April 2011

Fabulous Female Friday – Amanda Alvaro

Fabulous Female Friday

If you were to say that my high school, Regina Mundi, produced some pretty amazing females, I wouldn’t disagree with you. There was Kelly and Meighen and now Amanda.

I’m so excited to be featuring Amanda Alvaro, Managing Director, Narrative Advocacy Media. She’s a strong, powerful woman who I totally admire and feel inspired by. Without a doubt, Amanda is a fabulous female.

Amanda and I went to high school together. My most vivid memories of her include seeing her at the top of a human pyramid dressed in blue and gold cheering the Titans on to victory. Today she is still cheering for the causes she cares about the most.

Thank you Amanda for sharing some of your time with us.

Please meet Amanda:

Amanda Alvaro

Tell us a little about yourself.

First, let me say thank you for including me on your amazing blog!

I guess the most accurate way to describe me would be to say that I’m a woman who is on the go ALL the time. I’m probably at my happiest when spending time with family and friends, hiking, boating or packing for the next adventure. But I also keep pretty busy running a Toronto-based PR and Advertising business, engaging in politics, and pursuing a dream of building arts schools in developing nations.

It’s a hectic life but it’s full of surprises, lots of excitement and very few dull moments in between.

Take us down your career path to present day.

My first job after University was as a junior press secretary to Barbara Hall during her bid for Mayor of Toronto. It was a defining time in my life. It solidified my passion for politics, my love of Toronto and my desire to follow in the footsteps of some extraordinary female leaders.

The path from there has been pretty fortuitous; a four-year stint as Communications and Issues Director to the Minister of Education, Gerard Kennedy, followed by an intense year of helping him run for Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

After those years entrenched in political life, I was asked to join Toronto-based Ad agency Bensimon Byrne to launch their newest subsidiary, Narrative Advocacy Media www.narrative.ca.

I’ve spent the last four years building this incredible company with some of the most talented communicators in the country. Along the way, I took a five-week leave to act as the media advisor to the Premier of Ontario in the last provincial election and I’ve had the opportunity to start two amazing initiatives: Ad Women of Toronto and Artbound.

Still unable to leave politics completely, I now get to keep one foot in the door by acting as a political commentator on CTV and other news outlets.

On CTV Power Play, talking politics

What has inspired and motivated you along the way?

Working in politics exposed me to an extraordinary group of fearless female leaders. Their strength and talent was intoxicating. I knew from the moment I stepped into Queens Park, I was hooked on the thrill of politics. But along the way, I’ve had some absolutely essential constants in my life – a very close group of girl friends (some dating all the way back to highschool in London) and a big, close knit family.

Finally, for your readers at City Mom, you’ll appreciate that my biggest inspiration remains my mom; A woman who bravely battled breast cancer and taught me to live life in a big way, take risks to get where you want and do it all without regrets.

Amanda and her Mom in Italy

Tell us a little about Ad Women of Toronto.

I’m really proud to be a founding member of Ad Women of Toronto. Fashioned after a model developed in New York City, the idea was to create an organization that would support, mentor, celebrate and inspire women in advertising.

Just two years old, it already has an impressive following of seasoned executives and first year ad rookies who meet over speaking engagements, gala events, workshops and debates on hot industry topics! Visit www.adwomentoronto.ca.

Ad Women workshop

Can you tell us about Artbound and your recent trip to Africa?

Founding Artbound, in support of Free the Children, has been one of the most inspired undertakings of my life. The purpose of the organization is to build arts schools in needed regions around the world to help combat child poverty by developing skills that create sustainable opportunities for underprivileged children.

This past January, Nelly Furtado joined our group of young Canadian leaders to build our first school in Kenya and introduce 40 very special Kenyan girls to music, dance and fine arts. It was easily the most moving experience of my life.

In September, we’ll hold our second major fundraiser (the pARTy) to help us achieve our funding goal to build our next school in India! Visit artbound.ca and stay tuned for a new CTV documentary featuring Artbound this summer!

Building the first arts school in Kenya with Artbound

How do you manage your busy career and your personal/family life?

A good collection of wine! Just kidding…sort of. I’m pretty good at finding balance. I travel often, as I believe that the best way to get away from work is to actually get away! I make lots of time for the goodness of family and friends and find many excuses to be social in a city that offers so much in the way of dining, entertainment, the arts, fashion and active living (a few of my favourite things!). Now, all this might change when I have kids of my own, but for now, I’m managing to squeeze it all in.

What advice would you give to other women who want to pursue their career goals?

I’ve always believed that the biggest rewards are the result of taking some big risks. I’m not a ‘if it’s meant to be, it will happen’ kind of person.  I’m a ‘if you want it, put yourself out there and make it happen’ kind of person. And, it’s worked for me because I love the challenge of doing something that seems a little impossible. It’s not for everyone, but it’s what drives me every day.

Do something that scares you a bit!

What’s the last song you listened to on your iPod?

Someone Like You, by Adele – for the ‘get focused and chill’ moments

Pump It by Black Eyed Peas – for ‘making it through my workout’ moments!

What’s the last book you read?

One Day by David Nicholls – absolutely fantastic read!

City Mom

An Easy & Impressive Family Dinner


I love to cook. I get excited about mixing different ingredients together to create a mouth-watering meal. I’m not the best chef though, so I’m always on the lookout for recipes that are easy to make but look as if I spent hours slaving in the kitchen. I definitely achieved that with this recipe from President’s Choice. I altered it slightly to suit our taste. 

The ingredients are likely in your pantry or fridge and the prep time is next to nothing. Throw it all in a roasting pan, place it in the oven and you’re done! 


This recipe was adapted from the President’s Choice Rack of Lamb with 4 Peppercorn Sauce recipe. 



  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • ½ cup PC Memories of Lyon 4 Peppercorn Sauce
  • ½ cup Whipping Cream
  • ½ cup Fresh Parsley
  • 1 cup of fresh bread crumbs (2 slices of bread)
  • 1 Pork loin
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots

TIP:  To make breadcrumbs, hold the bread against your work surface and use tines of  a fork to tear into crumbs. 

Making Fresh Breadcrumbs Memories of Lyon 4 Peppercorn Sauce


  1. Preheat oven the temperature as suggested on the pork loin package
  2. Rub pork with 1/2 tbsp of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine remaining olive oil, breadcrumbs and parsley; firmly press mixture on the up facing part of the pork loin.
  3. Place pork in a roasting pan and add the potatoes and carrots. Drizzle vegetables with a little olive oil and season to taste.
  4. Roast in centre of oven for 35 minutes (or according to package instructions)
  5. In small saucepan, combine Memories sauce and whipping cream. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low to keep warm.
  6. Remove roast from oven and remove the lid of the roasting pan. Place back in oven for 5 minutes to brown the crust.
  7. Serve and drizzle with peppercorn gravy


City Mom

Stella and Sam on Disney Playhouse

Stella and Sam


Stella and Sam
Image from www.playhousedisney.ca

When I was asked to review some episodes of Stella and Sam I was really excited. Stella and Sam started out as a book series by Canadian Marie-Louise Gay before it became a children’s TV show on Playhouse Disney.

First we read the book; Stella and her little brother Sam are adorable, loveable characters who love to use their imaginations. The TV version is even cuter. The show is presented in a storybook illustration style and the character’s voices and theme song are also really cute. Check out the song here.

Stella and her little brother Sam always seem to be outside finding adventures. Sam, being the younger sibling, often looks to Stella to answer life’s biggest questions. From why leaves fall from trees in autumn to insects that come out at night, Sam is full of wonder and Stella is full of explanations.

Little S loved the book and TV shows equally. While watching one of the episodes where Stella and Sam were playing on a big hill turned volcano, Little S asked excitedly if we could do that in the summer. Anything that evokes thought and imagination is good in my books and I highly recommend this cute show for your kids!

Catch Stella and Sam on weekend mornings at 10:30 a.m. ET on Disney Playhouse channel. You can also find Stella and Sam activities, stories on games on the Disney Playhouse website.


City Mom

Things to Do On Easter Weekend in London

Easter Eggs

Easter Eggs 

Tune into CJBK 1290 AM to catch City Mom sharing all the events London has going on this holiday weekend on Friday, April 22 at 4:20 p.m. Not from London? Listen live here. 

It’s hard to believe that it’s already the end of April with this cold, winter-like weather. But spring is upon us and the Easter long weekend is just around the corner and City Mom has a list of fun, family friendly events taking place in London. 

Easter Weekend Egg-stravaganza! 

Where: The Children’s Museum 

When: Saturday April 23 to Monday, April 25 10 – 5 p.m. 

Cost: Regular Children’s Museum entry fees 

What: Celebrate Easter and Spring with special activities all weekend long! Enjoy cookie decorating at 10 a.m. (until supplies last) and take part in the egg hunt at 11 a.m. and  2 p.m. each day. 

Learn about the science of eggs and create lots of Easter crafts too! Meet the Easter Bunny himself as he will be hopping around making appearances throughout the day! 

The Children’s Museum will be open 10-5 p.m. Easter Monday. 

For more information:  http://www.londonchildrensmuseum.ca/April2011.php 

Easter Egg Hunt for Dogs and their Families

Where: Middlesex Agility Club, Fleetwood Farms, 9282 Elviage Drive 

When: Registrations begins at 10:00 a.m. and the hunt begins at 11:00 a.m. 

Cost: $20 per family 

What: The Annual Easter Egg Hunt is held in seven cities across Ontario. Every Good Friday, thousands of plastic eggs are filled with dog treats and hidden over a defined area of a local park. Each egg also contains a coloured sticker, representing a chance to win one of hundreds of great prizes. 

For more information: http://www.nsd.on.ca/easterhunt.php or call 519-623-4188 

Easter Egg Hunt In The City

Where: Citi Plaza 

When: Saturday April 23 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Cost: Free 

What: There will be games, face painting, meet and greet with the Easter bunny and of course the Easter egg hunt! 

For more information:  http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=187802227930352 

Easter Bunny Walk-About

Where: Westmount Shopping Centre (lower level) 

When: Saturday, April 23 from 1 p.m. to 3p.m. 

Cost: Free 

What: An Easter treat for every child, while quantities last. Bring your camera for a photo opportunity with the Easter Bunny. 

Easter Egg-Stravaganza Easter Egg Hunt

Where: 531 Windermere Rd. (Scouts Canada Grounds) 

When: Saturday April 23 10 a.m. 

Cost: Free 

What: Games and prizes and the first 100 families will receive a free gift. Hot Chocolate and Coffee and of course the EASTER EGG HUNT! 

For more information: 519-639-8463 

LondonMoms First Annual Easter Egg Hunt

Where: 2nd Floor – Western Fair Farmers Market 

When: Saturday April 23  Registration: 1:30 p.m. Hunt: 2 p.m. Face Painting/Pictures: 1:30 – 3 p.m. 

Cost: $5 per child (Pre-Registration is recommended and can be done so here). 

What: Each child will get to participate in an all ages Easter egg hunt, have their photos taken with the Easter bunny and receive a goodie bag of Easter treats. 

For more information: http://www.londonmoms.ca/ 

No matter which event you choose, there is sure to be a lot of Easter fun! Here’s hopping (yes, that was intentional) you and your family have a safe and happy Easter! 

Image: m_bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

City Mom

Alliance Films – HOODWINKED TOO! Hood vs. Evil -Flash Ticket Giveaway


I have some exciting news for London City Mom readers. Today on City Mom you can enter to win an Admit 4 Family Pass to a special screening of  Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil.

This cute movie is not set to be released until April 29th, but on April 23rd London is lucky enough to get an advance screening at Silver City London Cinemas.


The good…the bad…the Twitchy. From the team that brought you HOODWINKED, the comedic portrayal of the fairy tale Red Riding Hood, comes the all-new animated family comedy HOODWINKED TOO! HOOD VS. EVIL in 3D.

The sequel finds our heroine, Red (Hayden Panettiere), training with a mysterious covert group called the Sisters of the Hood. But Red is forced to cut her training short when she gets an urgent call from Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers), who returns as head of the super-secret Happily Ever After Agency, aka the HEA.

A wicked witch (Joan Cusack) has abducted two innocent children, Hansel (Bill Hader) and Gretel (Amy Poehler), and Nicky needs Red for the search-and-rescue mission. Of course, what is a sequel without guest stars from the original?

Thankfully, Granny (Glenn Close) and the rest of the HOODWINKED gang—including the ever-clueless Wolf (Patrick Warburton) and his over-caffeinated little partner, Twitchy (Cory Edwards), join Red to solve the forest’s latest caper.

Fracturing fairy tales and pop culture with good-natured glee, HOODWINKED TOO! HOOD vs. EVIL in 3D takes viewers on a rollicking rollercoaster ride combining edge-of-the-seat adventure with classic, zany cartoon antics.

HOODWINKED TOO! HOOD VS. EVIL in 3D features the voices of Hayden Panettiere, Glenn Close, Joan Cusack, Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, David Alan Grier, Andy Dick, Brad Garrett, Martin Short, Patrick Warburton, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, Heidi Klum and Wayne Newton. It is directed by Mike Disa and written by Cory Edwards, Tony Leech, Todd Edwards and Mike Disa. The producers are Maurice Kanbar and Joan Collins Carey.



Alliance Films has partnered with City Mom to giveaway 16 sets of Admit 4 Family Passes for the April 23rd, 10AM viewing at Silver City London Cinemas.

Contest is open to anyone from London or those willing to travel to attend the event.


  1. ‘Like’ Alliance Films on Facebook and leave a comment on City Mom stating the name in which you ‘Liked’ the page under. (This must be done before extra entries).

Extra Entries

  1. ‘Like’ City Mom on Facebook. Leave a comment here stating you did.
  2. Leave a Facebook status message “I’ve entered to win a Family Pass to an early screening of Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil at Silver City Cinemas via City Mom: http://www.citymom.ca/?p=1347 “ Leave a comment letting me know you did so. (Can be done once daily).
  3. Follow @_CityMom on Twitter and tweet the following ‘Win a Family Pack of tickets to the early screening of Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil @ Silver City #ldnont http://www.citymom.ca/?p=1347” Leave a comment letting me know you did. (Can be done once daily)


  1. Open to CAD residents from the London area or those willing to travel to the event
  2. Contest is open from April 14th – April 18th at 6PM EST
  3. 16 winners will be chosen from the comments entered on this City Mom post using And the Winner Is
  4. The prize will include 4 passes to an advance screening of Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil for April 23rd, 2001 at 10AM at Silver City London Cinemas
  5. Passes can not be used for any other movie and are specific to this film
  6. Winners will be notified at the email address used upon entry to the contest
  7. Winners will have until Tuesday morning at 8AM to respond with their mailing address. Failure to do so will result in a new winner being randomly selected

Good luck and enjoy the show!

Image from alliancefilms.com

City Mom

DIY Remodel Before & After


A number of weeks ago I created a post titled Do-It-Yourself Headboard. The post included steps on how to go about making your own headboard at home. In that post I also promised to share photos from our completed bedroom remodel.

I was waiting to do this post until we had completed the project, but life has gotten in the way and we have a few finishing touches to complete before we reach 100 percent. I realized that it may be a while before we make it to completion, so 95 percent was going to have to be good enough.

Our condo is roughly 1650 square feet. Our new master bedroom was smaller than the one we had in our house in the suburbs. Our colour schemes of beige, dark brown and red really worked in the large space, but when we downsized, the colours fell flat. The space looked too small and we felt that a lighter pallet would make it appear larger.

We were able to complete our bedroom remodel for under $1000. We didn’t buy any new furniture; we just did some strategic placing of our existing pieces.





With a few inexpensive decorative accessories and some lighter bed linens, we were able to open up our bedroom and create a unified look.





Patterned wallpaper is back in style!

 We decided to use a busy pattern on one small wall to create an attractive accent piece to the room. I loved getting creative with mixing patterns in this project.





Here you see the DIY headboard covered in a different, yet complimentary pattern to the wallpaper, some retro-style lamps and a few throw pillows in our chosen accent colour. This fabulous wall colour is called Herringbone Grey from the Sarah Richardson’s Paint Collection. We’re still in search of the perfect piece of art for this wall.





Normally I love a neutral taupe colour on any wall, but in this room it just felt dull. We’ve refreshed the look with a colour called Universal Grey that compliments the darker grey nicely.

We’ve cleaned up the exposed cords and placed some more sophisticated accessories to complete the look.





Perhaps the most drastic and least expensive change we made was replacing the boring window shade with luxurious patterned drapes. It adds height and interst to the otherwise plain window. We moved the mirror and placed it on the angled wall to create depth.

So there you have it, our master bedroom remodel before and after. This project took us one weekend. The most difficult part was working with the wallpaper but even that was fairly easy. I love redecorating and changing things up. For this room I found my inspiration from home decor magazines like Style at Home, I love thisCanadian publication!

What redecorating projects have you taken on? Are you changing things up for the Spring/Summer? Share your experiences!

City Mom

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