Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Diplomat Resort Spa Experience

I'm back from my annual family vacation to sunny, warm south Florida, and my 11th (yes, really!) stay at the beautiful Diplomat Resort and Spa. Right between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, it's a vacation getaway in the perfect location, whether you're traveling with young children, friends, or as a couple. The oceanfront views simply cannot be beat. 








We love traveling to south Florida in the winter because it's a short flight to paradise—we're surrounded by tropical lush landscapes, the beautiful ocean breeze, palm trees, and two gorgeous pools we use for hours every day at the Diplomat Resort. The infinity pool and the lagoon-style pool at the Diplomat are two of my favourite pools in any resort I've stayed at.

Something I truly enjoy about the Diplomat Resort is experiencing the Diplomat Spa. I love starting my day with a full-body massage, and just relaxing. It really rejuvenates me so I'm ready to take on my day—swimming with my boys in the ocean, and in the pools. I know, it's a tough life when you're on vacation! The spa is stunning, and the service is always excellent. 







The Diplomat Spa offers a variety of massages, including Hot Stone, Deep Tissue, the Diplomat Spa Signature (my personal favourite), Bamboo, Relaxation, Couples, and In-Room Massages. There are also plenty of facials to choose from, including Microdermabrasion, as well as waxing services, manicures, and pedicures, so you'll look and feel your very best.

For more information on the Diplomat Resort and Spa, check out their website for the latest deals. It's truly the best destination and resort to stay at with the family, no matter the season. It's paradise, year-round!

Thanks again, Diplomat, for making our stay so memorable. We will be back in a few months.


Monday, February 1, 2016

Nature’s Bounty: Where Beauty Begins #NaturesBountyBeautyCA

I’ve always had long, thick, curly hair—which is both a blessing and a curse—because it's not easy to manage my hair. I am at the salon at least once a week for a blow-dry and I do my highlights often, too—oh, the joys of being a blonde! As much as I love my visits to the salon, my hair suffered some serious damage from being so over-processed. As a result, I lost a lot of my thick hair, and it's been a challenge getting it to grow long and healthy again.






 As much as I love taking care of my hair and skin with products for the outside, I don't often think about how important it is to take care of my body from the inside—going a step further than eating well and exercising. Something I didn't put a lot of thought into was taking daily vitamins to help achieve the glowing skin I wanted, and hair that was more radiant, smooth, and shiny.

I started using Nature's Bounty  vitamins because I'd heard so many great things about this particular brand, especially the Nature's Bounty Hair, Skin, and Nails Gummies with Biotin.  I appreciate that Nature's Bounty has created a line for women, with products that speak to me. The Nature's Bounty women's line has a variety of great products including some incredible Coconut Oil that I love using on my skin after my shower (it makes my skin super soft, and smells delicious all day long, even when I'm outside in the cold!)


The truth is, it's easier than you think to take care of yourself from the inside out—starting with taking daily vitamins that are catered to your needs. I used (and continue to use) Nature's Bounty Hair, Skin, and Nails Gummies every day, and the results have been incredible!

No more skin break-outs. My skin now looks so great that even my best friends are asking me what I've been doing different; my hair looked shinier, too, and feels a million times better than before; and my nails aren't breaking as easily as they used to, no matter how many dishes I do! When you combine vitamins that are made for you with healthy eating and working out, you're doing your body a huge favour. And it's such a simple thing to do first thing in the morning, which is when I take my vitamins with a glass of lemon water.

Even though my hair stylist recommend taking a vitamin with Biotin to help my hair, I was apprehensive at first; I thought there was really nothing I could do to get back the hair I once had, but after only a couple of days of taking my Nature's Bounty Hair, Skin, and Nails Gummies with Biotin, I noticed a difference in not only the way my hair was responding, but also with my skin. Less hair in my brush meant something good was happening to my hair, and when my stylist commented on how great my hair looked, I knew these vitamins were working.

I'm so thankful, truly, that I found something that helped my hair get back to how it used to be before it was damaged. Smoother, shinier hair and skin that glows? Yes, please!

I was so impressed with Nature’s Bounty Hair, Skin, and Nails Gummies that I recommended them to all my friends. And when they start seeing results, too, it was a great feeling. Taking care of ourself doesn’t have to be complicated; it certainly is important, and when its as simple as taking something that’s good for you, it’s a beautiful thing. After all, beauty does start on the inside. 


* Individual results may vary.  As a reminder, discuss the supplements and medicines you take with your health care provider. These products may pose risks and may not be suitable for everyone. Always read label directions and warnings prior to use.


Disclaimer: I am part of the Chatelaine's Tasters and Testers program. I receive compensation for my affiliation and all views and opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It's Just A Number: The Ageless Giveaway With Olay

What is age, really, but a number? Although I'm in my late thirties, I don't feel a day older than twenty-something. I love when people ask my age and always guess years younger than I really am. Yes, age is just a number, and more and more, Canadian women aren't feeling defined by their chronological age—and why should we?

Olay recently unveiled their Ageless program—an initiative that explores how Canadian women and women around the world  think about aging and what their expectations are when it comes to beauty.

There is no denying I'm in my late thirties; after all, I get excited when 90's music plays on the radio, I wore jeans with safety pins, teased my hair, loved Who's The Boss and Growing Pains, and rocked out to New Kids On The Block. My favourite bands include Tom Petty and The Eagles, and I shed a tear when David Bowie passed away. I went through the awkward teenage stage that I look back and laugh at now (bright blue eye shadow, anyone?).

I'm also a mom to two boys who are ten and eight years old; and they certainly have aged me. Being a mom means I'm always on, and there is always something to worry about. I've got more laugh lines,  though—because my children are always making me laugh and smile.

Something else that might give away my age? I'm taking much better care of my skin now. In my twenties, my skin care routine was pretty much get up and go, but now, taking care of my skin morning and night, is an important part of my daily routine.

Part of my beauty routine includes using Olay. Olay created Regenerist, the game-changer in anti-aging. Regenerist treats aging where it starts: at the surface cellular level. The Skin Energizing Complex helps support the natural creation of fresh collagen, faster, revealing healthy new cells at the surface in days. My skin definitely feels more radiant, and looks younger. It's seriously dramatic results in no time at all. (I'm so not patient—I like using products on my skin that show results in days, not weeks or months!)
Regenerist is the #1 anti-aging moisturizer, and that does not come as a surprise to me. But don't only take my word for it—I'd love for you to try it for yourself.

I'm giving away an Ageless Olay Gift Set, valued at $165. Here's what one of my readers will receive:

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting EyeSwirl ($38.49)
Olay Regenerist Facial Cleansing Brush ($33.49)
Olay Micro-Sculpting Scrub Cleanser ($15.99)
Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream ($39.99)
Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Serum ($39.99)


To enter to win this great Olay give-away, leave me a message below telling me what some of your age give-aways are! I will pick winner randomly on January 30th, 2016, and contact my winner by email, so please leave your contact information with your comment. 

Note: P&G has provided me with the product that I am using as the prizes for this contest. The contest is not otherwise endorsed, designed, and/or administered by or associated with P&G. By entering you are accepting that, if you win, your contact information will be shared with a P&G PR and shipping agency for the purpose of mailing your prize. Please allow 4-6 weeks from the contest closer date to receive your prize. This giveaway may appear on other blogs as part of the #PGmom program. However, to be fair, you can only win once per giveaway. 

Disclosure: I am a P&G mom. As part of my affiliation with this group, I receive products and special access to P&G events and opportunities. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Get Fit With Best Buy Canada And The Gramin vivosmart HR Fitness Tracker

It's mid-January and hopefully, we're all on track with our resolutions. After over-indulging in December, I'm taking better care of my health—making sure I'm staying active, and eating well. I've been faithfully going to the gym because the truth is, nothing feels better than a great workout—which makes you feel—and look—great. (Also, getting ready for bikini weather and an upcoming vacation down south is great motivation to kick up your workout routine!)

There are other ways to monitor your health, too, and Best Buy Canada is the place to go to get all that you need to make sure you're staying on track with your health.

Best Buy gave me the awesome new Garmin vivosmart HR Fitness Tracker with Heart Rate Monitor, and I love it, because it measures my heartbeat which helps me improve my fitness regimen. It's stylish, and easy to wear.





The vivosmart HR uses exclusive Elevate heart rate technology to measure my heartbeat directly from my wrist. It also provides information on calories burned and quantifies the intensity of my fitness activities. It also tracks floors climbed and steps walked, while monitoring progress against my goals, and assigns me goals based on my current activity. Pretty cool, right?

There are other great fitness products at Best Buy, including:

JayBird X2 Wireless Bluetooth In-Ear Headphones: A good set of headphones is essential to any workout routine, and these wireless in-ear headphones deliver great sound and are designed to keep up with vigorous workouts with secure fit ear-fins. They retail for $199.99.



Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats: I love my Beats Pill and I love these Beats Dr. Dre Powerbeats Headphones. They're comfortable and designed for working out, and of course, the sound is amazing. These awesome Beats Headphones retail for $219.99, and will make you look forward to going to the gym even more than before.

iHealth Wi-Fi Smart Scale and Body Analyzer—This is the smartest scale you'll ever own! It not only measures wight, but also body fat percentage, lean mass, and body water. You can connect the scale to your home WiFi so it automatically sends measurement data to the MyVitals app on your mobile phone. It' sells for $139.99.



I love it when I have to go shopping for things that are going to help me in the long run—and Best Buy Canada has everything I need to get fit and have fun. Hey, if you have to shop, at least make it for something that's good for you, right?

Thank you Best Buy, for motivating me even more!




Disclaimer: I received product and compensation from Best Buy Canada for this post. All views and opinions are my own. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Winter Skin Care: From La Mer to La Prairie, And Everything In Between

I'm a beauty product junkie, and I love trying new products, especially products I know my skin will love. Winter is harsh, but that doesn't mean there isn't a way to save our skin from the elements. I was on Daytime Ottawa today talking about what my favourite products are that'll help save your skin this winter, from La Mer to La Prairie, and everything in between.






Here's what I'm loving right now: 

Laboratoire Dr. Renaud: I'm a fan of the Dr. Renaud skin care line. This complete skincare brand addresses all skin conditions, from dryness (which we're experiencing now) as well as acne, anti-aging, sun-care, and more. This Canadian company has a rich history of innovation spanning over 50 years—so I do trust the products they put out! I'm loving the 3D Lifting Serum. This serum is a cream-based, won't leave your skin oily, and helps firm skin, while preventing wrinkles. It's also super moisturizing, as well.

Dr. Renaud ExCellience Lifting Anti-Fatigue Mask: Using a weekly face mask is a great way to give you skin the extra love it needs, especially in the winter months. This will help keep your face hydrated and clean, too.

Dr. Renaud Tan Enhancing Veil for Face and Body: This is a great cream that prepares the skin for sun exposure, while allowing you to obtain a quick (safe, because you'll be using SPF, too!) natural tan, while strengthening the skin's natural protection against the sun. This product also extends your tan, and firms skin while hydrating it. It's best to use this cream daily for two weeks prior to sun exposure, and use after you day in the sun, too.

Dr. Renaud Loose Powder UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum Protection: This great loose powder helps reduce the look of lines, takes away shine, and provides great protection for the face with an SPF 50.

Jergens Moisturizer for Wet Skin: I've already blogged about this great moisturizer, but just to remind you: this is great because you apply it before you towel off, as soon as you turn off the water after you shower. It's a great way to keep the moisture locked into your skin.

Dr. Teal's Pure Epsom Salt Body Lotion: This product is enriched with Shea Butter and Vitamin E and provides incredible moisture to hydrate dry skin and bolster its natural smoothness.  $24.99

La Prairie Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Cream: This cream is heavenly... truly, one of the best products I've ever had the pleasure of trying. It's pricy, at $385.00, but lasts a long while, and believe me, taking care of your skin is worth every dollar. This cream relieves signs of fatigue, lines, dullness, and dryness, while building resistance to skin-aging stress, and provides incredible moisture to skin.

La Prairie Swiss Ice Crystal Dry Oil: This dry oil is my favourite. It's like a serum, only better. It relieves dryness and instantly restores the natural line-free glow of youthful skin. It smells divine, too. La Prairie is sold at Nordstrom Ottawa, and you can even book a facial to get to feel the products on your skin, too.

Creme De La Mer: The ultimate moisturizer, indeed. Everyone knows (and loves) La Mer, and with good reason, too. The miracle broth is incredible, skin is left feeling soft and smooth, and it's great moisturizer for helping reduce lines. The ritual? Simply warm the Creme de la Mer between your fingers to activate the Miracle Broth, and once it's translucent, press gently onto face and neck.

La Mer Eye Concentrate: this cream helps dramatically dissolve the appearance of dark circles, and unevenness, and makes the looks of wrinkles soften. You'll definitely notice a visibly healthier, smoother, look around the eyes.

La Mer Lip Balm: This lip balm is great, and perfect to use during the winter months—and always, really. This lip balm works on contact to soften rough lips, relieves discomfort from chapped lips, and helps rejuvenate seriously dry lips. It's got a minty, cool feel, and lasts for hours, so you don't have to constantly re-apply.

La Mer Hand Cream: This hand cream is luxurious, smells amazing, and delivers great results. Skin feels soft and smooth, and there's even an SPF 30 in this cream as well as anti-oxidants. It retails for only $50.00.

If you have any questions about any of these products, or want to find out more, just let me know!






Disclaimer: I receive product and special perks from beauty companies I work with and represent, however, all views and opinions are my own, and I have tested all products I talk about.


Gold Bond® Ultimate Giveaway

Winter is in full swing, and although summer is my favourite season, I've learned to make the most of the long, cold months we have, even if it means bundling up and heading outside when it's minus 20 celsius. Oh, the things we do for our children!



My boys love playing in the snow—snowball fights and building snow forts can carry on for hours outside, and sometimes I get in on the fun with them. We also love after-dinner walks around the neighbourhood and taking part in all the winter celebrations. My favourite part? Coming inside after the outdoor fun, with rosy cheeks, ready to warm up with hot chocolate around the fire place. The down side to all the outdoor winter fun is the toll the weather takes on my skin. Even though I dress in layers to stay warm, winter destroys my skin, making it very dry.

My go-to skin-care brand is Gold Bond® Ultimate. These lotions and creams have saved my skin this winter, and they are the number one product I recommend to my friends when they ask me what they should use to help heal their damaged, dry, winter skin.



Gold Bond® Ultimate lotions and creams takes your skin from dry to smooth and soft instantly. I apply the Gold Bond® Ultimate Healing Hand Cream several times a day, because not only does it work on healing my dry hands, it also feels great, without leaving a greasy feeling on my hands. The Gold Bond Ultimate Eczema Relief is an excellent cream, too, if you are experiencing eczema, rashes, extra dry skin or any minor skin irritations or rashes this winter.

I'm giving away a Gold Bond Ultimate gift basket filled with all my favourite products, so you can experience Gold Bond Ultimate lotions, too! Once you put these moisturizers to the test, they'll become your go-to skin-saving moisturizers immediately, for hands and body.

Entrants are eligible to win one (1) grand prize consisting of a Gold Bond® Ultimate gift basket valued at $120. 

To enter to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Good Luck, everyone!


Contest rules:
  • The winner must by a Canadian resident who are over the age of majority in their province or territory of residence at the time of entry.
  • ENTRY LIMIT: Only one (1) entry per person and per Facebook account for the duration of the contest.
  • To enter the contest, answer the question “Where does your skin suffer the most during the winter months?’’
  • You must submit your answer in the commentary box below this blog post. Winner will
    be randomly selected in Canada on January 29, 2016 at 5PM.
  • If the winner has not claim the prize before February 2, 2016 at 23:59, a second draw will occur. Entrants are eligible to win one (1) grand prize consisting of a Gold Bond® gift basket. There is 1 box to win of a value of $120.
  • The name of the winner will be announce on Facebook and Twitter after the closing date.
  • The claim the prize, the winner has to agree to divulge name, address and coordinates to
    Rogers Media, whom is responsible to send the prize to the winner. Rogers Media consent to send to the privacy policy stated here rogersmedia.com/privacy. However Rogers is not a sponsor of this contest. So every contestant agrees to release and to forever free Rogers of the responsibility, directly or indirectly, of this contest, including any activity related to attribution, reception and possession and/or the use of the the prize.
  • The contest ends on January 29, 2016 at 5 PM (ET).
  • No purchase necessary.
  • Any litigation respecting the conduct or organization of a publicity contest may be
    submitted to the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux for a ruling. Any litigation respecting the awarding of a prize may be submitted to the board only for the purpose of helping the parties reach a settlement. 
Disclaimer: I am part of Chatelaine's Tasters and Testers program. I receive compensation for my work and affiliation as a Taster and Tester, and all views and opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Travel In Style With RIMOWA Luggage: The Original Luggage With Grooves

Two things I love: to travel, and to shop. Of course, travelling with gorgeous luggage makes vacations that much more wonderful, and one luggage company I've always loved is RIMOWA—you know, "The original luggage with grooves" company? Well, they just send me their RIMOWA Salsa Deluxe suitcase for my upcoming vacation to south Florida.

I am in love! I've never felt a suitcase so lightweight—yet so durable—before. This suitcase is guaranteed to last a lifetime, and I travel often. It also has enough room so I can pack all my travel essentials: bikinis, shoes, more shoes, and more bikinis. (Truly, though, this suitcase fits a lot.)



It's the attention to detail that makes RIMOWA one of the world's bestselling luggage manufacturers, (especially in Europe) and also, because they are so incredibly stylish.

Here are just some reasons why I love RIMOWA:
  • Countless numbers of celebrities and athletes use RIMOWA luggage for their travels—and they definitely know a thing or two about the travelling in style!
  • RIMOWA suitcases are incredibly lightweight and they're also the first aluminium suitcase to be created in Germany in the 1950's. (Germany really does make the best of everything—from cars to luggage!) Their headquarters are based in Cologne, and the family-run business has been around for 115 years. 
  • It takes nearly 200 work steps to produce one suitcase by hand.
  • In 2000, RIMOWA made polycarbonate in their luggage production and of course, revolutionized the industry. This material is not only durable and impact-resistant, but very lightweight. 
  • The ball bearing-mounted Multiwheel system is another thing RIMOWA is famous for. Moving this suitcase around is always easy, and can be easily turned and rotated effortlessly in any direction. 
  • The TSA-approved locks are easy to open, even during security checks, without damage. 

I could go on and on, because RIMOWA is that amazing. I'll be posting pics and sharing updates about my travel experience in two weeks as I head down to south Florida for some fun in the sun, so be sure to follow along on Instagram and Twitter.  I can't wait to bring my new RIMOWA suitcase with me. 





Disclaimer: I received the RIMOWA suitcase for my travels. All views and opinions are my own.




Friday, January 8, 2016

Save Your Skin This Winter With Gold Bond Ultimate

Winter is here, and there is nothing we can do about it. I know, it's not the most pleasant thought, considering it's only January, but here we are, so let's make the most out of it!

Despite the fact that I'm still thinking about the days of backyard BBQs, summer dresses, and flip flops, I'm now happily rocking my new ankle booties, skinny jeans, and stylish scarf. And although the transition to winter isn't always easy—especially because the harsher weather tends to dry my skin—I make sure to take extra special care of my skin, from head to toe. Because I'm a beauty product and skin-care addict, I try to find the very best moisturizers for my dry, winter skin—a moisturizer that's guaranteed to make my skin feel soft and smooth.





I have put Gold Bond® Ultimate lotions to the test for over one month, and I'm so happy to report that these lotions are incredible! Actually, Gold Bond® Ultimate lotions are the only daily body lotion made with a unique blend of seven moisturizes and three vitamins that adapt to you skin for a gentle replenishment. And perhaps given all the wonderful things in these lotions, it's why they work so well on my skin.

I moisturize twice a day—first thing when I get out of the shower in the morning, and in the evening. I"m always using Gold Bond® Ultimate on my hands throughout the day and now my hands are so soft, which is a miracle, because, well, hello winter.

Gold Bond® Ultimate is my favourite go-to skin care product, because nothing leaves my skin feeling more soft throughout the day. Soft, healthy, nourished skin? Yes, please!

Here's why I truly love Gold Bond Ultimate:

  • The lotions are non-greasy, which means I can apply and not need to worry about wiping off the lotion because of a greasy feeling. The Gold Bond® Ultimate lotions I'm using absorb quickly into my skin.
  • Dermatologist tested, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic—basically, I know what I'm wearing is good for my skin, and I can also take comfort in knowing I can gift these lotions to friends and family without worrying about their skin having an adverse reaction. Also, I can use these lotions on my children's' delicate skin, too. The Gold Bond® Ultimate Eczema Relief lotion works great for minor rashes and skin irritations, too.
  • Gold Bond® Ultimate lotions contain HYDRALAST emollients and humectants that provide moisture throughout the day for 24-hour protection.
As much as I love using Gold Bond® Ultimate, I know you'll love it just as much, too. Right now, you can sign up to receive a coupon towards any Gold Bond® Ultimate Skin Therapy lotion—so you'll understand why I'm so in love with these skin care products!

Let me know how much you love Gold Bond® Ultimate when you start using it. I love sharing news about the products I love—and the products that work exceptionally well—in delivering results my skin and body thank me for!

Disclaimer: I am part of the Chatelaine's Tasters and Testers program. I receive compensation for my affiliation, and all views and opinions are my own. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Six Ways To Get Healthier And Happier in 2016

Happy New Year!

How cliché to start my first post of 2016 talking about ways to get healthier and happier, but the start of a new year excites me and I look forward to challenging myself, writing down new goals (that I may or may not stick to—hey, resolutions are tough!) and trying to get healthier than the year before. Of course it's important to stick to an exercise routine and eat well throughout the year, but December is a month of partying and overindulging more than usual, so getting back on track in January can sometimes be difficult... but not impossible.

Here are six simple ways to be healthier and happier this year:

Be thankful. It's easy to complain about the things in life that aren't going exactly as we'd like them to go, but if we take a moment each day to remember all the good things we have in our life, we'll complain a lot less. Be thankful for what you have—family, friends, home. We have it good, and if you need a reminder to be thankful, volunteer in a local food bank, or at the children's hospital, or in a homeless shelter. I recently spent some time in the Food Bank and I was brought to tears. 

Drink more water. How many glasses have you had today? Maybe you should go have some water right now. I always start the day by drinking a tall glass of water (not too cold, and sometimes with lemon) and I drink water throughout the day. I love drinking wine and Diet Coke with my meals, so I drink water all day long to make sure I'm staying hydrated.

Get more sleep. I hear sleep is good for you? I don't know, because this is something I still struggle with. I don't love sleeping, and I don't often get more than six hours of shut-eye a night. A lot of this has to do with having children, but late at night is when I feel most awake and creative. It's when I get  ideas to write, and if I'm in the middle of a good book, I'll stay up to finish it. Thus, the lack of sleep. 

Take your vitamins. If you're not able to eat completely balanced meals every day, make sure you're taking a daily multi-vitamin.

EXERCISE. December's form of exercise for me was frequently visiting the mall. Now that January is here, I'm back to my workout routine and hitting GoodLife Fitness almost every day. It's no secret that working out makes you feel great and look great, and with a trip to south Florida coming up, I will be hitting the gym harder than ever to get bikini ready. I love working out on my own at the gym, zoning out and listening to my music, and I love taking classes at GoodLife Fitness like Body Pump and Cycling.  

Write things down. Write down your ideas, dreams, inspirations, and goals. Keep a journal or start a blog or even write things down on post-it notes if you have to. Writing things down will help you stay on track and it'll also help keep you organized. 

So are you ready for whatever 2016 has in store for you? Are you ready to make your dreams and goals come true? You can do it. It's all up to you. And it's not that hard to stay healthy and happy while making your dreams come true.

Happy 2016! 


Disclaimer: I am a GoodLife Fitness Ambassador and receive special perks as my affiliation with GoodLife Fitness. All views and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Giving Back In A BIG Way With Paints And Pints At Big Rig Brew

December was an incredibly busy month with so much going on—from hosting and going to parties, celebrating with family and friends, attending Christmas plays at school, volunteering, decorating, shopping, baking, and wrapping—but it was a wonderful holiday, and many new memories were made.

One of the best parts of this holiday season is giving back, and this year, we gave back in a BIG way. After all, it is the season for giving, right?

This December, my mom, artist Katerina Mertikas, and Ottawa's fabulous Catherine Landry along with the lovely Nella Zourntos from Big Rig Brewery had a fabulous idea to host a paint night at Big Rig to raise money for the Ottawa Food Bank, specifically, the Gloucester Emergency Food Cupboard.


Tickets to this incredible paint night sold out instantly, and everyone got ready to paint like Katerina, with some guidance, a lot of laughter, and yummy food and beer. We were lucky to have our wonderful Mayor Jim Watson stop by to say a few words, along with City Councillor Tim Tierney. Erin Phillips was in attendance, too.

Over $1,800.00 was raised for the Gloucester Food Cupboard. We went shopping for all the food, and filled our cars with baby food, diapers, wipes, cereal, and so many more boxes of essentials for families in need.


Everyone had a blast painting and everyone left with their own version of a Katerina Mertikas painting. It's amazing how many talented and creative ladies we have in this city!





Shopping at Tannis for food and essentials for the Food Bank!



All in all, it was a fabulous, heartwarming event that made this season even more magical. To give back this way was incredible, and it's going to happen again soon—so if you didn't make it to this Paint Night, not to worry—there are more coming!

Thank you to everyone for making this happen.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Six Holiday Hacks For A Stress-Free Meal (And A Special At The Delta Ottawa City Centre)

Are you ready? The holidays are here, and ready or not, it's time to celebrate all things festive! Whether you're hosting at home for Christmas, Boxing Day, or New Year's Eve (or really, any day in between, because every day this season is worth celebrating!) make it a stress-free holiday season with these easy holiday hacks.

Here are six holiday hacks for a stress-free meal:

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Plan out what needs to be done and see what you can prepare a few days in advance of your get together so that all you need to do is cook and serve on the big day. Try to do the following the day's leading up to your party: mix all the dry ingredients, set the table, prepare your chutneys and sauces, and organize your fridge because there is nothing worse to do while cooking than scrambling to find things in a messy fridge.

Does that turkey come deboned?

Debone your turkey before cooking or ask your local butcher to help you out. This turkey hack will ut your cooking time in half and give you more space to cook other things.

Your oven isn't the only appliance in town 

There is nothing more frustrating than having to juggle all your recipes on a four-burner stove and since we've been experiencing warmer than normal temperatures this year, why not use your BBQ for a dish or two? Maybe even give your slow cooker a try for a great stuffing or vegetable side.

Comfort is key

Sometimes thinking out of the box invites unwarranted stress and possible panic if all doesn't go well. Stay within your comfort zone and make a tried and true recipe.

It doesn't always need to be festive

Your guests are likely attending more than one holiday dinner this season so they'll have their fair share of the traditional turkey and stuffing. Don't be affirm to service some ribs or whip up your famous mac and cheese!

Hot plates

When you make a big spread, it's hard to keep the food hot. Use the oven or microwave to heat up your service dishes before you put the food out. Heating the dishes up will help them hold their temperature for much longer.

Here's a great recipe to try this holiday season from Executive Chef of the Delta Ottawa City Centre, Jason Duffy: Cranberry and Red Pepper Ketchup (which is perfect to enjoy with turkey or ham):

Cranberry and Red Pepper Ketchup

15g chopped onion
3g chopped garlic
250g IQF cranberries
250g small diced red pepper
50ml cider vinegar
40ml maple syrup
1 ml allspice
1ml 5 spice
100ml cranberry juice
15g honey
Salt and pepper

Mix together and serve!

And here's a treat for you, if you're staying in town—why not make it a "staycation" and spend the night at the Delta Ottawa City Centre? The Delta Ottawa City Centre is also a perfect destination for your out-of-town guests. 

Right now, if you stay at the Delta Ottawa City Centre, you'll receive two passes to the Monet: A Bridge to Modernity special exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada, and you'll even get to experience their beautiful 10m Balsam Fir Christmas Tree. The stay also includes breakfast for two at LIFT Restaurant, parking, and kids under 12 eat for free! (Maximum of two children per reservation.)

You can even enjoy a delicious Christmas Day brunch and dinner at LIFT Restaurant:

Christmas Brunch: 11:00 a.m.—2:30 p.m.
Christmas Dinner: 5:00 p.m.—9:00 p.m.

Guests enjoying Christmas Brunch or Dinner can take advantage of Delta Ottawa City Centre's special "Take the Elevator Home" package for $99 per night. The stay includes breakfast the following morning at LIFT Restaurant.

No matter what you do this holiday season, make it stress-free by planning ahead, and maybe even treat yourself and your family to a getaway at the Delta Ottawa City Centre.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Celebrate the New Year in Style In Quebec City

Can you believe the year is coming to an end? 2015 was a great year, but now it's time to look forward to all that 2016 has in store—I'm ready for a new year! What plans do you have to ring in the New Year? With my children off for two weeks to celebrate the holiday season, I'm thinking a trip to Québec City is a great idea‚ because it's only a short drive from Ottawa, and there is so much to do—especially during the holidays. 

From December 27 to 31, Grande Allée is joining forces with Québec City Tourism to bring tourists some incredible events and festivities to celebrate the New Year right downtown in Québec City.


This celebration will make Québec City a top destination for anyone looking for something fun and unique to do in the New Year. Outdoor bars and heated terraces will be set up on Grande Allée and you can even enjoy riding a huge ferris wheel while listening to folk music, which will all add to the New Year fun and festivities. 




On December 31st—New Year's Eve—about a dozen artists, including DJ's, singers, MC's, foot tappers, and fiddlers will take to the stage to warm up the crowd before Grande Allée turns into an outdoor disco for the evening's main event, featuring the amazing DJ Tchami—one of the world's greatest DJ's. The New Year will kick off with a special countdown and pyrotechnics, as well as fireworks, after which Tchami's concert will continue. 


New Year's Eve is going to be a blast in Québec City. And don't worry about being cold; there will be plenty of heated bars and restaurants to enjoy on Grande Allée. You can even enjoy the fun with your family on the ferris wheel overlooking the Old City. 



Quebec is a beautiful province to visit with the family and friends no matter the season, but Québec City during the holiday season is something magical. Spending the holiday season in Québec City is something to see, especially the brightly decorated streets and the festive lights. You can also check out the great concerns and shows going on, while touring the city's old heritage churches. 

You can also enjoy the beautiful Christmas Village, with its dazzling lights, European architecture, and plenty of restaurants and shops. 







You can even stay active and enjoy some great outdoor ice skating  with the family. 





If you're planning on getting away this holiday season but aren't sure where to go, Québec City should be number one on your list! To find out where to stay, click here

Travelling is always a great adventure, no matter your destination; but this holiday season, visit Québec City—and ring in the New Year with style. 


Monday, December 21, 2015

#ListToppers 2015 Holiday Toy Hits And Giveaway

Are you still trying to finish your shopping in time for Christmas? Not to worry, because I've got a great giveaway going on right now, where you can win two of Mattel's #ListToppers toys from Barbie and Hot Wheels!

As an official Mattel brand ambassador, I love that I'm able to give away two of Mattel's #ListToppers toys to two of my awesome readers this holiday season. Mattel is THE toy authority (since 1945!) and this year they announced their 12 hits of the holiday season with iconic #ListToppers toys like Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Fisher-Price—all toys guaranteed to bring a smile to any child's face this season.



I'm giving away:

Barbie 2015 Holiday Doll: I am so excited to be giving my five year old niece the 2015 Holiday Barbie! I know she'll love it, and she'll also cherish it forever. (I want one for myself, too!) Barbie is dressed in her best and will no doubt have the most glamorous season of all in her red and silver gown. It's the perfect doll to give any child this holiday season.



HOT WHEELS Track Builder Volcano Blast: My boys love this, and they're ten and (almost) eight years old. We're gifting this to my four year old nephew—he's a huge fan of Hot Wheels and this set will be his favourite gift, I'm sure. No doubt, this will bring him countless hours of fun.




To win, simply leave me a comment below telling me which toy you want to win, and who you would give it to! 

This is a quick giveaway, and I'll be picking a winner randomly on Wednesday, December 23. 



Good Luck and Happy Holidays!


Monday, December 14, 2015

2015 Holiday Gift Guide For Everyone

With Christmas weeks away, I'm feeling festive, despite the fact that it's unseasonably warm outside. The holidays are about spending time with family and friends, making memories, giving back, and having fun. (Champagne, anyone?) I love that I can spend the entire month shopping—guilt-free! (Some gifts to give, and some gifts for me... what? A girl needs a new dress and shoes for the parties!)

I've put together a gift guide to make shopping stress-free this holiday season. There is something here for everyone on your list! I talked about these great products on Daytime and on CTV Morning Live... and here are the details (and link to the segment.)





LOULOU'S 2015 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

Beauty, Hair, Skin Care and Fashion

Caudalie: Caudalie is a skin care company from France and I have been using their new Resveratrol LIFT collection for over a month. The results? Amazing. This formula help firm skin while stimulating the production of collagen. Caudalie has come out with two limited edition gift sets for the holidays to pamper and protect skin—perfect gift to give! You can shop Caudalie at Caudalie.com. 


La Mer: Nordstrom, as you probably already know, is my favourite department store, and I've been faithfully shopping at Nordstrom for years. Since Nordstrom opening in Ottawa, I've been there at least once or twice a week, shopping my heart out. La Mer has some incredible gifts sets that everyone would appreciate under the Christmas tree this year—and I'm addicted to the eye concentrate cream and the La Mer classic moisturizer. Both work miraculously well on my skin, and smell delicious, too. It's worth the price, believe me. I believe taking care of your skin should start in your 30's! (Also a great gift idea from Nordstrom Ottawa: The Laura Mercier body souffle. With different scents, you're sure to find one that's perfect for you! I'm addicted to the Almond Coconut Milk Butter.) 

Kerastase Canada: Kerastase products are the ultimate in hair care. I love the new Parfum Oil Chronologiste—this serum smells delicious and keeps my hair smelling great all day long. I can't get enough of the distinctive fragrances and exceptional formulas for all hair types, and Kerastase  truly helps heal and protect my damaged hair. To shop, go to Kerastase.com.


Lise Watier: I'm ashamed to admit just how many lipsticks I own... but I don't think I'm alone in my love for lipstick, right? Lise Watier makes gorgeous shades of lipstick that are long-lasting, and super moisturizing, too. From eye shadow to bronzing powder and beautiful shades of lipstick, Lise Watier Cosmetics is an excellent gift choice. Available at Hudson's Bay and Shoppers Drug Mart.


Clarisonic.ca: The Clarisonic is the best invention for skin care. It's incredibly powerful but not exfoliating, so you can use it on your face every single day—and I do. Clarisonic delivers a deep-skin clean that actually cleans 11 times better than hands alone, and the new Clarisonic Smart Profile is for the face and body—a first! The brush head modifies to each person's skin, and cleans only where it needs to. To shop, visit Clarisonic.ca. 


Adidas Golf: If you love to golf, or know someone who is a golf lover, then you'll want to gift the new line from Adidas Golf—for men and women, the new golf shirts, stretch pants, vests, and golf shoes are simply fabulous and are guaranteed to get you in the mood to golf, even if you're just beginning! I love the soft pastel colours for women.

ALEX AND ANI: Jewellery for Christmas? You just can't go wrong giving someone a new ALEX AND ANI bracelet. I love the new ALEX AND ANI Claddagh bracelet, and the snowflake bracelet is cute, too. Their retro glam collection is perfect for the holidays. Shop www.alexandani.com. 


Hadry: Here's a unique gift to give someone heading somewhere warm this winter. I love swimming in the ocean and pool when I'm on vacation, but I hate ruining a perfectly good blow-dry, and putting my hair in a ponytail doesn't always cut it. Hadry is a great beach fashion accessory you wear to protect your hair, keeping it dry and fashionable. It also protects from UV rays, which is a bonus. Hadry is available in different patters and colours, so you can find one perfect for you... to match your bathing suit and bikini. There are two styles: the Bun and Scarf, for two different looks. I can't wait to rock mine this winter in Florida!


Books, toys and treats

Chapters-Indigo: I spend hours in Chapters-Indigo every week. Spending time in a book store is my favourite thing to do, and my boys love playing in the children's section. Books are number one on my wish list. The books I'm gifting this year? Furiously Happy, In The Unlikely Event, Hemingway In Love, and Everything I Never Told You. 

For the kids? The new BB-8 App enabled Droid by Sphero is awesome, and brings The Force Awakens to your home. Chapters-Indigo also has an incredible collection of baby toys and LEGO for the older kids. 



Purdy's Chocolates: Give me books and chocolates and there's nothing else I need! Seriously, Purdy's makes my favourite chocolates. These delicious, hand-crafted chocolates are perfect for every chocolate lover in your family. The classic hedgehogs, the chocolate covered nuts, the sea salt caramels—they are all so yummy! I think the Warm Holidays Wishes Book Tin is a great gift to give a teacher, too. You can shop Purdy's at Rideau Centre and Place D'Orleans, as well as online at Purdys.com

Nintendo Canada: I still remember the Christmas my sister and I got our first Nintendo. We spent the day playing Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt in our basement. Now, I love giving everything Nintendo to my boys because they love everything video games. The new Nintendo 3DS XL is going to be a huge hit this holiday season for so many kids... big and small. (And check out the new Yo-Kai Watch game, too—a perfect stocking stuffer to go with the Nintendo 3DS XL!)


Disney Jr. The Disney Junior channel returned to Canada earlier this month, making many children very happy, and just in time for the holidays, too! The kids can get reunited with their favourite characters, and bring home the fun, too. There is something for every child and their unique personality: gifts for the adventurer, gifts for the fashionista, and gifts for the nurturer. For more information, check out DisneyJunior.ca. 

Katerina Mertikas colouring book: My mom is an incredibly talented and well-loved artist, and this year, she came out with her own adult colouring book. The book is selling fast online at Zen Coloring Pages, so if you want a copy before Christmas, I suggest you order yours now... and have fun drawing like Katerina. 


Hamilton Beach: I love making my boys smoothies in the morning, or whenever, really  and this new blender my Hamilton Beach makes the perfect gift for anyone. 


Gifts that give back:

Hudson's Bay Tolmie: The Hudson's Bay Company Foundation introduces the 11th Annual Heritage Charity Bear, Tolmie. Benefiting charities across Canada, 100% net proceeds from the sale of each bear support the HBC Foundation's Strength In Stripes program. You can shop Tolmie at Hudson's Bay. 

The Olympic Collection 2016 Canada Red Mittens is also a must-have gift to give and receive, and 30% of the sales go towards the Canadian Olympic Foundation. 


UNICEF Canada: The holidays are all about giving, and any gift that gives back to charity and to children is a worthwhile gift to receive and to give. This year, purchase a UNICEF survival gift like water purification tablets, a vaccine pack, blankets for babies, or a water pump. There are many great options on UNICEF.ca. 


Glama Girls: Glama Girls is a spa that caters to young people who want to have a fun spa experience, and Glama Girls also sells nail polish that is safe for kids, made in Canada, non-toxic, odourless, and easy to peel off—the perfect stocking stuffer for the younger kids! They also sell delicious smelling bath bombs. Best part? One dollar from each nail polish goes to Because I Am A Girl. 

No matter who you're shopping for this holiday season, I hope you found something here that's perfect to gift... or keep for yourself! If you have any questions about any of these products, just email me. 


Happy shopping... and Happy holidays!

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