Being Italian = FOOD

Growing up in an Italian family has always meant food, food and more food. It’s a BIG part of our lives and something that we take pride in and we love to share it with those closest to us. From preparing meals, to making homemade sausages and salami as a family, to remembering the days that I used to watch my dad make his own wine, to visits to the Van Dyken farm to pick up bushels of tomatoes for our homemade sauce and veggies for giardiniera (pickled Italian veggies)…it was always about food and good quality food.

Photo By: Lisa Crispo Photography

I remember the days of grade school and opening up my lunch which 99% of the time consisted of a panino with some type of cold cut like mortadella, salami or prosciutto and cheese…stinky cheese. I would get so embarrassed and often got made fun of because my lunches were different from everyone else’s bologna and mustard or peanut butter and jelly on Wonderbread. I remember asking my parents why I couldn’t have lunches like all the other kids and they would go on and on about how happy I should be to have such a great lunch. I just figured it was a grown up thing and they just didn’t understand. My parents weren’t born here, they immigrated to Canada as adults so they obviously had no idea what it was like to go to school here and understand the Canadian culture but as I grew up I realized that wasn’t the case. My parents knew exactly what they were talking about! Entering into adulthood I came to realize that these cured meats and stinky cheeses weren’t anything to make fun of and instead were some of the most popular appetizers you would come across when visiting Italian restaurants. All of a sudden the people who would make fun of my lunches were the same people raving about the amazing imported Italian cheeses and parma prosciutto they just picked up.

My family took pride in the food they would prepare whether it was a big pot of sugo (tomato sauce) and polpette (meatballs) after Sunday mass, a venison stew using the deer my dad got hunting, or something made with their famous porcini mushrooms. They taught us the simple dishes and food were most of the time the best and most tasty. When friends and family would come visit they wouldn’t order in Chinese food but instead would bust out some homemade spicy Calabrese salami, olives, giardiniera, a few different types of cheeses and of course bread…plain and simple!

Plain and simple…that’s pretty much describes me and my cooking skills haha. I am no chef that’s for sure, I prepare simple and easy dishes and it ends there. Recently on my radio show (The Parenting Show on Talk Radio AM640 with executive producer Sandra Carusi) I had the chance to interview my fave chef…the amazing Chuck Hughes. We chatted, shared some laughs and talked about simple food made with quality ingredients which he’s all about. He spoke about life as a dad and a lot of it reminded me of my family, my parents and how I was brought up.

Last weekend I had the chance to catch up with Chuck again at The Big Feastival. We got to hang a bit, my kids got to cook with him in The Little Kitchen, we watched him do a demo in The Big Kitchen and also check him out at the Cooking School. It was awesome to see such an amazing and talented chef in action and as crazy and busy as the weekend was for him he took the time to shake hands, meet fans and pose for pictures.

Life as an entrepreneur, radio host, college instructor, voice actor and Mamma of 3 is CRAZYYYYY, crazy enough that I need these little reminders to bring me back to a different time and place. Reminders to let me know that plain and simple is and can be enough for my family. It’s time to get back to my roots and embrace the Sunday sugo over penne pasta with some veal cutlets and tomato salad…nothing fancy just good!

Thanks for the reminder Chuck and thank you once again for the gifts of your awesome Chuck Hughes products, you are one rockin’ dude both in and out of the kitchen.

See ya at Pearl Jam!

Meet me by the yellow door in the fields of purple…

“Walk through the door, your worries behind you, your joys are ahead” are the words that will greet you as you walk towards the big yellow door. The yellow door that stands alone in the fields of vibrant purple lavender at the Terre Bleu Lavender Farm in Milton (Ontario).

It isn’t everyday that you can get in your car and take a drive to place that is as magical and fairytale like as Terre Bleu. Imagine pulling up to beautiful gates at the entrance of the farm, the smell of 8 different varieties of lavender to greet you and endless fields of purple. Sounds dreamy doesn’t it? Terre Bleu has been around since 2011 and it all came to be after the Baird family took a trip to Quebec where they visited a lavender farm there. The story has it that this Toronto family was looking for a change and so they packed up their city bags and traded them in for some purple converse running shoes, a few lavender plants (like 10,000), some honey bees and a couple of horses. All I know is that whatever the story is I’m grateful Ian and his wife Isabelle made this lifestyle change and opened up Terre Bleu (an organic working family farm).

I still remember my first visit to Terre Bleu. I remember feeling like I was transported from reality into one of the many fairytale books I used to read as a child. It was beautiful and serene. Off to one side of the field, sunflowers were being painted by Peter Lewis (an artist who was visiting from St. John’s), while dead on were rows and rows and rows of the most beautiful and bright purple lavender I’ve ever seen. The whole time I kept thinking…OMG I wish the girls were here with me. I toured the complete farm that day and when I got home I told them all about it and made a promise that we would return all together as a family which we just did.

Samantha and Liliana loved it and even Marcus had a great time running around everywhere. From the lavender ice cream, to lavender lemonade, running through the fields to visit the distillery and learn how their most amazing organic lavender essential oil is made, to spending some time with the hard working honey bees that live on the farm at the apiary, to their herb bar, visiting the horses, a walk through yellow bench trail and of course a sprint straight to the big yellow door before visiting the Terre Bleu shop all while live music played off to the side of the main field.

Their little shop is truly amazing! It’s where you can purchase their lavender essential oil (see all the many uses for lavender oil here), lavender honey that their honey bees work so hard on, lavender maple syrup (which is a staple here in the Chic Mamma house for our Sunday pancake breakfast), lavender beeswax candles, lavender shortbread cookies, lavender bug repellant, lavender gouda cheese, new lavender lip balm (I’m currently obsessed with this) and so many more amazing lavender items.

Our day was filled with smiles, laughter and love. Not a worry in the world as those were all left behind and the joys were all ahead!

North Bound To Little Lake…

IMG_5049Heading up the 400 is a drive I take often, but never did I know that in just under 90 minutes I would be arriving at the beautiful future site of The Seasons on Little Lake in Midland, Ontario. Back in January, I was told about a great new community under development – The Seasons on Little Lake. This up and coming development will offer amazing homes in a beautiful community at affordable prices. I remember checking out the website and seeing the renderings and thinking hmmm this is too good to be true!

  • 90 minutes away from the city
  • a great community perfect for young families
  • 5 minutes from downtown Midland and Georgian Bay
  • located on Little Lake
  • featuring a 941 foot boardwalk on 2,300 feet of shoreline
  • surrounded by natural parkland and green space
  • summer time fun with boating, fishing and golfing nearby
  • short car ride away from hitting the slopes in the winter
  • maintenance included so you don’t have to worry about snow removal and mowing the lawn
  • 10,000 sq.ft. members club with indoor and outdoor pools, fitness facility, tennis centre, recreational area, meeting rooms and more

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All of that and more! So you can believe that I jumped at the opportunity when I was invited to see things for myself. At first I was going to go on my own, but after some thought, I decided that it might actually be a great thing to do with the family and so we made a day of it. We were there in no time and met up with Keith at the presentation centre. We were given a personal tour of the presentation centre and also got to head out to the site where they will be breaking ground in the coming weeks. We were able to see the location of the first phase of this 247 acre master planned community featuring up to 1,200 new homes. The location is absolutely stunning and when they say it’s right on Little Lake…it’s RIGHT ON Little Lake.

SEASONS_C2_EXT_151105-FINAL-HRThe more I got to look around and learn about The Seasons on Little Lake the more I was realizing that this could possibly be the next hot community and location for young families looking for a great place to raise their kids. With homes at just over 700 sq.ft. starting in the low $200,000’s to 2,000 sq.ft. at just over $400,000 there is definitely something for everyone. Whether it is a young family looking for a home at an amazing price, maybe someone looking for more of a cottage property, a retiree looking to escape the city life or even someone who is just looking to invest and rent out to one of the local Georgian College students, it’s a great choice. Actually it’s more of a no brainer…with elementary schools, high schools, a college, banks, a hospital and tons of shopping and restaurants, you have everything you need so why not?!

One of the things I was super impressed with besides the price and location (obviously haha) was what I saw in the presentation centre. While chatting with Keith, I commented on how much I loved the space and the finishes only to learn that everything I was seeing was standard and not upgrades…WHAT?!

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So if you’re looking to make a move, looking for something different than the city life, you need to check this place out. I won’t lie I would LOVE to have one of the smaller units as my Chic Mamma headquarters…how awesome would that be 😉 haha. You have everything you need nearby like you would in the city but the serene setting by the lake like you’re at the cottage. PLUS one very important bonus to all this…you’re in Midland…home of the best Buttertart Festival which we totally checked out.

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For a more in depth look on our day at The Seasons On Little Lake be sure to click on the video below…

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by The Seasons On Little Lake but the opinions expressed are my own.

For more information on The Seasons On Little Lake be sure to visit them online,
“LIKE” them on facebook and “FOLLOW” them on instagram and twitter!

It’s time to shop…ERIN MILLS TOWN CENTRE style!

Another morning of rummaging through my drawers, frantically whipping through my closet just to realize that it’s time for this Mamma to go shopping! YES! FOR MYSELF! Not for the kids, not for the husband, JUST FOR ME!

How many of you are like me and although you may have gone shopping recently it was probably for everyone else in your household but not for yourself? Right? After having kids everything has been about them and it’s just recently that I’ve been finding my old self again. The one that actually used to do things for herself which included shopping and having an updated wardrobe…not one that consists of out dated clothing that were purchased pre-kids (yes that’s 6 years ago) and just don’t seem to fit right anymore.

I’m a plain and simple kinda Mamma; give me jeans or leggings, a tee or tank and add some Converse Chucks and I’m rockin’! I love that look and maybe it’s because it’s easy but I’m also looking to build off of that and start incorporating new pieces for some new looks. Shopping for me and putting together outfits is not something I’m good at. I either come home disappointed and with nothing to show for my countless hours of wandering the mall or I come home with stuff that is totally wrong for me and that I should have never bought in the first place.

I have finally come to the conclusion that I need shopping help. I need a pro by my side to talk some sense into me when I pick up the wrong thing or when I pass by something that I should be picking up.  So I called up my friend Suzanne from Your Shop Girl and asked her to come along with me and help me out. It’s all about taking the first step right? LOL! I’m half way there…admitting you have a problem is half the battle they say 😉 .

Leading up to our shopping trip I had some homework to do; find a mall to hit up that has stores that I like as well as filling out a shopping questionnaire from Your Shop Girl. Done and done…that part was pretty easy. I picked Erin Mills Town Centre as I hadn’t been in a while and was wanting to go check it out again especially after all the great changes and updates that they’ve been working on.

Once arriving we got to work. Suzanne sat down with me and before starting on our shopping adventure we got comfy on a sofa at Hudson’s Bay (these furniture departments are awesome for impromptu meeting spots haha!) and based on my answers in my questionnaire and my body type she was able to guide me on what to look for and what I should be avoiding when shopping for clothes. It was now time to hit up the stores on my list like Husdon’s Bay, GAP, H&M, Roots and a few more. By the way, H&M just renovated their Erin Mills Town Center store, and it’s fab! Also in the midst of shopping I made sure to check out the new food court which by the way is beautiful. It’s a great big open space with a wall of windows and tons of variety which is key for Mammas like us. I won’t lie, I kinda felt guilty for not bringing the kids with me…but just for a second though, haha! Also being the breastfeeding Mamma that I am, I was totally impressed with the area they have designated for nursing mothers; it’s warm and welcoming.

IMG_5133Now back to the shopping…yes I get easily distracted by beautiful shiny objects like their brand new food court but also by the other kinds of beautiful and shiny like the stuff you’ll find in the Pandora store (also located in Erin Mills Town Center) and I’ll explain in a bit. I picked up a few great pieces; an awesome off the shoulder gray sweater from Hudson’s Bay, a fab long black vest as a great layering piece from Sears, and a super cute drapey eyelet tank from GAP, along with a few other pieces. It was now time to accessorize and I’m sure you can see how Pandora fits in to this part of my shopping trip. A Mamma needs to accessorize right 😉 ! There I was able to find a great necklace and bracelet to go with my new looks. I was able to take the tips and advice that Suzanne gave me and actually put them to use. Yeahhhhh! Finally some new great pieces to add to my closet and I couldn’t believe that I was actually going to be going home with bags filled with stuff I actually liked, looked great in and felt comfortable wearing!

IMG_5143The shopping didn’t end there though because although I finally got to do some shopping for myself, I also picked up a few things for the kids and the husband. For the kids; some summer basics at The Children’s Place and Old Navy and for the husband I got some of his fave essentials from The Body Shop. C’mon what Mamma can hit up a mall without shopping for the rest of the family! It’s ok though because I was in my happy place shopping away, with my tea in hand (yup they also have a David’s tea)! Oh and did I mention that Erin Mills Town Centre also has a Walmart which meant that I was also able to cross off some items on my grocery list. You don’t know how happy I was because now I wouldn’t have to stop at the grocery store on the way home…yeah to one stop shopping!

Now my question to you is, do you need your own Mamma shopping day at Erin Mills Town Centre? Probably….right? Well lucky for you I’m giving away a $100 Erin Mills Town Centre gift card and if you want a chance to WIN, well this is your chance!

HOW TO ENTER:

1. Leave a comment on this blog post with how you would spend your $100 Erin Mills Town Centre gift card and be sure to include your Instagram name.

2. CLICK HERE to follow @Chic_Mamma on instagram.

3. CLICK HERE to follow @ErinMillsTownCentre on instagram.

IMG_5148*contest closes on tuesday, june 20th at 11:59pm*

And don’t forget to check out check out the Erin Mills Town Centre site for a list of their great free family friendly events they have going on periodically.

Good Luck everyone and who know’s I may just bump into you on my next shopping trip there 😉 .

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Erin Mills Town Centre but the opinions expressed are my own.

For more information on Erin Mills Town Centre be sure to visit them online,
“LIKE” them on facebook and “FOLLOW” them on instagram and twitter!

Wet Nights, Dry Nights…GoodNites®!

That moment when you potty train your child and the angels come down from heaven singing “ALLELUIA” but wait what do you mean that doesn’t always mean dry nights?

If you have older children you know exactly what I’m talking about and ifyou’re a parent who’s not at that stage yet you’re going to want to stick with me here.

Many parents when they start potty training their children automatically assume that it also means dry and accident free nights but I’m hear to tell that, that’s not always the case.
Recently on my radio show (The Parenting Show on Talk Radio AM640) we had child/family therapist and author Michele Kambolis join us as a guest for Better Sleep Month (May) and we talked about potty training, nighttime wetting and dry nights aka GoodNites®. I had no idea that being potty trained didn’t automatically mean dry nights. You see, I was pretty lucky with my oldest (Samantha) because it was never an issue with her. The minute she was potty trained also meant dry nights for her, I never had to worry about nighttime wetting.

goodnitesYou see, while all children and parents experience and eventually overcome potty training, some children also experience nighttime wetting at some point in their childhood. For some, nighttime wetting occurs later on in their childhood, while others may experience this earlier on and in some cases right after they’ve completed potty training, which makes it difficult for a parent to identify. If you want to get technical the proper medical condition is called Nocturnal Enuresis and it impacts more than 15% of 4 to 12 year old’s. It’s the involuntary loss of urine while sleeping after the age at which bladder control usually occurs. What causes this you ask? Well it’s primarily driven by development delays in bladder function so eventually it is outgrown.

With that said, my daughter Liliana (now 4 years old) was potty trained at 3 years old, however unlike her big sister her nights are not so dry and so we depend on products like Pull-Ups® to help us manage nighttime wetting at these early stages. During our show, Michele Kambolis stressed how important it is to identify nighttime wetting early on and ensure kids are using products designed to support nighttime wetting. By putting them in a bedwetting product like GoodNites® Bedtime Pants, we’re sending the message that nighttime wetting is a completely different stage from potty training (which they have already achieved), and it’s not their fault. The Bedtime Pants also offer increased nighttime capacity intake to ensure they are comfortable and dry all night long. Waking up dry may have positive effects on our little one’s self-esteem while easing the stress.

One of the early signs of nighttime wetting is when young children are dry during the day, but wake up most nights with wet bed sheets and PJ’s. It’s a common misconception that bedwetting for younger children is simply a continuation of potty training, leading kids and parents to wonder if they missed a step in their potty training process. While we as parents celebrate the milestone of successfully potty training our little ones, nighttime dryness is a completely different process and something that cannot be trained, it must be outgrown. Don’t stress thought because it’s very normal and a common part of growing up.

FACTS:

  • 1 out of 6 children are affected by nighttime wetting
  • Nighttime wetting is more common in boys
  • Nighttime wetting is hereditary…there is a 77% chance that a child will wet the bed if both parents did as a child
  • Nighttime wetting goes away in time. Just as children develop fine motor skills and language skills at different rates, they develop bladder control on their one schedules, as well

 

After chatting with Michele I am now equipped with the knowledge, tips and advice I need to tackle nighttime wetting. We’ll be approaching things a little differently with having a “non-reaction” reaction which you can hear all about in the podcast and I’ll also be looking into taking the next step with using products like the new extra-small GoodNites® Bedtime Pant which are specifically designed for younger children transitioning from potty training to increase comfort.


Click here to listen to the full podcast with Michele Kambolis where we discuss all this and more in detail and get yourself ready for drier GoodNites® so everyone can start to sleep better!

Also don’t forget to tune into The Parenting Show on Talk Radio AM640 or listen live at 640Toronto.com every Sunday at 7pm EST for more on topics like this one.

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by GoodNites® but the opinions expressed are my own.

For more information on GoodNites® be sure to visit them online,
“LIKE” them on facebook and “FOLLOW” them on instagram and twitter!

The Parenting Show is HERE!

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From a young age I always knew that I wanted to work in radio and when I was 16, I made it happened! Over the years I worked at a number of radio stations (on-air and behind the scenes in promotions and marketing) and for a while I was out of the industry. 3 months ago, that all changed. I was given an opportunity that I just couldn’t say no to and so I returned to my old stomping ground at Corus Radio Toronto as the host of the NEW and much needed show on Talk Radio AM640…The Parenting Show (thanks to executive producer Sandra Carusi).

We all know that being a parent isn’t easy…it’s scary, it’s exciting, it’s overwhelming, it’s crazy but it’s definitely not easy! As the saying goes “it takes a village to raise a child” and The Parenting Show is exactly that village that they speak about. It’s your hub for all things parenting covering topics and issues for parents and parents-to-be, from getting geared up for parenthood, dealing with newborns, toddlers, tweens, teens to getting them ready for adulthood. Whatever stage you find yourself at, we’ve got you covered. It’s our way to give you the inside look on what parenting is all about with real life experiences, stories and guests. It for parents like US and I’m sure you’ll love it!

So give it a listen and be sure to join us every Sunday at 7pm EST (right before Inside Jokes with Sandra Carusi) on Talk Radio AM640 for a parenting show like no other you’ve heard before! We’ll laugh, we’ll cry and we’ll get real!

For more info on The Parenting Show visit us online,
“LIKE” us on facebook and listen to past shows on ourTor podcast.

Frequently Asked Questions about Walt Disney World

Guest Blog Written By: Clara Power of Clara Power TPI

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Travelling to Walt Disney World is such a wonderful and exciting experience!  There is so much to see and do there and such a wonderful way to create long lasting memories with your family.  As a travel agent that focuses on All Things Disney, I have many clients who come to me completely confused and overwhelmed with the whole planning process – and I don’t blame them – IT’S COMPLICATED. Here are a few FAQ that can help make the whole planning process a whole lot easier!

1. When is the best time of year to go in terms of: A) getting the best deal B) not having the worst crowds?

This is such a big question that every client asks and I always answer the same way – the least busy times to go is outside of any school or national holiday. Christmas, New Years, March Break, Easter, July & August etc. are peak times, so if you are looking for times that are not as busy, plan to visit outside of those times. The best rates are usually outside of the peak times as well.

2. How many days should I plan to spend at the park?

What many people don’t know is the Disney World in Orlando Florida consists of 4 separate theme parks: Magic KingdomHollywood StudiosEpcot and Animal Kingdom. I believe all first time visitors should visit all 4 parks at least once, as they all have so much to offer. If time permits, I also encourage clients to visit Magic Kingdom twice, since it is such a large park and there is so much to see and do there. If time is limited and only 1 park is possible, definitely Magic Kingdom. 

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3. What time of day should I get there? Is morning better before the crowds or will I be missing out if I am not there for the evening parade/fireworks?

The earlier the better! If you can get to the theme park as soon as it opens, you will have the opportunity to go on many of the busiest attractions before the lines become too long. It’s also one of my favourite times to be there, as you can see the park without the throngs of people. I recommend you get to the park right at rope drop time and get some of the most phenomenal pictures as there will be no one blocking your view. When traveling with young children, I encourage my clients to head back to their resort after lunch for a rest or some pool time and then return to one of the parks in the evening that is having fireworks or parades. This way you get refreshed and ready to take it all in again. As the children get older, spending the full day at the park ensures that you don’t miss any of the action.

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4. Can I use these passes at other theme parks or do I have to purchase each park separately?

Disney offers a ‘More you stay, the less you pay’  Disney has a number of different theme park tickets ranging from 1 day to 10+ days, and with each additional day purchased, the per-day price does decrease. You can either purchase a base ticket which allows you to visit 1 park per day or a park hopper ticket that allows you to visit as many parks per day as you wish. The Waterpark add on also allows visits to the 2 Disney waterparks – Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon.

5. How do Fast Passes work? Is there a charge?

Fast Passes are FREE and they are so worth using. When staying onsite these can be booked 60 days in advance and those staying off property they can booked 30 days in advance. All guests are entitled to 3 Fast Pass selections per day and they allow you to by-pass the queue for the ride or attraction you have selected. Once you have used your 3 Fast Passes, you can retrieve additional Fast Passes while in the Disney Park using the Disney App. Definitely a great time saver.

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6. Is it worth it to stay on site? What are the benefits?  

Without question! Staying on site offers so many benefits including extra magic hours, complimentary transportation throughout WDW, magic bands, early Fast Pass reservations etc. Staying onsite ensures that you get the full Disney experience and you never have to leave the magic! For more details on this, ready my post about the all the benefits of staying at a Disney Resort Hotel.

7. Are there any secrets that I should know about to book ahead (like the Bippity Bobbity Boutique or meals with the characters for example). 

Best piece of advice is to book early! For the best prices and the best options, booking early is always the way to go. Dining Reservations open 180 days prior, and some of the hottest and most popular restaurants book up very early. Does your daughter want to have breakfast in Cinderella’s Castle with some of her favourite princesses? This is one of the most difficult reservations to secure if not booked at the 180-day mark. Other popular restaurants include Be Our Guest and Chef Mickey which are also some of my personal favourites. When booking a resort stay, Disney only requires a $200USD deposit with final payment due 30 days before arrival. If the price drops from the day you booked until final payment day, the booking can be adjusted making booking early a win-win situation.

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8. Can I bring my own food and drinks to the park? 

Guests are permitted to bring food items such as snacks or foods that do not require heating into Disney theme parks. Inform a Security Cast Member of any food items when you enter the park. Foldable, soft sider coolers are also permitted, but be sure that any items package are in plastic not glass containers, as those will be confiscated. If bringing food, it’s beneficial to have a stroller to carry it in, but remember wagons are not permitted either.

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9. A family of 4: 2 kids 2 adults, with airfare and a healthy amount of park time, what’s the average budget you recommend (CAD or USD).

When staying at a Disney property, the prices can vary significantly depending on the time of year and the type of Disney accommodations selected. I have sent clients to a Value Resort for 7 days including the meal plan and a 5 days base ticket for as low at $2800 USD. When staying at a Deluxe property, prices will increase depending on the resort, type of room, view (theme park views are most expensive) and there are special room categories including club level or overwater bungalows. Flights to Orlando can also vary and from Toronto – anywhere under $500 per person round-trip is good. With extra planning and good advice, Disney can be affordable for everyone.

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10. Are there any big ‘don’ts’ for going to Disney? What should you avoid, what are expectations that are most often disappointing?

What I always like to remind my clients is that going to Walt Disney World is a vacation – you are supposed to enjoy it! Planning is key, but over-scheduling is not going to benefit anyone. Plan based on your children and what they can or can’t handle. If they are easily stimulated, plan lots of down time as a meltdown isn’t going to make a memorable experience.

Include your children in the planning process. Get them excited about what’s to come so they can be mentally prepared and if possible try to enjoy a resort day with no parks to rest your feet. Use the services of a professional who can help navigate and make sure you get the most value for your dollar by planning special VIP tours, specialty dining and unique experiences.

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For those who are interested in visiting, right now Disney is having a great promotion –  get a FREE dining plan. Click below for more info.

For more from Clara Power TPI be sure to check her out online
“LIKE” her on facebook and “FOLLOW” her on her blog, instagram, and twitter!

Why Meditate?

Guest Blog Written By: Dr. Jen Cisternino Naturopathic Doctor

More than ever before, people today are looking for an alternative way to help them cope with everyday stresses and health concerns. We are awakening to the realization that we have more power over our health than any doctor. Old beliefs have it that a doctor will heal you and you must seek their help when you are not feeling well. New concepts, actually not new to ancient medicines at all, are emerging which challenge that very notion. 

What are doctors doing for us? If you ask a doctor, they say they are saving lives. How? Through early detection, diagnosis and treatment. What role then do YOU have in your health? Do you rely on doctors to find what is wrong with you and wait for them to “fix you”? News flash! No one can fix you but YOU. You need to realize that you play a role in your health. You have the most control over your risk of disease, prevention, detection and treatment.  How do you play a role? Through your thoughts, behaviours, lifestyle habits, emotions and overall perspective. 

Most people do not “check in” with themselves on a daily basis to see how their body feels and how their mind is thinking. They do not spend time addressing their thoughts and emotions in a healthy way. Instead, this fast paced world has them reaching for more food, cigarettes, medications or marijuana for a quick fix.

What can you do to help yourself? MINDFULNESS MEDITATION. This is a practice of stilling the mind to bring your awareness to the present moment. Why would we need to do this? Because the present moment is the only moment we have control over and it determines our future moments. 

When we still our minds, we gain access to a deeper awareness about our bodies and mind. This information can help us make changes to better our health and lives. When we are still and focusing on our breathing, we are also creating a calming, peaceful place in our body where healing can occur.

You can think of meditation as transforming the mind. Creating a happier perspective and releasing limiting beliefs about one self and others. Research has shown that daily meditation can improve:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Stress and Overwhelm
  • IBS
  • Anger
  • ADD/ADHD
  • among many others conditions

If you have never meditated before or are not sure where to start, simply sit or lye down in a quiet room and start counting your breathes in and out. Do this for 5 minutes. As thoughts come into your mind, simply let them go. You can image them floating away in a balloon. If you get restless, this is normal. It takes practice and commitment. You didn’t learn how to walk in one day! It takes effort to still the mind and develop a greater sense of peace and calm within.

I offer one on one consulting to help you quiet your mind and find inner peace. I help all my patients gain a deeper understanding of their state of health and how their mental and emotional state greatly influences the physical body.

Much love and peace!

For more from Dr. Jen Cisternino Naturopathic Doctor
and to book a free 15 min consult be sure to check her out online,
“LIKE” her on Facebook and “FOLLOW” her on Instagram!

I’m ready for you SPRING!

SpringCleaningSpring has officially sprung and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m loving the longer days, the bluer skies, and of course the sunshine…now only if the warmer temps would kick in (I know you know what I’m talking about). Honestly and all kidding aside there’s just something about the spring that makes me feel alive, happy and energized.

One thing that I look forward to doing with the arrival of spring is getting back outside after a long cold winter and finally being able to open up the windows to get some fresh air in the house. You know what else springtime means? Spring cleaning of course! Purging things we no longer need, organizing our messy piles of everything and anything that accumulated over the lazy months and getting into areas of the house that haven’t been touched in what seems like forever. It’s a lot of work and it can be a pain in the ass but once you have it done you can’t help but be in a better mood and feel great about your newly cleaned and tidy space.

If you’re anything like me you’re probably thinking, well…that’s all fine and dandy but what if I hate cleaning? Well, here’s a little secret for you…cleaning, isn’t on favourite things to do either, I know…shocker. Unfortunately the reality is that it needs to be done no matter how much it sucks. So, I’m here to figure this out with you. As a Mamma of 3 (ages 5, 3, and 1) you know how crazy and messy things can get so I’m going to share with you some tips, tricks and advice to help you keep things clean and smelling good and all while keeping costs down.

Here goes…

1. Tackle a bit at a time…

When you have little ones running around you need to be realistic and cleaning the house from top to bottom with them around will only stress you out and most likely won’t get your far. Create a schedule so you know that Tuesdays for example are bathroom days while Friday nights are reserved for vacuuming and washing floors (let’s get real we’re parents now and we’ll be home because hitting up the bar just ain’t happening anymore haha) and don’t forget to clean as you go (wash your dishes after you’re done eating, wipe down and tidy yup the kitchen once you’re done cooking, etc).

2. Make it a family effort…

You’re most likely not the only person living in your home right? Which means others are contributing to the mess and so it’s time everyone rolls up their sleeves and pitches in to help out. My husband absolutely hates cleaning the bathrooms so our deal is that I will do that while he takes care of things outside of our home. He’s also obsessed with loading the dishwasher so who am I to argue with him (it’s all yours babe 😉 haha). As for the kids you might think well they’re small, what could they possibly do to help? Let me tell you, there’s plenty! Have them do little things like tidy up their toys after they are done playing, putting their dirty clothes in the hamper, dishes in the sink after meals, etc. These little tasks will not only teach them responsibility but they will also love helping out Mamma and Papa.

3. Have fun…

We all know how exciting and thrilling it is to clean right? I’m clearing joking because we all know it’s not so why not do something about it. Open up the windows, let the fresh air come in and crank the radio. Music will always put a smile on your face and get you moving. Before you know it your dreaded task of cleaning will be a distance memory.

4. Make sure your tools are ready to go…

Before you load clothes into the washer, run the dishwasher or bust out the vacuum cleaner you may want to do some simple maintenance on them. Take the time to run a clean cycle on your washer/dishwasher and of course empty out and clean your vacuum cleaner. Over time things can get yucky and smelly and you don’t want that. Do a google search or check pinterest for some great ways to clean these appliances and trust me you’ll thank me down the road. This is a total must for every spring cleaning!

17495422_10155893828899838_1450218101_n5. Get your shopping list ready…

Last but not least you need to make sure you have the right supplies on hand. It can get overwhelming when you hit the cleaning aisle at the store…so many products and items that’s it’s easy to drop money on things you don’t need so let’s make it simple. Let’s get you in and out with what you need and without spending extra money. Get yourself a mop (I love microfibre ones that allow you to remove the pad for washing purposes), a bucket, some sponges, rubber gloves, cleaning cloths (good quality cotton or microfibre are both great), and most importantly a great multi-surface cleaner. To get you in the spring cleaning zone may I suggest going with one of my new faves which is Pine-Sol’s NEWEST scent…Spring Blossom. I absolutely love it! It’s powerful enough to cut through grease, grime and dirt and it’s perfect for cleaning your entire home and making it smell amazing. Who doesn’t love the scent of a spring bouquet of Jasmine, Magnolia and Orange Blossom? Thought so 😉 ! This Pine-Sol multi surface cleaner can be used in the kitchen, bathroom and everywhere in between which means one product instead of 5…your bank account will thank you for it.

So there you have it….my tips, tricks and advice for getting you started on spring cleaning. There’s no better way to welcome the season with a clean slate and the spring blossom scent. Also don’t forget to check out the Pine-Sol website for more info and some fantastic How-Tos on killing those nasty flu germs, getting stubborn fabric stains out, tackling backyard toys to getting your shine stainless steel and much, much more!

It just takes YOU to make a difference…

16910871_10155792280324838_1247589620_o

This past Wednesday was Pink Shirt Day; a day when we proudly wear pink shirts in honour and support of anti-bullying. Bullying is a major issue and sadly it’s not getting any better which is why we need to create awareness and ban together to put an end to it.

Did you know that…

  • Canada has the 9th highest rate of bullying in the 13-years-olds category on a scale of 35 countries
  • At least 1 in 3 adolescent students in Canada have reported being bullied recently
  • Among adult Canadians, 38% of males and 30% of females reported having experienced occasional or frequent bullying during their school years
  • 47% of Canadian parents report having a child victim of bullying
  • Any participation in bullying increases risk of suicidal ideas in youth
  • The rate of discrimination experienced among students who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-identified, Two-Spirited, Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) is three times higher than heterosexual youth
  • Girls are more likely to be bullied on the internet than boys
  • 7% of adult internet users in Canada, age 18 years and older, self-reported having been a victim of cyber-bullying at some point in their life
  • The most common form of cyber-bullying involves receiving threatening or aggressive e-mails or instant messages and has been reported by 73% of victims
  • 40% of Canadian workers experience bullying on a weekly basis
    (source: http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/45838.html)

Those are just a few of the many scary stats that are out there. Bullying is real and doesn’t discriminate against age, sex, religion, sexual preference, or race. I hear cases of it at Samantha’s school with kids as young as 4 years old, with my nieces and nephews who are tweens and teens and hell, just a few years back I was a target amongst a group of online moms through social media. It’s name calling, it’s shoving and pushing, teasing, spreading rumours and lies, attacking and making fun of people in person and on social media. It’s sending threatening texts and emails and sadly the list doesn’t end there.

Something needs to be done to put an end to this all and the answer starts with YOU!

16911044_10155792280264838_2123915209_oWednesday evening I had the honour of being invited to attend the very first Pink Shirt Day concert at Vaughan Mills Mall from our friends at GIRL TALK Empowerment. It was simply fantastic! The vibe and energy was amazing and positive! They had a “Kindness Never Goes Out Of Style” pop up shop set up where people were able to go in and purchase a pink tee, take some fun pics and leave an inspiring message on their pink wall. The concert was the main event and rightfully so! Hosted by GIRL TALK Empowerment founder Katie Zepperi and featuring a Q&A session with YouTube star Meg DeAngelis and music from Ryland James and Tyler Shaw. Each of the young stars shared stories, experiences and positive messages with the crowd. Their message to be kind, to treat others as you would want to be treated and to stand up against bullying whether you are the victim or a witness, was something that hit close to home for many of the people who were there. It was exactly what these young people as well as the adults there needed to hear.

16990054_10155792280204838_943930698_oBullying needs to end here and now! No more of this crap and no more of standing by and watching it happen! WE need to do something about it and WE need to start now! We as parents need to teach our kids right from wrong and lead by example because they are watching and learning from us. Our kids are listening to the words we are speaking and more importantly are watching our actions so we can’t just talk the talk, we actually need to walk the walk. If we say one thing but do the other what message our we sending our children?

So I decided to share a few tips with you Mammas and Papas because let’s face it, everything starts at home so if we can get it right, then it will help lead our kids in the right direction.

  • Show respect to one another in and outside of the home
  • Be kind because kindness is contagious
  • Be aware of your words and actions especially in front of your children
  • When you see someone being bullied DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT and lend a helping hand

In a world where people feel entitled and it’s easy to hide behind cell phones, computer screens and social media accounts, it’s important to spread the message of kindness and love rather than one of hurt and hate. Remember it just takes YOU to make a difference and if each one of us commits to that, than think of what we can accomplish together in this fight against bullying.

Special thanks to Katie Zepperi of GIRL TALK Empowerment and Vaughan Mills for putting on this stellar event and inviting me to tag along! Much love to everyone and wishing you all a fab and oh so CHIC day xoxo.

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