July 2011

Things to do in London on August 1st

London Rib Fest

  • Where: Victoria Park
  • When: July 28 – August 1 – 11:00 am to 11:00 pm
  • What: Ten world-class ‘ribbers’ battling it out for awards including the best ribs title
  • Cost: Free admission to park, rides and food cost extra
  • For more information: Visit Canada’s Biggest Party

Charlie Little Finger Performs

  • Where: Storybook Gardens, Village Square Stage
  • When: August 1 – Two shows, 1:00 pm & 2:30 pm
  • What: Charlie is an Arts Educator and children’s Rock Singer who writes songs that are both catchy and easy for parents to listen to. His songs are designed to fit the needs and abilities of children.
  • Cost: Part of regular Storybook Gardens admission
  • For more information: Visit Storybook Gardens

Plant an Iceland Poppy

  • Where: The Children’s Museum
  • When: August 1 – 11:00 am & 2:00 pm
  • What: Take home a “piece of the Arctic” as you decorate a ceramic pot and plant a native Iceland Poppy
  • Cost: Regular Children’s Museum admission
  • For more information: Visit the Children’s Museum

Expressions in Chalk

  • Where: Wortley Village, 120 Bruce Street in the St. James Westminster Anglican Church parking lot
  • When: July 30 to August 1 – Awards to take place on August 1
  • What: A street painting festival featuring works of art created in chalk pastels on asphalt
  • Cost: Free
  • For more information: imadon.org

Other Family Events Open on Monday August 1

  • Fanshawe Pioneer Village 10:00 am – 4:30 pm
  • City Splash Pads and outdoor pools (pool hours 1:30 – 4:30 pm and 6 – 8 pm)

Have a happy and safe holiday Monday!

City Mom

Fabulous Female Friday – Heather White from Cupcake Girls

FFF

I’m really excited to feature Heather White from Cupcakes by Heather & Lori today on City Mom.  

If you haven’t seen their hit show Cupcake Girls on W Network, here’s a quick summary of what these two fabulous females are all about. 

Heather and Lori have been friends since they were 15 years old and grew up on Vancouver Island. In the fall of 2001, their jobs as sales reps for an odour control company brought them to NYC during the time of the 9/11 tragedy. 

 Amidst all the sadness they took a break for a little ‘pick-me-up’ and ended up at a famous New York bakery; Magnolia Bakery. After buying some cupcakes their mood lifted a little and this held the key to their future. Heather quickly realized that if a cupcake can bring happiness at a time like 9/11 then it’s something that must be celebrated. Since that day they haven’t stopped celebrating. 

There are now eight Cupcakes stores throughout British Columbia. And the good news (for me at least) is that Heather and Lori are working on an eastern location. They hope to have their first Toronto store open just before Christmas. I will travel for these! 

Today we get a unique opportunity to catch up with Heather who is not only a fabulous female and entrepreneur but also a new mom to her son Spencer. 

Lori Joyce, left and Heather White of Cupcakes by Heather and Lori

 

 

Tell us how Cupcakes came about.

Lori and I had always discussed opening a business together; we’re both from retail so we thought it would be in the clothing industry. Instead, we created a brand with Cupcakes and followed it up with a very consistent product. 

We were most excited about the fact that nobody in Vancouver was doing anything over the top with cupcakes or cakes.  There have been businesses built around the doughnut and the cookie but nothing done around cupcakes. 

Here in Canada everybody seems to be bringing Tim Hortons to the office, mainly Timbits so everyone can have a little bite-size of something. I thought ‘you know what, why not do something a little classier’ 

Everyday there seems to be some sort of celebration, so I wanted to do something fun with a variety of flavours like Timbits but something a little different. 

We have now become the upscale Timbits in Vancouver and people are bringing them to all types of occasions.  On day one when we opened the doors, we had a line up outside the store. No one could believe what we were doing.  We were sold out of cupcakes three hours later. 

You broke the three golden rules of business; you didn’t have a business plan, you didn’t know much about cupcakes and you went into business with your best friend. To what do you attribute your success despite this? 

The fact that we did break all three of those rules; the beauty of it was that we didn’t have a business degree or an MBA, we learned everything from the ground up. From day one in business you learn how to be the janitor, accountant and baker all at the same time. We learned through our mistakes and through feedback from our customers; we put our noses to the grindstone. 

It’s pretty cool to have your own TV show. How did that come about?

Lori was approached about the show before I was. Lori takes care of the PR side of our business, so she got an email about it from someone who had seen us on a local show we were doing. The network saw the dynamic between the two of us and said they wanted to write a show about women in business. 

They thought it would be a good idea to combine the fact that we were the first ever cupcake shop and best friends and business partners with the fact that we didn’t have any baking experience. 

It took Lori about six months to talk me into doing the show because I wanted to protect the brand. All I knew about reality TV at that point was Jon and Kate Plus 8, and that was just a tragedy on television and I didn’t want to do that. But we both agreed to shoot the pilot and once we saw it, we really liked what we saw. It was fun and entertaining, bright and colourful and the store was being shown in a very positive and bright light. 

Tell us about your ‘personal distractions’ pact that you and Lori committed to.

We decided that the business needed 100 percent of our attention so in order for us to give it that we agreed that for the first 5 years of business we would commit solely to that. So no one was going to be distracted by a pregnancy or planning a wedding or leaving the store. That was our biggest concern; one of us leaving for a long period of time. 

Now that pact is over, how do you manage your family life and your business?

Well it’s interesting, I just had my baby, he’s four months old and Lori has a one year old and she’s now six month pregnant. 

It definitely changes things with your schedule. We both have to be flexible and work around each other’s schedules. 

Lori’s son goes with his dad to his office everyday. He works with his parents so Max has his own room and gets to play and do his own thing while Lori’s mother-in-law looks after him. 

My little guy comes to work with me everyday as I’m very fortunate too because my mom works here as well. She takes him around town running errands etc. I get my work done, but we’re not working super-long days but we do enough so that we both feel we’ve gotten enough done. 

How do you and Lori maintain your friendship?

We went through the struggles of being business partners and best friends but we really do consider our relationship like a marriage. We’re in a legal partnership and agreement. At the end of the day we’re not always going to agree but one of us has to agree to disagree and we take turns doing that. 

It’s worked out for the better; it’s built an amazing business, partnership and friendship. It’s been almost 10 years now and we’re tighter than ever. We’re very, very good friends and we are like family to each other. 

Some have said that cupcakes are a fad, what do you say to that, and how do you keep your business fresh and on trend?

They were calling the doughnut a fad all those years ago and they’re still around. 

As I mentioned in the beginning, everyday there is a celebration or there’s a wedding. That wedding turns into a first birthday or a second birthday and it goes on like that. We are really part of people’s everyday. We also do a tonne of corporate accounts and we’ve even done Cupcakes at a Wake. It’s so diverse and it doesn’t have to be for just one particular occasion. 

What advice do you have for other female entrepreneurs? 

Lori and I were in a position that we really had nothing to lose. And we wanted to know how people would respond after we put our idea out there. We’ve had the best 10 years of our lives, because we put our hearts and souls into it. Our return was bigger than we ever expected. 

We only live one life, why not do it that way that you should or the way you feel is the most exciting. 

Do it from the heart! 

What’s the last book you read?

Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp M.D., it’s why I’m able to be back at work. 

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

Rolling In The Deep by Adele. It’s the only song that will quiet my son if he’s crying while driving in the car. 

Thank you so much to Heather for taking the time out of her busy life to share with us on City Mom!

City Mom

Summer’s 2nd Last Long Weekend

simplyFree

  

I’m on vacation! That’s right, and just in time for the August long weekend. Since I’ll be away for this second last summer celebration, I thought I’d share our BBQ plans a little early.  

WONDER+ SIMPLYFREE

We will be implementing Wonder+ SimplyFree into our weekend BBQ feast again. And why wouldn’t we? It’s the first Canadian National Brand of breads and buns that are free of artificial preservatives, flavours and colours; it’s also free of high fructose corn syrup and made with unbleached wheat flour.  

Another feature I love about the buns in particular is their size. They’re a perfect fit for small hands.  

Here’s what I’m planning on making this weekend. This recipe as well as many other tasty ideas can be found on the Canadian Living website.  

Pineapple Meatball Skewers

Image from canadianliving.com

 

These easy to make, kid-friendly skewers look fun and tasty. There are few thing I love more than grilled pineapple.  

Preparation:  

Thread 3 meatballs, pineapple chunks and pepper chunks alternately onto each of six 6-inch (15 cm) soaked wooden skewers. Brush each with 1 tbsp (15 mL) pineapple sauce.  

Place skewers on greased grill over medium heat; close lid and grill, turning once, until heated through, 4 to 6 minutes. Brush with more sauce if desired.  

Place skewer onto buns; grab and pull to remove skewer.  

Makes 6 servings.  

Additional Information:  

Tip: Use any frozen cooked meatballs, such as Swedish or Italian. Thaw in microwave for a minute or two. Get the kids to help make the skewers. For grown-up palates, add sweet onion pieces or small mushrooms.  

MAKING YOUR BBQ HEALTHY

Here are some great tips from the Canadian Living site, on how to make your BBQ experience a healthier one.  

  • Skip the fattening sweets and grill up some fresh seasonal fruits for dessert. Think apples, pineapples and peaches
  • Your BBQ is good for cooking more than meat. Grill up some fresh veggies on skewers
  • Dress your burgers and dogs with fresh ingredients like salsa, guacamole and veggies instead of store-bought sauces and spreads
  • Choose lean meats like chicken, turkey and extra lean beef to make your burgers opposed to store-bought packaged patties

How are you planning on celebrating the long weekend? I hope that you and your family have a fun and tasty one!  

Disclosure – I am participating in the Wonder+ SimplyFree program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of Weston Bakeries. I received a gift card and free product coupons as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.
 
City Mom

Sonicare FlexCare+ – Making the Switch {Giveaway}

brush
My toothbrush has a UV Brush Sanitizer that kills up to 99% of bacteria and viruses! Does yours? I’m assuming no, so read on for your chance to win one.

That’s not all my Philips Sonicare FelxCare+ does. It seems to have technology more advanced than my iPod, yet it’s so user-friendly. Here are some highlights of this magic-mouth-wand that I particularly appreciate.

  • There are five setting that can be used for various purposes:
    • Clean: a two-minute timed setting for a complete teeth clean. Quadpacer intervals of 30 seconds each to ensure each quadrant (upper outside and inside, lower outside and inside) gets the proper amount of brushing. What’s even cooler is that the brush is set to vibrate a little lighter on the first 14 uses so your gums can adjust.
    • Gum Care: effectively reaches between the teeth and along the gumline
    • Refresh: a one-minute timed setting to freshen up between full brush routines
    • Sensitive: a softer mode for those with sensitive teeth and gums
    • Massage: a gentle setting to effectively massage the gums. It improves gum-health in two weeks
  • Battery power that lasts three weeks; that’s 42 full two-minute brushes
  • Up to 31,000 brush strokes per minute
  • Angled brush head that makes it easier to reach the back teeth and removes plaque in the usually hard to reach places

MY EXPERIENCE

I’ve been using the Soincare FlexCare+ for just over a week now and here are the benefits I’ve noticed:

First, I received my toothbrush from Mom Central and Philips the day after my most recent dentist appointment.

I had a clean bill of teeth-health from the dentist, however I was told that I need to concentrate on my right-inside-bottom teeth more when brushing. It’s the spot (if you’re right handed) that is the most difficult to get with a manual brush. You need to twist your wrist just so and if you don’t get it right, you neglect an entire row of teeth.

Apparently I wasn’t getting the twist action down but since I received the recommendation and the FlexCare+ it’s become so easy for me to reach that spot. All my teeth have that ‘just-left-the-dentist-clean’ feeling . I also have a really good sense of clean by using the UV sanitizer. It’s so easy to use. It’s a part of the charger and base. You pop the brush head off, place it on the provided drip tray, close the door and press a button. Cleaning only take 10 minutes, so next time you’re ready to brush it’s complete. Peace of mind!

I am so happy I decided to Make the Switch with Sonicare. I’m going to be watching to see if I can keep that dentist-clean feeling and I hope to keep those pesky coffee stains at bay.

WIN YOUR OWN SONICARE FLEXCARE+ VALUED AT $219.95

One City Mom reader will win a Philips Sonicare FlexCare+ power toothbrush and it’s really easy to enter.

Just leave a comment sharing the reason(s) you’d like to Make the Switch.

After you complete that entry, feel free to make use of these extra entries. Leave a separate comment for each extra entry.

  1. Follow @_CityMom on Twitter and tweet the following (can be tweeted once a day) I want to join @_CityMom in the #SonicareSwitch Enter to #win a Sonicare power toothbrush SRV $219.95 http://tinyurl.com/3hwfldk#canwin #giveaway
  2. Share this post in any other format using the orange ‘Share +’ button below.
  3. Like City Mom on Facebook
  4. Google +1 me. Click the icon below that has a +1 shown. The number next to it should increase by one. If it does, it counts!
  5. Subscribe to City Mom Free Updates (must confirm subscription)

Rules

  1. This contest is open to Canadian Residents only & will run until August 10, 2011 at 11:59 pm ET.
  2. You may enter to win on City Mom and any other Canadian blog running this contest but you are only eligible to win one Sonicare toothbrush.
  3. One winner will be randomly selected using And the Winner is. The winner will first be announced on City Mom through a Video post on Friday August 12, 2011. The winner will then be contacted at the email address used upon entry and will have 48 hours to respond. Failure to respond will result in a new winner selection.

Good luck!

Disclosure – I am participating in the PHILIPS SONICARE FLEXCARE+ program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of Philips Canada. I received a Sonicare product pack and a gift card as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

City Mom

Shaken Baby Syndrome & PURPLE Crying

purple_hat_babies

Something I haven’t talked about very much on City Mom is my experience with Postpartum Depression (PPD). This debilitating condition is not something I would wish upon my worst enemy. It was a sad, devastating period in my life.

As a new mom, I felt uncertain, scared and alone. What made things worse was the inconsolable crying my new baby often exhibited. I didn’t know what to do and I was lost. I had tried everything I could think of to soothe her, but the crying didn’t stop.

Finally one day I had enough. I placed her in her crib, walked away and called my husband at work.

“I can’t do this! I need help! Come home!” I screamed into the phone.

He left work immediately and thanks to a flexible employer and an understanding government, we were able to take the next four months off together to figure things out. I needed help and I couldn’t do it alone. He was able to be there for me. He provided a life-preserver when I was drowning.

We were lucky. We had the means available to make this work for our family and we did just that. Sadly, in some cases it doesn’t turn out so well.

THE PERIOD OF PURPLE CRYING

Fortunately there are many resources for new parents today. The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, the purplecrying.info web site and Click for Babies are groups and initiatives in place to help raise awareness on the normal occurrence in a new baby’s life called The Period of PURPLE Crying.

PURPLE Crying is a normal developmental stage in a baby’s life that is often misdiagnosed as colic. Colic medicines are often prescribed as a remedy which only reinforces the idea that something is wrong with the baby. The phrase, Period of PURPLE Crying, has been developed to educate parents on this natural phase an infant will experience.

PURPLE is an acronym created that makes the information easy to remember for new parents. The diagram below demonstrates the meaning behind each letter.

PURPLE CRYING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • Begins at 2 weeks of age and lasts until 3 to 4 months
  • All babies go through this phase; some cry more and some cry less
  • Crying tends to be more extreme in the late afternoon and evening
  • During the phase, babies can cry for hours but are still healthy and ‘normal’
  • Babies can look like they are in pain when in actuality they are not

CLICK FOR BABIES

Click for Babies is an initiative put together to help raise awareness of the Period of PURPLE Crying. This program was developed to collaborate with knitters and crocheters across North America to make PURPLE caps for babies.

Click for Babies is organized by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome (NCSBS) in partnership with invited organizations in an effort to prevent infant abuse, namely Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma.

SHAKEN BABY SYNDROME

Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma (SBS/AHT) is a devastating form of abuse that happens when a person violently shakes an infant with or without impact.

Thousands of infants are injured and killed every year from being shaken. Approximately 75% of infants who are shaken suffer permanent brain injuries and 30% of infants die as a result of their injuries.

GET INVOLVED

You can help with preventing this type of infant abuse by knitting PURPLE infant caps and donating them to organizations in your area that are involved with this campaign.

Visit clickforbabies.org to learn more details and guidelines for the caps.

If you don’t know how to knit you can contribute by making a donation that will help to fund the cost of the caps. You can also help to spread the word by sharing this information on your social networks. Tweet it, Buzz it, email it etc. All links are available on clickforbabies.org

START KNITTING NOW

Organizers in the locations below are working diligently with knitters to collect enough caps to provide to every baby born in participating hospitals through the entire month of November.

Join the campaign now! Knit from 5 to 50 or any number in between of PURPLE colored baby caps using soft baby friendly yarn and send them to organizers in your province.

CANADIAN CONTRIBUTIONS

British Columbia
ATTN: Claire Yambao, Provincial Program Coordinator
Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome BC
BC Children’s Hospital
4480 Oak Street, Room K1-201
Vancouver, BC V6H 3V4

LONDON, ON CONTRIBUTIONS

Yay London! The London Health Sciences Centre is an active participant in this program:

Southwest Ontario
Denise Polgar
Injury Prevention Specialist Trauma Program
London Health Sciences Centre/Children’s Hospital
800 Commissioners Road East
Room E1-129
London, Ontario N6A 5W9

US contributions and general contribution information can be found on clickforbabies.org.

City Mom

The Narooma Mystery

My friend Sarah, left, rides in a dingy out to Montague Island with the 'strangers'

My friend Sarah, left, rides in a dingy out to Montague Island with the 'strangers'

 

Since I began blogging over a year ago, there have been many doors that have opened for me; all very unexpected. I have continued to be amazed by the opportunities that have come my way. One opportunity seems to lead to another opened door and another new experience.  

Today’s story is a perfect example of these exciting opportunities and unusual happenings. It also reminds me that our world is actually very small.  

The Internet is a crazy thing and turns thousands of miles between friends into quaint coffee shop conversations. It makes never meeting your distant cousins into video chatting with them everyday.  

I was lucky to be asked to write a post on Canada.com for Canada Day. I was given the freedom to write about any topic I wanted as long it had to do with Canada. Immediately an experience I had over a decade ago on my year-long trip to Australia came to mind. And thanks to the Internet, my post was picked up by some interested individuals.  

I’ll summarize the post from Canada.com (in case you don’t have time to read it).  

I was travelling along the southern coast of Australia with two girlfriends. We stopped in at a tiny town (Narooma) to rest for the night. This stopover turned out to be so much more than we had intended.  

Having dinner at Lynch's Hotel in Narooma, Australia. This is the pub where we met the 'strangers'.

 

While having drinks and dinner at a small pub, we were approached by a group of locals who invited us on a snorkelling excursion they had planned for the next day. We accepted the offer and enjoyed our day immensely. After returning to land we offered to compensate our friends for the gas they had used to take us to and from the island, to which they refused. All they asked for in return was that we pay the deed forward when back in Canada.  

That story was posted on July 1st on Canada.com. Shortly after its publication, I received an email from a fantastic woman in Australia who is a producer for ABC in New South Wales. She wanted to share my story on their radio network. I accepted with excitement and I was on air the next day, live with Tim Holt on ABC South East NSW.  

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, I was contacted by another media member, Stan Gorton from the Narooma News, a local newspaper. Stan wanted to run my story (since coined the Narooma Mystery) and publish photos that I had shared from our trip all those years ago.  

We’re hoping to find out who those locals are, because you see this was before the days of Facebook and Twitter; I know, I’m aging myself with that comment. We didn’t get any contact information for our new friends and it would be so nice to catch up with them today through social media. I’d like for them to know what an impact that day had on us that day.  

When I think about the few things that I have been truly passionate about and amazed by in my life (next to my family), the two things that stand out are my year spent in Australia and my writing. To see these two passions join together to create another new and exciting chapter in my story is amazing.  

You can listen to the Radio Interview and you can check out the news article.  

Remember, should you come upon a visitor from another country, extend an offer similar to this and you never know, they may remember it decades later. Show them what your city is all about!  

City Mom

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