Thursday, December 8, 2016

What To See And Where To Stay In NYC During The Holiday Season

New York City is always a good idea, but it's even more magical during the holiday season. Spending a few days in the Big Apple in November and December is a great way to celebrate the festive season, and there is so much to see and do—and most of the sightseeing is free, which is an added bonus. I was on CTV Morning Live today talking about what to do in the Big Apple this time of year.




Where to stay:


Four Seasons New York Downtown: Where you stay in NYC is important, especially if you're travelling with your family and children. Our recent stay at the brand-new Four Seasons New York Downtown was simply spectacular. Near the 9/11 memorial and One World Trade, and only a few blocks from the Brooklyn Bridge, the Four Seasons New York Downtown offers excellent in-room dining options created by chef Shaun Acosta, which we loved, because we could dine in our spacious suite, without having to worry about where to eat in NYC, allowing us more time to take in the sights and sounds of the city. I loved the indoor swimming pool, too; the kids got to swim, and I got to indulge in a massage at the spa, which was the perfect way to unwind after hours of walking around the city.





What to see:


Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree: Located in Rockefeller Centre, the famous Christmas Tree is a must-see in NYC during the holiday season. the 78-foot, 10-ton Norway Spruce tree has 4500 LED lights and will be lit up until January 7th. Once the tree comes down, it gets donated to Habitat for Humanity and gets turned into lumber for home building. Of course, being in Rock Center, you're right by all the shops (my boys loved the Nintendo store) and across the street, Saks Fifth Avenue.




Window Displays on Fifth Avenue: Walking down Fifth Avenue during the holidays is magical, with all the different and very elaborate holiday store window displays. My favourite is Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord and Taylor, Barneys New York, and Macy's, in Herald Square. The window displays are stunning, and it's enough to window shop without even stepping foot into any stores.





The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular: The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall  show is a must-see in NYC. The show started in 1933, and over 75 million people have watched so far—my entire family loved the show, and you'll definitely get into the festive mood. The dance numbers, the costumes, the music—you'll be blown away. Make sure to head down the street after to get a cupcake or two from Magnolia Bakery—the best cupcakes in the world, in my opinion.





School of Rock: No matter how many times you've been to NYC, Times Square is still incredible to see. While you're there, catch a show on Broadway—tickets to Hamilton are still hard to find, but you can School of Rock instead. The show is amazing, and my boys especially loved it. The children in School of Rock are not only incredible actors, singers, and dancers, they also all play their own instruments, too.





Bryant Park Winter Village: A few blocks from Rock Center, head to Bryant Park for free ice skating and shop at over 125 holiday shops and eateries.


Central Park: A visit to Central Park is a great idea, no matter the season. Bring your skates and skate around the rink in Central Park. Later, go to Serendipity 3 for their famous frozen hot chocolate.


There is so much to do in NYC during the holiday season, and no matter what you do or what you see, you'll love it. It's become an annual tradition for my family, and we can't wait to be back next year.


Happy travels!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Luxury In New York City, Four Seasons Style

There is nothing more magical than spending the holiday season in the city that never sleeps. A trip to New York City is always a great idea, but when you travel to New York City in November and December, it's even more incredible. Although I've been a dozen times, it's never enough, and I start planning my next trip while I'm still there. Walking down Fifth Avenue to check out the beautifully decorated store window displays and skating at Rockefeller Center while looking up at the famous Christmas tree makes a trip to New York City during the festive season a must for those who to love to travel.

Where you stay in New York City is important, and can make the trip even more memorable. I had the great pleasure of staying in the luxurious, brand-new Four Seasons New York Downtown in November with my family, and it was absolutely delightful. It's exactly what you'd expect a stay at the Four Seasons to be; incredible service, luxurious rooms, (we didn't want to leave the Hudson Suite!) and in-room dining that can't be beat. Plus, a world-class spa, a 24-hour gym, and a state-of-art-lap pool with stunning views of the city. It's truly a vacation on its own, blocks away from the Brooklyn Bridge, close to Wall Street and the World Trade Centre, and next to the new Oculus. If you love Soho and the Meatpacking District, you're in the right area. A short subway or taxi ride will get you into Midtown Manhattan in minutes, too.



We checked into the Four Seasons and instantly fell in love with the spacious Hudson Suite. The bottle of champagne and chocolate cake waiting for us in our suite was the perfect treat to receive after our travels to New York City.


The rooms in Four Seasons New York Downtown have incredible views of the city. Our Hudson Suite was extremely spacious, with a large entrance-way, unique artwork adoring the walls, a guest bathroom with shower, and a private bedroom with a stunning, large master bathroom, complete with deep soaking tub, handheld shower faucet, separate glass-enclosed shower, and an in-mirror TV to enjoy while you're relaxing in the tub. (Yes, there were two separate bathrooms in our suite). After hours of walking the streets of New York, there is no better way to unwind. The large closet (a room in itself) gave us the space we needed for our luggage, carry-on bags, and coats.








The dining room in the main part of our suite was perfect for our family, and we enjoyed many of our meals here. Situated in the living room area with views of the city surrounding us made our in-room dining experience that much more incredible. The free-standing pantry and refrigerated private bar was a pretty sight, too, and I loved the stylish work area complete with charging stations and huge windows offering a stunning view of the city. Imagine working here every day? A dream come true.



In New York City, dining options are endless, and sometimes stressful; the beauty of staying at Four Seasons New York Downtown is that you can you enjoy incredible food in the comfort of your room, giving you more time to explore the city and less time worrying about where you're going to eat. When you're travelling with children, the choice of healthy in-room dining is a nice treat to consider. Four Seasons executive chef Shaun Acosta is the master chef behind the incredible in-room dining experience. I loved that we could order from the menu 24-hours a day and experience the menu in the comfort of our suite. CUT by Wolfgang Puck is considered one of the finest restaurants and bars in downtown NYC, and quite the hot spot; another great place to dine when you're staying at Four Seasons New York downtown.


The breakfast was delicious; organic eggs, thick, cooked-to-perfection bacon, breakfast potatoes, fresh bread and jams, fresh baked muffins, Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and granola... you get the picture. But if you don't, this picture should help you understand:



It was the perfect meal to start our day, and one that kept us going for hours. We also enjoyed lunch in our room; fresh salad, delicious sandwiches, even New York style hot dogs. While I normally dine out when I'm in New York City, I had no complaints about eating in this time, because the food was really so good, and so convenient.


A special treat in our room after my spa experience (while the boys swam) was milk and homemade donuts by the chef for my boys, and a bottle of wine, cheese, and bread for us to enjoy



The pool and spa at Four Seasons New York Downtown is also something you need to experience. Again, the service was excellent, the pool was relaxing and beautiful, and the massage was pure bliss. When you spend the day sightseeing, it's such a nice treat to come back to your hotel to relax in the spa.






Everything about our stay at the new Four Seasons New York Downtown was perfection, from the service to the food to the spa and especially the comfortable, spacious rooms.

Thank you for everything, Four Seasons. You truly made our trip to New York City wonderful, and I can't wait to come back soon.

Stay Peppermint-Sweet And Germ-Free Under The Mistletoe This Holiday Season

The timing of this post is pretty ironic, considering I'm talking about tips for staying healthy this holiday season while battling a cold. It's the time of year that mostly everyone gets sick, but there are things we can do now to help us stay healthy for the rest of the holiday season. It is inevitable that when children come home from school with a cold or flu, it'll get passed on to the parents, so it's even more important that we take preventative steps to stay germ-free.

We're in the midst of the holiday season, and my calendar is packing up with parties. I'm so excited—but I definitely don't want to miss out on any of the festivities because of a cold. Let's keep the kisses under the mistletoe peppermint-sweet and germ-free, okay?

There are three easy tips to help protect yourself and your family this fall: eat well, wash your hands frequently, and get the flu shot.

Eat Well

It's important to keep your body fueled with nutrients to help ward off germs and maintain good overall immune health. When you're doing your weekly grocery shopping at your local Loblaws store, stock up on foods that contain nutrients that contribute to good overall health during the holidays and flu season. (And before you prepare any food, make sure to wash your hands. I'm always washing my hands and following up with hand cream to keep my hands soft).

Citrus Fruit: Citrus fruits a great source of vitamin C, and they’re delicious, too. You can also try frozen fruit—just as nutritious in smoothies, on top of yogurt, or cereal, or added to your favourite holiday recipe.

Beans and Legumes: Boost your protein and zinc intake by including a variety of beans and legumes in your diet. Whether you're using these foods in salads or soups, they are a great addition to your diet.

Nuts and Seeds: A variety of nuts and seeds during cold and flu season help you get the vitamin E you need, a dietary antioxidant that helps in the maintenance of good health. My house is always stacked with nuts, because my boys love snacking on walnuts and almonds.

Probiotic foods: Probiotic yogurt contains probiotic bacteria which modulates immune function. Eating foods that contain probiotics is preferred to taking probiotic supplements because then you also get the other nutrients in the food, like protein and calcium.

Protein: Protein is always a good idea. Protein (in meats, eggs, and seafood like salmon and tuna, as well as milk products, legumes, and nuts and seeds) will help build and repair body tissues and antibodies.

B vitamins: Found in leafy greens, whole grains, and winter squashes, the foods that contain B vitamins will also help you maintain good health.

Include these foods every time you're grocery shopping for an immune boost, which will help keep you healthy all winter long.

If you need help choosing the right kind of foods to feed your family, make an appointment with an in-store dietitian at Loblaws. It's a free service, they're a wealth of information, and they'll give you great tips on which nutrient-rich foods to buy. They'll even give you amazing recipe ideas that your family will love—all while boosting your overall health and immune system.

Get The Shot

The flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu, and it's also available in-store through the pharmacists at Loblaws stores across the country. I love the convenience of stocking up on the foods you need to keep your family healthy and well-fed this holiday season, while getting your flu shot at the same time.

If you're looking for a new healthy recipe to feed your family and yourself this holiday season, here's a great, nutritious soup:

Nutrient-Rich Holiday Recipe
Tunisian Vegetable Bean Soup

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Ready in: 55 minutes

Ingredients:

3 tbsp (45 mL) PC New World EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cups (500 mL) chopped onions
2 cups (500 mL) diced carrots
2 cups (500 mL) diced zucchini
1-½ tsp (7 mL) salt, divided
1/2 tsp (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) minced garlic
1/2 cup (125 mL) PC Memories of Tunisia Red Pepper Harissa Sauce
1 pkg (900 mL) PC Blue Menu Chicken Broth
1 can (540 mL) PC Blue Menu White Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
2 bay leaves
4 cups (1 L) loosely packed chopped kale
1/2 cup (125 mL) PC Olive Oil and Sea Salt Labneh Middle-Eastern Style Dip and Spread

Directions:

1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until softened and light golden.
2. Stir in carrots, zucchini, 1/2 tsp of the salt and the pepper. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently, or until vegetables are tender-crisp.
3. Stir in garlic. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring, until fragrant.
4. Pour in the Memories sauce. Cook, stirring, until sauce is slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.
5. Stir in broth, beans, bay leaves and remaining 1 tsp salt; bring to a boil. Stir in kale; reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, 10 to 12 minutes or until kale is tender.
6. Remove and discard bay leaves. Divide soup among eight bowls; top each with a 1 tbsp dollop of
labneh. Serve with warmed pita bread, if desired.

Makes 8 servings



Here's to a healthy holiday season, and thanks for the tips, Loblaws!



Disclaimer: I have partnered with Loblaw for this post, and was compensated. All views and opinions are my won.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Give Back With CanadaHelps This Holiday Season

It's giving Tuesday, and I love the idea of giving gifts that give back. CanadaHelps is a registered non-profit charity—basically, a one-stop shop for donating and fundraising online for any registered Canadian charity.


Our mission is to promote – and ultimately increase – charitable giving in Canada. Because we’re a non-profit our fees are typically half that of the for-profit alternatives. We do this servicing Canadian donors, charities and corporations.


If you're out of ideas and you've already checked out my holiday gift guide, but still haven't found what you're looking for, I'm giving away THREE $10 gift cards to CanadaHelps that you can gift to anyone you want to give them to.






Here's what you have to do:




1. Go to CanadaHelps.org and find a charity you'd like to support by doing a search.
2. Choose Charity Gift Card as your method of payment at checkout.
3. Feel great about giving back and giving someone a gift they'll love and appreciate.





Whether you want to support local charities, or international charities, the choice is yours. You can choose your charity of choice by category, too: Education, International, Health, Environment, Social Services, Arts and Culture—making it easier for you to choose something specific you know your recipient would appreciate.






I'll give the codes to the first three comments I receive here or on Facebook—just tell me who want to give this gift to, and please leave your email address or Twitter handle so I can give you your code.




Happy giving!




Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Complete 2016 Holiday Gift Guide (Plus A Giveaway!)

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and yet, it's also the most stressful time of the year for some people. While I love to shop, I know many people don't find pleasure in walking through the mall in December, looking for the perfect gifts to give the people on their list. I've put together a holiday gift guide that'll help narrow down the choices of what to give the people you love this holiday season—from luxurious gifts like a getaway to The Hazelton Hotel to books and skin care products, there is definitely something here for everyone on your list.


Luxury gifts

The Hazelton Hotel: I love to travel, and I love gifts that have to do with travel. Even if it's a staycation, or a weekend getaway, I can't think of a better gift to give someone you love. I had the pleasure of staying at The Hazelton Hotel in Yorkville, Toronto, and I think this is a perfect gift to give. You can unwind and re-connect in the luxurious rooms and suites, enjoy the incredible spa treatments (the Hazelton Signature Scrub and Spa Pedicure are my personal favourites!) and dine at ONE Restaurant—the food there is amazing. Executive Chef Mark McEwan's cuisine is delicious. ONE also offers 24-hour in-room dining. Dining at ONE was one was perfection–the drinks, the food, the service, and the ambiance.





Rimowa: Luggage is not something people usually consider giving when it comes to gifts, but I can't think of a better gift to receive than a high-quality piece of luggage that will last for years. Rimowa is certainly the best there is when it comes to suitcases, and their well-designed luggage would make a perfect present for anyone who travels for work or pleasure.


One-Stop Shopping

Chapters-Indigo: My favourite store is Chapters-Indigo; before I had kids, I would spend hours walking through the aisles of books and picking up things I needed like gift wrap and cards, and cute home decor items. Once I became a mom, the store became more special to me because my children love books and reading, and spending time in Chapters-Indigo, as well. Chapters-Indigo knows how to make the holiday season extra special and festive, and it really is the best one-stop shop to get everyone on your list a little something special, whether it's books, electronics, hats and scarves, purses, toys, games or accessories for the home. 




HomeSense/Marshalls/WINNERS: One-stop shopping is key if you're pressed for time this holiday season. Shopping at WINNERS, Marshalls, and HomeSense totally takes the stress off of holiday shopping, because you can always find something special for the people on your list. The best place to shop for wrapping paper, gift boxes, tissue paper and gift cards is HomeSense, because they have such a huge variety of items, and they also have some incredible holiday decor items for the home, too.

I buy a new Nutcracker from HomeSense every holiday season; it's become a tradition for me, now. A great gift to give? A unique ornament for the tree. HomeSense has so many beautiful ornaments for the holidays! Another great thing about shopping at HomeSense, WINNERS and Marshalls? The prices. They just cannot be beat.



Stocking Stuffers

Cold-Q: As soon as the weather gets cold and the snow falls, illness is pretty much guaranteed to hit your family. Pop Cold-Q, an all-natural oral spray, into the stockings that hang by the fireplace in your house to help your family stay healthy and virus-free this holiday season. (Especially important if you're going to be traveling!). Cold-Q can be bought at most drug stores.

Clinique Happy Collection: Fragrance is always a great idea, and Sears has some cute fragrance sets in store right now that make a great stocking stuffer. Because of its small size, the Clinique Happy Collection is the perfect fragrance kit to pack in your carry-on when you`re getting away this winter. Sears is a great place to find everything you`re looking for this holiday, season, too, at very affordable prices.

Skin Care

SkinCeuticals: I was introduced to Skinceuticals at Gee Beauty Boutique in Bal Harbour, and I fell in love with the products right away. I love using quality products that help improve the appearance of my skin. Skinceuticals has a simple mission: to improve skin healthy, and to provide advanced skincare backed by science. SkinCeuticals products can be purchased through dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and at medical spas or online. Some of my favourites to give and receive: the Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 moisturizer. This anti-aging cream helps improve your skin`s appearance and provies 24 hour hydration—something we all need more of during the dry winter months. I also love their patented C E Ferulic, a vitamin C Antioxidant Serum, which improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while brightening your complexion.


Clarins: Clarins products always make a great gift, and I love using their best-selling Double Serum. A great option to give as a gift (or treat yourself!) is the Clarins Advent Calendar. Better than chocolate every day in December until Christmas, you open a special gift from Clarins. It's the gift that keeps on giving... for 24 days! The advent calendar includes great skin care products, make-up, and three full-sized products, as well. It's sure to be best-seller, so make sure to get yours quickly.


Caudalie: I love the simplicity of Caudalie products, and how since the company's creation, they've always favoured natural and environmental friendly active ingredients. Caudalie always comes out with great gift sets for the holidays too.


Great Gift Ideas

Baskits: If you want to give a gift that you know will be appreciated, but don't have time to go shopping, check out Baskits.com. Baskits.com is Canada's leading gift service company and they make amazing and unique baskets for everyone on your list—for kids, for co-workers, for friends or for your family. These baskets are filled with lots of great luxury products, and you can even personalize your basket. They also deliver across North America. A few of my holiday favourites: Nutcracker, Sleigh, and Celebrate with Champagne.






Polar M600: The Polar M600 is a great smartwatch that fits every lifestyle and allows users to personalize their workouts and keep track of their health and fitness. It retails at Best Buy and Sports Experts for $399.00.

Cilque: Here's a unique and luxurious gift idea: silk sheets. Cilque is a Canadian brand that makes 100% silk bedding and apparel that adds a touch of glamour to the bedroom and your night time routine. Cilque uses premium 100% mulberry silk charmeuse in all its products, and the benefits are great too; silk prevents sleep creases and is more gentle on the skin than other types of sheets. These silk sheets are also hypoallergenic. The beauty sleep set retails for $99.00. For more information, visit www.cilque.com.

MICRO Pedi for Her and Him: I go for frequent pedicures, but I know many people prefer doing it themselves at home. The MICRO Pedi is a safe at-home, painless alternative to a salon pedicure that works just as well. It's available at Shoppers Drug Mart, and retails for $29.99.

NHL '17: Perfect for the game lover in your house, the new NHL '17 for Xbox One and PS4 makes the perfect stocking stuffer. Improved features include tape-to-tape passing, puck pick-ups, pivots, and everything else you'd love in a hockey game. NHL '17 retails for $79.99, and the Duluxe Edition is $99.99. I'm giving away a copy of NHL '17 for the Xbox. Leave me a comment below telling me who you would gift this to!

Hudson's Bay Limited Edition Barbie: This gorgeous Barbie is not just for children; this Barbie is perfect for anybody who loves style and fashion! This limited-edition Barbie is wearing a classic HBC striped coat and matching pencil skirt, black turtleneck, and cute ankle boots. Of course, accessories make the outfit, and this Barbie is rocking a pair of glasses and has her cute pet poodle, Hudson, with her, too. This Barbie retails for $59.99 and is available at The Bay.


Bulletproof 360 coffee: When it comes to stocking stuffers, coffee is a definite winner! And if you are looking to impress the health conscious coffee lover in your house, try Bulletproof coffee. Bulletproof Coffee is "upgraded" coffee, blended with grass-fed unsalted butter and Brain Octane Oil which is derived from Coconut Oil. Bulletproof Coffee is full of all the good stuff you need to fuel you all day long.

Adidas Golf: I'm not much of a golfer, but I know next summer I will be, because I love all the golf gear Adidas makes for men and women, no matter the season. Adidas Golf has some great jackets that are perfect to gift the golf lover in your life. 

Second Cup: Next time you're enjoying your latte at Second Cup, pick up some of the cute holiday themed tumblers and mugs and gift them to people you like. I love the idea of giving a gift card for Second Cup inside a mug as a hostess gift, too. Second cup also makes the best hot chocolate, perfect for staying warm around the fireplace this holiday season, watching your favourite Christmas movie. I'm giving away a $25 Second Cup gift card, too! Just leave me a comment below telling me one thing you love about holiday shopping. 


Happy shopping, everyone! If you have any questions or need more information about any of the products I talked about here, please drop me a line and I'd be glad to help out.


I'll pick a Second Cup and NHL '17 Xbox winner randomly on December 1st. Please don't forget to leave your email address in the comment section, too! (One winner per prize). 




Disclaimer: I have received products and compensation for this post.

Blog Designed by: NW Designs