Remember a little while ago when I was whining about the lack of "reality" on reality TV -- click here for a refresher. I mean, it's a RIDICULOUS thing to complain about. I know that. It's reality TV making it completely meaningless in modern society (and maybe even its downfall). There's nothing real about reality TV. I know that too.

On the other hand, they can at least try to keep up the illusion that it's real. Can't they?

I ask this after hearing that two soap actresses have been cast on the next season of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. That's right, Lisa Rinna and Eileen Davidson aka Billie Reed and Kristen DiMera from Days of Our Lives will now be Housewives.

{via}

The Housewives franchise has had various degrees of success when adding new Housewives. It's gone really well (i.e. Melissa Gorga and Tamra Barney) and really badly (i.e. Joyce Giraud and Kelly Bensimon not to mention all of the new Housewives on New Jersey this season, ugh). I love Andy Cohen for creating these shows and for continually trying to make things fresh but by casting soap opera actresses it seems like he's actually acknowledging that the shows are fake. After all, these women are professional actresses and they can cry on demand! It remains to be seen whether they will be believable as actual people and whether their soap acting skills will add to or detract from the show.

The one positive thing from this casting is Lisa Rinna is friends with Lisa Vanderpump, which hopefully means that Lisa Vanderpump will have more back-up after the group takedown she suffered last year. Lisa Vanderpump is my favourite Housewife by far and I hated watching Brandi Glanville stir up drama against her. With all the rumours that Lisa was leaving RHOBH, maybe the show was forced to add some of her friends -- even soap star friends -- to the show to ensure her return.


Have a great weekend, friends!

NSale Wrap Up

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Last summer, this Canadian girl discovered the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale for the first time by accident! What the what?! I'm a loyal reader of Pinterest Told Me To and I first heard about the sale through the blog. We spent a weekend in Chicago last year to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary and our trip just happened to overlap with the sale (click here for a refresher). We had a great trip and a fabulous time shopping the sale. Fall and Winter merchandise on sale ahead of season?! I was thrilled.

We were looking to plan another couple's getaway this summer (just one night, somewhere close to home) and I somehow convinced my husband to plan our trip around the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Isn't he the best?! So last weekend, we left the girls with my parents while we crossed the border into Michigan for our night away complete with shopping time at Nordstrom. I did my pre-sale research by reading Pinterest Told Me To and other blogs, and I was armed and ready to shop. Within five minutes, I had two pairs of boots! It was so much fun as was the rest of the weekend spending time with my husband.




Here's a photo summary of my Nordstrom purchases:



I also got the infamous "Blardigan". Fans of Pinterest Told Me To will know just what I mean. If you don't know, the blardigan is part blanket/part sweater and it sells out regularly because it's just so fabulous. I can't deny that I was completely unimpressed by the online fuss over the blardigan until I saw it myself in person. It is literally the softest item of clothing ever made plus it doesn't overwhelm my 5'3" frame as I expected it to. No, no. It just envelops me into blardigan heaven. I bought one for myself and then went back to get one for my mom and two sister-in-laws... except they were sold out. Now I know why!!



I also picked up a Madewell denim vest and JCrew espadrilles (on sale for just $15!!) for myself plus some Tea Collection dresses for my girls (also on sale at Nordstrom). My husband shopped well but I won't embarrass him by itemizing his purchases on my blog LOL.

So there you have it! Nordstrom Anniversary Sale regulars shouldn't be at all surprised by my experience but I do hope it was enlightening to my fellow Canadians.


I have lived in the Great Toronto Area all of my life (other than my time living in Kingston while going to law school), and specifically the Halton region for the past six years. We love Halton! It's especially great to live near the Niagara Escarpment with all of the unique spots for outdoor adventure out here. Even though our girls are quite young, our family has already hiked, visited waterfalls, picked strawberries and more. I figure I know a lot about the best attractions to visit in the area and yet I was completely blown away when I received The Red, White and True Canadian Heritage Passport (which is available for download at www.theheartofontario.com). The Passport highlights the diverse range of heritage sites and signature landscapes in Hamilton Halton Brant with 20 special offers and unique experiences. While we have tried a few of these experiences as a family, there are still so many more that we would like to try! When we were offered the chance to visit African Lion Safari as one of the adventures, we were very excited (we would have liked to try the Wake Up the Wild Adventure; however, children must be at least 8 years old). If you don't know it, African Lion Safari is a drive through wildlife park located in Hamilton, Ontario dedicated to the conservation of declining wildlife species.




The day of our visit to African Lion Safari started with intense thunderstorms (or as Alexa likes to say, "hunter storms") and we weren't sure if we could visit as planned. We took a risk and made the 40 minute drive, and by the time we arrived, the clouds cleared and later the sun came out. It was the perfect weather for an outdoor adventure.

Clouds to start the day


Our first stop was the 9km drive-through game reserve. Despite initially planning to take the Safari Tour Bus, we changed our minds at the park and drove through in our minivan to get up close and personal with the animals. And that we did. Shortly after entering we saw the lions and I can't deny that I got nervous when this guy (or girl, I'm not sure?) came within a few feet of my window. He was just looking for some shade under the tree but for a second I was a little wary. The rest of the drive was just as exciting as we got to see so many different kinds of animals. The girls really were in awe of the animals roaming around out there.

Not zoomed! They really came within a few feet of my window

In the car while the animals roam free


After parking our car, we walked to the elephant area and got a front row spot for the elephant swim. Again, they came so close!

Front row for the elephant swim


We then walked around and checked out the grounds, rode the ponies and had sno-kones... once the girls saw the Misumu Bay Wet Play Area they were unstoppable. They had an absolute blast here and could have stayed there all day going down the slides.


Fun fun fun!!


Once we were done there, we climbed aboard the Nature Boy Scenic Railyway Tour. It was so picturesque to travel by train through the forest with my little family. By the time we left the train, tiredness started to set in and we had to abandon our plan to ride the African Queen Boat Cruise unfortunately. It's definitely something I would want to try next time but we had to make the decision to end our adventure as we could sense our girls were so tired they were bordering on meltdown. They slept the entire way home and another hour once we got home, which is to say that they had a fantastic time. We all did, it was a great family adventure!

Happy Faces




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African Lion Safari is open daily until October 13th. While our family received complimentary admission, all ideas and opinions in this post are my own. You can find out more about African Lion Safari by clicking here, the Wake Up the Wild Adventure by clicking here and about the Red, White and True Canadian Heritage Passport by clicking here.

Friday 5

Friday, 18 July 2014

Yay it's Friday! Here are five wonderful things I'm celebrating on this beautiful summer Friday:

#1. Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

I'm especially excited for this weekend because it's Nordstrom Anniversary Sale time -- and I'm heading across the border with my hubby for a couple's weekend slash shopping trip. Click here for a flashback to our first experience with the sale.





#2. Pull-up free house

The girls have been potty trained for a while. Alexa was easily potty trained around 27 months old. Mia took a while longer and got stuck in pull-up purgatory for a while but once I yanked the pull-ups, she did great. That said, we have spent almost a whole other year with the girls wearing pull-ups at bedtime. They have been waking up dry for months and yet I didn't want them to sleep in underwear. I guess I was worried about having to clean wet sheets in the middle of the night. The other day I figured it was time and we officially rid ourselves of our last pull-ups meaning our house is officially diaper and pull-up free after three years and six months.


#3. Price matching with Flipp

I have tried price matching at the grocery store in the past but never with much success. The fliers would overwhelm me and I would just give up. Then I discovered the Flipp app and it got a lot easier. I especially like how it has a search feature making it so simple to look for the things that I want. I figure staples like Cheerios, cream cheese, Coke and frozen pizza are always on sale somewhere so I might as well take advantage and price match. Since I mostly shop at the Real Canadian Superstore, I get to double the savings by price matching with Flipp and using the PC points app. On my last grocery shop, I saved $20 buy price matching and redeemed $30 worth of PC points. That's definitely incentive to keep going.



#4. Christmas shopping

And speaking of shopping, I started my Christmas shopping this month! Only 159 days to go.



#5. Mini Yogis

If you follow me on Instagram @lovingyouischerrypie, you will have seen that I found a new yoga studio which has classes with free child minding and also family classes. I tried them both this week and they were great! We have come a long way from last summer when my girls would scream hysterically when I would try to drop them off at the kids club at the gym. While M&A are still a bit young to do yoga, they really loved the aerials.




In Living Colour

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

It was like we spent the afternoon in the French countryside... except it was here in our own backyard. A lavender farm full of vivid colours and intense scents. What a way to spend a day.





Favourite Frozen Desserts

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Today I'm sharing recipes for three of Mia and Alexa's favourite homemade frozen desserts!



The first is a recipe for strawberry and creme pops. I took some of our freshly picked strawberries (click here for a refresher) and pureed some while chopping some others. I mixed the pureed and chopped strawberries with vanilla yogurt, almond milk, vanilla and honey then popped them into popsicle molds before freezing them. The yogurt makes these so creamy.


The second recipe is pretty much the easiest thing ever. I chopped a banana, dipped the pieces in melted chocolate and then froze them into frozen chocolate-banana bites. I have also a made popsicle version of this here (slightly more complicated but still easy enough).


The last recipe is my most creative if I do say so myself. I mashed fresh raspberries then I added the raspberry mash and whipped cream between two crackers and dipped the ends in sprinkles. These beauties froze to make cute little ice cream sandwiches much to the delight of Mia and Alexa.


Each of these desserts is a quick, healthier and less expensive alternative to that darn ice cream truck that likes to drive up and down our street every evening! A neighbour recently introduced us to the Zoku Mini Pop Maker and I think we need one of these in our houses for even more homemade frozen treats.






Teaching philanthropy to my daughters is something I have spoken about in this space before. My husband and I want them to be generous, empathetic and kind people, and we look for small ways to develop these traits while they are young. I shared a post last Christmas about how we took our girls to shop for toys and then donated them at the fire station (click here for a refresher). Recently, we had them help us as we collected gently used books to be donated to a book sale, the profits of which were being donated to help support literacy in our community. As a family, we have participated in various fundraising walks. And we are also planning a lemonade stand later this summer to raise money for a good cause after we saw friends doing something similar. These are just small, small things but we hope they are making an impact.

Saying goodbye to a favourite Elmo book
at the donation drop-off 


Donating new toys in 2013

Fundraising walk in 2012


With these thoughts in mind, I would like to promote the Canaccord Genuity Great Camp Adventure Walk to benefit SickKids. If you are unfamiliar with it, SickKids is the largest children's hospital in Canada and it is renowned for being an innovator in children's health. It's great to live in South Western Ontario with close access to such an incredible hospital for children. SickKids helps so many families here in Canada with the services they provide, and also children around the world benefit from the research conducted there.

The Great Camp Adventure Walk is on September 27, 2014. This event is a family adventure in which an entire family can challenge themselves to walk 5, 10, 15 or even 20km. There are fun-filled campsites along the walk, each offering unique games and activities to both challenge and entertain the whole family. This event is not only a great way to help raise money for sick children but it is also a chance for families to get together to demonstrate the power of philanthropy to children. You can check it out by clicking here.


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This post was brought to you by The SickKids Foundation, however the opinions and images are my own. For more information please visit www.walkforsickkids.ca.

I Hit A Wall

Sunday, 13 July 2014

I set a goal for myself to read 50 books this year and for the first half of the year, I was reading so much and was well ahead of my goal. I started June with 32 books already read. And then I hit a wall. There were three books in a row which I started and couldn't finish. Generally, I never give up on a book but this time around I gave up on one book, then another and then another. Life is so full right now that I'm finding it hard to sit still and read especially when it comes to books that weren't immediately enticing.

2014 Book List To Date


When I do have free time, I like to watch TV. There's not too much on TV these days but I do like to watch Big Brother in the summer plus I recently binged watched season 2 of Orange Is The New Black and then seasons 1 of 2 of Orphan Black.

Brilliant Show


Last week, I also had a very exciting girls' night where I went to see Lady Gaga with my sister-in-law, my BFF and my BFF's sister-in-law. If you're a regular reader you may remember how I have had to miss two Lady Gaga concerts over the past few years (in 2010 because I was so sick from morning sickness and in 2013 because of a snowstorm). It was really great to see her this time around (thanks again Lo for the amazing tickets!!!!!) even if it meant being out late on a weeknight and messing up my week LOL.

ArtRave at the ACC July 9, 2014


This month, I also bought a pass at a new yoga studio for $30 for 30 days so I'm trying to go as much as possible. I hate how my blog posts about yoga usually involve me saying how I love yoga but I never go. I don't know why that's the case, it doesn't make any sense. All I know is I'm trying to make a conscious effort to go once a week this summer. I hope to stick with it because I love what yoga does for my mind and my body.

Savasana


All of this is to say, summer is chaotic and my reading project has completely stalled. I still hope to meet my goal of 50 books by the end of the year!!!!

While I'm not reading a lot, we are spending a ton of time reading together as a family. The girls are participating in a local summer reading club where they are earning great prizes for reading. Click here if you live in the GTA and want to know more about this worthwhile program.

TD Summer Reading Club 2014

Just Bloom

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

One of the great pieces of advice in twin parenting is not to compare your twins, each is on her own unique path. It's completely true and also totally difficult. It's only natural to compare milestones, personality traits and achievements. Not to mention people always ask "do they have different personalities?" (the stupidest question in my opinion because, well duh, of course they do) and they point out who has blue eyes, who is taller and who has curly hair. Human nature invites comparison. That said, in our house we make a really conscious effort not to compare our girls or do anything that will foster competitiveness in them. They really are two unique, beautiful people with their own strengths and weaknesses. We celebrate their uniqueness.


As they grow, we know they will become more aware of competing with each other. That's one of the reasons in favour of putting them in different classrooms, they don't have to compete for friends, good grades, etc. (for the sake of transitioning into kindergarten, they are starting off in the same class this year and we will reevaluate next year and then the year after in grade 1). We just came across the first situation where I saw real competition among them. I mean, I have seen them compete for attention before (don't all preschoolers do that though?). And of course, we have noticed that they excel in different areas (Alexa does well in gross motor activities like gymnastics and swimming whereas Mia does best at things that require concentration and discipline like ballet and reading) but we don't focus on them. Well we just finished a level of swimming where Alexa passed with flying colours and Mia, despite her best efforts, did not advance. They were well aware of the difference because they were handed report cards. It was a reminder to me that we are now entering a new stage of parenting where they will be put into situations where they have no choice but to compete. On the one hand, I don't want to make them compete with each other and for anyone to feel badly. On the other hand, I don't want either of them to feel like they can't excel at something for the sake of her twin. And also I want them to know the world isn't fair and it is full of situations where you win at some things and lose at others.

It's a whole new world of parenting challenges out there and honestly these kind of issues make life three years ago when I was up all night feeding them seem easy in comparison. As far as swimming goes, it doesn't really matter because all 3-5 year olds in our swim school are put in the same classes and work towards their own goals. This situation was just a precursor of the challenges that will come with them stepping into the next stage of school, activities and friends. Not to mention they may soon start asking me to enrol in different activities which will become a logistical nightmare. I just want to do everything I can to have them celebrate the special bond of being twins without them feeling resentful or competitive.

Keep Calm and Go Shopping

Monday, 7 July 2014

The girls received a package in the mail the other day about the first day of school. When I opened it, tears started flowing. I'm still trying to repress all my feelings about them going to school while at the same time taking steps to prepare our household for it. Keep calm Samantha, and go shopping. The other day I posted about the school gear which I've already purchased -- click here to see. Today, I'm going to talk about school clothes. It's no secret that I find a great deal of pleasure in dressing up my little girls. There is so much cute stuff out there for them and, when I shop smart, I like to capitalize on good prices. Like the time I started my school stockpile at babyGAP back in April -- click here to see. Well, the other day I had a morning "off". My hubby took the girls to soccer while I enjoyed a dreamy morning of yoga, Starbucks and shopping. I used the opportunity of a solo shopping trip to do some school shopping. Moms out there know, it's so much easier to shop for kids when the kids aren't actually there. Now is a good time to shop because there are so many sales -- an even though it's mostly summer merchandise on sale, there are lots of wardrobe staples on sale right now that will translate for Fall and Winter.

My goal for my girls' school wardrobe is to have cute, comfortable and affordable pieces that can be mixed and matched. I want to avoid unnecessary zippers, frills or buttons while still maintaining a stylish look. It's also key that they be able to use the bathroom on their own without difficulty. T-shirt dresses and leggings are an optimal look in my opinion. I also like button/zipper-less jeans or jeggings with cute tops.

On this last trip, I picked up one cute 50% off dress at Zara (I hate it when I can't find two coordinating outfits on sale but this dress was too cute to pass up and actually it's not really a school dress anyway), $3 leggings at Gymboree and a bunch of school stuff at babyGAP. It was my *lucky* babyGAP location. I swear I only get to this particular mall once every 3-4 months and yet, whenever I go there is an amazing sale at babyGAP. This time around, I got:

- skinny jeans for $10 each (regular $35 each), no zippers or buttons

- jeggings for $12 each (regular $20 each)

- short sleeved t-shirt dresses for $9 each (regular $30 each)






I'm storing my stockpile in a plastic bin in the closet, and whenever I buy new things I take stock to see what we have and what we need. Right now, there have a few pairs of leggings, a few t-shirt dresses and a few tops each plus this last haul. They already have a few different Fall coats that will still fit this year; however, all new Winter gear is on the to-buy list. They will definitely need new shoes and boots but I'm waiting until closer to the start of school for those.

I have an exciting shopping adventure planned in a few weeks. I'm planning to finish my school shopping and maybe pick up a few things for myself.  Also, I have got it in my mind that I want the girls to have a pair of fringed moccasins for Fall, so those are on my list. Not for school though more for weekend, party and fun attire. Check out these cute inspiration photos from Pinterest.








Have any other moms started school clothes shopping yet? Did you know Costco already has winter coats and hats for sale? Do you have any tips for the best way to affordably stock up on stylish school clothes?