Dear Friend, Can’t Talk Right Now I’m Having a Bad Day

Today is World Mental Health Day, a day for global mental health education, awareness and
advocacy against social stigma. 

Dear Friends,

I’m sorry I can’t come to the phone right now. I’m currently out of commission. Not that I don’t wish to speak to you, or see your lovely face, because I do. But I just can’t at the moment because I’m stuck under a dark cloud and I can’t seem to clear the fog.

You see, Depression and Anxiety crept up on me when I woke up this morning. They must have sneaked into my dreams during the night, and seeped its darkness deep within my brain. They’ve decided they are lingering today.

Depression and Anxiety are visiting at the moment. I don’t know why today they decided to take control, but they did. I can’t do anything to escape their strong hold. I must succumb to their will – at least for today.

You must understand, it’s not really a choice of mine. I did want to see and talk to you, and enjoy that cup  of coffee so we could catch up on work, the kids and your last vacation. I would’ve loved to share with you some of my finer moments where Depression and Anxiety felt like a distant memory.

But those moments are temporary. Living with Depression and Anxiety means I can’t control when they will decide to come out and play. I can’t control when I’m going to have a bad day. Even though I can manage most of the time, some days, the weight of the world seems too much to bear.

I don’t want you to think I’m avoiding you, or don’t want to see you. But I’m having a tough go right now, and I don’t have the physical or mental energy to attempt a conversation.

So please forgive me if I bail on you, or don’t pick up the phone when you call, or take too long to message you back.  I do want to talk to you, but I’m in self-preservation mode right now.

Leave me a message – I do appreciate any kinds words – and I’ll get back to you when I’ve managed to crawl out of this rabbit hole and ready to face the world again.



Easy Mushroom Risotto

Nothing warms your belly quite like a mushroom risotto. What I love about risotto is that the whole family can enjoy it as it’s naturally gluten-free. This easy mushroom risotto recipe doesn’t take much time to prepare, but you can’t leave it on the stove-top and walk away as it requires constant stirring.

Easy Mushroom Risotto


1 1/2 cups Superfino Arborio rice

900ml (store-bought carton) of no-salt added chicken stock
(Note: I’ve used a chicken bouillon mixed with boiling water when I don’t have stock on hand)

6 large Portobello mushrooms – or a dozen cremini mushrooms, chopped

1 white onion, chopped

3/4 skim milk (I use almond or cashew milk too)

1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or butter

1 tsp each salt and black pepper

1/4 chopped Italian parsley


In a large pot, add 1 tbsp of olive oil or butter.  Once heated for a minute, add risotto and fry for 1-2 minutes.  Add chicken stock, stirring.

In separate pan, fry onions and mushrooms in 1 tbsp olive oil until soft.  Add milk, cooking on low heat.

Keep stirring risotto while cooking so it doesn’t stick.  Once liquid is almost gone, add mushroom mix to risotto.  Keep stirring. Add salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. Simmer and stir until ready, adding parsley near very end.

Easy Mushroom Risotto


Easy Mushroom Risotto |

Bon Appetit!

TIFF 2018 My Highlights

It already feels like a distant memory but the Toronto International Film Festival wrapped up a few days ago. I was able to do see a few films, and attend a few events. No late-night parties because frankly, I’m too old for that! Here’s a recap of my TIFF 2018 highlights.

Bask-It-Style Gift Lounge

Bask-It-Style held its 10th TIFF gifting lounge in a gorgeous penthouse in the Thompson Hotel. Bask-It-Style takes celebrity gifting to a new level by hand delivering VIP gift bags to the hotels where the stars are staying during TIFF. Past participating celebrities have included: Matt Damon, Jennifer Garner, Julianne Moore, Naomi Watts, Colin Farrell, John Legend, Sir Elton John, Rachel McAdams, Pierce Brosnan, Blake Lively to name a few.

Photo Kennedy Pollard Ryan Emberley Photography
Photo Kennedy Pollard Ryan Emberley Photography
Photo Kennedy Pollard Ryan Emberley Photography
Photo Kennedy Pollard Ryan Emberley Photography

TURO displayed a stunning 1981 Delorean DMC-12 to promote its Airbnb for car rental service. Stars in town for TIFF2018 received a $500 voucher for their TURO service. Guests also received a $100 credit for Creeds Dry Cleaning, one of six jewellery styles from Anne-Marie Channon.

House of Hayla’s founder, Hayla was on site to showcase their new HOH Monochromatic Heels Monochrome Collection (retail value $140) The 4-inch heels come in a variety of single-tone colours and designed with comfort in mind.

Carried in Sephora, Biossance is a natural skincare brand containing squalene oil, which is in our skin’s own natural moisture which declines over time. It is also found in a variety of plants; Biossance contains squalene oil that is 100% plant based from renewable sugarcane. I can’t wait to try the Squalane Peptide Eye Gel, Squalane Vitamin C Rose Oil and Squalane Phyto-Retinol Serum. I can’t wait to try these products!

Photo Kennedy Pollard Ryan Emberley Photography

For book lovers, the reading room featured an appearance by author Hannah Mary McKinnon who was signing her new book, the Neighbours, published by MIRA. The story focuses on an intense domestic drama involving Abby and her husband, Nate. Twenty years earlier, Abby was responsible for a car crash that killed her brother. Nate also harbours a secret related to the car crash. When Abby’s former lover and his family move next door, things start to unravel.

DK Publishing was also on-site displaying their new and noteworthy fall titles, including Astrology by Carole Taylor. Ripley Publishing also showcased its fall titles as well as the latest best-selling Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Series.

TIFF Bask-It-Style DK Canada


Can You Ever Forgive Me? is an upcoming biographical comedy-drama film directed by Marielle Heller and written by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, based on Lee Israel’s memoir of the same name and starring Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant. There is already some Oscar buzz surrounding McCarthy’s performance.

Green Book stars Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen in this engrossing story of a working-class Italian-American bouncer who takes a job chauffeuring an African American classical pianist across the American South in the 1960s. The film won the People’s Choice Award at TIFF as a fan fave!

In Hold the Dark, retired naturalist and wolf expert Russell Core (Jeffrey Wright) journeys to the edge of civilization in northern Alaska at the pleading of Medora Slone (Riley Keough), a young mother whose son was killed by a pack of wolves. When Medora’s husband Vernon (Alexander Skarsgård) returns home from the Iraq War, the news of his child’s death ignites a violent chain of events.

TIFF 2018 Hold the Dark screening

Nespresso Talents

I attended a Nespresso Talents breakfast to celebrate the winners of the Nespresso Talents contest. Now in its third year, this unique competition empowers filmmakers to tell a story through the format of vertical video. This year’s theme “The Difference She Makes” had filmmakers create inspiring stories of women who make a difference. The winners were on hand to showcase their films, and chat in a panel discussion led by Sangita Patel, reporter for ET Canada, and Maxine Bailey, the Vice-President of Advancement for TIFF.

The winning short film was “Mina” by Sara Ben-Saud, and the runners-up were “SOS Poutine” by Meriem Dehbi Talbot and “If only you knew” by Moaz Tasabehji.


Nespresso Talents Breakfast Thompson Hotel Toronto

Nespresso Talents breakfast

Nespresso Talents panel

Nespresso Talents Breakfast Maria

Nespresso Talents Breakfast Maria and Loukia
With Loukia Zigoumis @MrsLouLou

TIFF Elgin Winter Garden Theatre

Until next year!

What Are Lawnmower Parents?

Move over, helicopter parents – there is a new group of parents that are taking over, and not in a good way.

In the last few weeks, you may have heard the term “Lawnmower Parent” which has gained steam after anonymous middle school teacher shared a story with a “lawnmower dad”. The unnamed teacher shared her story of being called down to the main office in the middle of her planning period to pick up an item the teenager forgot. “Thinking it was something like an inhaler or money for dinner, I was happy to go retrieve it.”  

The teacher was shocked to find that a father went out of his way to deliver an insulated water bottle for his teenage daughter. The father had texted his daughter back that she could use the water fountain, but the teen “had to have it out of the bottle.”

The teacher was so floored that she felt she needed to write a post about parenting today, and lawnmower parents.

Exactly what are lawn mower parents?

“Lawnmower parents go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face adversity, struggle, or failure. Instead of preparing children for challenges, they mow obstacles down so kids won’t experience them in the first place,” the teacher wrote.

"In raising children who have experienced minimal struggle, we are not creating a happier generation of kids. We are…

Posted by WeAreTeachers on Thursday, August 30, 2018


Lawnmower parents will do things for their children, even though their children are old enough to handle things on their own… for example, forgetting their homework, lunch, or water bottle at home and expecting their parents to drop everything to bring it to them. Or asking their mother or father to contact the teacher and ask for an extension on an assignment rather than the student asking themselves.

“In raising children who have experienced minimal struggle, we are not creating a happier generation of kids. We are creating a generation that has no what idea what to do when they actually encounter struggle. A generation who panics or shuts down at the mere idea of failure. A generation for whom failure is far too painful, leaving them with coping mechanisms like addiction, blame, and internalization.”

This new-ish term reminds me of the term “bulldozer” style of parenting introduced a few years ago. The Bulldozer parent will forge ahead before their child, removing all obstacles, ensuring success at every turn. While well-intentioned and meant to “protect” the child from short-term harm,  a bulldozer style of parenting ultimately results in a psychologically fragile child, fearful and avoiding failure, with never-learned coping strategies and poor resilience.

What do you think – do you agree with this anonymous teacher? Or do you think she’s exaggerating?

Family Friendly Vacation in Zakynthos Greece

While most tourists visiting Greek flock to the stunning Aegean islands, they overlook the beauty of those of the Ionian sea.  Zakynthos Greece is a beautiful Greek island in the Ionian sea (west side) of Greece. The island attracts many tourists and beach worshippers.

While the largest resort on the island is Laganas, our favourite spot was Tsivili beach which is perfect for a family friendly vacation in Zakynthos Greece.

We stayed at the beach-front Iakinthos Resort, which is a family-friendly three-star hotel in Tsivili. A family suite accommodated five of us, with three beds on the main floor and two in the loft – perfect for larger or multi-generational families.

Family Fun in Zakynthos Greece Tsilivi Beach Family Fun in Zakynthos Greece Tsilivi Beach

Iakinthos Resort Tsilivi Beach

The loft upstairs was good to separate the kids from the adults. The extra bed was a cot so it wasn’t very comfortable, however the other two beds were fine. The bathroom could use some extra counter-space and towel/clothing hooks.

The hotel rooms on the second floor had been renovated, and I believe the rooms on the main floor were next – the family suite could use an update, however it was still comfortable for us.

Just outside our room, we had a laundry drying rack which was convenient for our swim suits and towels, as well a table and chairs for dining. The room also had a mini-fridge, which was convenient to stock up on bottled water and fresh fruit from the market.

Iakinthos Family Room

Family Fun in Zakynthos Greece Tsilivi Beach

Breakfast included

We’d start our day with a wonderful breakfast which was included with the hotel rate – an excellent value. There was a choice of continental, Greek and English breakfast served to order, as well as fruit, yogurt and cereals in the buffet. Every morning we enjoyed fresh local eggs, along with bacon, toast, and pancakes. And coffee!

The nice part is that the breakfast area is right by the pool, and you can view the beach as well. As soon as breakfast was finished, the kids would jump into the pool… the chairs by the pool were covered in our hotel rate as well. Once we were bored, we’d walk over to the beach. Beach umbrella and two chairs cost 6 Euros a day.

Breakfast was so abundant that we would often have a late lunch or early dinner. Mid-afternoon we’d have a coffee, then have one more swim before going back to the hotel room to shower up. The hotel is a walk to the bars and restaurants along the strip, as well as gift shops and tour booths. The staff were lovely – Maria, Kostas, Yiannis, Georgia, Evgenia – they were all sweet and helpful, and made our stay even more enjoyable.

While still touristy, Tsilivi Beach is a fun destination for families, close enough to the city and the island’s stunning isolated coves.

Family Fun in Zakynthos Greece Tsilivi Beach

Zakynthos Greece Tsilivi Beach

My Son is Starting High School and I Have All The Feels

My son is starting high school and I have all the feels. My son is beginning a new chapter in his life – and while we may both not be ready for it, here it is. To say I’m feeling a bit emotional about this next journey is an understatement.

Since last September when he began his final year of elementary school, I’ve been slowly preparing myself mentally and emotionally for the changes that are to come. I can’t help but ask myself, did I prepare him enough? Did I guide him throughout the years to know what’s right and wrong? Have I instilled in him the values and morals that are important? Will he make the right decisions? Is he responsible, resilient and self-sufficient enough? Did all the lessons that his father and I taught him stick? Did I do a good enough job raising him to handle everything that high school will bring?

While I have these moments of nostalgia and sadness that my baby is growing older, I’m equally thrilled to watch him on this exciting chapter of his life. He’ll soon be making new friends, having new experiences, and gaining more independence and responsibility.

But I’m also worried. High school is such an important social stage in a teen’s life .With high school comes peer pressure, academic pressures, and bigger responsibilities. Adolescence can be awkward, uncomfortable and plain tough. Teenagers seek acceptance, freedom and independence. But teens also often make poor choices, give into peer pressure, use social media inappropriately, and get involved in adult situations they aren’t quite ready for.

I know eventually my son will be exposed to the harsh realities of the real world. But I’m not ready for him to not be a kid anymore, and what saddens me is that he’s damn happy being a kid too.

I feel as though his childhood breezed by. I wish he had more time to not have the pressures of being a teenager today. More time to hang to not have to worry about what subjects he should take to prepare for university. More time before he’ll have to start looking for a part-time job. More time with his mom.

If only we could freeze time so that he can enjoy this stage of adolescence a little longer. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was his age and embarking on my own high school journey?

Now it’s his turn. And I’m proud to say I think my son is far more prepared than I was for high school, and equipped with the arsenal he needs to succeed.

Eco-Friendly Stay at Element Vaughan Southwest

Have you ever had a staycation in your town or city? We recently did just that, enjoying an eco-friendly stay at the Element Vaughan Southwest.

My boys and I visited Canada’s Wonderland for some amusement park fun, and then headed to Element Vaughan Southwest for some downtime. I hadn’t stayed in an Element by Westin hotel before, and didn’t know what to expect – I was pleasantly surprised by what I discovered.

Hotel atmosphere

The courtyard and lobby area is bright, modern and relaxing. The eco-friendly aesthetic is immediately relaxing. The open multi-purpose public spaces are inviting settings for work, or for gathering with friends and colleagues. The lobby features café seating and a 16-ft. wall of windows opening onto the outdoor patio. You can barbecue your dinner at one of the three self-serve patio grills on the patio, or relax with a drink in the sunshine too.

Staycation at Element Vaughan Southwest


What makes the Element hotels unique are that they are designed for longer stays, so they have functional spaces to make you feel comfortable just like home.

Rooms are large, bright and modern. All suites are fully-equipped with kitchens with stainless steel appliances including fridge, stovetop, microwave, cookware, dishes, utensils and glassware. Standard King Suites have kitchenettes only. Also you’ll find a coffee and tea maker, although the lobby offers a Starbucks coffee station throughout the day.

The hotel and rooms were very clean. We stayed in a Studio Double Queen Suite, and thanks to the signature Westin Heavenly Beds, we slept like babies.   The bathroom was enormous, modern and bright, and best of all – the spa-inspired rain shower.


Free breakfast in the main lobby area was a lovely touch; there was a waffle making station, a cereal station with pastries and fresh fruit, a variety of breads and bagels, and hot offerings such as omelettes.

Pool and Fitness Centre

We loved the indoor salt-water pool and hot tub, which is so much nicer than chlorine, and more eco-friendly too. We could’ve stayed in the pool area for the entire afternoon quite honestly. The fitness centre was also well-equipped with cardio machines as well as weight machines.

The hotel is also a good spot for meetings and conferences; the hotel offers five energy-efficient meeting rooms cover 3,000 sq. ft., with the largest space accommodating up to 150 people. All the tech conveniences you need are included at the resource centre, including email, print, fax and more, available 24/7.

Also, the hotel is situated perfectly close to everything including highways, the airport and major shopping centres. The location is perfect for wedding parties as there are a number of banquet halls and event spaces nearby. Last but not least, the staff was friendly, polite and accommodating.

The Element is an ideal choice for families, sports tournaments, business conferences, and extended stays.

Disclosure: We were provided with a complimentary stay at Element Southwest Vaughan. As always, the opinions expressed herein are my own.

Toronto International Film Festival 2018 Must-See Films

The 43rd Toronto International Film Festival kicks off September 6, 2018, and this year there are more exciting films and celebrities attending than ever before. Melissa McCarthy, Jake Gyllenhaal, Julia Roberts, Ryan Gosling, Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård, Hugh Jackman, Hilary Swank, and Penelope Cruz are just some of the stars expected to walk the red carpet.

Here are some of the most anticipated films at TIFF 2018:

TIFF 2018 Must-See Films

A Star Is Born

Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut tells the story of a seasoned musician who discovers — and falls in love with — a struggling artist (Lady Gaga). In this new take on the tragic love story, as her career takes off, he fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.

High Life

Former Twilight crush Robert Pattinson starts in French auteur Claire Denis’ first English-language film about a father and his daughter struggle to survive in deep space where they live in isolation. The sci-fi drama set in space also stars Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth, and André Benjamin.

Beautiful Boy

Based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years. The English-language debut from Felix Van Groeningen stars Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet.

The Old Man and the Gun

Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek lead an all-star cast, including Danny Glover, Tom Waits, and Elisabeth Moss, and Casey Affleck, in director David Lowery’s true-life dramedy about an unrepentant bank robber and jail-breaker determined to live life by his own rules.

Sharkwater Extinction

The last documentary made by the late Toronto-based filmmaker Rob Stewart will have its world premiere as a special event at this year’s TIFF. The film of Stewart’s adventure to save the world’s greatest predator was completed after his accidental drowning death during production.

Green Book

Award-winning actors Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen star in this engrossing story of a working-class Italian-American bouncer who takes a job chauffeuring an African American classical pianist across the American South in the 1960s.

The Frontrunner

Jason Reitman (Tully, Up in the Air) directs Hugh Jackman, Vera Fermiga, and J.K Simmons in this biopic about U.S. Senator Gary Hart’s 1988 presidential campaign and his scandalous affair that derailed it.


Four armed robbers (Liam Neeson, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Jon Bernthal, and Garret Dillahunt) are killed in a failed heist attempt, only to have their widows (Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo) step up to finish the job.

What They Had

Hilary Swank, Blythe Danner, Robert Forster, and Michael Shannon star in this intimate family drama about a woman who returns to Chicago to her mother now suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, while also grappling with her own past.

Ben is Back

Ben Is Back follows the charming yet troubled Ben Burns (Lucas Hedges), who returns home to his unsuspecting family one fateful Christmas Eve. Ben’s wary mother Holly Burns (Julia Roberts) welcomes her beloved son’s return, but soon learns he is still very much in harm’s way. During the 24 hours that may change their lives forever, Holly must do everything in her power to avoid the family’s downfall.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is an upcoming biographical comedy-drama film directed by Marielle Heller and written by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, based on Lee Israel’s memoir of the same name and starring Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Gran

Life Itself

As a young New York couple go from college romance to marriage and the birth of their first child, the unexpected twists of their journey create reverberations that echo over continents and through lifetimes. This romantic comedy is written, directed and produced by smash TV hit This is Us’ Dan Fogelman, and features an impressive ensemble cast, including Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening, Olivia Cooke, Mandy Patinkin, and Antonio Banderas.

The Hummingbird Project

A pair of high-frequency traders go up against their old boss in an effort to make millions in a fiber-optic cable deal. The thriller film by writer/director Kim Nguyen stars Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård and Salma Hayek.


Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

Red Joan

Academy Award winner Judi Dench and Sophie Cookson take on the complex persona and legacy of Joan Stanley, the seemingly demure physicist who was also a long-serving British spy for the KGB. Red Joan is directed by theatre director Sir Trevor Nunn.

The Public

After learning that emergency shelters are at full capacity when a brutal Midwestern cold front makes its way to Cincinnati, Ohio, a large group of homeless library patrons led by Jackson (Michael Kenneth Williams) refuse to leave the downtown public library at closing time. Directed by Emilio Estevez, The Public also stars Alec Baldwin, Jena Malone, Christian Slater, Gabrielle Union, Taylor Schilling, Jacob Vargas.

First Man

After the Academy Award®-winning smash, La La Land, director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling reunite for First Man, a biopic on the riveting story of Neil Armstrong and NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon.


One lucky reader will win two Premium Screening Vouchers* to the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter below.

*Complimentary ticket vouchers are not tickets, and must be exchanged for a ticket at the Venue or your Festival Box Office.

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12 Tips to Save Money on Back to School

Back-to-school shopping can become overwhelming and expensive! That’s when it pays to be smart with your money to stretch out your dollars for great back-to-school deals. Here are 12 tips to save money to school shopping to help  save you time, money and your sanity!

12 tips to save money on back to school shopping

1. Take Inventory

My first tip is to look through your own home and take inventory of the items you already have. Go through last year’s supplies and see what can be used, and what needs to be replaced. Search kids’ rooms, old backpacks, and office to check on supplies first. Check old backpacks and see if they have any tears, holes, or broken zippers.

Then, make a list of items you need. If you have multiple kids that need the same items you may be able to split value packs as well so make sure to have an idea of what each child needs before hitting the stores. Also, it might be worth to check online first to compare prices!

2. Stick to a budget

Make a budget and stick to it. “If you have older kids, let them know in advance how much they have to spend. This way they can pick which items they want to “splurge” on and which ones they don’t. They may want to spend a lot on a nice notebook but stick to the cheaper pencils and pens.” Says Robyn of A Dime Saved.

3. Shop early

Beat the lines and picked over back-to-school departments and make a trip to the store one-two weeks before school starts, rather than a day or two before.  “Even doing a little shopping at a time can ease the woes of back-to-school,” says Kelly Rupiper is the Content Director of Upparent.

“On your weekly grocery run or trip to Target, peep through an aisle or two and pick up a few necessary items.  Be it a fresh pack of crayons, fun folders or even Ziploc bags, grab the items that you know you will end up needing.  This saves ‘fun shopping”’ for a family outing that is short and stress-free.  Nothing is better than picking out the backpack or lunchbox of the year!”


4. Shop right before school starts

If you can, wait until right before school starts to buy the essential supplies, and wait a few weeks to purchase the rest when the prices tend to drop! You’ll save money on regular-priced items once school has begun. Also, check the clearance aisles after school begins and you can often find drastic mark-downs on supplies.

5. Check online

When shopping with your older children, make sure you’re not overpaying for more expensive items such as textbooks. On-campus bookstores may be convenient, but aren’t usually the cheapest option.
Head to online retailers such as Chegg and to get up to 90% off textbooks rentals and used book purchases,” says Sarah Hollenbeck at  “You can even sell those same textbooks back at the end of the year, getting a good portion of your money back.”

Check deals online as well, especially for back-to-school technology where you can find great savings on expensive electronics.

6. Stock up on essentials

Shoes are a bigger-ticket item that can be bought for less during back-to-school sales, and if your child is about to outgrow his or her current size, think about buying another pair in a larger size for later in the school year.

If you know for certain that you will need an abundance of notebooks over the next few years, and you happen upon a great deal on notebooks, stock up. Find out your local office store is running a BOGO on printer paper? Buy some! You might be set until your kids are in college,” says RetailMeNot‘s Shopping and Trends Expert Sara Skirboll.


Think twice about promos that try to get your to buy more. For example, buy-one-get-one 50% off, a lower price when you buy multiples, or a “better value” if you buy a larger pack of something. If it’s an item you may need more of (like folders), this may be a good deal. But, even if you have the best intentions to save the “extra” items for next year, school supply lists change year to year, and glue sticks, markers, etc. may get lost in your home over the next 12 months. Be cautious before buying more (and spending more) than you need for this school year says Hollenbeck.

12 Tips to Save Money on Back to School Shopping |

7. Use a Student Card

If your child is older and has his/her own student I.D. card, make sure you take that with you when shopping for back to school supplies. “Many retailers and even restaurants offer freebies and discounts of up to 50% just for students, and the savings can be even bigger when shopping for specific items like school supplies and fall clothing,”  says Hollenbeck.

8. Check flyers and coupons

“Quickly glance through some deal sites and store ads to see which items are on sale and stock up on the basics- pens, notebooks etc.” says Robyn of A Dime Saved. “Look online for coupons and take advantage of cashback apps. These little savings can add up in a big way!

Always clip the office and school supply coupons you see in papers or flyers. Even if it is for something you think you don’t need, if you spot a sale on that product, you can sometimes get the product free. “I do this every year with the popular Bic stationery supply coupon, which is why I have a drawer full of free Bic pens, Bic pencils, and even White-Out! I’ll donate extras to school supply drives or my work office,” says Mary Potter Kenyon, author of Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America’s Extreme Obsession.

“Using online coupons is the easiest way to save money on items you would have bought anyway,” says Jill Caponera, Consumer Savings Expert at “Search sites fir online coupons at your favorite school supplies stores, such as Staples, Mead and Jansport.”

9.  Buy generic brands

Certain school supplies are packaged and designed with patterns that may be outgrown the following year. They’re also more expensive. Folders and binders that are used every day are either opened or stored away.

“Because of that, you can easily cut out one unnecessary costs of back-to-school shopping by opting for generic designs and brands. Especially with multiple children, it will pay to skip out on flashy or branded materials,” Doug Keller, Community Manager/Personal Finance Expert of Payless Power.

10.  Visit your local dollar store

The dollar store is a great place to shop for notebooks, paper, pens, markers and more at extremely low prices.  You could purchase everything your child needs for the new school year for under $20.

11. Use BTS as a teaching moment

Back to school is a good time to talk about money and how much the family has budgeted for school supplies or clothes. Often, kids want more and/or more expensive items that their parents wish to spend. “Helping children understand what things cost and letting them determine what to buy given a budget helps children understand they can’t have everything they want,” says Bonnie Meszaros, associate director of the Center for Economic Education & Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware.

“Parent and child make a list of items the child wants for back to school or use the supply list many schools send home.  Have child prioritize the things wanted and then the parent provides an amount available to spend on these wants.  Child uses flyers, websites or visits to the store to gather prices and determine which and how many wants can be satisfied and what will have to be given up. Often when a child thinks about what is given up, they reconsider their choices.”

12. Look to the community for help

If you are a family that is struggling financially, look to your community for help. There are a lot of nonprofits across the country that hold back to school drives to support local children and families in need, says Shawna Roy, 43, director of Buckner Family Hope Center in Houston.

There is often a school uniform swap day, so if your child is required to wear a uniform to school, find out if your school district or local organizations and churches are holding a swap. You can provide your uniforms that are only slightly worn and too small to another family and in turn receive uniforms that fit your kids now..

Thrift stores are also be a great place to shop for back-to-school.

Happy Shopping!


Back-to-School Technology in the Classroom

I appeared today on Breakfast Television to talk about technology is being integrated in the classroom – WATCH the segment HERE.

In today’s schools, students have more access to technology than ever before. School boards have spent millions of dollars wiring classrooms, installing smart boards, and purchasing laptops and iPads so that students will have more access to technology. The intention is that all these devices will increase student learning.

Technology in the classroom

Our school board uses Google Classroom which is designed specifically for schools to help students and teachers as well as classmates communicate. Teachers can organize and post homework assignments and projects; students can then create their presentations and projects using Microsoft applications such as Word and PowerPoint, and save to their own Google Drive. Later, teachers can access these files and can view homework and assignments.

Teachers can make announcements to the class, ask questions and comment with students in real time. So, students are encouraged to use a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone to access Google Drive and to communicate with peers and teachers. Some schools loan out devices to students if they don’t have access at home.

Technology enhances learning

When teachers effectively integrate technology into subject areas, teachers grow into roles of adviser, content expert, and coach. Technology helps make teaching and learning more meaningful and fun.

With technology, students can access web sites, online tutorials, learning apps and websites, and more to help them research and learn. Education doesn’t stop at the end of the school day because students have access to resources as well as their peers, teachers and homework thanks to the internet any time of the day.

Technology can help keep parents in-the-know too. Parents can go to a class website and see what their child is working on, what assignments and projects are due, and communicate with teachers. They can also talk to their children via email, instant messaging and texts on various devices.

For younger kids, the Canadian Pediatric Society says there is early evidence that interactive ‘learn-to-read’ apps and e-books can build early literacy by providing practice with letters, phonics and word recognition. The key, especially for younger children, is for parents to watch with their kids, connect what’s being viewed with real life, and build language and cognitive skills, such as attention, memory and thinking.

Back to School Technology in the Classroom

Must-Have Tech from Rogers


A tablet is great for younger kids especially to use for interactive educational apps and games. Plus it’s affordable, convenient and portable. There have been many times that my boys need help with their homework; we’ll sit together with our tablet and research online together on the couch.

Google Home Mini

Google Home Mini is a great organizational tool for the family to use as a hub. We’ll ask for the time, weather, traffic information, and so much more. My kids also turn to our Google Home Mini and ask for homework help! “Which of the Great Lakes is the largest?”


My son is starting Grade 9 and upgraded to a good laptop that he can use throughout high school, while my younger son is now using his brother’s HP Stream. It’s light and only 14” so it’s easy to carry back and forth to school. The Google Chromebook is also a good option for elementary school kids.

Samsung Galaxy 8 phone

Since my son is 14 and starting high school, so I need to be able to communicate with him during the day as well as after school with his hockey activities. He uses his Samsung Galaxy 8 smartphone to call and text me, but also as a calculator in class, and for quick internet searches when allowed in school.

Beats Headphones

Headphones are a must; I can’t handle my kids using their tech without headphones! Also headphones such as Beats are good for them to block out noise when doing their homework, in the car on longer drives to hockey games, and for travelling.

Rogers has some amazing back-to-school offers right now – be sure to check them out!

Back-to-School Technology in the Classroom

Disclosure: I am a proud Rogers Ambassador, and receive products and perks during our partnership.