Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Five Reasons Why A WaySpa Gift Card Makes A Great Holiday Gift

It's the season for baking, shopping, wrapping, cooking, hosting, partying, attending Christmas concerts, and celebrating with family and friends. It is a busy month, to say the least, and I love giving gifts that I know people will love and really appreciate—like a gift card to WaySpa.

I love spa days and I love being a Brand Ambassador for WaySpa, because it's my job to test out different spas every month and blog about my experience. It's aways a wonderful and relaxing time, and I think that a gift card to WaySpa would make an excellent gift for everyone on your shopping list.


Here are the TOP FIVE  reasons to give the gift of a WaySpa gift card this holiday season to the people on your shopping list:

1. It's a simple way to shop—just go to Wayspa.com and with a click of a button, your gift card has been purchased.

2. You don't have to worry about wrapping your gift. Just put your gift card in a cute little box, or inside a holiday card, and you're good to go. No need to worry about making the perfect bow. 

3. Stress-free shopping—everyone, and I mean everyone—appreciates a day at the spa, whether it's for a massage, a manicure, a pedicure, a blow-dry, or a facial. 

4. It's a gift that's really appreciated this time of year because it's calorie-free! Save the cookies for the exchange, and give the gift that's all about pampering.

5. WaySpa is the world's fastest-growing online spa marketplace in partnership with over 2000 spa around the world, and offers great prices to the best salons. If you're looking for a perfect last-minute gift, purchases can be delivered digitally and emailed (or printed directly from your computer after you've made your purchase.) Last minute shopping made easy!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tales From Toronto

My boys are the best travelers, whether traveling by car, train, or plane. We just spent three days in Toronto for a pre-Christmas getaway—to attend my mom's art show, visit the Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, and to see my best friends—and we had a great time.

 Chevrolet Canada gave me a 2015 Traverse to test drive for an entire week, and we were able to take this awesome vehicle to Toronto for our trip. The kids, of course, loved it, and we were thankful for all the room, too—thank you so much for the sweet ride, Chevrolet Canada!



We arrived to our favourite Toronto hotel, the Marriott Bloor Yorkville. This was our third stay (and my fifth) at this hotel in Yorkville, and our third stay in the Presidential, two-level suite. Our first visit was during my 35th birthday and the hotel treated us to not only the suite, but champagne, cake, flowers, treats for the children, and balloons, too.

The kids truly love all the room, and I like that we can invite friends and family to our suite, too, to chill out, have dinner around the table, and run around. The service at this hotel is great, and I love the Yorkville location. The best part is that all the shops are connected underneath the hotel, so we don't have to wear boots or bring our coats when we want to grab a coffee at Starbucks or go shopping. Truly a great thing in the winter time!
 



We celebrated my dad's birthday (and my Name Day) at Spuntini's in Yorkville with the family while the guys went to a Raptors game. This is my favourite restaurant in Toronto, along with Sotto Sotto and Ciao, and the food and service was perfect and delicious.


The next day, we went to The Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, which was truly such an incredible experience—it was the highlight of our getaway, and we all enjoyed seeing all the fish and especially the sharks and stingrays. It was so cool! (You can read my full review here.)


We attended my mom's art show that evening, at Artworld of Sherway, and my best friends met me at the show. (Thanks, Marcie and Suzanne and Eamon!) The kids hung out together while we connected again, and then we went out for a yummy dinner at Sherway Gardens.



 

Of course, no trip to Toronto is complete without a walk around Yorkville— it's especially beautiful this time of year with all the dazzling Christmas lights and window displays. While we split up—two went to the Royal Ontario Museum, and two shopping in Yorkville—it was such a  nice time, and a great day to be outside walking around.


 My little trooper even held his own shopping bag on our walk back to our hotel!


 
Lunch on the Danforth for Greek food was the perfect ending to our little weekend getaway and we can't wait to visit Toronto again. It's become one of my children's favourite places to visit that's close to home.
 

Thank you, Marriott Bloor Yorkville, for the memories once again!

The Ripley's Aquarium of Canada: Making A Splash In Toronto!

I love getting away with the family for mini vacations, and this past weekend we took the kids (along with my sister and her family, and my parents) to Toronto for the weekend. We travel to Toronto with the children as often as we can, and this trip was planned so we could attend my mom's art show, see my best friends, do some shopping in Yorkville for the holidays, and enjoy a nice stay at the Marriott Bloor Yorkville once again. We had a sweet drive up in a Chevy Traverse—thanks again, Chevrolet Canada, for lending me this awesome vehicle for our road trip—the kids, of course, LOVED it, and so did we!

A highlight of our trip was visiitng The Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, right in the heart of Toronto. It was, without a doubt, an amazing experience and everyone loved it. (Thank you to Ripley's for providing me and my family with media passes for our visit!)


The Ripley's Aquarium of Canada opened its doors last fall and since then, it has been one of the most visisted and talked about attractions in Toronto for residents and tourists.

There are 16,000 marine animals, 5.7 million litres of water, and 50 live exhibits. It was an oasis of water, and it was so beautiful to experience. It reminded me of the Atlantis in Bahamas.



We loved the Discovery Centre, and seeing so many cool fish like octopus, the tropical freshwater fish, American Eels, the American Lobster (one of the large lobsters was 75 years old!) and the blue lobster. We saw tube anemones, Sea Pens, huge crabs, and adorable clownfish. (Hi, Nemo!)


The Dangerous Lagoon section was our favourite, with the long, walking runway. We were able to get up close and personal with some of the scariest and coolest looking sharks and stingrays and hung out with sea turtles, potatoe cod, venomous fish, and pirhanas.


Another cool section was the Jellyfish section... they are so fascinating and scary!


There were 100 interactive displays and 6 play zones for children, so the fun never stopped. It was a great way to spend our morning. Of course, no visit is complete without a stop at the gift shop, and the kids took home a special souvenir to remember their first visit to the Aqaurium.




If you haven't had a chance to visit The Ripley's Aquarium of Canada yet, make sure you make plans to visit soon. Passes would make a great holiday gift, too! It was a wonderful, educational and fun vist for everyone.

Disclaimer: Thank you to the Ripley's Aqaurium of Canada for providing me and my family media passes for our visit to the Aquarium. We loved every minute and can't wait to visit again!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Body Shop: Making Holiday Wishes Come True

What's on your holiday wish list?

For me, books are always the top of my list, along with candles and beauty products. I love receiving my favourite must-have products as Christmas gifts, like The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter and White Musk eau de toilette—these also make such perfect stocking stuffers!

Christmas 2014 at The Body Shop is all about making wishes come true, and this year, they've put together the biggest gift selection ever—with over 75 new gifts and gift sets that are perfect for giving and gifting.

But the very best part?

The Body Shop has partnered with War Child, the global charity for children affected by war, to grant children the wish of education—which is the most important gift of all, along with health.

With your help, The Body Shop will provide more than 6 million lessons to children in war-torn areas. For every gift you buy—no matter how big or small—The Body Shop will make a contribution that funds a class for a child. Keeping children in school helps keep them safe, builds their confidence and knowledge, and opens news doors for them—doors that lead to amazing opportunities. So just by shopping, you'll be sending a child to class with every gift you buy. Isn't that wonderful?

I was on Daytime Ottawa today talking about all the great gifts you can buy from The Body Shop this season, and how great it is that no matter what you buy, you're giving back in a big way—such a bonus! (That's me below, with host Derick Fage and co-host for the day Sid Cratzberg.)



Buy a gift, help a child—it is that simple.

Here are some of the great gifts I talked about on my segment today, from The Body Shop:

1. The Best of The Body Shop Advent Calendar: This is my most favourite advent calendar! What's better than chocolate? Beauty products, of course, beauty they're just as yummy but calorie-free. Who needs the extra calories this time of year, right? This advent calendar is full of beauty surprise behind every door, from best-selling body and face care products, to fragrances, soap, and colour crush nail colours. It's 24 days of body loving joy.


2. Winter Wonderland Music Box: This beautiful music box is filled with you favourite body-loving treats from The Body Shop, and when you're finished the wonderful gifts inside, you have a lasting music box that adds charm to any room.


3. Strawberry Festive Picks: This gift box is filled with your favourites in this delicious scent—shower gel, body butter, soap, and body polish. I just love the packaging, and how it's ready to give to someone! So pretty.


4. Wild Argan oil Premium Selection:  This lovely gift set uses Community Fair Trade Argan Oil from Morocco and comes with Argan Oil body butter, body scrub, and bubble bath.


5. The Nutty Polar Bear: This is a cute little gift set to give to your teenaged niece or friend! It comes with a nutty duo of Shea Body Butter and Shea Lip Butter.

 
 
6. Candy Kisses: This is the perfect gift exchange gift, gift for a friend, or stocking stuffer! It comes in the shape of a candy cane, and is filled with all sorts of delicious lip gloss flavours to keep your lips kissable all winter long!




I truly do love The Body Shop and I especially giving gifts that give back in a bigger way, which is exactly what The Body Shop is doing this with War Child this year.

Happy holiday shopping!


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It Feels Good (To Give)

It's the season of joy, all things festive, giving, and receiving—but most imporant of all, giving to those who need it most. Although we should always remember those in need and those who have less than we do, the holiday season is a time to shine when it comes to giving back, and it's the time of year we're reminded about how much we have, how much we can do to give back to the communties we live in, and how much giving is actually the best gift of all—just knowing you've helped someone, in any way, is such a wonderful feeling.

This holiday season, McCain Foods is sharing good news stories to help motivate more people to give back and to help support Food Banks Canada. Until December 23rd, McCain Foods will be donating $5 (up to $50,000) for every good news story that is shared using the #McCainShareGood hashtag on Twitter, or by tagging the McCain Foods Canada Facebook page. Pretty easy and worthwhile to take part, right?

By simply sharing something good–how you helped your neighbour shovel the snow, how you treated a stranger to coffee, or maybe how you gave a scarf and gloves to someone in need–you, too, can contribute to this awesome initiative and give back in even more ways.

I have donated warm clothes to a shelter, and I've donated my children's snowsuits that they've outgrown. I've sent out holiday cards to everyone on my list telling them I'm thinking about them during the holidays, and I've given back by donating to the charities that are near and dear to my heart. Those are just some examples of good news stories you can share with the the hashtag #McCainShareGood!

Even more good news to share: McCain Foods will be giving away a prize back to one of my readers that includes:

  • $25 in coupons for free McCain products
  • A McCain reusable tote bag
  • Tuscana Lasagna rectangle fluted bakeware
  • Cuisinart Elements Cake/Pie Server


To enter, share some good news on Twitter, and hashtag #McCainShareGood to take part, and let me know you shared something good by leaving me a comment here (with your contact information.) I'll randomly pick a winner on December 12th, 2014.


Disclaimer: McCain Foods has compensated me for this post and has donated $50 in my name to my local food bank.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Join Me At Urban Barn For An In-Store Holiday Style Session!

I'm absolutely thrilled to be the Brand Ambassador and Spokesperson for the new Urban Barn that just opened its doors in Ottawa, on Hazeldean Road. On Sunday morning, I'll be hosting an in-store holiday style session, so if you're free, come by to learn a few tips and tricks for decorating this holiday season, and do some shopping while you're at it, too!


I had so much fun showing viewers on CTV different ways to decorate the table for this festive season, from a traditional Christmas dinner to a glam and glitzy New Year's Eve party, and hosting the Twitter party for the new Urban Barn was a huge success, too—and such a blast.


There is so much I want from Urban Barn for my home, and I'll be writing about the pieces I'll be getting to help transform some rooms in my house. Priorities for me are re-designing my bedroom, with a new bedroom set and creating a new family room with furniture from Urban Barn. The tough part, though, is deciding which pieces to go with, because there is so much I love from Urban Barn!




I hope to see my fellow shoppers tomorrow at Urban Barn as we talk about getting ready for the holidays!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How One Painting Gave Back In A Huge Way

Last Monday was a very special day for my family and I. My mother's painting, Honouring My Father, was unveiled in Mayor Jim Watson's boardroom at City Hall, where it will be on display next to original paintings by The Group of Seven. The painting will be seen by school groups, ambassadors and dignitaries who visit with the mayor at City Hall. An enhanced print will also be on display in City Hall for everyone to see. The best part is how much this painting has already given back to fallen soldier Nathan Cirillo's son, Marcus.


The paining was made after the tragic shooting at the War Memorial because like everyone that day, my mom was distraught at the news that a young man—a brave soldier—was tragically shot, especially because this man was a single dad, raising his young five year old son, Marcus. It was an incredibly sad day for Ottawa. 

News of the painting travelled far and wide, and my mom received hundreds of emails, likes, requests, suggestions, and messages, about the painting and the media quickly interviewed her in articles online, in print, and on television. The Mayor requested to meet with my mom to find a way to make this painting public, for all to see.



Prints were quickly made, and hundreds sold instantly, though Koyman Galleries. Prints are still being sold daily, and the best part is that all profits from every single print sold are going to Marcus's TD trust fund. 

Over the weekend, my mom and I met with Cpl. Nathan Cirillo's mom at Chateau Laurier and had a tea, along with Nathan's good friend, Brandon, who was also with him the day he was tragically shot. It was an emotional meeting. We hugged a few times, cried, and even laughed, despite the circumstances. My mom presented her with the first enhanced print and she said the painting will be hung in Marcus's room.


"We'll neve obviously replace his dad, but certainly through these financial contributions, we can make sure that he is given those breaks in life to go to college or university and to help him as he grows up without a father," said Mayor Jim Watson during the unveiling. 

I truly love how much one painting has given back in such a huge way, and I love that something good has come out of such a tragedy. My boys were so proud of their grandmother! Giving back and finding a positive way to remember the good is so important.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Making Wishes Come True

The other night, my children begged and begged for me to put up our Christmas tree. It was a beautiful evening, the snow was falling, and we were snuggled up nice and warm indoors after playing outside. Well, with hot chocolate in hands and festive music playing in the background, I complied and we put up the tree. Sure, it's early, but I'm in the mood to celebrate all things festive already, and so are my children. After all, it is such a magical time of year.


I have so many wonderful memories of the holiday season from my childhood—decorating the tree, baking cookies, singing carols, writing letters to Santa, asking for the perfect gift (My Little Pony, a guitar, a globe, Rainbow Brite, and Strawberry Shortcake are some gifts I remember asking for and being so excited to receive!). For my sister, I'm sure her favourite and most memorable Christmas memory is when she received Cricket—the big talking doll. One memory that has stayed with me is of staying up really late to attend midnight mass and then coming home to eat a very late Greek dinner. We'd then get to open one Christmas gift before finally going to bed.

The holidays are all about family, togetherness, and making wishes come true—it's such a wonderful time, especially for children. It's amazing to see the sparkle in my children's eyes as they discover the magic of the holiday season, from giving back to those in need, to asking for, and receiving, that special something they've been longing for.

I remember flipping through the Sears Wish Book, and circling all the toys I wanted when I was younger; now I watch my children do the same thing, with excitement. It's fun to hear their giggles and excitement as they plan out what they want to find under the tree each holiday season.

Waking up on Christmas morning is always so amazing, and now with children running through the house to see what Santa left them, it's even better. Children grow so quickly, and though they won't believe in the magic of Santa forever, the early memories will stay with them a lifetime. And even when they're old enough to understand it's not Santa leaving the gifts under the tree, they'll still appreciate the magic and wonder of the season, because they'll still receive that special something they've asked for.

Have you or your children had the chance to flip through the Sears Canada Wish Book yet this year? I've got a few items circled off myself, and so do my children. Hey, as long as there is a healthy balance with giving, I see nothing wrong with receiving, especially at this time of year.

To help get you in the festive mood, Sears Canada is giving away three $50 gift cards to three of my readers so that you can make someone on your shopping list very happy this Christmas. Simply leave me a comment below telling me what you love best about the holidays, and what a favourite holiday childhood memory is for you! (I'll be randomly picking a winner on December 5th, 2014.)


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Sears Canada, however all views and opinions are my own. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Shop Great Deals At Beyond The Rack (Plus A Gift Card Giveaway!)

I love a great deal—when I'm shopping in stores, or when I'm shopping online. A favourite online shopping destination for me is Beyond The Rack, because it's where I can find a bit of everything I love to shop for in one place, from designer bags and jewellery, to clothes, shoes, and toys for my children.

The best part about shopping Beyond the Rack is the fact that everything on the site is always on sale—up to 80% off, every single day, not just on Cyber Monday. So if you love to shop for great deals because it makes you feel less guilty? You can shop any day, because you'll always find something that is on sale!

I was on CTV Ottawa today talking about the great deals going on right now at Beyond the Rack, and I fell in love with the gorgeous Tory Burch bag I was showing. I think it's a perfect bag for all seasons, you know? And of course, it's on my must-buy list now!


For those of you who are looking to do some holiday shopping online, I'm giving away two $50 gift cards to Beyond the Rack! 

Just leave me a comment below telling me who you're going to buy something for this holiday season if you win a gift card. Of course, you can totally shop for yourself, too—I'd never judge you! Make sure you leave your email address so I can contact you if you win. (This giveaway is open to US and Canadians residents. I'll randomly pick my winners on December 5th, 2014.) 

Also, if you're shopping Beyond the Rack, be sure to enter CTVOTTAWA as a promo code when you're checking out for $10 off your purchase.

Happy Holidays, sweet friends, and Happy Shopping!


Disclaimer: As a Brand Ambassador with Beyond the Rack, I receive compensation for my work. All views and opinions are my own.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Give The Gift Of A WaySpa Gift Card

Can you believe we are only days away from December? November has been the busiest month, and before we know it, the holidays will be here—and we'll be rushing around as always trying to buy those last-minute holiday gifts for everyone on our list.

I start my holiday shopping early (in fact, I am mostly finished shopping for my children!) but there are always a few gifts I leave for the last minute. Partly because I'm busy, and partly because I actually do enjoy the last-minute hustle of shopping for gifts in December. Tis' the season, after all.

This year, I'll be giving the gift of WaySpa to many special people on my shopping list, because without a doubt, it'll be the gift that they'll love the most. Seriously, who doesn't love (or deserve) a day at the spa, whether it's for a manicure and pedicure, a fresh blow-dry or a one-hour full-body massage?


As a WaySpa Brand Ambassador I'm very fortunate because I'm given the chance to try out different treatments at the spas that are affiliated with WaySpa every month. (It's truly an amazing job, I must say.)


I love going for massages at Holtz Spa and AmeriSpa, and I look forward to trying out the amazing services at The Spa in the Windsor Arms Hotel and at The Spa at The Hazelton hotel in Yorkville the next time I'm in Toronto.

 
WaySpa is a one-stop online spa marketplace for everyone, whether you're looking to book a facial, body treatment, hair cut or mani-pedi in your city, or even to a city you're travelling to. Why not be be prepared and pre-book your spa appointment before you even arrive at your destination? WaySpa can make that happen—just go online and book the service you want at the location of your choice and you're done!

A day of pampering is so important for your well-being, especially when there is so going on with the kids, work, after-school activities and more. Take the time to treat yourself, and while you're at it, give the gift you know the people on your shopping list will love you for!




Disclosure: As a WaySpa Brand Ambassador, I recieve compensation/gift cards and special perks to try out spas and services. All views and opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Nordstrom Is Hiring—Plus, Get Your Tickets To the Nordstrom Gala Now!

You all know how much I love to shop—and if there was a way for me to shop for a living, well, that would be my full-time job. Since I don't yet make my living as a "professional shopper" I have managed to keep shopping an active part of my life by working as a shopping blogger and expert, and as a Brand Ambassador and Spokesperson for brands and stores I love to shop at and do business with. Next best thing, right?

As you also know, Nordstrom (my favourite store EVER) if finally opening in Rideau Centre this coming March. I am beyond excited for this, because Nordstrom is my go-to department store whenever I'm traveling in the United States. (Special shout-out to the amazing staff at Nordstrom in Aventura Mall!)

I think having a job in Nordstrom would actually be a dream come true, because I'd be spending time in my favourite store, doing what I love—helping people find things they need and want—and getting paid for it. Not a bad gig, right? Well, if you're interested in working at Nordstrom Ottawa, you're in luck, because they're hiring!

I attended the pre-gala Nordstrom celebrate last night, and it was great to see many familiar faces and meet some great people from Nordstrom. I am so excited for the Nordstrom Gala that will be taking place on March 4th, a couple of days before Nordstrom opens to the public.

A gala night in Nordstrom... perfection! There will be a dinner, dessert, live entertainment, a fashion show, and shopping, of course. Shopping in an evening gown while sipping champagne... perfect night!





Tickets to Ottawa's Nordstrom Gala are now on sale, and oh my gosh, you guys—they're selling fast. You better get your ticket before it's too late.

The best part? The $100 ticket gives back in a huge way. 100% of ticket sales are going to the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and to United Way, split 50/50. A glamorous night out as you help these two amazing organizations—can't think of a more worthwhile way to spend an evening!

See you at the Nordstrom Gala!

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