Let It Go

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It took at least four trips with the car to drop off all my bags of clothes, shoes, boots, and household items I no longer needed—and it took much longer for me to be convinced that I could (and should) let go of the items that were just gathering dust in my basement.

I spent an entire day with my mom and a friend going through boxes of old clothes I was sure I'd wear again, (which of course, I wouldn't) and putting clothes my children had outgrown into bags. (Sniff, sniff...)

I love doing what I can to give back, and going through items in my home to donate to worthwhile charities like Goodwill is an easy way to do that.

I also went through my closet to make room for new items I bought for summer. I always do a closet re-org at the start of each season; I go through all my clothes and give away what I know I won't be wearing again. This way, my closet has some breathing room and gives me the perfect excuse to go shopping!

GLAD Canada is teaming up with Goodwill in Toronto this summer, encouraging communities to clean out their closets and donate their gently used items to those in need through Goodwill.


All you have to do is... let it go. Seriously, go through your closet and go through all those boxes of old clothes you've been holding on to. It might be tricky at first, but once you get started, it'll be such a great feeling and you won't regret it at all. While you're at it, de-clutter all the rooms in your house; get rid of old frames or mirrors you don't need anymore, shoes and boots that no longer fit, and of course, coats and winter gear you won't be wearing again.

Here are some suggestions of items to donate:

1. Clothing for men, women, and children
2. Accessories (bags, purses, backpacks, scarves, belts)
3. Kitchen items (small appliances, dishes, cutlery, pots and pans)
4. Shoes and boots for men, women, and children
5. Lines (blankets, sheets, pillowcases)
6. Outerwear for all ages (boots, shoes, coats, hats)
7. Household decor (lamps, decorative objects)
8. Kids games, puzzles, toys and books
9. Wall art, mirrors and picture frames
10. Towels

As the lead sponsor in Goodwill's Donate4Good program, GLAD will be donating $10,000 to help encourage community support and participation across Toronto and the G.T.A, plus 10,000 black plastic bags.

GLAD will be stationed at five Loblaws stores across Toronto on weekends from August to October to pick up your donations. (Loblaws Yonge Street, Loblaws Leslie Street, Loblaws Musgrave Street, Loblaws Dundas Street Weest, Loblaws McLaughlin)

Select neighbourhoods will also have door-to-door bag deliveries to help you prepare before your local Loblaws drop-off date.

For every GLAD bag returned with clothing and other gently used items, GLAD will donate $1.50 to Goodwill, up to $8,000. The GLAD bags will greatly benefit the Donate4Good program, as they will provide an avenue for people in the local community to easily clean out their closets and bring their donations to Goodwill, as well as act as a reminder for people to support a local charity. The Donate4Good program allows people to keep items out of the landfill, while helping Goodwill fulfill its mission of enabling work opportunities and providing skills development for people facing barriers to employment.

Your used goods donations will help other people, so you should feel really good about getting rid of the things you don't need. All you have to do is let it go.


Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All views and opinions are my own. 
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Sweet Dreams Are Made Of Endy

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Sleep... it's a beautiful thing, even though I don't get more than five hours of sleep a night. My lack of sleep started when I had my first child. Having a baby will do that to you, I suppose, but most people get back to a regular sleep routine within their baby's first year.

I don't know why that never happened to me, because there are many benefits to getting more than five hours of shut-eye a night. We all need our beauty sleep, after all, and you know what helps with that? A peaceful bedroom (think neutral colours, dim lighting, comfortable bedding) no electronics right before bed, (hide that iPhone!) and a quality mattress.

Here's where Endy Sleep comes in—Endy Sleep makes beautiful, affordable (we're talking under $1000 for a King size mattress) and comfortable high-quality mattresses that get delivered to your front door.

I love shopping, you guys, but mattress shopping in a store? Not my cup of tea. With Endy Sleep you can choose your mattress online, and it gets delivered to you in a box. It's seriously the coolest thing ever.

And no matter how you sleep—on your back, on your side, on your stomach—Endy has designed and manufactured high-quality foam mattresses for every sleeping position, so you'll find your perfectly comfortable sleep position in an instant. Endy mattresses have been designed with every detail in mind.




Endy also offers a 100 night risk-free trial, so don't worry if you don't love it; you can easily return your mattress, no questions asked. (Endy Sleep will even pick it up from your home.) But trust me; you won't need to worry about returning your new mattress because you'll instantly fall in love and sleep will become your favourite thing again.

Endy mattresses are made in Canada, using top-quality North American materials. Endy is also made from safe materials and and compression packed, and rolled into a box no larger than a set of golf clubs. I love that Endy provides a 100-night risk-free trial and a ten-year warranty with easy returns. Endy Sleep is truly the future of mattress buying.

Something else I love about Endy Sleep? They spread the love. Endy is partnered with Nothing But Nets, a campaign dedicated to fighting the spread of malaria in Africa. With every mattress delivered, they donate a bednet to help the cause.

I love everything about Endy Sleep—especially because the mattresses help people like me get a good night of sleep. Now, time my beauty rest... zzz.

Thank you Endy Sleep!


Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Endy Sleep. All views and opinions are my own.
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Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

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It's the most important time of the year—and I'm so excited!

No, I'm not talking about summer, although that's pretty amazing, too. I'm talking about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.


If you haven't been to Nordstrom Rideau Centre lately, you should go, like, NOW. Everything else can wait—the dinner you're in the middle of preparing, the house you're furiously cleaning, the backyard summer BBQ you're hosting—just drop everything and go, and everyone will forgive you, I promise.

The Anniversary Sale is on until August 3rd, and I don't want you to miss the huge savings on all the fabulous new items you need of fall—boots, jackets, jeans, sweaters, bags... whatever you desire.

I was so happy to be invited to Nordstrom Rideau Centre last week for an exclusive behind-the-scenes shopping spree. Thank you, Nordstrom Rideau Centre, (once again!) for the generous gift card and coffee to keep me going all morning long.


I had a blast trying on all the brand-new fall arrivals (at amazing prices) with one of Nordstrom's fabulous stylists before doors opened to the public.



I was in shopping heaven—serious bliss. I loved all the new sweaters and pants and dresses, and I basically want the entire store, as I always do. I left with a lot of great new clothes and I can't wait to start wearing them on my upcoming vacation.


And I have to go back for these amazing Tory Burch sunglasses, too—early birthday present to me? Why not!


Happy shopping, Ottawa. The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is not to be missed.
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The Easiest Way To Shop: Click And Collect At Loblaws

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I love grocery shopping—truly, I do—but sometimes it can be a hassle to get out of the car and into the store to stock up on all the items I need to feed my family, like during a torrential downpour after a fresh blow-dry, or when it's snowing and -35C outside, or when I am with my tired, grumpy children.

When my children were much younger, grocery shopping was timed around naps, and even when my children were awake, sometimes trips to the grocery store were headache inducing. (Only sometimes; most of the time my boys were perfectly well-behaved!)

I love online shopping and anything that save me time. When Loblaws asked me if I wanted to try out the new Click and Collect grocery service, I quickly said yes and started writing out my grocery list.

List in hand, I went online to shop.loblaws.ca and selected the location I would be picking up my groceries from, and then I proceeded to select all the items I need.

Milk, check.
Eggs, check.
Cheese, check.
Bagels, check.
Steak, check.
Strawberries, check.
Orange juice, check.

And of course, beauty essentials like shampoo, conditioner, hair serum, and sunscreen were easily added to my online shopping cart.

The entire process of selecting the items I needed was super easy, because shop.loblaws.ca  allows you to search for specific items, and also suggests things you may need, or items you might have forgotten about that you need. It only took a few minutes to place my order and select my pick-up time. I drove to my Loblaws location, called the number in front of me, and waited in my car for a minute before my groceries were brought to me.


Imagine the kids are back in school (I know, right? Such a happy thought!) and you're busy working all day. You don't have time to stop what you're doing to get the groceries you need for dinner, and you don't want to drag the kids to the grocery store with you after you pick them up from school. You can swing by Loblaws after you place your online order, and a Loblaws employee will bring your bags to you.

I tried this service today, and went to the Loblaws location closest to my house for my pick-up (there are currently three locations in Ottawa) and it was super easy. You'll see marked parking spots for Click and Collect customers, and once you call the number in front of you, ta-da—your groceries will appear, thanks to friendly Loblaws employees. They'll even help you get the bags in your car, if you require assistance.

The only thing you have to do is put the groceries away when you get home.


Click and Collect is easy to use and very convenient for those of us who are busy—and who isn't busy, right? Click and Collect is my new favourite way to get my grocery shopping done. Thank you, Loblaws, for this wonderful opportunity and for making my life a whole lot easier!

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Get Outside (And Get Moving!)

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Summer is all about backyard BBQ's, ice cream, enjoying drinks on the patio with friends, and of course, vacations. I'm excited to be heading back to Greece this summer with my family. Despite  all the economic uncertainty in Greece, there is no better time to travel to the one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The beaches, the food, the people, the history‚ the sights and the island life (Mykonos, Santorini, Zakinthos, Lefkada...) are like no other. And you'll leave with memories to last a lifetime.

Right before every vacation I try to lose a few pounds, especially since I know I'll be spending my days in the sea, in a bikini. I'm pretty confident with my body and my curves, but still—when I have a goal in mind, and something to strive for, it makes me work harder to achieve my goals. Although maintaining a healthy balance of eating well and working out, I find myself more motivated before I have to hit the beach in the summertime.

Summer makes it easier to stay on track because we are always outside, doing fun things like swimming in the pool or the lake. My boys love riding their bikes, and playing soccer and basketball. They just finished one week of tennis camp and they loved it so much, they're going back for one more week.

We had a great time at our friend's cottage a few weeks ago, and loved canoeing and kayaking. It was so much fun, and, believe it or not, it was a great workout, too.

Summer is about finding things you love doing and just doing them. I like to mix up working out outside with time in the gym, taking my favourite Body Pump and Cycling classes at GoodLife Fitness—they are my ultimate favourite and pump me up.





Whatever you're doing this summer, I hope you're having fun and staying active.



Disclosure: I am a Brand Ambassador for GoodLife Fitness. I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with GoodLife. All views and opinions are my own. 
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Easy Summertime Recipes For The Great Outdoors

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Ah, the great joys of summer. One of the things I truly love about summer is eating outside. And pretty much doing everything outside. I crave the sunshine and the sounds of summer morning to night, and I can't get enough of this wonderful weather.

President's Choice has put together some yummy (and easy to make, I swear!) recipes based on top outdoor eating spots selected by Canadians. Eating outdoors is always fun, but how about trying a different location other than your favourite restaurant patio or backyard?

Toronto Island is the preferred outdoor dining destination for Toronto residents, followed by High Park, Ashbridge's Bay, Bluffer's Park, and Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Here in Ottawa, Pink Lake is the favourite (and it's oh-so-pretty there!) followed by Major's Hill Park and Rideau Falls.

And just what do we love eating in the great outdoors? Mmm... juicy burgers, of course... and crisp summertime salads... and of course, a side of veggies. And something light and refreshing for dessert.

President's Choice partnered with Rob Bragagnolo, executive chef of Marben Restaurnat, to create some delicious dishes you're going to love.

Centre Island Caprese Club Sandwich




What you need:

4 PC Loads of Caprese Chicken Burgers
4 PC Double Decker Burger Buns
4 Tbsp PC Smoky Bacon Mayo Sandwich Spread
4 Pieces PC Naturally Smoked Bacon Rounds
4 Tbsp PC Black Label Grilled and Marinated Eggplant
4 slices PC Kumato Gourmet Tomato
4 leaves Iceberg Lettuce
4 pieces PC Formaggio di Bufala
4 leaves PC fresh Basil
1 bag PC Kettle Cooked Applewood Smoked Flavour Chips
1 Baby Pickle

Here are the (easy) steps:

Part One

1. Preheat a BBQ or grill to 450F.
2. Once the grill is hot, grill the 4 PC Loads of Caprese Chicken Burgers for 7 minutes a side.
3. On the same grill, cook the PC Naturally Smoked Bacon Rounds for 4 minutes a side or until desired crispiness is archived.
4. Lightly toast the PC Double Decker Burger Buns on the grill.. and now assemble the sandwiches!

Part Two

1. Starting from the bottom bun, spoon a generous amount of PC Smoky Bacon Mayo Sandwich Spread all over both sides of the bread.
2. Place the PC Loads of Caprese Chicken Burger on the bottom of the bun, and top with a slice of PC Naturally Smoked Bacon Rounds and a slice of iceberg lettuce.
3. Now continue on to the top layer of the sandwich.
4. Spread a generous amount of PC Grilled and Marinated Eggplant all over both sides of the surface of the bread.
5. Place a slice of PC Kumato Gourmet Tomato, a PC Fresh Basil, and a piece of PC Formaggio di Bufala on the top layer of the double decker sandwich.
6. Carefully place the top layer on the bottom layer and skewer with a toothpick. Add a baby dill pickle for garnish, if you want.
7. Service with PC Kettle Cooked Applewood Smoked Bacon Flavour Chips.

Ta-da! Enjoy.

Of course, you'll want something refreshingly delicious for dessert, right? How about...

 PC Ice Cream Shop Flavours Watermelon Crunch Ice Cream Sandwich




What you need: 


1/2 Watermelon
4 scoops PC Ice Cream Shop Flavours Watermelon Crunch Ice Cream Fresh mint, minced
12 leaves, fresh mint, minced
4 Tbsp PC 100% Pure Light Maple Syrup

Steps:


1. Peel the watermelon and cut 8 equal squares, 3x3 inches.

2. Spread an even layer of PC Ice Cream Shop Flavours Watermelon Crunch Ice Cream on one side of the watermelon square and top with another square of watermelon to form an ice cream sandwich.
3. Put the ice cream sandwich in the freezer.
4. When ready to serve, drizzle with maple syrup and top with a pinch of mint. 

Yummy. A perfect meal to enjoy outside this summer. 


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Menchie's Summer VIP Giveaway!

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Summer is awesome for a million different reasons, and ice cream—and frozen yogurt—is on the top of my list of things I love about this season. My boys totally agree.

What better way to celebrate summer than to say YES to Menchie's when they asked me to be a Summer VIP Ambassador? I mean, 150 flavours of frozen yogurt all summer long? I'm in!

Menchie's Canada has kicked off summer with the launch of a new, delicious flavour—Oreo Cookie. I know... it's total yumminess.


I took my boys for some Menchie's (at our favourite Innes Road location in Ottawa!) the other day and they had so much fun adding toppings to their frozen yogurt. (I had fun, too. My favourite toppings? Coconut, peanuts and Skor!) Of course, the Oreo Cookie flavour has become my son's all-time favourite.

Menchie's mission statement is "we make you smile" and it's so true. How can you go to Menchie's and not smile?


To make you smile even bigger, I'm running a great giveaway so you can receive a Summer VIP Pass which includes SEVEN free visits to any Menchie's across Canada. 

But first, you have to show me your #MenchiesMyWay yogurt creation!

Here's how to enter to win a Summer VIP Pass for a summer of free Menchie's frozen yogurt:


  • Follow @Menchies_Canada and @MrsLoulou on Instagram and Twitter. (It's @Menchies_CA on Twitter!) 
  • Tweet or share an image on Instagram of your Menchie's creation with #MenchiesMyWay and name your creation. Make sure to include me (@MrsLoulou) and Menchie's in your tweet or instagram picture!
That's it, that's all. Simple, right? And I've just given you the perfect excuse to go to Menchie's today, so have fun... and enjoy! 

I'll select a winner on August 2, 2015, based on the creative name of your #MenchiesMyWay creation and on your image. 

Good Luck! 
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Put A Smile On Your Face: A Crest And Olay Giveaway Thanks To P&G!

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I'm pretty sure nobody loves summer as much as I do—seriously, after the long, harsh winters we have, I cherish every sunny and warm day because they sure don't last long here. I am outside for more hours than I am inside—swimming as much as I can with my boys, enjoying backyard BBQ's,  soaking up the sun on patios with friends, and drinking lots of sangria. And beer. You know, summertime stuff.

I keep a more simple beauty routine in the summer, but I still make sure I'm taking care of myself. Olay and Crest are my go-to staples because Olay helps keep my skin hydrated (and protected) and Crest helps keep my smile shining bright through my summer days and nights.

I love the new Olay Total Effects moisturizer (with 40% more vitamins) which has the highest level of Niacinamide in an over-the-counter Olay skincare product.

To help brighten my smile, I love using Crest Luxe Supreme FlexFit Whitestrips. They are super easy to use and offer great results. The strips use a technology called FlexFit, which allow the Whitestrip to stretch around your smile for a perfect fit so you can leave the washroom to do something productive like organize your closet so there is more room for the new dresses you have to buy this summer! Once that's done, your smile will be even brighter.


To help keep you smiling this summer, P&G is giving away a Brighten Your Summer prize pack, including the Olay Total Effects Anti-Aging Moisturizer, Fragrance-Free, and Crest 3D White Whitestrips Luxe Supreme FlexFit! 

I'll randomly pick a winner July 30th. To enter, leave a comment below telling me something you love about summer—something that makes you smile bright. 

Bonus entries: Follow @OlayUS and @Crest on Twitter and leave a second comment. 


Disclosure: 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. If your name is chosen more than once, another winner will be selected. All winners must be from within Canada. 

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Smart Summer Reads: The Books To Pack For Your Summer Vacation

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Summer is here, and I'm excited about going back to Greece with my family. Despite the Greek economic instability, the sea, the mountains, the way of life, and the beauty of Greece is calling my name. And I desperately need a vacation. 

While relaxing on the beach,  I'm looking forward to catching up on all the books I want to read. What are my picks for the best books to read this summer? There are so many great books you should read! I shared my picks with The Ottawa Citizen, and on CTV Ottawa Morning Live, too.


Here are my picks for the best books to read this summer: 

The Girl On The Train, Paula Hawkins: This is a great summer read, and a book you won't be able to put down. It's a page-turner for sure; a murder-mystery that will leave you wondering. The main character, Rachel, is searching for meaning in her life while trying to piece together clues that will help her solve a murder. If you start this book on the plane, you'll be finished by the time you land. And there you go—the perfect book to read if you're scared of flying, because you'll be lost in the story and won't even feel the turbulence!

The Vacationers, Emma Straub: Of course a book called The Vacationers made my list. The story is about a family and friends who are on a two-week vacation to Mallorca, and the struggles they face with one another. Dark secrets, marriage problems, childhood rivalries, and the dynamic of the parent-child relationship are dealt with in a beautiful way. It's a great book to bring to the beach with you. 

Hausfrau, Jill Alexander Essbaum: This is one of my favourite books of the year. It's sort of like a modern Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary, and it's a haunting page-turner about a wife and mother living in Zurich. It's a story that will stay with you a long time after you finish reading it. 

In The Unlikely Event, Judy Blume: A new novel for adults from my favourite childhood author, Judy Blume absolutely tops my list of books you should read this summer, and I seriously devoured this book in a couple of days. I wanted it to go on forever, though; and when I was finished, I was sad. It's perfectly Judy Blume, and tells the story of three generations of family and friends whose lives are connected and forever changed by a series of plane crashes that take place in the 1950's. The book goes back and forth between characters you will fall in love with, and the story is touching, lovely, and real. 

Let Me Die In His Footsteps, Lori Roy: This books is my second favourite book I've read this year. It was a book I couldn't put down from the second I started reading it. It's a coming-of-age story, a book about love, family feuds, evil, and mystery, and takes place in Kentucky, in the 1930's and 1950's. It's a very suspenseful book, a book that will tug at your heart, and a book you'll fall in love with. 

To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee: Re-reading a classic is always a good idea, and I recommend To Kill A Mockingbird, in preparation for the new book that's being released on July 14th by author Harper Lee called Go Set A Watchman. Go Set A Watchman was actually the first book Harper Lee submitted to publishers in the 1950's, and it's only now being published. Go Set A Watchman follows an adult Scout Finch, who returns to her hometown of Macomb, Alabama, to visit her father. The book is out July 14th.  

Other books you should pick up to read this summer, if you haven't read them yet: 

Me Before You
All The Light We Cannot See
Everything I Never Told You
Station Eleven
The Husband's Secret



Happy reading, everyone. I'm sure you'll find a few books here that you'll instantly fall in love with, too. 

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Netflix Fun For Kids

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Parenting is always an adventure, no matter how old the children are, and even every day activities—like a visit to the grocery store—can lead to unexpected adventures. (Like the time I walked out of the grocery store with my children only to notice my car was being driven away by a stranger!) No matter what, though, we make the best of any crazy situation.

Whether we're on vacation or spending a quiet night at home watching shows on Netflix, we're having fun together making new memories. Now that my boys are older, there are more movies and television shows we can enjoy watching together, including movies that I remember loving when I was a child, like Annie and The Goonies. I was excited to see that The Goonies is playing on Netflix right now—and so were my boys, because of course, they love this movie as much as you'd expect they would. It's a classic, after all.


My boys also love How to Train Your Dragon, and they are looking forward to watching the all-new Netflix original series Dragons: Race to the Edge. Dragons: Race to the Edge will introduce some new exciting dragons, each with its own amazing abilities. I can't wait to snuggle up on the couch with my boys for this one!


Other shows your kids can look forward to watching on Netflix right now? Puss and Boots, Penguins of Madagascar, and National Treasure. Happy Netflix-ing!

Disclosure: I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with Netflix and as part of the Netflix Canada Stream Team. All views and opinions are my own. 

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