Sep
11

The Westin Trillium House At Blue Mountain Resort

by MARIA on September 11, 2013

We were recently invited to experience a two night stay at the Westin Trillium House at Blue Mountain Resort. My family and I had never been, but had heard from so many friends that it was an absolute must visit family destination. It was a bit of a trek from Kingston, but we love a good road trip so we were absolutely thrilled to check it out.

The Westin Trillium House is an award winning hotel that is pet friendly, and 100% smoke free. They are a green hotel and encourage you to make a green choice - for every night you decline housekeeping, you will enjoy a $5 voucher at participating food and beverage outlets or 500 Starpoints® awarded at check-out (LOVE!). They are also partners with Clean the World - which means they will recycle bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion and bath gel to create new amenity products. This initiative saves lives by donating bar soap to third world countries and domestic homeless shelters. So fantastic!!

We arrived in Collingwood, Ontario mid-afternoon after a gorgeous drive (approximately 2 hours from Toronto) and soon after, arrived at the resort. As someone who has never been to the area, I was immediately taken by how picturesque the location was and how gorgeous the hotel itself was. It looked like a pretty chalet tucked in among the mountains. Being a total hotel snob, I’m always anxious when I first arrive at a hotel I’ve never stayed in, but I relaxed immediately as soon as we walked into the lobby. It was gorgeous, and clean and full of families and people enjoying themselves – it just had a great, relaxed vibe. After a quick check-in, we headed to our room on the third floor which required a very LONG walk because our room was located at the end of a very LONG hallway. We got over that pretty quick once we saw our room – it was perfect.

Our room (the Two Bedroom Suite) was a two bedroom, two bathroom, with a full kitchen, dining room and living room with a pullout couch. There was a fireplace, three tvs, a dvd player, and the most comfortable beds I’ve slept in in ages. The room also had a lovely deck with a gorgeous view (see above). My kids were beyond excited about the living arrangements – there was room for everyone to play, chill out and rest. The rooms were clean, modern, and fresh looking which is something that I always notice and appreciate when staying in a hotel. The kitchen was fully stocked with a regular sized fridge, stove, dishwasher and coffee maker. We could have easily lived in that room for days!

Unfortunately, on the second day of our stay, I came down with a horrific bug that kept me room-bound the entire day. So while I lay dying in the Heavenly® Bed, the husband and the kids experienced many of the hotel’s features on their own, like the heated outdoor pool, the arcade and the Plunge! Aquatic Centre. They also had a great time trying to catch frogs just outside the hotel, which is a must-do if you have kids – the husband picked up little nets and bug boxes at the dollar store in Collingwood for the activity. Of course, checking out all that the village area had to offer was part of their day – although they held off on experiencing many of the great attractions in hopes that I would be able to be vertical the following day. (Spoiler: Yes, I survived the dreadful bug, and was able to drag myself around the village for hours the next day because I am a warrior – code for: I had no choice). With so many activities to mention, a separate post about the Blue Mountain attractions will follow.

We absolutely loved our stay at the Westin Trillium House at Blue Mountain – it was relaxing and a perfect three day getaway for our small family. We can’t speak to the room service because we didn’t have any (although the dry toast they brought me on day two was delightfully dry.) We can’t wait to go back to experience it during a different season – I’m guessing it must be gorgeous during the fall with all the fall colours. If you’re looking for a great weekend away with the family that your kids of any age will enjoy, Blue Mountain is it, and the Westin Trillium House is THE place to stay.

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Sep
06

Mott’s Fruitsations and Veggie Snacks #MOTTSBTS

by MARIA on September 6, 2013

I think the hardest part of back to school for me is the lunch situation. Last year, the kids were staying about 50% of the time and coming home the other half of the time so it wasn’t so bad. This year, they’ve asked to stay every day so I’m finding it hard to come up with a variety of snacks that they enjoy, are pretty healthy and are easy to pack. Unfortunately, my kids are not the kids that happily eat all their fruits and vegetables – it’s a kicking and screaming situation every day. It’s super fun for me.

Since I’m always looking for ways to incorporate something new into their lunches, I was happy to have them try the new Mott’s Fruitsations and Veggie snacks. They come in little pouches that are 80 calories, 0 grams of fat, 100 % the daily value for vitamin C and 4% the daily value for vitamin A. They are also gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free so they’re safe to include in your kids’ school lunches. Both kids have tried them and really like them, especially my little one, so I definitely add them to their lunches as a snack, here and there.

If you want to try them out, head over to their FB page and print of a $.50 coupon!

They’ve also got a great Back to School contest going on right now.  You can enter to win a prepaid $500 cash card on their FB page as well!

Disclosure – I am participating in the Mott’s Fruitsations & Veggie fruit snacks Blogger Campaign by Mom Central Canada. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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I was invited to participate in the Walmart’s Frugal Heroes Challenge for back to school last week.

I was given a $100 gift card to spend on back to school necessities for the kiddies. The kids love shopping (nope) so they were thrilled to be dragged along for the fun.

Truth be told, I wanted to spend the entire $100 in the Sharpie section and I could have – easily. But I decided to be boring, I mean, sensible.

I knew I needed mostly things for the kids’ lunches because their school is a litterless lunch school, and I desperately needed new containers. However, we started in the shoe section because the princess needed new indoor shoes. There was a huge selection of kids’ shoes but we wanted and found Hello Kitty runners that fit for $20 – success!

After that, we headed to the housewares section, where we picked up a ton of various containers, ice packs, and 2 Thermos-brand lunch packs.

On the way to the registers, we noticed the $2 construction paper, and had to grab one.

Just to give you an idea of what everything cost – off the top of my head since receipts disappear here quicker than anything chocolate covered (prices are approximate):

Hello Kitty runners – $20

Lunch packs – $10 each ($20)

Starfrit collapsible lunch containers – $10 each ($20)

Thermos x 2 – $5 each ($10)

You get the picture - We came in just under $100 at $99 and some change.

Thanks so much Walmart!

Disclaimer – I was compensated to participate in the challenge for this post but my words, as always, are my own.

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Aug
27

Back To School Shopping With Sears #SearsBTS

by MARIA on August 27, 2013

It’s that time of year again – back to school shopping is here, and if you’re more organized than I am, you may already be done.

How is the summer already over? I’m in denial big time.

I was invited to do a little back to school shopping at Sears Canada this year, so I dragged my little people with me to see what Sears had to offer this year.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to my local Sears store actually, so I was surprised to see how big the children’s wear department was. You could pretty much find everything you’re looking for in one location – from pjs, to outerwear, athletic wear to accessories.

I had $100 to spend on both kids and with no list or idea of what I was looking for, I just walked around until something caught my eye. There were sales and promotions posted on almost every rack so the prices were fantastic. But I knew as soon as I saw the Converse clothing displays (for boys and girls), I knew that’s what I wanted to get for the kids. They love hoodies and wear them all fall/winter long and the Converse one were really nice. They’re really well made, nice stitching, nice thick cotton and not covered in decals and things I’m not a fan of. PERFECT!

The Converse line was on promotion – you could buy one item for $19.97 or two for $34.97. I decided to go with two hoodies for each of the kids, which left a little under $30 (after tax) to spend. I let the kids pick something for themselves and no surprise, they headed to the graphic tees displays. The graphic tees were also on promo – $12.97 each or $19.97 for two so it worked out perfectly. We headed to the cash to pay for our purchase and still had a little left over to pick up a cute pacifier clip for our newest little nephew.

Shopping at the store was a great experience – lots of room to move around (great if you’re pushing a stroller), nearby fitting rooms, great prices and short line ups at the register. Another great thing about shopping with Sears that I didn’t even know about until now is their Kidvantage Lifetime Wear out Warranty:

The Lifetime Wear Out Warranty covers children’s apparel and footwear as long as a child in the family continues to wear the size. If the item wears out, Sears will, at its option, either repair it or replace it with the identical item in the same size, or if it’s unavailable, a similar item of equal value in the same size. It covers children’s apparel sizes from infants up to 18, and footwear up to senior kids’ size 6 . Proof of purchase required. 

So definitely keep those receipts!!

Sears also have a Price Match GuaranteeSears will not be undersold on any children’s apparel, footwear or nursery furniture and juvenile products. We will match a competitor’s advertised price on identical items within 30 days of purchase, or 90 days on purchases made with your Sears FinancialTM Credit Card. Who knew.

Thinking about heading to Sears to shop too? Right now, there is a great contest on Sears Canada’s Facebook page where you can enter to win a Sears gift card daily! They’re giving away 35 $50 gift cards daily and 5 $500 gift cards weekly, until the end of the contest on September 5th, 2013. So make sure to enter!!

“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.”

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Aug
23

Five Ways To Be Epically Green And An EPIC Giveaway

by MARIA on August 23, 2013

From the creators of Ice Age, the year’s funniest, most exhilarating animated adventure comes home as EPIC debuting on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Deluxe Edition Blu-ray, and DVD this week from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Directed by Chris Wedge (The Ice Age Franchise) and featuring an amazing voice cast including Colin Farrell, Amanda Seyfried, Christoph Waltz, Jason Sudeikis, Steven Tyler, Pitbull, and Beyoncé, the blockbuster film comes home just in time to help families become one with nature and end the summer in Epic style.

The movie has such a wonderful message about the importance of saving and preserving our environment.

The characters in the film, work together to fight against the forces of evil and save the natural world. They want to keep the world beautiful, green, and wild.

Here are five simple steps that everyone including you, can take toward becoming epically green.

1. Unplug 

Although we may not realize it, our appliances suck up energy all day long.

By simply unplugging your cell phone charger when it’s not in use, you can save a lot of energy and in turn save the beauty outside your back door.

2. Turn It Off for Mub and Grub 

In addition to unplugging your appliances and chargers, be sure to turn off any lights that aren’t in use. Make the most of natural light during the day by letting the sunshine in through windows. At night, be sure to turn the computer all the way off instead of simply logging out.

By taking a few extra minutes a day, we can help save our outdoor friends like Mub and Grub.

3. Carpool 

The Leafmen travel by hummingbird, producing no environmentally harmful waste.  It may be pretty impossible for people our size to get from place to place on a bird, but there are other ways to be green.

By simply sharing your ride with friends or family, you can significantly decrease the pollution in our air.

4. Launder Like a Leafman 

The Leafmen use their surroundings to create stylish armor.  Although we may not realize it, even clothing can have an impact on the environment. Washing clothes uses tons of water and energy! Try to put off this chore as long as possible and only do your laundry on cold cycles and when you have large loads.

Take good care of your clothes so that you don’t have to buy new ones as often.

5. Grow a Garden 

You can create your own personal, beautiful Moonhaven right outside the back door.  Create a garden full of flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruits. This will have a fantastic impact on your backyard as well as the rest of the natural world.

When you aren’t buying goods that have been transported long distances, you are helping to reduce the harmful toxins in our atmosphere.

 *

The kids and I watched this last night and just loved everything about it. It’s really funny, sweet and has such a great message for the viewer. Also, visually, it’s amazing – even my six year old kept talking about how all the animals look so real and life-like. This is absolutely a fabulous and great flick the entire family will enjoy!!

GIVEAWAY!

I’m giving away ONE Blu-ray/DVD/Digital copy of the EPIC movie to one lucky winner!

To enter: Leave one comment below telling me your best tip for conserving energy/preserving the environment/being green!!

RULES:

OPEN to Canadian AND U.S. Residents

Giveaway will run until Friday, September 6, 2013

Winner will be chosen using Random.org

Make sure to leave a valid Twitter handle and/or email so I can contact you if you win!

THANKS FOR ENTERING AND GOOD LUCK!!

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Aug
23

EPIC Activity Sheets

by MARIA on August 23, 2013

EPIC is officially on BluRay/DVD this week and I’ll be hosting a giveaway to win a copy on my blog in my next post!

In the meantime, share some fun activities with the kids to celebrate the DVD release with these cute activity sheets below.

ENJOY!

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Aug
23

Post-it Brand Mobile Attach and Go Collection

by MARIA on August 23, 2013


Have you seen the Post-it Brand Mobile Attach and Go Collection yet?

Perhaps you’re like me and enjoy buying yourself an obscene amount of office supplies.

I am a total sucker for office supplies. I buy them in bulk and love everything about them. 

So this new collection by Post-it Brand is right up my alley.

With this new line, they’ve come up with ingenious ways to incorporate what we love about the Post-it Brand (the post-its, flags, tabs and pop up notes), in a way that you can be organized, no matter what you’re doing.

You can clip, stick, and insert the line to your binders, your laptop, your car visor, your agenda – the list is endless. The line features pockets, flags, tabs, notes, adhesive notes, dispensers and writing tools in cool new ways for a “mobile lifestyle”.

I’ve already attached some of these to my agenda, my notebook, and my laptop and they look great, they’re useful and they stick securely.

I’m a big fan and I think they’re a great product for the students in your life!!

The products range from $3.99 to $6.99 and you can find them pretty much everywhere.

Happy Shopping!!

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Aug
21

Warner Bros DVD Giveaway – Win Three Great Flicks!

by MARIA on August 21, 2013

Today I’m hosting a great Warner Bros. DVD giveaway!!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a giveaway so I figured giving away three Blu-Ray/DVDs would be fun.

GANGSTER SQUAD

“The year is 1949 and ruthless gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) has the city of Los Angeles in his grip. Against a gang protected by rampant corruption, Chief Bill Parker (Nick Nolte) resorts to extremes. He enlists hero Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) to form a unit to exact vigilante justice. Their job isn’t to make arrests..it’s to make war. “

Also, Ryan Gosling is in it – so there’s that.

BEAUTIFUL CREATURES

A supernatural love story based on the popular series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, featuring another great cast which includes Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson and Viola Davis.

CLOUD ATLAS

From the creators of the Matrix Trilogy and directed by Tom Tykwer (of Run, Lola, Run), Cloud Atlas is truly an indescribable, epic experience. You just have to watch it.

GIVEAWAY!!

One lucky winner will win all three Blu-Ray/DVD copies of Gangster Squad, Beautiful Creatures and Cloud Atlas.

To enter, leave ONE comment below letting me know which you’re most excited to see. That’s it!

RULES:

  • Open to Canadian Residents
  • Giveaway will run until August 28, 2013.
  • Winner will be chosen using Random.org
  • Make sure to leave a valid Twitter handle and/or email so I can contact the winner.

UPDATE: Congrats to my winner!! #7 Kathy Ireland!! Thanks to everyone who entered!

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Aug
19

Epicare – Hair Removal At Home #NotSpons

by MARIA on August 19, 2013

I’ll be honest – I really wanted to call this post “Epicare: The $15 solution to your lady beard” but I didn’t.

I don’t know about you, but for me one of the great joys of giving birth to two humans, has been experiencing the lovely side effects: acne, post-partum depression and facial hair.

Facial hair is so charming.

I just really despise things that have zero purpose: giant bugs, calories, acne, playdates, decaf coffee and FACIAL HAIR.

If you have sensitive skin like I do, then things like waxing and bleaching are not optimal. Doing nothing and embracing the lady beard…..also not a good look.

Enter the EPICARE.

I heard about it online so I thought I would order one and see if it was worth the $15. Their headquarters are located in Toronto so you won’t pay any duty and they arrive really quickly. Order two or more and shipping is free. Yup, you can help all your girlfriends with their facial hair and save on shipping – your friends will LOVE you. Ahem.

It’s easy to use, you bend it and roll it along your skin and that’s it. I’m not going to lie – it hurts like a mofo. Honestly, you get used to it and the fact that it doesn’t affect your skin in any way is great and worth the pain. A word of advice, have some vino nearby and poof, ripping hair out of its follicles just got easier.

Oh, and it comes in cute colors for those who care about that sort of thing.

Epicare. Totally worth the $15 plus shipping and I’m not being paid or sponsored in any way to say so.

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Jul
19

Kid’s Corner on the Windows 8 Phone #SummerSwitch

by MARIA on July 19, 2013

One of the best features on the new Windows 8 phone for me, as a mom, is the Kid’s Corner. Kid’s corner is ” basically a phone within your phone” that is dedicated to the little people in your life.

To get to Kid’s Corner on the Windows 8 phone, instead of swiping up to get into your phone, you swipe to the left and once you’ve downloaded it onto your phone, you’re there!

The Kid’s Corner basically allows your kids to play games, take pictures, draw, play music and watch videos and use a number of apps, without having to worry that they will accidentally access your phone and mess with your setup. Also, you have the control of what they can access by choosing what you download into the Kid’s Corner area of the phone. The kids will be able to open and access Kid’s Corner on their own, while your stuff is protected (you will have to setup a password to do this). Kids will also be able to customize their Kid’s Corner by changing the colors and even the placement and sizes of the tiles. 

There are thousands of apps, games and music available to purchase that you can add to Kid’s Corner to make it fun for your kids. You’ll find tons of family friendly, educational  and classic options in the games section, as well as music and videos. Once you’ve decided what you want to add to the phone, you can then choose what they can or can’t access in the Kid’s Corner, with the convenient toggle feature. Rather than deleting an app for example, you can toggle it off and it will no longer show in the Kid’s Corner until it is toggled on again.

My kids LOVE Kid’s Corner and I like that I can hand the phone to them without worrying about what they’re doing or deleting off my phone. The camera takes amazing pictures, even when little people are the photographers. The speakers are nice and loud so they can enjoy it together, without using or sharing ear phones. Both my six year old and nine year old have both really enjoyed playing  with the cool drawing apps like Draw Free! and Create Studio.

Kid’s Corner is just another great feature of the Windows 8 Phone that you should definitely check out!

Disclosure:  I am a part of the #SummerSwitch Challenge.  The Nokia 920 Windows 8 phone was provided to me to use for the challenge my Microsoft Canada.  As well, I will receive compensation for my participation in this event.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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