Category: travel

Wonder, Imagination and Creativity with Alice in Wonderland at the Shaw Festival

“If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there”   – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Get ready for an imaginative, mind blowing and visually stunning performance in Alice in Wonderland at the Shaw Festival.

Alice in Wonderland at the Shaw Festival

Many of us grew up with the tale of Alice in Wonderland (or maybe even the Disney production of the book) so we all know how on a beautiful summer day in 1862, a ten year old Alice and her two sisters are told a story about a young girl, a white rabbit and a trip down a rabbit hole into a whole new world. But many of us have never seen the story come to life in person. The Shaw brings this difficult story to life in a unique and exciting new manner.

Foster Imagination and Growth with Alice in Wonderland at the Shaw Festival

On an extremely hot summer day, we took a trip to the Shaw Festival in Niagara on the Lake. The sun was shining and the grounds were full of families, couples and individuals there on their own. The grounds around the Shaw Theatre are spectacular and it is worth it to arrive earlier and explore outside or even have a seat on their patio with a cool drink. My boys found their own special little spot which became our own little magical spot. We spent some time out there relaxing in the shade talking about the show we were about to see and just spending some time to unwind.

Foster Imagination and Growth with Alice in Wonderand at the Shaw Festival

When we took our seats, we could not wait  for the show to begin. The elaborate and detailed backdrop with Alice staring at you, gets you right in the mood for the show to start. As a complete side note, there were so many young girls dressed up like Alice – such a sweet sight! Be prepared – there is a good mix of children and adults a like in the theatre but they never distract the performance at all.

The story comes to life in song, incredible visual displays and humour. Alice in Wonderland is not an easy show to bring to life on stage but Peter Hinton brings it to life in a unique and jaw dropping way. They were able to shrink Alice, make her grow to astounding heights, capture her tears that threatened to drown everyone and even the mysterious Cheshire Cat who would pop in and out of scenes. How they managed to do this was incredible, it takes your breath away watching the scenes unfold.

The costumes matched the flair and extravagance that is Alice in Wonderland. Their characters bring these costumes to life, my favourite had to be the Queen of Hearts and her army of cards. Her army of cards were hilarious as they tried their best to please her and she cracked me up with her lines. We still at home tease each other with “Off with their head!” whenever someone is being naughty. Tara Rosling is a wonderful Alice with her charming personality and child like wonder. She ties the whole play together.

Alice in Wonderland is truly a special performance full of wonder, imagination, creativity and a uniqueness that is special to the Shaw Festival. The stage brings this wonderful story to life in a way that draws you into the play and captures your complete attention, leaving you wondering how did they just do that?! Alice in Wonderland at the Shaw Festival is truly a play that will spark the imagination from the youngest member of the house to the eldest and is a definite must see this season. The play is running at the Shaw Theatre until October 16th, 2016, so make sure you pick up your tickets and head to Niagara on the Lake to get in on this spectacular performance.

If you want to see how Alice in Wonderland came to life on stage, check out this awesome video:

“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality” – Lewis Carroll

Disclosure: I received tickets in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Challenging Myself with the 2016 Ford Flex

Challenging Myself with the 2016 Ford Flex

Three years ago marked an extremely difficult time in my life. I was in my first (and only – knock on wood) car accident. It was a cold and icy day and my car spun out on the on ramp to the highway. My car was a total write off, I had a concussion but even worse my confidence was shattered. I was scared of driving and felt too exposed in the larger cars that I used to love, like my husband’s Explorer.

My husband took me to Ford to let me sit in different cars to see if this could help me overcome my fear (God bless him he was a saint that day with his patience and the man who was helping us). I sat in a Focus and I fell in love. I felt safe again, as if the car was keeping me close and protecting me. This was exactly what I needed at that time to build my confidence in my driving skills, the highways and winter driving.

My only fault? I never pushed myself again to get out of this comfort zone. I would cry when my husband would try to encourage me to drive his Explorer (and when I mean cry, I mean huge donkey tears!). I was scared that I wouldn’t see other cars, I was scared that I couldn’t see far enough in front of me to stop in time and I felt too exposed. I knew this was irrational but I could not get over this fear, isn’t it funny how we let our emotions take over our mind?

Challenging Myself with the 2016 Ford Flex

This last week, I challenged myself out of my comfort zone when we picked up a 2016 Ford Flex to drive to the BConnected Conference in Ottawa. My husband was beyond excited to hear this would be the car we were driving as when we were picking my replacement car he had really wanted to go with the Flex (he loved the space). I was anxious with the size of it as it is quite bigger than my Focus but I was curious and really wanted to challenge myself out of my comfort zone.

Challenging Myself with the 2016 Ford Flex

The Ford Flex itself is a beauty of a car with clean, straight lines and lots of interior space that gives the whole family a sense of comfort and relaxation, especially on long trips. This was our first trip that there was not one complaint that their legs were sore, kicking each other or fighting over space for their toys. My back truly treasured those heated seats the whole way back. But the Flex is so much more than a beautiful, spacious car. It makes you a confident driver with the many added safety features.

So what made me so comfortable with the Ford Flex? These were the safety features that I fell in love with:

Side mirror blind spot warning lights that light up when a car is in your blind spot. This is especially useful on the highways (especially the 401 in Toronto!) as people can quickly come up into your blind spot sometimes undetected. This is one of my biggest fears in a large car that I won’t see a smaller car in my blind spot, this takes all the guessing out of it.

Challenging Myself with the 2016 Ford Flex

Collison warning with brake support where the car will alert you if it senses a potential collision with the car in front of you. A heads up display will light up on the windshield and if you don’t react in time the brakes will pre-charge and start to slow you down. It also does this one cruise control, which is a pretty neat feature we tested on the drive back from Ottawa.

Active park assist is one of my favourite features on Ford vehicles. I am not the best at parallel parking and I am not afraid to admit it. The Active Park Assist takes the guess work out of it by steering the wheel and guiding you through applying pressure to the accelerator and brake pedals. The centre console also has a screen that shows you the rear camera with tracking lines that show you the car’s trajectory if you continue on the current path as well as making a beeping noise when you get to close to an object/car/curb.

The large windows make a huge difference for lane changes, parking and just confidence in general, especially for someone like me who had a fear of driving larger cars. You can see all around you at any given time.

Challenging Myself with the 2016 Ford FlexThe bonus features?

The Ford Flex drives like a luxury vehicle, it actually reminded me of my husband’s Lincoln sedan he owned four years ago (and later I found out that the Flex is made in the same factory that produces the Lincoln models!). It was a smooth ride even on the bumpiest of roads and hugged every turn very well.

The powerfold third row seats were quite the hit in our home. With the push of one button, the seats would fold into stowing so we could pack all our bags in the trunk and another push of a button turned them into tailgate seats. How awesome would that be for the drive in theatres?! You can watch the seats in action here. I really liked that they were automatic because I just don’t have the time to fumble and try to yank seats down. This made the whole process simple and efficient – my two favourite words!

Challenging Myself with the 2016 Ford Flex

Our family fell in love with so many features of the Ford Flex but most importantly it helped me feel safe again in a larger vehicle. I have not felt that secure in a large vehicle since before my accident, which is an amazing feeling to have. We may have even come to an agreement on our next car when it is time to replace my Focus!

What feature of the 2016 Ford Flex impresses you the most?

Disclosure: We drove the Ford Flex to Ottawa free of charge, all opinions expressed are my own.

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Living Water Resort: A Home Away From Home at Blue Mountains

Living Water Resort: Your Home Away From Home

We love getting away to the Collingwood area for either a quick weekend getaway or a week-long adventure. There is so much to do in the region (not just skiing!) and we never get bored. Where we stay when we get away is just as important as what we do. On our last getaway this past weekend, we stayed for the first time at Living Water Resort.

Living Water Resort is part of the larger Cranberry Village that is located in the heart of Collingwood and a short five-minute drive to the Blue Mountain hills. The Cranberry Village has been family owned over the last twenty years by Larry Law who developed the Village into a residential and hospitality areas with the focus being on family and experiences. It is this family and experience model that really shines through when you enter the lobby and throughout your stay at Living Water Resort.

Living Water Resort: Your Home Away From Home

The Living Water Resort is off of the main road in Collingwood and was easy to locate with ample parking.  We checked in around four and the entire process was painless. While my husband and I checked in, our children relaxed in comfort in front of the fireplace and television watching sports (I swear they could have spent most of their time there!). Just a little ways down from the lounge was the fitness centre and pool, which we were able to have a quick glance in before heading upstairs. The kids were in awe of the huge slide that was in the pool which for part of it went outside of the building (every child and adults dream slide!).

We spent the night in an one bedroom suite, complete with full kitchen, living and dining area, full bath, washer and dryer with an adjoining one bedroom suite that had two beds, full bath and mini kitchen area. The kids were delighted that they each had their own bed in their own area of the suite (win win for kids and adults).

Living Water Resort: Your Home Away From Home

My personal favourite part of the stay? The view:

Living Water Resort: Your Home Away From Home

How incredible is that view? The windows in the living room spanned the wall so we could pull back the curtains and enjoy the relaxing marina view while sitting together in front of the fireplace and television. It was the most relaxing evening we spent together in a long time (and trust me after a long and active day at Scenic Caves it was much appreciated!).

My second favourite location in our suite, was the soaker tub and the huge shower with alternating lights in the shower head. I filled the tub with water, pulled the curtains up a tad and could relax with my coffee while viewing the calm of the world around me. It helped my sore muscles and unwind my mind after a busy day. If it wasn’t for my kids wanting breakfast, I think I could have spent an hour soaking in the bath.

Living Water Resort: Your Home Away From Home

The kitchen had everything you would ever need to make your own meals or in our case warm up some of the meals we had purchased in the Cranberry Village. The appliances were all new and high quality. I love how the fridge had the same sleek wood look to the doors so it effectively hides it while completing the modern look of the kitchen. The washer and dryer were located just between the kitchen and bathroom which was perfect to dry wet towels, clothes from the day and if you stayed a whole week, to ensure that you went home with clean clothes.

Living Water Resort: Your Home Away From Home

The overall look and feel of the suite was modern with a welcoming touch to invite you in. You literally feel like you are at home (just a whole lot nicer and in our case neater with no toys!). The suite has everything you can possibly need with the bonus of having the gym and pool downstairs. The resort also has an arcade and daily fitness classes.

While they are still currently building their in-house restaurant as part of the third phase of their completion, you can head over to the Cranberry Resort (it was under a five-minute drive from the hotel) to enjoy a meal at either Memories or the Courtyard Bistro. We enjoyed dinner at Memories and loved the service and quality of the food.

If you are heading out to the Collingwood area and are looking for a family oriented, full service hotel, make sure you check out Living Water Resort. Don’t forget to follow them on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with new information and deals.

Disclosure: We stayed at Living Water Resort in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Unleash Your Inner Winter Child at Scenic Caves Nature Adventures

Winter is all about the magic of snow falling, new adventures and the quiet beauty and silence of being outdoors. As an adult, I have learned to dread the drives in the snow and icy conditions, the layers of clothing on my kids and getting the snowsuits on just to have to pull it all off again because someone forgot to use the bathroom. It can be easy to forget the pure and simple beauty of winter! It is important to reconnect with that love and to share it with your children. This past weekend, we headed out to the trails at Scenic Caves Nature Adventures Nordic Centre and reconnected with our inner child to regain those lost memories and to just unwind and have fun with our boys.

Unleash Your Inner Winter Child at Scenic Caves

We visited the Scenic Caves Nature Adventures trails during the early fall and fell in love with the natural environment and history. There was just so much to do, see, learn and touch. We kept trying to picture the Nordic Centre but could not quite get the image in our head. What we experienced was far beyond expectations.

Unleash Your Inner Winter Child at Scenic Caves Nautre Adventures

Scenic Caves Nature Adventures is literally transformed into a winter wonderland with the hills to one side and a breath-taking view of the lake on the other side (the lake was a beautiful blue on Sunday that just drew our attention to it). The main lodge was transformed into a chalet style building with comfy couches, fireplaces and tables to relax, warm up and enjoy a snack before heading back out. Families (and individuals) can participate in either snowshoeing or skiing. The Nordic Centre provides rental equipment, that you can purchase as part of a package with your admission.

Unleash Your Inner Winter Child at Scenic Caves Nature Adventures Nordic Centre

We participated in both snow shoeing and cross-country skiing. My personal favourite was definitely the snowshoeing, mainly because my balance is awful and even more pronounced on skis! No matter how hard I tried, I kept overcompensating by leaning back, which of course led to my feet up in the air and me on my behind.

Unleash Your Inner Winter Child with Scenic Caves Nature Adventure

The snowshoe trails make up about ten kilometres of trails throughout the area and include a walk down to the Suspension Bridge. Walking across the bridge and the views it offers in winter is incredible (not to mention that much more nerve-wracking!). Our youngest was definitely the bravest and headed out across the bridge first. Along the way we took a lot of opportunities for snow ball fights, breaks on the side of the trails – which is quite peaceful to stop in the middle of the  trails, sit down on the side and just embrace the quiet, the trees and the nature around you.

Unleash Your Inner Winter Child With Scenic Caves Nature Adventures

The cross-country ski trails are divided into easy to moderate to more advanced. We stuck to the easy peasy trails (the real name!) and our incredible instructor, Marianne led the way. If you are going to head out cross-country skiing and it has been a little while since your last time on skis, I highly recommend spending the extra time with an instructor. She taught us much more than just how to navigate the trails but the grip of the bottom of the skis, how to tilt your knees and ankles and not to mention how to just laugh and have fun. I honestly think our youngest kept falling so she would come over to pick him and talk to him! He laughed the whole hour and a half we were out on the trail (which we were so proud of him for completing!). I was so proud of how fearless they were and how quickly they picked up what she was teaching them. Nothing stopped them on those trails (except for maybe me falling every time I stopped paying attention to my legs and arms and how they were moving!).

Unleash Your Inner Winter Child with Scenic Caves Natures Adventures

Make sure you leave yourself at least three hours to truly appreciate the whole experience and to ensure you have enough time on the trails to take in the nature and sights. The Nordic Centre has two warm up centres for you to take a break in, grab a coffee and quick rest before heading back out. The main centre has an outdoor fire pit (I love the smell of logs burning!) which gave us a chance to recover, drink some water but keep warm too.

While you are out on the trails, keep your eyes open for little critters (we so badly wanted to spot a porcupine!) but we did find these little prints near the front lodge:

Unleash Your Inner Winter Child at Scenic Caves

Make sure you follow Scenic Caves Nature Adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with trail openings and important information.

Disclosure: We received admission to Scenic Caves Natures Adventures to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Family Day Excitement at Kidapalooza Markham

Family Day weekend is quickly approaching and I am sure many of you are like me – eagerly planning out the weekend adventures. Keeping the kids entertained throughout the long weekend can sometimes be a task in itself.

Family Day Fun at Kidapalooza

Instead of trying to think of activities, movies or even crafts at home, why not get ready to pack up the kids and head on over to the Markham Fair Grounds for Kidapalooza. Kidapalooza is all about having fun together as a family, while keeping your child’s minds and bodies active. Think: dance parties, crafts, yoga and more!

The indoor Family Festival is being held from February 13th to the 15th and features over 35,000 square feet of activity stations, play zones, inflatables, performance stage and thirty plus vendors. The abundance of activities will have your family creating, exploring, playing and bonding. Your family can participate in soccer, ride through a bike trail, visit a petting zoo, take photos with princesses, magic shows and stage shows. Kidapalooza is setting up to be the largest Family Day event! So if you are in the Toronto, Burlington, Hamilton, Niagara areas get ready for some awesome family fun.

Important Details:

Saturday, February 13 from 10am to 7pm
Sunday, February 14 from 10am to 7pm
Monday February 15 from 9am6pm

Adult 18+ Tickets – $8
Child 2+ All Access Pass – $25
Children 1 and under are FREE

Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. Door tickets are CASH only with ATM’s available on-site. Parking is free (awesome bonus here).

My Canadian residents can now enter to win a family pack of tickets (two adults and two children) to attend Kidapalooza to discover first hand all the fun that awaits you. Please keep in mind that transportation is not provided, so it is important to ensure that you can attend the event before entering. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Additional Way to Win with Kidapalooza!

Making a mess is what kids do best, show us your pics to win the contest! Upload a photo of your child’s best/worst mess to instagram, Facebook or twitter and make sure to hashtag #bestmesscontest #kidapaloozafamfest for your chance to win!

Also visit us online at for an additional way to enter!

Family Fun at Kidapalooza

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