Giving Back In A BIG Way With Paints And Pints At Big Rig Brew

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December was an incredibly busy month with so much going on—from hosting and going to parties, celebrating with family and friends, attending Christmas plays at school, volunteering, decorating, shopping, baking, and wrapping—but it was a wonderful holiday, and many new memories were made.

One of the best parts of this holiday season is giving back, and this year, we gave back in a BIG way. After all, it is the season for giving, right?

This December, my mom, artist Katerina Mertikas, and Ottawa's fabulous Catherine Landry along with the lovely Nella Zourntos from Big Rig Brewery had a fabulous idea to host a paint night at Big Rig to raise money for the Ottawa Food Bank, specifically, the Gloucester Emergency Food Cupboard.


Tickets to this incredible paint night sold out instantly, and everyone got ready to paint like Katerina, with some guidance, a lot of laughter, and yummy food and beer. We were lucky to have our wonderful Mayor Jim Watson stop by to say a few words, along with City Councillor Tim Tierney. Erin Phillips was in attendance, too.

Over $1,800.00 was raised for the Gloucester Food Cupboard. We went shopping for all the food, and filled our cars with baby food, diapers, wipes, cereal, and so many more boxes of essentials for families in need.


Everyone had a blast painting and everyone left with their own version of a Katerina Mertikas painting. It's amazing how many talented and creative ladies we have in this city!





Shopping at Tannis for food and essentials for the Food Bank!



All in all, it was a fabulous, heartwarming event that made this season even more magical. To give back this way was incredible, and it's going to happen again soon—so if you didn't make it to this Paint Night, not to worry—there are more coming!

Thank you to everyone for making this happen.
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Six Holiday Hacks For A Stress-Free Meal (And A Special At The Delta Ottawa City Centre)

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Are you ready? The holidays are here, and ready or not, it's time to celebrate all things festive! Whether you're hosting at home for Christmas, Boxing Day, or New Year's Eve (or really, any day in between, because every day this season is worth celebrating!) make it a stress-free holiday season with these easy holiday hacks.

Here are six holiday hacks for a stress-free meal:

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Plan out what needs to be done and see what you can prepare a few days in advance of your get together so that all you need to do is cook and serve on the big day. Try to do the following the day's leading up to your party: mix all the dry ingredients, set the table, prepare your chutneys and sauces, and organize your fridge because there is nothing worse to do while cooking than scrambling to find things in a messy fridge.

Does that turkey come deboned?

Debone your turkey before cooking or ask your local butcher to help you out. This turkey hack will ut your cooking time in half and give you more space to cook other things.

Your oven isn't the only appliance in town 

There is nothing more frustrating than having to juggle all your recipes on a four-burner stove and since we've been experiencing warmer than normal temperatures this year, why not use your BBQ for a dish or two? Maybe even give your slow cooker a try for a great stuffing or vegetable side.

Comfort is key

Sometimes thinking out of the box invites unwarranted stress and possible panic if all doesn't go well. Stay within your comfort zone and make a tried and true recipe.

It doesn't always need to be festive

Your guests are likely attending more than one holiday dinner this season so they'll have their fair share of the traditional turkey and stuffing. Don't be affirm to service some ribs or whip up your famous mac and cheese!

Hot plates

When you make a big spread, it's hard to keep the food hot. Use the oven or microwave to heat up your service dishes before you put the food out. Heating the dishes up will help them hold their temperature for much longer.

Here's a great recipe to try this holiday season from Executive Chef of the Delta Ottawa City Centre, Jason Duffy: Cranberry and Red Pepper Ketchup (which is perfect to enjoy with turkey or ham):

Cranberry and Red Pepper Ketchup

15g chopped onion
3g chopped garlic
250g IQF cranberries
250g small diced red pepper
50ml cider vinegar
40ml maple syrup
1 ml allspice
1ml 5 spice
100ml cranberry juice
15g honey
Salt and pepper

Mix together and serve!

And here's a treat for you, if you're staying in town—why not make it a "staycation" and spend the night at the Delta Ottawa City Centre? The Delta Ottawa City Centre is also a perfect destination for your out-of-town guests. 

Right now, if you stay at the Delta Ottawa City Centre, you'll receive two passes to the Monet: A Bridge to Modernity special exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada, and you'll even get to experience their beautiful 10m Balsam Fir Christmas Tree. The stay also includes breakfast for two at LIFT Restaurant, parking, and kids under 12 eat for free! (Maximum of two children per reservation.)

You can even enjoy a delicious Christmas Day brunch and dinner at LIFT Restaurant:

Christmas Brunch: 11:00 a.m.—2:30 p.m.
Christmas Dinner: 5:00 p.m.—9:00 p.m.

Guests enjoying Christmas Brunch or Dinner can take advantage of Delta Ottawa City Centre's special "Take the Elevator Home" package for $99 per night. The stay includes breakfast the following morning at LIFT Restaurant.

No matter what you do this holiday season, make it stress-free by planning ahead, and maybe even treat yourself and your family to a getaway at the Delta Ottawa City Centre.

Happy Holidays!
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Celebrate the New Year in Style In Quebec City

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Can you believe the year is coming to an end? 2015 was a great year, but now it's time to look forward to all that 2016 has in store—I'm ready for a new year! What plans do you have to ring in the New Year? With my children off for two weeks to celebrate the holiday season, I'm thinking a trip to Québec City is a great idea‚ because it's only a short drive from Ottawa, and there is so much to do—especially during the holidays. 

From December 27 to 31, Grande Allée is joining forces with Québec City Tourism to bring tourists some incredible events and festivities to celebrate the New Year right downtown in Québec City.


This celebration will make Québec City a top destination for anyone looking for something fun and unique to do in the New Year. Outdoor bars and heated terraces will be set up on Grande Allée and you can even enjoy riding a huge ferris wheel while listening to folk music, which will all add to the New Year fun and festivities. 




On December 31st—New Year's Eve—about a dozen artists, including DJ's, singers, MC's, foot tappers, and fiddlers will take to the stage to warm up the crowd before Grande Allée turns into an outdoor disco for the evening's main event, featuring the amazing DJ Tchami—one of the world's greatest DJ's. The New Year will kick off with a special countdown and pyrotechnics, as well as fireworks, after which Tchami's concert will continue. 


New Year's Eve is going to be a blast in Québec City. And don't worry about being cold; there will be plenty of heated bars and restaurants to enjoy on Grande Allée. You can even enjoy the fun with your family on the ferris wheel overlooking the Old City. 



Quebec is a beautiful province to visit with the family and friends no matter the season, but Québec City during the holiday season is something magical. Spending the holiday season in Québec City is something to see, especially the brightly decorated streets and the festive lights. You can also check out the great concerns and shows going on, while touring the city's old heritage churches. 

You can also enjoy the beautiful Christmas Village, with its dazzling lights, European architecture, and plenty of restaurants and shops. 







You can even stay active and enjoy some great outdoor ice skating  with the family. 





If you're planning on getting away this holiday season but aren't sure where to go, Québec City should be number one on your list! To find out where to stay, click here

Travelling is always a great adventure, no matter your destination; but this holiday season, visit Québec City—and ring in the New Year with style. 


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#ListToppers 2015 Holiday Toy Hits And Giveaway

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Are you still trying to finish your shopping in time for Christmas? Not to worry, because I've got a great giveaway going on right now, where you can win two of Mattel's #ListToppers toys from Barbie and Hot Wheels!

As an official Mattel brand ambassador, I love that I'm able to give away two of Mattel's #ListToppers toys to two of my awesome readers this holiday season. Mattel is THE toy authority (since 1945!) and this year they announced their 12 hits of the holiday season with iconic #ListToppers toys like Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Fisher-Price—all toys guaranteed to bring a smile to any child's face this season.



I'm giving away:

Barbie 2015 Holiday Doll: I am so excited to be giving my five year old niece the 2015 Holiday Barbie! I know she'll love it, and she'll also cherish it forever. (I want one for myself, too!) Barbie is dressed in her best and will no doubt have the most glamorous season of all in her red and silver gown. It's the perfect doll to give any child this holiday season.



HOT WHEELS Track Builder Volcano Blast: My boys love this, and they're ten and (almost) eight years old. We're gifting this to my four year old nephew—he's a huge fan of Hot Wheels and this set will be his favourite gift, I'm sure. No doubt, this will bring him countless hours of fun.




To win, simply leave me a comment below telling me which toy you want to win, and who you would give it to! 

This is a quick giveaway, and I'll be picking a winner randomly on Wednesday, December 23. 



Good Luck and Happy Holidays!


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2015 Holiday Gift Guide For Everyone

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With Christmas weeks away, I'm feeling festive, despite the fact that it's unseasonably warm outside. The holidays are about spending time with family and friends, making memories, giving back, and having fun. (Champagne, anyone?) I love that I can spend the entire month shopping—guilt-free! (Some gifts to give, and some gifts for me... what? A girl needs a new dress and shoes for the parties!)

I've put together a gift guide to make shopping stress-free this holiday season. There is something here for everyone on your list! I talked about these great products on Daytime and on CTV Morning Live... and here are the details (and link to the segment.)





LOULOU'S 2015 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

Beauty, Hair, Skin Care and Fashion

Caudalie: Caudalie is a skin care company from France and I have been using their new Resveratrol LIFT collection for over a month. The results? Amazing. This formula help firm skin while stimulating the production of collagen. Caudalie has come out with two limited edition gift sets for the holidays to pamper and protect skin—perfect gift to give! You can shop Caudalie at Caudalie.com. 


La Mer: Nordstrom, as you probably already know, is my favourite department store, and I've been faithfully shopping at Nordstrom for years. Since Nordstrom opening in Ottawa, I've been there at least once or twice a week, shopping my heart out. La Mer has some incredible gifts sets that everyone would appreciate under the Christmas tree this year—and I'm addicted to the eye concentrate cream and the La Mer classic moisturizer. Both work miraculously well on my skin, and smell delicious, too. It's worth the price, believe me. I believe taking care of your skin should start in your 30's! (Also a great gift idea from Nordstrom Ottawa: The Laura Mercier body souffle. With different scents, you're sure to find one that's perfect for you! I'm addicted to the Almond Coconut Milk Butter.) 

Kerastase Canada: Kerastase products are the ultimate in hair care. I love the new Parfum Oil Chronologiste—this serum smells delicious and keeps my hair smelling great all day long. I can't get enough of the distinctive fragrances and exceptional formulas for all hair types, and Kerastase  truly helps heal and protect my damaged hair. To shop, go to Kerastase.com.


Lise Watier: I'm ashamed to admit just how many lipsticks I own... but I don't think I'm alone in my love for lipstick, right? Lise Watier makes gorgeous shades of lipstick that are long-lasting, and super moisturizing, too. From eye shadow to bronzing powder and beautiful shades of lipstick, Lise Watier Cosmetics is an excellent gift choice. Available at Hudson's Bay and Shoppers Drug Mart.


Clarisonic.ca: The Clarisonic is the best invention for skin care. It's incredibly powerful but not exfoliating, so you can use it on your face every single day—and I do. Clarisonic delivers a deep-skin clean that actually cleans 11 times better than hands alone, and the new Clarisonic Smart Profile is for the face and body—a first! The brush head modifies to each person's skin, and cleans only where it needs to. To shop, visit Clarisonic.ca. 


Adidas Golf: If you love to golf, or know someone who is a golf lover, then you'll want to gift the new line from Adidas Golf—for men and women, the new golf shirts, stretch pants, vests, and golf shoes are simply fabulous and are guaranteed to get you in the mood to golf, even if you're just beginning! I love the soft pastel colours for women.

ALEX AND ANI: Jewellery for Christmas? You just can't go wrong giving someone a new ALEX AND ANI bracelet. I love the new ALEX AND ANI Claddagh bracelet, and the snowflake bracelet is cute, too. Their retro glam collection is perfect for the holidays. Shop www.alexandani.com. 


Hadry: Here's a unique gift to give someone heading somewhere warm this winter. I love swimming in the ocean and pool when I'm on vacation, but I hate ruining a perfectly good blow-dry, and putting my hair in a ponytail doesn't always cut it. Hadry is a great beach fashion accessory you wear to protect your hair, keeping it dry and fashionable. It also protects from UV rays, which is a bonus. Hadry is available in different patters and colours, so you can find one perfect for you... to match your bathing suit and bikini. There are two styles: the Bun and Scarf, for two different looks. I can't wait to rock mine this winter in Florida!


Books, toys and treats

Chapters-Indigo: I spend hours in Chapters-Indigo every week. Spending time in a book store is my favourite thing to do, and my boys love playing in the children's section. Books are number one on my wish list. The books I'm gifting this year? Furiously Happy, In The Unlikely Event, Hemingway In Love, and Everything I Never Told You. 

For the kids? The new BB-8 App enabled Droid by Sphero is awesome, and brings The Force Awakens to your home. Chapters-Indigo also has an incredible collection of baby toys and LEGO for the older kids. 



Purdy's Chocolates: Give me books and chocolates and there's nothing else I need! Seriously, Purdy's makes my favourite chocolates. These delicious, hand-crafted chocolates are perfect for every chocolate lover in your family. The classic hedgehogs, the chocolate covered nuts, the sea salt caramels—they are all so yummy! I think the Warm Holidays Wishes Book Tin is a great gift to give a teacher, too. You can shop Purdy's at Rideau Centre and Place D'Orleans, as well as online at Purdys.com

Nintendo Canada: I still remember the Christmas my sister and I got our first Nintendo. We spent the day playing Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt in our basement. Now, I love giving everything Nintendo to my boys because they love everything video games. The new Nintendo 3DS XL is going to be a huge hit this holiday season for so many kids... big and small. (And check out the new Yo-Kai Watch game, too—a perfect stocking stuffer to go with the Nintendo 3DS XL!)


Disney Jr. The Disney Junior channel returned to Canada earlier this month, making many children very happy, and just in time for the holidays, too! The kids can get reunited with their favourite characters, and bring home the fun, too. There is something for every child and their unique personality: gifts for the adventurer, gifts for the fashionista, and gifts for the nurturer. For more information, check out DisneyJunior.ca. 

Katerina Mertikas colouring book: My mom is an incredibly talented and well-loved artist, and this year, she came out with her own adult colouring book. The book is selling fast online at Zen Coloring Pages, so if you want a copy before Christmas, I suggest you order yours now... and have fun drawing like Katerina. 


Hamilton Beach: I love making my boys smoothies in the morning, or whenever, really  and this new blender my Hamilton Beach makes the perfect gift for anyone. 


Gifts that give back:

Hudson's Bay Tolmie: The Hudson's Bay Company Foundation introduces the 11th Annual Heritage Charity Bear, Tolmie. Benefiting charities across Canada, 100% net proceeds from the sale of each bear support the HBC Foundation's Strength In Stripes program. You can shop Tolmie at Hudson's Bay. 

The Olympic Collection 2016 Canada Red Mittens is also a must-have gift to give and receive, and 30% of the sales go towards the Canadian Olympic Foundation. 


UNICEF Canada: The holidays are all about giving, and any gift that gives back to charity and to children is a worthwhile gift to receive and to give. This year, purchase a UNICEF survival gift like water purification tablets, a vaccine pack, blankets for babies, or a water pump. There are many great options on UNICEF.ca. 


Glama Girls: Glama Girls is a spa that caters to young people who want to have a fun spa experience, and Glama Girls also sells nail polish that is safe for kids, made in Canada, non-toxic, odourless, and easy to peel off—the perfect stocking stuffer for the younger kids! They also sell delicious smelling bath bombs. Best part? One dollar from each nail polish goes to Because I Am A Girl. 

No matter who you're shopping for this holiday season, I hope you found something here that's perfect to gift... or keep for yourself! If you have any questions about any of these products, just email me. 


Happy shopping... and Happy holidays!

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In The Kitchen With PAM

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It's no secret—I don't love cooking or baking... but my family and I need to eat, so guess what that means? I have to cook and bake. Sigh. Here's something you may not know, though—sometimes, I  enjoy it. Unless things go terribly wrong, like when I burn our food, (ahem, often) or ruin muffins that get stuck in the muffin tin. I run away from recipes that sound too confusing, but I like to challenge myself, too, and I have a handful of recipes I have perfected.

When I was asked to put the PAM No Residue spray to the test in the kitchen, I said yes right away because like I said, I'm always up for a challenge!

I used PAM and another brand to see which product would work best—and leave no residue—when cooking my scrambled eggs in the morning, and when I baked cupcakes for my boys. Guess what? Hands down, PAM won. We've always been big fans of PAM in this house, and PAM is pretty much the only cooking oil spray I've ever used in the kitchen. It was cool to put the other brand to the test, too, to see just how great PAM really is when compared to another product.

No Residue results? Absolutely.

















Also, the fact that I can use PAM and know that my food and baked goods will come out delicious, without any damage, (like sad broken cupcakes) makes me a happy baker.

Happy baking, everyone. Next time you're grocery shopping, make sure to add PAM to your shopping cart—you're welcome!



I am participating in the PAM No Residue blog comparison program with EnCompass Media. I've received payment as a thank you for participating and sharing my honest opinion. 


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Join Us For A #PCPointer Twitter Party Wednesday Night And Win!

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It's December, and holiday preparations are in full swing. Right now, I'm busy getting ready for the festive season and all the holiday parties by shopping for the perfect gifts for my family and friends. I'm also getting excited thinking about all the delicious food we'll be enjoying around the table at Christmas. (I'm being extremely careful right now so I can indulge over the holidays without feeling guilty!)

I love this time of year and all the holiday traditions that have come to mean so much to me—decorating the house and the tree with my children while listening to Christmas music, watching our favourite holiday movies (like Elf and Home Alone) and taking walks after dinner to look at all the festive lights in our neighbourhood.

December is one of my favourite months, and it's also the busiest shopping month—and even though I love to shop, (a lot!) things can get very expensive if I'm not careful. This year I'm determined to stick to a budget and plan ahead before I start shopping.

No matter how you're celebrating this holiday season, I'd love for you to join me, @MrsLoulou, and host @KathyBuckworth tomorrow night at 8 PM for a fun Twitter party with @PCFinancial

We'll be talking about getting ready for the holidays, and, most importantly, saving money for the holidays. We'll talk about how you can make the most of your holiday budget by trimming all that unwanted financial fat, and give you some pointers like planning ahead and writing a list before you head out the door to shop.

Did I mention the fabulous prizes you can win? You can win 1 of 7 PC Gift Cards just for joining in on the fun! 


You are not going to want to miss this fun, festive party—come chat with us about your favourite holiday traditions, and how you can save this holiday season with expert tips from Kathy Buckworth and @PCFinancial.

It's a little holiday party to get you in the mood this season, and you'll leave with some great advice. Maybe you'll even win 1 of 7 PC Gift Cards to help make your holiday shopping even easier...

Make sure to join in using the hashtag #PCPointer.

See you Wednesday night, 8-9 PM on Twitter!

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Travel Tips To Keep You Sane This Holiday Season

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With the holiday season in full swing, and Christmas weeks away, everyone has travel on their mind—and whether you're travelling home for the holidays or taking a vacation somewhere tropical and warm, I've got some great travel tips for you. I was on CTV Morning Live today talking about travel tips for the holidays, and I wanted to share them with you here!



Travel Tips To Keep You Sane (And Save You Money!) This Holiday Season

RetailMeNot.ca: My favourite website right now is RetailMeNot.ca. This is where you'll find all the hottest Canadian deals and offers on everything shopping related, including travel. Deals and offers are emailed directly to you, so you'll never miss a thing. You can also go online every day to check out the latest travel deals.

You can get travel coupons for airfare and flight deals, hotel discounts, rental cars, and affordable vacation packages, all in one place. RetailMeNot.ca saves you serious money on travel booking sites like WestJet, Park N Fly, and Hotwire. You'll also save a ton if you're booking a Staycation—something fun for families over the long winter break. Why not buy someone a travel gift card for Christmas though RetailMeNot.ca? A vacation somewhere warm is the perfect gift to receive!

Stay at child friendly resorts: No matter where you're travelling to, stay at a child-friendly resort! Unless, of course, it's an adults-only trip. Family-friendly resorts always have a variety of activities for the kids to keep them busy all day long. We loved the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando because there was so much do for the family—golf, swimming, kayaking, volleyball, bike rides, tennis, and so much more. We also loved the SoHo Met in Toronto, and the Langham Place in New York City.

Be patient: When you're travelling with children, you're bound to encounter some problems, starting at the airport. Don't sweat the small stuff. Be flexible. Kids will be off their routine, so do your best to go with the flow.

Check wait times: Preparing for your departure is easier if you've done your research before you leave. Check to make sure there are no flight delays before heading to the airport, especially in the winter.

Pack a smart carry-on: Pack snacks, water, and surprises. Keep children entertained with new books, colouring books, and small games. For the older kids, pack a journal so they can write about their travel adventures. Of course, iPads and tablets are mom and dad's best friend when travelling. Load up favourite movies, TV shows, and games for hours of entertainment. Don't forget the chargers or the headphones!

Remember the essentials: Pack a change of clothes for everyone, and sweaters. It is also a great idea to put together a first-aid kit, with items like band-aids, Polysporin, alcohol wipes, Gravol, Tylenol, Advil, vitamins, bug spray, sunscreen, aloe lotion, and a thermometer. Better to be be prepared in case someone gets sick. This also saves you from having to go to the pharmacy while you're on vacation.

Travel with your entourage: The more people you travel with—family and friends—the more fun you'll all have! Why not make it a family affair and bring the extended family for some fun in the sun, too? You'll have built-in baby-sitter's which is a huge bonus, and it always makes the travel experience more memorable.

Pack light: If you can get away with only one carry-on per person, you'll be a happier traveller. Of course, packing light is nearly impossible for me, but I'm trying!

Last but not least... take plenty of pictures while you're on vacation. And get out and explore the city and country you're visiting!

Happy travels, everyone.
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More Celebrating, Less Laundry With LG (Plus: WIN The New LG Twin Wash!)

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Sometimes, it amazes me how much I get done before 9 a.m. Before having kids morning was a pretty standard routine: wake up, get ready for school or work, and get out the door.

Now? It's wake up, get ready for the day with one million interruptions, make breakfast for everyone, pack lunches, make sure school bags are ready to go, help the children get dressed, clean the house, do a load or two of laundry, clean the house, prepare dinner, and start working after I drop the children off at school... all while enjoying a cup of not so hot coffee, because it's not until the second cup of the day that I can sit down and exhale. It's a whirlwind for sure, but I'm used to it, and I love it, even though some days can be hectic.

It's a given that when you're a mom, you're multitasking every day.  I know I am. A multitasking mom gets more done in a day than is humanly possible, with little to no complaining. (Who has time for that?)

It's important to stay organized and on top of things. I keep a detailed calendar by the fridge so we all know what's going on. I also keep track of daily events on my phone, and have an organized desk area. We try to stick to routine during the week, which makes things easier.

No matter how organized I am, though, the one thing I can never stay on top of is the laundry. Oh, yes... you feel me, don't you? The never. ending. loads. of. laundry. Amazingly, I only have two children, but they fill their hamper almost daily.

You know what would make life so much easier? If I got LG's new Twin Wash—you guys, it's the ultimate multi-tasker. Imagine, for the first time ever, cutting back on the time we spend doing laundry so we have more time to do things that really matter?

The LG TWIN Wash is simply gorgeous.



The innovative LG TWIN Wash is all about efficiency. This new washing machine lets you get your laundry loads cleaner in less time. How? The innovative TWIN Wash laundry system does two separate loads of laundry at once. Isn't this amazing news?

You can do a big load in the front-loading washer up top, while the smaller LG SideKick unit washes a second, smaller load down below—at the same time.

It's the most convenient machine, saves time, and helps you get on with your day quicker. Pretty genius.

Right now, you can enter to win the ultimate multitasking machine—just head over here for your chance to win.

I'd love the efficient LG Twin Wash. (Santa, do you hear me?) I do so much laundry and I know this will help me get through my loads much quicker—so I can get back to doing the things I love, like spending time with my family.




Good Luck, everyone! Wouldn't this machine be the ultimate gift for Christmas?


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Surviving The Holidays With P&G

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Happy December!

We are officially in countdown mode for the holidays, and the craziness of the season has begun.

As you're getting ready for the festive season, it's important to keep your house stocked with the must-have essentials: wine (of course) cookies (of course) and... household items that will ensure you have a stress-free holiday!

I was on CTV Ottawa Morning Live today, talking about how to get through the holidays without any stress. Here's my segment! 



Okay, so what do you need? 

Here's my list of holiday essentials from P&G:

Bounty: Bounty is the number one product I use daily. I use almost an entire roll a day in my kitchen, for drying fruit and veggies, wiping down my counters, drying dishes, and so much more. 

Cascade with Dawn: This dishwasher soap smells great, and it works really well to help keep dishes sparkling and clean. Just toss one in your dishwasher, and you're ready to go! (No rinsing plate required, even.)

Swiffer sweeper: I love my Swiffer, because I use it like three times a day, since the kitchen area so frequently gets dirty with food. And the Swiffer is great to use when you're entertaining in the home, too, because it's so quiet, and you can get the job done without making the guests think it's time for them to go home.

Febreze Unstopables spray fabric refresher: This is a perfect spray to freshen up the house before guests arrive, if you've been cooking all day, and it's a great spray to keep handy in the car, too.

Unstopables Febreze candles: These candles come in festive colours, will help your home smell yummy, and will make the room glowy... just perfect for a holiday dinner.

Meta Fibre Bars: As you're shopping till you drop in the weeks leading up to Christmas, you should makes sure you're not starving! You need energy, so keep a few of these healthy fibre bars in your purse for a snack. 

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser: The Magic Eraser is my ultimate favourite invention. What did we do without it? It works great on everything, from kitchen cabinets to baseboards, in the sink, around the fireplace, and on your bathroom countertops. It even removes hard water stains, crayons, and... get this—permanent marker. I kid you not. My son wrote with Shaprie on his closet walls and the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser erased it all. Just like magic. 

Duracell batteries: Do not—I repeat—do not leave the mall without batteries! I think batteries are the number one holiday must-have item. If you're a parent, you know the holidays will not go smoothly if you're not stocked up on batteries. Imagine having to deal with an uncharged camera Christmas morning, or toys that require batteries? Trust me, avoid holiday meltdowns by keeping your house stocked with batteries in all sizes. (Also, Duracell Quantum batteries will be donating to the Children's Miracle Network the entire month of December, so win-win.)

A welcome basket for out of town guest: 

I love putting together little welcome baskets over the holidays for visitors and out of town guests. I always include:

Crest toothpaste
Pantene Dry Defy shampoo and conditioner
Pantene hair beauty balm
Pantene hair spray
Olay body wash
A new Oral-B toothbrush (You can totally impress your guests, too, with the new Oral B Bluetooth toothbrush—it's so high-tech and works brilliantly to help you have a perfect, healthy smile and clean teeth.)



Good Luck getting through the holidays, friends!

You've got this. 




Disclaimer: I am a P&G Media Mom. I receive compensation for my affiliation with this group, and I receive product and special access to P&G events and opportunities. The opinions on this blog are my own. 

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How To Wrap The Perfect Holiday Present (With Video!)

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It's time to get ready for the holidays! I love celebrating all things festive—decorating the house, baking cookies with my boys, (even though I'm terrible at it) attending and hosting parties, shopping for the perfect gift for everyone on my list, and wrapping the presents.


Yes, I absolutely love wrapping presents. I spent many hours working as a gift wrapper in the mall when I was in university, and I've loved gift wrapping ever since. You can definitely get creative with wrapping. I love using different textures and types of wrapping paper, and I always use ribbon to make a pretty bow, finishing off with something special, like a personalized ornament or homemade gift tag.



Here's my gift wrapping segment I did on CTV Ottawa Morning Live, showing you how you can become an expert gift wrapper, too. (This video is not new, but all the tips and tricks I share in the segment are as good as new!)



It's not hard, I promise.






Here are some other gift wrapping tips:



1. Get creative with your wrapping. If you know someone who loves to travel, wrap their gift in a map of the world, or their favourite city with a big red ribbon. You can top the gift off with a small Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty ornament, and voila—you've got a creative and thoughtful gift for your travel-loving friend! I usually buy all my gift wrap, boxes, ribbons and bows from HomeSense or Michael's.



2. Stock up. No, I'm not taking about stocking up on wine and bubbly, although that's a great idea this time of year. I'm talking about stocking up on gift wrapping supplies! Before you start wrapping, make sure you've got everything you need—scissors, scotch tape, and an assortment of wrapping paper, ribbon, and name tags.



3. Make one of a kind tags. You can make your own gift tags but using old holiday cards. I also love using small ornaments as personalized gift tags, too—the possibilities are endless!



4. Make the bows. Bows are easier to make than you think. Simply tie the ribbon as you would a shoelace, and use fresh greens or other ornaments to "dress up" the gift. It doesn't have to be complicated.






To get in the mood, once you've got your table and gifts ready to be wrapped, put on some holiday music, pour yourself a glass of wine, and remember—it's the thought that counts, so have some fun, and get wrapping! 

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Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring The Rockettes: A NYC Holiday Tradition

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I've been back from New York City only a few days, but I miss it so much. It was a wonderful trip, as all trips to NYC are, and we had an incredible stay at the Langham Place, right on 5th Avenue.

A highlight of our weekend in New York City was being invited to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, starring the Rockettes. This season marks the 83rd (!!!) year of the production, and it's  one of America's most beloved and anticipated holiday shows—and a family tradition.

The Christmas Spectacular first hit the stage on December 21, 1933 at Radio City Music Hall, and since then, over 75 million people have enjoyed the show.

And what a show it was...



The 2015 edition featured the dazzling, incredible Rockettes and their popular dance numbers, including everyone's favourite, The Parade of The Wooden Soldiers.

In 2012, while I was in NYC for the annual BlogHer conference, I was invited to dance with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall with some of my other blogger friends. I've had incredible opportunities and experiences over the years of my blogging career, but dancing in the studio at Radio City Music Hall with the Rockettes was the best. That day, we learned the steps to the Wooden Soldiers dance, and it was hard. Very hard. And we were only taught a small portion of this incredible routine.





The entire show was incredible, and my boys loved it. A lot. I'd post some videos I took of the show,  but I wouldn't want to ruin it for anyone else looking forward to seeing the show for the first time.

It's something you have to see for yourself. You'll see why everyone loves it, and why it's the best Christmas tradition of all. It got us in the holiday mood, instantly. It was truly spectacular.





The holiday season in New York City is everything you can imagine, with the entire city sparkling and alive with the lights and sounds of Christmas, and watching the legendary Rockettes do their thing on stage at Radio City Music Hall was the perfect way to end our NYC adventure.

For ticket information to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starting the Rockettes, click here. 

Thank you for the experience, Rockettes! We loved it!


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