Canadian Dad McCain Potato

More Than Just A Potato

I will freely admit that, prior to this year, on the list of things I am fascinated by, potatoes would have had a fairly low ranking. That has all changed, however, after spending the majority of the past year with McCain Canada, learning the ins and outs of their business. Not only am I now up to my ears in potato knowledge, I have gained a tremendous amount of respect for the farming community and everything they do to ensure my food goes from farm to fork in the safest and healthiest way possible.

My final adventure with McCain Canada for the year took place a couple weeks ago as we visited the beautiful town of Florenceville-Bristol, New Brunswick, which is not only the home of McCain Canada Headquarters but is also known as the French Fry Capital of the World! The purpose of our trip was to tour the McCain plant and also to visit a local McCain grower to see how the potatoes were harvested.

Before we visited the McCain plant, we made a quick stop for lunch at the Potato World Café and Museum, where I had the greatest sandwich I have ever eaten in my life. I don’t really need to say more than Apple, Bacon, Caramel, Grilled Cheese sandwich, do I? It sounded strange to me at first but that sandwich, paired with the crispiest sweet potato fries I’ve ever had, were an amazing start to the trip.

Potato World

Our tour guide, Tammy, knew more about potatoes than I know about anything and I loved seeing all the awesome artifacts in the museum. My favourite fact from the museum tour is that the potato was discovered by Spanish explorers in the 1500’s and became a common food at sea for their sailors when it was discovered that potatoes prevented scurvy. Of course we now know that potatoes are a huge source of potassium and fiber, and I’m thankful they have fended off the scurvy all these years later!

Our next stop was the McCain plant and while we were not permitted to take any photos inside the plant, I can assure you that I looked amazing in my hair and beard nets, along with my hardhat, goggles and jumpsuit. All jokes aside, I was very impressed with how serious McCain is about keeping a clean environment, free of contaminations, and thoroughly enjoyed my visit.

Having a chance to watch the potatoes go from the truck to the conveyor belt and then following them through the washing, peeling, cutting, cooking, freezing and bagging process was really interesting. I was definitely impressed with how little amount of the potatoes get wasted as they have incredible procedures in place to get every bit of goodness out of each potato. There were so many other amazing parts to the tour, however the batter waterfall and steam peeler were definitely two of my favourites.

The following morning we headed off to visit the farm of Eugene Antworth to watch the harvesting process in action. Side note, my son’s favourite toy as a child was a small harvester tractor and I was unprepared for the delight I would have in finally seeing one in person. The little things. We had the chance to talk to Eugene about the challenges of potato farming, one of them being the fact that it was late September and the weather was pushing 40 degrees at 10 in the morning, which meant they would have to shut down the tractors before lunch time to avoid spoiling the potatoes.

McCain Antworth

I noted a hint of pride as Eugene introduced his son, Ethan, who works on the farm and would be driving the harvester for the first time in his young career. Eugene’s other son is currently in school and will join the family business upon completion of his studies. It was a story similar to that of Stan Wiebe’s, who I had the chance to meet during our planting trip in Manitoba during the spring. In talking to Ethan later on I could tell that he was happy to be a part of the family business, as opposed to feeling pressure to follow in his dad’s footsteps.

It was overwhelming to hear Eugene and Ethan talk about everything that goes into growing a well-nurtured crop. Even with the advancements in technology in the industry, growers like the Antworth’s have spent countless hours developing a value-based program in order to maximize the potential of their investment and use modern cultivating practices, follow crop scouting reports and modify their weekly schedules so they can provide the maximum benefit to the crop. The Antworth’s and their crew were absolutely amazing and the views from their farm were second to none.

McCain Antworth View

My takeaway from this year-long partnership was far different than I had expected from the outset. I came away from these experiences with a new appreciation for the food I have the privilege of enjoying and for the growers who help put it on my plate. I was unaware of the role technology played in the farming process and I believe it was Eugene Antworth who told me that the advances of technology in the agriculture field are greater than that of any other field. It was fascinating to watch as tractors guided themselves across fields and drones were used to check on the status of the crops.

Learning about the McCain products by touring the actual factory and seeing the step by step quality assurances in place was extremely reassuring. Also, knowing that McCain frozen grocery potato products are trans-fat-free and many are low in saturated fat and sodium is equally as reassuring as my kids love their potato products.

The biggest takeaway for me, however, is that no matter where we went, the common theme was family. From the Antworth and Wiebe farms to Potato World and from Grama’s restaurant to the McCain factory, it always felt like we were part of a big family. Everyone treated us with the utmost kindness and seemed genuinely happy to have us visiting their place of business. Having been around and still growing after 60 years, it would seem that having a strong, caring family is the true secret to McCain’s success.

Canadian Dad Hold McCain Potato

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in the McCain Farm to Fork campaign, however I wish everyone could take the tours we had the chance to take as they would be guaranteed McCain fans for life.

Workplace Health Month

Do You Celebrate Healthy Workplace Month? Here’s Why You Should!

This post is sponsored by Bayer. To make sure these products are right for you, always read and follow the label.

A lot of you may not have known this but on top of being the month where we get to dress up as our favourite childhood cartoon characters, October is also Healthy Workplace Month! You do want to contribute to a healthy work environment, right? We’re not monsters! Healthy Workplace Month in Canada is about making an effort to create a healthy work environment and I wanted to share some ideas to get you started! I am also giving away a sweet Cold & Flu Essentials kit from Bayer!

The Rule of 20’s

For many of us, a day at work means long hours in front of a computer. According to the Ontario Association of Optometrists, excessive screen time can lead to blurred vision,headaches, tearing or dry and irritated eyes. If you’re feeling the strain, try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break from your screen and focus on something at least 20 feet away from you. To treat the symptoms of dry eye, keep eye drops handy. hydraSense® introduced three new products for dry eyes this year that are worth a second look. The eye drops are preservative free and give you long-lasting relief that’s also gentle on the eyes.

No Play For Mr. Grey

The colours and images around us can affect how we think and feel. Try adding some colour or some family photos to your workspace to spruce up your mood and get away from that grey, dreary feeling that can often take over. Dressing up your surroundings can help your mind gear up for work, de-stress or bring joy to your day.

Move Your Butt!

Breaking up your routine is a great way to clear your head and relieve stress. You may be stuck at work for 8 hours, but you don’t have to take it sitting down! Get up during the day to bounce ideas off of a coworker, take a walking meeting with your team or even get up and do a little dance if you’re feeling brave. If you work from home, a change of scenery may give you new perspective on a tough project. Try hitting a coffee shop or even renting a shared workspace for a few days a week.

C’mon, Get Comfy!

Do you spend a lot of time in an office chair? A few simple tweaks to your workspace can help you cut down on back pain. Keep your spine straight by raising your monitor up to eye level and positioning your knees at a 90-degree angle. If you need fast relief to get back to work, ALEVE® lasts up to 12 hours with just one caplet or liquid gel capsule. It’s no fun trying to get work done when your back hurts, so keep some ALEVE® on hand.

Step Away From That Pizza Pocket!

Proper nutrition is an important part of staying alert and energized at work. If you’re finding it difficult to pack healthy food and snacks throughout the week, share the burden with a few close friends by starting a healthy lunch club. Take turns putting together the next day’s lunch for your group. It’s a great way to share your positive new habits with your coworkers.

GIVEAWAY!!

As mentioned, I am giving away a Cold & Flu Essentials kit from Bayer and all you have to do to enter is fill out as many of the Rafflecopter entries you’d like and I’ll choose a winner in 2 weeks! Good luck and stay healthy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is sponsored by Bayer. To make sure these products are right for you, always read and follow the label.

Screaming Fans, An Historic Result & What Not To Do In Montreal

We recently took a whirlwind 24 hour trip to Montreal to see the World Gymnastics Championships and I had no idea so much could happen in that short an amount of time. Allow me to explain.

As mentioned, a large portion of the gymnasts at our daughter’s gym decided to make the 2-hour trip to Montreal for the weekend to watch the World Gymnastics Championships. While we were excited to see all the gymnasts perform and to cheer on our Canadian team, the girls were most excited to see Canadian Olympian Ellie Black perform and she did not disappoint!

With the girls decked out in their ‘Team Ellie’ shirts, they watched as Ellie Black became the first Canadian gymnast ever to win a medal in the all-around competition at the World Championships! I’ll save my rant for why this didn’t get more mainstream sports media coverage for another time…

Daddy Daughter Gymnastics

Watching the girls, each decked out with their own waving Canadian flag, cheer for their favourite gymnasts was my favourite part of the event as you could see the love of the sport in their eyes throughout the entire competition. I actually found myself getting a bit jealous as I’m not sure I’ve ever been as passionate for anything, outside of poutine, than these girls are about gymnastics. Side note: having been to see the Montreal Canadiens live in Montreal, I have to say that the crowd noise for Ellie and Brooklyn Moors would have given the Habs a run for their money!

We actually arrived in Montreal extra early on Friday so we could check in to our amazing hotel, the Residence Inn Montreal Downtown, and then head over to the Montreal Biodome! Tickets to the Biodome were kindly provided to us by the incredible people at Montreal Tourism, and while we had visited once before with the kids, they were too young to remember, making this a special visit.

Kids Montreal Biodome

I can’t say enough about how great the Montreal Biodome is and it was so much cooler than I remembered it from our previous visit. I’m sure that has nothing to do with the fact that we were lugging a stroller and a toddler with us at the time… My daughter was fascinated with the penguins and my son, who is close to that age where nothing is cool anymore, actually admitted that it was pretty cool and then spent a ton of my money on minerals in the gift shop. For me, the highlight was definitely getting to see 2 parrots having a very loud disagreement about whose branch belonged to whom.

Now, I did mention in the title of this post something you should NOT do while you are in Montreal and that thing occurred as we left Olympic Stadium after the gymnastics competition. I went to check the time and directions to the nearest metro station when I realized that I no longer had my phone on me. It turns out that I dropped it sometime in the final minutes before we left and it was nowhere to be found. To say I handled this situation well would be grossly incorrect but my entire life is on that device, which is kind of sad, and I was worried about whose hands it could end up in.

Kids Montreal Metro

We rushed back to the hotel, plugged in my wife’s phone to charge it to 1% and then I called my phone to see if it would be answered. “Olympic Stadium Security”, the man answered as my stress disappeared in an instant. The good news, bad news of this situation was that stadium security had my phone, but it was back at the stadium and 11pm at night. Luckily for me, and being from the archaic Ottawa system, I cannot stress this enough, the metro system in Montreal is incredible! A $6 return trip and I was back in the hotel with my phone in less than an hour. I’m serious, it would have been a minimum 40 drive each way with traffic and parking to contend with. The metro system was my one of my favourite things about our trip.

Montreal Canadiens Store

When we woke up the next morning, we hit the “make your own waffles” machine at the Residence Inn restaurant, always a hit with the kids, and then we walked to my favourite place in Montreal, the Bell Centre, to visit the Montreal Canadiens landmarks and store! I promised my son we’d get out to his first Canadiens game this year and I intend on keeping that promise!

Montreal Canadiens Dab

Being Thanksgiving weekend and with a full sports slate, we had to rush out of Montreal before lunch but it was an amazing trip with plenty of ups and one self-inflicted down that we will never forget! Thank you to Montreal Tourism for the hospitality and to the organizing committee of the Gymnastics World Championships for the amazing event!!

Cards For Kids Planet Fitness

The Benefits of Kindness & How Planet Fitness Is Paying It Forward

One of the things I am always conscious about is the fact that, because of this blog, my children get to experience things that a lot of other children do not. They have had toys sent to them, met their favourite major league baseball players and been treated like VIP’s at numerous events we have attended. My concern has always been that the kids will become entitled and think that everything in life will be handed to them, when we all know that this isn’t the case.

That’s why my wife and I have been having some really great conversations with kids lately about the importance of kindness and giving back to those less fortunate, and the kids have responded in amazing fashion. They have both agreed to create a giving jar, where they will put away a portion of any money they earn, to be given to the cause of their choice each month. Further to that, my son recently decided that he would set up a driveway booth where he would sell some of his hockey cards, with all the proceeds going to charity.

Cards For Kids Planet Fitness

This month, their earnings will be going to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada! We are also happy to be teaming up with Planet Fitness, the innovative health club franchise known for its Judgement Free Zone® and affordable prices. Planet Fitness will be inviting Canadians to join their clubs for $5 down and as low as $10 a month, which includes donating 100% of the enrollment fees to Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada as part of their Judgement Free Generation™ initiative! This incredible campaign runs October 2-13.

Give Jars Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness has also challenged my kids, and children everywhere, to display what a bullying-free world looks like to them, or to show an act of kindness. If you feel like sharing your child’s vision or act, you can do so by tagging Planet Fitness Canada on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and by using the hashtag #JudgementFreeGen! Furthermore, if you have been debating that gym membership, there’s no better time than now to head into of Planet Fitness’s 15 locations across Canada!

Planet Fitness Canada Picture

Here’s more information on Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada:

Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada is dedicated to supporting and encouraging children and youth as they discover, develop and achieve great futures. They are a national charity serving 96 member Clubs that provide services to 200,000 young people in 625 locations across Canada. For 116 years, They have welcomed children, youth and their families into Clubs that reflect the diversity of Canada in small and large cities, and rural and Indigenous communities. Visit www.bgccan.com and follow them at www.facebook.com/bgccan and www.twitter.com/bgccan.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Planet Fitness. The opinions on this blog are my own.

The Big C

I wasn’t going to write about this. Everything is under control, after all, and I didn’t want to seem like I was looking for extra sympathy because there are plenty of bigger problems in the world to worry about. A few months ago I was diagnosed with a form of skin cancer and I decided to talk about it here today with the hope that my stupidity will be a lesson for others down the line.

I’ve always had dry skin but never really thought anything of it. I would just put some skin moisturizer on it and the itchiness would go away, no harm done. A couple winters ago, however, I noticed a lot of patches starting to form and at times the pain became so bad that I could barely sit. My doctor had retired and since I hadn’t located a new one yet, I simply bought a stronger skin cream and ignored it.

I know what you’re thinking. “Why didn’t you go get a doctor and have it checked out, you idiot?!”. You would be correct in that assumption but I do have an explanation, regardless of how thin it seems. You see, when my father passed away I went through a really hard time mentally. I developed a severe case of hypochondria that robbed me of almost a full year of happiness, and one of the side effects of breaking out of that depression was a tendency to ignore symptoms and to brush them off as nothing.

In my defense, the tactic technically worked in that I got my life back on track and was able to find the happiness I had once enjoyed. The downside is that while I was ignoring my skin, the dry patches were getting worse and multiplying at a rapid rate and I was growing more and more uncomfortable. It finally came to a head when, while at an unrelated appointment with my new family doctor, I happened to mention it on the way out and he took a look. The conversation that followed is one that I have had with a few doctors now and is something that never gets less embarrassing.

Doctor: “How long have you had these red patches?”
Me: “About 4 years…”
Doctor: “Really?? Have you ever had them checked before?”
Me: “No…”

You get the idea. I felt like I should have to walk around with “Stupid” stamped on my forehead for eternity. I mean, seriously, 4 years of ignoring this? Idiot! Long story short, the doc did a biopsy which came back positive for a skin cancer known as Mycosis Fungoides and I spent a good week with a glazed over feeling before I was able to actually look up what I was dealing with.

Since that first diagnosis appointment I have been poked and prodded, seen numerous specialists and now spend 3 very early mornings a week at the hospital having phototherapy treatments, which is kind of like standing in an upright tanning bed. The doctors have all said I should be completely fine after these treatments, which is reassuring, but there’s always that nagging “what if it isn’t” voice in the back of my head trying to have its say. As someone who went through a crushing bout of severe hypochondria, I’d say I’m doing very well at staying calm while my brain screams at me to freak out.

The ultimate point of this story is not to make you feel sorry for me, but instead to encourage you to not ignore symptoms the way I did. If you think something is feeling a little off, go get it checked out. I’m willing to bet that 99% of the time it is probably nothing, but on the off chance that they find something, you’ll be glad you went in early.

Mountain Orchards

The Curious Case Of The Flintstones & Other Tidbits

This post is sponsored by Bayer. To make sure these products are right for you, always read and follow the label.

As my kids were arguing over their daily Flintstones vitamin the other day, it occurred to me that it was funny how the Flintstones have seemed to outlast their competition from back in the day. Seriously, think about it. My kids have no idea who the Flintstones are and will likely never see an episode of it in their lifetimes, yet here they are, fighting over the orange one, Barney I believe, as though they’ve watched the show their entire lives! I also wonder how Barney got the best tasting one and if that bothered Fred at all. It must have, right? In any case, we bought the FLINTSTONES Active Kids® Gummies to try to curb the arguing, so we’ll see how that goes.

Anyway, summer seemed to end a little too quickly this year but we’ve been lucky over the last week or so to have summer-like temperatures back in Ottawa, so we have been taking full advantage. We had an amazing day apple picking at Mountain Orchards today, a yearly tradition, and only got lost in the corn maze 4 times, a new record! Being the prepared fly by the seat of my pants dad that I am, I completely forgot to pack the sunscreen but my beautiful wife had my back and happily let me know that she grabbed a new bottle of Coppertone® Clearly Sheer® sunscreen at the pharmacy right before we left. Did I mention that she is beautiful and talented?

Kids Apple Picking Mountain Orchards

Speaking of corn mazes, they should look into getting Claritin® or AERIUS®, or both, to sponsor those things because the amount of sneezing, itching and crying that was going on could keep them in the allergy relief business for an eternity! In fact, the only reason we escaped the maze was because the guy in front of us kept sneezing into the wind so we switched directions. He could still be in there for all I know!

Now I’ve talked myself into a circle and have no idea where I was going with any of this! I guess the point of this story is that while I’m sad the Flintstones ended because Fred got jealous of Barney, the important lesson here is to make sure you do something that gets you turned into a vitamin so you will live on in children’s lives forever!

Flintstones Vitamins

This post is sponsored by Bayer. To make sure these products are right for you, always read and follow the label.

Audible Canada

If You Love Books, You’ll Love This News!

Here’s something about me that you may not have known. While I love a good book, I’ve never really been a fan of sitting there and holding the physical book in my hands. Call me lazy if you want but I know who I am and that’s just not something I’m interested in doing.

I’m an audio book kind of guy because it allows me the freedom to work and listen to my favourite books at the same time. And yes, the term “work” occasionally means lying on the couch and staring at the ceiling but I don’t see why we have to get into all of that… Access to audio books has been a challenge but they still have books on CD at the library even though I feel like a dinosaur when I check them out.

So I was very excited this week when I found out that Audible, an Amazon company, was launching a unique and dedicated digital storefront for Canadian consumers as of September 13th! As a fan of listening to audio versions of books, I am pumped to know that I can now visit Audible.ca or download their new Audible.ca app for iOS or Android and be listening to my favourite books anywhere I go!

I also think it’s very cool that Canadian customers will be able to check out curated Audible playlists from leading Canadian voices like Margaret Atwood, George Stroumboulopoulos, Julie Le Breton, and more, as well as offering the best spoken word content from Canada and around the world. Hey, I figure if a book is good enough for Strombo, it’s perfect for me!

I had the opportunity to test out the Audible.ca service and wanted to share my original Playlist with you! Without further ado!

1. Game of Thrones, baby! ~ by George R. R. Martin

Game of Thrones Audible

That’s right, number 1 on my list had to be Game of Thrones! I am not ashamed to admit that I have seen every episode of this show more than once (maybe 3-4 times) but the thought of picking up those huge books was daunting.

Now I have access to the entire collection, which I am fortunate enough to be able to listen to while I am at work. Sure, I may know what’s going to happen but I’ve been wanting to hear the deeper details since I first watched the show!

 

 

2. Ready Player One ~ by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One Audible
 

This is probably my favourite book of all-time. I have read it approximately 5 times already and it is one of the few hard copy books I bring with me everywhere I go.

With Spielberg’s movie adaptation coming out soon, my love for this one can only go up!

 

 

 

 

3. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth ~ by Chris Hadfield (Canadian!)

Chris Hadfield Astronaut Audible

 

I don’t know of a single Canadian who wasn’t completely captured by Chris Hadfield’s adventures in space. He has a charisma that is infectious in the best possible way.

The second I found out he had a book I purchased it and the rest is history. To hear this book read in his own voice is definitely going to be a treat and I highly recommend that you download a copy today!

 

 

 

4. Waging Heavy Peace ~ by Neil Young (Canadian!)

Waging Heavy Peace Audible

 

What can I say about Neil Young that hasn’t already been said? I grew up as a musician and Young’s music was the standard I used when thinking of the kind of artist I wanted to be.

It didn’t quite work out for me in that field but I still lean on Neil Young’s music in good times and bad and he remains one of the greatest to ever hit the stage.

 

 

 

5. In This Moment ~ by Karma Brown (Canadian!)

In This Moment Karma Brown Audible

 

Another Canadian author rounds out my list of must-reads and I am a huge fan of Karma’s work! She is an incredibly smart writer whose books will draw you in and make you not want to put them down, or turn them off, as it were.

With 3 books currently available on Audible.ca, you will thank me for passing Karma’s name along to you!

 

 

 

That is just a fraction of the books I have already downloaded and with membership starting at only $14.95 CAD per month, including 1 credit/month, I will be reading a ton more before the end of the year! What are you waiting for? Go download the Audible.ca app right now and get started!! You can also visit the Audible Canada Facebook page and the @Audible_CA Twitter account for more news and details!

Oh! Also, make sure to leave a comment letting me know what your top 3 book choices are going to be!

Happy Reading!!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program. That said, I am absolutely addicted to audio books and love that I can listen to them on the Audible app now!

Kids 1st Day School

My Kids Are Growing Up Quickly, And I’m Okay With That

“They’re growing up too fast, please slow it down!”

I’m sure I’ve been guilty of uttering a variation of the above phrase at some point in the 10 years I have been a father. I’m also guessing that we’ve all had moments where our children have left us in awe at their budding independence. I used to dread the day when my kids didn’t want to hold my hand anymore while walking to school, but the more they grow, the more I understand their need to blaze their own trail.

As I walked behind them on the way to school the other day, I watched as they excitedly talked about all the friends they were going to see and which classes they hoped they would end up in. If we accomplish nothing else as parents, I will always be happy that my kids genuinely enjoy each other’s company, which may or may not have anything to do with us but I like to think we helped foster that a little bit.

When we arrived at the school, both kids ran in opposite directions to greet the many friends they hadn’t seen all summer, with neither one of them batting an eye in my direction. This may have upset me a few years ago but now I actually enjoy watching their excitement as they pick up right where they left off with their friends. I’m also thankful that they are fortunate enough to have a strong core of friends to come back to.

I stood by myself for awhile, taking in all the sights and sounds, watching the other parents, each with their own 1st day styles and personalities, and hoping my kids would have a great back to school experience. I forced them both to give me a hug before I left because I’m still a dad who needs a little love and validation, but I walked away knowing that my kids would be able to handle anything that comes their way and that they had each others backs, no matter what.

When I picked them up after school that day and asked how their 1st day went, they answered in unison, “Good!”, before running ahead to walk with their friends. Good is better than bad, right? The way I see it, I can spend time stressing out about the kids growing too quickly and potentially hold them back or I can let them grow and explore at their own pace and be there for them when they need me most.

And, hey, every now and then they’ll throw us a bone, like how they’re still cool with our customary 1st day of school pictures!

Kids 1st Day School 4

Back To School With Microsoft Canada

Back-To-School Isn’t Just For The Kids!

With all the focus on the kids for back-to-school season, I’d like to remind you that us adults need some back-to-school love too! We need equipment that can handle school year tasks such as making PTA flyers, photo editing, meal planning, life scheduling, doing kids homework for them and more!

That’s where Microsoft Canada comes in! Their lineup of back-to-school products is second to none doubly important if you have children in high school or heading off to college/university this fall! Have a look below at just a few of the amazing back-to-school picks from Microsoft Canada. Each of the devices is touch capable and includes Windows Ink on Windows 10, allowing students to take advantage of intelligent sticky notes, screen sketches and smart editing!

Surface Pro

Microsoft Surface ProThe Surface Pro gives students the best-in-class laptop, plus the versatility of a studio and tablet. When class is finished, students can pop off the keyboard and use it for catching up on shows or connecting with friends.
• Weighs as little as 1.69 pounds and its 12.3-inch PixelSense display has stunning resolution on a brilliant touchscreen
• Combines the 7th Generation Intel Core m3, i5 and i7 processors and up to 16GB of memory
• Handles your most demanding creative tasks with up to 13.5 hours of battery life
Price: $1,049.00


Surface Pro Type Cover

Microsoft Surface Pro Type CoverThe Surface Pro Type Cover gives students the full-laptop experience with slightly spread-out keys for fast and fluid typing, a two-button trackpad built for precision control, and back lighting for continued working after the lights go out.
• Change your tablet to a laptop in a snap with this extremely thin, light, and stable keyboard optimized for lap use when you’re tired of working at your desk
• Made from premium material that are sturdy yet soft to the touch and is ultra-quiet while typing furiously in class
• Choose from black, blue, bright blue, red, and teal so you can really personalize your Surface device and express your unique style
Price: $129.99


Surface Laptop

Microsoft Surface LaptopThe Surface Laptop compliments students’ personal style with a blend of texture, subtle details and clean lines. Notetaking has never been so easy with the luxurious Alcantara covered keyboard – inspired by fabrics found in high-end Italian auto brands – offering an exceptionally comfortable typing experience for those three-hour lectures.
• Enjoy more space for your ideas with the 13.5-inch PixelSense edge-to-edge touchscreen display
• At 2.76 pounds, the device is lightweight but packed with Dolby Audio Premium sound and 14.5 hours of battery life
Price: $1299.00

 


HP Pavilion x360

HP PavilionFor the student that wants an all-in-one device, the HP Pavilion X360 is a convertible PC that can be used four ways – as a laptop, stand, tent, and tablet – thanks to its unique 360-degree hinge.
• A 15.6” full HD touchscreen allows students to zoom, flick, or tap their way through all work and play needs
• Saving content year after year is a breeze with its massive 1TB hard drive and 8GB of memory
• Features an SD card reader, 3 USB ports, HDMI output and running the latest Windows 10 operating system
Price: $999.00

 


HP ENVY x360

HP ENVY x360Students can go full tilt with this super-flexible and supremely stylish HP Envy X360. It delivers laptop productivity, tablet convenience and everything in between on a 360-degree rotating display that flips to the perfect view every time. Performance is solid and smooth with a 6th generation Intel Core i7 processor and 256GB SSD
• An razor-sharp 15.6-inch full HD touchscreen pairs up with nearly 9 hours of battery life to keep going all day in class and into the night at home. Multi-format SD card reader, 3 USB ports and an HDMI output
Price: $1,199.00


HP Spectre x360

HP SpectreThe HP Spectre X360 redefines what is expected from technology. This 8-million-pixel ultra-thin convertible PC allows students to accomplish more than ever before.
• Indulge your creative side by viewing and editing high resolution photos on a 4K display, or sketch and draw with your active pen and Windows Ink
• 16 hours of battery life and HP Fast Charge means uninterrupted all-day performance with a lightning-fast Intel Core i7 processor
• Quad HP speakers, HP Audio Boost, and custom tuning by Bang & Olufsen experts makes entertainment after class come to life with sound you can feel
Price: $1,199.99


Surface Mouse

Surface MouseStand out in class (for all the right reasons) with rapid clicks and silent scrolling with this precision-tuned ultra-quiet Mouse. Sculpted for your hand and designed for a simple work space, Surface Mouse is the perfect partner to your Surface and Keyboard.
• Premium precision pointing and clicking for scalable performance across the screen of any Surface and external monitor
• A clutter-free and reliable experience that works from up to 50 feet away
• Metal scroll wheel that feels solid under your finger while the body fits perfectly in your hand
Price: $64.99

 


Surface Pen

Surface PenSurface Pen lets you create without limits. It’s precision ink, rubber eraser, and tilt for shading means greater sensitive and virtually no lag between documenting your thoughts onto your device.
• A natural writing and drawing tool that writes like pen on paper allowing you to rest your hand on the screen of your Surface device just as you would with a sketchbook
• Sketch, shade and paint with artistic precision and finer control with 4,096 pressure points that respond to the lightest touch
• Available in four colors – platinum, black, burgundy, and cobalt blue
Price: $129.99

 


As you can see, Microsoft Canada has something for everyone in your family to help them get ready for back-to-school! I’ll be getting my hands on a brand new Microsoft Surface Pro soon to help me with all the back-to-school blogging and photo/video editing I’ll be doing this Fall!

Well, are you ready for back-to-school? Which item on this amazing list is the one you would get the most out of? I can’t wait to hear from you!

Also, I hope your kids have a great first week back at school and an amazing year!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program.

Sears Canada Kids 1

On Kids Developing Their Own Fashion Sense

It’s back-to-school season and admittedly, this one has been harder than the others. Normally we’d pick out a fancy outfit for the kids to wear on their first day back, which they’d put on without a fight, then we’d snap come cute pictures of them holding signs saying what they wanted to be when they grow up. This year, however, has been a little different.

Sears Canada challenged the kids to go back-to-school shopping on a budget of just $100 each, with the goal of putting together an outfit for their 1st day back at school. Because we are good parents who don’t make our young children travel to malls alone, my wife and I tagged along to help pick out the clothes for them. Little did we know that not only were the kids done with us choosing their clothes for them, they didn’t want our help or input in any way whatsoever.

Sears Canada Kids 2

When I really thought about it, it made perfect sense. We have sporty kids who now have a different version of cool than we do, so we let them loose at our local Sears Canada location and only kept track of how much each item was for them. Another stipulation of the challenge was that all of the clothing had to come from the Sears Canada Private Label collection, which was no problem because they had so much to choose from!

I’m happy to report that both kids managed to come in under budget, with my daughter actually scoring multiple outfits and my son picking up a sweet new pair of shoes to go with his clothes. Here are some of the items they managed to grab!

My beautiful daughter, seen here channeling her inner model, fell in love with this “Believe in Yourself” Short-sleeve Graphic Tee, and we fell in love with the $3.97 price tag! She also managed to score these Zip Detail Pants for a cool $14.97 and an awesome Girls’ Fitted Running Jacket for $8.96! On top of all this, she managed to get a couple new swimsuits and got a free denim lightweight backpack for spending $50 on her back-to-school items!

Sears Canada Kids 4

Admittedly, my son spends less time worried about fashion than his sister but I think he still managed to do quite well with his choices. He went with the “New York” Boys’ Popover Hoodie for $19.97 and paired it with a very cool Graphic Jersey Tee for $3.97, which reminded me of Guardians of the Galaxy! With the rest of his gift card he grabbed a pair of Double Face Mesh Shorts for $9.97 and capped it off with a nice pair of Airwalk Neptune Skate Shoes for $38.49. All in all he surprised me with his knowledge of how to match things, which is a nice departure from the combos he tends to throw together at home…

As you can see, the kids really cleaned up with their purchases and we even had some money leftover to get mom and dad some sweet Sears Label Hamburger and French Fry socks! As you can see, there is a lot of great stuff for children of all ages at Sears and if you are looking to get some back-to-school shopping done, this is definitely the place to be!

Sears Socks

Disclosure: We received compensation in order to complete our shopping challenge, however the children absolutely would not let us help in any way whatsoever…