…So I changed things – and everything changed. I focused on getting more good quality protein in my diet, more good fats, and less sugar. On the activity side, I added in more strength and high intensity interval training and eventually trained to become a certified Pilates instructor as well. I was leaner, my digestion was better – and so many of the nagging issues I had dealt with got better. …Read More
Last holiday season, I had so much fun spreading the word about the Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats for Toys program, that I was thrilled to have the opportunity to return to the role this year. (You can see all the fun we had in 2017 here.) The program has everything I love about the holiday season going for it – delicious treats, the opportunity to give back, and the chance to spend some time with my son doing something that is fun. Because he’s now a little older, he was able to participate so much more this year and I really loved that.
For those of you not familiar with Treats for Toys, it really is a wonderful opportunity that allows everyone the chance to make a difference this holiday season. All you need to do is create a toy-shaped treat out of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, then snap a photo of it and either upload it to treatsfortoys.ca or share on social media using the #TreatsForToys hashtag. For every photo uploaded and or shared between now and December 31, 2018, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies will donate $20 to The Salvation Army to buy a real toy for a child in need. And here’s the exciting thing – this is the sixth year for Treats for Toys. In the past five years, the program has donated over 25,000 toys (which is amazing), so this year we want to get to the goal of 30,000 toys!Read More
One of the things I love most about being a parent is all of the milestones that we get to watch our son reach. First foods, first words, first steps, and from there there are so many changes that happen so fast, it's hard to keep track. One of those changes is moving from a crib to a big kid bed. We actually should have done this a while back. We had taken the side off my son's crib well over a year ago, because he was constantly trying to climb out, which was dangerous (he's quite the little climber!) and he had been sleeping it sort of like a daybed ever since. But as he got taller, we knew we needed to change. We also knew that we wanted to move somewhere bigger, and there was no point buying furniture for his then rather tiny bedroom. So, we waited until we moved to our new place about a month ago, and set about planning out a new room for our rapidly growing boy.
We wanted furniture that was modern, safe, accessible for him and that would grow with him. So a low dresser with drawers that slid easily with black and white colour blocking seemed perfect. Of course, the most crucial piece of the puzzle was the bed (we decided on a double with a sleek grey frame), and especially the mattress. His comfort and safety were a huge part of making the decision on what kind of mattress to get for him. I wanted him to have the most comfortable sleep possible (because decent sleep makes life better, especially when you are growing and learning so much) and I wanted to avoid nasty chemicals off-gassing from his mattress while he slept. We considered a few different options, but because these were my priorities, going with a Casper was an easy choice for us.
Casper has really thought all of this through. Of course it's super convenient to order their mattresses and accessories and have them shipped straight to your door (with free shipping!), but there is so much more than that. Their four-layer foam mattresses are all CertiPUR® certified, requiring that they are made without formaldehyde, ozone depleters, mercury, lead, and other heavy metals. This certification also requires the foam to have low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions for indoor air quality (less than 0.5 parts per million). All of that, no funny chemical smell and no chemical flame retardants. ( Instead, Casper mattresses have this genius woven silica sock that’s just under the cover. In the event of a fire, the sock melts on itself and suffocates the oxygen needed for the fire to burn.) When it comes to the little guy getting a good night's rest, comfort is the other factor that Casper has really figured out. Their layered foam ensures breathability and the right amount of support where he needs it - and the 100 risk free trial means that it's.....well, risk free. So far he's been sleeping peacefully on it for weeks, but we have plenty of time to make sure it's what he needs and I love that.
Because a comfortable sleep is about more than the mattress, it's super convenient that Casper also delivers dreamy pillows and high quality sheets as well. The pillows have this amazing pillow-in-pillow design that simultaneously provide softness and support. Casper sheets are 400 thread count Supima cotton, which keeps things cool and breathable. (Somehow, my high school job of working at the bedding and linens section of a department store has really paid off, because I know what to look for when it comes to these things!) The other thing I love about the sheets is the stylist, minimalist design of white with a grey border.
All of this spells out a great night's sleep for him - and hopefully for my husband and I as well! It certainly makes story time a lot more comfortable for me, because I was sitting on the floor before this little upgrade. From what I can tell, Archer is loving his new room and new bed as well! And while I mostly want to push the pause button on his growing up, somehow seeing this guy snoozing in his new big kid bed makes him even more adorable.
Archer's new big kid mattress was generously provided by Casper, but all opinions here are very much my own.
No two Mama's are alike - so keep that in mind when you are looking for the perfect gift for yours this Mother's Day. Now, of course, let me start by saying what your mom REALLY wants is to spend time with you. So make sure you do that above all else! But if you are also looking to get her a gift, I have some great suggestions based on her personality and needs - whether she's a gourmet, into glam, or just really, really needs a good night's sleep (hint: that's all mom's, really) I shared some great ideas on CH Morning Live (you can watch the segment here) and find all the links to the items below:
The Gourmet Mom
NESPRESSO CREATISTA UNO If your mom really loves GOOD coffee, this is the machine for her. The Creatista UNO, in sophisticated Black Sesame colour is the ultimate machine for creating espresso-based beverages. It produces café style quality right at home thanks to its fully automatic steam pipe to add a barista’s touch to your coffee. Plus, you can use the frothy milk to design your own latte art. Perfect all year round, especially for entertaining because the automatic steam pipe provides multiple milk temperatures for personal preferences and a self-cleaning setting (and who doesn’t love less clean-up, right?) Use with your favourite Nespresso capsules to create a perfect coffee experience.
VITAMIX A2500 ASCENT SERIES Let's face it - there are blenders, and then there is VITAMIX. For me, my Vitamix has revolutionized my time in the kitchen and upped my smoothie game ( because no one wants a chunky smoothie!) This particular model takes things event further so you can think beyond the smoothie. It has 3 settings – smoothie, hot soups, frozen desserts. Basically, this is an incredible all-around kitchen tool for anyone that loves to cook! It also has variable Speed Control and Pulse feature let you fine-tune the texture of any recipe. AND it features Built-In Wireless Connectivity - you can pair with the Vitamix Blend App that has 17 programs and over 500 recipes! It also has a built-in digital timer that removes the guesswork with recipes you process manually, helping you achieve the perfect texture every time. VItamix has a range of models and pricing as options as well, so you can find the one that's right for you!
The Glam Mom
TED BAKER Of course Ted is known for making incredible dresses (the gorgeous spring floral I wore in the segment, for example!) but if you are looking for something that's a little easier to gift, they make wonderful accessories as well. (And quite a few of them are on sale at the moment! This Parson Leather Cross Body Bag is the perfect finishing piece for your your Mama's outfit that is also super functional.
CHARLOTTE TILBURY CT just makes the ultimate in makeup luxury and formulations. Everything about her line is gorgeous. Brand new this season are here line of BEAUTY FILTERS, such as BIGGER BRIGHTER EYES, two palettes specifically designed to enhance eye size and sparkle (limited edition!). The HOLLYWOOD FLAWLESS FILTER is available in 7 shades, and acts like a primer, a highlighter and a filter all in one customizable product. Not to be missed is her range of always-perfect LIPSTICKS (at the great gifting price point of $39) in Matte Revolution or K.I.S.S.I.N.G. formulations - with tons of beautiful shades especially the most perfect reds and nudes.
TOWN SHOES If your Mama is a shoeaholic, you can't go wrong with adding to her collection this Mother's Day! (though be sure of her size first, of course!) These sparkly Glendi Mules by Kate Spade are not only on sale right now, but are the perfect mix of glam and practicality. If your mom is more into sneakers or heels though, Town has plenty of selections in both of those categories!
The Mom Who Loves Sleep (aka Every Mom)
CASPER You have likely heard about Casper's incredible line of mattresses that have revolutionized the industry. And while a mattress may be a super-big gift to buy for your Mom, you can explore their other products to make sure she gets the incredible sleep that she needs. Casper's Pillows are equally amazing, featuring a unique pillow-in-pillow system that supports side, back or front sleepers with the perfect blend of support and cushiness. Plus - their sheets are also a wonderful option: chic, 400 thread count supima cotton that breathes and feels wonderfully luxurious. All things that add up to extra zzzz's.
THIS WORKS Available exclusively at Sephora in Canada, this skin care line was developed by former beauty editors in the UK (you know, the people that test out ALL of the products out there, so they know what works!) And - this should come as not such a shock - what really works when it comes to beauty is getting more, good quality sleep. So in additon to their skincare products that help you get the most of your time between the sheets, they have also developed their DEEP SLEEP and SLEEP PLUS+ lines of pillow sprays, roll-ons, body creams, and a bath soak that work with properties of aromatherapy and microencapsulation to help your Mama (or you!) fall asleep faster, and deeper. Use (liberally), and repeat!
I’d love to be the person that can say that there are no picky eaters in my house, but I’d be lying. When it comes to breakfast, I prioritize healthier options (that don’t sacrifice flavour – so yeah, perhaps I’m a little high maintenance). But some days, I only feel like I have time for a superfood coffee or a protein bar, which isn’t always as satisfying as I’d like. My husband likes his morning meal a little on the sweeter side, more like granola and yogurt, but definitely not venturing into sugary cereal territory. And then there’s our two year old……and his preferences change ALL THE TIME, but I know with him that taste and texture are big priorities. If it isn’t yummy, it isn’t happening. There are days that are definitely a bit of a struggle to get him to eat much at all, which can be stressful, because I want to make sure he’s getting the nutrients he needs.
I’ve managed to figure out at least one option that works for ALL three of us, which is pretty amazing: overnight oats! They are a thing for many reasons, trust me. They are easy to prepare and totally customizable. Use your favourite oats – and of course I use Quaker Brand because it’s what I always use whenever I make hot oatmeal (or mostly oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies, obviously) and they have been trusted for over 100 years, so that works for me! Add any type of milk, yogurt or dairy substitute like almond or coconut milk. Then, you can mix in your favourite ingredients before putting your oats in the fridge (in a jar works really well!) to soak overnight. For more crunch or texture, you can set some toppings aside to add once the oats are ready in the morning – fruit, coconut chips, chocolate chips, seeds, nuts, or more. See why this is such a great morning solution? Because you’re doing these few quick steps the night before, and not fussing when you have a million other things to do to get out the door first thing.
Here’s one of my favourite overnight oats combos that I thought I would share with you, mostly because it’s Archer’s fave. Kiddo is crazy about both blueberries and bananas, so I feel like this one is win-win. If you’re looking for more recipe ideas, just click here for some delicious ideas from Quaker.
BLUEBERRY BANANA OVERNIGHT OATS
(makes one serving)
½ cup Quaker Large Flake Oats
½ cup milk of your choice
½ cup blueberries
1/3 cup bananas, sliced
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp honey
1 tsp chia seeds
- In a mason jar or bowl, add Quaker Oats, milk and vanilla extract.
- Add a layer of blueberries, a layer of banana, then top with chia seeds and a drizzle of honey, if using.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Customize each jar with favourite toppings to make something that everyone will love! Toppings are totally flexible, use what you have or what you love to customize for everyone. Or go without toppings for a simple and delicious option!
For best results, let oats soak in the fridge for a full 8 hours. But if you’re short on time, a few hours will work too!
For a thicker, creamier texture, try using yogurt!
Thank you to Quaker Canada for hosting me at the #OvernightSuccess interactive workshop and for sponsoring this post. But of course, all opinions (and love of oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies) are my own.
Whatever your persona, there's a new Bee in town....Read More
Pinch me, I'm on my way to a chocolate-tasting dinner with Cacao Barry.
That was my tweet, mid-makeup application, this past Monday night as I was getting ready to head out for what I knew would be a truly memorable dining experience. Can you blame me? I was on my way to Colette Grand Cafe, a venue known for creating luxurious French culinary experiences, to experience one the notorious flavour dinners by conceptualized by legendary French chocolate company Cacao Barry. Now, if I had you at "Cacao Barry", hold on a moment longer while I explain: this is no ordinary chocolate tasting dinner. These #FlavourDinners are a series of dinners where chefs cook primarily for other chefs and create menus inspired by Cacao Barry chocolate. Each menu item incorporates Cacao Barry into it, along with one additional particular ingredient as a through line for the entire menu. This scenario creates a particular challenge, because not only are the host chefs cooking for their peers, but also bound by the intricate dance of two flavours that must be included in each menu item. No easy task for the host team of chefs, sommeliers and mixologists, but a total no-brainer for me when I was asked if I would like to have a seat at the table.
There is a lot of history behind Cacao Barry. With over 170 years of of tradition behind the name, it has become a name that chefs trust to create memorable dishes for their guests. But they are also a brand that continually strives to innovate, by collaborating with chefs to push boundaries when it comes to flavour combinations and to ensure the sustainability of cocoa for future generations. Given that, and the nature of the Flavour Dinner challenge, it is no wonder that Colette's Executive Chef Jennifer Dewasha and Pastry Chef Annegret Henninger were inspired to create a bold menu to showcase not only the versatility of the chocolate, but also of the modern French fare that they do so well.
Dining at Colette always feels like a special experience, but as this was an evening in early December, things felt extra sparkly. (The very tempting display of Cacao Barry Couverture certainly made the atmosphere extra special as well. Chocolate everywhere always helps. Note to self.) It turned out that while the guest list was indeed mostly chefs including Nadege Nourian, Mark Thuet, Louis Lim and Atul Palghadmal. There were also other food writers and personalities in the mix as well such as Bonnie Stern and Amy Rosen. Suffice it to say, I was in very good company.
Obviously we were all wondering what the mystery ingredient that would be pairing with all that delicious chocolate was. Our welcome cocktail held the key: a potent mix featuring Absinthe, chocolate-infused vodka, Luxardo liquer, chocolate shavings and more. In case you missed it....the Absinthe was the tell. Our second feature ingredient (or flavour) for the night's dinner would be liquorice. Or licorice. Potato, potato. (For the sake of continuity, I'll use licorice in this article as that's how it was spelled on the menu). However you spell it, it's a vivid, unapologetic and rather polarizing flavour. I'm a fan, but I know many people find me strange for liking that deep, dark Dutch salted stuff, but I do. (Red "licorice" is just weird, sugary wax in my opinion). It is also a flavour that appears in a number of ingredients: including tarragon, star anise, fennel, licorice root and licorice mint. But is it versatile enough? Any way I looked at it, I knew this meal was going to be an adventure.
Here is a look at the beautiful dishes that Chefs Dewasha and Henninger created for us, and that Sommelier Brian Davies chose the most perfect pairings for.
TARRAGON: Venison Tartare, Cocoa Nibs, Puffed Grains, Pumpernickel, Tanzanie Origin Chocolate, paired with sweet vermouth.
FENNEL: Clay Baked Salmon, Parsnip & Zeyphr White Chocolate Puree, Braised Fennel, Sauce Meurette. (I wish I had written down the name of this wine, because it was incredible.)
STAR ANISE: Wild Hare Civet, Cavatelli, Wild Mushrooms, Extra Brute Cacao Powder
SWEET ROOT: Apples, Licorice Cake Alunga Milk Chocolate, Apple Cremeux
LICORICE MINT: Cassettes, Haiti Origin Chocolate Cream, Cucumber Aloe Vera Jel
Pastry Chef Annegret Henninger offered some great insight about working with Cacao Barry chocolate. Like any true icon, it stays true to itself rather than playing to the crowd.
It was an adventurous meal, full of flavour, beautifully plated, and as I mentioned, perfectly paired by our host sommelier. It was a testament to the skill and imagination of the team at Colette Grand Cafe, and to the range and quality of the chocolate used.
Oh - and should anyone really want to push the limits of their chocolate skills while making me dessert, head on over to the Cacao Barry website and check out this number for Anarchy. I'll be waiting.
All photos by Jeffrey Chan for Cacao Barry.
I absolutely love to travel. I love exploring new places, trying new food, revisiting old favourites, and getting a little bit lost. I even love airports. Really. Luckily for me, it’s looking like a good year for me for getaways. I visited California in the spring, am looking at heading to Taiwan again at the end of the year, and right now I’m all set to embark on a trip back to my favourite place in the world, Spain. I’ve been trying to plan what to bring for a while now, because to be honest I am not the world’s most efficient packer. However, I will say that I have learned some lessons in recent years about how to make my journeys more enjoyable.It all comes down to having the right things with you (this means leaving the clutter behind), being open to new experiences, and staying reasonably healthy.
I used to always travel in the closest thing to pyjamas as possible. Now, I like to feel good about how I look, even on the plane. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to dress uncomfortably or wear a bunch of makeup (ick) for a long haul flight. But a great jacket and a big pair of sunnies always help add a little polish to any situation. Having the right flight gear makes a difference too. I’m a sucker for a great set of luggage. Who wants to spend hours struggling with a rolling case that flips all over, or looking for the same old black suitcase with hundreds of others around a baggage carousel. Personally, I’m a bit in love with what Rimowa has to offer: colours and fabrications that will set your case apart, not to mention the functionality you need to travel a little more effortlessly.
Once you are outfitted with the right carry on, don’t be that person at security that has all those oversized bottles of skincare and whatever other liquid that is holding up the line. Please, just no. This doesn’t mean leave out the essentials. Get wise about travel size, and find yourself some minis. I’ve made a great find lately at Saje Natural Wellness with their Travel Safe Kit. A little bundle of all-natural products that combat minor traveller’s ailments: a chemical-free hand sanitizer (NOT that stuff full of triclosan my friends, NO WAY), essential oils that combat jet lag and tummy aches, and more. It’s nice to have because it’s hard to enjoy the journey if you’re not feeling so well.
As I mentioned, I like to try and stay as healthy as possible when I am out there in the world. So bear with me here….because here come the most important parts….
I need to move when I am on the move. Yes, I have totally been that person that works out while on vacation. Why not? Running can be a great way to check out a new city. A few laps in the pool will make you feel ready to relax even more. Now, of course if I’m doing tons of walking (which I often do) I will chill out on the cardio a bit, but I have been known to bring resistance bands with me to sneak in some conditioning exercises. I find all of this extremely helpful, because trying out all the wonderful new food is totally part of the joy of being in a foreign place. So I might as well achieve a little balance so that I can indulge.
But – what I don’t count as an enjoyable indulgence at all is the less than palatable and certainly WAY less than nutritious food that we often encounter when we are en route to our destination. I don’t want to eat that stuff, and you don’t want to eat that stuff. Trust me. This is why I have learned to be prepared so that I have something to eat that gives me the nutrients I need, without a ton of sodium or nasty preservatives, and prevents me from getting hangry. (I have had some seriously hangry episodes in the past when travelling – don’t ask my husband about our first trip to Barcelona.) Krave Jerky to the rescue once again. I’ve mentioned before that it is my go-to snack to stash in my gym bag. I also make sure that I bring it with me when I am travelling. I know that it’s a healthy choice that is a good source of protein, will give me the energy I need, tastes great, and won’t make me feel gross like the fast food at the airport or (eeek) whatever I might encounter at rest stops on road trips. Krave Jerky is also gluten free, so if that’s what you need, you know how tough it can be to find foods of convenience that are safe for you. Krave is widely available across Canada now in four tender and delicious flavours. It’s definitely something that I recommend checking out. There’s that whole balance thing again. A tiny bit of planning (as in stashing this in your purse or carry on) is all it takes to stay on track with having the fuel your body needs so you can really, really get lost. In the best way possible.
You can find KRAVE Gourmet Jerky in Canada at the following retailers: Shoppers Drug Mart, Walmart, Loblaws, Sobeys, London Drugs, Jean Coutu, Overwaitea Foods and Federated Coop. It retails from $6.99 - $8.99. Available in four delicious flavours: Sweet Chipotle Beef, Chili Lime Beef, Black Cherry Barbecue Pork and Grilled Sweet Teriyaki Pork.
This post was generously sponsored by Krave Jerky, but all opinions are, as always, my own.
My idea of an elevated snacking experience.Read More