Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Last-Minute Family Getaway

On the weekend, the family and I went on a last-minute getaway to Blue Mountain in Collingwood, one of my favourite places. This time, we stayed in a Mosaic boutique bachelor and lucked out by booking on the last day of their hot summer deal. It also happened to be Famarama weekend and guess who was there to perform. Fred Penner! On our first day there, we spent the morning mining for gems, exploring trails and playing mini golf courtesy of Scenic Caves Nature Adventures. Then we headed over to the Ridge Runner mountain coaster, went swimming in the pool and lounged in the hot tub. Below are some photos highlighting some of the other activities we enjoyed as a family. Four days of outdoor fun with the kids... feeling pretty lucky, I am!

One of my favourite photos taken in the Village.
My son was overjoyed at the chance to drive a Jeep.
Hanging out in the hot tub.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hallmark's Exclusive Sarah Richardson Collection

Last week, Hallmark Canada announced an exciting new partnership with Toronto's own award-winning interior designer, Sarah Richardson. The Sarah Richardson Collection consists of gorgeous greeting cards, sophisticated stationery, elegant gift wrap and coordinating gift bags featuring designs created exclusively for Hallmark. Sarah Richardson is also a recognized television personality, known around the world for transforming ordinary spaces into magazine-worthy rooms. Richardson is the host and co-producer of five HGTV lifestyle series: Room Service, Design Inc, Sarah's House, Sarah 101, and most recently, Sarah Sees Potential which will debut on HGTV USA this fall. She is a past contributor and columnist on design and style for The Globe and Mail and Chatelaine, and was most recently named home design director at Good Housekeeping magazine. In addition, Sarah is a creative powerhouse in the design world and runs a design business, Sarah Richardson Design Inc. based here in Toronto. Think she can manage to squeeze in some time to transform my home? 

Sarah Richardson Stationery Ensemble

There are 16 individual greeting card designs for everyday occasions including birthday, wedding, baby, congratulations, friendship and blank cards. The boxed note card sets and journals would make excellent gift sets. Two of her elegant design themes from her Kravet fabrics collection have also carried over into the collection and are featured on two stationery box sets. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Canadiana à la Netflix

Canada Day celebrations may be over but there is still so much to celebrate and be proud of when it comes to our great nation - its beautiful lands and diverse population, for example. Of particular note is the fact that Superman was created by a Canadian and that a Canadian bear named Winnipeg inspired the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. This month, Netflix Canada Stream Team members are celebrating Canada by discovering a list of shows that were either filmed in Canada, take place in Canada, like Are You Afraid of the Dark, or were created in Canada. Before watching some of these shows, I thought it would be fun to test out my kids' knowledge on Canadian trivia. For example, did you know that Canada is the second largest country in the world and is comprised of six time zones? Canada is also home to the world's longest street - Yonge Street starts at Lake Ontario, crosses right through Toronto and ends at the Minnesota border, measuring nearly 2,000 km in length. And Canada has the world's longest coastline at well over 200,000 km. If you'd like to test your kids on Canadian trivia, check out this list of Canadian trivia questions on DLTK-Kids.com. Then bring out the beaver tails and tune your Netflix to one of these kid-friendly shows.

"Canadiana" Netflix titles for the older crowd:

  1. Are You Afraid of the Dark?
  2. Johnny Test
  3. Black Hole High
  4. Alpha and Omega
  5. Goosebumps
  6. Erky Perky
  7. Eliot Kid
  8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Crafting with my Martha Stewart Punch

While I haven't crafted in a while, I did manage to put a couple of birthday cards together at the request of a colleague at work before the school year was over. For this one, I used my cherished Martha Stewart butterfly punch that I found at Walmart last year. It's a simple design but she loved it. You can find more details over on my craft blog: Diana's Designs.

Participating in Wordless Wednesday? Leave a link to your post below:

Monday, July 14, 2014

Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum - A Part of Our History

Delve into the past and learn about Canadian military aviation history at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. Located in my hometown of Hamilton, Ontario right at Hamilton International Airport, the museum has as its mandate the goal of acquiring, documenting, preserving and maintaining a complete collection of aircraft that were flown by Canadians and the Canadian military services from the beginning of World War II to the present. This collection also includes other related aviation artifacts and memorabilia of historic importance to this time period, such as air plane models, helmets and other gear.

My kids and I had a chance to explore the museum and we ended up bringing a couple of friends along with us. The kids were particularly surprised to find out exactly how heavy these old helmets were. Yikes!

Within the museum you can roam through a gallery containing other various memorabilia, scene replicas and displays. This is an excellent place for students who need to research more about D-Day, the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, or the Ninety-Nines. Or step into the Rolls-Royce Theatre and watch James Cagney in "Captains of the Clouds." In technicolor, of course.

Next, you can make your way into the airplane hangar where you will find a myriad of historic aircraft. The word 'impressive' seems inadequate to describe the sight. We're talking Beechcraft Musketeers, Boeing Stearmans, Westland Lysanders and Avro Lancasters.

Hawker Hurricane Mark XIIB Fighter-Bomber
Avro Lancaster Mk. K Vintage Bomber

There are select aircraft that you can actually board by climbing into the cockpit. This was a really neat experience for the kids.

They even have an old fire engine from 1926 that is still in operating condition. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

1926 Bickle Fire Engine
Along the way, the kids can pose behind some fun photo stands. This picture was my favourite one of all.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ride in Style with the SmarTrike Chic 4-in-1 Tricycle

So... I have some exciting news to share. I am an auntie yet again! My brother and his wife welcomed a baby boy last week and he is seriously the cutest baby I've seen in a very long time. My sister-in-law checked in at the hospital at around 9 o'clock in the morning, had the baby shortly after 11:20am and then went home at around 2pm. She didn't even have to spend the night. Can you believe it? With two kids to look after now, I know how having the right baby gear can be crucial to getting through those busy times. Fortunately, baby's big sister has a new tricycle to help her enjoy some 'daddy and me' time outside. It is the latest SmarTrike Chic, a 4-in-1 Touch Steering premium tricycle that offers the ultimate in outdoor fun.

Assembly of this uber cool SmarTrike may seem a little daunting at first when you consider the number of parts that are included in the box. However, it took me about 20-25 minutes to put together. Following the instructions, I first attached the wheels and handles to the body frame.

I made the mistake of screwing on the seat without including the strap for the restraints but that was easily rectified. You will need a screwdriver, not included, to attach the seat and the basket at the rear. Hint: Activate the brake to help keep the tricycle from moving during assembly.

The SmarTrike comes with a bottle holder that snaps onto the front of the handlebars.

It also includes a supper cute toy phone that has its own compartment and is secured with a cord so you won't have to worry if baby accidentally drops it. It requires two AA batteries, not included.

For Stage One, assemble the high back padded seat support which includes a surrounding bar and a 3-point harness. This stage is for babies that are 10 to 18 months old.

Fold down the footrest for Stage One and insert the telescopic parent handle.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Making Memories at Canada's Wonderland #CWThrills

Looking back on my childhood, some of the fondest memories I recall are spending summer weekends at the beach with the family or, as an extra special treat, making the hour trek to Canada's Wonderland for a day of fun. I recently came across some old photos taken at Canada's Wonderland circa 1988 and smile every time I look at them. Now that I have kids of my own and live in Toronto, I have an opportunity to make new memories that my kids will look back upon with the same fondness. Last week, in fact, we were invited to join in the Family Blogger Fun Day at Canada's Wonderland and experience the thrills that are unique to Canada's premier amusement park. First up, exclusive ride time on Wonder Mountain's Guardian.

This innovative new ride begins with a coaster climb up the side of the park’s iconic mountain followed by a quick descent into its core. As riders enter a cavernous world of mythical creatures and navigate through five layers of a 4-D medieval world, they will have an opportunity to test out their gaming skills as they compete against fellow riders, scoring points while aiming at moving targets. The quest will culminate as riders enter the dragon’s lair for the ultimate battle with Lord Ormaar, and experience a heart stopping finale that will leave you speechless. At the end of the ride, you can compare your scores with those of the other riders. My personal best: 659 259. Oh, yeah! Height restriction for Wonder Mountain's Guardian is: 42"-48" accompanied by an adult and over 48" alone.

Next, we were granted early access to Kidzville and enjoyed Jokey's Jalopies, Chopper Chase, and Blast Off followed by multiple rides on Silver Streak, the perfect ride for kids 44" and taller who are still too young to ride the larger coasters. Also located in Kidville is Ghoster Coaster, only one of three wooden roller coasters at the park and one of four of the original coasters that were at the Park when it opened in 1981. The minimum height requirement is 40". Once the park opened, we headed over to the mountain for Thunder Run.

One of my personal favourite rides at Canada's Wonderland is White Water Canyon. I remember how much my parents loved taking us on this ride but the line-ups were usually so long. On this day, they were quite short and even my blogging friend Lena of Listen to Lena got to experience it with us for the very first time.

Of course, Peanuts characters were out and about with their great big smiles and posing for photos.

In the afternoon, we headed over to Wonderland Theatre to watch Dimensions: A Cirque Experience. New for 2014, the show boasts awe-inspiring athleticism and acrobatic feats presented in true cirque style.

The show begins with the comedic routine of two very funny clowns who interacts directly with the audience, sharing popcorn and 'borrowing' a purse or two. They then 'borrow' an audience member who disappears into the depths beneath the stage. Where could he have gone? The clowns set out on a journey through various dimensions in the hopes of finding him.