Magazine-Worthy Holiday Table for Under $50

Holiday Table on a Budget

When I received the most recent edition of Canada’s Style at Home magazine, I was really taken with the holiday dining table image on the cover. In fact, the entire issue had some gorgeous holiday design ideas. Sadly for me, I do not have the budget to recreate the image exactly, not even close in fact. I imagine the table accessorizing cost hundreds of dollars.

We are just not a hundreds-of-dollars-holiday-table kind of family so what is a girl to do who wants to have one but can’t? I decided that I was going to go out in search of items that could create the same sort of feel as the magazine design for a fraction of the cost.

I think I was pretty successful in my hunt and I was able to create a pleasing holiday table that not only fit our budget, but also our small dining table.


I should note that I already owned the wine glasses, dinner plates and cutlery so they are not included in the fifty dollar budget.

I bought everything at Dollarama except for the red tea light lanterns; those I found at Loblaws for just five dollars each.

Holiday Table on a Budget

List of items I used are as follows:

  • Two sparkle pillar candles
  • Silver paper napkins and one set of red tree ornaments
  • Silver tablecloth
  • Pinecone greenery
  • Two snow-covered candle wreaths
  • Four silver serving platters
  • Four antique-looking china bowls
  • Two tea light lanterns
  • One LED Pillar candle
  • Dinner plates
  • Silverware
  • Wine glasses

Holiday Table on a Budget

I am pretty pleased with the outcome of my little project and now we’ll be ready for any drop-ins over the holidays as my table will always be set.

Holiday Table on a Budget

What do you think? What project would you love to try on a budget?

City Mom

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Marriage Monday: Couples Resort Review

Marriage Monday

A few weeks ago my husband and I were fortunate enough to visit the Couples Resort in Algonquin Park, Ontario for one fun-filled, relaxing and romantic weekend. Our adventure was so good for the mind, body and soul as well as a priceless bonding experience for our marriage.

That is why I have selected our review of the Couples Resort to include in City Mom’s first-ever Marriage Monday feature.


On the first Monday of each month, City Mom will focus on a topic, product, service etc. that will help to contribute to the quality and health of marriages. In today’s fast-paced society it is often too easy to put all of our focus on our careers, children and social lives; we often forget to put importance on our relationship with our significant other and that can wreak havoc on the well-being of the entire family.

Marriage Monday is meant to act as a great way to start your week with an enjoyable read that can help to bring some focus to your marriage/relationship with tips, reviews and personal success stories.

Without further ado, I am thrilled to share our experience at Couples Resort.


Couples Resort Algonquin Park

As the name says, this resort if focused on couples meaning that there are NO KIDS ALLOWED! How refreshing right? This resort is set just outside of the Algonquin Park gates in Whitney, Ontario. This setting provides its breathtaking views that will keep you awestruck for your entire stay.

We visited in mid-October so we had just missed the true colours of fall which apparently are beautiful. We were however able to witness our first snowfall of the season and experience some chilly temperatures which made using the in-room, wood burning fireplace all the more enticing.

There are various types of rooms to choose from at Couples Resort. We stayed in a junior suite that included one extremely comfortable king size bed, large balcony with a lake view, in room Jacuzzi tub and wood burning fireplace (all the wood you can use included).

From the moment we pulled up to the entrance, to the moment we left (sadly) we were constantly impressed. Couples Resort is rated 5 stars and it’s very obvious why.


Couples Resort Room Review

The best words I can use to describe our room are cozy and rustic which combined, create an extremely quaint and romantic setting. We loved the romance that the fireplace and Jacuzzi added as well.

Other rooms that are available include a private outdoor hot tub, Chateaus, Master Suites, Chalets, Villas with Saunas and Exotics.

No matter the type of room that you should choose, they all include the following awesome upgrades:

  • Free – Internet high speed – WIFI & Hard Wired
  • Free – Netflix Video Streaming
  • Walkout Spacious Lakeside Balcony
  • Real Wood Fireplace (with FREE firewood and firestarter, 2 candles)
  • 2 bath robes, a cosmetic mirror
  • Hair Dryer
  • Irons/Ironing Boards
  • Keurig Coffee Maker (extra charge for coffee)
  • Phones – Free long Distance
  • 2 padded Chaise Lounge Chairs – Spring, Summer and Fall
  • Large Double Relaxing Soaker Jacuzzi Tub
  • Safes
  • Alarm Clock


Couples Resort Activities

The natural beauties of Algonquin Park provide perhaps the best “activity” possible but Couples Resort offers a wide range of activities to enjoy during your stay.  A park pass is even included in your stay.

Depending on the time of year, the activities offered vary; dog sledding in the winter and horseback riding (extra cost) during the other seasons. Guests can enjoy the free use of mountain bikes, canoes and kayaks. In the summer you can make use of the salt water pool and lakeside patio with patio chairs and in the winter you can enjoy ice skating and snowmobiling (extra cost).

There are a lot of extras included that you don’t see at regular resorts. Check out the activities list to see all the inclusions.

My husband and I had a fabulous time making use of the mountain bikes and we rode the nearby trails. We also enjoyed a fun horseback riding experience.


Couples Resort Food Review

I could not stop taking pictures and raving about the food at Couples Resort. If you follow City Mom on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram, you were probably very aware that I was having the time of my life at Couples Resort and the food was a huge contributor to that!

First, all meals (with the exception of lunch) are included in your stay. Dinner is a first class, five course meal. The culinary team is led by Executive Chef, Ronnie Coppens and the menu is full of fresh, seasonally available Ontario produced foods. It perhaps is the number one reason why you should visit Couples Resort.

We especially enjoyed having our meals delivered to our room (free of charge). It was pure luxury dining in our room for both breakfast and dinner with the warm ambiance of our wood burning fireplace. We got to eat in our plush robes and stay in the comfort of our cozy room.


From the moment we began our stay to our time of check-out, every single interaction with the staff was exemplary. Each was helpful, friendly and kind which contributed greatly to our feeling or relaxation and enjoyment. Something to note, that tipping is included in your stay, so while you will likely feel the desire to tip, it is not promoted.


With only two short days, there were many things we didn’t have time to do such as the Spa which has been awarded one of North America’s top 100 Spas. This is definitely something I want to check out on our next visit.

There is also a games room/lounge area that includes pool tables, ping-pong, shuffleboard and darts.


Regardless of the time of year that you should choose to visit, you will absolutely love your experience at Couples Resort. There are a number of seasonal packages available so be sure to check them out.


Taking time out from your busy lives and spending some “adult time” is a much needed activity to do with your partner. It allows for a deeper connection and stronger bond. While it can be difficult to find sitters for the kids and finances for the trip, it is something that you will not regret and something I highly recommend making a priority for your relationship.

My husband and I came back feeling refreshed, happy and connected. This is priceless and will last a lot longer than a single weekend.

Thank you so much to John and the rest of Couples Resort staff for helping to make our weekend so amazing!

Disclaimer: I received complimentary accommodations in exchange for my review but the opinions expressed are 100% my own.

City Mom

Universal Stone: Safe Cleaning for Your Home {#giveaway}

Universal Stone Review Warning! This post/review may cause an addiction to cleaning. Symptoms may include the urge to clean anything and everything in your home using Universal Stone. A scrub here, a scrub there and you will find yourself compelled to clean everything you once thought would never come clean.

So you’ve been warned and you’ve obviously decided to keep reading; good choice! I love my Universal Stone so much and for many reasons so let’s get started learning more about it.


Universal Stone is an eco-friendly and biodegradable cleaning and polishing “stone”. Universal Stone is a compressed powder made from earth/polishing clay, glycerin, green soap, soap flakes, vegetable oils and perfume oils that becomes foamy when it gets wet.

Universal Stone is:

  • Non-toxic, acid free
  • Safe for children and pets
  • All natural ingredients
  • Gentle on skin
  • Allergy friendly
  • Phosphor free

It can be used on any surface and is especially effective removing lime, hard water deposits, permanent marker and grease.  Its many uses include everything from marble and ceramics to silverware and jewelry to sports, equipment, bathroom grout and outdoor furniture.


I set aside about half a day to test Universal Stone on multiple surfaces in my home. I even used it to clean and polish my wedding rings. First I started with the floor in my shower that is plastic and textured so very porous. Over the years it has picked up what seemed to be permanent stains no matter how hard I scrubbed.

Universal Stone

Though I don’t believe these photos quite do it justice, you can see my before and after. I used a sponge and brush to scrub the floor with the Universal Stone. With the naked eye you notice an instant brightness and a whiter look compared to before. Using Universal Stone has taken about three years off the look of the floor.

Next, I used it on my glass stove top. This is perhaps where I was the most impressed with Universal Stone. If you have a glass cook surface you understand how frustrating it can be to remove burnt spots. If you have a pot boil over, you could be looking at a permanent stain. That is we had come to terms with on our cook top until I polished it with Universal Stone.

Universal Stone

After trying other products, even those specifically designed for glass cook tops to no avail we had given up.  I used a softer sponge with Universal Stone and with very little elbow grease, it wiped right off. I was truly impressed!

Next I used it to remove fingerprints, dirt and grime from a painted wall surface around the light switch in our laundry room. You can see for yourselves the difference Universal Stone made. After the area dried, I double checked to make sure that the paint had not rubbed off too and I’m happy to report that it did not. It really restored the paint and perhaps saved us a paint job.

Universal Stone

I also used Universal Stone on our stainless steel appliances which resulted in a streak-free, easy clean and our painted, wooden doors to remove scuff marks. The painted wooden door is the only area I would not use Universal Stone again. I had to scrub pretty hard to get the marks out and in one spot it appeared to take some of the paint off the door.



There are other products out there that could probably do the same thing (or close to it) as Universal Stone and one comes to my mind right away. But when I make a comparison of the ingredients between the two, there is no question in my mind that Universal Stone is the way to go if not just for you, but for your children and pets too.

I loved the fact that while I was working in a small enclosed space like the shower, there were no fumes to irritate my eyes, nose and lungs. I also love the fact that all it took was rinsing with warm water to remove the Universal Stone from the surfaces I cleaned. When something is that easy to rinse off, you know it’s because it’s full of natural ingredients.


If you would like to have your own Universal Stone you can visit to order. Small jars (500 g) retails for $29.95 and includes a special sponge to use with the product.


Today on City Mom, you can enter to win a Universal Stone prize pack of your own. You can enter using the giveaway widget below.

Prize Pack is valued at $60 and includes:

  • 800g Universal Stone
  • Ceramic Storage Tray
  • Linen Dish Cloth
  • 3-pack of the World’s Best Pot Scrubbers

Open to Canadian (excl. Quebec) & continental US residents. Must be 18+. The giveaway is open from October 29, 2014 – November 12, 2014 at 11:59pm.

Good luck!

Universal Stone

Disclaimer: I was given complimentary product in exchange for my review. All opinions shared here are 100% my own.

City Mom

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