1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

Blogs

childrenclothes-featured

12 ways to save money on back-to-school clothes

Suzanne Gardner | posted Friday, Aug 22nd, 2014

Back-to-school shopping is often a source of dread for parents — mostly because they’re afraid of spending way too much money. It’s easy to go overboard once you hit the mall, but we want to help you keep more of your hard-earned dollars in your wallet! Before you hit the shops, check out our key ways to ease the burden on your bank account, while still getting the clothes you need.

1. Start by going through your child’s current wardrobe. This is the most important first step! Before doing anything else, go through your child’s closet and drawers to get a clear picture of what fall clothes they already have and what needs to be replaced.

2. Make a list — and stick to it! Now that you’ve gone through your child’s current wardrobe, make a list of what you need to buy to supplement their existing clothes. Whether you make that list on a piece of paper or on your phone, don’t stray from that list! Once you start doing that, it’s a slippery slope towards going way over your budget. And speaking of budgets…

3. Make a budget — and stick to it! Once you’ve made your list, you can figure out what your budget is. Some might find it easier to make an overall budget for your shopping trip, while others might prefer to break down the spending into categories such as shoes, shirts, pants, jackets, etc. To help you stick to your budget, try explaining to your child what your budget is and why, so that they might not bug you into buying that really expensive pair of shoes…well, it’s worth a try, right?

4. Spend more money and buy less often. This might sound counter-intuitive to saving money, but if you shell out a bit more cash for a better quality item, it’ll hopefully last a bit longer in your child’s closet. If you can, choose cotton over polyester, merino wool over acrylic, and maybe even get that sweater in a slightly bigger size so that your child will fit in it for another year!

5. Recoup your costs by selling good quality clothes. If your child has grown out of some clothes that are still in good, wearable condition, you can sell them to used clothing stores, consignment stores, or at a yard sale, as a way of making back some of your initial spendings. (Donating your child’s old clothes to a charitable organization is also a great idea!)

6. Host a clothing swap. Do you know a lot of other parents who might be looking to save a few bucks on new clothes for their kids? Host a clothing swap afternoon where parents can bring old, good quality clothes that don’t fit their kids anymore, and exchange them with someone else’s old gems!

7. Check out secondhand stores or thrift shops. Again, this is another great way to get some good quality, used clothes at a lower price. If you’re lucky, you might find some brand name pieces at discounted prices!

8. Buy later! Sure, you’ll want to get a few nice new items for your child for the first week back at school, but if you save the bulk of your shopping for a few weeks later, you’ll be able to take advantage of fall sales!

9. Put a limit on splurge items. If you’re bringing your child to the mall with you, it’s inevitable that they’re going to see a few really pricey items that they think they absolutely need to have. So before you hit the stores, tell your child that they’re only getting one or two splurge items — and stick to it!

10. Focus on basic, timeless pieces and only mix in a few trendy items per season. If you stock your child’s closet with a lot of jeans, khakis, basic tees and sweaters, a few new accessories can make the outfit look brand-new again.

11. Extend the season with layering items. A cute summer dress can be worn straight into fall just by adding leggings and a cardigan!

12. Keep an eye out for sales so that you can shop smart year-round. Don’t leave all of your back-to-school shopping for the end of August. Try to keep an eye on the sales so that you can take advantage of great deals all year round!

How do you save money on your back-to-school clothes shopping? Share your tips in the comments below!

Mairlyn Smith’s tips for food safety in the home

Cityline | posted Tuesday, Aug 19th, 2014

vegetableswash-featured

We love that Cityline viewers like to prepare and cook so many meals at home, but it’s important to do so safely! Protect yourself and your family from food poisoning (something over 4 million Canadians suffer from every year!) with these basic food safety rules from Mairlyn Smith.

CLEANING:

  • Make sure your hands and the counters are clean before and after touching food.
  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, sing a chorus of “Happy Birthday” to yourself, or pretend you are in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy just before a surgical procedure.
  • Designate a cutting board for fruits and vegetables and a separate one for meat, fish, and poultry.
  • Never transfer cooked meat, fish, or poultry onto a plate that was used for raw meat, fish, or poultry.
  • Avoid kitchen sponges — they are a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Wipe counters with paper towels OR change your dishcloth daily. Wash the dishcloth in hot soapy water and air dry.
  • To sanitize counters use Health Canada’s recommendation of 5 mL/1 tsp bleach to 750/2.5 L water.
  • Wash your reusable grocery bags often.
  • Wash out your cooler bags often.
  • Wash out lunch bags every day.
  • Rinse all produce under cold running water just before use including hard-peeled vegetables and fruits, i.e. watermelon, squash, etc.
  • Use a vegetable brush on skinned produce like potatoes, apples, pears, etc.

CHILLING:

  • Let the food safety rule “keep hot foods hot and cold food cold” become your food safety mantra. The temperature danger zone for food is between 4 °C (40 °F) to 60 °C (140 °F). Keep foods above or below these temperatures.
  • Keep your refrigerator at 40°F/4°C or lower and your freezer at -18 °C (0 °F) or lower.
  • Bring raw meat, fish, or poultry home from the grocery store and refrigerate as soon as possible or within two hours in the cooler months. If it’s in the summer, put it in ASAP.
  • Store raw meat, fish, and poultry away from other foods in separate containers to prevent any raw juices dripping on other foods. Best place to store them is on the bottom shelf.
  • Store raw meat, fish, or poultry no longer than two to three days in the refrigerator. If it’s any longer than that, freeze and thaw as needed.
  • When freezing foods, place in a freezer bag or container to avoid freezer burn and label with the date.
  • Don’t overcrowd your fridge as you need proper cold air circulation.
  • Thawing: even though your mom may have thawed frozen meat, fish, and poultry on the kitchen counter, doesn’t mean it gets the green light. NEVER thaw anything on the kitchen counter. Thaw in the fridge, in the microwave, or in a sink full of cold water changing the water every 30 minutes.

COOKING:

  • The only way to tell that meat, fish, and poultry is cooked is with a food thermometer. Investing in one is the most important tool in food safety you will have.
  • Have a pot of chili on the stove for a crowd? Keep hot foods at or above 60ºC (140°F).
  • Cooked meat, fish, and poultry should be stored in separate containers within one – two hours after being cooked and should be eaten within two to four days. Remember you can’t smell bacteria until it’s so far gone that food poisoning is sure to occur. When in doubt, throw it out.

For more of Mairlyn’s great tips, check out the videos here at Cityline.ca

Weeknight dinners to make life easier when school’s in

Suzanne Ellis | posted Thursday, Aug 14th, 2014

asparagusgrilled-featured

There’s hockey practice and homework, piano lessons and playdates with friends. So how do you get a healthy and tasty dinner on the table for your kids and still ensure a reasonable bedtime?

Our friends at Cityline.ca have assembled a few of their favourite weeknight-friendly recipes from their roster of trusted guest experts — they’re quick, easy, and full of flavours your whole family will love. Use this page as a cheat sheet next time you’re not sure what to make!

Meatless and delicious: We love making at least one meal a week a meat-free one. These meatless dishes are filling on their own — but it never hurts to add some extra veggies or a salad on the side!

Mexican egg bake

Roasted portobello mushroom burger

Blistered corn, asparagus and pesto pizza

Maple Cheddar Granny Smith grilled cheese on the BBQ

Weeknight roasts: Roasts sound like a Sunday affair, we agree, but that needn’t be the case! The best part about a roast is that most of the work is hands-off, meaning you can help the little ones with homework while the main dish cooks away!

Weeknight roast chicken

Weeknight roast beef with carrots and spuds

One-pan wonders: Can we all agree that the worst part of cooking on weeknights (or any night, really) is the clean-up? You will love these dishes first because they’re delicious, and second because the clean

One-pot chicken with spring vegetables

One-pan pasta with tomatoes and basil

Provencal pan salmon

Making the most of leftovers: Here’s a great case for making too much food one night — the extras can help you get a head-start on the next evening’s meal. Leftover roast chicken, pork, or beef can be made over into a wrap, a veggie-packed dinner bowl, or a simple pasta dish.

Dinner bowl ideas

Chicken pesto pasta with roasted tomatoes

Everyone loves a burger: Your kids won’t argue when burgers are on the menu — set up a station with toppings so that everyone can build their own.

Oven-roasted burgers

Sweet potato and chickpea quinoa burgers

Quick-cooking seafood: Seafood dishes save us when we’re especially pressed for time! Most filets take only 10-15 minutes to cook through, and shrimp are even faster if you can find ones that are already shelled and deveined.

Chili mint shrimp noodle salad

Farfalle with creamy tuna and red pepper

Mahi mahi tacos

On the grill: While the weather’s nice, take advantage of the ease of BBQing. The grill heats up quickly, and also means easy clean-up. We love that we can often grill our main AND our sides!

Grilled salmon with orzo

Grilled shrimp salad

Citrus grilled chicken with pineapple salad

We love to hear your ideas! What’s your favourite weeknight dinner? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.

For more great back-to-school coverage from Cityline, click here.

How I tackled Tough Mudder: Part 2

Alexandra Davies | posted Thursday, Aug 7th, 2014

girlpresentinghealthyfood-featured

Missed part 1 of Ali’s Tough Mudder journey? Click here to catch up!

With Tough Mudder in the back of my mind, I was determined as ever to be as prepared as possible. In order to feel and look my best, it was time to clean up my diet and hit the gym.

I’ll admit I didn’t take the smartest route at the beginning. I was so set on making HUGE changes, that I got a little (a lot) carried away. I went to the gym multiple times a day and drank green smoothies for almost every meal. I do not suggest this method. Ever. I was so focused on achieving immediate results in a short period of time that I didn’t take my body’s health into consideration. Sure I lost some weight, but I was so tired, moody, and even felt super weak despite my countless hours hammering it out at the gym.

THE (“LIFESTYLE CHANGE”) DIET

Clearly, I was doing something wrong. For the amount of work I was putting in at the gym, I wasn’t getting enough fuel to compensate. I cut back the multiple classes and threw back in solid foods, but I kind of went overkill. PB&J sammies would accompany my green smoothie breakfasts, bruschetta sometimes made appearances on my dinner plate, and the midday snacks were increasing quickly. Here I go again…I had to put the brakes on a repeat of first year university.

This is when a close friend talked to me about a diet she was doing and loved, something she called “Paleo.” I was intrigued by the idea and inspired by her raving reviews, so I decided to commit the month of June to being strictly paleo. This eating plan meant no dairy (farewell, cheese), no grains (sayonara, sourdough bread) and no sugar (so long, my beloved chocolate almonds).

The first week was the hardest. Conveniently, National Donut Day fell on the third day of my new diet and, of course, the office celebrated. All I wanted to do was bite into that sugary, doughy goodness —but I refused to give in. After only eating salads and pieces of chicken day after day, I started researching ways to make this diet not suck. From there, everything started getting a little easier. I found dozens of paleo food blogs that provided hundreds of fun recipe ideas. I ended up making paleo meals that you wouldn’t even believe were paleo. I made Pad Thai, vanilla-chai pancakes, and spiced pumpkin muffins, people! How cool is that!? It’s all about the ingredients you use.

The hardest part of paleo was the inconvenience of meals. I had to make everything from scratch using natural, organic ingredients — making it hard to whip up anything in a hurry after a long day at work. Though my meals take their sweet time to be made, the best part of paleo was how it made me feel — I have never felt so content inside. Generally, it made me happier, which was really my goal in the end.

THE WORKOUT PLAN

I have never been someone to loathe working out; in fact, I thrive off it. Whenever I’m upset or just need a pick me up, you can find me at the gym or running around my neighbourhood. The issue was the intensity — a light jog here and there wasn’t going to cut it. I knew if I wanted to keep up with the rest of the Mudders, I’d have to up my workout game. I needed to focus on cardio and major muscle building. I wasn’t looking to become a body builder, but I wanted to be able to do an actual push-up. I created my own personal “Summer Workout Schedule” made up of early AM fitness classes, running intervals, and even some hot yoga thrown in there. My absolute favourite is the Body Combat class at GoodLife. My good golly, this is an amazing class to release any pent up stress or worry. Every Tuesday morning I was able to beat up the air and feel like a real-time karate kid without looking insane (well, I probably looked insane, but the class was always packed so I blended in…hopefully).

I even took it a step further and signed myself up for a TRX bootcamp class. Though I’m still unsure of what it stands for, this was the hardest workout I’ve ever endured. A TRX workout simply uses your own body weight to do a zillion different exercises, all while suspended by two straps. After 12 gruesomely hard sessions, I felt a huge difference in my core and strength — and heck yes, I can do real push-ups now!

But what would be a good story without a little hiccup, am I right? TRAGEDY STRIKES! (Dun dun dunnn!)

Remember that pesky herniated disc of mine from way back when? Well, it just had to make an appearance a month away from Tough Mudder. Major buzzkill x100. How did I do it, you ask? I went to bed. I innocently went to sleep and woke up with a very sore back. I still have no idea what dream I had, but it must have involved some kick-ass parkour.

My workout plan was halted, along with my motivation. I was beyond upset, and very worried I wouldn’t be ready/capable of doing Tough Mudder (you can probably hear my heart breaking into a million pieces from wherever you are reading this). I went straight to my physiotherapist who has dealt with all my past injuries, including my year-long recovery of the herniation. After about a week of appointments, taking a forced break from my intense workout schedule, and resorting to only a couple of back exercises and stretches, I finally felt better. The constant pain was gone, but I was very wary on stepping foot in the gym. Making sure I took it easy, I slowly started introducing  more exercises to my days. At this point, I wasn’t focused on muscle building and running X number of miles as fast as possible — it was about doing simple exercises with perfect form, ultimately protecting my back from any further injury. Though it was extremely discouraging to take my workouts down a bunch of notches, I knew it was for the best if I wanted to be able to endure the craziness of the Tough Mudder course.

From this day, Tough Mudder is in exactly 17 days. And yes, I am totally freaking out.

I’ll be back with part 3 after I compete on Saturday, August 16th! Wish me luck!

More health coverage at Cityline.ca

Your fave cold drinks for a HOT day

Cityline | posted Thursday, Jul 31st, 2014

paychendrinks-featured

A hot cup of tea or coffee keeps you warm on cold days, but in the summer it’s a whole different story. What if we told you that you could make your own favourite beverage to keep you cool and refreshed even on the hottest summer days? Here are Pay Chen’s tips and ideas for making delicious cold drinks at home without all the fuss!

ICED TEA
This is super easy to make, cheaper than buying in the store, plus you are able to control the sugar content by adding only natural fruits and flavours!

Pay’s tips:

  • Brew your tea stronger than you would drink it hot. Use more tea instead of letting it brew longer (letting it brew longer can make it bitter).
  • Add sugar to the tea when it’s hot so that it dissolves – it will be grainy if you try to add sugar when the tea is cold. Or make a simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar) to sweeten your cold tea.
  • Use your favourite loose leaf tea or tea bags and enjoy!

TEA SMOOTHIE
Smoothies are a quick go-to breakfast or refreshing drink that are great for kids, too!

Pay’s tips:

  • Mix it up by using your favourite green tea or fruity tea.
  • Use seasonal fresh fruits, or frozen berries for a quick, frothy drink.

COLD COFFEE
No need to spend $5 on your favourite iced coffee! Save yourself the dough by simply making your own! There are tons of ways to mix it up just the way you like.

Pay’s tips:

  • Pour coffee into ice cubes and add that to milk or iced coffee for added flavour.
  • Remember to keep your coffee strong because ice will water it down (or use coffee ice cubes!).

For more of Pay’s great tips, check out her video demonstration below!

Click here for more great summer entertaining ideas from Cityline!

Forget camping, go glamping!

Cityline | posted Tuesday, Jul 29th, 2014

shoanajensenglamping-featured

Does the thought of camping send shivers down your spine? Sure, we all love the great outdoors, but living out there for days (or even weeks!) could sound like a total nightmare. No phones, no electricity, pesky mosquitoes, and sleeping on a rocky surface — no, thank you! As it turns out, there is an alternative to camping (and no, it doesn’t mean a 5-star hotel).

Let us introduce you to “glamping.” Glamping means luxurious camping. What does that even mean, and how is that even possible? Well, let Shoana Jensen tell you herself! She has provided the essentials to have the perfect glamping trip! Check out her 6 must-haves and get packing!

For more great glamping tips, click here and check out Shoana’s video below:

How I tackled Tough Mudder: Part 1

Alexandra Davies | posted Tuesday, Jul 22nd, 2014

alexandradavies-featured

I wouldn’t consider myself to be a superstar athlete. Though I competed eight years competitively in synchronized swimming (and no, synchro is not anything like what you saw in Austin Powers), I was a strong swimmer, but pretty much a weakling in everything else. I was able to eat all the bread/pasta/pastries I wanted without gaining any weight—in fact, I didn’t even know what refined carbs were, or that they don’t do any favours for your waistline. My practice would burn it all off anyways, so I was set. But then the worst thing that can happen to an aspiring Olympic athlete happened: I was forced out of my hopeful synchro career thanks to a wonky lunge-twist that resulted in a herniated disc. Major buzzkill.

With being pretty well immobile for a couple weeks, and forbidden from practising with my team, the carbs moved in and decided to stay. With university just around the corner, I did what I could to keep myself in decent shape (and mainly to avoid gaining 300 pounds). I got a GoodLife membership, bought all the Jillian Michaels’ fitness videos, and even took up running. I was determined as ever, and there was no way I was gaining any more weight.

But alas, I did exactly that once I hit university. First year proved to be where my fitness regime died a slow painful death. From the alcohol to the copious amounts of tater tots conveniently placed inside my residence’s cafeteria, I was on a one-way trip to Fatville with the dreaded freshman 15 (okay, 30…) to keep me company.

THE PLAN

Something had to be done. In what physically and mentally felt like a slump, I started jotting down things I knew would make me happy. This resulted in the creation of my very own bucket list. The first thing on the list was to compete in aTough Mudder race. I figured that a healthy body and Tough Mudder went hand in hand, so it would be a two-bird-one-stone type of deal. On November 12, 2013 I took the plunge and signed myself up to compete in the Toronto Tough Mudder on August 16, 2014.

Now, if you do not know what Tough Mudder is, I’ll sum it up in a few words: omg, mud, dirt, fire, pain, ice cold water. Sounds dreamy, right? You’re probably questioning my sanity at this point, but there was something about this specific race that lured me in—I needed that rush, I needed that Tough Mudder headband, and I needed to feel the accomplishment of fulfilling my dream.

Before I began training, I knew two things had to change: my eating habits and my workouts. A Tough Mudder course incorporates more than just running for countless kilometres on end. All together, the course runs for 18-20 km with various types of obstacles you and your team must conquer. And I’m not talking ‘run through these tires’ type of obstacles—I’m talking trudging through trenches caged by barbed-wire, jumping through flames, and crawling through muddy water dodging electric wires that feel as though you are getting a jump start. CLEARLY I had to up my exercise game so my body could endure all of this madness, but first I needed to clear up my diet.

Stay tuned for Part 2 on Cityline.ca where I cover my training and diet plan!

So you’re moving out — now what?

Cityline | posted Thursday, Jul 10th, 2014

couplehousekeys-featured

The weather is heating up and so is the real estate market which means moving season starts bustling from coast to coast. The great thing about moving is that you have the chance for a fresh start, but that doesn’t mean you need to buy everything new. Depending on the stage of your life you are in – and we often move because our needs and stage of life is changing – you will need to refocus your décor to reflect those changes.

Two major moves in your life are First Digs and Coupling Up. We’ve gathered a few tips and tricks to help movers of all stages get settled into their new homes, plus some essential packing tips for that first night!

First New Digs

Moving out of a family home and into your very own place brings with it many firsts – like being responsible for cleaning and cooking! While decorating a new apartment is important, so are the basics:

KITCHEN

  • When shopping for the kitchen, don’t overspend on complete dinnerware sets; one or two plates, bowls, cups and mugs will meet your everyday needs.
  • Look for pieces with colour and pattern that reflect your style, because even a tiny food prep area can be chic. You’re only one person, so if it’s a funky mug, it’s just one funky mug, etc.
  • This is also the time to buy a few versatile kitchen utensils such as wooden spoons (stash them in a cute canister) and even a small French press will meet your coffee needs without taking up the amount of counter space that a full-size coffee machine takes up.
  • You may not even have your “own” cleaning products yet. Create a cleaning kit or caddy with all of your supplies in one bucket or metal caddy.

BEDROOOM

  • A lack of storage space is no excuse for disorder! Look for items that serve double duty like a garment rack and hamper that provides a place for both clean and dirty laundry.
  • Especially if you are in a bachelor suite, the bedroom sometimes is your living room. Consider using a twin bed as a daybed, and choose bedding that will also look great with cushions on it functioning as your living room sofa. The other thing with bedding is that it’s a great way to add colour and pattern to a space, on a budget. And it’s also something you can take with you if you move to a new apartment.
  • Storage pieces, boxes, baskets are also always key for tucking away items that would otherwise have nowhere to go when space is limited.

LIVING ROOM

  • People assume that small spaces require small furniture, but that’s not always the best approach. If you have space for a regular sofa, you won’t regret it. Plus it won’t be something temporary that you will only use for a few years, you can grow with it.
  • Sometimes landlords restrict painting in a rental unit, so artwork becomes more important than ever and doesn’t have to cost a lot. There are tons of options and this will really make your new home away from home feel more personal. If you’re not allowed to hammer in nails, adhesive hooks are great in a pinch.
  • Scatter rugs or a sophisticated cowhide are a great way to cover up unsightly broadloom.

Coupling Up

KITCHEN

  • When two spaces merge into one, creating cohesion is key. Edit and purge mismatched duplicates and upgrade items like cookware and dinnerware to complete sets that will have you ready to host your first dinner party as a couple.
  • Perhaps your style is evolving and you want dishware that is a bit more grown-up. There is a lot of casual dinnerware that will feel chic and mature even though it doesn’t need to be fine china.
  • Similarly, you may not yet be in the gravy boat stage of entertaining, but could use a few great platters and or salad servers.

 BEDROOM

  • Sharing a home with your partner also means sharing precious closet space! Avoid a war over the wardrobe by switching out wooden hangers for super-thin felted ones to maximize closet capacity when combining clothing.
  • He may have had man bedding (Star Wars?) and you may have had something frilly. Now is the time to create a soothing couples retreat with gender neutral bedding that will appeal to both of you.

 LIVING ROOM

  • It’s all about balancing masculine and feminine details as you merge your belongings. He may have had a mod, navy blue sofa, but you can soften it up with more feminine accent pillows. The same theory could apply to a creamy tufted sofa and you add more masculine cushions.
  • Now that you are flat-mates, celebrate your shared life together by displaying photographs of places you’ve been as a couple. This may also be the time in your life, pre-mortgage and kids, when you have disposable income to spare for travel.

Packing a First-Night Box

  1. Bed linens for each bed that needs to be used that night
  2. Cleaning supplies
  3. Paper plates and cutlery
  4. Flashlight
  5. Paper napkins
  6. Non-perishable snacks
  7. Toiletries (including hand soap)
  8. Towels
  9. Toys for children and pets

A few other things that you would want: trash bags, tools, one change of clothes for each family member, light bulbs, and don’t forget your cellphone and charger!

 

Courtesy Tamara Robbins Griffith

@Tamara_Robbins

Page 5 of 7« First...34567