Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Fall Menu For Busy Families

October is here and the carefree days of summer are behind us. Our calendar is packed, from birthday parties to extra-curricular activities like swimming and tennis. We've set up a homework station at home, organized the bedrooms so the children always know where to find the things they need, and embraced the change in routine. I've said good-bye to summer dresses and I've even given up on flip flops. There is some sadness associated with fall, but... fall is also a beautiful, busy time—from wagon rides at the pumpkin patch to Thanksgiving and Halloween.

Our house is bustling with energy from the moment we wake up and once the boys are off to school, I  start working, and start thinking about what to prepare for dinner. With such busy schedules, what I feed my family is really important to me, and I try my best to make sure my children are eating food they love that's healthy for them.

Mornings are rushed, for most of us. In fact, nearly 70% of Canadian parents surveyed by Loblaws and President's Choice have less than 10 minutes to make children their breakfast during the week, and more than a quarter of Canadian parents find it difficult to provide their kids with a nutritious breakfast on weekday mornings. I get it—sometimes toast and butter is all there's time for—but try incorporating some other breakfast ideas into your routine.

Here's a delicious—and healthy—recipe that takes only minutes to prepare—and will carry your kids from breakfast all the way to lunch.

Applesauce Greek Yogurt Parfait

Why we love it: A healthy breakfast that anyone in my family can make in less than two minutes gets two thumbs up from me. It's also very yummy!


3 Tbsp PC Organics Honey Almond Granola Cereal
6 (or more) blueberries
PC Organics 0% M.F. Honey Stirred Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup PC Organices Sweetened Applesauce


Layer 2 Tbsp granola, blueberries, yogurt and applesauce in a parfait glass or whatever you have on hand. Top with remaining 1 Tbsp granola and blueberries.

Here is a great lunch (or dinner) recipe I love, too:

Tortillini with Fresh Tomato Herb Sauce

Why we love it: My boys like sandwiches for lunch, but they love a packed lunch that's warm even more. This is a simple recipe to make in the morning, if you're organized. It's a great way to keep the kids going through the afternoon, especially as the weather gets colder. You can even prepare the sauce the night before (go, you!) so you don't have to stress in the morning.


1 package PC Cherry Tomatoes, chopped
3 Tbsp PC New World EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small clove garlic, finely grated
1/4 Tsp salt
2 Tbsp each chopped fresh basil, chives, and parsley
1 package PC Gluten-Free Cheese Tortellini


Stir together tomatoes, oil, garlic, salt and basil, chives, parsley.
Bring 12 cups water to a boil; add pasta. Stir occasionally.
Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 4 minutes or until tender but firm.
Toss with tomato mixture.
Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Simple—and totally delicious.

A few other recipes we love?

Fresh and Simple Portuguese Salad

My boys (thankfully) love eating salad at dinner time, and this is a simple and healthy salad they love that's easy to make.

Hazelnut Pear Chocolate Chip Waffles

The perfect breakfast for a Sunday morning when you don't have to rush. The waffles can be made in the toaster or oven, and they come out crisp and golden on the outside, and light and airy on the inside—a perfect combination. (Feel free to get creative with your toppings, too!)

I love that my children love these new recipes, especially because they are easy to make and healthy. Sometimes, all it takes is a little preparation to incorporate new, healthy meal ideas that don't have to be complicated.

Happy meal-planning!

Disclaimer: I was compensated by President's Choice for this post, however, all views and opinions are my own. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Celebrate The Little Things With McCain Deep 'n Delicious Cakes

The shift from summer to fall happened quickly, and now it's already October. (What?)

Summer was, of course, beautiful. Many new memories were made for our family, from tennis camp to a month-long vacation to Greece. I almost didn't want summer to end, but, of course, all good things must come to an end—and all endings lead to new beginnings.

My children started school—grade five and grade two—(what!) last month, and we have quickly settling into new routines, after-school activities like swimming and tennis, and weekend getaways, for fun. It's scary how quickly time goes by—and how quickly kids grow up. I've got to say, time has been moving way faster than I ever thought possible. That's why I think it's important to really, really cherish every moment. Quality time with the family is the most important thing in the world to me, and I love celebrating the little things.

Fall is a great time take in the beauty that surrounds us, and to celebrate those little moments—a happy first month at school, a great spelling test, apple picking Saturdays, and hiking through Gatineau Park.

I like to surprise my boys sometimes, with extra little treats, just because. Believe it or not, it doesn't have to be complicated or expensive; sitting around the kitchen table eating our favourite dinner and having a McCain Deep 'n Delicious cake is an excellent way to enjoy family time together, celebrating the little things.

Of course, McCain Deep n' Delicious cakes are popular with almost everyone I know because they are SO DELICIOUS. I don't have to feel guilty about not baking a cake, either,  because we can all indulge in  this one...

These cake are so good they're famous. And I have to admit, the new Deep 'n Delicious Marble Cake has become my new favourite. It's got the best of both worlds combined together: chocolate AND vanilla. Yum!

Clearly, my boys were huge fans of the cake, and can't wait for the next time I surprise them with one. Secretly, I'm hoping we get the chance to treat ourselves again very soon. It's always a good time for cake, right? Especially if it's a #DeepnDelicious cake.

Disclaimer: Although I was compensated for this post, all opinions and views are my own. And I truly love McCain Deep 'n Delicious Cakes. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Simplifying Your Fall Beauty Routine With P&G

Fall—my second favourite season, after summer. If we had only two seasons, those are the two I'd pick.

Now that we've put away the sundresses and flip flops (okay, maybe not the flip flops, yet... ) it's time to change your beauty routine, too, and keep it simple and effortless with new products from P&G.

I was on CTV Ottawa Morning Live talking about some great new beauty products from P&G that are perfect for fall—products that deliver long lasting, great results, and that are totally affordable, too.

Here are my favourite new P&G products for fall:

New Pantene Expert Dry Defy Collection: I love this shampoo and conditioner because it's really helped my majorly damaged hair. After an entire summer swimming in the sea and pools, my hair was totally dry and prone to frizziness, plus, it was a bit dull. After just one use of the Pantene Dry Defy Shampoo and Conditioner, my hair was smoother, (yay!) softer, (yay!) and much more manageable.

COVERGIRL Outlast Lipstick: It is really hard to find a lipstick that is moisturizing for the lips that lasts longer than my morning coffee. COVERGIRL's new oil-based, emollient-rich formula provides longer wear plus moisture in one lipstick. I love the new shades, too—Red Siren and Pink Shock are my current favourites for fall. Oh, and did I mention they are waterproof? Love it!

COVERGIRL Outlast All-Day Primer: Primer is key, and the perfect product to use to prep your skin after you moisturize. This primer extends the wear of foundation, hides pores, and reduces imperfections, all while providing a smooth canvas.

COVERGIRL Outlast Stay Luminous Foundation: I usually don't wear foundation but I really love the Stay Luminous Foundation. It's just the right amount of coverage, and it lasts and lasts all day. It's got light reflecting particles and skin conditioning agents that hydrate the skin to keep it looking healthy and glow-y.

COVERGIRL SuperSizer Mascara: Who doesn't love long lashes with lots of volume? The SuperSizer is the only mascara with a specialized Lash Styler. It has a narrow core and shorter bristles, which allows lashes more direct access to the mascara for explosive first stroke impact. Volume, delivered.

Now I'm totally ready for fall—new boots, new jean jacket, and new make-up to change up my look. Hope you're embracing fall, too—and if you have any questions about any of these products, let me know!

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

SoHo Met: The Ultimate Downtown Toronto Hotel Experience

I love to travel, and I especially love opportunities to review luxurious hotels in cities I love. This past weekend, my family and I were invited to spend the weekend in Toronto so I could review the beautiful SoHo Metropolitan Hotel—a 92 room, ultra-luxury hotel in the city's Entertainment District. The SoHo Met is a close walk to Ripley's Aquarium, the ACC, CN Tower, and Rogers Centre—the perfect location for anyone wanting to be in the centre of all the action. (I'll be back for part two of my review next week—an adults only stay!)

Our second floor room had floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of downtown Toronto, a separate dressing area with oversized closet, (heaven!) and smart technology, including remote controlled lighting, and motorized draperies.

The 10,000 square-foot fitness centre with lap pool was also on the second floor—and the large swimming pool was put to good use. My boys loved it!

The beautiful marble bathroom had Frette towels and a variety of Molton Brown bath amenities. The heated floors and large tub just added to the luxurious experience, and I loved the lighting in the bathroom.

SoHo Met is also home to Wahlburgers Canada, the award-winning burger restaurant from Wahlberg brothers Paul, Mark, and Donnie. (Also in the SoHo Met: Susur Lee's "Nouvelle Chinoise" Luckee Restaurant and Bar and Sen5es Cafe, where we were treated to a delicious breakfast the morning of our departure.)

We were invited to lunch at Wahlburgers (thank you, SoHo Met!) and it was every bit as delicious as I thought it would be. I can honestly say the burger I had was the best ever. And the service was great, too. We were seated right away, and the food came quickly. The burgers were cooked to perfection and we enjoyed every bite. My youngest and I enjoyed Our Burger, my oldest son had the Double Decker, and my husband had The Melt. The cookie frappe and the Banana Fluffanutta was oh-so-perfectly sweet and delicious, too. I know I'll be back soon.

SoHo Met is great for those traveling for business or pleasure, and it's a hot spot for celebrities, too—it's rumoured Will Smith is currently living in the the 4,000 square-foot 15th floor Penthouse Suite that was featured in Next Top Model, Top Chef Canada, and was also home to Madonna, Jay-Z, and Beyonce. The luxurious suite also has in-suite glass elevator, therapeutic Kohler infinity soaker tub, three plasma flat screen TV's, a state-of-the-art kitchen, two fireplaces, an 8-person hot tub, two bedrooms, five bathrooms, a library, dining room, living room, a rooftop terrace, and, of course, a full staff, including your own personal masseuse. Yup, I could live there quite happily...

Whether you're travelling as a couple, on your own, or with the family, the SoHo Met has everything you need for a great stay in Toronto's busy downtown core. From the excellent service to the spacious rooms, I can't wait to check-in again soon.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Give Back With Boston Pizza Kids Cards

We did it—we survived the first week back to school! I think this calls for a celebration of sorts, don't you? I love to surprise my kids after school sometimes by taking them to one of their favourite restaurants to eat. Boston Pizza is one place we love visiting—especially because the pizza is delicious!

Right now kids can even eat free, because Boston Pizza has once again launched its annual Kids Card campaign which raises money for Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects, which is committed to helping kids achieve their full potential through role models and mentorship. (Boston Pizza Future Prospects partners include Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Kids Help Phone, Live Different, JDRF and The Rick Hansen Foundation.)

Boston Pizza Kids Cards are a great deal for families—a minimum donation of $5 gets you five free Kids Meals valued at $35. (Isn't that great?) All donations support kids across the country by helping them access role models and mentors. Boston Pizza is also offering a sixth Kids Meal if you register your Kids Card with a MyBP account (which is available at or through the Boston Pizza iPhone app.)

This charitable campaign is going on until October 11, 2015, so you have plenty of time to show your support to the children by buying a Boston Pizza Kids Card for a minimum donation of $5.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects, and since its inception, the Boston Pizza Foundation has raised and donated more than $20 million to directly improve the health and well-being of children and families—simply remarkable. (Last year, Boston Pizza Kids Cards raised more than $670,000, and this year the goal is to raise at least $730,000—I totally think that can be done!)

If you're not sure what to do for dinner one night, head over to Boston Pizza and get a Boston Pizza Kids Card. The kids get to eat free, and you'll feel great because you've just support a very worthwhile charity. And nothing feels better than helping children!

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

Friday, September 11, 2015

Head Back To School With P&G And Win A $100 Beauty Prize Pack

It's time to face reality—summer is (pretty much) over. I know, right? Wasn't it just yesterday I was writing about summer and how much I loved living again?

After months of carefree living in nothing more than flip flops and little dresses, it's time to start thinking about fall clothes and make-up. Thanks summer, for being awesome—from BBQ's to concerts to pool parties and a trip to Greece, it was amazing. But now, I have some shopping to do! (I love September, and not just because it's my birthday month.)

Boots, sweaters,  jeans, and some new make-up will help you bring your fall look together.

Fall is the perfect time to experiment with new beauty products, trying on different shades, and doing something a little different with your hair, or even just giving your hair some much needed  love—after all, if you spent all summer in the sea and in pools, your hair is probably damaged.

It's easy to keep your daily beauty routine simple enough so that you won't be rushing in the mornings getting the kids ready for school. We all lead hectic lives, so we should simplify things where we can.

My go-to beauty products are Pantene, COVERGIRL, Olay and Venus. Hair, make-up, and smooth skin—and I'm out the door! (Oh, and here's another great thing—all these product are available at you local WalMart, so one-stop shopping with save you time, too!)

Here are some tips on simplifying your beauty routine:

1. Easy hair care: Wash your hair with Pantene Daily Moisture Renewal Shampoo and Conditioner, especially after a summer in the sun. It helps repair sea-salt and chlorine damaged hair, making you hair strong, shiny, and healthy again! To get rid of frizz and help keep you hair under control, use the Pantene Pro-V Stylers All-in-One Styling Balm. It does it all.

2. Clear skin: The best accessory is your smile. Your second best accessory is your clear skin. Make-up looks best on clean skin. The most important thing to remember is no matter how tired you are at the end of the night, wash your face! I love Olay Total Effects Refreshing Citrus Face Scrub. Follow up with a great moisturizer, like Olay Total Effects Featherweight Moisturizer, which is light-weight and includes an SPF for added protection. (These skin care products are perfect for teenagers and young adults just staring university, and they are affordable!)

3. Less is always more: If you're playing up your eyes (who doesn't love a great smoky eye?) keep your lips simple with a light shade of lipstick or lip gloss in a neutral colour. Alternatively, if you're going bold with your lips—like wearing a nice dark red or pink—keep your eye make-up toned done.

To help you get ready for fall, I'm giving away a Beauty prize pack valued at $100 which includes COVERGIRL, Pantene, Olay, and Venus products, plus a $25 Walmart Gift Card, so you can go shopping, too—and #BeReady2Roar.

You can win:

Pantene Pro-V Stylers All-in-One Styling Balm

COVERGIRL Colorlicious Jumbo Gloss Balm (one in Sheers collection, one in Creams Collection)

Olay Total Effects Pore Minimizing CC Cream

Venus Swirl razor

$25 Walmart gift card

To win, leave me a comment telling me what you love about fall. I'll pick a winner randomly on September 30th. 

Disclaimer: I am a P&G mom. As part of my affiliation with this group I receive product and special access to P&G events and opportunities. The opinions on this blog are my own. This giveaway may appear on other blogs as part of the #PGmom program. However, to be fair, you can only win once per giveaway. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Soul Of Motion: My Experience With Mazda

I've been a car girl my entire life.

My dad has always worked in the car business, owning dealerships and selling cars, so I fell in love with cars at a young age. Although I've been pretty faithful to one brand of car, I love learning about and test-driving other cars, to see what else is out there for me—a car I can have fun with, a car that puts safety and performance first, a car that has enough room for my kids to sit comfortably in, and a car with ample trunk space. I'm also looking for a car that's economical and fuel-efficient.

In addition, when I'm test-driving a new car, it has to be fun for me to drive. It doesn't take long for me to fall in love with a car once I'm behind the wheel.

I was invited to Mazda Canada's Soul of Motion event, where I had the chance to drive several of their 2016 vehicles on a closed course. The event was fully catered, but I was more excited about the cars than the food—especially excited to get behind the wheel of the MX-5!

The Mazda (Miata) MX-5 is a beautiful little sports car, a perfect car to road trip in, to feel the wind in your hair, and to just enjoy the drive while listening to your favourite tunes. Although I consider myself an awesome stick-shift driver, it was a little tricky letting go of the clutch in this car—learning the right time to shift gears took some getting used to, because the car can go very fast, very quickly. Which is an awesome thing, of course.

The cars against the backdrop of the sunset last night was a beautiful thing to see, too.

I'll take one in black, please! (I loved this car.)

Driving the MX-5 was comfortable for me, even though I was sitting pretty low—something I don't often love when driving certain sports cars. However, the experience of driving the MX-5 was sweet and I was smiling the entire time. When Mazda first came out with the Miata, it was modelled after the Lotus Elan, and the Miata is pretty similar in style to other classic sports cars like the Alfa Romeo Spider. The beautiful thing about the MX-5 is that it is relatively affordable.  A Mazda MX-5 GX starts at $31,900, and if you love convertibles, this is the car you need to drive.

Before I drove the MX-5, I drove the CX-3 which is a small SUV and perfect to drive if you have a family. It's roomy and well-priced. (A Mazda CX-3 GX starts at $20,695.) This car was dynamic and smooth—and handled turns really well. The interior is beautiful, and reminded me a little of the Audi. Also? Safety comes first with this car design, and that gives me peace of mind.

If you're looking for a sports sedan, check out the 2016 CX-5—an SUV that's fun to drive in any weather. (In fact, the 2016 CX-5 was named a 2015 Top Safety Pick Plus by the IIHS.) Also, with the harsh winter we get here in Canada, it's nice to know that Mazda's smart traction technology will help keep you safe on the road no matter the terrain you're driving on, or the weather.

I was totally impressed with Mazda line-up of vehicles I drove. Driving truly is one of my favourite things to do, and I was happy behind the wheel of all the cars I was in—zoom, zoom, indeed.

Disclaimer: I was compensated for my participation in the Mazda Soul of Motion event—however, all views and opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Three Ways To Stay Fit In The Fall

Summer is pretty much over, even though we've had some incredibly hot days in September. (Which I'm not complaining about—I wish we had this weather year-round.)

Summer was all about being outdoors and being active. My boys enjoyed two week of all-day tennis camp, and we swam pretty much every single day this summer, including one month of swimming in the sea (and pools at our hotels) in Greece.

Besides swimming and tennis, we stayed active by taking long walks after dinner, bike rides, and playing soccer. Now that the weather will inevitably turn colder, I don't want to stop our routine of staying fit and active.

Here are three ways to keep on moving as the days get colder:

1. Layer up, baby! Sure, it's suddenly chilly outside, and you'd much rather sit on the couch with your favourite book or head to Starbucks for a latte, but once you start moving, you'll feel warm in no time. Also, this gives you the excuse to go shopping for a cute new scarf and jean jacket, so you can look good while you're walking.

2. Join a gym! I know many people love running outside no matter what the weather is like, but I prefer, as the months get colder, to do most of my working out in a gym. GoodLife Fitness has been my go-to gym for as long as I can remember, and I love that there is always a location open wherever I am. As long as my running shoes and my workout clothes are with me, I'm good to go. (Also, nothing is as awesome as Body Pump—it'll always be my favourite class!)

3. Try something different. If you've never gone running outside, find a partner, and make it happen. Or go rock climbing, indoors or outdoors. How about joining a volleyball league? Get outside your comfort zone to optimize your work out, and remembercthe most important thing—have fun while breaking a sweat!

Disclaimer: This post was written as part of the GoodLife Fitness Blogger Ambassador Program, however all views and opinions expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Rediscover Nature—Get Outside (And Win A Trip To Banff!)

I have vivid memories of my childhood, and most of those memories involve me having fun in the great outdoors. Skiing, skating, swimming, dancing—I was very active and always on the go.

From countless hours playing at the park, to building forts in the snow, I only went indoors to eat and sleep. I remember building a space ship to take my friend and I to the moon, and I remember long bike rides on summer afternoons. We didn't need to text each other to know where to meet, and we made our own fun, wherever we were.

Being outside, getting dirty, and being one with nature—it's the most natural part of childhood, and it seems lately that this generation is forgetting that. As much as I love technology, (and I'm the first to admit I'm addicted to my iPhone) it's taking up a big chunk of time for young children who would be far better off playing outside.

Nature Valley asked three generations one simple question: What did you do for fun as a kid? Watching the video actually brought tears to my eyes, because my boys, as active as they are, also love their iPads and Netflix very, very much. There is a balance we have to find where children are spending more time outside than inside on their devices. We've got to help them rediscover nature.

Watch this vide, and you'll see what I mean:


Our relationship with nature is decreasing with each generation. Nature Valley is trying to change that, and wants you and your family to spend at least one hour enjoying the great outdoors on Sunday, September 20 for Rediscover Nature Day.

Nature Valley and Take Me Outside (a non-profit organization that champions children spending time outside and being active) are giving away a trip to Banff and Lake Louise! 

All you have to do to enter? Get outside on September 20th for an hour. 

Take a picture of your family rediscovering nature and post it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtags #RediscoverNature and #MyBanff.

Winner will be picked on October 1st. 

(Full contest details here.)

Even if you're just hanging out in the your backyard, going for an after-dinner walk or bike bike, or paying soccer, just get outside, and #RediscoverNature. A trip to Banff is great incentive to get outside, no?

I'm also giving away a Nature Valley Rediscover Nature Kit valued at $50. To enter, leave me a comment telling me what you love most about spending time outside.

My boys thankfully spend a lot of time outside—we just got back from a one month vacation to Greece where they had very limited wifi, and we spent most of our days outside, swimming and exploring. They had a few weeks of tennis camp, and soccer, too—but watching the video is a great reminder of how important it is to stay outside and rediscover nature.

There is no time like the present to rediscover nature. It'll do you and your children a lot of good to step outside and got lost in a world where wifi doesn't exist, at least for a short while.

So, what do you love most about getting outside? Let me know for your chance to win a Nature Valley Rediscover Nature Kit and don't forget to get outside on September 20th and share your pics with the hashtags #RediscoverNature and #MyBanff!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclaimer: Although I am being paid for this post, all views and opinions are my own. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Must-Have Back-To-School Products

It honestly feels like it was just yesterday I was picking the kids up on their last day of school, holding back tears over the fact that another year had come to an end, and where does the time go? (Also, tears of fear, because gosh, summer is L-O-N-G, even when it includes two weeks of tennis camp and a four week vacation to Greece.)

Well, guess what? In a few days, kids are heading back to school for another year. As much as I'll miss having my two boys around me all day, I know we're all looking forward to routine again. And hey, some free time for me to work and uh... shop will be just lovely.

When it comes to back-to-school shopping, I get really excited. I've always loved shopping for essential school supplies, like backpacks, lunch containers, and anything that'll help keep me—and the kids—organized.

I was on CTV Morning Live talking about some great back-to-school products—here are some of my favourites:

Net Nanny: Net Nanny is something all parents should invest in—it's the number one parental controls software that protects children from online predators and cyberbullying. Keeping my family safe online is very important, and Net Nanny makes it easy to monitor what the kids are doing online, even when they are not around me, so I don't have to worry. Peace of mind is essential for staying on top of your game as another school year starts! 

Time of Day Calendar: As much as I'm addicted to my iPhone and technology, there is nothing (in my opinion) more essential than a paper calendar you can hang by your fridge or in a busy area of your house. The Time of Day Day Ja View Calendar is awesome because it provides enough room to write important information on each day of the week, and it also comes with stickers so you'll know what's going on each day in a simple way.

Skip Hop: I wish I was going back to school myself so I could stock up on all the adorable Skip Hop products! From backpacks to lunch containers and pencil cases, Skip Hop is the cutest and your kids will love choosing their new backpack and lunch containers. You can find all the great Skip Hop products at, and also at Chapters-Indigo.

Staples: Staples is my go-to store for school supplies. From pencils to backpacks and erasers, I love shopping at Staples with my boys, especially because Staples is huge on giving back. Staples Canada, Me to We and Acco have partnered to create a line of school supplies and with each purchase, a life-changing gift is given to a child in need through Me to We's charitable partner, Free the Children. Funkins takes litter-less lunch to the next level. These eco-friendly 100% cotton napkins (or placemats) are a smart alternative to disposable products and perfect for environmentally conscious families. I love the different patters—something perfectly suited for each unique child.

National Geographic: Get the kids ready for school with some great books from National Geographic. My boys are reading the Almanac 2016 which is packed with photos and tons of interesting facts about science, nature, and animals. The Little Kids First Big Book of the World is also a great book to pick up to get a head start on reading before school starts! I love the kid-friendly maps and facts about each continent. It's perfect for my geography loving seven year old.

Good Luck to all the parents out there with back-to-school. I hope some of these products will help you make the transition easier.

Here's to a great year!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

50 Shades Of Greece (A Travel Adventure)

I'm home after a four week vacation in Greece. We spent last summer in Greece and had such a great time, we had to go back. The tales of traveling to our destination (a ten hour airplane ride with 11 people including a three month old baby) is an adventure in itself, but I want to talk about the beauty of Greece—the history, the culture, and the food.

These are the reasons tourists flock to Greece every summer, and always come back—the lifestyle and beauty of this European country can't be beat, despite the economic uncertainly and questions of what's next for Greece and the European Union. For the record, I didn't notice a single thing out of sorts in Greece—no line-ups at the bank machines, and no shortage of food or hospitality by the local people.

Just one look at this country will take your breath away. There are sunsets and then there are the sunsets of Greece, which are mesmerizing no matter where you are.  The sea, the mountains, the culture—travel perfection, really.

As the days go by you'll easily fall into the Greek routine, which consists of eating dinner no earlier than ten p.m. (The first week we were there, we'd head out to eat at 7, only to realize most restaurants were still closed.) Not to worry—waiting to eat later at night is worth it, as the food is always delicious. If you're travelling with young children, you should definitely take advantage of siesta time, otherwise it'll be impossibly hard to keep the young ones awake and happy so late at night.

The Greek diet consists of fresh yogurt and Greek honey for breakfast, a frappe or freddo iced coffee, Greek salads (all the time!) fresh baked bread, gyro, vegetables, fresh fish and meat, potatoes, tiropita, and fruits you can pick off trees literally everywhere you are. It's fresh eating, all the time. It's healthy food, and it's all so damn delicious. (Not to mention the countless numbers of bakeries and ice cream shops on literally every street corner that'll tempt you daily.)

What can you expect when you're in Greece? The feeling of wonder, as you stand in a modern metropolitan city like Athens, surrounded by ancient ruins. The enchanting landscapes, rocky mountains, deep blue sea, and ancient ruins surrounding you will take your breath away.

Greece is also carefree and so sexy, and the perfect place to travel to as a couple. Make sure to put a few of the famous islands on your list—Santorini, Kefalonia, Mykonos, Zakinthos, and Lefkada will leave you wanting more, and the entire time you'll feel like it's still a dream and not reality because of your surroundings. The nightlife of Greece is also crazy—be prepared for many sleepless nights! I was lucky enough to get away for a couple of days with the hubs to Lefkada again, and the Ionian Blue hotel was pure heaven.

What's more perfect that a summer swimming in the Ionian and Aegean sea? Not much, if you ask me. Many of the golden sandy beaches (or rocky beaches, depending on where you are) have been voted "Blue Flag Beaches." (The "Blue Flag" is the most recognizable international symbol of beach quality in the world.) The beaches have to have excellent quality for bathing and must meet 32 other criteria, like safety, protection of the beach, and environmental awareness. Greece was ranked third in the world this year among 50 countries, after Portugal and France.

Not everything in Greece is perfect, though; the driving is still crazy and you have to get used to driving through tiny, narrow roads with lots of sharp turns, (you'll feel like an F1 driver in no time!) and drivers who drive carelessly,  not obeying any traffic laws, (stop signs are merely a suggestion, it seems) and the constant passing of cars on mountain roads, which is super scary. There are great highways in Greece, too, but to get to some of the islands and inner cities, be prepared for some crazy driving.

From Athens to the islands, you'll love all the coffeeshops, stores, museums and art galleries. When you're not swimming, you'll be sightseeing and eating.

There are so many places to stay when you're in Greece, and you'll find some gorgeous five-star resorts, too, so you can get the best of both worlds: the sea and infinity pools.

Greece is the perfect summer vacation destination because it offers something for everyone; for the history lover, for the party animal, and for the beach lover. It's great for families, for couples, for young people seeking adventure and fun, (hello, Mykonos!) and so much more.

Greece is the word—and if it's not on your travel bucket list already, I hope it is now!

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