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Win a Mother’s Day Spa for Two at the Remarkable Ste. Anne’s

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching, so what a better way to celebrate yourself, and your mom than at Ste. Anne’s Spa! This beautiful full-facility spa in Grafton, Ontario offers all-inclusive day and blissful weekday and weekend getaways that rejuvenate your mind, body and soul.

My readers know that I adore Ste. Anne’s Spa, as I’ve been visiting for many years now. Only 1.5 hours east of Toronto, Ste. Anne’s is my go-to destination when I need some time to de-stress and unwind. As soon as you enter the lovely grounds, the clothes – as well as the daily stresses and responsibilities – come right off! Enjoy the facilities, spa treatments, and delectable food in the comfort of your robe. Take time to explore the grounds and the meditation garden, and take a wellness or yoga class.

My favourites: the Fieldstone Grotto featuring a hot tub and plunge pool, followed by the Eucalyptus Steam Room which is infused with eucalyptus essential oil.

 

Ste. Anne's Mother's Day Giveaway Me and Mom

Ste. Anne's Mother's Day Giveaway Me and MomSte. Anne's Mother's Day Giveaway Maria Grotto

Ste Anne's Lunch

Ste Anne's Spa Lunch Burger

Ste Anne's Spa Cheesecake

Ste. Anne's Spa

Enter to Win

One lucky reader will win a Day Spa for Two at Ste. Anne’s! For Mother’s Day, treat yourself and your mom, sister, daughter or friend to a relaxing stay at award-winning Ste. Anne’s Spa.

Day Spa for Two includes:

  • 3-Course lunch
  • Afternoon tea
  • Use of Ste. Anne’s signature robe
  • $120 spa & wellness allowance per person
  • Complete use of the facilities
  • 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

To enter, fill in the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

Ste. Anne's Spa Mother's Day Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Win a Mother's Day Spa for Two at the Remarkable Ste. Anne's

Best Ways to Get to Zakynthos, Greece

While many who visit Greece tour the islands in the Aegean sea, the gorgeous Greek island beauty also lies on the other side in the Ionian sea. Zakynthos is one of my favourite Greek islands in the Ionian. Here are the best ways to get to Zakynthos, Greece.

Flights to Zakynthos

Zakynthos is very easily reachable from Athens with Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines. During the summer, some European cities offer direct flights to the island including London and Amsterdam. British Airways offers direct flights to Zante during the summer months. Also, Volotea airlines in Italy offers direct flights.  

Best Ways to Get to Zakynthos, Greece

Ferry from the mainland

But getting to Zante within mainland Greece means taking the ferry. Since we drove – and that alone was a memorable experience! – we took the ferry from Kyllini, Peloponnese.  Arriving by ferry boat was breathtaking. The views of the island’s coastline, and of the downtown, are simply beautiful.

No matter how you arrive, as you approach Zante, you’ll be impressed by the beautiful coastline. The Venetians called it Zante, but the name, like all similar names ending in -nthos, is pre-Mycenaean or Pelasgian in origin. In Greek mythology, the island was said to be named after Zakynthos, the son of a legendary Arcadian chief Dardanus.

Best Ways to Get to Zakynthos

Best Ways to Get to Zakynthos Greece

Getting to Zakynthos, Greece

Rent a car

If you’re able, I would highly recommend renting a car so that you can tour the island on your own schedule. We drove from Tsilivi beach, where we stayed, all around the island. It’s an hour drive to get from one side of the island to the other. We opted to take our rental car with us from Athens to the island so that we could tour it leisurely.

The lovely Mediterranean climate and the plentiful rainfall means the island is full of dense vegetation. As you drive through the island, you’ll notice all of the olive trees. So many olive trees! You’ll find olive oil, currants, grapes and citrus fruit on the island.

Must-see attractions

At the Bay of Laganas, you’ll find the prime nesting area for loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in the Mediterranean. Every year at the beginning of June, the female turtles come to the southern beaches in order to bury their eggs in the sand.

Marathonissi islet (also known as “Turtle Island”) near Limni Keriou contains tropical vegetation, turquoise waters, beaches, and sea caves.

The most famous landmark of the island is the Navagio beach. It is a cove on the northwest shore, isolated by high cliffs and accessible only by boat.

Ways to Get to Zakynthos

Zakynthos Zante Greece Zakynthos view from Ferry

Best Ways to Get to Zakynthos Greece | amotherworld.com

Should Parents Share Revealing Photos of Their Kids Online?

Who doesn’t love babies and their cute little legs and toes? Moms and dads may be tempted to share photos of their baby during bath time, in between diaper changes, while potty- training, or on the beach. Parents may think it’s cute to share revealing photos of their kids online on social media. But should they?

Sharing revealing photos of their kids online means those photos are out there – once parents post them on social media, they are floating in cyberspace forever.

Pink is a proud mama who enjoys sharing family photos on her Instagram account. She often shares captures of her two children Willow, 7, and Jameson, 2, as she juggles being a famous singer as well as a mom. It is her Instagram account, and she should be able to share whatever she feels is best, no?

The other day, Pink uploaded a photo of her and her two children while on vacation, hanging out with a pelican they’d found. She posted the photo on Instagram before realizing that her toddler son had taken off his swim diaper. But the nasty comments filled her feed, forcing her to delete the image and replace it with one that scribbled in where his diaper would normally be, covering his private parts.

Along with the updated version, she wrote in the caption:

“There’s something seriously wrong with a lot of you out there. Going off about my baby’s penis? About circumcision??? Are you for real? As any normal mother at the beach, I didn’t even notice he took off his swim diaper.

I deleted it because you’re all fucking disgusting. And now I’m turning off my comments and shaking my head at the state of social media and keyboard warriors,

And the negativity that you bring to other people’s lives. There is something seriously wrong with a lot of you out there. Smfh. Here’s a picture of the pelican we obviously caught and abused for hours before dangling baby penis in its face.”

 

So what do you think? Did Pink not notice and posted accidentally? Or did she post knowing his penis was showing but didn’t expect such a reaction from the public?

Whether or not she knew, it brings up the question – Should parents share revealing photos of their kids online?

Once you share revealing photos of your kids online, you can’t take them back. Many people feel it’s inappropriate to share revealing photos of your children because of the fact there are trolls and predators online who could possibly target the child. It may also be deemed inappropriate that those photos may resurface and embarrass the child later in life.

On the other hand, there is something seriously wrong when people are sexualizing a child. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in today, and some might argue it’s best to be cautious of what images are being shared online.

Here are some of the comments on Instagram:

@dannygirl57: “Wow. I guess I didn’t examine the pelican photo because I didn’t even notice that Jameson didn’t have any bottoms on… I noticed a cute photo of a mama and her babies enjoying a moment in life… those who saw anything more than that need their heads checked!!!! Keep doing u!!”

@pitbullmomma0724: “I am not for circumcision. It is my job to try and educate people before they do it. I am also not so obsessed that I am going to zoom in on a baby penis of a cute family photo to see if someone circumcised their son. WTF is wrong with you people. Really? What can she do about it now anyway? It’s done! Just enjoy the cute family photos and move on with your lives. Slamming someone isn’t going to make his foreskin grow back. It doesn’t make her a horrible mother….. move on….. Jesus!”

@moiracurlis: “I mean, it’s pretty tone deaf to post a pic with your naked daughter and lower half of your son on social media with the amount of pedos and sexual predators out there. Cute pic. Take it for yourself. Don’t post it for the gawking masses and then get offended when people have feelings about it.”

@ashley.ortiz3: “I think there’s something seriously wrong with HER for posting a picture of her naked son in social media. I don’t understand how some people don’t care who sees their children’s private parts. THERE ARE SCUM BAG PEDOPHILES OUT THERE THAT LOVE TO SEE THESE THINGS. And you’re ok with giving them that? Your child’s naked body to look at? To pleasure themselves with? Come on people. Get out from under your rock and open your eyes to the world and sick people around you. Your job as a parent is to keep your child safe from anything and anyone out there to harm them. Even if it isn’t physically harming.”

 

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What do you think?

Should Parents Share Revealing Photos of Their Kids Online?

Do Kids Feel More Pressure To Be Successful Today?

Parents feel the pressure to succeed on their own, but on top of that, they’re also responsible to ensure their children succeed too. The pressure to raise successful children is higher than ever. Do kids feel more pressure to be successful today?

I think children today are feeling extreme pressure to succeed, and their parents, peers and society all play a role. Parents obviously want the best for their children, but they will go out of their way to ensure their kids receive the best education. Look at the recent college admissions scandal where 33 parents, including actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, “paid enormous sums” in a cheating scheme that rigged admissions to elite universities such as Stanford and Yale.

Some parents will go into debt to send their kids to private school with the hopes that their education will ensure entrance into a top university. For some, using their wealth and social status to help their child get accepted into a good school means breaking the rules.

For those not so financially fortunate, and with perhaps a cleaner conscious, parents will encourage their children to be involved in at least one competitive sport, throwing money into training with the hopes that their child will receive a scholarship. Let’s not forget the academic pressure; kids are feeling the pressure to perform well in school, not settling for anything less than an A.

Pressure from all sides.

Kids are pressured from all sides – home, school, friends, extra-curricular activities, as well as the pressure of their impending future and career decisions. All of that pressure and being pulled in many directions can leave kids feeling anxious, inadequate, under-confident. In fact, high expectations can lead to anxiety and depression, which can also increase the risk of developing an addiction.

A 2017 study entitled, “Perfectionism Is Increasing Over Time” finds that “young people now face far tougher social and economic conditions than their parents”, and that perfectionism has increased over the last few decades. The study suggests young people now face “now facing more competitive environments, more unrealistic expectations, and more anxious and controlling parents than generations before.”

The social media factor.

Let’s face it – we live in a culture that equates success with money, social standing and fame. We live in a celebrity culture where musicians, actors and athletes are put on a pedestal.

Social media has raised the bar even further. Before social media, we looked up to celebrities on television, movies and magazines; but social media has made our connection to celebrities much more personal, and constant; we can follow our favourites 24/7. Not only do we have celebrities who are known for their movies, music or sport, we also now have unknowns rising to fame thanks to social media; YouTubers making millions of dollars, and Instagram influencers with millions of followers and brand ambassador deals.  That celebrity status seems attainable to anyone who can create an account and gain “influence”.

Teens are seeking validation on their social media channels, putting too much value on the number of likes they receive and how many friends/followers they have.

Some children are self-motivated.

On the flip side, while some teens are unmotivated and lack ambition, there are some children who are highly driven and thrive with a busy schedule. For example, I’m encouraging my son to quit rep hockey to play house league and focus more on his studies next school year. But he wants to stay involved in various sports than quit playing completely. He says he’s willing to sacrifice free time to play video games or hang out with friends, to instead juggle homework and hockey. I agreed that he should do what he enjoys, as long as his grades don’t suffer.

If a child can manage the pressures, fine; but when there are any signs your child is feeling stress, anxiety, and/or depression, it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate.

What’s most important.

Every parent’s wish is for their children to be healthy, happy, and have a successful life. But we need to re-examine society’s misconceptions around wealth and merit. I’m trying to teach my kids that success isn’t measured by the amount of money you have, fame, or popularity; instead, it’s about living your best life doing what you love and pursuing your passions. It’s about spending time with friends and family, helping others, and making a difference in their lives. Most importantly, it’s about being happy with the person you’ve become.

I’d like to see my children grow up to be good, respectful human beings, who are kind and empathetic towards others, and care about other people and society.

Are Kids More Pressured To Be Successful Today | amotherworld

My Favourite Things to Help Get You Through Winter

When will this winter end? While we’re still in the thick of winter, spring seems months away. How to manage to get through winter? Here are some of my favourite things to help get you through winter.

My Favourite Things to Help Get You Through Winter

Alumier MD Alumience AGE Serum

I’ve always been a fan of AlumierMD products, and the Alumience A.G.E facial serum is a personal favourite. This serum is designed to help your skin fight against environmental factors such as free radicals, pollution and advanced glycation end products (A.G.E.s). These factors can cause ageing, fine lines and wrinkles. Alumience A.G.E. uses a unique blend of ingredients to create a shield between pollution and your skin; It’s like an “instant barrier” for your skin. It’s also fragrance-free, sulfate-free, paraben-free, mineral oil-free and dye-free. $145 available in select doctor’s offices, spas and online at www.alumiermd.com.

My Favourite Things to Help Get You Through Winter

 

Inner Fire Yoga Wear

I couldn’t get through these long winter days without keeping my body moving and stretching with yoga.

My friend Francesca at Karma Lifestyle Yoga introduced me to this Canadian brand, Inner Fire, whose leggings are made from BPA-Free recycled water bottles. Pretty cool, right? The leggings also have SPF 50 protection and are made of durable, moisture-wicking fabric that is anti-fade and anti-pill. Their shirts are hand printed in-house with eco-friendly water-based inks, and the designs and quotes are inspiring and cute.

Savasana is the best part of yoga! When you’ve finished practice, savasana is when you get to reap all the benefits of your yoga practice; be in tune with your body, your breathing, and hopefully your inner spirit.

My Favourite Things to Help Get You Through Winter

The “I’m Just Here For The Savasana®” tank comes in nine tri-blend colours. $35 – now on sale for $24

Go from studio to street in style with the Pocket Leggings that have 3 convenient pockets for your keys, phone and anything else. Love the cute mesh calf detail for some built-in ventilation. $108 – On Sale $88 at Inner Fire. 

Comvita Manuka Honey

Don’t fall into another cold and flu season without the cosiest of cures, Comvita Manuka Honey. This Liquid Gold can be used to sweeten up your daily coffee or tea, but it’s also the perfect at-home remedy for that seasonal cough. Coat that sore throat with Manuka Honey; its unique antibacterial properties have made it a coveted superfood over the past few years.

For 40 years, Comvita has been producing UMF verified Manuka Honey, or Unique Manuka Factor, a rating developed by the New Zealand-based UMF Honey Association that ensures the honey has the three special compounds that make sure customers are getting the highest quality Manuka Honey. $23.99 (250g) and up

My Favourite Things to Help Get You Through Winter - Comvita Manuka Honey

OGEE Sculpted Lip Oil

This yummy lip oil glides on effortlessly and melts into lips to moisturize and protect with a blend of organic oils including cold-pressed Jojoba Seed Oil.  The cutting-edge formulation allows the rich organic oils, butters, and waxes to be applied in solid form, melting instantly on touch allowing for a silky application that doesn’t pull over dry patches.  OGEE Lip Oil is gaining recognition from beauty editors at top magazines including Allure, Nylon and Byrdie. Kourtney Kardashian mentions this on her blog as a top pick to moisturize dry lips! $22 at TheChoosyChick.com

My Favourite Things to Help Get You Through Winter

Lily Lolo Sculpt and Glow

Add a little glow to your face – which I definitely need during the winter months. The award-winning Lily Lolo brand from the UK created this bronzer highlighter duo to contour, give the illusion of sky-high cheekbones and add a beautiful glow.  Works for all skin tones. Non-comedogenic, allows the skin to breathe easily.  The sleek compact is ideal for travel and handbags.  Does not contain chemicals, bismuth, talc, or dyes (FD&C, Lake). Vegan and Gluten-free. $26 at TheChoosyChick.com. 

My Favourite Things to Help Get You Through Winter

 

La Roche Posay Lipikar Line

Suffering from dryer-than-normal skin or irritated skin like eczema? You’ll love the line of products from La Roche Posay for extremely dry skin. When my skin is super dry, the Lipikar Ap+ is my go-to cream to help soothe my itchy skin.

The Lipikar Ap+ is a think cream that fights itching and extreme dryness as well as sensitive skin. It’s soothing, lipid-replenishing, and is fragrance and paraben free. Great for adults and babies/children too. $25 available at Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall.

If you suffer from dry skin during the winter, it’s recommended to use lukewarm water and to keep showers short. Lipikar Oil protects the skin against the drying effects of hard water and provides the skin with the lipids required for restoring the skin barrier. In the shower, place a few drops in the palm of the hand and apply to moist skin. For baths, pour 2 to 3 capfuls into the bath water. Remember to pat dry with a towel – don’t rub! The niacinamide and shea butter formula moisturizes and restores the hydrolipidic film intensely to help restore the skin barrier and to provide comfort to the skin while soothing the tightness feeling due to dry skin. Babies, children and adults can use. $19.

My son’s lips get so dry during the winter months that they crack and bleed. Our go-to is Cicaplast. This repairing barrier balm soothes, protects and rebuilds the epidermis on chapped, cracked and irritated lips and zones. Its formula is concentrated up to 5% of soothing and repairing Panthénol, and enriched with MP-Lipids, pro-hydration active ingredient that protects lips from further cracking.   $10

My Favourite Things to Help Get You Through Winter

Klorane Peony collection

Klorane draws upon the power of the peony in this shampoo and conditioner to help soothe sensitive skin and scalp with the Peony collection. Peonies are scientifically shown to soothe sensitive skin and irritation. The calming pH balanced shampoo provides immediate & 24-hour scalp comfort while the lightweight and moisturizing conditioner provider soothes and conditions.

Klorane’s peonies are harvested in the Chinese provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu, following traditional methods respecting people and their surrounding environments. $20 each.

My Favourite Things to Help Get You Through Winter | amotherworld.com

truMedic InstaShiatsu+ IS-2000 Shoulder and Neck Massager

Because of my back and muscle issues, I use the truMedic InstaShiatsu massager year-round, but I especially need it to help soothe my aches and pains exacerbated by the cold during the winter. It has eight deep-kneading massage nodes that dig deeply into sore muscles. What I love about this massager is that you can literally wear it; you can charge it up and walk around with it. You can easily manoeuvre it from your neck and shoulders down to your lower back. You can also use on other areas of your body. The best part of the massager is the optional heat for soothing relief. $129.99 at Costco.

My Favourite Things to Help Get You Through Winter | amotherworld

 

Live Clean Foaming Body Washes

Live Clean has created a rich, creamy utterly luxurious foaming body washes with ingredients like shea, murumuru, mango, aloe moringa and matcha.  Live Clean products are 98% plant derived and free of earth-harming chemical ingredients. Live Clean Foaming Body Washes are available at Shoppers Drug Mart, Walmart, Well.ca in 450 mL for $7.99

My Favourite Things to Help Get You Through Winter - Live Clean Body Wash

 

My Favourite Things to Help Get You Through Winter - amotherworld

Family Day Fun with Board Games

Family Day celebrates the importance of families and family life to people and their communities. It’s a fairly new holiday, only launched in 2008, and is celebrated on the 3rd Monday of February.

This year, Family Day falls on February 18th. What are your plans for Family Day?

Since its inception, we’ve been trying to spend Family Day unplugged. We try to do something fun together as a family outdoors, such as tobogganing or skating. Just before our fingers and noses become freezing numb, we’ll head back home to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate and coffee for the adults. And what a better way to get the family involved in an indoor activity together than playing board games?

Playing games together brings families together, which is why Mattel is also asking families to reconnect and enjoy some fun together with board games:

Apples to Apples

Apples to Apples is the hilarious comparison game where players make Outrageous comparisons and can be totally subjective in deciding the outcome. It is perfect for any game night with family and friends! 12+. Available at Indigo, Mastermind, Toys “R” Us, Walmart, Amazon. $29.99

Family Day Fun with Board Games

Bounce Off

Bounce-Off game is simple for everyone to understand and play, but don’t be fooled by the easy instructions – the competition is fierce! Whether you’re playing against others by bouncing balls in a frenzied race to match the card or the (slightly) more civilized turn-based play, Bounce-Off game brings the action and the results are wild! It’s perfect for parties and game nights and a great way to get the fun going and bring guests together. Age 7+. Available at Toys “R” Us, Walmart,Amazon. $29.99

Family Day fun

Pictionary

This quick-draw classic, the guesses can be just as hilarious as the sketches, making it the perfect way to get the party started. Pictionary now includes two erasable markers, boards for drawing and an updated Pop Culture category of clues. Year after year, since 1985, Pictionary has proven itself to be the ultimate party game! Age 8+. Available at Mastermind, Real Canadian Superstore, Toys “R” Us, Walmart, Amazon. $29.99.

Family Day Activities

Balderash

Balderdash game features interesting, unbelievably true content and categories about people, words, initials and movies. Once a category is chosen and the question is read, each player writes down what they think the definition or answer to the question is. The real fun begins when the phony definitions are read along with the legitimate ones! You will be sure to laugh out loud as you hear the hilarious and creative definitions! Age 12+.  Available at Indigo, Mastermind, Real Canadian Superstore, Toys “R” Us, Walmart, Amazon. $24.99

Family Day board games

Enter to win

One lucky amotherworld reader will win these Mattel board games as well! Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.

Happy Family Day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Disclosure: I was given product in exchange for review and giveaway. As always, the opinions expressed herein are my own.

 

My Love Affair with Coffee and Breville’s Bambino Plus (Giveaway!)

It’s the first thing I look forward to in the morning and fuels me throughout the day. I even turn to it for an afternoon pick-me-up. It’s warm, creamy and delicious. What am I?

C – O – F – F – E – E  !

It’s no secret – I have a love affair with coffee. So, of course, I was delighted to try Breville’s Bambino™ Plus espresso machine. Who wouldn’t want to make delicious, premium quality coffee beverages at home?

I had experience using a premium espresso machine a few years back where I worked and loaded up on lattes several times a day. And since my husband is Italian, we had a vintage espresso machine passed down to us from family as well. We know what makes the perfect espresso! So we were both curious to see if the Breville Bambino™ Plus would fit the bill.

Breville Bambino Plus espresso machine

Breville Bambino™ Plus

This espresso machine arrived at our door right before Christmas, so over the holidays, I was able to set it up and try it out. I love that Breville Bambino™ Plus is a compact size as we don’t have a ton of counter space available. With a sleek stainless steel exterior, the machine is a beautiful addition to our kitchen.

Easy to use.

The Breville Bambino™ Plus is easy to use; it has three settings for temperature and frothing for milk if you’re making lattes or cappuccinos. It also comes with a single or double filter basket, along with a tamper and Razor trimming tool for easy measuring. We tend to use the double filter basket because we prefer our espresso long! The 54mm porta-filter with 19 grams is the key for full flavour and café quality coffee.

Warms up in 3 seconds.

It’s super convenient that you don’t have to wait for the machine to warm up before using; it’s ready to brew in three seconds. The Innovative Thermojet™ heating system achieves the optimum extraction temperature without the wait. The coffee temperature is perfect; the machine’s Digital Temperature Control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction.

Froth milk like a Barista.

The automatic steam wand allows you to adjust the milk temperature and texture to suit your taste and makes barista quality foam. It’s also nice that the Bambino plus comes with a stainless steel milk jug! 

Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine | amotherworld

The verdict.

So what do we think? My husband and I are impressed. The espresso has the perfect temperature, is nice and thick in texture and has the right amount of “schiuma” or crema/foam. Since I can’t have regular milk, I was surprised that the steam wand is able to froth my almond milk enough to resemble a regular latte.

I love that I can make espresso, cappuccinos and lattes within minutes. The only problem now is, trying to control how many I should drink a day! Breville has been successful at creating an espresso machine that honours Italian tradition my making café quality coffee.

Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine | amotherworld

 

If you haven’t had any experience as a barista, you’ll want to take a Breville’s Bambino™ Plus.  And if you’re not sure which Breville’s machine is best for you,  you can answer this fun quiz.

Enter to Win

I have partnered with the lovely people at Breville to give one lucky amotherworld reader their very own Breville Bambino Plus!

Please fill in the Rafflecopter below to enter. Open to Canada only until February 28, 2019. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine | amotherworld

Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine | amotherworld

I received product from Breville Canada to review. As always the opinions expressed herein are my own.

My Love Affair with Coffee and Breville’s Bambino Plus giveaway | amotherworld

 

Planning for Retirement When You’re Working in Canada’s Flexforce 

Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with TD, but all opinions are my own.

After graduating from university, I began my career working in the city for various companies in the entertainment industry. My typical day was spent behind a computer screen, but working with a dynamic group of people always enhanced my work experience. While the commute from the suburbs took a toll, the regular paycheque, and health and dental benefits made it all worthwhile.

Once my first son was born, I traded in the back-to-back traffic, and often long train rides, for the chance to be a stay-at-home mom while pursuing a freelance career from home. I gave up my portion of our new family’s income to start my own business. I started by first offering virtual assistant services and then eventually starting this website, as well as doing some freelance writing for other publications. I’ve found some creative ways to generate income from various streams as freelancers typically do.

Canada’s Flexforce – a term coined by TD to describe freelancers, temporary/contract workers, frequent job jumpers, and people who are gaining additional schooling or training and thus delaying their career – often comes with a great deal of financial unpredictability. Being in the Flexforce, especially as a freelancer like myself, means you must go with the ebb and flow of work volume; sometimes the work is overflowing, and other times it’s painfully slow. Getting through those dry periods financially can often be a challenge – so understandably, contributing to a retirement fund can often wind up at the bottom of the priority list.

According to a recent TD survey, Flexforce Canadians are financially unprepared for retirement and don’t feel confident when it comes to meeting their retirement goals. Specifically, nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) are rethinking retirement and anticipate needing to work into their senior years because they won’t have enough saved for retirement. In addition, nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of the Flexforce are finding it difficult to save for retirement, while four in ten (41 per cent) are not even sure when they’ll retire given their employment situation. They’re also feeling increasingly uncertain (47 per cent) and worried (34 per cent) about their financial future.

Are you a Flexforce Canadian? If so, is this causing you to “rethink”  your retirement? There’s no need to panic! With some guidance and planning, there are simple ways to feel more confident about retirement – here are a few ideas from TD.

Planning for Retirement When You’re Working in Canada’s Flexforce

Know your goals.

Whether you’ve been working for decades or are just getting back into the workforce, everyone has their own idea of what they envision their retirement to look like. Once you’ve determined your goals, establish a retirement savings plan to help you stay on track.

Know your options.

Planning for retirement can be confusing, so it’s important to learn what retirement will entail, and what options are available to help get you there. There are many variables and unpredictability if you work in the gig economy, so it’s important to speak to a financial advisor to set up a plan tailored for your specific needs and situation. It’s also key to understand spending and saving habits so you can readjust those in order to reach your retirement goals.

Manage your money.

How much are you spending on coffee per week?! Tools like the TD MySpend app can provide notifications of your spending transactions in real-time, which in turn can provide insight into your financial habits so that you can take more control over how you manage your money. Perhaps your take-out expense will have to be reduced to once a month for a while.

What does your retirement look like?

Do you see yourself working until 70 in your current location? Or would you like to retire on a secluded beach off the coast of Bora Bora by 55? Once you have a picture and plan for your ideal retirement, take steps to turn that vision into a mission. A useful tool is the online TD Retirement Calculator, which estimates how much you would need to save to retire with the desired income you need for the retirement lifestyle you want. You should also consider meeting with a financial advisor to help create and implement a retirement plan. Consider setting up automated contributions into a retirement savings vehicle that will add up over time, without any extra effort from you.

Stay accountable.

Now that you’re in a good routine of monitoring your spending, check in on your retirement investment from time to time. While it may not be necessary to check your portfolio daily, it’s a good idea to check in with your financial advisor at least once a year, or whenever you’re going through a major milestone in your life, like buying a home or welcoming a new member into your family. Starting a new business or taking on a permanent role could also be a good opportunity to meet with your advisor to ensure your retirement plan is still headed in the right direction.

Many Flexforce Canadians are financially unprepared for retirement and don’t feel confident when it comes to meeting their retirement goals. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Hopefully, these tips from TD will help you feel more confident in planning your retirement goals.

Planning for Retirement when You're Working in Canada’s Flexforce

Lesser Known Canadian Places That Are Worth Exploring

Are you planning to travel this year? While you normally may look outside Canada for travel destinations, why not explore more of the great white north? More Canadians are looking to explore their own country, since there is so much to discover.

We know the obvious choices, such as Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal as fun destinations. But what about some lesser known Canadian places that are worth exploring.

Here are some destinations from each Canadian province/territory that may be lesser known Canadian travel destinations to visit this year:

Lesser Known Canadian Places That Are Worth Exploring

Lesser Known Canadian Travel Destinations to Visit | amotherworld.com

British Columbia – Barkerville

Barkerville is a recreated Gold Rush Town circa 1862. The Barkerville experience combines history and fun for an interactive experience and a trip back to an important time in B.C history. Rent out traditional Victorian era costumes as you walk through this period town. Try your hand at gold panning or take in a theatrical production. Children under 5 enter Barkerville for free, and there are great deals on admission for families.

Lesser Known Canadian Travel Destinations to Visit Barkerville BC

Alberta – Abraham Lake

One of Alberta’s “hidden gems,” Abraham Lake is a great location for a summer escape. Instead of visiting Banff, Jasper or Lake Louise, which can get crowded with visitors and tourists, Abraham Lake is a great alternative.

The man-made lake’s breath taking colours and scenery are beautiful in the winter and in the summer. Summer at Abraham Lake offers swimming, canoeing, and hiking for all ages and skill levels.  There is free lakeside camping available. But if camping isn’t your thing, David Thompson Resort or Aurum Lodge are both accommodations nearby.

Lesser Known Canadian Travel Destinations to Visit Abraham Lake

Saskatchewan – Badlands

Visitors from all over the world visit the Badlands to take in the beauty and vastness of this geographical region, particularly the buttes and caves. Learn the history of Saskatchewan’s Indigenous populations, and the bandits and outlaws of North America’s Wild West – the infamous Sundance Kid came here! Walk the same paths and exploring the same cliffs and caves as they once did.

Visit Dinosaur Provincial Park, one of the richest dinosaur fossil sites in the world, where more than 500 specimens have been discovered. There are many accommodations nearby in the town of Coronach, including Bed & breakfasts, motels, restaurants and gift shops.

Lesser Known Canadian Travel Destinations to Visit Badlands SK

Manitoba – Churchill Polar Bears

Dubbed the polar bear capital of the world, Churchill is one of the few human settlements where Polar Bears can be observed in the wild. Churchill offers many different ways to see the Polar Bears, whether it is by Tundra Buggy (driven tour) or by visiting a Wilderness Lodge.

In addition to Polar Bears, there are also opportunities to watch or swim with whales, see the Northern Lights, and experience other wildlife up close. Churchill also has an extensive fur trade history, great hiking, and delicious local cuisine including Elk and Bison dishes.

Lesser Known Canadian Travel Destinations to Visit - Churchill Manitoba
Photo: Ian Johnson

Ontario- Thousand islands

“Thousand Islands” should actually be called 1800 Islands. This archipelago (with 1084 islands to be precise) borders Canada and the United States, in the town of Gananoque, near Kingston, Ontario.

The islands are an authentic hub of nature, culture, and history and feature two UNESCO sites: Frontenac Arch Biosphere and the Rideau Heritage Route. Visitors may visit the Boldt Castle or the Singer Castle, both of which are open for visitors to enter and explore and learn more about their rich histories. Take a cruise of the area, swim at one of the remote beaches, or rent a cottage or perhaps even an island.

Lesser Known Canadian Travel Destinations to Visit Thousand Islands Ontario

Quebec- Whale route

Three hours north of Quebec City is designated as the Whale Route; the 1250 kilometre stretch from Tadoussac to Blanc Sablon on the Cote-Nord is home to 13 different species of whales. You can see the majestic creatures from the shore but get closer with a boat tour. Those who are adventurous can even kayak for an up-and-close encounter.

The Whale Route also offers lovely beaches, hiking trails, historical sites, shopping and dining, and great locations to observe everything from deer, to puffins, to fish.

Lesser Known Canadian Travel Destinations to Visit Whale Route Quebec

Newfoundland and Labrador – Saint-Pierre et Miquelon

This small community is just 12 miles from Newfoundland and accessible by ferry or airplane, but it’s not part of Canada! Just off the coast of Newfoundland, Saint-Pierre et Miquelon are the last piece of French territory in North America, and known for its slogan: “Where France meets North America”.

Saint-Pierre et Miquelon residents enjoy a traditionally simple way of life. These islands are a great opportunity to immerse in French culture, without crossing the Atlantic. If you’re Canadian, you do not require a passport to visit.

Lesser Known Canadian Travel Destinations to Visit - Saint Pierre et Miquelon

New Brunswick- Magnetic Hill

Magnetic Hill has been a phenomenon since the 1800s, when people noticed their cars would roll backwards up this hill without any power! The rising and descending terrain causes cars to “roll up” Magnetic Hill, making it a huge Maritime tourist attraction.

There is also the Magnetic Hill concert site, which features a waterpark, Zoo, and wharf village. Beyond Magnetic Hill, Moncton is a city filled with rich Acadian culture with many interesting features to check out.

Lesser Known Canadian Travel Destinations to Visit Magnetic Hill New Brunswick

Nova Scotia – Annapolis Royal

Annapolis Royal is home to some of North America’s earliest European settlers. It’s a dynamic community with a strong present-day culture that honours Annapolis Royal’s Indigenous and Settler past.

This former capital of Acadia and Nova Scotia is rich with history. Most attractions and accommodations in Annapolis Royal are heritage sites, featuring historic gardens, a farmers market, vineyards, lighthouses, museums and a theatre. Visit the Fort Anne National Historic Site to see 1797 British officer’s quarters or take one of the historic walking tours to get a better understanding of the stories behind the local sites.Lesser Known Canadian Travel Destinations to Visit Annapolis Royal Nova Scotia

Prince Edward Island- Cavendish Beach

Cavendish Beach in northern Prince Edward Island, offers a beach vacation right in Canada. The 8 km stretch of natural sand gives way to calm, warm waters that are safe for swimming by all age groups.

Sit back and marvel at the red sandstone cliffs and sandy dunes. When you’re finished making sand castles, head inland to the nearby botanical garden, tourist shops or a local restaurant to try the fresh lobster.

Cavendish Beach Country Music Festival, featuring artists like Blake Shelton and The Band Perry, is taking place from July 8th-10th, 2016.

Lesser Known Canadian Travel Destinations to Visit - Cavendish Beach PEI

Yukon- Northern Lights

The Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, is always a mesmerizing and unique experience. This natural phenomenon is best seen from late August to mid-April outside the big cities.

Local tour operators offer various options for seeing the Northern Lights, from evening bus tours to remote lodge stays and even organized camping trips.

Lesser Known Canadian Travel Destinations to Visit - Yukon

Northwest Territories – Nahanni National Park Reserve

The Nahanni National Park and Reserve is among the world’s first four natural heritage locations chosen as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

One of the park’s key features is the South Nahanni River, which is surrounded by huge canyons. The river flows to the spectacular Virginia Falls, which is more than twice the height of Niagara Falls.

The park is also home to sulphur hot springs, alpine tundra regions, mountain ranges, and lush forests. Spend the day hiking the foothills or canoeing the crystal blue waters.

Lesser known destinations in Canada Nahanni National Park NWT

Nunavut – Pangnirtung

Pangnirtung is an Inuit hamlet with a population of approximately 1500, located on Baffin Island. Visit the hamlet to get a real sense of modern Inuit life. And make sure to visit the Uqqurmiut Inuit Arts Centre, with its studios and shops.

Nearby Auyuittuq National Park is also a must stop. The park is home to Mount Thor, known for having the greatest vertical drop on earth – the drop from its granite peak is 1250m – that is taller than two CN Towers!

The temperature in July and August ranges between 5°C and 15°C! Trips and activities can be coordinated to several places near the Pangnirtung hamlet.

Lesser Known Canadian Travel Destinations to Visit - Pangnirtung Nunavut

Hi Impact

The Best Rich Chocolate Caramel Pecan Cheesecake Recipe

Winter is all about indulging in comfort foods, prepared with heavier sauces, creams, and of course, cheese. That also includes delectable desserts such as a rich and creamy cheesecake. Add chocolate, caramel, and pecans in this rich Chocolate Caramel Pecan Cheesecake recipe, and you’re in cheesecake heaven.

The Best Rich Chocolate Caramel Pecan Cheesecake Recipe

Ingredients

1 1/2 chocolate graham crackers

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup caramel syrup or homemade caramel (see recipe below)

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

3 packages (250 g each) cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 package (225 g) semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Method

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix crumbs and butter together, and press firmly with the bottom of a flat glass onto bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then, remove from oven. Pour caramel sauce over crust, and top with pecans.

In a large bowl with an electric or stand mixer, beat cream cheese and on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing just until blended after each addition. Stir in chocolate; pour into crust.

Bake at 350°F for 50 minutes, or until centre is almost set; the centre may still appear slightly jiggly. Cool completely, then refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Garnish with additional caramel sauce and pecans.

Tip: Bake your cheesecake in a water bath to avoid cracking. How? Wrap the outside of pan in a double layer of tin foil, covering the bottom and extending up. Place the plan into a larger roasting pan, and pout hot water into the roasting pan to about halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan.

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Cheesecake | amotherworld.com

 

Easy Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

¼ cup butter

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup half and half cream

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Method

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add brown sugar and cream and whisk constantly over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for about three minutes. The longer you cook the sauce, the thicker it will become; keep in mind it will thicken as it cools.

Add the sauce to a small jar, and refrigerate once cooled. Makes about 1 1/2 cups caramel sauce.