Reflections, 2012: A Year In Review

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2012 passed by so incredibly quick, don't you think? It seems like only yesterday I wrote a post about the changes I would make in 2012. Some of them came true, others did not, so this year, I am not making any big promises that I cannot keep.

The year ended with immense tragedy that we're all still struggling to make sense of. December was more emotional than other years, filled with lots of tears, laughter, and happy times with the entire family. The only thing I have learned from all of this is how important it is to cherish every moment. And that's my only resolution for 2013. I'm going to enjoy it all. Or try to, anyway. And I'm going to remember the importance of putting things in perspective. When you do that, you see how you really have nothing to complain about. And that everything you need... you already have.

Here are some of my 2012 highlights:

This year, I discovered my new favourite show ever, Mad Men. And then I discovered another incredible show, Homeland. And now I cannot wait for 2013 so both these shows can start again!

I talked about the Wonder Years, and the importance of friends.

And I made a list of the 36 things I love.

Thanks to some amazing sponsors, I attended Mom 2.0 in beautiful Miami. This was one heck of a conference filled with incredible, inspiring speakers and attendees.

Of course, what would the year have been like without a war or two on something as ridiculous as... Nutella? That's right, things got heated in the kitchen.

I shared with the world my embarrassing celebrity childhood crushes  because well, as a blogger, that's what I do... I share my most embarrassing stories with you, so you can laugh
at with me.

I also wrote about all the songs that define me, because I am passionately in love with music.

Volkswagen Canada sent me to Mont Tremblant to be their official blogger for the 24 hour skiing event, and over 2 million dollars was raised to help sick children. It was such a great honour to be a part of that, and it was awesome to go skiing again.

I co-hosted the morning show on DAWG FM here in Ottawa (with an old friend I worked with years and years ago!)

I talked about the importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone.

I blogged about what I want my boys to remember when they're older.

I made new amazing memories in south Florida with my family.

I had a great night out and shared many glasses of wine with Mr. Wolf Blass. Yes, the man behind the Yellow Label is just as charismatic as you'd imagine. He's quite inspiring, too.

I happily continued to blog about everything to do with shopping on my Yummy Mummy Club shopping blog.

I blogged about my love for Canada... and continue to give thanks for living in this awesome country.

I went to NYC for BlogHer 2012. I had an amazing time, and even danced with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.

I attended and was a speaker at the third annual BlissDom Canada conference in Toronto. That was one amazing and memorable weekend in 2012.

I wrote about the truth about motherhood. We're all in this together, after all.

And I talked about the lazy, hazy days of summer. And also, how to vacation with children.

Mastercard sent me shopping, too. It was a blast!

I hosted a few events, I cheered loudly at every single one of my son's soccer games, and I didn't miss one swimming lessons that my boys atteneded. It's not only the big things that made 2012 a memorable year; it's the little things, too, those day-to-day events that take place that make the great memories.

My wish for this upcoming year is that everyone has more time to enjoy it all... and I hope for so much peace in the world.

Cheers to 2013!
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Heartbroken And Horrified

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This afternoon, I will pick up my seven year old son from school and tell him about the heartbreaking, horrific, senseless tragedy that took place in a school similar to his, in a neighbouring country, in a city that now has to come to terms with this unimaginable tragedy.

Edited to add: When I saw my son's smiling face after school I could not bring myself to say anything to him. Instead, I just hugged and kissed him and let him run off to play with his friends, keeping my eyes on him the entire time.

Tonight I will once again be thankful for this day, and I will hug my children tight. Every day is precious. Every moment we have should be cherished.

28 people dead... 20 of them small children. This is what happened today in an elementary school in Connecticut. Beautiful, innocent, perfect children, in school—in school—shot dead by an evil person, shot dead with weapons that should not exist, since it has been proven, time and time again, that guns do more harm than good. I've written before about gun control, and now more than ever, something needs to change. And fast.

As a wise women said online today: "America, I don't give a rat's ass about your Right to Bear Arms. You need to stop the insanity now -- no one is safer in your country for having a gun. Your daily news proves it."

Every time something like this happens—Columbine, shootings in malls, snipers in D.C., movie theatre shootings, on and on and on—my faith in all that is good diminishes.

How can any of us feel safe in our normal day-to-day activities like going to work and dropping our children off at school, knowing that's where they'll be safe?  How can we protect our children from the evil that is out there? What can we do now that this tragedy has taken place, except offer our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their poor, poor grieving families?

I wish I had answers.
I wish I could do more.
I wish I could turn back time.

I wish these parents didn't have to live with this nightmare, I wish the children didn't have to suffer.

 I wish guns didn't exist.

We don't need any more stories like this. We don't need more senseless tragedy at the hands of some unrighteous, unknown, crazy person who took it upon himself to destroy lives for no reason at all. All because he had access to a couple of guns.

I've cried on and off since Friday, I've hugged my children tighter, and I'm just overwhelmed with grief over this nightmare of a story.

My heart is heavy. Less than two weeks before Christmas.

I'm heartbroken.

Thoughts and prayers going out to a much-loved fellow blogger, who lost her nephew Noah in this senseless tragedy. You can also head over to Noah's Art of Hope Fund to make a donation.

"The funds received will be used to provide counseling services, education and basic needs for the children at this time of grief. Noah leaves behind his twin sister and three other siblings."

Bless all the children and their families.... may something like this never, ever happen again.
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12 Awesome Things About 24h Tremblant

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When Volkswagen Canada asked me to join them at 24h Tremblant as their official blogger and team member, I very enthusiastically said yes. I'm Volkswagen's biggest fan, and 24h Tremblant is one incredible weekend with one mission: to raise money for children who need it the most.

24h Tremblant is a 24 hour non-stop friendly skiing (and snowboarding) relay that takes place on the mountains of Mont Tremblant. Throughout the night, teams compete to cover the most terrain and ultimately aim to raise the highest amount of money for very deserving children's charities.

Volkswagen Canada was the main partner of the 12th edition of 24h Tremblant, and I was so proud and honoured to be there as part of their team. Thank you, VW!

Being in Tremblant was emotional, fun, exciting, and so worthwhile. The energy from the participants, the smiles on the children's faces, and the encourangement and cheers from everyone watching as team members skied for 24 hours non-stop was an awesome thing to be a part of. What an experience!


Without further delay, here are... 12 Awesome Things About the 12th Edition of 24h Tremblant:

1. Over $2,045, 391 was raised during this year's 24h Tremblant, which far surpassed last year's total of $1,832, 200.

2. 215 ski and snowboard teams along with 38 walking teams took part in this year's event.

3. All together there were 2,000 participants, all united for the same cause.

4. Proceeds from 24h Tremblant benefit Foundation centre de Cancérologie Charles-Bruneau, The Ottawa Senators Foundation, Foundation Martin-Matte, and The Tremblant Foundation.

5.  For every picture submitted to Volkswagen's 24h Worth Thinking About, VW donated $10 to 24h Tremblant. I recorded my thoughts on video, too, talking about who I was thinking about during the 24 hours.

6. The 24h of Skiing is North America's biggest sporting fundraising event.

7. Volkswagen Canada raised $84,705 for the 2012 24h Tremblant. Amazing!

8. Seeing people come together to ski, cheer, and support their teams all for the children who need it the most? That was what this weekend was all about. The love of the children brought everyone together, got everyone out, and the end results were outstanding.

9. This weekend got me skiing again. It had been many, many years but I am so thankful VW made me get out there and do my thing. Now I'm determined to get on the slopes as many weekends as possible this winter!

10. 24h Tremblant was founded by Jacques Villeneuve, and over the last 12 years, the 24h of skiing has raised more than $12 million making it the biggest event of its kind in skiing history.

11. The organizers, sponsors, ambassadors, and partners helped make this past weekend such a success.

12. The weather was perfection the entire weekend! It even started snowing, making the beautiful weekend even more festive. Seeing the children laughing, playing, having snowball fights, skiing, and enjoying the weekend festivites brought a huge smile to my face and was a perfect reminder about why we were there in the first place.

Next up? Tremblant's 24h of cycling, taking place September 6-8, 2013. I'm getting my bike helmet ready from now!


Thank you so much, Volkswagen Canada, for giving me the opportunity to come take part is this  most worthwhile, amazing weekend in Mont Tremblant. The good you do for the charities and children who need it the most brought tears to my eyes throughout the weekend, and my children saw first-hand how great things can happen when people come together this way.


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How To Avoid A Holiday Shopping Hangover

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Tis' the season for spending, my friends. For me, it's so hard to stay within a reasonable budget during the holidays. After all, I have children with lists and a big family to shop for. Not to mention all the new decorations and wrapping paper I need! And the stamps, and the Bailey's and a new sparkly outfit and ..well, you get the idea. December is brutal on my wallet, and every year I try to think of ways to save money so I'm not weeping into my credit card bill come January. I mean, I'll already be dealing with a case of the winter blues, so I don't need "I need to sell my house because I spent too much money in December!" as something else to be blue about, right?

Mobilicity recently conducted a survey about holiday shopping, and results showed that 58% of Canadians say they spend more than they should during the holidays. 59% (that would be me!) say they make impulse purchases which of course leads to feelings of guilt and a bad case of Holiday Shopping Hangover. Not surprising, really, since 1 in 5 Canadians are also binge shoppers.

I have put together some helpful tips for you (and I!) to save money over the holiday season so we don't have to deal with a huge Holiday Shopping Hangover in January.

Three Tips To Avoid A Holiday Shopping Hangover:

1. Make a list, and check it twice. You know who you have to shop for and you know what they want. Stick to the list and don't buy more than you have to. When you stick to your list, you'll avoid buying things you don't need.

2. Do some comparison shopping. If you think the store you frequently shop at is selling the items you need for a great price, do yourself a favour, and look around some more before you make your purchase. You'd be surprised how many great deals you can find if you just take the time to look around! (You can also use apps to help you navigate your holiday shopping—some apps help you track the best sales, and alert you when the things you want go on sale, even.)

3. Get creative. My favourite gifts to receive are the ones that come from the heart. A thoughtfully written holiday card sent to me from a best friend is more special than any gift wrapped under the tree. And any gifts that my children make for me are also gifts that I treasure more than anything else, even the gifts that come in little blue boxes! Bake some cookies, offer your services to a loved one, and voila... you've saved money while still giving a pretty thoughtful gift!




Content courtesy of Mobilicity, Canada’s smart mobile carrier. Find out how to avoid a holiday shopping hangover and reduce your monthly spending all year round with unlimited data, talk and text, without contracts and hidden fees at Mobilicity.ca. Now that’s smart!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post that I was compensated for, brought to you by Mobilicity.
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Radio Ga Ga

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Well, I'm off to to the ski hills for 24h Tremblant... look out! I'll be doing some night skiing with my VW team all in support of some amazing children's charities. I'll be keeping you updated all weekend, (and blogging as VW's official blogger!) and I might tweet from the chair lift, too. Hey, I know it's not a good idea, but how can I resist?

This Friday morning started off great, too—I got the chance to co-host the morning show with Dylan Black on 101.9 Dawg FM. The two of us actually used to work together years and years ago... and we even graduated from the same college, too.

Good times!

Can't wait to do that again! I do miss working in the world of radio...

Oh! And be sure to check out the new issue of Ottawa Family Living Magazine—I wrote a feature article called Fabulous Moms!

Happy weekend, friends.
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On Top Of The World

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I've got some exciting news to share... Volkswagen Canada asked me to be their offical blogger for 24 Hours Tremblant! That's right, you guys. I'm being sent to my favourite ski resort in Mont Tremblant, Quebec this weekend as part of Team Volkswagen. I'll be reporting back with all the exciting things that are going on, and I'll be tweeting about how nervous I am to be back on the ski slopes again. Let's just say I haven't gone skiing in a very long time... and um, how will I ski down the hills while tweeting without falling? All joking aside, I'm beyond honoured that VW asked me to take part this way. After all, I'm a car girl, and most definitely Volkswagen's number one fan.

The 24h of Skiing is actually North America's biggest sporting fundraising event that's already raised over 10 million dollars for children's causes. This year marks the 12th annual edition and will once again take place on the slopes of Tremblant. 3 days of fun, festivities, free concerts, an absolutely stunning atmosphere during festive December, all for the cause of children? I'd say that's one awesome weekend, no?

Volkswagen is proud to be participating in the Tremblant 24h of Skiing December 7-9 once again. You can help, too. Tell VW who you're thinking aboutand join their online gallery to help raise funds. For every picture you submit about a child in need, Volkswagen will donate $10 to the Tremblant 24h of Skiing. So incredible.

Of course, Tremblant is also known for amazing dining experiences, and of course, great shopping... so even when I'm not skiing, we'll be enjoying all Tremblant has to offer... like delicious crepes and breathtaking views.


This was my view the last time we were in Tremblant. It's a gorgeous vacation destination no matter the season, but during the holidays, it's even more magical. I can't wait to be there again, and to experience the excitement of 24h Tremblant in person. Even if I can't quite remember how to ski, the entire weekend will be beyond memorable. I'm so glad my boys will be there again to see all the action, all for a very good cause!

Stay tuned for more information about this amazing event!
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My Top Eight Gifts For The Holidays!

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The best part about the holidays for me is the shopping. Okay, that sounds awful, doesn't it? Actually, that's not the best part. The best part is spending time with family, decorating the tree with my children, sipping hot chocolate by the fire place, and seeing my children's excitement grow as we get closer to Christmas. It's also about giving back.

I love how festive and beautiful everything is, the holiday parties, the cookies, the Bailey's, and yes, the shopping. Especially for my children, especially when they don't give me a list with impossible to find toys on it, and when they remember to stay within Santa's budget!

I also enjoy shopping for my mom, best friends, and my sister. Because that means whatever I find for them... I get for myself, too. (Wait.. .am I doing this wrong?)

Anyway, here are some great gift ideas for giving—or for receiving, hint, hint—this holiday season!

Loulou's Top Eight For Her:

Sephora Color Daze Blockbuster: This make-up palette has all the make-up you're going to need for a very long time. This expandable palette includes lots of your Sephora  favourites, in every colour you can imagine. The set contains 64 waterproof eye shadows, 12 cream eyeliners, 48 lip glosses, 3 blushes, 6 multi-purpose eye, cheek, or lip creams, 3 multi-purpose luminizers, 3 make-up brushes, and a partridge in a pear tree.


Tory Burch iphone case: My sister has asked for a new iphone case for Christmas, and since I'm a huge Tory Burch fan, I think this would make a great gift
for me for her, don't you? Best part? It's only $50!


Aqua Solid Wrap Scarf: I want this scarf in every colour! This time of year, my accessory of choice is a colourful scarf. This makes the perfect gift for almost anyone on your list, and it's only $58.



Dogeared Sterling Silver Whisper Cross Necklace: I keep coming back to this necklace because it's so delicate, pretty, and unique. This is a great gift to give a friend, and a great gift to buy yourself, too. I also love the elephant for good luck.



Nostalgia Electric Theater Style Stirring Popcorn Maker: Popcorn just happens to be my favourite snack, especially when I'm watching movies and TV shows in the comfort of my home. How fun would a girls night in be with popcorn, wine, and Homeland on TV? Pretty perfect if you ask me!  
 
Books: I have always loved receiving—and giving—books for the holidays. There's nothing I love more in a home than seeing bookcases filled with dozens of books. To me, books make a home, and that's why my children always get a few books for Christmas to add to their little library in their rooms. I love giving friends copies of my favourite books.


Canada Goose Hat: The name Canada Goose is very well known and very loved in Canada, and in any part of the world where it's cold. I'm not kididng when I say the vast majority of Canadian girls would prefer a Canada Goose coat over anything else for the holidays because they're stylish, and oh-so-warm! This cute hat makes a great gift and it's under $60, too.


Osolee Bracelet: I have a few Osolee bracelet's and I wear them every single day. And every day, I get a new compliment on them. I love the "India" Turquoise and Gold Wrap Bracelet so much it's hard to believe it's under $30. Seriously! Time to stock up, my friends.


Need more gift ideas? I've put together a guide to the best toys of the season for your kids!

Happy holiday shopping...
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What Will My Boys Remember?

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The  memories of my childhood are still vivid in my mind. Pictures sometimes help bring back certain memories, as do certain scents, or places. My grandparent's apartment in Greece, a home-cooked meal by my mom that I loved to eat as a child, and the smell of my father's cologne all take me back, instantly.

I remember happy, carefree days, and of course, regular days of family dinners around the kitchen table and rushing to the family room to watch Today's Special. I remember favourite t-shirts, my old bed, eating chocolate chip ice cream for the first time with my great-grandmother in her backyard, and snuggles with my mom late at night.

I look at my children now and wonder what they'll remember when they look back to their childhood.

All the laughter?
The brotherly fights?
The tired sigh from their worried mother?

There is so much I want them to remember, and some things I would rather they forget. Like hospital visits, or when I yelled at them to go to bed.

I want them to remember a mom who would lay down beside them every single night until they fell asleep, a mom who read a dozen books before bed time because they were all requested.

I want them to remember parents who had some rules, but didn't live by them; I want them to remember the love, and the hugs and the kisses. I want them to remember the "I'm sorry, I love you" as soon as I would raise my voice.

I want them to rememember how much I loved them, even when they piled on top of me and almost broke my back.

I hope they remember how every morning I smothered them in kisses and hugs, no matter how tired I was.

I want them to remember how proud I was of them for the small things, like bringing their dirty dishes to the sink, and brushing their teeth, how even running towards the soccer ball without even coming close to scoring a goal made me jump up and down with happiness, while clapping my hands.

I want them to remember the day they sat on the stairs eating 24 little chocolates from the advent calender in 10 minutes and how I laughed with them, instead of scolding them.

I want them to remember the fun of travelling together, the joys of an airplane ride, and how I put on a brave face even though I was secretly suffering an anxiety attack in the air. I want them to remember the first time they swam in the ocean, and how happy they were with each sea shell they found.

I hope they remember when they had ice cream before dinner.

I want them to remember always feeling warm and cozy in bed because I would would wake up throughout the night to make sure they were still covered.

I want them to remember the car rides, the family road trips, the craziness, the laughter, and even the fights. After all, it's what makes us a family.

I want them to remember how every question asked was answered as honestly as possible, how much I loved to play at the park with them, and our evening walks after dinner in the summertime.

I hope they don't remember me always on my phone...

I wonder if they'll remember my threats to drive to the police station when they were misbehaving in the back seat of the car, or when I simply walked outside during one of their fights because I didn't want to hear them bickering anymore?

I hope they remember how happy they felt the days I was the volunteer in their classroom, and I hope they remember the happiness of running into my arms after school.

I want them to remember that even though I was not the greatest cook, every meal was prepared with love. (And maybe cooked a little too...extra well done.)

I want them to remember a childhood filled with wonderful, happy memories... of laughter, encouragement, and excitement. I want them to remember a mom who was always there, who said yes more than no, and who went with the flow.

I want them to always remember that they're my entire universe, always and forever.



I was inspired to write this post after reading a lovely, similar post over here.
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Mastercard Delivers Black Friday Deals For Canadians at Saks and Bloomingdale's

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I love that I'm Canadian, but I envy my friends south of the border sometimes. Especially on days like Black Friday. I'm a certified shopaholic, and to be able to take part in the shopping frenzy that goes on the day after Thanskgiving gets me excited. However, stores will be crazy busy, and even though you can score some amazing deals, who wants to spend all day waiting in line?

Imagine being able to shop these great deals, without having to deal with parking lot chaos, crazy line-ups, and people misbehaving? Well... here's a secret: We can! We can shop to our heart's content, and reap the benefits of the fabulous sales, only with a Canadian twist.


Hello, online shopping...

My friends at MasterCard have been working closely with top US retailers to deliver Black Friday deals to those of us north of the border. Deals like free express shopping from Saks, for instance. I know. It's almost too good to be true.

From Friday November 22 until December 10, MasterCard cardholders will receive amazing perks like free shipping, duty-free shopping, and incredible discounts at stores like Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, Macy's, Gilt, and other stores. It feels like an early holiday present, right?

From shoes to sparkling accessories to designer handbags and cashmere sweaters, you can shop all day long. Of course, there's also an amazing kids section at Saks, too...

The only problem is, now I'm having a hard time deciding what to buy with the MasterCard I was given to go shopping with!

At first, I was sure I wanted this bag from Marc Jacobs:


But then, this one from Tory Burch caught my eye...


And then I fell in love with this one...


Of course, I do need a new pair of Reva flats. And I already know how comfortable they'll be...
Or should I get these Fendi shades? I'm like a deer stuck in headlights. Too many fabulous choices!
So even though I'm not stuck in a parking lot for two hours I'm still experiencing some of the stress that comes with Black Friday shopping! Because, oh my God, decisions, you guys. This is not easy.

However, once you've made up your mind? Smooth sailing. Just pay with your MasterCard when you're checking out and use the promo code that's available online to take advantage of these deals. And then... exhale... you did it!

For more information on great deals, follow along on Twitter using the hash tag #ShopMasterCard.

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. MasterCard gave me a prepaid MasterCard so I was able to take advantage of these amazing deals. 
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'Tis The Season For Giving...

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"Cherish every moment" were probably the wisest words of advice I received when I was pregnant. Looking at how big my boys are now, it's hard to remember that once upon a time, they were snuggled tightly in their blankets, sleeping peacefully in their cribs. There are so many amazing memories I have of my children as babies, and truthfully, they'll always be my babies, no matter how big they get.

There are definitely things I don't miss about the baby stage, though. Like the diapers. If you're a mom, you'll know what I'm talking about when I say it felt like half the day was spent just changing diapers... over and over again!

When I was pregnant for the first time, selecting all the things I needed for my baby registry was fun but a little stressful. The one item I was told to put on my list was the Diaper Genie. Once my baby was born, I made good use out of the Diaper Genie. It's no wonder the Playtex Diaper Genie is the best selling diaper disposal system—it does a great job of protecting against germs and diaper smells. It also has an easy-to-use foot pedal for hands-free disposal, 5-layer refill bags, and a double-clamp air-lock design that prevents odours from escaping. Pretty genius, if you ask me.

If you're expecting a baby, or if you have a friend who is pregnant, I have a gift for you.

I'm giving away 10 Diaper Genie's!

All you have to do is leave me a comment below telling me why you would like a Diaper Genie. Will it be for you? For a friend? For a family member?

Perhaps you have a charity in mind you'd like to donate the Diaper Genie to? It's the season for giving, after all...

Good Luck! I will select 10 winners randomly on November 26th.



Disclosure: I was compensated for this post, and I received a Diaper Genie for review. (I donated my Diaper Genie to the Youville Centre in Ottawa, through a fundraiser at my children's school.)
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Whirlwind

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Can you believe Christmas is literally around the corner? It's unreal how quickly November has flown by! I don't know about you, but this has been one of the busiests months ever. School events, red cups at Starbucks, dances, parent-teacher interviews, book fairs, events, dinners, art shows, TV appearances, doctor's appointments, work, life, laundry... the usual. But more. It's been a post-it notes everywhere kind of month.

My mom's limited edition print was launched at her art show last night at Koyman Galleries. CHEO CEO Alex Munter was there to talk about the importance of art in the hospital, and how the money made from this print will benefit the children. A personal friend of ours who is the head neurosurgeon at CHEO was also on hand to talk about the equipment that will be bought from the sales of this print.



From this one print (The Joys Of Youth) $25,000 will be going to CHEO. After all the prints are released, CHEO will receive $150,000. How amazing is that? I love seeing the Ottawa community get together, and last night, so many friends were in attendance at the show, supporting my mom and CHEO. I could not think of a more worthy cause. And if you're looking for a Christmas gift to give someone who loves art? This print would make a great addition to any home.

From gifts of art to... toys! I was on CTV Ottawa Morning Live today, talking about some of the hottest toys of the season for boys and girls. Here is my segment, in case you missed it, or want to see it.

It is always a blast being on the morning show. If you're looking for more great gift ideas for your boys and girls, check out my post on my shopping blog about the hottest toys for the holidays!

With Kelli, Stu, Crystal, and Erin this morning at CTV.

Phew... it's been a crazy busy (but totally fun) week.

I hope you all find some time this weekend to kick back and relax. And you know, get started on that holiday shopping!


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Living In a Boy's World

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My boys are four and a half and seven years old. They're best friends, and the more time they spend with one another, the more fun they have together. I hear them giggling, scheming, watching movies, dancing Gangham Style, and reading books in their bedrooms. It is awesome how close they are, and it's awesome that I can be in a different room now, folding laundry, knowing they're okay, playing together. Of course, boys will be boys, and I'll often have to break up a fun wrestling match about to turn bad. Moms just know the right time to step in, you know?

Having boys has taught me so much, and has opened my eyes to a whole new world (of anxiety.)

From construction vehicles to the world of  Minecraft and LEGO, I am immersed in the land of boys and I love it, even though my boys are also very hyper, eat like an adult football team, and don't always pick up after themselves. They're incredibly smart, and incredibly funny. They make me laugh constantly. As much as I teach them, they're teaching me, too, and every day is an adventure. They test my patience, they have turned me into a master negotiator, and they make me wake up at 6 a.m., whether I want to be up that early or not.

They have also taught me that I should never leave them alone outside with scotch tape.

Because this was the scene I stumbled across not too long ago:


Yup, that's right. Two boys left outside can lead to trouble, or you know, can lead to one brother taping up his little brother to a giant street light with some tape. Pretty tightly, too. At least there was laughter, and no tears.

I tell ya, I still haven't been able to take a perfect picture of them both looking at the camera and smiling, but these types of pictures? I've got tons of them. Shenanigans! Boys...
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Unspeakable Horror

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I didn't sleep well last night. I was tossing and turning, checking on my children, kissing them, convering them with their blankets, tossing and turning some more, and wiping away my tears.

The horrific nightmare of a story that happening yesterday in New York City is something I cannot stop thinking about, no matter how hard I try. I've been sick to my stomach, thinking about this mother, her poor little children, and her surviving child. I cannot imagine—yet, I can—the pain, the grief, the questions, the living nightmare this family now has to live through, every day that remains of their lives. A perfectly beautiful family, shattered, torn apart, in the blink of an eye, in a horror story come to life. Some stories haunt me and stay with me forever. This is one of them.

When you become a  mom, life changes so drastically, so suddenly, in a million different ways. The emotions and feelings we experience once we enter the world of motherhood is like nothing else. No one can prepare you for the love you will feel for your children, once they are born and placed in your arms. And no one can prepare you for how your heart can break and bleed for another mother who is suffering through the most unreal tragedy.

Many of my friends, many people I've talked to today, are reminding me to think about something else, to try to forget, to say a prayer, and to carry on. Yes, I'm sure all of this is healthy advice, but I just cannot, right now, let this go. I think we should be able to feel, to cry, and to ask the questions (that will never be answered) at times like this.

At the very least, we are able to put things in persective.

At the very least, we are reminded how fragile life is.


Nothing good can come from a tragdy like this. We've all read the story. I'm sure you've cried, like I have, I'm sure you've tried to see if there is a way the outcome could be changed, like the a Choose Your Own Adventure book, where you can pick the ending you want. We can put ourselves in the mother's shoes, and feel her pain, ever so slightly. What she is going through today, the visions she is seeing, the love inside her, her questions, and the strength that she'll have find from inside to carry on for her daughter... it's all too much, really. It is the saddest, more horrific story I've read in a very long time. Tragedy is everywhere. My God, though... innocent, perfect children, to be taken like this, in such a violent way? There is no reason. None at all.

As a mother, my heart is bleeding today. All my love and prayers, whatever they can do, are being sent to this mother and to her children today.
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Joys of Youth

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One of the things I love best about the fact that my mother is a professional artist is her ability to capture children in their most innocent and happy moments with her paint brush. This is why her work is so popular with her customers, why people can't stop at just buying one piece, and why her art brightens the hallways in schools, community centres, and hospitals across Canada.

My mom is having her annual art show with Koyman Galleries and I'm very excited that this year, they are releasing a Limited Edition print called Snow Day with proceeds going to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Each print will be numbered and signed by the artist, too. CHEO is very special to me and to my children, so I'm really happy about this partnership.

The series is called "Joys of Youth" and the series will be published over the course of the next few years, with a new title available in time for each Christmas season and Mother's Day.

Also for sale during my mom's art show will be this year's UNICEF holiday cards. I have always been a huge fan of my mom's UNICEF holiday greeting cards, because they capture the festive season and children so nicely together.

UNICEF has partnered with Hallmark on these cards, and I'm thrilled that my mom will be helping UNICEF again this year through the sale of her holiday cards, something she's been proud to be a part of for 20 years.

I'd love to see you at her art show at Koyman Galleries! I think it's the perfect time to start your holiday shopping... never too early for that, right?

The opening reception and CHEO presentation is taking place on November 15th at Koyman Galleries on St. Laurent (6-9 p.m.) and the Holiday Exhibition continues until December 3. Katerina will be present on Saturday, November 17th as well, from 1-5.



You can reserve your print now by calling or emailing Koyman Galleries at 613-526-1562 ext. 10, or through email at information@koymangalleries.com.
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50 Shades Of Awesome, Toronto Style

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The third annual BlissDom Canada conference has come and gone... just like that. It came and lasted all of two minutes (that's what it felt like to me!) but it was worth it, of course.

There is always so much to bring home from these conferences—creative ideas, fresh perspective, new friends, and always, inspiration. After all, BlissDom Canada is a weekend filled with some of the smartest women in the blogging, writing, and social media world, so it's hard not to feel inspired and excited about what you'll do next. Yes, the first few days back after a blogging conference are hard and wonderful... they're wonderful because you get to re-connect with your family and those hugs you receive from the kids? Priceless. The first few days back are also hard because you're not face-to-face in the same room with so many fabulous people. 


Friday night was all about connecting with the members of the Yummy Mummy Club. Erica Ehm hosted a fabulous dinner for all her bloggers, and to have us all in one room was amazing. I learned a few things—like the importance of a properly used M-dash—and how incredible all the YMC bloggers are. Seriously. I fell in love with Dr. Kim Foster, and Sarah, and laughed with Connie, and couldn't get over how hot Erica looked, like an even more gorgeous Maria Tomei. It was a great night filled with laugher, wine, and discussion.

Also, full props to Ali for making everyone rock the sock-boots look so well! She's fashion savvy, that Ali, and I miss her already...

Saturday morning I was excited to give a session on How To Price And Value Your Services, and I worried that people wouldn't come to my table for my three sessions. I was happily mistaken, and a lot of great people came to listen to me speak on how to get paid from blogging and the different ways to make money through social media. Thank you to all the fabulous people who came to hear me speak!

The day just flew by... I am thankful I got to spend time with the people I love, even though it felt like the entire conference lasted less than a day! The costume party was great fun, as usual, and Sharon had the most amazing costume ever—she was 50 Shades of Grey, and she is 50 shades of awesome, always.



After a few hours in Toronto on Sunday, it was time to head back home. I always say this, I know, but this was like, the best confernece ever! I truly had the most memorable time... and can't wait to see everyone again.

Thanks for everything, Bliss Chicks... and to everyone who attended? I hope you truly loved it!

P.S. Gav and Ali, I'll be over soon enough for that brunch...
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A Little Bit Of Bliss And Some Tips

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The third annual BlissDom Canada is taking over the city of Toronto in just a few days... and I'm SO excited! I love that this conference takes place in October, giving us all something to look forward to so soon after BlogHer.


 
Every time I attend a blogging conference, I come back with new memeries, stories to tell, and laughter to remember. Oh yeah—I learn something new at each conference, too, like who has the best moves on the dance floor, who can last until 4 a.m. at a karaoke bar in NYC, and who will have me in tears, both happy ones, and sad ones. (There are always some sort of emotional tears at blogging conferences, which has something to do with the brilliant people you'll talk to and listen to, combined with the fact that you don't get much sleep and are basically surviving on wine and cupcakes for three days.)

This weekend, I am going to be speaking at BlissDom Canada as a Community Leader. My topic is "How To Price And Value Your Services" and I can't wait to speak to my fellow bloggers and share some of my knowledge.

I can't wait to see many of my friends again. Of course, there are many other friends in my blogging community that I'm going to be missing this weekend, too.

Anyway, if you're new to BlissDom Canada—if this is your first time attending this conference—welcome! You're going to love it. I promise.

Here are some tips for you:

Be yourself

Just be you. BlissDom Canada is a very welcoming conference, and people want to meet the real you. There is no pressure. Seriously. Sometimes conferences can feel overwhelming, but the more important thing to remember is that we're all there for the same thing, and we all have the same common interest. There is also something very intimate about BlissDom Canada... you'll see. You will feel the love!

Say hello

Most of the time, you'll find people you know right away. Sometimes, you'll walk into a room and you won't know a single person. Don't be shy. Go up to a group of people, say hello, and introduce yourself. If nobody recognizes you by your name, introduce yourself with your Twitter handle. You will instantly be recognized! Also, if your most favourite blogger in the whole world is standing two feet away from you, go say hello, and take a picture. I have yet to meet another blogger treat another person with disrespect. I've had good experiences with everyone I've met, and I've made great friends because of these conferences.

Bring business cards

This is pretty important. I always come prepared and bring a stack of business cards to hand out at blogging conferences. I hand them out to my friends, even if they already have a few dozen from me, I hand them out to new people I meet, I hand them out in the expo hall, and I hand them out to pretty much everyone I see.

Dress up... or down

So many people stress about what to wear to blogging conference... how many clothes they should bring... how many pairs of shoes they should pack... here's a not so-secret-secret: it really, truly doesn't matter what you wear. I mean, sure, please shower and don't come to sessions in your pj's, but other than that, wear whatever you feel comfortable in. I often wear jeans and a cute top. And sure, I'll dress up a bit for the parties, but I always wear something I'm comfortable in. Oh, and here's another tip—pack a pair of flip flops of flats in your purse, because if you're standing all night in those killer heels you're going to want something more comfy to slip on as you dance the night away!

Come prepared

By this I mean—don't forget your iphone charger! Or camera! Or costume! Or cash for the taxi! And if there is someone you absolutely have to meet, or someone you need to connect with, make sure you have their contact information before you arrive at the conference. Even though BlissDom Canada is a smaller, more intimate conference, it can still be a little overwhelming.

Be prepared

When you're in a room full of bloggers, you're in a room full of iphones and cameras. Cameras that are taking pictures ALL THE TIME. So, just some advice... be prepared... and be camera ready!

Take time for you

I always take some time for myself at conferences. Whether you walk the city a little by yourself, go shopping (something I always make time for!) or take a nap in your room, it's important to unwind. Blogging conferences are very hectic and busy, so spending some time alone is important. Also, if you're like me, you'll miss your children so some quiet time to talk to them on the phone is essential.

Blogging conferences are all sorts of awesome. There is so much I've taken away from each one I've attended, like the relationships I've formed. If this is your first time attending BlissDom Canada, I hope you have an incredible time and I hope you come home with new ideas, new connections, and new friendships.



See you in a few days!

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Thankful

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It's Thanksgiving weekend! Well, here in Canada it is, and that means most of us will be getting together with our loved ones and eating a lot of food. More turkey, anyone?

Anyway, I often write about the things I'm thankful for, and top of my list, every single day of the year, is my children. I'm thankful for my children, and I'm so blessed to be their mother. They are my life. Of course, I'm thankful for my entire wonderful family, and for my best friends. I'm thankful for these things every day of the year.

I'm thankful that even though I don't often stick to all my New Year's resolutions, I'm easy on myself, and I'm thankful I've had this space to write about everything like my love of music or my appreciation for the many friends I've met through blogging since 2007.

I'm thankful that I have a place where I can talk about all things fashion and shopping, and this year, I'm thankful that I'm going to be speaking at BlissDom Canada as a Community Leader!

Yes, I'm really excited to be speaking at BlissDom Canada in two weeks, and I'm very much looking forward to being back in Toronto. If you're going, see you there!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends... and to my American friends, I'll save some turkey and pie for you.

xoxo
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Top Five Items That Will Always Be In Style (And What To Never Wear Again!)

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I'm sure we've all looked at pictures of ourselves from "back in the day" (wait - we can say that now, right?) that make us laugh, cry, or cringe. We laugh when we see the awful hairstyles, we cry when we look at how absolutely flat our abs once were, and we cringe when we see the fashions we used to wear, from safety-pinned jeans and shoulder pads, to mis-matched earraings and push-down socks.

Oh, yes... I am sure you're guilty of wearing certain items that were trendy at the time, but are now so awful you want to burn the pictures and the box they came from. However, back then, you thought you were HOT STUFF... am I right? Right...


Yeah... I was guilty of wearing the heck out of these red pleather pants. Worst yet, I would wear these awful pants with little cropped tops and go out in public. This picture was taken after I had graduated from university, when I went to college to fast-track my Broadcast Journalism degree. I can't even look at this picture without laughing. Red... pleather...pants, you guys? Who said that was okay?

Anyway. I've since learned what works and what doesn't, and I know that you only need a few select items to always look classy and never dated.

Here are my picks for Top Five items you should own that will never go out of style:

  • A LBD: This is perhaps the most important item you can own. I have several little black dresses in my closet, and I wear them all the time. In fact, I've worn my favourite little black dress to three BlogHer conferences in a row! That's love, baby. And the thing is... no one really remembers, especially when you wear it with different shoes and accessories. Or maybe no one remembers because of all the wine we're drinking? Either way, LBD? Essential!

  • A perfect pair of jeans: Jeans, as long as they're not 'mom jeans', be-dazzled, or acid-washed, will always look great. Once you've found your perfect pair of boot cut, skinny, or curvy jeans, buy them and then buy another pair, too! Jeans are my favourite go-to item in my closet, and can be dressed up with sexy heels and a sexy top for a night out, or can be worn with cute flats and a t-shirt during the day.

  • A classic white top: I have tons of white shirts, and I especially love the t-shirts from Club Monaco. Pair your white shirt with a fitted navy blazer, your perfect jeans, and some heels and I promise you, you'll look and feel great.

  • Black (and beige) heels: I love my flats, but I need my heels! Every woman needs a pair of amazing black high heels, and while you're at it, invest in a great pair of nude heels, too. They're sexy, and you can wear them with anything.

  • A trench coat: I love my classic trench coat, and I start wearing it as soon as the weather turns cold. Since we're in Canada, that means I start wearing it in September. (How depressing is that?) I buy a new trench from Banana Republic almost every year. You cannot go wrong with a classic trench coat, and once again, this can be worn with everything and  look great.
Other items that will always remain in style? Solid colours, simple lines, pencil skirts, fitted blazers (J.Crew has some amazing blazers) and a great pair of sunglasses. Think Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly. They always looked so beautiful! Now you can go shopping for things you need, without feeling guilty, because you know you'll wear these items year after year.

Happy (guilt-free) shopping!
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Random Pieces Of Awesome (And Where You Can Find Me!)

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Can you believe how quickly September has gone by? In just a few days, October will be here, and then before we know it, we'll all be talking about the holidays, the cold weather (wait—I'm already complaining about that, damn Canada!) and Christmas shopping. (I've already got my list...)

Anyway, things have been busy up in here, as things usually are in September. My boys have happily adjusted to the back-to-school routine, and after-school activities like swimming, and I'm loving that they're together in the same school, finally.

Things with me have been good, too. I went to the Madonna concert a couple of weeks ago and even though she was 2 hours late to hit the stage, it was worth it, because hello, Madonna. It helped that I was in a nice big box with my friends, with our own server, yummy food, and drinks flowing all night long.

Anyway, if I'm not blogging over here, you can always find me on my shopping blog where I write about a whole lot of things...

Like my post on fall fashion and what I think this year's must-have pieces are!

And about my experience co-hosting the Grand Opening of the newest department store in my city, terra20!

And about who I think wore it best at the Emmy Awards... and who I thought was Best Dressed.

And of course, I talked more about my experience learning about wine and winemaking after my evening with Wolf Blass.

I always have great giveaways on my shopping blog, too, like this one I had going on with Zutano.

Anyway, I'd love to see you visiting my shopping blog, and if you have any fashion or shopping related stories you want me to write about, just drop me a line and let me know.

I am going to get into planning mode for winter vacation soon—once I'm forced to stop wearing my flip flops it means I need a tropical destination vacation soon! It's almost that time, right?
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On Meeting Wolf Blass, The Man From The Land Down Under

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Someone great once said, "For every occasion in life, there is reason to drink wine."

Actually, I just made that up now, but I'm sure many people have had that exact thought. Drinking wine is something I enjoy, immensely. I'm no wine expert (yet) but red or white, my love for a great vino knows no boundaries.

Wine is my drink of choice with dinner, when I'm celebrating happy news, attending a wedding, travelling, having a night out with friends and family, or when I have guests over for an evening. I enjoy my wine when I'm flying, too. It tends to take the edge off, you know? Also, when I drink wine I'm doing my body a favour, since it's good for you. So, win-win, right?

I was invited by Natalie MacLean (the talented Canadian author of Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World's Best Bargain Wines) to attend an "An Unforgettable Evening of Wine, Laughter, and Storytelling" at Restaurant 18 on Monday night for a tasting of eight Wolf Blass wines with Wolf Blass himself. Yes, the Wolf Blass entertained us all while we enjoyed some of his finest wines paired with some delicious food.

I honestly did not know there was a man so inspiring and hilarious behind the colourful Wolf Blass labels I so frequently buy, but the name is not just a label. Rather, Wolf Blass is one heck of a vibrant business man and world-famous winemaker, and it was an honour to meet him and share a drink together.

Wolf Blass was born in Germany and emigrated to Australia in the 1960's with a vision and a few hundred dollars in his pocket and, long story short, his Yellow Label Cabernet—a wine frequently enjoyed in my home—became the bestselling red wine in North America. How's that for inspiring, boys and girls?

I brought my mom to the event with me and we had a blast enjoying the different wines, which included Wolf Blass Yellow Sparkling 2010, Wolf Blass Gold Label Riesling 2011, Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2011, Wolf Blass Yellow Label Pinot Noir 2010, Wolf Blass Gold Label Shiraz 2008, Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz Cabernet 2009 and Wolf Blass Black Label 2007.

All I know is this: whatever I put in my mouth, I loved, especially the Shiraz. And the Riesling. And I also know this: Wolf Blass will continue to be the wine of choice for me when I'm buying. It's shopping, simplified. If I can understand what's on the label, it's coming home with me.
Wolf Blass is a great speaker who kept us all laughing the entire night, and now? I want to go to Australia. Also keeping the audience entertained was George Samios, Global Director of Fine Wine and PR for Treasury Wine Estates. He was hilarious, and although we didn't get a chance to speak at the event, (how did that happen?) after a few exchanges over email, I found out he was Greek, and so, total bonus. Maybe we can create a Greek wine people will finally rant and rave about?

Not only does Wolf Blass make great wine, he's also totally inspiring and  knows the importance of really enjoying life. Isn't that what it's all about? I loved listening to his stories.

Cheers... here's to many more nights of raising our glass and enjoying great wine!
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School Days

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We've come a long way (four years, in fact) from the day my oldest son started junior kindergarten. It has been a mostly smooth journey throughout the years, and my boy has loved every second of grade two so far. He's in a classroom with all his friends, sits next to his best friend, has an amazing teacher, and this year, his little brother joins him at the same school.

Today was little D's first day of kindergarten. It was an orientation "meet the teacher" morning, and he was so brave, it made my heart hurt. I held it together pretty well, though.

Until I got to my car, and opened the little bag with a few items (tea, tissues, a cotton ball) his teacher gave me, attached with a note...

Here is a little gift for you as you leave your precious little one with me on the first day of school. As you hold the cotton ball in your hand, the softness will help you remember the gentle spirit of your child.

After you have gone home and dried your tears, make yourself a cup of hot tea. Put your feet up and relax. Remember that together, you and I will work for your child to be the best he/she can be.

Thank you for entrusting yoru child to me for the coming school year. I will do my very best to be your child's guide in learning and exploring this bright, new world they have just stepped into.

Yeah, so all the tears I bravely held back as my little one walked around his new classroom? They came out as I drove away.

I'm excited to have both boys in the same school, finally, and I am so thrilled that my little D has the same kindergarten teacher his big brother had for two years. She is the best teacher, ever.

Here's hoping all our little ones have a great school year! Let the journey begin...
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The Power Of Awesome

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He walked on stage to Fleetwood Mac, and exited to Tom Petty. I mean, really, he had me at hello. Bill Clinton rocked the socks off of us last night, and even though I'm a proud Canadian, I felt like an honorary American, at least for a little while.

How absolutely incredible was his speech, you guys? It was brilliant, and witty, and his words moved an entire nation.

Clinton also bit his lip a lot, like only he can do. (I lost count after a while.) And when he spoke, we were listening...

"I want to nominate a man cool on the outside but burning for America on the inside. A man who believes we can build a new American Dream economy driven by innovation and creativity, education and cooperation. A man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama."

Okay, seriously?

He's a charmer, President Clinton is. I believe (and I don't have a political background, except for when I worked for an MP here in Canada) America will vote for Obama for another four years, in my humble opinion. (And coming from a Canadian perspective, where I thank my lucky stars for our free health care, I think it's the right way to go.)

"We Democrats think the country works better with a strong middle class, real opportunities for poor people to work their way into it and a relentless focus on the future, with business and government working together to promote growth and broadly shared prosperity. We think “we’re all in this together” is a better philosophy than “you’re on your own.”


Clinton's entire speech can be found here and you should go read it, if you didn't get to see him rock the Democratic National Convention last night. It actually explains a lot, in terms everyone can understand.

Unless I find myself a job and get a green card, I won't be voting in the US elections this November. And that's cool, because I do love being Canadian, even though we've never had a leader as charismatic as Clinton or as awesome as Obama. (And let's not forget how amazing Michelle Obama was the night before, with her powerful words and awesome J.Crew shoes...)

Anyway, amid jokes last night on Twitter of people being jealous of Monica Lewinsky, all kidding aside, I thought there was a lot of value in what Bill Clinton had to say. I love the way he spoke. He is inspiring, and he's a brilliant story-teller. Had he been a professor at my university, I'd probably have spent a lot less time in Rooster's, and a lot more time in class.

Is Clinton one of the best orators in the world? I guess it's a matter of opinion, but right now I'm going with... hell yes!
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36 Things I Love On My 36th Birthday

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Today I'm thirtysomething years old. I am another year older.  It's not that I'm not okay with being another year old, it's just that... I guess I'm kind of in shock over how old I really am. Not old-old, (not that there's anything wrong with old!) but well, there is no denying it now—I'm definitely an adult. And well, getting... older.

I celebrated my birthday at the Marriott in Yorkville last year in a two-floor Presidential suite with my family and friends, and it was one of my most memorable birthdays. This year's celebrations won't be as glamorous, but I'm still excited to blow out my candles, because I have a lot to be thankful for. Every day is a blessing, after all.

Last year, I wrote about 35 things I love.

I'm adding to my list, and I will not focus on the things that annoy me. Like people who are terrible drivers and people who are mean and people who bite down on their forks or don't understand that Katniss should have ended up with Gale or people who don't really have a clue. Oh, right.

Things I love.

I love my entire family and where I'm from.

I love my boys more than anything else.


I love the ocean.


I love swimming and I'm convinced I might have been a mermaid in a past life, although fish kind of freak me out, so maybe not.

I love shopping. Shopping makes me happy and gives me a natural high. A new pair of shoes, a new dress, that perfect lipstick? I call that amazing therapy!

I love movies. My favourites include Scarface, Dazed and Confused, Kill Bill, The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, The Usual Suspects, American Beauty, Clueless, Mermaids, Goodfellas, Dirty Dancing, and Stand By Me.

I love music, passionately. Music moves me and soothes my soul and makes me want to dance.

I love the Beastie Boys, The Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, Pet Shop Boys, The Eagles, Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones, Jay-Z and Eminem. And well, pretty much everything else, too.

I love Marilyn.


I love travelling, except the whole getting on a plane-and-flying-in-the-air-without-any-control-of-my-destiny part.

I love movie popcorn, (and don't even think about sharing with me.)

I love white wine.

I love Mad Men.

I love pizza.

I love Pinterest, as in, it's my new obsession.

I love blogging and the wonderful, smart people I've met over the last few years.

I love vacations that involve sitting on the beach, listening to the sound of the waves, and taking in the sunshine.


I love back-to-school shopping, and am happy that now I get to do it for my children since my school days are sadly behind me.

I love being together in the same room with the people I love.

I love Christmas and celebrations and traditions.

I love feeling comfortable in my surroundings.

I love exploring new places.

I love being a little different.


I love summer evenings on patios with my best friends.

I love Europe SO much, and the carefree lifestyle of people in most European countries. When I'm in Greece, I wonder why I don't live there, but...

I love Canada most of all.

I love that girls in public bathrooms, especially if they've been drinking, become instant best friends for five minutes while they're re-applying lipstick.

I love being the mom of boys because it's opened up a whole new world of awesome for me.

I love George Carlin.

I love road trips, and the fun that comes with adventures on the road.

I love long conversations with friends that result in tears and always crazy laughter.

I love playing at the park with my children and acting like a child.

I love when I'm right.

I love people who love to read and who make me think.

I love my stick-shift VW Jetta, and will always love the Volkswagen Golf more than any other car on earth.

I love scaring myself to death when I start thinking about the life and universe.

I love reading and spending hours in a book store.

I love getting older, too. Another birthday means I have another thing to be thankful for!
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Vacations And Motherhood

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My world turned upside down as soon as I become a mother. No matter how many books I read or how much advice I received from friends who were already parents, nothing prepared me for what I'd feel once my baby was placed in my arms. That love?

Intense.

My opinions, my views, my thoughts on everything shifted the day I became a mother.

I became a mother, and with that came a world of new responsibility. The life I knew before—going out for drinks every night with my friends, getting my hair done at my leisure, spending hours at the bookstore, weekly dinners out with my husband, watching movies in a theatre once a week, frequent vacations to sunny destinations where the only thing I had to care about was how many bikinis I was brining with me—those days were behind me.



A recent article written by a popular Canadian author was brought to my attention by Ali today and has caused some debate because the author left her 10 week old baby to go on vacation. I'm not a person who judges other people, especially moms, because I know there are many things I can be judged for too, and as a mother, I am all about supporting one another in our parenting decisions, whatever they may be. I do, however, feel strongly about the bond that is shared between a new baby and his or her mother, and to me, that means putting solo vacations on hold, at least for the first year.

I roll one way with the way I parent my children, and others roll the other way, and that's great. I know many moms that I respect and look up to who do things totally differently than me. They do things their way, I do things my way, and we do some things the same. It's all good.

I feel blessed to have a huge support system around me, from my parents, to my in-laws, to my grandparents. They are my children's caregivers, they're at every soccer game, and they are the faces we see around the dinner table several times a week. They help me take care of my house, and they're my "village." Being Greek is wonderful, not only for the food, or the family support, but because throughout the years it has shown me how much family is valued and respected. I know this is not unique to Greek people, not at all; but I do equate being Greek to strong family ties.

And with that, major guilt issues, of course.

I was on a plane before the age of one, and have been on countless family vacations with my parents. My mom left my sister and me for the first time when I was 18 years old (I swear there was no house party, mom!) and even then, she felt guilty. Which is probably where I get my guilt issues from. (I know, therapy, anyone?) I left my children on an over night trip when my youngest was two years old, and I felt terrible about it. Yes, my boys were fine, and yes, I ended up having fun, but going away without my children isn't somethinng I do frequently, and it's not something I would have considered before they were out of diapers.

I think it is healthy to go away a couple of times a year without the kids, and I DO, (I've been to Miami and NYC and Toronto this year without them) and I'm sure as my boys get older, I'll be able to go away for longer than three nights, but for now, this is what works for us.

Plus, I love family vacations that include my children. I want them to enjoy themeslves on the beach, swim with me in the ocean, explore new museums, and visit restaurants I love. We're a package deal! I feel that if I were to take too many vacations (different from business trips) without my children it would be selfish of me.

Yes, I believe a mother should be happy, relaxed, and have the ablity to get a away for an afternoon of shopping, dinners out, and mini-vacations, once in a while. We need to keep our sanity, after all!

But that first year of your baby's life? It goes by in the blink of an eye. Too quickly, if you ask me. I blinked, and my boys were no longer babies. I cherished those early days where even going for coffee without them hurt my heart.

To each her own in this wonderful world of motherhood... let's just remember that before we know it, our babies will be in university and off discovering the world on their own and well, that's a whole other blog post where I'm going to need a box of Kleenex to get through!
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