Barilla Cooking With Kids

Let Me Tell You A Secret About Picky Eaters

My kids hate food. Alright, that seems a little drastic. It seems as though my children dislike more food than they like. Any parent with a picky eater understands the frustration of slaving over a healthy family meal, only to have 50% of the people at the dinner table refuse to eat any of it. Stories such as, “It has green things in it” or “I like it but don’t want to eat it right now”, are mainstays in our house and it seemed as though all was lost, until recently, that is.

I think I may have discovered a loophole in the system and it happened while I was working on my last blog post for Barilla pasta’s Share The Table campaign. I had the kids help me cook the meal that night, which included things that they normally would decline to eat. You know, things like whole grain pasta, tomatoes, all other vegetables… When I mentioned to the kids that food always tastes better when you make it yourself, they couldn’t wait to finish their plates!

Ever since then I have tried to make an effort to get the kids involved in the meal preparation and I have to say that I am running at about a 75% success rate, which is outstanding! No more whining about spaghetti or lasagna having too many vegetables in them because the kids are controlling which and how many veggies are going in. They are also beaming with pride as they help serve the food to the table for family and friends. Win-Win!

Speaking of winning… You still have time to enter Barilla’s Share The Table contest where you can win 1 of 3 trips for four to Italy!! My bags are already packed in case you win and can’t think of anyone else to bring with you. My Italian is quite weak, in fact non-existent, but I smile a lot and don’t sleep walk, so there’s that! Please also check out the Barilla Share The Table website for some great tips and tricks on how to make mealtime a meaningful experience in your house.

Merrell Socks Sandals

The Hypocrisy Of The Foot Pic

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I am not a huge fan of the pictures of other people’s feet that seem to invade my internet feed on a daily basis. I could never figure out what it was about a picture of a foot that made anyone think, “I need to share this amazing foot picture for all the world to see!”. For the longest time I was beating on the #NoFeetPics drum…until now.

You see, I recently agreed to work with one of my favourite stores in Mark’s on their #ForAllWalks campaign, which required me to try out some shoes from their new line. Being someone who has never owned a really nice pair of sandals I was excited that Mark’s had their Merrell Kahuna III Sandal on the availability list. Once the sandals arrived my wife correctly pointed out that in order to properly discuss them, I was going to have to take a picture of me wearing them… A FOOT PIC, NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

I quickly started running through alternative options in my head. I got away with it in my first post by pretending to use them to swat at wasps, which I did actually do. Then I thought, socks and sandals, but I think we can all agree from the cover photo that this is a way worse option. I came to the conclusion that the only way I can come out of this with my head held high is to do the thing that I have been railing against for years.

The bright side to this conclusion is that I really love the Merrell Kahuna III Sandal so if I have to post a picture of my feet, I’m happy to do it while wearing them. Side note before we get to the finished product, these are truly the most comfortable and versatile sandals I have ever owned and have become my go to footwear whenever we are running out of the house to go play outside. Alright, without further ado, I present to you a picture of my feet!

Merrell Sandals Feet Pics

I’d like to thank Mark’s for including me in their #ForAllWalks campaign. All of the shoes I had the chance to try out have been amazing and have really opened my eyes to the importance of investing in good shoes. I highly encourage you all to head on over to the Mark’s website and check out what they have to offer. You can also interact with the Mark’s social channels by visiting them at their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program but I truly dislike all of the feet pics that have infiltrated the internet. I mean, they’re feet, people! Feet!!!!

Sprinkler Summer

What To Do Now That Summer Is Finally Here!

We don’t live in one of those fancy cities where it is sunny and hot all year long. No, first we must make it through a mostly fun but always way too long winter season. Well, none of that matters now because summer is officially here and we are already off to a blazing start! I want to know what your favourite summer activities, events and destinations are so that I can steal them and make them my own, so please feel free to share them in the comments section below. That said, I figured I’d get the ball rolling by sharing some of my family’s favourite summertime activities!

Fairs/Community BBQs

After attending our community’s summer kick-off BBQ this past weekend I remembered how much I love the warm weather and the ability to ditch the sweater and grab some shorts and a t-shirt. The warm weather definitely affects my mood in the best possible way, as witness by the fact that I climbed into a bubble suit and let a bunch of 7 years take running shots at me.

Summer Fairs Carnival

Pool Parties

Now that the DadBod is the coolest thing going, I have even more reason to take the family to as many pool parties as I can this year. On top of that, I love watching the pride in my children’s eyes as they learn to swim without their floaties. As with every other aspect of parenting, these are moments that I hope I can hold on to forever.

Summer Canonball

Road Hockey

Let me tell you something about the girl in this picture. Anything you can do, she will try to do it better. Road hockey is a daily event at our place (yes, we’re Canadian) and even though she’s the smallest of the bunch, she is also the most tenacious. You can get by her once but don’t you dare try the same move twice!

Road Hockey Summer

Bike Rides

I am proud to say that we have seen our last set of training wheels as both kids are now rocking the two wheelers. Sure, they still have the Avengers and Elsa plastered all over them but that isn’t going to hold us back from taking long rides to the ice cream shop this summer.

Biking Summer

The Greatest Lemonade Stand Ever!

A Lemonade Stand is a staple in any childhood, and do you know what can take your stand from good to great this summer?? Stocking your stand with the NEW! Tropicana Watermelon and Tropicana Lemonade with Tangerine, that’s what! Throw in the traditional Tropicana Lemonade to the mix and you will have the most diverse Lemonade Stand than anyone on the block. Furthermore, all three delicious varieties are made with real fruit and without any artificial ingredients. I’m not sure what you are still waiting for, the new Tropicana line is available at major grocery retailers across Canada, so get moving!

New Tropicana Flavours Lemonade

That brings me back to my original question. What are your favourite summertime activities?

Disclosure: I received compensation for my participation in Tropicana’s campaign, however my Lemonade stand brings all the boys to the yard and they’re like, it’s better than yours.

Mark's Work Warehouse Far West

Four Reasons Why You Need A Good Pair Of Shoes

Something occurred to me the other day as I browsed the clearance bin for new shoes. While I may not spend a lot on my shoes, I feel like I am constantly buying new ones because of the wear and tear of a busy life. When I really think about it, I am spending the same amount on multiple pairs of low end shoes that I could be investing in one or two high quality pairs.

This spring, Mark’s has graciously offered to allow me to test out what real footwear feels like as part of their #ForAllWalks campaign. To kick things off I have created a list of “Four Reasons Why You Need A Good Pair Of Shoes” and here it is!

4. Protection From Toy Pain

Mark's Work Warehouse Merrell Chameleon

Every parent in the world understands toy pain. It’s the incredible pain that shoots up your leg and straight to your brain after stepping on one of your children’s toys. This is most commonly associated with LEGO but as I have recently discovered, Beyblades are just as painful to step on if you are not wearing the appropriate footwear. To defend against the psychological long term damaged often caused by toy pain, may I recommend the Merrell Chameleon Prime Stretch Shoes. These shoes are designed for life out in the wild, which let’s face it, is exactly what parenting is.

3. Your Are Not A Child Anymore And Old Bones Need Support

Mark's Work Warehouse Old Bones

I’m not going to lie, this realization is a painful one to deal with. Gone are the days where I could quickly grab a pair of sandals from the dollar store and be on my way. After about one hour in those things today, I would need to lie down with my legs iced for the rest of the day. Since I have been wandering around in the Merrell Kahuna III Sandals that Mark’s sent me, I haven’t felt an ounce of pain! Well, not counting the bruises on my shins from my son’s hockey stick… The point is, as we get older and at all ages, really, we need to outfit our feet with footwear that provides proper support.

2. Running From Wasps

Mark's Work Warehouse Merrell Kahuna

I am a man. I am also a man who does not like wasps and my house always seems to be infested with them. Do you know how hard it is to outrun a wasp? Now picture trying to outrun a wasp while wearing cheap shoes and you’ll see my point. Better yet, with the Merrell hiking shoes I mentioned earlier I might not even need to run. I could simply take off the shoe and swing it as if it were Thor’s hammer and the wasps would be running from me!

1. Versatility of Dad Life

Mark's Work Warehouse Merrell Kahuna Dad

I saved the most important reason for last. Being a parent is a lot of work and we have to wear may different hats, or shoes as it were. Up until recently I owned only two pairs of shoes, one for work and one for everything else. I’ve since realized that a cheap skate shoe provides little to no support when hiking in the woods, hanging out on the beach and many other scenarios we are faced as parents. Shoes might seem like something that you can flake on but once your feet get a taste of a good quality shoe, they will never let you forget it.

I have a challenge for you. Think about how often we use our feet and then look at your shoe collection and decide whether you are taking care of one of your most valuable resources. If you decide that you could use a tune up, head on over to the Mark’s website and check out what they have to offer. If you’re really feeling ambitious, you should snap a photo of your Mark’s kicks and share it on Mark’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page with the #ForAllWalks tag.

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program, however my bones are indeed feeling old and I am afraid of wasps. Stop giggling.

Barilla Share The Table

How Often Do You Eat Dinner Together As A Family?

Let me tell you about my week. I had to work overnight on Monday, then my daughter had dance rehearsal on Tuesday, followed by my son’s ball hockey on Wednesday, two more dance rehearsals on Thursday and Friday, and finally, a hockey tournament and dance recitals on the weekend. Please understand that this is not a regular week for us but it is at least half representative of our busy lives.

When I think about not only what but how we are going to fit dinner into that schedule I kind of want to curl up into a ball and sob. It is especially important to me that we eat at the dinner table as a family as much as possible. Obviously this week was going to be tough but we still managed to squeeze in two family dinners, which made me happy. As far back as I can remember, my family ate dinner together at our kitchen table and our family was closer because of it. It wasn’t a huge table but it fit us and the food, which is all you really need, right?

The reason I enjoy having dinner together so much is because when you really think about all the activities and distractions life has to offer, this is the one time in the day where everyone can just sit down, relax and talk. For us, we have a framed list of 20 questions that hangs on the wall next to the dinner table and the kids get to pick 3 numbers to answer each night. This exercise is quick and painless and also opens the door to some great dinnertime conversation.

20 Dinner Table Questions

One other thing to note is that we do not allow electronics of any kind at the table. That means no tweeting for daddy, no clash of clans for my son and no Facebook for mommy. A recent study by pasta company, Barilla® Canada, revealed that while 74% of families have dinner together 1-4 times a week, 43% of those families do so with either the TV on or an electronic device at the table.

This all leads me to my question, how often do you eat together as a family and do you do so without electronics?

#ShareTheTable And Win A Trip To Italy With Barilla®!

Barilla® created the Share The Table® initiative to help inspire, empower and support all families to enjoy more meaningful meals. They believe that while mealtime may not be a panacea for building strong children and families, it is still one of the most important things we can do to instill a sense of courage, confidence, and character in our children today, so that they, in turn, can make the world a better place.

That said, Barilla® wants to know what dinner time looks like with your family. Share your family experience by uploading a picture or a written description, and you’ll be entered to win 1 of 3 trips to Italy. You can ENTER HERE!

Barilla Family Dinner Share The Table

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in the Share The Table campaign but we really do eat dinner together :)

Full House Netflix

My Family’s Netflix Streaming List – June Edition

So this Netflix thing is growing on me. As odd as it sounds, I think I was using it incorrectly when we first signed up a year ago. I’d watch the odd movie here or there but never really dug in and explored everything it had to offer. In the last few months my family has been going through the list of titles and picking out things we’d like to watch at some point. Slowly but surely we trying out new shows and I wanted to share what each of us are enjoying right now. Besides, the family that Netflixes together, stays together. Right??

Dad (That’s Me!) – Daredevil

It should be noted that I am a full on superhero/comic nerd, so I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this new Netflix original version of Daredevil. Man, did it ever blow my mind! I rarely feel like a show is perfectly executed but this is the closest thing I have ever seen to that. Vincent D’Onofrio’s, Wilson Fisk character, will leave you with chills running down your spine!

Daredevil Netflix

Mom – Bloodline

This is one that I started without my wife and then felt guilty about it because it was so good. After we rewatched the first episode, she was hooked and we finished the whole season in less than two weeks. This show takes family disfunction to a new and exciting level! I have no idea how they are going to top what they did in Season 1 but I am really looking forward to it.

Bloodline Netflix

7 Year Old Son – Beyblade (All of them!)

My son doesn’t watch a lot of TV but he is addicted to these Beyblade shows on Netflix. If you have a young boy you will no doubt be feeling the Beyblade craze right now. I have no idea what happened as Beyblades had all but disappeared from existence, only to come back with a vengeance and take over our whole street! I’ve sat with him and watched the Beyblade shows and I have to admit that they are pretty cool.

Beyblade Netflix

5 Year Old Daughter – LEGO Friends

We started my daughter with Barbie’s Life in the Dreamhouse but as soon as she saw the LEGO Friends show, she was hooked. True to 5 year old fashion, we have watched the same episodes multiple times in a row and she never seems to tire of it. It’s almost like she thinks there is going to be a different outcome one of these times…

LEGO Friends Netflix

Bonus Show! – Full House

Last but not least, the original episodes of Full House have graced the Netfix platform and we have it slated to show the kids in the next week or so. I have no idea how it is going to hold up but the kids are starting to enjoy more than just cartoons, so I’m hopeful that we can share a bit of our youth with them!

Full House Netflix

That’s what we are streaming this month. How about you? Are you a Netflix subscriber? If so, what are you binging on at the moment?!

Jockey Without Horse AMEX

Why AIR MILES And American Express Are Simply #BetterTogether

I’ve been racking my brain to find ways to demonstrate the benefits of doubling up on AIR MILES by pairing your Collector Card with an American Express AIR MILES Credit Card and I think I have finally found something that speaks our language as consumers. While it’s true that I consider myself an AIR MILES enthusiast, I can also state that I never spend money on products just so I can collect AIR MILES. My miles are accumulated through strategic selection of where I am going to shop as opposed to what I am going to purchase.

For example, if I need groceries, I will visit my local Sobeys instead of going to a grocery store that does not give AIR MILES. This is the same reason I get my gas at Shell, fulfill my pharmacy needs at Rexall and split my home and office essentials between Rona and Staples. There are enough AIR MILES Sponsor stores that I always feel like I am getting my money’s worth for my purchases and by using my Collector Card with something like the American Express AIR MILES Credit Card, I was able to accumulate over 9,800 AIR MILES last year!

What I’d like to do now, is demonstrate how far my 9,800 AIR MILES will go by taking you through a short exercise. My family currently has a pretty plain backyard and we’ve been looking for ways we can spice it up by cashing in our AIR MILES Reward Miles for Dream Rewards. Alright, let’s go!

Dream Reward #1 – Shinerich 35” Cast Stone Fire Pit – Wood Finish – 3300 AIR MILES

Fire Pit

Long summer nights with the family can turn into a great evenings when roasting marshmallows and making s ’mores by the fire. Something like this would definitely spruce up our backyard!

Dream Reward #2 – Suncast Wicker Pattern Coffee Table – 1900 AIR MILES

Storage Table

Sitting in the backyard and enjoying my morning coffee with my wife is missing one thing: a coffee table! This baby will let me put my feet up and still have room for a plate of delicious fruit for breakfast.

Dream Reward #3 – Suncast Resin Wicker Patio Cooler – 1900 AIR MILES

Drink Cart

We love to have friends over in the summer and always like to have a cooler with drinks and snacks. Something like this will keep everything cold during the summer heat but also keep our backyard oasis looking stylish.

Dream Reward #4 – KidKraft Outdoor Table And Bench Set With Cushions & Umbrella – 2600 AIR MILES

Kid Table

My kids love to be outside just as much as I do, that’s why something like this is perfect! Letting us all beat the heat in the shade and have a spot to share our meals in the backyard.

As you can see, I was able to stretch out my AIR MILES in order to get some really great additions for my backyard oasis and I even had 100 miles left to spare! However, without some strategic shopping and the pairing of an American Express AIR MILES Credit Card, I would be forced to choose between keeping my drinks cool while in the backyard with a cooler and keeping me and my family toasty at night while roasting those marshmallows.

Finally, just a note about the American Express AIR MILES Credit Card. American Express offers different types of cards, which you can see here. As I mentioned in a previous post, I pay for a higher level of card because the value of the bonus AIR MILES greatly outweighs the yearly cost of the card. Some things are simply better together, as is the case with an AIR MILES Collector Card and an American Express AIR MILES Credit Card!

PS – Check out the #BetterTogether hashtag on twitter to see some really cool chalk art (as seen above) that gives a few examples of things that are definitely better together!

This post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.

Canon Pixma Printing Solutions

Canon’s PIXMA Printing Solutions Helps You Hold On To Precious Moments

If you’re like me, you probably have about 700 photos on your iPhone at any given time. Going one step further, you most likely load the pictures onto a hard drive somewhere and then forget about them. What about the one in a hundred that are actually really great shots? What if I told you that you could snap the picture and then print it out at home from wherever you were at that moment?

With Canon’s PIXMA Printing Solutions you can do just that! Not only can you print your photos from wherever you are snapping them but you can also print off documents, concert tickets and whatever else you don’t want to forget about, and it can all be done from the comfort of your mobile device. You want to scan and print something using only your mobile device? PIXMA Printing Solutions can do that, too!

No more transferring all my photos to the computer and then sorting through all of them until I find the ones I like. From now on I will simply snap a photo, add filters if I’d like and hit print from my phone or camera and then pick up the photo from the printer when I get home. With a busy family, multiple hobbies and a career to juggle, cutting out one middle man is really important to me and the Canon PIXMA Printing Solutions does that for me. Check out the video below for more info on how the app works.

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program. That said, I really do have over 700 pictures on my phone and will be printing off the best ones remotely just to say that I did it!

Cookina Grilling Sheet

I Grilled The Perfect Steak With The Cookina Grilling Sheet, However…

…I may have been so excited about the fact that I was cooking a steak at 2 o’clock in the afternoon that I forgot to document the experience for this blog post. You see, I have teamed up with Cookina on their new “#WhatsOnYourGrill” program and part of that program is trying out their Cookina Barbecue Reusable Grilling Sheet.

Cookina Barbecue Logo

A little background on my barbecue skills. They are not great. I usually blame the barbecue because everything I put on there seems to burn. When I chose the steak it was because I wanted to hit the Cookina Barbecue Reusable Grilling Sheet by surprise instead of lobbing it a softball and it exceeded my every expectation. I usually tend to opt for funny over an actual product review but my steak was grilled so perfectly that I can’t say enough good things about the Cookina Grilling Sheet.

Cookina Grill Sheet

I even had the confidence to invite my family over for a barbecue dinner tonight, which is something that I would normally never do, and the food turned out great! Sure it was only hamburgers with grilled onions but nothing burned because the Cookina Grilling Sheet kept all the juices, sauces and cheese from dripping down into the barbecue, reducing the flame up and more importantly, the clean up. Also, I was able to simply wipe the grilling sheet clean and store it away until my next barbecue adventure. I mean, look at these bad boys!

Cookina Hamburgers

I’m not sure what else I can say about this grilling sheet. If it turns an amateur griller like myself into a wiz, imagine what it could do for the advanced grill master. I wish words could accurately convey how excited I am to finally have the confidence to take on bigger challenges with my barbecue. I think my mom summed it up best while I raced about the Cookina Barbecue Reusable Grilling Sheet when she asked, “Is there a hidden infomercial going on here?”. No, mom, just a grill master in the making!

I have seen the Cookina Reusable Sheets at places like Sobeys and Canadian Tire and highly encourage you to try them out. I have also included the video below because I got so excited watching it that I wanted you to see how I imagine myself in a few weeks with these Cookina grilling sheets… So, #WhatsOnYourGrill???

Disclosure: I received compensation for my participation in this program but my confidence level really is bordering on arrogance now that I have found these grilling sheets.

Netflix Lies

Netflix Is Filled With Lies

Link bait is also a form of lying, isn’t it? Well, now that I have you here let me explain myself. I recently agreed to sign on with Netflix to be a part of their Stream Team, which means that every month I will be talking about the shows my family is watching and sharing some of Netflix’s suggestions with you.

My first month happened to be an eventful one as I had the chance to pre-screen a few episodes of Marvel’s Daredevil and then proceeded to watch the entire 13 episode season in under 4 days… If you have been on the fence about this show, it is seriously time to hop off and watch it. It is incredibly dark and violent, which was actually a plus when compared to some of the other comic book shows on cable right now.

My wife and I also just started watched a show called White Collar and definitely recommend it so far, especially if you enjoy watching something like Suits. And speaking of Suits, I want to say that my wife and I are patiently watching for Season 4 to arrive on Netflix but there is no patience in this house…other than with our kids, of course.

As far as lying goes, Netflix has you covered with classics like Liar, Liar and one of my personal favourites, Mean Girls. I’ve also been told that the next show on our watch list, Bloodline, centers around lies and we can’t wait to hit it up!

That’s it for this month but stay tuned as I will be sharing more of my family’s favourite Netflix titles in the months to come! Stream on!