Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Planning the Perfect Day at the Beach

There is nothing like a family picnic at the beach, is there? 

One of our best days this summer was an impromptu day at the Allenwood Beach near Wasaga, with our wonderful friends. One of the best things for me was that there was a bathroom near by! LOL. It was the perfect way to relax, enjoy some family time, cool off in the lake and let the kids have some unplugged fun! We brought a bunch of fun activities for the kids to enjoy, while the grown ups sat in comfy chairs, listened to wicked tunes and caught up on each other's news.

Our fridge was pretty bare and I didn't have time to really prepare for our picnic in the way I normally would, so I was grateful to walk into Loblaws and see their #LetsDoPicnic signs around the store! It really helped to plan some healthy foods and snacks for a long day at the beach!

Our picnic cooler was jam packed to keep us fed and hydrated all day! Maple Leaf deli meats, tons of cut up veggies and PC spicy hummus, Tostitos Cantina chips with salsa, Lay's chips and lots of fruit!

If you are planning to have your own family day and picnic at the beach, here are some tips on what to pack for the kids for the perfect beach day;
  • sunscreen 
  • bug spray
  • nets or bug catchers
  • hats
  • towels and blankets
  • umbrella or sunshade
  • sand toys
  • water balloons
  • baseball gloves
  • soccer ball 
  • blow up pool noodle, raft or ring (great choices at the dollar stores) 
  • a full cooler or two of SNACKS (the kids literally ate all day!)
Plus don't forget the adult supplies; 
  • lounge chairs
  • phone to take photos and share on social media
  • bluetooth speaker for beach tunes (make your own playlist or use a music app!)
  • plastic glasses
  • adult drinks (wink, wink)
If you have more time to create some picnic recipes, check out the site Let's Do Picnic for recipes, tips, and ideas. 

For more inspiration follow the #LetsDoPicnic hashtag on social media and these picnic-experts; 
Still a few more weeks of get out and enjoy a perfect beach picnic!

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Best Bra Fitting Tips from the Experts

One of the benefits of losing weight has been that I have needed to go shopping and replace many of the items in my drawers and closet! From my skinny jeans and black blazers to yoga pants and coats, all of my essential items have had to be replaced!  

It wasn't until we went on a little romantic getaway to do some shopping, that I realized that my undies and bra were just too loose! I had been so focused on shopping for the outer garments that I hadn't even considered that the undergarments would have to be replaced too! I knew that I needed a bra fitting to really determine my new size, so I happily made the appointment at my local Hudson's Bay, for a REAL bra fitting with a Wacoal consultant. 

My Wacoal consultant, Maggie, was amazing! I was blown away when she told me that instead of my 40DD, I should be wearing a 36D! I will never buy a bra again, without her to help me find the best size. She brought me several choices and sizes and checked the fit every time. There was NOTHING embarrassing about getting fitted for a bra. Maggie left the room each time I had to change and was a wealth of information! 

I'm so thrilled with my Embrace Lace Underwire Tshirt Bra.
My new "bosom buddy", Maggie.
Tips From the Bra-fitting Experts;
1. Get an expert to fit you so that you can stop wearing bras that don't fit! Over 80% of women are wearing the wrong size (I'm looking at you with the band that's too loose and the cup that's too small). Call ahead and book a proper fitting. All sales associates in The Bay lingerie department are trained to help you find the right size, or you can call ahead to be sure a particular expert is scheduled during your visit.
2. Check your bra size about once a year or after every major body change; weight loss, weight gain, pregnancy, etc.
3. Handwash your bras or wash them on the delicate cycle in a lingerie bag. Your bras will last much longer, if you care for them properly!
4. Never put your bras in the dryer! I admit I do this and will stop after I've learned that the dryer breaks down the fibres and can change the fit completely!
5. Replace your bra after about 90 wearings. You will notice that they just don't offer the same support and should be thrown out.
6. Always try on your bras before you buy them. Even if you are shopping the discount stores, realize that each mass produced bra can fit differently. Take a few minutes to try them on first.
7. Young girls picking a bra for the first time, should be fitted by a professional, to make sure that they have the right size. Having the right size from the start, helps to prevent back pain, stretch marks and sagging overtime.
8. Don't insist you are a particular size without going for a proper fitting. You may have "always" been a 36C but you might not be now. See an expert to be sure you have the right support.
9. If your straps keep falling down, you likely have the wrong cup size. Chances are you are wearing a larger cup than you need.
10. Women need multiple bras for multiple uses. Wacoal recommends you have a about 6 main styles; sports, seamless (also called tshirt), cut and sew (2 part), strapless, minimizer or push up (depending on size), and sexy bras in your wardrobe.

Wacoal uses modern fabrics, innovative technologies, advanced manufacturing processes, and unique designs to meet the evolving needs of today’s women. My favourite feature is that Wacoal consultants at The Bay help women like me find the right bras with the proper band and cup sizes! To learn more about Wacoal and their 30 years of experience in fitting women properly, supporting breast cancer awareness and providing quality bras for women around the world, listen to Maggie.

Do you really know your bra size? 
Have you ever had a consultant fit you in the right one?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Our Love Story: The Night We Met

Today is our 15th wedding anniversary. This is how our love story began.

It was July 22nd, 1995. I was single and had recently graduated from Western. I was living back at home which was a huge adjustment, but I was enjoying life back in the big city working at Town Shoes in the TD Centre. I was lonely and ready to find someone special as a new chapter of my life was just beginning and I planned to stay in Toronto to go to York in the fall for a Bachelor of Social Work. This particular night, a bunch of my sorority sisters from Kappa Alpha Theta had organized an Alumni boat cruise around the Toronto harbour. A friend was house-sitting in the city, so I begged her to go without her new boyfriend so that we could have a girl's night!
We pulled up and parked the car, excited to see all of our "sisters" again. A few of us gathered outside the boat and we were introduced to the new faces and dates. One of the girls had brought her friend, Paul, as her date and I was instantly attracted to him. He was dressed to the nines and looked like he walked out of a magazine ad or Boys II Men video. It wasn't until we started talking that I fell completely head over heels. Hot AND nice? Not possible! Paul and I finally made an instant connection when we saw a man dressed in a yacht club crested jacket with knee socks...we both laughed at the same time. 

I wanted to be close to him all night and it seemed that the feeling was very mutual! As the night began, we couldn't take our eyes off of each other from across the boat. I had never felt my heart pound like it did that night. A thousand butterflies took up space in my stomach and I gave into the feelings that were making me feel so amazing, but I was guarded too. The chemistry was electric from the start and even my other 'sisters' asked if we were together because of the way we looked at each other and seemed so comfortable together. 

We sneaked a visit on the lower level, had a glass of wine together and got to know each other better, away from the distractions of the other ladies. It turned out that we had lots in common; teaching Sunday school, recent graduations (he from Seneca Radio and Television Arts), a huge connection with kids and we both really loved music, including Boyz II Men (it was the 90s, who didn't?). When it came time to have dinner, "I'll make love to you" came over the speaker as a secret dedication. I knew it was just for me, as we locked eyes across the room and in that moment, he had me completely hooked. Was he incredibly romantic or just another smooth operator (to quote another 90s song)?  I was so worried that I may never hear from him again and I would be heart broken, like so many other times in the past. But this felt different. I trusted him with my heart. I not only hoped, but believed that he would call me and that we would have more nights as magical as this one. 

The night had to come to an end, so Paul and I secretly exchanged numbers and we all said our goodbyes in the parking lot.We drove away and I was full of emotion from total euphoria to panic and worry. It was the best night of my life and I just wanted more time with this incredible man of my dreams. 

Later that night, while I was sleeping over with my girlfriend's house, my sister woke up to a late night phone call back at home. It was Paul checking to make sure I got home okay. 

20 years ago, on July 22, 1995, was the beginning of us. 

15 years ago today, July 22nd, 2000, I married the man of my dreams.

And this is us now...

We've learned to cherish and truly appreciate each other. We love harder, better and more completely. 

We've changed for each other, grown together, accepted each other and built a beautiful life.

We've been challenged at every turn. We've struggled and cried together, celebrated and laughed together and even picked each other up when we were at our deepest lows.

The odds have been against us from the start but today, we are stronger and better than we have ever been. We find time for our marriage, dance on the deck and kiss in the kitchen to embarrass the boys.

We look at each other with the same passion and love that we felt from the beginning, only now it's filled with 20 years of incredible memories.

Our love story continues....

Monday, July 20, 2015

Quick and Easy Summer Family Dinner Recipe

Is it just me or are you eating dinner on the run these days? 

The rush after camp and work seems crazy with the doorbell ringing just as we walk in the door! The kids play outside with friends while I open the fridge and find something to feed my two boys and anyone else who joins us for dinner!

This past week we had a full house of kids and I thought it was my golden opportunity to have a sit down dinner at the table on our new deck. Preparing a meal is hard enough for my own guys but now I had to consider the discerning tastes of 3 of their buddies. I knew that pasta was the best way to go for this hungry crew!

I had a box of Barilla PLUS pasta, with added protein and fibre so I was excited to make stovetop mac and cheese that was GOOD for the kids! I know, not as gourmet as the amazing summer recipes on the Barilla website, but a family favourite in my house!

1 box Barilla PLUS pasta (we love the penne)
3 Lite Kraft cheese singles (optional, but my kids love how cheesy this can get!)
1/2 cup of skim milk
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups shredded cheese (I used the already shredded cheddar and mozzarella mix)

1. Cook the pasta al dente, in salted water. Drain and set aside.
2. Melt butter, milk and cheese singles in the pot on a low setting.
3. Add back in the pasta and mix.
4. Add the shredded cheese and mix well.
5. Serve to hungry kids quickly....they usually can't wait to eat it!
Busy life makes connecting together, challenging. So even though my husband was at work, I seized the chance to 'share the table' with my boys and their friends. It was the perfect chance to check in with what everyone did during the day, ask about anything bothering them and of course to share some jokes over a delicious meal al fresco.

Give and Win:
Win 1 of 3 Trips to Italy when you enter at Barilla Share the Table. For every entry in the contest, Barilla® will donate a meal to Food Banks Canada, so enter once a day to help!

Follow @BarillaCanada on Twitter and join the #SharetheTable discussion with other families.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Family Fun at the RBC Canadian Open

Two years ago, the four of us went to the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville and we are STILL talking about all the fun we had! From Golf Digest "cover shots" to chipping and putting competitions, the kids had a blast while Paul was all about action on the course! We had such a great family day and learned a lot about golf too!
As this year's Canadian Open is fast approaching and running Monday July 20- Sunday July 26, families should be looking at this as a perfect way to spend a summer weekday or weekend with the kids! Ticket prices are reasonable for a day of fun in the sun, and kids with a Junior Pass are free!

Advanced Price (Before July 19) $20 – Early Week Grounds (Mon – Wed)
$59.95 – AnyDay Grounds (One Day)
 Gate Price (July 20-26) $26 – Early Week Grounds (Mon – Wed)
$79.95 – AnyDay Grounds (One Day)

Want to let the golf fanatics watch the stars while you explore? Here is a list of just SOME of the off-course activities:
  • SHAW Global News Desk: experience what it’s like to be a news anchor by interviewing Canadian PGA Tour stars Graham DeLaet and Adam Hadwin
  • SHAW Food Network: join celebrity chef Lynn Crawford in the kitchen by preparing a gourmet dish
  • HGTV Lounge: sit back and relax on the custom built HGTV patio overlooking the 7th green
  • CN Future Links Challenge: open to all ages, driving, putting and chipping skills challenge
  • TaylorMade Performance Lab: book a time to get custom fit in the simulator
  • Molson Canadian 67 19th Hole: sampling, Muskoka chairs & video screens to enjoy the Open
  • Wine sampling from Santa Carolina Wines
  • Scotch whisky sampling from Ballantine’s
  • Prizing & giveaways from Golf Town, PepsiCo, WestJet Airlines, Globe & Mail and more
Just a few added tips;

Bring your refillable water bottles
With water stations to refill during the hot, long days, you can be eco-friendly and support the RBC Canadian Open charity of choice- Ronald McDonald House Charities. 
Don't forget to get social!
Share your photos from the event and you could have the chance to help your favourite charity! SHARE #RBCGolf4Kids on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram until July 20th to help Team RBC win up to $500,000 towards their children’s charities of choice. It’s simple - the more you share it, the more money goes to charity. Follow and support your favorite golfers as they compete in a series of challenges and join the conversation for a chance to win great prizes! 

Check out all the family fun waiting at this year's RBC Canadian Open.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

How Tim Riggins and Friday Night Lights Changed Me

Friday Night Lights is on my mind...I'm not sure whether it's the fact that the news came out that Tim Riggins, I mean Taylor Kitsch, is dating his latest co-star or that I learned that our nephew is #33 on the Saskatchewan Roughriders or that I finished all my binge-worthy shows on Netflix this week.

Let me be more specific. Tim Riggins is on my mind because Taylor Kitsch as Tim Riggins in Friday Night Lights changed my whole perspective on guys with long hair, small town U.S.A. and mostly, football. 

I know, I can't hardly believe it myself, but just look at him..... Riggins. He's the bad boy with heart. The guy who loves hard but can't keep it in his pants. He's dirty, his hair is a mess and he never showers, but he's been with all the girls (and cougars) in Dillon. (I'll pause, while you admire the photo.....).
When did I fall in love with Tim and the show? It all happened during a deep conversation on Facebook after Parenthood ended on NBC. Loving that show, I was looking for the next big thing to fall in love with on the small screen. Some very cool chicks that I adore, convinced me to give Parenthood writer Jason Katim's show Friday Night Lights a try on Netflix Canada and ever since, we have been talking about the impact that the show has had on us.

This is a show that will stay with you. From the first glimpse of Jason Street and Coach Taylor, I knew that I was hooked. Having always gone for the pretty boy, I thought Jason was the one I'd watch (boy was I wrong). The Taylors became the couple you wanted your marriage to be like. They talked about everything, always supported each other and even when they didn't agree, it was so sweet! From her first, "y'all", I also knew that I just wanted to go for a drink with Tami. I loved her no-nonsense and realistic approach to counselling the kids of Dillon and all their crazy problems. Tara, Lyla and even Julie explored all sides of my personality...playful and flirty, serious and loyal and lost and trying to find her way. I had BEEN all of these girls at various times in my teens and 20s.

And what about football? Why would I want to watch a show about football when I've never understood or liked it? Because it was the thread that kept the town together and I actually started to "get" it. The short Friday snips of the game actually HELPED me understand what football is about and of course, the "Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can't Lose" attitude is as relevant on the field as it is off.

Summer tv stinks, so start watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix and I promise some great eye candy, stories that touch your heart and characters who stay in your mind forever. Just writing this post makes me sad. I miss it. I miss the characters, the stories, the urgency to get the kids to bed so I could watch an episode and of course, I miss Tim.

Until I find my next binge (maybe Tami Taylor in Nashville?), I'll be watching football, sharing Friday Night Lights memes and reminiscing with the other fans on Facebook.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Brownie and Fruit Pizza Dessert Recipe

Now that we have our new deck, it will mean more summer entertaining, parties and BBQs, yippee!  We have our regular go-to dishes and desserts but I also wanted to add some new meal and dessert recipes to choose from! This is truly one of our most favourite, simple and delicious desserts and will absolutely be serving this during the summer! 

This brownie and fruit pizza dessert is not only simple, but fun to make with the kids! Jayden and Zack's Godmother came over with the ingredients to make this delicious kid- and adult-friendly summer treat!  The kids loved to help cut the fruit and ultimately decorate the brownie "pizza" any way they wanted to! The best part will be enjoying this together on our new deck on a warm summer night or taking it to a pot luck bbq!

brownie and fruit pizza

Brownie Mix (we chose a low fat mix)
Cream Cheese brick (we chose light variety, keep at room temperature before baking)
3/4 cup of sugar (or Splenda to keep it low sugar)
Fruit- strawberries, grapes, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi, bananas, etc.
1.  Make the brownie according to directions on the box and bake in a round pizza baking sheet.  Bake and let it cool before creating your pizza.
2.  Mix 3/4 of a brick of cream cheese with 3/4 cup of sugar until creamy.  Set aside.
3.  Get the kids to wash and help cut the fruit.  Leave blueberries and raspberries whole.  Cut strawberries, kiwis and bananas into thin slices and grapes in half.
4.  When brownie has cooled, gently spread the cream cheese and sugar mixture across the top for a thin layer.
5.  Let the kids decorate the top of the pizza by making shapes, strawberry flowers, writing their initials in blueberries or any abstract design (you can add in some summer math practice too)!

Be prepared for some "quality assurance" when you kids eat the fruits while they decorate!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Incredible Summer Pineapple Dessert Recipe

Okay, this one is totally NOT on my diet, but I had to share my mom's recipe for this incredible summer pineapple dessert.

Some people might call this Pineapple "Delight" but in all seriousness, it is worthy of a much better name, so I call it Pineapple Orgasm. My mom makes this dessert throughout the summer for her guests, and they keep coming back for more and more!!

1½ cups of graham cracker crumbs
1 cup of butter
2 eggs
1½ cups of icing sugar
250 ml whipping cream
1 can drained crushed pineapple

1.  Make a crust of 1½ cups of graham cracker crumbs and just a bit less than ½ cup of butter.
2.  Put it in a springform pan, so it is easy to serve. (A square or rectangular pan would work too.) Chill.
3.  Cream ½ cup of softened butter. Then mix with 2 unbeaten eggs and 1½ cups of icing sugar. Spread on top of the crust and chill again until firm.
4.  Whip 250ml of whipping cream and fold in 1 can of drained crushed pineapple.
5. Add to the top and chill.

Enjoy...I promise you'll want multiple pieces :-)

Finding the Right Look and the Right Prescription at Shoppes of Angus Glen Optometry

I've been struggling with my eyes since I turned 40. 

Wearing contacts my whole life, I really didn't want to even consider the fact that I'd have to give them up for glasses everyday, when I started having headaches working on the computer. I've been really struggling with finding the right prescription that helps me with distance but also allows me to work comfortably at the computer. Don't even get me started on the number of people who suggested bifocals and reader glasses...I'm not going there (yet)!

I have a mad crush on my contact lenses and will never break up with them, but I have to admit that I do really like to switch up my look and wear my glasses out in the world. Most days, I only wear my glasses in bed at night to binge-watch my favourite shows on Netflix. 

Living with squinting while I drive and headaches on the computer led me to jump at the chance to visit Shoppes of Angus Glen Optometry in Markham and have my eyes checked by Dr. Kevin. Not only is he hilarious, but he was understanding when I shared my concerns and he helped me find the balance I was looking for! Best of all, he gave me a week of daily contacts in my new prescription to try out! 
Having designer obsession with sunglasses (I have my Tom Ford and Marc Jacob faves), I'm becoming quite the snob when it comes to eyewear, so I was thrilled to see the selection AND the expertise on staff to help me decide. And just like many things I do, I took to social media to see if my friends had any opinions and boy did they ever! Luckily, the majority agreed on A and those are the Prada glasses I went with!

Difficulty in making decisions is just one more side effect of turning 40...I can't seem to decide on anything alone! Luckily my bestie and my boys were at Shoppes of Angus Glen Optometry too and helped me decide. I was so interested to hear the "science" behind picking a frame and buying glasses that you love. Here are the tips from the frame stylists at Shoppes of Angus Glen Optometry;

1. Face shape- frames that contrast the natural shape of your face is quite completing. For example, square shaped faces would best be suited with oval or round rectangles and rounder faces- best suited with rectangular frames. That's why it's great to be helped with an experienced frame stylist to help guide in your selection.

2.  Eyes should be well centered in the frame- frames too wide may make the eyes seem too close together.

3.  Don't be afraid to have fun- glasses are such an important accessory worn on a daily basis for many, so having 1-2 pairs to change up the mood or feel for the day is great. Glasses are an investment and since they are worn on your face, it should also reflect your personality. Don't be afraid of colour, bold looks and trying something out of your comfort zone.

4.  Sunglasses- these are just as important as your regular glasses. Just like suncreen protects your skin, sunglasses protect your eyes! Have fun with the beautiful bold colours and oversized styles. 

5. Glasses are a great accessory to put a finishing touch on any outfit- you can run out of the house without make up and in sweatshirts and transform the look with a gorgeous pair of glasses.

6. You need more than one pair- we don't own just 1 purse, 1 pair of shoes etc., so why just 1 pair of glasses. Take the chance to switch it up by having a couple of pairs you love or try one simple frame and one more trendy frame to alternate or reflect your mood.

7. You get what you pay for- so good quality lenses and good quality glasses will last you a long time and you will enjoy the comfort and vision. 
The boys want glasses now!

Keep connected to hear the latest trends from the experts. Follow Shoppes of Angus Glen Optometry on Facebook and Instagram.

Since you are my friends and family, they’ll give you a 20% discount (valid until July 15th) when you mention my blog.

Don't forget about the man in your life! Enter their fabulous Father's Day contest to win a round of golf at Angus Glen and a pair of Oakley shades. Value of the prize is $600. Click here for more info. Contest ends June 27th, 2015. 

I received my fabulous new glasses in exchange for a review of the amazing service and selection at Shoppes of Angus Glen Optometry. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tips to Help Stay on Budget This Summer

Do you talk to your kids about money? We do.  

We've had times where money was tight, especially during summer months when expenses are through the roof. We’ve taking the opportunity to be honest with our kids about how much things cost and allowed them to be part of the decision-making process. Sometimes it means that they can’t go to the $500 a week camp that their friends are going to but it’s all a chance to help them learn the tough choices we all have to make, when it comes to money. Staying on budget in the summer is very challenging!

Another way we engage the kids in our money-making decisions is by giving them an allowance to start to make their own choices about money decisions. We often remind them to bring their wallets to family outings, on vacation in the summer or even to their camp “tuck shop” to buy a treat. I love watching both boys as they process the pros and cons of taking a crisp bill out of their wallets to pay for something they want or the seeing the agony of deciding to save for something else bigger.

A recent study done by TD Bank, found that 55% of Canadian parents with children under the age of 18 take on additional costs during the summer; in fact, 71% of them spend up to $999 per child. Our family has already booked and paid for the summer camps to keep the kids entertained and busy while Paul and I go to work every day. This study inspired me to calculate our own summer expenses and I was blown away to realize that we had over $2500 in summer costs including; summer camp, summer hockey leagues and tutoring. This is not even considering a family vacation or getaway or the fact that we have to pay for rep hockey this summer and fall! When you consider that our summer is only 2 months in Canada, that’s a tremendous expense!

Tips from TD for Budgeting for Summer Activities:
Half (51%) of surveyed parents found budgeting for these additional summer costs stressful, so after speaking with Linda MacKay, Senior Vice President, Retail Savings and Investing and Shirley Malloy Associate Vice President, Acquisition & Sales Management from TD Canada Trust I have compiled some tips on how to avoid the financial heat wave summer can bring:
  • Get a season's pass for your favourite family experience in the city - our family LOVES our Canada's Wonderland pass. For $70 each, your family can enjoy the park and waterslides all summer! Be sure to eat before you go and you won't have to open your wallet once! Other ideas are the AGO, ROM or the Toronto Zoo.
  • It's never too late to save! Even if you haven't prepared for this summer's expenses, start saving early for next year by putting a little money away each month into your TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account).
  • Shop around for camps that are run through the city or the school board. They are often less money and just as much fun!
  • Check your rewards balance – redeem some of your loyalty rewards, such as points from your First Class Travel Credit Card, to help fund family activities and travel.
  • Don’t schedule the kids to death! Kids just love the FREE fun they can have at the park and with their friends in the neighbourhood, so our boys have chosen ONE summer activity, 3-on-3 hockey, to keep them busy one night a week and stick to our budget.
  • Try some online budgeting tools, like the ones at, to determine how much you can save at the end of the year, with just a few dollars a week, you could have your summer paid for with savings!
  • File your receipts – some summer costs could be tax deductible as a child care expense or under the child fitness tax credit on your tax return.
  • Investigate the newly increased and expanded UCCB (Universal Child Care Benefit). The new enhancements include kids age 7-18 (it used to stop at age 6). All families will receive a cheque this summer - a nice bonus to cover summer costs or save for the fall programs for the kids!
 How do YOU stay on budget during the summer? Any tips to share?

This post has been sponsored by TD Canada Trust, but the opinions are my own. For more information, please visit