet tried  AmeriSpa at the Hilton Lac-Leamy, I suggest you make yourself an appointment as soon as possible—you won't regret it. You deserve some pampering! You can conveniently book your appointment online through WaySpa.



Disclosure: I am a Brand Ambassador for WaySpa.com and I receive compensation for my posts. All views and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Support The Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects

Whether it's a busy weekend of activities or evenings packed with extracurricular activities, eating out can be very convenient when you're on the run and need to get a hungry family fed. Sometimes, our days are too busy to prepare a great meal to eat at home, and those are the days we grab food on the go. As long as we're eating together as a family, that's all that counts. We love eating at Boston Pizza because of all the good they do to help some very worthwhile charities and local schools.

Boston Pizza Kids Cards are still available for purchase until November 2nd, and they only cost five dollars. (So go buy a few, you still have time!) Five dollars gets you five free kids meals, which is totally awesome, especially for those nights where you're running from school pick-up to after school activities—you've got dinner covered and already paid for. Also, if you register your Kids Cards with MyBP, you'll get a sixth Kids Meal for free. It's simple (and free) to sign up. Just visit BostonPizza.ca or download the Boston Pizza app in the Apple iTunes store.

Win-win situation, don't you agree?

Boston Pizza Kids Cards support Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects. They work in partnership with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, JDRF, Kids Help Phone, and the Rick Hansen Foundation. The goal? To help mentor children so that they can reach their full potential.



Last year, more than $615,000 was raised through the sale of the Boston Pizza Kids Cards—here's hoping that this year, we break that record. It's a simple way to give back.


Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I receive compensation for my work with Boston Pizza but all views and opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Saying No Is The Hardest Part

I think Tom Petty got it wrong. While waiting can sometimes be the hardest part, I think that saying no to great experiences is most definitely the hardest part of all.

I was invited to go to The Outer Banks, North Carolina, this week, on an amazing press trip to explore everything The Outer Banks has to offer... and there is so much to see and do there!


I was, at the same time, invited to go to Denver, Colorado with Bridgestone on a fun adventure test driving cars on ice—in the Pepsi Centre. How fun is that? (With some great bloggers that I already know, too.)

While I'm beyond thankful at these amazing opportunities, I just couldn't make it happen this week, because of my commitments at home with my children and their schedules. I tried to juggle things around, but this week, I needed to be home to take care of things here.

I believe sometimes that what is meant to be, is meant to be, but believe me—saying no is no easy task, especially when the opportunities are so amazing.

Also, because I suffer from FOMO. (Fear Of Missing Out.)

Thankfully, I"ll be heading to North Carolina this spring, instead, to take part in the press trip at that time—I can't wait for that and I'm thankful that it's worked out for me.

I hope all my blog friends going to Denver have a blast, and know I'll be there in spirit!

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