Thanksgiving 2019 – Why I’m Thankful

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!  I’ve been reflecting the last few weeks because so much has happened in 2019 and I have so much to be thankful for this year … more so than in other years.  First and foremost, I am thankful for my family and friends.  My husband and my boys are everything and they just get me.  My family and friends (my village) help in raising my kids and help provide support.

Then there is my health that I’m thankful for and it was a bit of a scare for me earlier this year.  March 7th to be exact where I was on my way to work and I had an anxiety attack just before getting on the highway.  Luckily, I pulled over and found my way back home.

I had been working my job and covering vacation for a colleague and I was at the tail end of a three week coverage during peak season.  I even had someone support a program that I was running.

But I was upset with myself that day, because the year before I had worked the same three week coverage and did everything myself.  I worked ridiculous hours.  Later in the year I covered vacation again, on top of my job and was also involved in providing support to a rollout of a project.

So, why did I break this time?  I had everything in place at home with a great support system and even with blogging, I had outsourced pieces of work and even said no if I couldn’t commit.

I realized that the body and mind can only take so much and it was that morning on March 7th, that I shut down.  It took me just under 3 weeks to be able to get back on that highway … prior to that I had to take sideroads.  I was in a bad place mentally, socially and I felt let down.  And it took me a month to become myself again.

And when things got back to being me, I had to make changes.  I had to make myself a priority and not rely on false promises because I knew my worth and capabilities.  I started listening to podcasts that inspired, started writing out my thoughts, woke up every day feeling grateful and stopped sweating the small stuff.

So this Thanksgiving 2019, I am thankful for my family and friends and I am extremely thankful for my health.

Can’t end this without sharing some links to some fav podcasts. Just click and listen.

Beyond Burnout

Happier with Gretchin Rubin

Shine: Calm, Anxiety & Stress

XOXO

Sunshine

 

 

 

 

AIN’T NO PARTY .. LIKE A LEGO PARTY

This is a sponsored post and all opinions are 100% mine.

All kids (big and small) love LEGO. It’s been around for decades, it sparks creativity and kids can play with it independently or as part of a group. So, when LEGO reached out and asked if I was up for the challenge in pulling together a LEGO themed party (just for fun) I thought it would be great for the kids to enjoy and a great share for my community of readers. I could not say no to this request. We love LEGO like nobody’s business and we’re so obsessed it that we even made a trip out to LEGOLAND, San Diego this past May … you know for us .. I mean the kids.

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So, let me start off by sharing that I am not a big DIYer nor am I a huge themed party kind of mom. I love efficiency, simple set up and quick take downs. I can throw down a good party, but all my effort and time is spent on creating a great experience, serving fabulous food and bringing people together for a good time. And LEGO really makes it that easy.

GOODIE BAGS

My boys are huge Ninjago fans and these cute DIY goodie bags deliver big impact, are easy to assemble and are budget friendly. You just need to set aside the time to make them. Fill up the bags with stickers, bubbles, candy and of course LEGO surprise packs and you’re good to go. Click link for other LEGO party related inspo. You’re welcome!

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LEGO ACTIVITIES

All the action takes place at the kids table where they eat and socialize right? So, it’s natural to have LEGO bricks and sets to keep the littles entertained. I would also recommend setting up additional table stations for kids to play at. Have them move from one table to the next and ask them to build something different at each station.

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KEEPING LEGOS ORGANIZED

Have you ever stepped on a LEGO? Have you ever had to clean up LEGO? Have you ever had to look for that missing LEGO piece? If you said yes to any of these questions, then you need stackable storage boxes with compartments. I give my husband all the credit for organizing the LEGO bricks by colour, because it is no easy task. We have 12 boxes LEGO and we have one box with a three compartment box dedicated to figurines, wheels and accessories.

These handy boxes are great for activity tables making it easy for littles to select their LEGO bricks to make their masterpiece. FYI – click link for where to buy storage boxes. You’re welcome again!

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SHOW THEM OFF

All that work for no one to admire? Not at this LEGO party. After each activity table completion, have a separate area for their creations to be put on display. And if there is time and if your guests aren’t shy, do a Show and Tell. Everyone will be oohing and ahhing over each creation. And don’t forget to remind them that at the end of the party, they can take what they’ve built home.

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DANCE PARTY

It ain’t no party without a LEGO dancing party! Burn off some of that birthday cake with some dance moves and good tunes. And not just any tunes. Have them dancing to the LEGO Movie soundtrack or play some musical chairs! Click link for the latest soundtrack from LEGO Movie 2. You’re welcome yet again!

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AND THE WINNER GOES TO…

Everyone’s a winner right! And sometimes it’s nice to give a little somethin’ somethin’ in addition to the goodie bags. Select a winner from musical chairs, cast a vote for the best LEGO creation and/or best dancer. You may want to give your guests a heads up at the beginning of the party, that there will be prizes. It’ll build excitement and get them inspired!

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And there are so much more LEGO inspired ideas to add to a birthday party. And really at the end of the day, you’re going to put together what makes sense for you, your time, your budget and your child. And whatever that is, it’s going to be an amazing one.

If you’re huge LEGO fan, I want to hear all about it!

Until the next party…

Sunshine

Photography: Liz Salzman

 

FORD SUMMER ROAD TRIP

This is a sponsored post and all opinions are 100% mine.

Beep beep!  Who is up for a road trip?  Our family is of course and even with juggling school and work life, family time remains priority.  We made things work and managed to sneak in one last summer weekend getaway out to Muskoka a few weekends ago.  A two and a half hour ride to cottage country and we rode in style and comfort courtesy of Ford Canada in the Edge TI Elite.

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The five seater SUV came fully loaded with all the bells and whistles.  The key features that were important to me, rear view camera, touchscreen, apple play, wireless charger and generous trunk space.

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The best feature (according to the critics), which we didn’t realize until the morning of was a built in television entertainment system.  We made a pitstop to Walmart and grabbed a few DVD’s for the road.  Once the movie started, that was it for them.  No bickering, no whining and no questions like “are we there yet mom?”

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It also gave my husband and I the gift of time and silence.  We did the adult conversation thing, sang to our choice of music and just got caught up.  Sometimes we’re just moving from one activity to the next that we forget to pause and talk.  So, while it was great for the drive, I wouldn’t want an entertainment system in my car all the time. It’s too easy to give the boys screen time and while sometimes I’m spending most of the car ride breaking up fights or being interrupted, those situations make great memories.

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Overall, I was happy with the Edge TI Elite.  I’m no expert, but I do love comfort, style and safety.  My husband enjoyed the ride and it served it’s purpose.  It took us to beautiful Muskoka where we got to spend some quality family time outdoors.

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xoxo

Sunshine

PREMIUM LUNCHES FOR BACK TO SCHOOL

This is a sponsored post and all opinions are 100% mine.

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Literally, I blinked and here we are prepping for back to school. The boys are going into SK, so this year isn’t as stressful as last. It’ll be the same school, same teachers, same knapsacks, same lunch bags and the same lunch boxes.

We are also adding a few new things to the mix. This year I plan on making some hot lunch meals, so we bought the boys thermoses. I also intend on baking breakfast/snack recipes that I archived from Instagram, as well as adding some deli meat and sausage options – opting out of my typical ham sandwich creation.

Recently, we received a generous delivery of deli sliced chicken and summer sausage meats, along with turkey and chicken snack bites from Piller’s Fine Foods. They are a family business that is all about making food for families to enjoy and supporting their community. They also offer products that are free of all major food allergens (gluten, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, mustard, sesame, egg, fish, soy, sulphites). About an hour west of Toronto, they are a local Ontario company. Always feels good to support local!

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So, what makes Piller’s Fine Foods stand out from others? Quality and taste! True testament, my boys have already polished off a package of the summer sausage meats. I have one really picky eater and at such a young age, he’s gaining quite the reputation of having an appetite for only the finest foods. He got it from his mama!

In addition, when it comes to lunches, let’s take that even further, when it comes to any type of meal prep, I am all about convenience and efficiency. I’m not creative in the kitchen and I am pretty basic and I own it. So, where I lack in creativity, I’ll make up for it by ensuring that I’m buying premium quality products because I won’t sacrifice the good stuff for just convenience.

So, what am I going to do with the delivery of goods from Piller’s Fine Foods? We’ll be sharing some so others can enjoy! The turkey and chicken bites will come in handy during extracurricular activity days. Adding some deli meats to the boys’ lunch, sneaking in a couple of slices for myself and saving some slices to make omelets over the weekend. Like I said, I’m basic and proud of it. For those who can whip up lunches and meals like a boss, I’ve provided their recipe link (click here) for food inspiration. If you happen to make anything, let me know, save us a piece or just have us over.

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Best of luck in the new school year!

 

Sunshine

 

Staycation at Sherkston Shores Resorts

This is a sponsored post and all opinions are 100% mine. 

Canadian summers are short in Canada, so during these months we love quick getaways without fussing over all the packing and planning. We were recently hosted by Sherkston Shores Resorts to stay several nights and to explore and enjoy their facilities and beaches. Sharing with you what we loved and throwing in a few tips!

ACCOMMODATIONS

The resort has various accommodations available to suit any family. Camp site, RV sites, cabins and cottage rentals. We stayed in a 2-bedroom premium cottage with a large patio, fully equipped kitchen, airconditioned and WiFi strictly for the unit we were staying at.

It was the perfect size cottage for our family of four as it was modern, clean and very cozy. It had everything you needed to prep and cook all three meals, linens were included along with travel size shampoo, conditioner and body lotion which was a nice touch.

TIPS

  • The unit has a shared BBQ Grill available, however you must bring your own charcoal
  • If you don’t want to fire up the grill, there is a Boston Pizza on-site as well as a Super Mart on the facility
  • Super Mart carries high quality foods and products that I was surprised they even had and I’m hella picky! But because we weren’t prepared at all, I still went the next day to a local super market outside the resort. Expect to drive for 15-20 minutes to a grocery store.
  • There is a fire pit in the back which we did not use, but it’s great for those evenings to chill and eat s’mores.
  • The cottage rentals are close to each other and if you look out the window, you can look right into your neighbour’s deck. I didn’t mind it and the neighbours were cool.
  • Our cottage did not have a dishwasher and although it’s not a showstopper, it’s worth mentioning
  • Laundry Mat is also available on-site

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BEACHES

There are so many beaches on the resort and the easiest way to get to them is with the golf cart. You can drive and park your cart right on the beach. My recommendation is to secure your spot early. We arrived early afternoon one day and it was packed. Still managed to snag a spot, but I always like having first dibs.

We didn’t get a chance to hang out on all the beaches (because so much to do). Rather, we drove to each one to check them out.

Our fav is Elco Beach. Good vibes, soft sand and the lake was perfect. Quarry Beach is equally beautiful and we had a great time, however the shoreline is covered in rocks and walking into the water was uncomfortable and sometimes painful. The boys loved it either way, but I would highly recommend the whole family wears water shoes if they’re’ going into the lake. Staying on the beach to chill, then you’re good without them.

TIPS

  • Quarry Beach – beach sport rentals for kayaks, paddleboats and canoes

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GOLF CARTS

Riding the carts from Birdie Golf Carts. The best form of transportation on the resort and the most memorable according to Maxwell and Brandon. Gets you to your destination and being able to pull up and park on the beach is a win-win. I hate lugging all the beach gear with me, and this was a lifesaver!

TIPS

  • Reserve the golf carts ahead of time. They had sold out when I came to pick mine up and when I wanted to extend my rental for an additional day, they couldn’t because they had rented all carts out.
  • Anytime you can, charge the golf carts. Their battery life is 1.5 to 2 hours riding time.

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ACTIVITIES & ENTERTAINMENT

If you want to switch up the pace and scenery from the beaches, there are other activities to keep the family busy and entertained at any point in the day. Mini putt, skate park and basketball court to name a few.

We had the chance to also chill at the waterpark where the kids played at the splash pads and the big kids (hubby, brother, nephew and sister-in-law) took advantage of the water slides.

In the evening, there was live music for the whole family, we missed out on Chocolate Bar Bingo because the boys were too busy playing at the arcade.

TIPS

  • We went to the water park at 6:00pm because the weather was still hot, and the sun was up. It was perfect because no crowds and barely any lineups. We were told by staff either come first thing in the morning or come around dinner time to avoid the rush.
  • Every Saturday evening over the summer, there is fireworks by Quarry Beach around 9:30pm. We were too tired to head out, but from our cottage we had a great view.

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It was a great stay at Sherkston Shores Resort and we’d definitely come back! Our family has a huge appreciation for what Ontario offers and I’m looking forward to more staycations and more travel. Stay tuned!

xoxo

Sunshine

 

Farmer’s Market Season



 

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Hey peeps! Do you love a good farmer’s market? Well I do, and I want to share one of my favs. I discovered Centro Farmer’s Market four summers ago on one of my Sunday visits to a cute home décor and plant shop Centro Garden in Burlington (40 minutes west of Toronto). The market is located in the back parking lot and the hours run from 9:00am – 12:00pm rain or shine. There are approximately 12-15 vendors, so while it’s not a huge market, it’s perfect for our family.

What I love about Centro Farmer’s Market compared to others is the true sense of community. While I don’t live in Burlington, I do love the community feel and with this being my fourth summer heading to the market, we’ve now become regulars to the vendors, other families and the owner of Centro Garden.

In the middle of the market, they have picnic benches for customers to have their breakfast and coffee, a little play kitchen and chalk to keep the littles busy and live music setting the tone.

All the vendors have great produce/products but I want to share my favs with you.

Foundry Ice Cream – Enough said…Ice Cream! Made in Hamilton making small batch pints with in-season fruits. I try my hardest not to have ice cream for breakfast and will wait until closer to noon to grab my cone. I highly recommend Lavender, it’s my fav!

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Dez’s Flower Stand of Justice – I’m a sucker for flowers and they’ve got a great selection. But I would recommend coming early, because they do go fast. They also sell Strawberry Lemonade by the glass and in concentrate so you can take some home to make.

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Vandenbroek Family Farm – since the boys could walk, I would have them come with me to any Farmer’s Market and help me pick produce. It takes a little bit longer to get what you need, but having them as my shopping buddies they pick what they want and they’ll eat it. This family farm has plenty of fresh selection right up until the end of market. Our staples at every visit are tomatoes, kale and peppers.

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So, you’re now thinking it’s 12noon and what do I do after the Farmer’s Market. Well, keep your car parked and you can visit the following within a few steps.

Centro Garden – steps away from the market is the home, lifestyle and garden store. I always walk away with some type of plant that I can’t seem to maintain (black thumb). And Centro Garden is amazing all year round with their home décor and plants.

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Kelly’s Bake – sells baked goods that are gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegan and peanut free. They’ve got their soft serve ice cream going on, take home goods available and a great selection of beverages.

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I’m not done yet as there are still more things to do in the downtown Burlington area. A short drive to the following spots is worth visiting. However, I’ve walked with the family from the market to the waterfront. (note: this area is paid parking, however residential streets offer 3 hours free parking, click on link for parking locations and rates).

Spencer Smith Park – downtown waterfront park allowing for bike rides, roller blading, picnics, splash pad and a kids playground.

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Sunshine Doughnuts – a short walk from the park. Donuts are fabulous and they’ve got the cutest backdrop in store and out. There are days where donuts are sold out, so I would make that a priority to visit before heading to the park.

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Hoping you’ll make your way out one Sunday. Some spend the day, while others may use it as a pit stop from Toronto to hang out before heading to Niagara Falls or Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Any questions, please feel to contact me!

xo

Sunshine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Experience at Charmin’s Testing Lab

This is a sponsored post and all opinions are 100% mine. #ad, #EnjoyTheGo with @Charmin

“When I grow up, I want to be a Scientist, no make that a Senior Scientist, better yet a Senior Sensory Scientist.  Or maybe I’ll be a corporate Storyteller or Group Head in Family Care.”

That’s how I felt after meeting with the Charmin Team a couple of weeks ago at the Proctor & Gamble Headquarters and the Charmin Testing Lab in Cincinnati. This group of passionate individuals seriously made me want to make a career change! We (myself along with two other influencers) spent a full day learning, participating in demonstrations, sharing stories and enjoying each other’s company.

BELOW: The Charmin and the Great Lengths Influencer Team

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Ok, I know what you’re thinking … it’s toilet paper (TP) and there are so many brands out there that can do the job. This, I have to say also crossed my mind but that’s what lured me into wanting to find out more. Also, having worked in a manufacturing and lab environment, I have a genuine curiosity for the development and the story telling behind any type of product. So, this visit was educational, and I’m not kidding when I say I’m still geeking out.

Our morning started off with the history of P&G products and then focused on the history of Charmin

Charmin was first manufactured in 1928 and over the years their brand and packaging evolved and became a household name. Check out the TP packages they’ve had over the last few decades!

Want further history details, I’ve provided the link to their website. Click here.

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The Poop Test

Yes, it’s legit. Not real poop, but they created the next best thing. Of all the demonstrations I participated in that day, the Poop test was my favourite. Why? I know it’s not the most comfortable topic to chat and share about, but the Charmin team’s commitment to providing a quality product and constantly looking for ways to improve, made it easy to participate. Not to mention, my fellow Great Lengths Influencers were so fun to be around.

Below: Poop test using Charmin

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Charmin Ultra Soft or Ultra Strong?

While I can honestly use either with no complaints, I’m going to have to say I am Team Charmin Ultra Soft, which means by default (because I do most of the shopping) my household is also on the same team. P&G prides itself on quality and delivering the best product to customers and this was evident in every interaction I had with the Charmin Team. Who can say no to 2-ply TP, with super softness you can see and feel (along with its absorbency!). Charmin Ultra Soft also comes in Mega Rolls, so you get more value and you can change the roll less often!

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So that’s it! I had such an amazing experience! I left P&G headquarters that day inspired by their employees, their values and their commitment to providing top products.

Thanks for stopping by.