Monday, September 15, 2014

From Blog To Business

I've been passionately blogging since 2007. I started this blog as a way to stay connected with my friends and family, never dreaming that this blog would one day turn into something more. Over the years, I've had so many incredible opportunities because of this little blog that I'm incredibly thankful for. 

I've attended a few blog conferences, including BlogHer three times (in NYC, San Diego, and NYC again) and Mom 2.0 in Miami, and I've been to BlissDom Canada three times: in 2010, 2011, and 2012, which was my favourite one yet.

The thing I love most about going to these conferences is connecting with and seeing my friends again—sure, we're there to learn, network, and have a good time, but nothing beats the connection and joy of seeing the people you only get the chance to see once a year.

I was thrilled to be a Community Leader at BlissDom Canada in 2012, and I'm happy to be back again this year as a Community Leader!

There is always a lot of great learning going on at conferences like BlissDom Canada, and I think people really enjoy the micro-sessions. It's learning in a more relaxed, intimate setting, where you get the chance to ask all the questions, network, and meet new friends and business associates who share the same goals and ideas as you.

I'm going to be leading (three) micro-sessions on Saturday, October 4th about How to take your love of blogging to the next level and make it your business.

Here's some more information about my session:

From Blog To Business

Whether you're passionate about food, fashion, beauty or travel, you'll learn about how you can take your blog to the next level and make it your business. Through sponsored posts to ad spots on your site, you'll earn what it takes to turn your blogging hobby into a business where you're making money. Tips include who to work as a Brand Ambassador, reaching out to a wider audience through TV appearances, and working as a spokesperson. Also covered in this session: how to approach companies and brands you're interested in working with, when it's okay to work for free, and how to say no without feeling guilty. 

If you're attending BlissDom Canada 2014, I can't wait to see you again, and if we haven't met before—I can't wait to meet you! I hope you'll consider signing up for my micro-session. I can't wait to chat with you and get to know you a little better.

If you have any questions before, during, or after the conference, don't be shy. Email me at loukiazigoumis@gmail.com.  (I love to chat!)

Thank you!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Best Of The Body Shop

I could spend countless hours at the make-up counter in any department store, and I love walking into The Body Shop no matter where I am in the world—from Athens to Ottawa, it's always a treat to stock up on my favourite items knowing that I'll love what I'm buying. For a flawless face, perfect nails, and soft, smooth skin, The Body Shop does it right, year after year.

I love receiving packages from my friends at The Body Shop, and today I opened my mail to find some nail polish from The Body Shop's new Color Crush Nails collection. I received three pretty in pink colours (in Cupid Pink, Oh, Petal, and Rosy Cheeks) and you can find all 24 shades in stores soon. I also received the new Drops of Youth Eye Concentrate. (Along with a gift card to Starbucks? The Body Shop know me so well!)


Here is some information about my favourite Body Shop products:

Drops of Youth Eye Concentrate:  "See life through younger-looking eyes." Sounds good to me! I really love products that help me feel good and products that help refresh me so I can look more youthful... and less tired! The Drops of Youth Eye Concentrate contains Edelweiss plant stem cells and the product instantly refreshes the eyes, and smooths out the appearance of lines and bags, for younger-looking eyes. It has a cool innovative cooling roller ball pump applicator, too, so it's easy to apply. I love that this eye cream makes tired eyes look more awake, and I love that it has a youth-enhancing boost. This is brand new in stores this month, so make sure to stock up soon.


Color Crush Nails: The Body Shop has come out with a brand-new line of nail polish with 24 uplifting, colourful shades. You're certain to find your favourite colour in this collection! The best part about this new collection? The nail polish contains no harsh chemicals, they are totally vegan, and they're not tested on animals. Also, the nail polish leaves a gorgeous glossy finish and it's quick drying—that's a must for me!


Colour Crush Shine Lipstick: I love the lipstick from The Body Shop—I've found these lipsticks to be long-lasting and very moisturizing, with the just the right amount of shine. These lipsticks retail for only $13.00, so you can buy all your favourite shades without spending too much.




Coconut Body Butter: My favourite go-to body lotion has always been the Coconut Body Butter. It works amazingly well, no matter how dry your skin is. It's rich and creamy and melts easily in the skin. Of course, I especially love the delicious tropical coconut scent. It instantly takes me away... to my favourite vacation spot and happy memories of summer. The Coconut Body Butter contains Community Fair Trade virgin organic coconut oil and provides long-lasting 24-hour hydration.



All-In-One BB Cream: BB Creams are all the rage, and I loving using a good BB Cream before applying my make-up. I find that it's a great primer before you put on your other make-up, like blush, eye shadow, and lipstick. Some BB Creams can feel too heavy, but this All-In-One BB cream  provides light to medium coverage and an even finish, and it's easy to use. It's non-clogging and offers 24-hour hydration. It starts off as a white cream that adapts to your skin tone.



Vitamin E Moisture Cream: This is one Body Shop's best-sellers, because it's so moisturizing and gentle on sensitive, dry skin. This moisturizer leaves skin very soft and smooth, and it's only $8.50—a complete steal for the great job it does.



Thank you, Body Shop, for the fabulous products—I'm always impressed and I love what you send my way

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

These Boots Are Made For Walking

Are we over summer yet? I'm not. In fact, I was wearing my flip flops just last night on my walk to the park with my boys. I just can't yet give up on my favourite season, you guys. But something is shifting... I'm seeing myself drawn to the boots section in the shoe stores now. I'm dreaming up outfits that include tights and ankle booties. I guess that somewhere inside me, I'm ready to embrace all the wonderful things that come with fall: cute sweaters, skinny jeans, and new sexy boots.

Are you ready to put your best foot forward?



Here are my picks for the best new boots for fall: 

These Hush Puppies are sexy, sleek, and comfortable. You can never go wrong with a pair of shoes or boots from Hush Puppies, and as a Brand Ambassador for ShoeMe.ca, I received these in the mail and I'm in love. Truly... they're the perfect (and quite affordable, at only $150) addition to your fall wardrobe. 



I love Sam Edelman—from flats to boots, you'll always be on trend and looking amazing, especially in these elegant booties. These are perfect for a night out, paired with tights and an LBD, or with your favourite pair of skinny jeans. These are just under $200.00—you can find them online for $195.00.




If you're looking for a pair of boots that are a bit more practical that you can wear every day, I'm loving these Rag and Bone boots. They're around $600.00, but you can justify the money you'll spend on them by knowing they'll easily become your go-to boots that you'll wear every day. See? I'm a problem-solving shopper!

I also adore these Rag and Bone boots... a lot. Perfect with a pair of skinny jeans or a little dress, don't you agree?


Looking for a sexy boot in a leopard print? I'm loving these from Nine West!


And I love these Nine West booties, because they have a bit of a peep-toe, so you can still show off your gorgeous, perfectly pedicured toes while wearing these. These are a great pair of booties to help you transition into fall, too. 

Of course, no boot report would be complete without a pair of classic boots by Frye, and these are the ones I'm totally falling in love with. I think they're sexy, classic, and comfortable. They're certainly worth the investment, and they come in copper, dark brown, and black. You can order them online from Nordstrom.com. Say hello to your new best friend!



For every day, I also love these pair of Trolley ankle booties. You can order these online at Nordstrom, too, and soon enough, you can shop Nordstrom right here in Ottawa. (I'm so excited!)


If you're trying to stay warm and still look fashionable and chic, check out these beauties by UGG. Aren't they adorable? I want them. In fact, I NEED them! (It's not too early to make that holiday list, right? Maybe I am slowly getting over summer...)


And just because we all love Christian Louboutin so much, I had to include these gorgeous black ankle boots. They're simply... stunning. We all need a little red soles in our lives, right?


Happy boot shopping, friends, and welcome to fall!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Treat Yourself At WaySpa

I think it's incredibly important to take time for yourself as often as possible. We all lead busy lives, and now that the children are back in school and we've fallen into a regular routine again, it's time to book that appointment to the spa you've been putting off for too long. It's time to give yourself a pat on the back for surviving summer (as amazing as it was!) and it's time to treat yourself to a massage or facial... or anything you fancy, really.

I'm absolutely thrilled to be working with WaySpa as a Brand Ambassador.  

For those of you who are not yet familiar with WaySpa, let me introduce you to your new best friend:

WaySpa is a one-stop online spa marketplace for everyone. Whether you're looking to book a massage or man-pedi in your city, or a city you're travelling to, WaySpa has you covered. WaySpa helps you easily find the best treatments (facials, massages, hair styling, and so much more) conveniently online—from spas in your neighbourhood to spas around the world.

I love giving WaySpa gift certificates to friends for special occasions, too, like birthdays, the birth of a child, or for the holidays. There is no gift I appreciate more than a gift card to the spa!


When you go online to WaySpa, you just enter the city you're searching for, and all the listings of the participating spas and salons pop up, with pictures, prices, and descriptions of services. WaySpa makes spa-searching quick, easy, and relaxing. WaySpa's spa partners include hotel spas, ultra-luxuirous day spas, salon spas, and so much more.

I spent the day before my birthday at Holtz Spa, an Ottawa spa partnered with WaySpa, enjoying a one-hour relaxation massage. I was in need... and it was totally wonderful. See the face of relaxation?


I've talked about WaySpa before on CTV and in blog posts, and now I'm so happy to be sharing even more WaySpa news and updates with you on a regular basis. Stay tuned for more news from my friends at WaySpa, and in the meantime—please check out WaySpa yourself to see what I'm talking about. It's time to treat yourself.

Enjoy!



Disclosure: I am a Brand Ambassador for WaySpa.com, and I receive special perks, gift cards, and compensation for my work. All views and opinions are my own. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Claudine: A Book Review

There is something so amazing about sitting down with a new book, and I'm very thankful that I've been given the chance to review books for Penguin Canada. I've been with a book in my hands since I was 12 years old, and that's one thing that's never changed about me—my love for reading and discovering new books to love.



I was asked to review the new erotic thriller, Claudine, written by Barbara Palmer. At first I was apprehensive about reviewing another erotic book, because I was very unimpressed with Fifty Shades Of Grey. I found that book dull, uninteresting, and not sexy at all—never mind all the grammar mistakes that kept me cringing. Also, yawn.

Claudine falls under the erotic fiction category, but it's also a thriller—so not only will you instantly get lost in the erotic and sexy words and scenes of the book, you'll also be left on the edge of your seat the entire time.

Claudine is not your typical erotic romance; it was written by a bestselling Canadian author (who wrote this book under a pseudonym) so the writing style is really impressive. (I'm dying to find out who the real author is! Aren't you?) No constant lip-biting nonsense here, only purely sexual scenes combined with murder-mystery and romance. Pretty much everything that makes a book exciting.


Claudine is about a women who is sexy, powerful, smart, independent and in control.  That just adds to the sexiness of the book, in my opinion.

The main character is a postgrad Yale student who is also a high class courtesan—think Secret Diary Of A Call Girl. You'll get lost in her world from the moment you start reading the book, and I promise, you won't be able to put it down until you're finished reading.

"Maria Lantos is a postgrad Yale student researching illicit eighteenth-century literature. She's become exceptionally well-versed in the narratives of classic erotic fantasy. She's also Claudine, an in-demand escort specializing in sexual role play for an elite clientele. Anonymous. Satisfying. And discreet. Until the tenuous separation between her worlds start to crack. It begins with the murder of a stranger..."

And so, as you see, things get even more interesting...

This is one of those books I'll recommend to all my friend who are looking for an interesting and juicy read. It's hot. It's exciting. And it's a page-turner.

I don't want to give too much away, but I promise you'll love it as much as I did, and you'll finally understand how great erotica can be, if done right.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ten Things I Love (On My Birthday)

Every year on my birthday, I like to reflect on the things I love. Since today I turn 38 years old (but still feeling very much like I'm in my 20's, thank you very much!) I'm sharing with you ten things I love.

1. My family.  My boys, my husband, my parents, sister, grandparents, and in-laws... I'm thankful I'm surrounded by so many awesome and loving people. We're a fun, crazy, loud bunch.








2. Amazing lifelong, since childhood, friendships. I cherish my girlfriends a lot.



3.  Vacations and travel.... so necessary in my life!




4. Blogging, and the amazing opportunities that come from it, year after year. Like being one of the six celebrities in the 2013 Dancing With The Stars for Easter Seals competition—going outside of my comfort zone is something I don't often shy away from! It still blows my mind, how incredible this community is, and how if you really work hard and follow your passion, good things happen. Highlight this year? Meeting Katy Perry after her concert, all thanks to Cover Girl. And to come? Speaking as a Community Leader at BlissDom Canada.


5. Greece. Our recent vacation with the kids brought back so many childhood memories of the summers I spent there, and now my boys love Greece as much as I do.





6. Wine... white, red, doesn't matter—just as long as it's good, and shared with friends.



7. Great food.




8. The ocean. It is my therapy, and nothing beats running into the waves and the sound and smell of the sea.




9. Books and reading. I've had a book in my hand since I was 12.



10. Where I'm from. Memories, new and old, good and bad, make up who I am today. I love where I'm from, where I've been, and I'm hoping where I'm heading is the place I need to be.

Here's to another wonderful year!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Take A Trip Around The World At The Calgary Zoo

Canada is a such a vast, beautiful country, and there are still so many places I have to travel to and explore. I live in the lovely city of Ottawa, and have traveled throughout Ontario and Quebec more times than I can count, but I've only been to Calgary three times—and each time I've gone, I've loved it more than the time before! I love Calgary in the winter, and I love visiting Lake Louise and Banff. They're such perfect vacation destinations during the winter months, because everything is so picture perfect with all the snow and ski hills.

Summer is also the perfect time to travel to Calgary, because there is so much to do and see. If you're travelling as a family with kids, you should definitely check out the Calgary Zoo. A family vacation to Calgary during the summer months is the perfect travel destination that'll keep the entire family entertained, no matter your taste.

For ove 75 years, the Calgary Zoo has offered visitors from around the world the great opportunity to experience and interact with wildlife, right in the heart of the city, only five minutes from downtown. I love the convenience of being in a busy city, yet being so close to a large zoo where you feel like you're a million miles away. You don't have to worry abut driving for miles to get to your destination since you're already "on vacation."



The Calgary Zoo is Western Canada's largest accredited zoo and has over 1,000 animals, 6 acres of botanical gardens, a prehistoric park (the kids are sure to love that—there are even life-sized dinosaurs on display so the kids will be in awe!) a zoo-nique playground, and so much more.

I know my favourite part would be the Penguin Plunge! Penguins are the cutest animals, and I'd love to see the realistic penguin habitat they have at the zoo. Of course, you can also find the usual suspects at this zoo: tigers, monkeys, leopards, bears, wolves, and more. You really need an entire day—at least—to take it all in. And still, that might not be enough time.

My oldest son's favourite animal is the Komodo Dragon, and my youngest son's favourite animal (or, reptile) is the Crocodile or American Alligator. With so many reptiles at this zoo, including four Komodo Dragons, I know my kids would have a blast. (We have yet to go to the Calgary Zoo together, but it's on our travel itinerary! If it's anything like the Toronto Zoo or the Miami Zoo, I know we'll have a blast.)

The Calgary Zoo has so much to offer, so much to see and do, you'll really feel like you walked around the world in one day. You'll be exhausted by the end of your day, but it will have even well worth it!


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All views and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Six Tips To Get Organized For Back To School

The most wonderful time of the year is almost here! Although I would love summer to last forever, especially because it's been so wonderful, I think we're all ready to put the beach towels away and bring out the backpacks. I'm craving routine, aren't you?

I was on CTV Ottawa Morning Live today, talking about getting ready for back-to-school and how we can all stay organized this year.



Here's my segment, featuring items from Pottery Barn Kids, Hilroy Canada, Mabel's Labels, and Mastermind Toys—items that will help you and your kids get organized just in time for school!

Here are some tips to help you and your children transition from summer to fall without any major meltdowns:

Get Into The Groove

While we were in Greece, my kids adapted to the Greek lifestyle—going out for dinner at 10 p.m. and staying up until past midnight almost daily, thanks to the World Cup being aired at 11 p.m. most nights. Since we've been back, we've been relaxed with bedtime, and the boys have been going to bed after 10 p.m. It's important to get everyone back into a bedroom routine a couple of weeks before school starts, so that your kids aren't looking at you like you're crazy when you tell them to hit the sack at 8 p.m. the night before school starts.

It's hard to go to bed when it's not completely dark out, but the sooner you start getting your kids used to an earlier bedtime, the easier it'll be when school begins. You should also start waking up your sleepyheads earlier, so they're not horrified when the alarm clock goes off in a few weeks.  

Calendar Central

I love using wall and pocket calendars to keep myself and my family organized. Everyone leads a busy life, and transitioning from summer to fall can be tricky if you're not organized. We've already gone through fall registration for some after school activities, like tennis. You should get a good big wall calendar and leave it somewhere everyone can see, preferably near the main phone in the kitchen. Update it regularly, and keep track of each child's activities with different coloured markers.

From after-school activities, to sports, play dates, volunteer days, school functions and more—if you've got things written down, you won't forget what you have to do each week and you'll be able to prepare everyone ahead of time. Also, update your tablet and iPhone with all this information, too. 

Go Shopping

But before you do, take inventory in your children's rooms and figure out what no longer fits and what they'll need. Empty out drawers, and make your children try on clothes you're not sure still fit them. Make a keep, donate, and toss pile. Once you've gone shopping for the items your kids will need, put clothes in places they can reach in their closets and drawers so they can get dressed themselves (or with your help, of course) in the morning.

Label Everything

Label everything—pencil cases, lunch bags, clothes, gloves, pencil cases and water bottles. Things DO get lost, but if things are labelled, they'll most likely be found and returned! Mabels Labels are the labels we use year after year because they last, they are affordable, and there are so many cute designs to choose from. Also, I love supporting such a wonderful Canadian company.

Get Ready The Night Before

This is where I usually fail—on days when I wake up at the same time as the kids, I'm usually running behind, making lunches, trying to find clothes for the kids to wear, and basically, stressing everyone out. When we've got the backpacks packed, the lunches mostly made, and the clothes picked out the night before, mornings are so much more relaxed.

Stick To A Homework Routine

Pick a quiet place in your home and pick a time that you can stick to. Have all the supplies you need in a box—pencils, calculators, rulers, notebooks—so things will be easy to find when the time time comes to get the homework done. No excuses!

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