Holiday Family Fun #MLGgingerbreadVillage #Giveaway CAN 08/12

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

What could be better than a gingerbread house?  A gingerbread village, of course!  This year, Loblaws® is bringing holiday magic to life at the Maple Leaf Gardens location (60 Carlton Street, Toronto) with a life-sized gingerbread village and festival holiday activities.  Filled with fun like a gingerbread cookie decorating, letters to Santa and the chance to try delicious holiday treats, the Holiday Gingerbread Village is fun for the whole family.  Best of all?  Admission to the village is free of charge!

 Disclosure: I have been compensated to share this post. The opinions on this blog are my own.
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DCIM105GOPRO

Located in downtown Toronto at the Loblaws® Maple Leaf Gardens store at the corner of Carleton and Church Street, a life-sized Holiday Gingerbread Village is opening to bring the magic of the holidays alive. The village will be open every weekend from November 28 until December 20 from 10 AM to 6 PM and on December 22nd and 23rd from 10 AM to 6 PM, with activities for the whole family. For a charitable donation of just $5 to President’s Choice® Children’s Charity, you can decorate a cookie and get a photo with Santa.

Activities include:

Gingerbread Decorating

What would a gingerbread village be without a chance to decorate gingerbread cookies? The kids will love picking from a huge range of toppings and they’ll love munching on a cookie while they walk around Santa’s village even more. To get you thinking about delicious gingerbread snacks, take a look at these five tips to take your gingerbread cookies to the next level:

Have a plan. Think about which candies and colours you want put on your cookie before going to town (or gingerbread village). If you love a silver bells and tinsel, why not go for an all-silver candy treat for a modern twist.

Go black tie. Dress up your gingerbread men with licorice for suspenders and mini chocolate chips for shirt buttons.

Be creative. Who says you need to make a traditional cookie? Holiday aliens, superheroes or cartoon characters are fun ways to shake things up.

Think about taste. You still want to eat the cookie afterwards, right? If you love the taste of icing, load your cookie up. A chocolate fan? Add extra chocolate for a tasty treat.

Take a photo. After all that time delicately placing candies and making a cookie masterpiece, make sure to take a photo to remember your cookie, before chowing down.

Photos with Santa

It wouldn’t be the holidays without the opportunity to take a photo on Santa’s lap. Make sure your kids have their lists ready and come on down to share them with the one and only Santa Claus. The elves will be taking and printing pictures so that your little ones can remember their visit with Santa.

Seasonal Selfie Station

Forget those old family photos in ugly holiday sweaters. At the Holiday Gingerbread Village, bring your family for a fun-filled seasonal selfie. With candy-canes and holiday cheer in the background, and giant gingerbread houses all around, it’s the perfect chance for a festive photo to send to all your relatives for the holidays. 

Toasty, Tasty Treats

Hosting family for the holidays? Now more than ever, it can be tricky to find a new and exciting dish to serve. Why not search for festive features at the Holiday Gingerbread Village. Forget snowstorms, these new twists on holiday classics will make you want to cook up a storm in the kitchen. Free samples at the Holiday Gingerbread Village will include brie with red pepper Jelly on an ACE bread crisp, and treats from the PC® Insiders Collection, including the PC® The Decadent Chocolate Cherry Loaf with butter. For more on the new Collection, visit pc.ca/insiders

Winter Warmers

Warm up with a DIY Hot Chocolate and Apple Cider Stand complete with marshmallows, whipped cream and cinnamon sticks.

Decorative Windows

Looking for more inspiration? Visit the Holiday Gingerbread Village at the corner of Carlton and Church Street to experience the holiday fun and view four unique holiday window displays that celebrate the new PC® Insiders Collection and the four culinary occasions contained within: Gift, Dine, Brunch, and Mingle. For more information on the collection and the occasions, visit pc.ca/insiders.

To start off the Holidays right, enter my giveaway for a $100 President’s Choice® Gift Card

Begins on: time post goes live and  Ends on: December 08, 2015 at 8 pmEST

Terms and Conditions:  Open to Canadian residents 18+ only (excludes Quebec). Winner will be notified within 48 hours of the giveaway via email, and will be required to provide their full name, address and telephone number, so that Sponsor can mail out the prize.  By entering this contest you are accepting that, if you win, your contact information will be shared with a PR agency for the purpose of mailing your prize.  Please allow 4-6 weeks from the contest closure date to receive your prize.  [Please read entire Terms and Conditions]  This giveaway may appear on other blogs as part of the #PGmom program, however, to be fair, you can only win once per giveaway. If your name is chosen more than once, another winner will be selected.  All winners must be from within Canada.  Please note giveaways are only open to Canadian residents and will not be sent out of the country.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media channel.

NOTE: My Bits and Bleeps will not be held liable for any potential loss, damage or undelivered status of the prize.

[Experiencing problems with the Entry Form again? Please ONLY click on the word “Entry” or “Form”]

Discover a Fall Food Menu with Loblaws and President’s Choice #PCFall

As parents settle back into their fall routines, meal planning for families becomes more complicated. In fact, according to a recent survey from the Loblaws and President’s Choice® teams, 68% of Canadian parents have less than 10 minutes to make their child’s breakfast on a weekday.  Less than 10 minutes!  I take longer than 10 minutes to take care of my 3 cats!

Disclosure: I have been compensated to share this post. The opinions on this blog are my own.

It’s not easy to balance nutrition and creativity in such a short amount of time.  If you should have a picky eater, it’s even more difficult!  That’s why I love Loblaws and President’s Choice®; they make it easy to put together delicious and nutritious recipes. It really is easy for Canadian parents to cook in the time they actually have.

41% of parents find that their children bring home uneaten lunch items.  I know I experienced this for years, when my daughter was in primary school, mostly because she’d spend her lunch hours trying to get extra help from teachers or volunteering her services.  Many of her friends would take home uneaten lunch items as well!  Perhaps it was because lunches got boring?  Did you know that 48% of parents find it difficult to be creative with lunches for school.

It’s true, 40% of Canadian parents said they ate more dinners as a family when they were growing up than their children eat with them. It’s clear that the family dining experience is changing, and parents are feeling the effects.  With 51% of parents wishing they had more dinners with their loved ones.

For me, if I can have fast, effortless meals than I can spend more quality time with my family.  That’s what it’s all about.  Minimal effort … maximum taste … fabulous results!

The Loblaws® and President’s Choice® teams believe that fall family dining should mean eating nutritious meals that don’t eat up hours.  They’ve put together a series of recipes (breakfast, lunch, and dinner); I’m happy to share one for each meal:

BREAKFAST:  Applesauce Greek Yogurt Parfait  

In two minutes or less, this healthy and satiating breakfast will help carry you from breakfast all the way through to lunch. Easy for the little ones to assemble themselves, this decadent yogurt parfait is healthy and simple to create in a pinch.

Serves: 1 person

Prep time: 2 minutes

Difficulty Level: Easy  Per serving: 220 calories, fat 3 g (of which 1 g is saturated), sodium 60 mg, carbohydrate 37 g, fibre 2 g, protein 11 g

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp PC® Organics™ Honey Almond Granola Cereal
  • 6 blueberries. [I may have used more]
  • PC® Organics™ 0% M.F. Honey Stirred Greek Yogurt
  • ¼ cup PC® Organics™ Sweetened Applesauce

DIRECTIONS
Layer 2 tbsp (25 mL) granola, 3 blueberries, yogurt and applesauce in a parfait glass. Top with remaining 1 tbsp (15mL) granola and 3 blueberries.

LUNCH:  Layered Salad To Go  Cheer up your lunch time routine with this colourful and nutritious salad. Make on Sunday night and chill for three ready-to-go lunches.

Serves: 3

Prep time: 20 minutes

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Per serving: 400 calories, fat 17 g, sodium 500 mg, carbohydrate 29 g, fibre 6 g, protein 35 g

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 can (341 mL) PC® Blue Menu™ Peaches & Cream Whole Kernel Corn, drained
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 cups (500 mL) PC® Broccoli Slaw
  • 2 cans (213 g) PC® Blue Menu™ Wild Pacific Sockeye Salmon, drained
  • 1 pkg (238 g) PC® Organics™ Grape Tomatoes
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) PC® Blue Menu™ Vinaigrette – Fat Free Italian Dressing

DIRECTIONS

  1. Into three 750 mL containers with lids, layer corn, carrots, green onions, broccoli slaw, salmon and tomatoes, dividing ingredients evenly among containers. Drizzle dressing over the top. Cover. Chill until ready to pack into lunch back.
  2. Pack salad in cooler bag with a cold source. When ready to eat, give container a shake to fully dress salad.

DINNER:  Fresh and Simple Portuguese Salad  The clean and vibrant flavours of this fresh salad make it an ideal accompaniment to one of our PC® Portuguese Style Seasoned Whole Chickens. For the best flavour, let the salad stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

TIP: Kids are more likely to eat a meal they have helped prepare. Let younger kids pit olives, tear fresh coriander and mint by hand and stir the salad to combine. Older children can peel cucumbers and slice tomatoes.

Serves: 6

Prep time: 15 minutes

Difficulty Level: Easy

Per serving: 130 calories, fat 11 g (of which 1.5 g is saturated), sodium 360 mg, carbohydrate 7 g, fibre 2 g, protein 2 g

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pkg (500 g) PC® Tomatoes on the Vine, quartered
  • Half sweet red pepper, diced
  • Half English cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup (125 mL) PC® Olives Whole Kalamata, pitted
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) finely diced white onion
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp PC® Organics™ Aged Red Wine Vinegar
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) salt
  • ¼ tsp (1mL) freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) each chopped fresh coriander and mint

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine tomatoes, red pepper, cucumber, olives, onion, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large bowl; sprinkle with coriander and mint.

The Love of Food Can Tie a Family Together #WeLoveFood

It’s true; I’m reminded of this fact each and every time I sit down to a meal with my family … especially holiday meals.

Disclosure: I have received compensation to share this post. The opinions on this blog are my own.

As Thanksgiving approaches, the true value of uniting family over our favourite meals becomes more apparent than ever.

LoblawsFamilyWith this in mind, the Loblaws® team decided to surprise customer Matthew Rome and his family with a Thanksgiving treat. Working with Loblaws® chefs, we brought beloved Rome family recipes to life after the loss of Matthew’s wife and united his whole family to share in the experience. Today, Loblaws® released a heart-warming video that documents that experience.

It’s time; once again, for families across the country to gather and share in their own unique recipes and traditions.  This Thanksgiving will be a difficult time for me.  My mom is in the late stage of Alzheimer’s, and it seems to continue to progress quite rapidly.  She no longer slides in and out of good moments; instead she seems to maintain herself in that dream-like state (she isn’t here, nor is she there).  While I’m thankful for still having my mom, I can’t help but wish I had more of her.  Our Thanksgiving meal will have one less family member at the table, but she is always with us.

I will be visiting my mom in her long term care facility.  She won’t know who I am, but I’m thankful just the same.