Category Archives: Reviews

Williams Fresh Café Giveaway

Holiday shopping can be exhausting and we all know this.  Yet we go out year after year and repeat the same behaviour:

  • We circle the parking lot at the mall, looking for a spot.  Forget looking for a spot upfront, we always expect to be miles from the front entrance
  • We spend hours trying to decide what to buy our co-worker , whose name we drew in the Secret Santa at work and whom you know nothing about
  • We walk around the mall, stand in lines for hours and then scour the parking lot to find our car in that spot you finally found over three hours ago

TAKE A BREAK THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

These all seem to be holiday necessities, but there is a silver lining around this cloud.  This light comes in the form of Williams Fresh Café and their fresh take on fast food. 

My husband and I stopped in at the Richmond Street location (in London) the other day for a quick-lunch break.   I ordered the Chicken Pot Pie and I must say, I highly recommend this menu item.  A light, flaky puff pastry sits upon a creamy chicken stew.  The two go together fabulously and leave you feeling warm inside; perfect for the winter weather.

I also chose the Strawberry Fields with Feta salad as my side item.  I love strawberries in salad so I knew I couldn’t go wrong.  And it didn’t disappoint.  The creamy poppy-seed dressing was the perfect complement to this fresh tasting mixture.

My husband went with a classic item and chose the Belgian Waffle with Maple Syrup.  He thought it was mouth-watering delicious.  You can’t go wrong with a tried and true Canadian favourite.

FREE WI-FI

Williams also has free Wi-Fi at all its locations.  I took my laptop with me and was able to get a little work done.  I actually began writing  this post there.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

To celebrate all that’s fresh this winter, City Mom and Williams Fresh Café, would like to offer you a chance to enjoy the unique Williams experience.  Enter to win a $50 gift card that can be used at any Williams location in South Western Ontario. 

Enter up to three times:

First Entry (must complete this before extra entries):   Visit www.williamsfreshcafe.com and view their menu.  Select your favourite item, come back to City Mom and leave a comment listing the item you choose.

You can then choose to head over to the Williams Fresh Cafe Facebook page, ‘Like’ the page, then come back to City Mom and let me know that you did so by leaving another comment.

 Finally, you can visit the City Mom Facebook page, ‘Like’ that page, come back to City Mom and leave another comment letting me know you did that too.

Contest Rules

  1.  Entries are limited to Canadian residents
  2. Additional entries will be removed if requirements are found not to be met
  3. One winner will be selected at random using random.org
  4. The winner will be notified at the email address used upon entry
  5. The contest will run from December 8, 2010 to December 14, 2010
  6. The contest will close at 6:00pm on December 14th, at which time a winner will be selected and notified

Good luck!

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Faking Your Holiday Baking

Christmas shopping, gift wrapping and tree decorating; these are all a must for the holiday season, but what about Christmas baking?  Who has the time on top of all this to make dozens of happy-looking gingerbread men and jolly old shortbread snowmen? 

Personally, as much as I love to bake, it moves to the bottom of my list during the holidays.  So today I am sharing my cheat notes with you because I assume you’re in the same boat. If you’re like me, you put a small amount of pressure on yourself to produce something that can be classified as Christmas baking.

Photo from presidentschoice.ca

Enter President’s Choice Shortbread Cookie Mix.  I picked up a box at my local grocery store and whipped up a batch of cookies in no time.  All you need to have on hand is a cup and a quarter of unsalted butter.  Mix the two together and voila…a batch of shortbread cookies.

I made mine following the package directions but you could easily roll out the dough and cut with Christmas-shaped cookies cutters.  Either way, the result is a light, flaky shortbread cookie.  They aren’t the most buttery tasting but definitely on the nice, light side.

I picked up a box on sale for $3 but they usually retail for $3.99.  Also look for the Gingerbread Cookie Mix.

I Love Bugs! Bobs & LoLo Ticket Giveaway

 CONGRATULATIONS TO ROBERT.  HE IS THE W INNER OF THE BOBS & LOLO TICKET GIVEAWAY.  ENJOY THE SHOW ROBERT!

Listen up London (literally) because on Saturday November 6th Treehouse TV’s Bobs & LoLo are coming to London and you’ll have a chance to win 2 tickets to their morning performance.  Contest information will be displayed at the bottom of this post. 

If you have a young child then you likely know Bobs & LoLo.  With catchy, toe-tapping songs like “I Love Bugs”, this singing duo quickly becomes a family favourite. 

In our home we all stop what we’re doing when one of Bobs & LoLo’s videos come on TV.  Little S loves to sing and dance along.  When I heard the news of their planned performances I was excited and I wanted to know more about them so I decided to ask. Bobs and Lolo shared the story of how they met, their inspirations and some of their future plans.

City Mom: Tell me a bit about yourselves.
Bobs & Lolo: We first connected at a Girl Guide camp on Vancouver Island when we were kids. After a fun-filled weekend of campfire sing-along’s, silliness and laughter, our friendship was sealed!  We went to different elementary schools but ended up filtering into the same high school (Dover Bay Secondary). Our friendship continued to grow from there and we began singing together in the school choir.  We also studied piano with the same music teacher and hit the courts together as power forward (Bobs) and shooting guard (Lolo) on the Dover Bay girls’ basketball team. Go Dolphins Go!

CM: How did Bobs & LoLo come to be?
B&L: We didn’t start our B&L adventures with a real plan; it really just evolved from our friendship and a mutual interest in working with children. “Bobs & LoLo” were actually our nicknames in high school, so we were B&L long before songwriting and children’s entertainment was introduced to our lives.  

Before we started our musical adventures, Robyn (Bobs) was teaching elementary school prior to which she had completed a degree in linguistics at the University of Victoria and a Bachelor of Education at UBC. Lorraine (Lolo) previously worked in the fields of environmental education and non-profit fund development.  Her academic background includes a Bachelor of Human Kinetics (Exercise Science) from UBC.

Songwriting and performing really started out as a side project for us. It was a fun way to create some content for our jobs working with children.  We never dreamed it would lead to running our own small business much less national television!

Our very first show was in the spring of 2003 at an event hosted by the Vancouver Aquarium for patients from the BC Children’s Hospital. We had only written 5 songs at that point and we volunteered to basically sing them over and over throughout the event. That first performance opportunity led to us doing lots of local birthday parties which eventually led to our first CD.  That led to bigger shows and so on. 

Our biggest “break” to date has definitely been the broadcast of our music videos on Treehouse TV. We feel so fortunate to have been able to get our On Your Feet DVD in front of the right folks in Toronto.  The opportunity to connect with families across the country through Canada’s national preschool network has been amazing.

While the partnership with Treehouse is still relatively new, the TV exposure has already opened up new performance opportunities for us, and we’ve been able to build our CD and DVD distribution beyond Western Canada. We’re hoping this is just the start, and we’ll be able to keep things go, go, growing in the upcoming years.

CM: What is it about your songs and performances that you think children like so much?
B&L: We put a lot of energy into making our music educational, family focused and listener friendly for all ages. We want our music to engage and inspire children to learn more about the topic at hand, to care about the world around them and above all to get up and dance!

We think the kids really respond to the music first and the storyline of the songs  second. We also think the kids really enjoy connecting with us as ‘real’ people given that they often live in a world filled with animated or make-believe characters.

CM: What message are you hoping to share with children?
B&L: Our main goal is to really just inspire kids to care about the world around them. We try to use the tools of music, movement and make-believe to connect children with positive messaging about the natural world.  At the same time we want to show them that their actions can make a difference for themselves, the people around them and the planet. It’s conservation messaging at a level that’s appropriate for preschoolers.

CM: What do you like most about being Bobs & LoLo?
B&L: Performing for young audiences is by far the best part!  The things kids say, the way they move and the endless energy our audiences bring to our shows is rewarding, inspiring and motivating. We can both honestly say that we would not be performing or putting in the long hours behind-the-scenes without the kids cheering us on (parents too)!

CM: What is your favourite Bobs & LoLo song?
B&L: It’s hard for us to pick a favourite. The choice for us really comes down to the children`s top picks. Our current favourite songs to perform are Raindrop Pop (they really seem to love this one!), I Love Bugs (interpretive bug dancing by preschoolers is awesome!) and Cindy Seahorse (the best cuddle song ever!).

CM: Do you write your own songs?   Where do you get your inspiration for writing them?
B&L: We do write all of our own songs. We write about things we love like nature, friendship and family.  We usually just try to tell a story with the songs and the lyrics and music come together naturally.  It’s a really organic process for us. We don’t follow a formula or have a real system for songwriting. Writing the lyrics is a fun, creative process that we like to do together. Sometimes the final version of a song is completely different from what we started with and other times we come up with something that works right away. Songwriting is a nice break from the regular office work and occasionally it’s a good excuse to enjoy a bottle of red wine.

CM: What does the future hold for Bobs and Lolo?
B&L: We’re putting together some ideas for a fourth album that we hope to release in the early New Year. We also have many upcoming performances including our shows in London and Brampton this week.  We have a heap of holiday events on the west coast. We are also looking to continue building our relationship with Treehouse TV, and we hope to produce some new content with them down the road. On a personal note, we’re both keen to start families.

Bobs & LoLo Ticket Giveaway
Enter to win a set of Bobs & LoLo tickets.  Tickets are for the 11am performance on Saturday, November 6th at Aeolian Hall in London.  Note:  Performances do not have assigned seating.

How to Enter
Leave a comment and include your name and you or your child’s favourite Bobs & LoLo song. Check out song titles and sample tracks at bobsandlolo.com.

Contest Details
The contest will be open until Thursday November 4th at 6pm ET.  A winner will be selected at random using random.org.  The winner will be notified at the email address used when entering the contest.  The winner will have until 9am on Friday November 5th to accept the prize by responding to the notification email.  If the winner is unable to accept the prize another random winner will be selected.

Good luck!

Find Bobs & LoLo:
Web:  www.bobsandlolo.com
Twitter:  @BobsAndLoLo
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/BobsandLoLo

Ticket Information: Tickets are only $15

The Power of the Alphabet

Let me ask you, does everyone take a multivitamin supplement each day?

Maybe I’m asking an obvious question.  This is something I only recently started doing myself.  Of course I did take my prenatal vitamin religiously while pregnant and breastfeeding.  Unfortunately I fell out of the habit when life as a busy Mom took over.  I know; excuses, excuses.

I had convinced myself that I was getting all of my daily nutrients through the foods I was eating but clearly I wasn’t.  I use the word ‘clearly’ because since I have started with my daily regimen, I have really noticed a difference.

For example, just last week, my sister asked me if I had been tanning.  The answer to that was no.  I refuse to give wrinkles any type of advantage.  The night she asked, I would have said I didn’t look my best.  It was the end of the day and I was tired. I was puzzled, but then it dawned on me; the multivitamin!

I have also noticed that my cravings for sweet snacks have significantly decreased.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d still choose chocolate over a rendezvous with Christian Bale but it’s not a do-or-die situation.  My body had been trying to tell me something, and I wasn’t listening.

Overall, I look better and feel healthier.  They say is takes 28 days to create a habit.  After 15 consecutive days of swallowing a One A Day Women’s Multivitamin supplement I am well on my way.  The Women’s blend is specially formulated to support healthy bones and breast tissue and includes 50% of our daily Calcium requirement.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

  • Vitamin A helps our eyesight and a deficiency of this vitamin can lead to blindness
  • Vitamin B6 (& biotin) works as an anti-aging agent by preventing greying of hair and hair loss
  • Vitamin B12 can support and increase the rate of our metabolism
  • Vitamin C is an antioxidant and can protect your body from free radicals which may cause heart disease and cancer
  • Vitamin D has been associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer in women
  • Vitamin E can help to promote healing and skin hydration

So if you don’t already have a daily habit of eating your alphabet, now is the time to start. With our chaotic, 21st century lives we can’t always count on getting all the goods from our foods.  Popping a pill each day will ensure your overall wellbeing.

Happy swallowing!

For More Information:  One A Day Womens

Smack That!

Do you desire magazine-perfect lips to flaunt or to kiss?

Thursday’s Waste Reduction tip comes with a promise to both women and men.  This incentive will be sure to provide the women with a set of shiny, luscious, smack-able lips and the men in their lives will reap the benefits.  Contribute to the environment and waste minimization and receive a reward for doing it. 

BACK TO M-A-C PROGRAM
When you return any six M-A-C cosmetic packages to a M-A-C counter or
M-A-C online, you will receive a brand new lipstick in any shade free of cost.

So start saving your empty eye shadows, compacts and lipstick tubes ; cash them in for an unexpected freebie and give yourself a little pat on the back for being environmentally considerate!

Four more days to enter the 3M Filtrate Filter Giveaway.

Back to M-A-C Program Information

Photograph courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net. Photographed by Salvatore Vuono.

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Autumn Inspirations

Fall is my favourite time of year. I adore the crisp cool weather, the changing colours on the trees and the smells of burning leaves, freshly baked pumpkin pie and roasted turkey dinners; all things that autumn brings. This time of year always inspires me, and when I feel inspired I love to cook and bake. This past Saturday I woke up with a plan, and that plan involved making magic happen in the kitchen so I set off to the market to collect my ingredients. 

The Covent Garden Market has not received enough attention on City Mom. We are  really lucky to have such an eclectic, quaint and convenient market so close to home. There are so many fabulous things to see and do at the market and some amazing food vendors. I started out by purchasing a Halloween costume for little S at a 100% Canadian children’s clothing vendor called Happy Wear. All the clothes are made here in London. It feels so great to buy and support locally.  

Next I explored the food vendors. I scoured store after store and became inspired to make my two menu choices completely organic. This is not something I normally do. I buy some organic items here and there at my local grocery store but (due mainly to the cost and availability of organic ingredients) I usually go for the more cost-friendly option of non organic so I was rather surprised when I fell in love with a store called Homeopathy London in the northeast corner of the market. I found everything you could ever need to care for your family in the organic, enviro-friendly format from chlorine-free diapers to complete skin care lines for women. There was an entire section devoted to babies & children with names like Seventh Generation, Erba Organics, Weleda & Green Beaver Company.  It was confirmed for me that cost truly is a big factor when buying organic. For example a 32 pack of Broody Chick 100% natural, fully compostable diapers is $27.95 in comparison to $17.97 for a 140 pack of Pampers Baby Dry at a store like Walmart. Obviously you get what you pay for and the more expensive choice is clearly the better one for your child and for the environment but you need to have the budget available to shop in this manner. I long for the means to shop like this on a regular basis. 

But I digress…back to my dinner. I found all of my dry ingredients in this store, my fresh organic vegetables at Havaris Produce and my meat at Field Gate Organics. After a quick validation of my parking voucher (parking is offered free for two hours on weekends and thirty minutes on weekdays) I was heading back home to create my masterpieces. I’m sharing the recipes because they were both so delicious and perfect on a cool Fall evening.  

Autumn Beef Barely Soup
2 lbs ground beef (I used extra lean)
1 large onion chopped
½ cup chopped celery
3.5 cups water
29 oz beef broth*
1 cup barley
29 oz canned diced tomatoes
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
*I used 1 tsp of Better Than Bouillon organic beef base to 8 oz of boiling water as an alternative to the beef broth.  

Directions:
1. In a Dutch oven, cook the ground beef, onions and celery over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the water and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Add barley and simmer for 10-20 minutes.
2. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 1 to 2 hours.
This recipe yields 3 quarts and is perfect for freezing. Thaw in fridge. Place in a saucepan and heat through. There, two meals already sorted out for your busy week ahead.  

Autumn Beef Barley Soup

Chocolate Pumpkin Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups sugar
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
4 eggs
15 oz canned pumpkin*
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup canola oil
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
*I used a 15 oz can of Farmer’s Market Organic pumpkin pie mix as an alternative to the pumpkin pie spice and canned pumpkin.  

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In another bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin, water and oil; mix into dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in chocolate chips.
2. Pour into two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 70 – 75 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 – 15 minutes before removing from pans.  

This recipe yields two loaves. Wrap one in foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.  

Chocolate Pumpkin Bread

Note: Soup is best enjoyed with a glass of red wine and pumpkin bread with a hot cup of coffee. Mmmmm! Happy eating and Happy Fall!