May 2013

Nominate Your Community for a $25,000 Prize!

Kraft Celebration Tour

Canada becomes the backdrop for the country’s biggest summertime celebration as the award-winning Kraft Celebration Tour gets set to hit the road for the fifth consecutive year.  And we Canadians have an opportunity to get our communities involved.

ABOUT THE TOUR

Since April 29, 2013, Canadians have been able to nominate their city/town for a $25,000 prize which would see a community improvement project take place in their municipality.

The tour is brought to us by Kraft and TSN with the goal of recognizing the passion and community spirit that brings people together and promotes healthy active lifestyles from coast to coast. To date, Kraft has helped 40 different communities with $1 million towards improvement projects including:

• Building a skateboard park
• Upgrading a sports field
• Improving a boxing facility
• Renovating a community youth centre

And what is perhaps almost as exciting as the $25,000 prize is the fact that Canada’s number one sportscast, TSN will broadcast live from the 10 communities chosen to win.

HAVE YOUR SAY LONDON

As a long-time promoter and enthusiast of my city, London Ontario, I am a little biased in the fact that I want London to be one of the winners. So I’m calling all Londoners to get their nominations in!

How to enter:

Visit kraftcelebrationtour.ca before June 7, 2013 and share a short essay and up to five photos on why your community deserves to be part of the Kraft Celebration Tour.

Be sure to include your reasons why you think the $25,000 prize will benefit your community and how you think it will to improve a local community space. Your essay should touch upon how the award would help promote community spirit, a passion for sports, and an active lifestyle. 

FIND OUT MORE

To find our more information about this exciting opportunity visit Kraft Celebration Tour on Facebook, follow @KCTAndy and the hashtags #KCT or #tourneedecelebrationkraft on Twitter and TSN on Facebook.

WHO WILL YOU NOMINATE?

I can think of a few different candidates in my community that would be worthy of the $25,000 prize but my nomination will go to Victoria Park in the heart of London.

Victoria Park Band Shell

Victoria Park is 18 acres and is in downtown London. Many of our best community events take place here and it is the gathering place for a diverse group of people from around the city.

The park itself is in very good condition and has many monuments and historical plaques sharing the wonderful history of the park. There is a large band shell and even a public skate park with metal benches and space for this activity.

Because Victoria Park facilitates so many amazing events for so many Londoners and tourists alike, it really is our community meeting space and I feel it could benefit for some additional resources.

Though I am not a city zoning expert (so these ideas may not be possible) I believe we could make this park more family friendly with more accessible washrooms, a splash pad and/or a playground.

I would love to see the skate park expanded upon to give the enthusiasts of this sport even more choice for their pastime. I would also love to see more recreational facilities like beach volleyball courts, basketball courts and shuffleboard.

The ideas are endless and implementing some of them will help to strengthen our community at its very core as well as help to promote togetherness and physical activity.

What community space would you nominate in your city and why?

Disclosure – I am participating in the Kraft Celebration Tour Blogger Campaign. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.

City Mom

lolë Women: Yoga, Golf, Swimwear & More

lole women

There’s a new yoga-wear line on the block and it’s fabulous!

‘New’ probably isn’t the right word considering that lolë has been making feminine active wear since 2002, but it’s just recently that I’ve become aware of this versatile, Canadian line.

A while back, I was in search of yoga gear that was a little different; I’ve attended one too many yoga classes wearing the same outfit as the person next to me and I wanted to show my individuality and until recently, the choices were limited.

LOLE WOMEN

lolë is inspired by well-being in general and the need to respond to the needs of active, urban women. Guess what? I’m one of those women and you probably are too!

When I was asked to become a lolë ambassador I nearly jumped out of my seat! How fitting; I was in search of some freedom when it came to active wear and lolë offers just that!

Lole State of Mind

MY LOLE

Choosing from the lolë line was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do! No joke…there are so many great options that it was hard to narrow it down. I knew that I wanted a traditional yoga outfit for my yoga retreat trip to France so I started with the Yoga/Pilates line.

After lots of browsing online I finally chose the Live It Up Tank Top in black and the Vinyasa Capri in purple.

This is me in France wearing my new yoga gear:

City Mom Lole Ambassador

I was so excited when I received my shipment just one day later! How’s that for speed and ease? I ripped open my package and tried the outfit on. I was thrilled with the fit. It can sometimes prove difficult to order online but I was super impressed with the accuracy that their measurement chart demonstrated in comparison with the way the clothes fit.

And since shipping (both to and from if you have to return something) is free, so this gave me peace of mind that if it didn’t fit, it wouldn’t cost me to get it right.

Here is a breakdown of some of the most important aspects I look for when buying yoga clothes and I felt lolë compared:

  1. Price: lolë price point is very reasonable and is competitive with similar active wear lines.
  2. Quality: The quality of the garments, particularly the pants had me excited! There are no see-through bums in downward dog and to me that is a must!
  3. Fit:  the fit is perfect! Good quality material with 100% movability. It makes me feel comfortable and confident; two more must-haves!
  4. Style: the style of the clothing I chose was not only functional but flattering and on cue with current yoga fashion trends.

MORE THAN JUST YOGA

I love lolë particularly for their yoga line but they are so much more than that; from swimwear to golf and tennis wear to running gear, lolë has it all. And each line is made with functionality and style at the forefront of the design inspiration.

With garments that keep you warm and dry, allow you to move comfortably and protect you from the sun with UPF protection, you’ll find a garment for every need you have.

Here are a few of my favs:

lole women

  1. Passion Tank
  2. Audrey Top
  3. Balasana Cardigan
  4. Maggy Pants

GET 15% OFF LOLE CLOTHING

lolë has a fantastic offer on their site; when you sign up to receive the lolë newsletter (which is always filled with useful info and latest products) you will received 15% off your entire order.

SHOP LOLE

The lolë clothing line can be ordered online. You can also follow along with lolë on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube.

Alternatively, lolë has retail stores worldwide. Use the Find a Store feature to locate one near you.

Disclaimer: I was compensated for sharing my views on lolë however these opinions are 100% my own.

City Mom

City Mom’s Kitchen: Tarte aux Moutarde

Life Made DeliciousNow that our spring weather has finally arrived, it’s time to start delving into fresh, local produce. There’s nothing better than buying farm fresh harvests from local grocers and markets and now is the time as most of our favourites are in full bloom.

And timing for me couldn’t be better as I have recently returned from a trip to the south of France where they are no strangers to making use of the amazing, seasonal fruits and vegetables the countryside has to offer.

A dish that I became smitten with while travelling in Provence is called Tarte aux Moutarde which is known by us English speakers as Tomato and Mustard Pie.

The French have a way of making everything sound better, more romantic and more appealing don’t’ they? But don’t be turned off by the English translation; this pie is so full of flavour that it will leave you saying “plus s’il vous plait”!

PROVENCAL CUISINE

The region of Provence is rich in healthy fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, garlic, onions, lettuce, carrots, fennel, potatoes, mushrooms, cabbage, zucchini, artichokes and asparagus.

And of course their sunny climate (much like ours) lends a perfect breeding ground for olives so you can be sure that most of their recipes include fresh olive oil.

Here in Canada, tomatoes peak in July so you have lots of time to practice this recipe to perfection to serve at your summer BBQ and patio parties. It will be a hit, and when you’re asked where you found this recipe, you can simply reply “Oh, it’s just an old Provencal recipe I had tucked away!”

C’est manifique!

TARTE AUX MOUTARDE

Tarte aux Moutarde

The whole grain Dijon mustard and tomatoes marry together to create a harmonious burst of sweet, salty and sour all at the same time. I can only suggest that you try it yourself to see!

Ingredients

  • 1 pie crust (frozen)
  • ¼ cup whole grain, Dijon mustard
  • 3 – 4 (1/4 inch thick) slices of Swiss cheese
  • 3 small to medium tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Herbs de Provence

Directions

  1. Thaw (if frozen) pie shell according to package directions. Follow package directions for fluting.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  3. Spread mustard over the bottom of the pie crust.
  4. Layer with cheese slices.
  5. Slice tomatoes and distribute in a spiral formation over cheese.
  6. Drizzle with olive oil.
  7. Sprinkle with Herbs de Provence.
  8. Bake in over for 20 – 30 minutes or when crust is golden brown and tomato edges are wilted.
  9. Enjoy!

LIFE MADE DELICIOUS

Since this post is inspired by the Life Made Delicious Ambassador program that I am a part of, I wanted to share some other tasty recipes that make use of wonderful, seasonal tomatoes this summer:

What is your favourite season vegetable to cook with?

Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Blogger program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

City Mom

Kaliyoga France: Your Home Away From Home

Kaliyoga France

I have recently returned from a 10 day whirlwind trip to France and 6 of those days were spent at a yoga retreat, Kaliyoga France.

KALIYOGA FRANCE

Oh where to begin? There are so many great things to say about this retreat: the romantic and historical hamlet that Kaliyoga France calls home, the food (oh my gosh the food, this topic gets its own section), the people, the atmosphere, the guided hill walks, the peace, the serenity…somebody stop me!

Kaliyoga is a life-affirming experience, not just a holiday. Combining the lifestyle benefits of yoga with delicious organic cuisine, holistic therapies, hill walking and inspirational workshops. Kaliyoga is for those who seek authenticity in life and it’s also a great place to meet new people, catch up with old friends and have a thorough break from stress.

Kaliyoga has two retreat locations owned by Jonathon and Rosie Miles; Kaliyoga Spain set in the Alpujarra mountain range and Kaliyoga France set in the lavender and thyme-scented hills of Provençe.

Jonathan and Rosie created Kaliyoga almost 10 years ago so that guests may have a place to practice yoga, enjoy good food and feel nurtured in good company. And I can attest firsthand that they have been successful in their quest.

THE HAMLET

Kaliyoga France Rooms

Kaliyoga France is nestled in a historic hamlet in “Le Luberon” a mountainous collection of small villages in Provence, the south of France. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and while that may be true, there are no words to describe the breathtaking view when you first arrive at Kaliyoga France.

The only way I felt I could describe what I was seeing was to say that I felt like I was in a movie. I had to remind myself that what I was seeing was not being viewed through a TV screen but a real life wonder seen through my own eyes.

Upon arrival the senses of peace and tranquility immediately fill your mind. The fresh mountain air, gorgeous hillside views and calming sounds of nature help to create this notion.

The guest rooms range from large apartment style quarters to quaint one bedroom spaces. I called ‘Maison Rouge’ home for my six-day stay. With a comfy bed, warm down filled duvet and a small table for writing and meditation, I felt truly at home.

The art displayed throughout the hamlet  is another aspect that can only truly be appreciated by seeing it yourself. Everywhere you turn there is an interesting and awe-inspiring piece of art that helps to add to the eclectic, romantic and exotic feel of Kaliyoga France.

THE STAFF

Using the term “staff” doesn’t seem to do these wonderful people justice and before too long they feel like family members more than anything else. Jackie “Jax” is the manager of Kaliyoga France but I like refer to her as the ‘house mom’. She has a loving nature and it quickly shows that she has her guest’s best interests at heart. She’s always available for accommodating your needs or just for a good, old chat.

The other members of Kaliyoga also have a huge impact on the family- feel that this retreat offers and their personal touches make you feel right at home.

THE FOOD

Kaliyoga Food France

Never have I enjoyed food so much as I did at Kaliyoga France and I have Sophie and her husband Patrice to thank for that. Together these live-in house staff care for the grounds and provide their guests with amazing, healthy and organic meals. From Tarte aux Moutarde to Beetroot & Goat Cheese tart to hearty soups and luscious salads, the food could perhaps be the number one reason to attend Kaliyoga France.

Since returning home I have attempted to recreate a few of Sophie’s dishes; while I may have come close, nothing will ever quite compare! Each meal is made with tender loving care and my only regret is that my French is despicable and I was not able to communicate with Sophie well enough to let her know just how much love I interpreted through her creations.

Note that they are able to accommodate many dietary requirements and allergies.

THE YOGA

Kaliyoga France Yoga Studio

The yoga offered at this retreat is called ‘Dynamic Yoga’ lead by Tashi Dawa.

Tashi is a warm, loving individual who exudes passion for all things yoga, healthy living and meditation. She is extremely knowledgeable in her area of study and shares a wonderful energy with her students.

There seemed to be a certain amount of misinterpretation on the term “dynamic yoga” as some students (myself included) had expected the yoga to be more vigorous in nature and less restorative. While we did work through some traditional hatha poses, the yoga we worked on seemed a little more gentle than expected by some.

Tashi explains Dynamic Yoga like this:

We teach this method, coined in the mid 90’s as Dynamic yoga, as developed by Godfrey Devereux. We practice to fertilise both movement and stillness while integrating the dynamic of the bandhas (the integral structure of the hands, feet, pelvic floor, lower ribcage and throat) in the whole body. We use movement to enable a deep intimacy with breath, body, mind and consciousness.

Tashi also lead us through some really fun and very interesting partner style yoga. This really opened my eyes to the abilities of the human body and the possibilities working with others in an otherwise individual practice can bring.

Kaliyoga France Partner Yoga

WHY YOU SHOULD GO

Whether you are a yoga enthusiast or not, you will benefit from the relaxation that a retreat at Kaliyoga offers; the yoga aspect offers a wonderful opportunity for those looking for a meditative, restorative experience while the environment offers a playground for rest and peace.

The guided hill walks (optional) allows for socialization, exercise and sight-seeing which adds to the overall experience.

The intimate family feel that both the staff and the other guests create ensures that you will feel right at home and at the very least, you will walk away with a sense of regeneration and life-affirmation.

CONNECT WITH KALIYOGA

Kaliyoga France runs retreats in May and June and spaces are almost full. Kaliyoga Spain runs from May to November.

Web: www.kaliyoga.com
Facebook: facebook.com/KaliyogaRetreats
Twitter: @KaliyogaRetreat

CONTACT ME

There are so many more things to say about Kaliyoga France but I only have so much space. If you are interested in booking with Kaliyoga France and have any  more questions that I didn’t answer here, please don’t hesitate to contact me at kelly@citymom.ca. I will be more than happy to share more of my experience with you.

Thank you so much to everyone at Kaliyoga France (staff & guests) for making my first trip to France and my first yoga retreat an experience  I will never forget!

Kaliyoga Group

Disclaimer: I was compensated for my review on Kaliyoga France, however my opinion on my experience is completely my own.

Namaste,

City Mom

Things to Do Victoria Day Weekend 2013

Local Events Listing London Ontario

Thank you for visiting City Mom. If you have arrived at this post looking for Victoria Day activities in London, ON for 2016, please visit this link for a listing of events for 2016.

City Mom

Not Your Average Photo Editing Software: Fotor.com

fotor.com

By now, many of us are accustomed to photo editing software; these multimedia tools allow the average photographer to create above average photos with the use of easy editing tools. There are many choices available for us to choose from and sometimes that can be overwhelming.

Another issue seems to be that once you get the hang of one tool that started out free, they begin charging you and not everyone is willing to pay.

Well, there’s a new tool on the block and that is fotor.com.

ABOUT FOTOR

Fotor was launched in May, 2012 (happy birthday Fotor!) and has from the beginning brought powerful, easy to use photo editing tools into the hands of anyone and everyone with an internet connection.

Fotor uses cloud computing to provide a suite of image processing tools ranging from basic cropping to automatic photo enhancement to fun add-ons like frames and text. Fotor has made professional-level photo editing accessible to everyday users through an easy to use and understand interface.

FOTOR WALKTHRU

The best way to speak to fotor’s abilities is to walk you through a photo editing session.

Here’s a photo that could be really nice; a father and his daughter strolling in the woods on a beautiful, sunny day. Bad news is that the photographer (me) is just your average click-happy individual who visually can see a great shot, but can’t capture it with the lens.

Image before edits

After opening the photo, tools on the left show up with easy to understand icons that when hovered over, show what the icon is used for.

Basic Edits

From here you can do things such as 1-Tap Enhance which detects the correct settings for the photo and automatically enhances it. Alternatively, you can manually enhance the pictures with options like crop, curve, rotate, tone and colors. In basic mode you can also resize your image and straighten it if you’re like me and get the angle of slightly.

1 Tap Enhance

Effects

There are so many effects to choose from that I advise you to check them all out yourself. Some of my favourites for this photo are Mini-Oven, Sunlight Spots, Hot Fudge Sunday and Yellowish. Overall there are 57 effects to choose from, all free.

fotor effects

Frames

Adding frames to your photos can really make them stand out, especially for us bloggers. There are over 60 frames to choose from, as well as the ability to add your own border, shadow effect or gallery frame.

One item I miss here is the ability to use the eyedropper tool  to select a custom colour from within your photo. This is a feature I use with other photo editing software that saves a ton of time on finding the perfect matching frame colour.

Clip Art

Now here is where it gets really fun! Adding clip art to your photos can be effective when using your photos to mark special occasions, as gift or as greeting cards. Clip Art in Fotor is really easy as you can search by ‘label’ for the prefect collection suited to your theme. You can choose from 50 different categories of clip art.

Text

A tool I use a lot for editing my photos for blogging is the text tool. I really like Fotor’s version of this feature. First you add your text into the text area and then you’re able to play around with it in terms of font style and colour. Again, I find I miss the eyedropper tool here to customize my colour choice. Hopefully this is something Fotor will carry out soon.

There are over 300 fonts to choose from for text editing. This is something that I have not seen in other photo editing software; almost every font imaginable. You can also scroll through the list with your text selected and watch it change as you scroll down.  This is a big feature in my opinion as it save on a lot of trial and error time.

fotor text

Brushes

There are three brush types to choose from; Color Splash, Mosaics and Big Aperture.

Color Splash

Allows you to bring focus to a particular part of the image by gray scaling everything except the area you select.

fotor brushes color splash

Mosaics

Turn selected parts of your photo into pixellated mosaics.

fotor brushes mosaics

Big Aperture

Perhaps my favourite feature here, you can increase/decrease the aperture of the lens to change focus and sharpness.

fotor brushes big aperature

Compare

The compare feature is definitely my favourite one. This is not something I have been able to find in other photo editing software and it is the key to good photo editing.

By selecting compare, you are able to see a side-by-side view of your original photo and the new state after you’ve applied edits. This way you are able to see if you’ve really improved your photo or not.

fotor compare feature

Save & Share

Now that you are finished creating a wonderful work of art you can save your photo in a few different ways. Save in .jpg or .png file format, or share directly to your favourite social networks.

PHOTO COLLAGE

Now here is perhaps where Fotor stands out the most; the ability to work with multiple photos. Check out all the different and fun ways to create photo collages.

Template

fotor collage

Photo Stitching

fotor photo stiching

Montage

fotor montage

Shape Collage

fotor shape collage

PHOTO CARDS

Again, another priceless feature that you don’t find with other software out there; the ability to create custom-made greeting cards with your photos.  And how timely for Mother’s Day.

fotor greeting cards

HDR PHOTOGRAPHY

Fotor also offers HDR Photography, (High Dynamic Range) which takes three photos with different exposures and combines them into a single image to bring out the best light and tone in each part of the photo.

Fotor.com is the first photo editor offering HDR features online so you can capture highlights, shadows and striking details without the need to download software.  This is not an area that I amvery skilled in working with so I encourage you to check it out yourself. It looks like it can do some amazing things!

OVERALL IMPRESSION

I love Fotor.com for editing my photos. There are so many extraordinary features that you can’t find anywhere else and because of this, it will likely be my one stop shop for my future image manipulation needs. There are a few items that I miss in fotor.com as mentioned above that I do hope to see implemented in future versions.

FOTOR APP

Fotor isn’t just for PC users, you can also download the fotor app from iTunes.

CONNECT WITH FOTOR

Get started today for free at fotor.com and follow along with the Fotor team on Facebook and Twitter.

I’d love to hear what you think of this tool as well! Happy editing!

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post, however the opinions are 100% my own and are in no way influenced by fotor.com.

City Mom

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