Thursday, November 28, 2013

Top Five Holiday Movies To Get You In The Mood (For Christmas!)

Can you believe Christmas is just a few weeks away? (Yay!) Before the panic sets in because you haven't started shopping yet and you're hosting Christmas for your family of 35, why not kick up your feet and relax with one of these holiday classics that'll make you smile and get in the spirit of all things festive?

Here are my picks for BEST HOLIDAY MOVIES EVER:

Love, Actually

Oh, this movie... my heart... you know.

This scene right here:





Enough said.

Home Alone

True story, you guys. When Home Alone came out 20 years ago (Yes, 20 years ago. I know. We're old, okay?) I loved it so much, I saw it in theatres three times. Little did I know that this holiday movie (shout-out to John Hughes) would become my five year old's favourite movie. He went through a phase where he actually collected Home Alone DVD's like hockey cards. Let's not talk about that, because I may weep over the money I spent on this collection. Anyway, I'm glad my child has great taste in movies, and even though I've seen Home Alone way too many times, it's still on my list, because, well, it's awesome.



Elf

Elf is absolutely my most favourite Christmas movie ever. I watch it a few times every year, and laugh hard every. single. time.

"Buddy the Elf, what's your favourite colour?"



Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch. I love watching this movie with my boys because it's so heartwarming when evil Grinch becomes good, thanks to little Cindy Lou Who. It's a classic I truly love.



Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer

This is the one movie I get excited about every year but never really watch because I get bored easily. My children don't last for the entire movie, either, but we have good intentions. It's just nice to have it on in the background, even if we're busy doing other things around the house. It's a classic, and it's actually the longest-running holiday movie in TV history.



Honorable Mention: It's A Wonderful Life.

One popular holiday movie I have yet to see? The Christmas Story. Can you believe it?

What are your favourite holiday movies?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Easy Holiday Entertaining Ideas

One of the things I love most about the holiday season is hosting parties and entertaining my friends and family in my home. Of course, I love attending festive parties just as much, if not more, because all I have to do is slip on a sparkly dress, wrap up a hostess gift, and I'm ready to rock and roll!

As much as I love hosting friends during the holiday season, it can be stressful when I'm trying to find unique and delicious recipes that will please everyone. I enjoy preparing a variety of different appetizers so it's a more casual atmosphere than a formal sit-down dinner. It's also easier when you're having more than ten people over, and finger foods that are easy to eat make it easier for guests to mingle and walk around, too.

Thanks to Parmalat Canada—and just in time for the holiday party season—a new Black Diamond product has arrived that's sure to be a hit... the Black Diamond Cheese Spread.

Parmalat came to the rescue to help me prepare for the holidays—they sent me a $150 Black Diamond cheese spread pack which included the four different Black Diamond cheese spreads (Original, White, Light, and Sharp) product coupons, a gorgeous Petite Maison By Wildly Delicious Large Olivewood Cheese Board, an Olivewood bread bowl, cheese spreaders, and oven mitts. I'll be using all of this to entertain my guests this festive season.


With the new Black Diamond cheese spreads, you can "Spread It, Spoon It, Dip It"—and more. The new Black Diamond cheese spreads are perfect paired with crackers and bread, or you can fancy things up and try a new recipe—perfect for your holiday entertaining!

I love the easy recipes I found online, like the Chicken and Chedder Quesadillas. I'm not the greatest cook, but this recipe takes only ten minutes to make, so I was brave enough to try making it. Before preparing it for my guests, I prepared it for my toughest critics: my children. Results? They loved it! Next up? I'm making the Cheddar Potato Gratin.



Chicken and Chedder Quesadillas

Prep time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. Black Diamond Original Cheese Spread
1 red pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 cup pulled roasted chicken
1/4 cup salsa
1 large flour tortilla

Steps:

1. Season peppers with salt and pepper and lightly sauté.
2. Spread Black Diamond Original Cheese Spread on the tortilla. Place peppers and chicken on top. Fold quesadilla in half and place in the oven to broil. Serve with salsa... and voila! You're done. (Note: I used grilled chicken breast in my version, and it still tasted delicious.)

I am also preparing the Cheddar Chickpea Hummus dip for my holiday party. How great does that sound... with some pita bread?  Let's get this party started!

I know you're all busy getting ready for your own holiday parties, ('tis the season!) so Parmalat is sending one of these awesome $150 Black Diamond prize packs to one of my readers, too! (This giveaway is open to Canadian residents only... sorry!) 

To win, just leave me a comment below telling me what you love best about the holiday season. 

I'll pick a winner randomly on December 1st, 2013. 


For more unique recipe ideas, check out Spread It, Dip It. Good Luck!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Shoppers For The Holidays? Yes, Please!



I think I've finally come to terms with the fact that summer is over. After all, it's almost December, the red cups are back at Starbucks, it's freezing outside, and it has started snowing. (Hold me as I weep.) The one thing that keeps me smiling through the cold until about January 2nd is the holidays. I love everything about the festive season, especially the shopping for other people part. And, okay, for myself, too. (We all need some new sparkle for the parties, right?)

Shoppers Drug Mart is one of my favourite holiday destinations for gift giving. And right now there are some amazing promotions going on that'll make your holiday shopping easy—I promise.

You'll find something at Shoppers Drug Mart for literally everyone on your shopping list. From amazing fragrance sets and gorgeous gift baskets to toys and electronics, Shoppers is your one-stop shop.

Shoppers Drug Mart always has great in-store sales and promotions, and they're always open late—as a mom, I've made the run to Shoppers past midnight, so I'm especially thankful for the great hours. Bonus? Earning all those Optimum Points! I save up my Optimum Points to get myself new perfume, like Prada Candy or Burberry Body, my two favourites.




Some great gift ideas I want to buy for the people on my list this year include: 

1. Olay Regenerist Gift Set: This set is a great gift to give to your mom, your best friend, or hey, even yourself. It includes the Micro-Sculpting Cream (fragrance-free) as well as the Night Recovery Cream and Eye Cream and Lash Serum Duo.

2. Eye Studio Sampler: This is a great gift for your best friend, sister, or anyone you know who loves new make-up. This cute little kit contains 6 deluxe mini mascaras, deluxe eye make-up remover, and a certificate for the complimentary full-size product of your choice, after you've tested them all out.

3. Sony Wireless Headphones: These wireless headphones come with a charging base station and they are awesome for pretty much anyone on your list. They're awesome if you want to drown out the noise of your fighting, whiny children, or if you just want to kick back and play video games... or listen to your music while working out!

For even more awesome holiday ideas, check out the Shoppers Drug Mart holiday catalogue. Also, select beauty products will have a free gift with purchase while quantities last, so make sure to visit your local Shoppers Drug Mart so you don't miss out on any of these great deals.

Want to share your favourite gifts? Join in on the conversation on Twitter at #GiftsMadeEasy.

Happy shopping!










Disclosure: I received compensation for this post. All views and opinions are my own, and I'm an avid Shoppers Drug Mart consumer. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Shop Wise(ly) This Holiday Season

A couple of years ago, I was introduced to a cool shopping app called ShopWise. After testing it out, I hosted a fun event with Yellow Pages Group and ShopWise at the Pantages Hotel in Toronto so I could talk about how practical and easy-to-use an app it was. What can I say? I love to talk about shopping, and I love spreading the word about shopping news I know others will appreciate, especially this time of year when we're trying to save money with all the holiday shopping we have to do.


If you're not familiar with ShopWise, you should be. ShopWise (by Yellow Pages Group) is an app that offers Canadians a better, smarter way to shop. It's basically the most important shopping app ever if you're looking for great deals and want to do some comparison shopping before you even leave the house. With the holidays around the corner, who wants to waste time driving from store to store to find the best price when you can find out all the deals with the click of a button? This app saves you gas, too... genius!

ShopWise just launched a whole new version of their shopping app.  It's the most complete shopping app available for Canadians.

With ShopWise, you can find great deals at restaurants, and find the best prices for shoes, baby clothes, sporting gear, even food—which is perfect if you're hosting some festive parties this season! You can find the hottest deals based on your location, and you can search for a specific product, store, or brand near you, thanks to the localization function. You can also stay-up-date with the best deals, customized just for you.

I love that I can be notified if spa treatments are on special—I love going for massages. $45 for a 60-minute massage is a pretty fantastic deal, and thanks to ShopWise, it's a deal I won't miss out on. (This would be a super sweet gift for my sister for Christmas, because she loves going for massages even more than I do!)


I even found out—thanks to Shopwise—that one of my favourite stores, Chapters/Indigo, has a great deal going on right now: buy three stocking stuffers, get one free. Sweet! I love filling my children's stockings with all the things they love, and they love pretty much everything at Chapters. (Glow in the dark table tennis would be perfect for my eight year old tennis player!)


And if a new pair of sexy shoes is on your holiday wish-list, for yourself, or for someone you're shopping for, look no further... ShopWise lets you know about all the sales going on at stores like Aldo.


Basically, ShopWise is working for you—saving you time and money, and helping you find that exact item you need to buy for the absolute best price, guaranteed, at major stores or even smaller, local stores.

I've got even more great news for you—ShopWise is giving away a prepaid $100 shopping card to one of my readers! Just download the ShopWise app and fill out the form with your email address in the "Help" section of the app. Then just enter the giveaway here: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I think $100 will go a long way when you're shopping for the holidays, especially with the great deals you'll find using ShopWise.

Good Luck... and Happy Shopping!



Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Lost In The World Of Play... And Imaginext

I've found that one of the great joys of parenthood is watching your children get lost in the world of play. As much as I love playing with my kids—I'm a very hand-on mom—I also enjoy sitting back and watching my children, as a silent observer.  I love wondering where their wild imaginations will take them, and what they'll think of next.

Sometimes I'll catch my boys talking to each other, and I try hard not to laugh out loud at the things they say. Whether they're playing at the park, running around the neighbourhood, or swimming together, they are definitely on their own adventure.

Often, I'll catch my five year old deep in play, with his favourite Fisher-Price Imaginext  toys. An entire part of our family room is devoted to these toys, and that's fine with me, because this child of mine plays for hours on end. He has a great way of setting up all his little people and then taking them on a wild adventure from Joker's Funhouse to the Batcave. Helicopters, car chases, you name it, he's got a scene going on in is head that he acts out perfectly. Complete with character voices, too.

Before being introduced to the Imaginext line, I thought our Fisher-Price days were over, because my boys were out of the baby and toddler stage. I was so glad when I discovered all the great toys Fisher-Price had for older kids. Now, Imaginext has come out with a new line I know my little boy will love... Ed Venture! Thanks to Fisher-Price and Mom Central Canada, my little one is going to get an amazing surprise come Christmas morning: the new Imaginext Rescue City Center. I'm looking forward to watching my little one create some rescue adventures at the gas station, bank, hotel, fire station, and police station. He's going to love this!


If you think your children would love to get lost in the world of Ed Venture, you should enter this great Imaginext contest where you'll play an online game to unlock the next phase by solving clues. Once the 9 clues are solved and the game is won, you'll be entered to win 1 of 5 $300 Imaginext prize packs that include:

The Imaginext Rescue City Center
The Imaginext Mega Apatasaurus
The Imaginext Eagle Talon Castle 
The Imaginext Batcave

Isn't that a great bundle of awesome to receive? Whether you'd keep them all for your children, give them away as holiday gifts, or donate some to your favourite children's charity, entering this contest is so worthwhile.

Then you can sit back, and watch your little ones get lost in their own adventures, too!


Disclosure: I am part of the Fisher-Price Imaginext Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Obsessions (And The Best Movie Ever)

I fall in love with things very easily. Perhaps that's not the right word... I get majorly obsessed over new things like movies, songs, books, and TV shows.

If I've seen the BEST MOVIE EVER and you haven't, you better, or else I won't shut-up about it. Related, if you've seen the BEST MOVIE EVER and you didn't like it? Don't even tell me. I probably will not be able to be friends with you anymore, let alone look you in the eyes. I'm just kidding... sort of.

I still haven't forgiven one of my best friends, who years ago, decided Dead Poets Society was too boring for her. Seriously, how can someone not absolutely love Dead Poets Society? I saw it again recently—the first time watching it since having kids—and I think I cried for an hour straight. BEST MOVIE EVER, you guys.

The BEST MOVIE EVER six months ago was The Great Gatsby. I mean, I was obsessed! I read the book again, I told all my friends to read the book again, and I fell in love with the movie and the soundtrack. Chilling, beautiful, sad... it was perfection.

I wrote about my most favourite movies ever a while back, and although this list hasn't changed, I've certainly added to it. When you're done reading about the BEST MOVIES EVER come back, unless you don't agree with me.

Okay, so I just recently—as in a few days ago recently—watched The Departed. Yeah, that movie that came out in 2006? I don't have any good excuses as to why it took me so long to see this film, so please forgive me.

But, you guys. The Departed? BEST FREAKING MOVIE EVER. Right up there with Goodfellas for me now. Yup. This is Martin Scorsese Oscar gold. This is also the movie that finally made me realize how incredible an actor Leonardo Dicaprio really is.



Now don't you just want to watch it again?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How To Save Money When Shopping For The Kids

Last week I was on CTV Ottawa Morning Live talking about a fabulous Canadian online shop, Minitrade.ca.


Minitrade.ca  is guaranteed to help you save money when shopping for your children. We all know how quickly children outgrow their clothes, so it's not always the best idea to splurge on things like jeans and coats for the kids. Minitrade.ca is the perfect solution if you're looking to de-clutter your children's rooms, too—hop onto Minitrade.ca, fill out your information, and the company will send you a bag. You fill the bag with items your children don't wear anymore, and ship it back to them—for free! Then, you'll get "credits" so you can shop new or gently used clothes for your little ones. How fabulous is that?

Here's my segment on CTV for all the details on Minitrade.ca—yes, I get very enthusiastic when I talk about shopping, especially when it's about a company as unique and easy-to-use as Minitrade.ca.

Happy Shopping!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A $125 Citrus Silver Holiday Giveaway For You!

I first fell in love with Citrus Silver last year when I attended a pre-Mother's Day event in Toronto's Park Hyatt hotel. The unique, personalized silver jewellery Citrus Silver creates is easy to love. I was lucky to receive a stunning, hand-stamped pendant with my children's names on it, on a silver chain, along with a simple chain and small cross. I wear these two necklaces together, almost every day. I love them, and I receive a lot of compliments on them, too.


Citrus Silver creates stunning, quality, hand-stamped personalized jewellery. Made in Canada and sterling silver, every piece is as unique as the person who wears it. 



I love receiving—and giving—jewellery as gifts to people I love. Birthdays, Mother's Day, just because gifts, and, of course, CHRISTMAS GIFTS! I think personalized Citrus Silver jewellery is a great gift idea for the holidays. Perfect for a surprise stocking stuffer, or great wrapped under the tree. There are many different styles to choose from, so no matter what, the person you're shopping for will be very, very happy.

I love the Swarovski birthstone crystals, and the many different chains you can choose for your personalized pendants—juicy, zesty, fresh—all with cute names, and all so adorable.

Since it's time to start shopping for the holidays (fa-la-la-la-la!) I have an incredible gift for you, thanks to my friends at Citrus Silver: a $125 gift card to buy whatever you desire!

How amazing is that? Whether you buy something pretty for yourself or a loved one this holiday season, it's certain to be something you'll wear for a very long time.

Good Luck, everyone!



Monday, November 11, 2013

Win Two Tickets To See The Sens Take On The Leafs!

Almost winter in Canada means one thing: hockey time! Okay, it means a lot more than that, but most Canadians I know love their hockey and have a favourite team.... like the Ottawa Senators, whom I predict will take home the Cup this year. A lot of Canadians I know also love the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it's okay, we can still be friends.

Whether you're a Sens fan or a Leafs fan, I've got the perfect giveaway for you, thanks to the Ottawa Children's Gala—I'm giving away two tickets to the Ottawa Senators vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs, taking place on Sunday, December 7th at 7:00 p.m. How awesome is that? A night out to watch your favourite team (Go Sens Go!) score the winning goal? I wish I could enter!

I attended last year's Children's Gala and it was a wonderful event filled with entertainment for children and adults. From great food and drinks, to fun entertainment for the kids, it was a one-of-a-kind event, all in support of a very worthwhile cause. The 2014 Ottawa Children's Gala is being held in support of CHEO and Plan-It-Safe, a program dedicated to eliminating preventable childhood injuries in our city.

The mission is to increase local capacity, strengthen public policy, ensure effective programming and advocate for the creation of safe environments to reduce the toll injuries take on children and youth in our communities.

As a mom of two little boys, I'm thankful every day that we have a children's hospital as great as CHEO right here in our backyard. I know how great the nurses and doctors are at CHEO because my oldest son was admitted several times. When he was three years old, he had a severe case of pneumonia, and we spent 14 days in CHEO, where I saw first-hand the amazing work the nurses and doctors do for children 24 hours a day.

This year's Ottawa Children's Gala theme is Candy Land and it's going to be a very bright and colourful night. The big night takes place on March 8th, so get your tickets now before they sell out!

Here's how to enter to win tickets to see the Sens take on the Leafs:


rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway





For more information the Ottawa Children's Gala make sure to follow them on Twitter and on Facebook, too.

Good Luck to everyone entering this great giveaway! A winner will picked on November 29th, 2013.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

I'm officially freezing, and I'll be freezing until about... oh, May. I don't do well with winter, you guys. I know I've pretty much lived here my entire life, so at this point, I should basically embrace the cold, dark, dreary, miserable, icy long months of winter, (tell us how you really feel, Loukia!) but I just... cannot. I love summer way too much. Little dresses. Flip flops. Cute wedge heels. Bikinis. BBQ's and pool parties and never-ending sunshine and tanned skin and sand and swimming and cold drinks and patios and and and... the list goes on and on.

Last year, Canada Goose basically saved me, because they thought it would be a great idea to give me one of their oh-so-toasty-warm coats to review and keep. Seriously. (Thank you times infinity, Canada Goose Inc!)



And I kid you not—this coat changed my life. I was no longer crying when I had to watch my children play after school with their friends in the snow.  I was able to stay outside in minus 35C temperatures without feeling like my face was going to fall off. I was able to... enjoy? winter. I know, it shocked me, too. Sure, when I'm out doing stuff in the winter like skating or skiing, I appreciate the pretty. Still, it's damn cold. Finally, last winter, thanks to Canada Goose, I made sense of what everyone had always been telling me: if you dress warmly,  you'll be able to hate winter a little less! 

And here we are again, back to the cold.

Here are some ways you can stay warm (and cute!) this season:

Canada Goose Anything: If you live in Canada, a Canada Goose coat will be the best investment of your life, especially since we have like 19 months of winter. I love this pink coat so much! Canada Goose also had a great selection of winter gear for kids, too, and the cutest and warmest hats ever.
Banana Republic Coat: I loved this coat so much I bought it before the weather was even cold outside. The little bow is so cute and I know I'll wear this coat on the days when it's not minus 30C outside. It's a great coat for evenings out, and for days you know you don't have to stay outside too long.


J. Crew Cocoon Coat: I love this coat because it reminds me of Mad Men. It is a little pricey, but so adorable, so that justifies the price, right?


I also stay warm on the ski hills in my Columbia jacket, too. Winter is all about having a variety of coats to wear, after all!

Next up: stylish boots, hats, and scarves that'll keep you toasty warm through these cold months.


For The Love Of Reading

As a mom of two boys, I do my best every day to make sure my children are eating well and staying active. Their health and well-being is my number one priority.

On occasion, I take my boys to McDonald's for a treat, because every once in a while, a Happy Meal is totally okay with me. (Especially since there are healthier options like apple slices and yogurt.)

Here is some good news I'm happy to share with you about McDonald's: right now, Happy Meals will be coming with a new softcover book, until November 14th. After this, a new digital book will be released every month, available using the McPlay App. The books can also be found on HappyMeal.com.

I love seeing my boys read, and love stocking up on new books for them and filling their home library.

The four books that can be found in Happy Meals right now are:

The Goat Who Ate Everything: This softcover book is about a goat who has a big appetite and struggles to eat smart. But when he does, he feels great and becomes the playful kid everyone loves.

Deana's Big Dreams: This 28 page book includes a special fold-out page. This was my five year old's favourite book and it's all about Deana, the world's smallest dinosaur with big dreams.

Ant Can't: This book is about Ant, a bite-sized bodybuilder who's big on encouraging physical fitness through exercise and eating right. The illustrations are great, too.

Doddi the Dodo Goes to Orlando: This 28 page book is about Doddi the Dodo, a happy-go-lucky bird who travels the world.

All these books are great for children, especially for kids just learning to read.

If you'd like to receive these four books and some Happy Meal vouchers, just let me know in the comments below and I'll pick a winner on Monday, November 12th.

Good Luck!



Disclaimer: I received special perks for this post. All opinions and views are my own.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Turning Treats Into Toys

As the holidays approach, I love working with companies who give back to those less fortunate. This holiday season, Kellogg Canada is donating $20 to the Salvation Army for every toy-inspired treat you make and upload to RiceKrispies.ca.  The Salvation Army will be using the donations to buy toys for children in need.

It's really simple—and a great way to remind your children about the importance of giving back to others, especially during the holiday season.

I had fun making some Rice Krispies treats with my youngest son, even though an artist... I am not.



If you want to take part, just create your own "toy" shaped treat—get as creative as you want—and then take a picture of your creation and upload it to RiceKrispies.ca. Rice Krispies will then donate a toy to a child in need.

To see what other crafty people are making, and to get some inspiration, check out #treatsfortoys on Twitter.



Disclaimer: I received a package from Kellogg's. All views and opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Perfect Stay At The Marriott Bloor Yorkville

As much as I love living in Ottawa, I have a major soft spot in my heart for Toronto. If my extended family didn't live in Ottawa, it would make my decision to movie to Toronto a little easier. At least, I think it would be easy. Even though I don't call Toronto my home, I visit as often as I can for events, celebrations, and just to get away. It's close enough that I can do the drive in no time, it's cheap enough to fly, and if I want to get some work done? I hop on the train.

Several times, I've had the opportunity to stay at the Marriott Bloor Yorkville, my favourite place in Toronto. My children love this hotel, and always ask to go back whenever we are in Toronto. The first time we went to celebrate my 35th birthday, and were treated to the two-floor Presidential Suite. The kids were so excited, and so was I. The rooms were grand... the service was amazing... and the special treats in our room? (birthday cake, balloons, special gifts for the kids, snacks, water, champagne) made our stay even more special and memorable. It was great to have the space for the kids to run around in—two floors and a whole lot of room. (I've also had the chance to stay with my girlfriends, and we had two amazing connecting rooms and once again, we all received exceptional service.)

The beds? Super comfortable. The bathroom? Massive. The bathtub? Luxurious.





We were lucky enough to be treated to another amazing stay this past summer. We could barely contain our excitement! This time, we invited friends over for dinner, since, you know, we had the space to do so. The kids had an especially wonderful time, exploring both floors, and letting the adults eat in peace. I think my favourite part about this hotel is the wonderful location, the views from the huge windows, and the attention to detail. The restaurant is great, too, as well as the staff.


If you're looking for a great place to stay the next time you're in Toronto, check out the Marriott Bloor Yorkville. From the service to the location, you will be very pleased and satisfied. And if you have any questions? Just drop me a line and I'll be happy to talk to you about this hotel in more detail!



Blog Designed by: NW Designs