thisisbliss

Losing my conference virginity – Finding community #ThisIsBliss

You know the old saying “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”?

Well, I believe the reverse to be true too, you don’t know what you’re missing ’til it’s been found.

2013 was a pretty crazy year for me. An epically crazy year in fact, and even that is an understatement! Amongst the host of life changing events that took place that year, was losing my conference virginity. October 2013 – my blog was a mere year and a half old, I was just starting to figure out this whole blogging thing and I was at some conference 4 provinces away that I had been talked in to attending even though I knew virtually no one… No, I literally knew no one (with the exception of Julie and Shannon), I virtually knew a few fellow BluntMoms, but as online persona’s only.

I jumped out of my comfort zone, and in to Blissdom Canada. Immersed myself in a conference a couple hundred bloggers deep, full of sponsors, vendors, 3 roomies I had never met before, and of course some of the most amazing people to ever have touched my life, who unbeknownst to me at the time would become my sisters, my rocks, my friends, my community. There is a reason they call this conference “Bliss”. In three days I learned more than I ever could have imagined, I laughed so hard I cried, I cried so hard I laughed, I danced my tail off in a leopard print onesie, and I won a hockey stick signed by Bobby Orr!

I went to Ontario last year with few expectations on what the three days would have in store and I left counting down the days until I would be there again.

Blissdom Canada is taking place again this year in Mississauga, Ontario from October 2 – 4 and you can bet your leopard print onesie wearing ass that I’ll be there with all of the bells on. It is without question some of the best money I have ever spent, and continue to spend! If you’re a blogger, a wannabe blogger, social media enthusiast, brand, or just someone who likes to have a good time around amazing people – Bliss is where it’s at.

This year, the peeps at Blissdom Canada have a super awesome #ThisIsBliss share and win contest, giving you the opportunity to win your conference pass, as well as a Grand Prize contest that rivals being in the audience at Oprah during the taping of Oprah’s favorite things. To enter the #ThisIsBliss share and win contest click here.

Hope to see you at Bliss this year!

#protinis

Beat the heat and get out of the kitchen

I absolutely love summer, and out of sheer fear of winter rearing it’s ugly head early, you will never catch me complaining about the heat. That said, right now it is hot, hot, hot! Multiply that by at least 42 and you have the temperature inside my house. Needless to say, the last thing I feel like doing after a long day at work is cooking, and further heating up my house.

We are extremely lucky in that there is a plethora of free outdoor evening activities to do with the kids around my neighbourhood; Splash park, wading pool, petting zoo, playground, just to name a few. So I figured I would kill a handful of birds with one stone by packing a PROTINIS™ picnic and taking the kids to the park. No worries about heating up the kitchen, and the kids and I get to spend extra quality time playing before bedtime!

I love Maple Leaf® Natural Selections® PROTINIS™ because:

  • They are a complete protein which means they contain all of the essential amino acids that your body needs but can’t produce on it’s own – something that I’m always thinking about as I’m a vegetarian who struggles with ensuring I’m getting enough protein.
  • There’s two perfectly portioned dishes in each pack – great for a grab and go picnic dinner with kids, or a quick snack for parents on the move.

#protinis snackMy kids love Maple Leaf® Natural Selections® PROTINIS™ because:

  • They come in 8 tasty flavours that my kids love, including the smallest kids favorite Oven Roasted Chicken and Cranberry.
  • The manageable sized packages fit perfectly in little hands, with easy peel lids that enable independence.

These are a definite win in our house – and I’d love for them to be a win in your house too! Enter below for your chance to win 5 Maple Leaf® Natural Selections® PROTINIS™ coupons!

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Don’t forget to follow Maple Leaf Foods on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date and in the loop on all things #Protinis

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{Summer Bucket List} HYAK River Rafting

Some things change, and some things stay the same…

Case and point…

Regardless of if you’re 18 or 31 years old, you will scream like a 12 year old girl when racing down class 4 rapids…

If you pee in the pool (or wet suit in this case) it will turn blue…

Some of the most amazing experiences can be had in your own back yard…

Standing at the front of a boat (any boat) and reinacting the iconic scene from Titanic never gets old…

If you want to have a good time, surround yourself with great people!

I was recently selected as one of sixteen lucky local YVR Bloggers to take part in a one day HYAK River Rafting adventure out on the Chilliwack River. This was my second time River Rafting, the first time being way back in the day for my grade 12 grad trip. This trip blew that trip out of the proverbial water!

The whole HYAK experience was amazing, from start to finish. Our day began early, with a pick up at Brentwood Mall… Yes, that’s right… The HYAK shuttle comes right out and picks you up and drops you back off at the end of the day! No driving required, how great is that?! Our drive out to Chilliwack went quickly, between getting to know each other, and learning all about HYAK, it’s inception and it’s team, we were the resident pros by the time we arrived on site.

imageAfter a quick rundown on what we could expect for the day, we were ready to gear up in wet suits and rain gear, and sign our lives away!

All geared up and ready to go, we hopped into the van destined for the mouth of the Chilliwack River where the next leg of our adventure would take place.

Another quick orientation, this time teaching us the basics of how to paddle, what to do in the (un)likely event of ourselves, or anyone else in the boat going overboard, and of course the useful commands that our guide would be giving us during the trip such as “get down”, “over left”, “over right”, and of course “high five, we’re still alive” (note: you may want to brush up on your left and right prior to this, you may be surprised at your inability to differentiate the two in a high pressure situation!) But don’t worry, your rafting guides wage is drastically decreased for each member of his raft who doesn’t return at the end of the day, so you know you’re in good hands based on that alone!

And before we knew it, we were off paddling the “beginner” rapids. A quick stop, and easy hike led us a be beautiful, secluded waterfall fed by a hot spring. And then once again we were off rafting the Chilliwack River. Next, was lunch. A cute little sandwich buffet in the middle of the forrest, complete with a DIY pseudo chocolate chip cookie cheesecakes… These guys don’t mess around!

After lunch, with oars in our hands and smiles on our faces, we eagerly hopped back into the rafts, ready to tackle the most difficult, and exciting portion of the River. In addition to the class 4+ rapids that graced the last part of our 18 km journey, we also had the opportunity to hop out of the raft and enjoy the “swimming rapids”, by floating alongside the raft if you were willing to brave the 4° water. Seriously though, with the adrenaline from the day, coupled with the serenity of the flowing river and beautiful scenery I definitely recommend jumping in when the opportunity arises, it’s not that cold!

I swear the day was over before it even began. We piled back into the the bus, amped on adrenalin, each recounting our stories of narrowly escaping hitting rocks or being ejected from from the rafts. This is an experience I highly recommend, and will without a doubt be going to again in the near future. The staff at HYAK are fun, friendly, knowledgeable, and know how to have a good time!

One more item crossed off my summer bucket list that needs to be crossed off yours as well! The lovely folks at HYAK are generously giving away an opportunity for one of my readers to win a one day river rafting adventure! Enter below for your chance at the fun!

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chicken egg bento

What came first? The Chicken or the Egg?

Some argue the chicken came first…

Others argue it was the egg…

But really, does it matter? Everybody wins with this bento lunch, incorporating both the chicken, and the egg at the same time!

Today’s bento lunch consists of chicken wings grilled in my T-Fal OptiGrill, peanut butter filled pretzels, roast baby potatoes, skewers of pineapple, cheese, a cookie, and a hard boiled egg with carrot and nori accents. So much fun in one little easy lunch box!

So…

What do you think came first?! The Chicken, or the Egg?

Things I used to make this lunch:

singlejo

Sunday Confessional : Coffee Makes Me a Better Mom

There is no denying that I love my coffee.

Give it to me hot,
Give it to me cold,
Blended, Shaken, Stirred, or Straight up. So long as it’s in my cup, I’m a happy momma!

My Keurig and I are best friends, however, while I love my coffee, I can be a little flighty in my brew preference, never really knowing which roast is right for me. That was until I completed my Coffee Profile from Single Jo Coffee and discovered that I’m a Pioneer! No surprise really,  – Medium bodied, versatile, smooth and comforting (much like my personality!). With your profile, Single Jo Coffee creates a custom list of recommended roasts. So far my favorite has been the Copper Moon Kona… Oh how I long to be back in Hawaii!

single jo coffeesSingle Jo Coffee has a vast variety of roasts and flavors that are sure to suit even the most discerning coffee connoisseur. Compatible with your K-Cup brewer, Single Jo Coffee brings you the best brands in a new eco-friendly format.

Seriously though, I don’t mess around when it comes to coffee. I’ve made it very well known that momma needs her coffee before any attempts are made at conquering a day! And you know what? Dad’s are better when caffeinated too! Lucky for you, Single Jo Coffee is having a 15% off promo for Father’s Day! Enter code DADROCKS at check out to receive your discount!dad promoAlso make sure to mark June 12th at 9pm on your calendar as Single Jo Coffee is having a Twitter party for a chance to win a pile of amazing prizes… Including my awesome coffee mug!

single jo cup

SONY DSC

5 tips to help prepare your child for summer camp

I’m not entirely sure where the time has gone…

Seriously, I blinked and all of a sudden both my kids are all grown up! Ok, so that might be a slight exaggeration, however I did blink and now it’s summer. Yikes!

Please, someone stop the clock – just for a little while!

As summer is fast approaching the day camp notices have been coming home in full force. This is the biggest kid’s first year in full day school (Kindergarten), and so really the first time that I’ve even considered summer camps as he’s always attended his regular daycare year round. Thankfully my kids are pretty versatile, and open to change, however being as summer camp is going to be a new experience, I’ve come up with a list of helpful ways to prepare your child for summer camp.

1. Get Excited!
Hopefully this wont be too difficult as summer camps can be a fun and exciting experience for children, however for children that may be anxious about change or trying something new, take time to help get them excited about their upcoming experience. Some great ways of doing this are to show them pictures of the camp so they can get acquainted with where they’re going and what activities they will be doing.

2. Go Shopping!
Make sure that your child is well equipped for their camp with any relevant items they may need. Check with the camp to ensure that you have any required items such as bathing suits, sun screen, hats, lunch boxes, etc.. Involving your child in this process will help get them excited about going, but also help them better identify with what items they are taking with them and which belongings are theirs.

3. Label, label, label!
The best way to prevent the disappointment and frustration of lost items is to label them! We absolutely love the Oliver’s Labels Camp Package. This is the Cadillac of label packages with a total of 151 labels and tags, including shoe labels, original labels, mini labels, iron-on labels, stick-eez™ labels, and 2 plastic bag tags perfect for backpacks, suitcases, and even lunch bags. A feature I love about these labels is that you can add the optional Found-it™ Tracking System, a free online tracking system that’s printed on your labels to help bring lost items home!

4. Foster Independence!
Don’t underestimate the abilities of your child. Give them a task or set of tasks to help prepare themselves for camp. Tasks can be as simple as putting their name labels on all of their camp items, helping to pack their bags, or picking out items that they want to bring with them.

5. Make a list!
Once you’ve labelled all of your belongings, it’s a good idea to make a list of everything that is in your child’s bag. This way your child can check the list daily, or at the end of camp to ensure that everything they left with is coming home with them. If your child is still developing their reading skills, consider making a visual list with pictures of the various items your child has packed.

To help you prepare your child for summer camp, the generous folks at Oliver’s Labels are offering up 1 Camp Package of labels to a lucky reader! Enter below for your chance to win!

If you’re as excited to get labeling as I was and can’t wait for the giveaway, the Oliver’s Labels Camp Package is currently on sale for 20% off!!

camp2014

*Disclosure: I was provided a free Camp Package in exchange for my review, as always, I only write about things that I love and I definitely do love these! All opinions are mine and mine alone*

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Giveaway is open worldwide. Winner can only receive one prize during this campaign (can not win from multiple blogs)

 

blended

{GIVEAWAY} BLENDED – SilverCity Metropolis Pre-Screening Event

After a disastrous blind date, single parents Lauren (Barrymore) and Jim (Sandler) agree on only one thing: they never want to see each other again.  But when they each sign up separately for  a fabulous family vacation with their kids, they are all stuck sharing a suite at a luxurious African safari resort for  a week. 

I absolutely LOVEDrew Barrymore and Adam Sandler together! Ever since I first saw them in The Wedding Singer,  to seeing them again in Fifty First Dates, I’ve been a big fan. Some actors/actresses were just meant to work together and I reallly believe that they are a match made in movie heaven.

I’m packing up and heading off to BlogHer Foodnext week so sadly I’m going to miss the awesome pre-screen happening at SilverCity Metropolis on Wednesday May 14th, however I will be passing my tickets on to a few lucky readers!!

Up for grabs, courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures Canada are 2 advance screening tickets to BLENDED just simply by entering below! Contest is open to anyone local to SilverCity Metropolis who is available at the below screening time!

GOOD LUCK!

Screening details:

DATE: Wednesday, May 14, 2014
TIME: 7:00 PM
LOCATION:
SilverCity Metropolis
4700 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC, V5J 4M1

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chicken-squad_banner_1

The Truth is in the Chicken

You may remember my fun and informative trip to the meat packing plant last summer. Well, this summer, the BC Chicken Growers’ Association and BC Chicken Marketing Board have launched an innovative online awareness campaign to educate the public about Canadian chicken growing practices.

As you know, I’m a meat loving vegetarian who is the primary cook for my family, while I don’t eat meat, I do purchase and cook it regularly, as such I like to be informed about where my meat comes from, and subsequently, how it’s processed.

I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I was among the 64% of Canadians who believed that hormones and steroids were added to their chicken. I was quite surprised, and relieved to learn that this practice has been banned in Canadian poultry for over 50 years!

Move aside Real Housewives of Vancouver – Hello Real Chicken Farmers of British Columbia!

Chicken Squad follows local British Columbia chicken farmers as they come together to create a parody action movie trailer to let consumers know that their chicken is hormone-and steroid-free. The ten episode documentary video series uses humour, vulnerability and a whole lot of fun to get the point across.

Chicken Squad is produced by the BC Chicken Marketing Board and BC Chicken Growers’ Association. The world-wide online premier of the movie trailer will take place at www.chickensquad.ca on May 12, 2014.

To celebrate the launch of the Chicken Squad trailer on May 12, 2014, You have the chance to win an awesome Prize Pack from the Chicken Squad including a $100 Overwaitea Food Group below!

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View More: http://jodiehaddenphotography.pass.us/mothers-sarah

Mother’s Day Photos with Kidoodle.TV

I love my kids, but for the love of all things holy, it’s like pulling teeth to get them to sit still for longer than 3.5 seconds at any time.

You can imagine my trepidation at the thought of preparing for our Mother’s Day photo shoot which included makeup and jewelery styling in a small studio space with two kids in tow.

Thankfully, I was recently introduced to Kidoodle.TV, an online, streaming video service for children ages 12 and under. As a family on the go, we love it because it’s mobile, safe, and has a “Parent Room” that contains a host of robust parental controls including the ability to set screen time limits to ensure your kids aren’t OD’ing on “tube” time. home screen

The Kidoodle.TV interface is bright and colorful and very easy to use. It’s perfect for us as we have both an Android Nexus Tablet and an Apple iPad, both of which are compatible with the app. It also works on the computer for situations you may not have a mobile device available . I love that it’s customizable (for up to 5 kids!) so both of my kids can have their own profile and personal settings. The app is full of great educational content from a variety of sources and I have the ability to control all of the content that is available in their profiles. Commercial and adult content free, and for only $4.99 per month! Everybody wins!

So needless to say, I was able to have some quiet pampering while my kids were blissfully engrossed in their own shows while we waited to start our shoot. Kidoodle.TV comes everywhere with us, Baseball, Grandma’s House, Restaurants, and everywhere in between so long as there’s a web connection.

We really love Kidoodle.TV, and I’m sure you will too! If you’d like to try before you buy, head on over to their website and register for 14 days free! Kidoodle.TV has also generously offered all of my readers a 25% discount on their subscriptions by using code MCC25 until June 30th, 2014.

You can also enter to win one of three iPad Mini’s on the Kidoodle.TV Facebook Page!

Disclosure: I am part of the Kidoodle.TV blogger program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.”

Sarah

LasVegas

Top 10 Ways to Unwind in Las Vegas #LetLoose2014

Did you know that April is National Stress Awareness Month?!

Ya… Me neither!

There’s no hiding the fact that I wear many hats – Busy Mom, Full time employee, business owner, athlete, coach, chef, chauffeur, activities director, student, friend… to name a few!

While I love each and every one of my roles, come Friday, I’m wiped and ready for a relaxing weekend (which is typically anything but), and come Monday I find myself wishing for the weekend again.

Between kids, family, work, and extra-curricular activities, my “me” time and my “hen” time (aka gal pal time) is dwindling. I would love nothing more right now than to grab a couple of my gal pals, and hop away for a weekend in the Vegas!

So in recognition of my much needed catch up with my girlfriend time, and the fact that April is National Stress Awareness Month, I’ve come up with a list of the Top 10 Ways to Unwind and Let Loose in Las Vegas!

  1. Relax at the PoolThe Aria has three distinctive pools to choose from! Warm sun on your shoulders. Clear skies overhead. Blue waters calling your name… Yes please!
  2. Get pampered – Watch the tension melt away in The Spa Salon at ARIA. Hot stones, skilled hands, tranquil water gardens and natural light will ease your mind, body, and soul.
  3. Shop ’till you drop – Las Vegas is well known for it’s plethora of retail shops, 500,000 square feet of which are located at Crystals – an unparalleled collection of retailers, all under one roof! Grab the ladies and hit the shops for some quality bonding time!
  4. Hit the links – I’m an avid golfer, and guests at The Aria receive exclusing access to the legendary Shaddow Creek golf course. Wandering creeks, manicured greens and a competitive slope rating are a great way to spend a day.
  5. Ante up – No trip to Las Vegas is complete without a stop at the Casino! Whether you’re into slots, table games, poker, or race & sports book, there’s something for everyone. Rub your pennies together and get ready to hit the relaxed casino floor.
  6. Catch a show – Seeing a Cirque Du Soleil show is definitely on my bucket list, even more so after missing out on going last time I was in Vegas. Checking out Zarkana – A spirited voyage through an abandoned theater where an extraordinary circus comes back to life, is a must see event!
  7. Put on your dancin’ shoes – Vegas with girlfriends = painting the town red! There’s definitely no shortage of amazing nightlife in Las Vegas and it’s easy to find yourself in the center of the excitement! Whether you want to relax in one of many bars or lounges, or shake your booty at Haze Nightclub at ARIA a good time is sure to be had by all!
  8. Stuff your face – As a foodie, it’s tremendously important that I’m surrounded by good food. A variety of eclectic menus are available in any of the 17 restaurants at The Aria, including a Starbucks to help you start your day off right!
  9. Be a tourist – Don’t be afraid to leave The Strip and enter a desert landscape worth framing during your trip to Las Vegas! Helicopters, Canyons, and adventure tours await you!
  10. StaycationThe Aria is more than a collection of lavish rooms and suites – it’s an impossible trail of nuances that will leave you shaking your head in disbelief. A hand laid mosaic, a scale replica of the Colorado River, unprecedented public art, water features, and living vegetation are just some of the amazing design features that can be seen. Shut the door and breathe – Leave the velocity of The Strip at the door as you relax and unwind in your personal refuge, knowing that everything you could need is within reach.

How would you let loose in Las Vegas?