Highclere Castle…YES! DOWNTON ABBEY!!!

Our visit to Highclere Castle was not a regularly scheduled tour. And, no, we didn’t break in. Both Greg and I are big fans of the show Downton Abbey and wanted to make this a part of our trip. Tours are limited to only the summer months, but there were none scheduled during our trip. However, Greg found that Highclere Castle was hosting a fundraiser for Marlborough College, a local private school associated to Eton (where Princes Willam & Harry and Kate attended). Although we had no connection to Marlborough College, Greg seized the opportunity to purchase tickets to the event and surprise me!! The castle is amazing and the grounds are stunning. Not only were we treated to endless amounts of champagne, but we were able to tour the castle. The bedrooms used by Lady Grantham, Mary, Cybil and Edith, along with the Library, sitting rooms and the main foyer that were common scenes on Downton Abbey were open for viewing. It was like stepping into the show itself! The furniture and drapes were as they appeared on the show. As much as I wanted to, photos were not allowed to be taken inside the Castle. But, here are few of the outside… Highclere Castle is an actual home that is occupied by the Earl of Carnarvon and Lady  Carnarvon. During the event, Lady Carnarvon spoke to guests. An articulate, intelligent and beautiful woman, she is staunchly proud of Highlclere Castle and its place in English history. She also an author and has a blog! Along with being a residence and the former setting of Downton Abbey, it...

LONDON – Eating & Shopping in London

  Yes, London is expensive, if only because of the poor Canadian exchange rate. So, I’m going to try and give you prices of things where I can,  because that is always a concern when traveling. When we were there in June, our basic rule of thumb with any purchase was to double the price. For example, if something was 10 pounds, it would be $20 Canadian. That isn’t exactly what the exchange was, but it was close and easy math on the go. When doing this, it is always better to round up than down to avoid disappointment when the bills come after you get home. Without going into a lot of specifics, we found the the average glass of wine or a pint of beer was 4-5 pounds, bottle of wine was 15-20 pounds and a bottle of sparkling wine started at around 23 pounds.     Our first night in London, we ate at an Italian restaurant called The Spaghetti House, on Duke Street (near Oxford Street and the department store Selfridges). The food was very good and average priced. Greg and I shared an appetizer, we each got an entree and shared a bottle of wine and dessert. In the end, our bill was around 65 pounds, which was about $120 Canadian.     Around town, there are lots of grab and go places, like Pret A Manger where you can get decent, healthier food options. Also, places like Tesco (local grocer) have grab and go items like prepared sandwiches, drink and snack starting at 3 pounds! On our last night, we met up with...

London – Where We Stayed And What Sightseeing We Did

Our Hotel –  We stayed at a lovely boutique hotel in Kensington, near Hyde Park, called The Caesar. We stayed in a Deluxe room, which was nice because it had a separate sitting area. The room was clean and the bed was comfortable. There were no drawers, but there was some shelving on the bed side tables and desk area to store items. The closet was an OK size with ample hangers. Inside the closet was a safe that was big enough for a iPad, passports and other valuables. However, I am pretty sure that it wasn’t big enough for a laptop computer. The bathroom was on the smaller side, but not so small that you were running into things. It had a shower/tub combination. The shower pressure was very good and the water always hot. There was a decent shelf above the vanity and in the shower to place your products on. The neighbourhood was a mix a residential and other boutique hotels. The streets were tree lined and quiet. It was a nice place to retire for the evening after taking in the hustle and bustle of London. Without a doubt, I would stay in the area again and would also consider The Caesar again.   London Pass – When we were making plans, we read about the advantages of the London Pass and it was recommended to us by others who had visited London (thank you to the amazing social media followers for their tips!). After really scrutinizing our itinerary, we found that we would not have gotten value out of the London Pass. I do...

LONDON IS CALLING – Coming, Going and Getting Around in London

It took us a while, but this summer we finally decided on a vacation. London, UK. What a city! What an experience! The history, the vibe, the shopping and the hustle and bustle that is London. For a week, we took in what this world class city had to offer. Here are some useful tips and insights for those thinking or have made plans to visit London.   Flight and Arrival to England – Our 7 hour, overnight, direct flight from Toronto had us arriving into Gatwick Airport. Prior to leaving, Greg found a gem of time saver. It’s called the Gatwick Premium Pass. Before passing through to the Baggage Claim and Customs, all arriving passengers have to pass through Border Control. This is where you present your passport to a Border Control Officer and are officially allowed to enter the country. To sum it up, the line leading up to this check is insane.   In order to avoid this, Gatwick Airport offers a service where you can bypass the line, ergo the Gatwick Premium Pass. For 25 pounds total, Greg and I were able to purchase this pass, beat the huge line and enjoy our vacation sooner. After purchasing the pass, Greg was sent an email confirmation. When we arrived at the Border Control area, we presented our confirmation to a staff member who immediately ushered us to a Border Control Officer. Within minutes we were collecting our bags and making our way to the city. This was such a huge time saver and I highly recommend spending the money on this service. For more information on...

Mother’s Day with Hallmark

May. The month of spring flowers, warmer weather and of course Mother’s Day. To show your Mom how special she is give her a gift from the heart. A handwritten note or card. Technology provides a multitude of  options to stay connected to friends and family, but the art of the handwritten note can’t be matched.  The personal touch of the handwritten word has now become a unique treasure that allows people to connect on a more intimate level. Personally speaking, my hubby has written me notes and cards for the past 23 years and I have kept each one. They mean so much to me and each one has provided a history of our relationship that just can’t be captured in a text or email. Recently, I hosted an evening event with Hallmark. They invited people to revisit the art of the handwritten note. Of course, they had many of their gorgeous gifts and cards on display, but I was honestly blown away by the stunning Hallmark Signature greeting cards. The beauty of these greeting cards is almost a gift in itself. The cards are handcrafted and designed with such attention to detail; including premium paper stock, embossing and foil and high impact embellishments like gems, beads, fabrics and more. SO PRETTY! So this Mother’s Day, surprise your Mom with the beauty of a greeting card from Hallmark enclosed with that special, heart felt, handwritten message of what she means to you. Here are some photos from the event! Happy Mother’s Day to all of the special women in our lives- Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunts, Cousins and Friends. ~...

She Shed, Diva Den, Lady Lounge, Chic Shed… whatever you call it, it’s all yours!

Hey ladies, are you dreaming of your own private space? One that you can call your own, to do whatever YOU want to do and decorate it how YOU want it decorated? Check out the “She Shed” I recently highlighted on Cityline. This can be your “Diva Den”, “Lady Lounge”, “Chic Shed” counterpart to your hubby’s or boyfriend’s “Man Cave”. Whatever you call it, it will be all yours! So, take a peek at my recent Cityline segment where tell you how you can enjoy a “She Shed” of your very own. ~Shoana Click on the video below to watch the...

Gifts That Give Back

I got such an amazing response from a recent “Gifts That Give Back” segment I did on Breakfast Television Toronto!! I wanted to share it with all of you and include the links for anyone who wants to know more about it! These are all really great gift ideas and you can give back at the same time! It’s a win win, really! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!! ~ Shoana   *** Click HERE to watch the segment ***   List of gifts that I featured: Hallmark greeting cards Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Adopt and Elephant HomeSense Shop for Hope 26 Perfume – Artists For Peace And Justice Apple – (RED) Products TOMS – Shoes, slippers & Bags IKEA – Soft Toys For Education Etsy Cherry T Knit Co. – Mittens Etsy Human Kind – Candles Plan Canada – Scarf FOGO Island Shop – Quilt, hangers & tray KitchenAid Stand Mixer – Cook for the...

Travelling with Pets

There’s more to travelling with your pet than first meets the eye. In this segment that I recently did on Cityline, Murphy helps us discover the best pet transportation and travelling carriers for pets. Planning and being organized for your trip with a pet is the most important thing especially around the holidays. ~ Shoana p.s. Click the YouTube video below to watch the segment  ...

A New Favourite Find – Knotties Hair Ties

We are in the midst of our first heat wave of the summer in Toronto, but there are no complaints from me. I love the heat! But when those sizzling temps mix with that humidity it gets downright HOT! So, if you have long hair like me, trying to curl or style it during this heat seems pointless. Tying it back seems to be the only option. If you are a regular reader, you will know I am now sharing my favourite finds as I soon as I come across them.  So being true to my word, I have a new discovery that I want to share. They are called Knotties. They are new, super cute hair ties that are braided elastics.  Not only do they have a really great hold, but they don’t catch or rip my hair. I also love that they look like braided bracelets, so they are perfect if you are someone who keeps one on your wrist. I can even see people choosing to layer them and wear them as bracelets. I got my Knotties from Trade Secrets. They come in packs of 6 in an array of coordinating colours, costing  about $7-$8 per pack. So, don’t try to fight the frizz when it’s this hot. Just tie your long hair back into a cute bun, pony or twist and feel cute, while trying to stay cool. ~ Shoana  ...

Tech Tip – A Great New Smart Phone App

There aren’t many points cards I use anymore, but there is one I will not part with. The Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum card. I loooove my Optimum points and now there is an app to help you and I collect those points even easier. That’s right, the Shoppers Drug Mart app now lets you load your Optimum card right onto your smart phone, making it a digital Optimum Card. Instead of having to scramble and search for your Optimum card in your wallet, you can now easily open the app at the cash and scan it right from your phone. For those that love coupons, you can now choose to accept coupons that are customized to suit your personal tastes. This is a awesome feature because every week Shoppers will send you great offers that will help you save on products that are specific to your needs. Plus, they are saved in the app until you are in store to use them. The app even makes it convenient to order refills for your medications, too. I will admit, I’m a total tech nerd. However, I know not everyone is. But, trust me this is an easy peasy app to use. If you don’t have a smart phone, the Shoppers Drug Mart website includes those personalized coupons and medication refills options. But, the app is the best! ~...

Grace and Frankie

I am going to try and share more of my favourite finds on my blog in the future. I see things all the time that I think are so cool or that really interest me. However, I seem to want to have a few items bulked together to make a “segment” before I write it (that is the TV person in me, I guess). Unfortunately, they get forgotten or other things come up that push them to the side. So, I’m just going to post my favourite and interesting finds, as I see them! The first thing is I need to tell everyone who hasn’t watched Grace and Frankie to fire up Netflix and binge watch the whole season! Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin (Grace & Frankie) are outstanding in this funny, sensitive and clever comedy about two women who’s husbands leave them after years of marriage. The hook, the husbands are gay and left their wives for each other. The husbands, played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterson, are great supporting characters, but it is all about Grace and Frankie. The ladies are total opposites, but are forced together by this life changing event to support each other in the next chapter of their lives. For me, one of the most important elements of the show is the eye candy! The interiors of the homes and Jane Fonda’s wardrobe (she herself, is a study on how to age gracefully) is so distractingly fabulous that I have had to rewind and pause some scenes because I was paying more attention to the perfect beach house decor. All in all...

Summer Essentials

Summer is finally here and once again I have partnered with Shoppers Drug Mart to highlight this season’s summer essentials! These are few of my favourites, but there are more in the video below. Happy Sunshine Season!   Yes to Cucumber wipes, Sun Bum Cool Down, Sun Bum Lip Protector, Sun Bum Sunscreen, GOSH Hair Mask    ...

We Moved! Sometimes a house is like an ex boyfriend

If you follow me on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) then you will know we recently moved. I know some of you are probably thinking didn’t you JUST move? It does kind of feel like that, doesn’t it? Actually, we moved into our house 2 years ago! Boy, time flies! We really loved moving into our house; redoing the backyard, decorating, entertaining was all good stuff. But, the way that I try to explain why we moved is that it’s like an ex-boyfriend; he is really good looking, everyone loves him, you get along just fine. On paper he is perfect. But you then realize that he just isn’t the one for you. So, you either hang on and stay together without moving forward or you call it quits and see what is next for you. That was our house. We really, really missed our old neighbourhood, so we packed up and moved back!  Specifically, back into our old condo. Yep, that means some fierce downsizing, but we were up to the challenge. Actually, we have other plans for our future (nope, you aren’t getting the details on that just yet) so all four stuff went in 4 different directions. To the condo, sell/giveaway, short term storage and long-term storage. I know that I am organized, but this challenge was another level, even for me! Oh, did I mention that I was renovating my office at the same time and had a flood? So, it turned into a major reno. Ya. I’ll share that more in another post. While we lived in our house, I never got a chance...

Wedding Gift Ideas – Think Outside The Toaster

Wedding season is here and for many people it is a time to try and find gifts that will make the newlyweds feel special, but also ones that are useful and a little outside the box. Here is a list of some of my favourite ideas that I recently showed on Cityline: Travel Gift Card If you aren’t comfortable giving cash as a gift, then in my opinion, gift cards are a step up. I absolutely love giving the gift of travel and it is suitable for almost any occasion. Think graduation, birthdays or even for a babymoon. Why not host a themed bridal shower, bachelor/bachelorette party or wedding where all of the guests give a travel gift card? Most people want to really enjoy a honeymoon after the wedding, but the budget is often spent on the wedding. * Just a tip on this, pick a single company to buy from, so the money isn’t spread out across different businesses. For example  Hotels.com . They offer a huge selection of hotels, worldwide. So, the newlyweds can pick where they want to stay without being restricted to a certain hotel brand. Photo Gift Card Help them get the photos of the big day out of the computer and into albums (or on to frames, canvases, blankets, snow globes, mugs, mouse pads… I can keep going the options seem limitless). Companies like Blacks, Costco, Walmart or another local photo shop that have all sorts of options to help the newlyweds cherish the memories from the “big day”. Etsy is a great website for unique gifts. Etsy is a site where artisans and small businesses can sell...

One Pot Pasta!

Yes! I cook! I know most of you know this about me as I share some of my fav recipes with you here. But, you would think it was big news the way Tracey and Jason reacted when I prepared my first ‘On Air’ dish last week on Cityline.   This healthy and quick ‘One-Pot’ meal is a go to staple in my home.  Using just a handful of seasonal and inexpensive ingredients you will have a delicious dish in just 13 MINUTES!! Setting your kitchen timer is of course optional.  I find using this tool lets me enjoy cooking and the company I am keeping. Your focus can be on your guests rather then worrying about your meal timing. Hear the beep, add the next ingredient, reset and relax!! Once prepared, this dish serving is so big it can easily be served warm right away and as cold leftovers the next day! Delish!   Here is a printable recipe to add your recipe binder! Penne with Shrimp, Feta and Spring Veggies...

DIY Easter Eggs with String and Sugar

String eggs You will need: Sugar Water Embroidery string (or any other type of natural fibre string) Balloons of different sizes (I used water balloons) A bowl   Make a stiffener mixture: In a medium pot, combine 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water and heat until the sugar dissolves. Quick Tip: You can also boil water with a kettle. Cool the sugar mixture, so you don’t burn your fingers when you dip the thread. Slowly coil a string into the mixture and gently press it into the liquid. Take an inflated balloon and wrap the sticky string around it making sure to wipe off the excess liquid. Let dry for 24 hours. Once it is completely dry pop the balloon. If any of the ballon sticks to the string pull them off with a pin or tweezers.   Paper-mâché Nest Step 1: Tightly cover the outside of a small bowl with plastic wrap then flip it upside down onto wax paper. In another container, mix equal parts water and clear glue. Step 2: Dip handfuls of shredded paper (I used paper lunch bags) into the glue mixture, then immediately lay them on the bowl; until covered. Step 3: Let dry for 12 hours then carefully pull the wrap off the bowl and away from the nest. Happy crafting and Happy Easter! ~ Shoana Here is the how to video from my Cityline segment...

Think Outside the Basket this Easter

I hopped 😉 on down to my local Shoppers Drug Mart the other day to see the goodies they had for Easter this year. Here are few of my favourites. You can find a few more in the video we made below. I hope this helps with your gifting this year! Happy Easter! ~ Shoana...

Mont Tremblant, Quebec Weekend Getaway

It’s spring break and for all you winter lovers it is one of the last chances to grab a snowy getaway before the warm weather descends. If you are still looking for one of those quick and easy getaways, I would definitely recommend Mont Tremblant, Quebec. We recently went back and loved it! There is so much for do. Boredom is not on the itinerary. Here is a quick run down of our trip. Hopefully, it will help if you are planning a getaway to the Mont Tremblant resort area. ~ Shoana Getting There It couldn’t be easier. From Toronto, a flight is about 50 minutes to the Mont Tremblant International Airport. The airport is the prettiest one that I have ever seen. It totally sets the tone for the whole trip. To get from the airport to your hotel, “complimentary” shuttles are available for transfer to & from participating hotels in and around the village. Meaning, the transfer is “free”, but a $35.00/person departure fee is collected at the airport. The transfers can be easily booked through the Mont Tremblant International Airport website. To meet your specific transfer, a reception desk is set up in the arrival area. Provide your name and the hotel you are staying at to the representative. They in turn will provide you with the pick up time on your day of departure.  If you’ve checked any bags, you may pick them up outside the terminal and bring them to your identified transfer van. The driver will load your luggage into the trailer that is towed behind your van. Hotel This trip we stayed...

Tips on Picking the Perfect Luggage

I obviously have vacation on the brain these days and I can’t be the only one! So, let’s stick with the travel theme for this post. Are you planning (or dreaming of planning) a winter getaway? A good set of luggage can make or break the ease in which you travel. From sturdy wheels, to durable material, to size and weight, here are a few tips that I recently gave on a recent episode of Cityline. I hope these tips help when choosing your next luggage set. ~ Shoana...

Time To Go Home ~ Positano, Amalfi Coast Italy

Time To Go Home This morning we go home….   Pictures or people’s description of Positano does not do it justice. This has been the most peaceful place we’ve ever been. Beyond the natural beauty, the unique architecture that has been maintained with such pride, there is no urgency here. Everyone seems to be of the mind “let live”.   The people who call Positano home, open their arms to visitors and truly and graciously reciprocate your appreciation of them and of the place they live. Not sure if this is paradise, but its damn close.   Thank you, Positano. We love you. Until next time. Arriverderci!...

Day 9 – Positano & Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Day Nine – Our Last Day This is our last day in Positano. Although a sign of a good vacation is looking forward to home, we will miss Positano. Our day was spent taking some time exploring the town of Amalfi. Not to poo poo on the town whose namesake is shared with this magnificent part of Italy, but we did not enjoy it. The beauty and architecture, notwithstanding, Amalfi just didn’t have that sense of invitation that Positano offers. I certainly wouldn’t tell others to avoid Amalfi. It just wasn’t for us. That being said, getting to Amalfi was wonderful. We took a ferry over. Motoring along the Amalfi Coast was breathtaking. So much beauty.     I (Greg) celebrated our return to Positano by finally taking a dip in the Tyrrhenian Sea. A natural water baby, I enjoyed every minute of it.     We then snacked on some bruschetta and wine at Buca de Bacco before meandering back to our hotel to get ready for dinner.     Back to Next 2 for the third time. When we arrived, we quickly learnt that there was a power outage. But, the kitchen was still able to prepare a limited menu. This did not dissuade us and we were graciously shown to a fantastic table. Our last dinner in Positano couldn’t have been more romantic. The tables were illuminated by candlelight, the sky was clear and the moon and stars were bright . That’s amore. Despite the limited menu choice, the selection was still outstanding. About mid way through dinner, the lights came back on. I’m sure the...

Day 8 – Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Day Eight Another beautiful day in Positano. It was a slow morning, but we eventually made our way out with no agenda in mind.     We stopped at some shops that we hadn’t been in before and picked up a collection of tiles that we are going to display in some fashion that will read “JENSEN est 1997”; the year we were married. Also, at this shop, we sampled some of their limoncello and ended up buying two bottles. One traditional and one creamy limoncello. Tasty.   After doing some more browsing, we took another long lunch, at Le Tres Sorrelles.   As we slowly walked back to our room, we stopped into a cafe for a caffe americano and a cannoli. Delicious.   We got back to our room and decided, sadly, it was time to start packing. We ordered room service and enjoyed a couple pizzas, a bottle of local red wine and fresh fruit and called it an early night....

Day 7 ~ Capri & Back to Positano, Amalfi Coast Italy

Day Seven We woke to a partly cloudy day. A nice surprise, since the weather was calling for heavy rain and thunderstorms. Well, it turns out the weather can be right. As we were enjoying our complimentary hot/cold buffet breakfast, at the hotel, the sky darkened and the heavens opened up. This was short lived and the sun came out after about 20 minutes. Perfect timing to check out and enjoy our remaining time in Capri. We made our way to the funicular to take us down to the port area. For a 1.80 Euro each it was a fun and quick way to get down from the top of the hill.   We were unable to secure a ferry back to Positano, as the seas were too rough for service. We were redirected to Sorrento and would have to transfer from there. No problem, just another opportunity to see more of the country.   We soon boarded our ferry to Sorrento. As we began our crossing, the clouds became more ominous looking. Upon disembarking, we learnt that our only options for transport to Positano was by taxi or bus. A family overheard us speaking with a ticket agent and offered to share a taxi with us, since they too were going to Positano. We took up their offer and quickly got into a taxi before the rain started again. We arrived in Positano safe, sound and dry. Luckily the rain stopped long enough for us to walk back to our room.   The rest of the afternoon was a lazy one. Surfing the net, catching up on emails,...

Day 6 ~ Capri, Amalfi Coast Italy

Day Six Capri today. It is a beautiful, sunny, hot day. We spoke to hotel reception and they reserved the first ferry crossing for us @ 10:15 a.m. With an overnight bag in tow, we headed down to Spiaggia Grande and purchased our ferry tickets, at Lucibelllo. The staff at Lucibello were great. They offered to hold our luggage, while we grabbed breakfast and waited for the ferry to arrive.   To pass the time we grabbed a light breakfast, at Buca de Bacco. It’s right on the beach and close to the ferry embarkation. The food was good, but the coffee at Buca de Bacco was incredible; possibly the best coffee we’ve ever had…..sorry Tim’s.   Enroute to Capri. The crossing was scenic and picturesque, as it hugged the coast line before veering out into open seas to Capri. After a short 25 minutes, we arrived. Being the summer, it was very busy, but oddly organized.       We grabbed a taxi, to take us to our hotel. All the taxis are convertible and they were a great way to see the sights, as we drove up the narrow roads from the port.   Since you to walk to Hotel Della Piccola Marina from the road, our driver stopped at the stairs that take you there. Despite the stairs, it is an easy walk. It is actually more of a flat, declining grade than stairs and may be steep for some. However, we took our time and had no problems.     The hotel was wonderful. We were lucky that our room was ready and we were able...

Day 5 ~ Positano, Amalfi Coast Italy

Day Five   We took some time to check out the solarium terrance, at our hotel. Not much to speak of. There are about 8 loungers and the jacuzzi tub was not big enough for more that 4 people. There is a limited menu for food and drink, but you have to phone in your order using the house phone to place your order. However, we didn’t order anything, nor did we see anyone else doing so. We laid out for about 45 minutes then moved on. We went down to the hotel restaurant and had a early lunch, over looking the town and water. We were the only ones there, so it was like sitting on our own terrace. Nice.   After lunch, we walked back into town stopping in at Buca de Bacco to enjoy a cool drink and take in the scenes. While there, we struck up a conversation with a guy we saw wearing a Toronto Blue Jays cap. After connecting some dots it turned out that he and Shoana both went to the same high school! Not only that, but we went there at the same time!! What are the chances? Unreal! Because we had an early lunch we were hungry in the afternoon so we went back to our terrace and ordered a late lunch of salads and fruit. We added a bottle or rose to enjoy while we hung out for the afternoon and planed some more of our trip. In the planning stages of this vacation, we were told by friends that we had to visit or, if possible, stay in Capri....

Day 4 ~ Positano, Amalfi Coast Italy

Day Four Our day was spent exploring Positano and enjoying the laid back lifestyle here. We walked the main streets, weaved in and out of the narrow walkways, popping into the many cobbler shops plying their trade making all the sandals by hand and soaking in the over all feel. Still in disbelief that we are actually here.   Taking a recommendation that we received when we were planning our trip, we had lunch at Ristorante Le Tre Sorelle (The Three Sisters). A great, welcoming little beach side cafe serving up great food. We had a lazy lunch, taking  in the beach scene and sounds.   For dinner, we ventured to Next 2. We were feeling a bit lazy and it was close to our hotel. Plus, no stairs to climb. We didn’t have a reservation, but they were able to accommodate, despite that they were clearly busy. Wow, what a meal. There are no words. It was fantastic. Plus, our server, Marco, couldn’t have been more gracious. It was a great night. Definitely, will be taking in Next 2 before the end of our stay....

Day 3 ~ Positano, Amalfi Coast Italy

Day Three We awoke to the warm southern Italian sun glistening off of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The many boats beginning their dance of maneuvering in and out of the harbour. It was a slow morning, taking our time to get ready and planning our introduction to Positano. After some crafty eavesdropping during dinner last night, we were able to pick up a few tips that helped us plan our morning. With our newfound knowledge, we made our way down, down, down (remember those stairs?) to the one of the beaches, Spiaggia del Fornillo.  Once there, we made our way to Bar Bagni da Ferdinando for bite to eat. Lunch was a sandwich; salami and cheese on a fresh bun. It may not sound like much, but fresh and simple ingredients equal deliciousness. To compliment this great meal we had a couple glasses of tea de limon granita; a delicious and refreshing treat.     After lunch, we moved on into the main area of Positano; the area of Spiaggia Grande. There is a real buzz here. Of course, lots of tourists. But, then again, so are we. There are many quaint shops and fantastic restaurants tucked in amongst the winding walkways and dotted along the beach front. It is a very casual and relaxed atmosphere.   Later in the afternoon, we returned to our room to enjoy bruschetta and prosecco on the terrace.   Earlier, when we were strolling along the board walk, we came across Chez Black; a Positano main stay since 1949. We read the many reviews and decided that would be our dining destination for the...

Arriving in Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

To close out this past summer, my husband (Greg) and I spent one week in one of the most wonderful, romantic and beautiful places. Positano. It is on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. During our trip, Greg recorded the daily highlights of our trip in a diary. Initially, the diary was to be a keep sake to conger up the wonderful memories of our time spent here. But, it became apparent that there was some really good information for those who are going to Positano or those looking for help deciding on a vacation destination. Since we always appreciate the insight of friends, family and fellow travellers on their travel experiences, we decided to open up the pages of our diary – with a few edits 😉 and share with you one of our most memorable travel experiences. Given that we were there for 9 days, its a lot of information. So, I thought I would break it up into 5 parts that I will post everyday this week. Let’s get started! Day One & Two – Arriving in Italy Flying Lufthansa for the first time. Impressive. The staff were always smiling and friendly. The service was fantastic; from the complimentary wine to the warm towels before dinner. BTW we flew coach and yes they gave us warm towels. Also provided were pillows and blankets, which were all clean and packaged in plastic. The in flight entertainment was extensive and suitable to anyone’s taste. The flight connected in Munich, Germany. To give us a heads up on what to expect when we switch planes, there was an 8 minute video...

Dark Chocolate Candy Cane Marshmallows

Over the Christmas break,  I made these delicious little nibbles and served them at my New Year’s Eve party. I loved the look and the taste of them so much that I wanted to share. Most years after the holidays,  many of us are left with uneaten chocolate and candy canes. Well, instead of throwing it away, here is a fun, easy and tasty way to use up those Christmas goodies. They are great to serve in a  bowl or add them to a piping mug of hot chocolate after coming in from the cold. I’ve set out the instructions below.  They couldn’t be easier and were really quick to make. I hope that you enjoy making them and that your guests and family enjoy eating them! ~ Shoana     1. Crush candy canes into small pieces. 2. Lay out a sheet of wax paper. You will need this later. 3. Break up the chocolate into small pieces and add it to a double boiler.* 4. As the chocolate melts, stir gently. The chocolate will melt in just a few minutes. 5. Dip one end of the marshmallow about half way into the melted chocolate. 6. Then, dip the chocolate end into the candy cane pieces. 7. Place the marshmallows, candy cane side down, on the wax paper. Don’t worry, the candy cane pieces keep the marshmallow from sticking. 8. Let them cure for at least 30 minutes then enjoy!  *TIP:  I don’t have a proper double boiler, so I improvised by filling a pot half way with water and using a heat proof glass bowl.   **REMEMBER:  If you do this, don’t forget to leave room for the steam to escape. This will prevent the...

Keeping Cute and Cozy Outside this Winter!

With temperatures soaring and falling, staying stylish all year long can feel like a chore.  This time of year, with temperatures WAY below freezing sometimes you just want to throw on layers and cuddle up under a blanket.  Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not impossible to look cute and stay cozy!  Here are my go to’s when I have to venture out on these frigid winter days. 1. I am not a hat girl. Hats cause me to have abad hair day.So,  I wear earmuffs (or maybe a head band OR these super cool ear covers that I’ll tell you about another day). These faux fur ear muffs are from Indigo and are really cute! 2. Wearing a parka and mittens makes carrying a top handle bag in your hand or a tote on your shoulder a pain. That’s whyI always choose a cross body bag. Free hands and no extra bulk make for a fuss free day. This bag from Michael Kors is slim and fits a surprising amount of stuff! 3. I always need a scarf! I swear year round you will find a me with one. This knit scarf from Indigo has the cutest little faux fur pom poms on the end that match with the ear muffs… I couldn’t resist! 4. The most important thing on my list is this parka from The North Face. I bought last year’s style and it was the best winter purchase I have ever made.Wearing this coat makes me bullet proof from the cold . It also has a slim cut, so there isn’t a marshmallow man feeling when you are wearing it. I am also a fan of the faux fur...

Holiday Decorating with Chatelaine Magazine

  There is nothing like putting a personal touch on your holiday decorating!  Chatelaine Magazine’s December issue has all the tips you need to make your own decor from things you’ve probably got at home!! The ‘Fabulously Fake’ look will have you cutting, creasing and glueing craft paper into wreaths, ornaments, even fireplaces and trees! For more ideas on decorating with fresh, foraged and fabulously fake finds, check out the link from Cityline’s Chatelaine Day! Check out the cute video Chatelaine did for a step by step guide on making your own fun folded accordion wreath! Happy Christmas crafting! ~...

Holiday Fashions from Joe Fresh

  It can be tough to stay on top of looking fabulous this time of year with all the events and must dos on our list!  Well have I got the solution for you! Joe Fresh has made it easy and affordable to hit the mark whether you are wrapping gifts, catching up with the girls, hosting a house party or hitting the town! Check out my mini fashion show from the recent Cityline’s Girls Night In episode, featuring all these looks! I couldn’t get to the prices during the segment… too busy eating cupcakes 😉 I’m sure that some of you are curious, so I wanted to post them here. These are the full regular prices. Joe Fresh has had a big sale since doing the segment, so some of the items might be on sale now!! Christmas brunch ~ classic white skinny jeans ($39) graphic sweater ($39) faux-fur scarf ($49) pom pom toque ($16). flats ($49). Tree shopping ~ Expedition Parka ($349) Nordic sweater ($39) orange hat ($39) scarf ($99) heeled bootie ($119) Christmas Dinner ~ gold top ($39) white skinny jean ($39) nude pump ($59.94). Holiday Party ~ Sequined dress ($59) wool pumps ($119) Wrapping Presents ~ Sweater dress ($79) scarf ($29) necklace ($24), knee high boots ($199) Cheers to looking fab!...

Holiday Gift Ideas ~ Fragrances

  Would you like to gift a fragrance to someone this holiday season? It makes a great gift. But, how to you choose the right one? Here is a video of my tips on finding the perfect scent for that special person on your list. Ho! Ho! Ho! ~ Shoana  ...

Holiday Gift Ideas ~ Limited-Edition Gift Sets

  December 1st means putting our thinking caps on. Trying to come up with the best gift ideas for our friends, family, colleagues, hairdressers, babysitters, dog walkers can be a daunting, overwhelming task. This holiday season, I have partnered with Shoppers Drug Mart to help bring you some of my easy gift ideas. The following video is just the beginning of my tips to help bring you some ease to the holiday rush. Check back this Monday through Thursday, to see all my videos highlighting some of the great gift ideas being offered at Shoppers Drug Mart this holiday season. Ho! Ho! Ho! ~ Shoana...

Join Me For a Gift Wrapping Workshop

The holiday season is here and means lots of gift wrapping. Do you get stumped when it comes to wrapping gifts? Not a natural wrapper? No worries, I can help! Come on down to the One Of A Kind Christmas Show where you will find me on the Main Stage hosting a series of gift wrapping workshops. I will teach you the need to know secrets to become a master gift wrapper! Of course, you can always watch from the audience. However,  if you want to participate in the workshop and get some hands on experience come early as participants are chosen on a first come basis and space is limited. Here are the workshop date and times. Saturday, November 29     6:00 pm Sunday November 30        12 noon & 4:00 pm Friday December 5              1:00pm & 6:00 pm Saturday December 6         4:00 pm Sunday December 7             12 noon & 4:00 pm Mark this on your calendar, too. On Saturday, December 6, 2014, at 1:30 pm,  I’ll be hosting the finale for Canada’s Ultimate Gift Wrapping Challenge; sponsored by Scotch Brand. The finale will be showcased on the Main Stage. The best wrappers in Canada will be going head to head to wrap gifts in the most creative and awe inspiring way for the chance to win $5000.00. It will will exciting. See you soon everyone. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Shoana...

Ultimate Gift Wrapping Challenge

“Tis the season to get wrapping. But,  did you know that you can win $5000 doing it?  I’m not kidding. The “Ultimate Gift Wrapping Challenge” presented by Scotch Brand is your opportunity to put your gift wrapping skills to the test and a chance to win some amazing prizes. I have partnered with Scotch Brand this holiday season, so I’m really excited to see all the creative suggestions that people will bring to this challenge. Here are the details to get you going: Contest dates:  October 15th, 2014 – November 19th, 2014. To Enter: Entrants must upload or share, via social media, a picture of themselves with a gift that they have wrapped. You may share or upload your photos to the following: ·         Instagram – post the photo of you and your perfectly styled gift using  #scotchstyle ·         Twitter – Tweet the photo of you and your perfectly styled gift using #scotchstyle ·         Upload your photo directly at www.scotchtape.ca/ultimatewrapper Full contest rules and regulations can be found on the contest entry page at  www.scotchtape.ca/ultimatewrapper Finale and prizes: ·          The draw for three (3) finalists will be on November 21st, 2014 with the results announced on November 24th, 2104 ·         The three finalists will travel to Toronto (paid for by Scotch) from December 5th, 2014 – December 7th, 2014, where they’ll compete in the live contest finale on the Main Stage at the One of a Kind Show on December 6th, 2014, at 1pm. FYI, I’ll be  hosting the finale. ·         The winner will receive $5,000.  Runners-up will each receive a $450 gift card and Scotch Brand product. Amazing, right?...

Fall Beauty Round Up

There is no denying, fall is definitely here. The change in the season means it’s time to change some of our beauty routines and products. Here are some of the new products that are on my radar this season that you can get at Shoppers Drug Mart. 1. I am a huge fan of multitasking products. The new Sally Hershberger Major Body 3-in-1 Volumizing Spray builds volume, refreshes hair and provides an all day hold. Check, check, check! Sign me up, please. 2. I am late to the party when it comes to primers. Boy, was I missing out! I can’t believe the difference it makes when you’re using a foundation! The new Quo Complexion Correcting Primer  is of course a primer. Plus, it brightens and reduces the appearance of redness and dark spots. This makes it a winner in my books. 3. It is no secret that eyebrows help to frame the face. The shaping of a well polished brow is a deal breaker for achieving a complete look. Fuller, thicker and more defined browns are the style. For those of us who may be follicly  challenged in this area the new Quo Brow Palette can help. It has two eyebrow powders; great for customizing the perfect shade and one eyebrow cream for a flawless brow finish. 4. I know some of you out there have been blessed with full, lush eyebrows and all you have to do is give them a bit of shape. But, you often get left out of the “polish and go” products like the palette. Not any more! The GOSH Defining Brow Gel is perfect for you. Just...