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!

Rock The Halls With Sears Canada

Are you finished your back to school shopping yet? I know, it seems like only yesterday we were out shopping for beach essentials, and now, it's time to get the kids dressed for school. I'm mostly happy that they are heading back, but I'm also sad summer is over. The only thing to cure my sadness? Shopping! Of course. Shopping is always the answer.

Sears Canada is a great place to head for back to school shopping with the children, because they have such a great selection of name brand clothes that kids—and parents—have come to love and trust. The best part? When you're shopping at Sears Canada for the kids, you know you're not going to break the bank. There are so many amazing deals for clothes, shoes, and accessories for kids.



I love that I can find stylish items at Sears that my boys will love. With both boys taking tennis lessons this year, we needed a variety of clothes that would take the kids from the classroom to the tennis court, so sporty clothes was on my radar this year when I went back to school shopping.  We were not disappointed. Sears Canada had all the brands we love, and we found some great shirts, for school and after-school activities, too.

Sears Canada has been surprising families in-store and online throughout the month of August, helping everyone get ready for back to school so they can Rock the Halls! Imagine going to the cash to pay for all your purchases only to be told: "Surpirse! It's on us!" That's right... Sears Canada has been taking care of the bill, surprising random families across the country.



Helping families out is not something that's new to Sears Canada; they have been partnered with the Boys and Girls Club for 40 years:

"Sears Canada has been a proud supporter for over 40 years of Boys and Girls Club across Canada, Canada's leading provider of quality after school programs that support the healthy physical, educational, social and mental development of Canadian children and youth. Sears shares Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada's philosophy that  providing all Canadian children and youth with access to opportunity is essential to helping them achieve their full potential and create a better future."  

Sears Canada along with everyone's favourite, Converse, will be providing the GBCC with $10,000 worth of back to school gear! Isn't that awesome?

My boys love giving back, too, and I love supporting companies that give back, too. There is nothing more important than teaching your children the importance of giving back from a very early age. We always have a few charities we support throughout the year, and we do our part to give back to our community.

Thanks to Mom Central Canada, I am giving away a $100 gift card to Sears Canada! How sweet is that? Although I can't guarantee that this will cover your entire back to school purchases, it will certainly help out in a big way! (FYI: You can enter to win across multiple blogs participating in this campaign, but you can only win once. You must be 18 years old old to enter, and you must live in Canada, excluding QC. Prize will be delivered via mail 4-6 weeks after the contest closes.)

Enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good Luck... and have fun rocking the halls!

Disclosure: I am part of the Sears Back to School Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Best Of The 2014 Emmy Awards

Breaking Bad came to an end last fall, and the show was the big winner at last night's Emmy Awards. I only very recently finished watching Breaking Bad—I binge-watched all five seasons—and I am thrilled that Breaking Bad won Best Drama, and Best Writing, and even happier that Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and Anna Gunn won, as well. They are so very deserving!

Congratulations, Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston, and Aaron Paul. You'll always be my favourite show of all. #jessepinkmanforever

Now, let's talk fashion and all the wonderful things I loved about the 2014 Emmy Awards!

Most deserving Emmy Award:

Jesse Pinkman and Walter White, of course!


(By the way, Aaron Paul's acceptance speech crashed his wife's site, Kind Campaign, a non-profit organization about spreading kindness and stopping bullying.)

Best Dressed

It's always hard to decide who wore what best, because usually, all the stars looks fabulous and gorgeous in their own way.  These ladies were my favourite, though:

Julia Roberts in Elie Saab was gorgeous—I loved her dress, although I probably wouldn't wear it. Of course, her famous smile was her best accessory. (Or maybe her legs were?)


January Jones in Prabal Gurung was my second favourite lady in red, complete with Louboutin booties.


My favourite lady in red? Julia Louis-Dreyfus! She was stunning last night, as I'm so glad she won for Veep. (And her unexpected kiss with Bryan Cranston? Best parts of the Emmys, I think!)



Amy Poehler looked sexy in her metallic v-neck Theia dress, and she was, as always, amazingly funny. She should actually host all awards shows from now on. (Although Seth Meyer did a good job, too!)


Kristin Wiig in Vera Wang was also on my best dressed list. The comedians are the ones who always make award shows worth watching don't you think? 


Gwen Stefani

Although she's already on some worst dressed lists, I can't say I agree—I think she always looks beautiful and has a style of her own. I loved her Versace look last night!


Lucy Lui looked beautiful too—I love the pale yellow dress she wore.


One of the most stunning gowns of the night was worn by Camila Alves, Matthew McConaughey's wife. Simply gorgeous!


Cutest Couple:

Of course the cutest couple award goes to Aaron Paul and his lovely wife, Lauren. They are so perfect together, and so very cool. And thank you, Lauren, for being so stylish and for allowing your roots to show. Since you're so on trend, I'm going to stop doing my highlights as often as I do! 

(But seriously. Aren't they gorgeous?)


Best Moment (That Made Us Cry):

Every year,  the In Memoriam segment makes us cry, but this year, listening to Billy Crystal remember his dear friend Robin Williams was really heartbreaking. It's still hard to believe he's gone, but Billy Crystal said all the right words, and although the segment was heartbreaking, it was also heartwarming. "He was the greatest friend you could ever imagine. It's very hard to talk about him in the past tense, because he was so present in all of our lives." 




Did you love the 2014 Emmy Awards? I wish House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black took home some awards, too, but overall, I thought it was a great show, even if it aired on a Monday night in August!

Pictures from The Associated Press and People.com

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Nate Berkus Back To School Giveaway

The countdown is officially on for back-to-school! My kids are sad that summer is coming to an end, because summer is the best season of all—swimming all day and no homework is a pretty sweet gig, after all. (I'm actually quite sad that summer is almost over, too, because I'm still not recovered from the shock of last winter, but I digress...)

The one thing that turns my "summer is over" sobs into smiles is back-to-school shopping—and not only for my children. September is the perfect month to start new—like a brand new year. I just love re-organizing the home, tackling projects like painting rooms, buying new home decor and furniture, and stocking up on must-have clothes and school supplies. August and September are my favourite months to get organized, get back on track, and buy items that'll help everyone get back into routine without meltdowns or tears. 

Nate Berkus—well recognized and well loved interior designer and TV personality—has added his signature style to an awesome line of office supplies that are just perfect for the home office... which is why I'm so keen to get the kids back to school—so I can spent uninterrupted hours in my new stylish home office! These Nate Berkus office supplies are trendy, stylish, and practical. They'll help keep any home office organized and tidy.

And guess what? Yup... I'm giving away an awesome prize pack for one of my readers!

The Nate Berkus prize pack is valued at $70.00, and contains the following fabulous items: 

1 Magazine Box
1 Zipper Pouch
1 Gold Shears
1 Mega Clips
1 File Folder Pack
1 Push Pins Pack

Don't you just love this?







 I'm already feeling inspired to stay on track and to be super organized this year.

To enter, leave me a comment below telling me how you plan on staying organized!

This giveaway is open to Canadian residents only. Winner will be picked randomly on August 28th.

Good Luck, friends!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back To School With Pottery Barn Kids (And A Giveaway!)

Pottery Barn is my favourite store for home inspiration—I love stocking up on items for the home whenever I can. I get most of my decor ideas from Pottery Barn, and I try to make our home look as cosy and comfortable as they do in a Pottery Barn catalogue or showroom.

Within two days of walking into Pottery Barn Kids for the first time, I found out I was pregnant. I am convinced that the store has magical powers, and since then, I have shopped religiously in PBK for my boys. From bedding to shelves and accessories for their rooms, to the must-have back-to-school gear, including backpacks, lunch bags, and food storage containers, it's my go-to place to get all the things they'll need to start the school year off on the right foot.

The Mackenzie backpacks are my personal favourite—they last throughout the years, and my boys have even used the same backpack two years in a row. They could use them even longer than that, but I like to buy new backpacks for them, because PBK always has such cute designs. They've gone through the Mackenzie Star Wars themed backpacks, the Batman backpacks, and the cute soccer ball backpacks, too. This year, we are trying out the Gray Gecko large backpack for back to school.






The backpacks are made from rugged, water-resistant material and even after an entire school year, the backpacks remain in almost perfect condition. The backpacks have adjustable straps that are contoured and padded to make carrying more comfortable, and the exterior straps can even hold a Mackenzie lunch bag, securely in place. (You can fit the lunch bag inside the bag, too, along with library books, shoes, and a few notebooks—it's very roomy!)

The exterior side pockets are especially handy—the kids always keep their water bottle there for easy access throughout the day.

I love the Gray Gecko backpack, and my boys give the bags two thumbs up, too.

My six year old even said: "They are awesome for back to school!" These are perfect for any child, I think, and I'm happy to be giving one away to one of my readers, thanks to my friends at Pottery Barn Kids!




I'll be showing the backpacks on-air next Wednesday when I talk about getting ready for back-to-school on CTV Ottawa Morning Live, so you can see for yourself how great they are.

In the meantime,  I'd love for you to enter my giveaway for a Gray Gecko Mackenzie backpack from Pottery Barn Kids! The contest will run until Thursday, August 28th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good luck, friends!

Monday, August 18, 2014

30 Beautiful Looks And 30 Days Of Beauty With Shoppers Drug Mart

Shoppers Drug Mart is the ultimate destination for beauty, and my go-to place to stock up on my beauty essentialslike my favourite Cover Girl mascara, my favourite Benefit eyeliner, and my favourite Prada fragrance. Once again (it's the 4th annual national event) the Shoppers Drug Mart 30 Days of Beauty campaign is back, taking place across Canada just in time for fall and back-to-school! 


The 30 different fabulous looks are telling the story of 30 Days of Beauty, giving you new ideas to try, inspiring you to add to your make-up collection, and on top of that? You can even receive a five-minute in-store makeover! The 30 Days of Beauty website has tons of great ideas to get you ready for fall and with your in-store make-over, you can try out some of these looks yourself.  A new shade of lipstick, a new blush, and you're good to go. Take risks, add some colour to your life, and have fun shopping! I love buying new make-up brushes once a year, too.



The 30 Days of Beauty event is always quite popular with shoppers like myself, and Shoppers Drug Mart is always my number one beauty destination. 30 Days of Beauty is the biggest beauty event of the year because throughout the month, you can access instructional "how-to" videos, in-store and online, and behind the scenes videos that you can watch on YouTube.ca that will help you decide what new look you want to try next. This event is taking place from now until September 14th.


I have a few go-to beauty products, and my favourite new addition recently was the new Cover Girl Bombshell collection, because I love the bright pink lipstick. I wore this new lipstick to the Katy Perry concert, where I even had the chance to meet her, thanks to Cover GirlI figured since she is the new face of Cover Girl, this collection would be fitting to wear to her concert! 



Check out 30DaysofBeauty.ca  for all the information on this fabulous event.  From now until September 14th, a one-day only offer will be provided to you. (One awesome offer a day? Sweet!)  Now you have the perfect excuse to go shopping for all your fall beauty must-haves... stocking up every day! You'll even receive an exclusive gift with purchase (a cosmetic pouch with over 25 beauty and fragrance samples) from August 23rd to the 29th when you spend $75 or more on cosmetics, skin care, or fragrances. (My new favourite scent? Valentina, and as always, Candy by Prada.) 


Why not take some time for yourself and book a five-minute makeover the next time you're in Shoppers Drug Mart? I guarantee you'll leave with a new favourite beauty product to use at home, and you'll feel like a million bucks, too, and you'll be ready for a new season... cute sweaters, new boots, and a new make-up look, and you're ready to take on whatever adventure awaits you. 

Disclaimer: Although this post has been generously sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart, the opinions and language are all my own, and in no way do they reflect Shoppers Drug Mart. 





Tuesday, August 12, 2014

O Captain! My Captain!

What movie do you remember watching that stayed with you a long time? A movie you could watch again and again, because it was so perfect? That movie for me is Dead Poets Society. I saw this movie when I was young, and I recently watched it again—the first time watching it since I became a mom—and the tears flowed more than any other time I'd see it. I know now when I watch it again, I'll be crying even harder than ever before.



When I read about the death of Robin Williams yesterday, I thought it was a lie; in fact, it was the sad truth. No celebrity death has touched me this much before, and we've lost a lot of great people in the last few years.

Robin Williams was a brilliant, hilarious man, a comedic genius, a lovely soul, and a serious actor who could make you cry and laugh. 


I'm shocked that he is no longer with us, that he's no longer going to make us laugh hysterically with his stand-up comedy or movies. From Mrs. Doubtfire, to Good Morning, Vietnam, to Good Will Hunting to Dead Poets Society, he was just amazing. He was really, really loved.



The only source of comfort in all of this is that we all loved and adored him, and we'll certainly remember him always. He was one of a kind. 




"Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien—but ended up touching every element of the human spirit." Barack Obama

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Summer Loving

Summer moves at such a fast pace, I often find myself wishing I could press the pause button on time. Why does winter never move as quickly? July is over, and went by quicker than I thought it would. Of course that means we've been having a very good time, but still... I feel the end of this season is near, and there's nothing I can do about it.

We left for Greece just before school finished in June, and spent 20 days visiting the most beautiful country I've ever been to. To experience this trip with my children—for them to see where they are from, to visit with their grandparents and great-grandparents in their homes, and to meet my cousins and their children—was the most memorable part of summer for all of us. We're planning another trip to Greece next summer, with a lot of our friends and their children, too. My children adapted to the Greek lifestyle as soon as they stepped off the plane, never missing a beat. They loved it all.





We came home and July was half way over, and since we returned, I've hardly had a second to relax, but that's not something I am complaining about. Summer is all about being outside, seeing friends and family, and having a great time in every day adventures. The TV hasn't been turned on in months.

My boys did three weeks of Pedalheads Bike Camp and they are now amazing bike riders. They have two weeks of science camp and then sumer will really be nearly over.


Our very good friends (since childhood) came home from Dubai and we were honoured to baptize their third baby boy, Luca William. It was a wonderful day and all our best friends and family were there to help us celebrate this special day. Hanging out with our friends almost every day felt like the good old days, and we took advantage of having almost everyone together again in one city for a few weeks.




It's not time for summer to be over, yet there are signs of it coming to an end everywhere I look—evenings are cooler, we've already started back-to-school shopping, and I've sort of been itching to get back into a routine.

Before we say so long to this sunny season, here is what I think makes summer simply wonderful:

Swimming all day and all night long.
Driving with the windows down.
The music of summer. Like Harvest Moon by Neil Young.
The sounds of summer, like crickets and lawn mowers and kids splashing in pools.
Bike rides.
Playing in the park.
Scraped knees.
Soccer games.
Dirty kids.
Flip flops and little dresses.
Golden, tanned skin.
The smell of coconut suntan lotion.
Cold beer.
White wine.
BBQ's with friends.
Vacation.
The ocean and the sound of the waves.
Camp days and happy kids.
Daily adventures.
Lemonade stands.
Garage sales.
Staying up way too late.
Fresh fruit.
Building sand castles.
Eating ice cream.
Going to the fair.
Nights with friends on a patio.

What are things you love the most about summer?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

VISA Fall Fashion With Beyond The Rack (Plus A Giveaway!)

There is only one thing I love about summer coming to an end: back-to-school shopping!

Even though I'm not heading back to school, I love shopping for fall (and all the time, let's be honest) because it makes the changing of seasons that much more bearable. Shopping always makes things better.

I love shopping online for new clothes, shoes and accessories for fall, and online shopping with Beyond the Rack has never been easier or more fun, because right now Canadians receive free shipping until August 15th when paying with their VISA debit cards.

Shopping made easy, and free shipping? I love it! Visa Debit is a really smart (and safe) way to pay when you're shopping online, since funds are debited directly from your personal account. According to data from Visa Canada's network, Canadians spent over $53 million online shopping last August, and over $59 million on apparel when shopping online last September. Clearly, we love to shop online, and back-to-school and fall means we're spending the most—and since this is the case, I love looking for great deals on items I'm going to be buying anyway.

I love Beyond the Rack because there is such a great selection of on-trend designer clothes, shoes, accessories for women, men and children, at prices up to 80% off, all the time. Beyond the Rack has new events and deals every day, and it's really amazing how much money you save when shopping for the items you need and want. If you've never stopped Beyond the Rack before, you should start right now... you'll be addicted in no time at all. (You're welcome!)

Beyond the Rack and Visa gave me a challenge—to shop the site and buy something fashionable for fall. Challenge very enthusiastically accepted!

Of course, being the shopaholic that I am, I spent hours looking through all the gorgeous fashion and accessories for fall.  I love the amazing discounted designer items, including Chanel, Burberry, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo and more—the prices are amazing, and it was hard trying to decide just what to buy. I narrowed it down to sunglasses, because I love updating my look each season with new accessories, and the one item that kept calling my name was this new pair of black Fendi sunglasses. I wear sunglasses all the time—fall, winter, spring and summer—so I thought they'd be the perfect addition to my fall wardrobe. They go with everything, too.





Aren't they great, and so classic? Also, a must for fall, that you'll actually wear year-round? A classic pair of black or nude pumps. These are Jimmy Choo, and they're stunning. The nude Jimmy Choo pumps are only $299—they normally retail for $700, so I'd say that is one amazing deal, no?




A few other items I love is this Burberry sweater, Kenneth Cole watch, and Marc Jacobs purse. You really only need a few classic items to transition through the seasons, and I like shopping for classic items I know I won't get tired of!





I'd love for you to experience the fun and ease of shopping Beyond the Rack for fall, so I'm hosting a giveaway with Visa and Beyond the Rack to help get your wardrobe ready for fall. I'm giving away a $50 Beyond the Rack voucher so one of my lucky readers can do some shopping! How exciting is that?

This giveaway is open to Canadian residents over 18 years old, and the contest ends on August 15th. Good luck, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 1, 2014

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Today is a day to celebrate—my oldest son, my baby boy, turns nine years old. NINE! Years! Old! Wow. Becoming a mom to this perfect little babe has changed my life in so many ways—he changed my life for the better, and he brightens my days, along with his brother, like nothing else on earth can.

I am thankful every single day that I am lucky enough to be his mother. He makes me very proud. 

"Christos's positive energy, kind nature, and contagious smile are just three of his many qualities. It has been a pleasure teaching Christos this year." Words from his favourite teacher—and I could not agree more. He is a very special boy.



I love how much my boy loves learning, science, Minecraft, astronomy, animals, the world, his friends and his family. He is loyal, loving, gentle, and has a heart of gold. 

Happy Birthday, baby. We love you to the moon and back. 




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