Sunday, October 26

Spring 2015 Fashion Preview: My Fashion Saturday Experience

This past weekend I had the opportunity to check out Fashion Saturday at World Mastercard Fashion Week in Toronto.

My sister-in-law and I hit the road for a fairly smooth drive into the big city, though the Don Valley Parkway was closed for maintenance, and anyone who lives outside the downtown will understand how that complicated our route!

I really didn't know what to expect when we arrived at the huge tent at David Pecaut Square, but we found the venue full of fun booths: Pandora was doing mini photo shoots, Maybelline was offering a touch-up station and Mastercard was giving away great surprises.

At the Neo Strata table, the rep asked us what our main skin concern was, and I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I said "aging" (embarrassed because that's not a very female-empowering answer). However, I feel the need to be honest (with my dear readers, as well as with salespeople who are complete strangers to me). On the positive side, we got a lot of great samples, so I'm sure people at work are going to start mistaking me for a student soon.

While waiting for the fashion show to begin, many guests were enjoying champagne from the pop-up Ritz bar, or martinis from Grey Goose. As for me, I sampled a delicious gourmet peanut butter hot chocolate!

For those looking to bring some high fashion looks home with them, the designer pop-up market (shown below) was available, with tables and racks selling items from many different designers.

Here I am checking out the "Minnie Mouse: Through the Decades" display. Who would have thought a little rodent could inspire such great fashion? I wouldn't mind that red dress myself (sans bows).

Finally, the big moment arrived and attendees filed into the Runway Room. Some of the sweetest words a writer can hear: "You have a media pass? You're sitting right there, in the front row."

Tracy Moore from Cityline hosted the show, with a knowledgeable panel providing input along the way: style expert Afiya Francisco, Maybelline’s Grace Lee and Redken’s Cindy Duplantis.

Before we get to the clothes, I feel it's important to say one thing: no, no one expects many of us to actually wear these items straight from the runway (especially not me, teaching seven and eight year olds in a little country school), and that's not really the point. It took me a few years to realize this, and move past what I saw at times as the ridiculousness of runway fashion. Now I think of it as "Fashion Art" which will inform and inspire the real clothes that we'll be sporting next season...if that makes sense. Looking at it that way, I can now embrace the themes behind the looks.

As we were treated to creations from talented Canadian designers Hilary MacMillan, Hayley Elsaesser, Christopher Bates, elan+castor and Matthew Gallagher, some strong themes emerged for Spring 2015:
  • mixed prints
  • femininity
  • midriff bearing (no, dear students of my school, that doesn't mean you - or, for that matter, me!)
  • nautical
  • bright whites
  • pastels 
  • bohemian
  • suits with cropped trousers
And for the men:
  • Bermuda shorts (though not as short as we saw on the runway, please fellas) worn with dress shirts and dress shoes
  • statement blazers
  • a desert palette (think The English Patient)

Here are a few of my favourite looks:

I'm sorry to say that I didn't get a clear shot of one unique style, which was bare legs with bright high socks and dressy heels. I'm not sorry to say that I won't be adopting that look, no matter how trendy it is!

Hair and makeup were discussed too, with the consensus being that we'll continue to see a lot of soft, unstructured hair in Spring, romantic waves (not perfect curls), and some braid variations, such as the single cornrow, with a full front and sleek sides (creating a "faux hawk" look from the front), as well as topknots. 

As far as beauty goes, we've been advised to grow in our brows, ladies - and even to consider Maybelline's new "brow mascara", which I may actually try out. If I don't powder them darker, I can appear in some lighting to have no brows at all. In terms of eyes, coppery bronze looks are in, and while lips are great glossy, "every woman can wear a matte red lip", says Grace.

When I caught Tracy (who did a wonderful job hosting, keeping it light and relevant for the audience) for a photo op after the show, I was expecting to reintroduce myself to her (most of our communication over the years has been online) but was happy I didn't get the chance, as I was greeted with "Hey Kate! How are you?" as soon as she spotted me.

If you're at all interested in fashion, I'd highly recommend you take in next year's Fashion Saturday. It was a fun day out with a friend, and now I feel more than prepared to shop for Spring. Or I will be, once Winter is over. You know, in five months.

Wednesday, October 22

Navigating Your Child's Progress Report: My CHEX Daily Segment

It's almost progress report card time - a big deal for teachers as well as for parents and students!

In the latest edition of "Teacher, Teacher!" on CHEX Daily, I chatted with hosts Teresa Kaszuba and Mike Judson about this report, and what it all means.

A couple of other important notes about the progress report:

  • There's only one checkbox for Language (on the Term reports Language is broken down into Reading, Writing, Oral Communication and Media Literacy) and one for Math (whereas on the next report you'll see it divided into five different strands). This can make it tricky for teachers, because sometimes there's a huge difference between how a student is progressing in Oral Communication compared to Writing, but we only get one spot to provide a checkmark.
  • Kindergarten students do NOT receive this progress report. Different boards, schools and teachers may have their own ways of reporting, but the formal Ministry report starts with students in Grade 1.

To end with a personal opinion:

Any communication you receive from the school about your child's progress is vitally important. While there is certainly a place for official paperwork, the progress report is not the only information from your child's teacher. Phone calls, agenda notes, and samples of work/success criteria sent home are also very valuable ways to be informed about your child's progress, and the communication needs to go both ways. Be sure to call or write a note at any time if you have a question or concern about how your child is doing.

Once you have the report card, the next logical topic is the parent/teacher interview...and I'll be talking about that when I'm back on CHEX Daily in two weeks!

Tuesday, October 21

Stella and Dot: $50 Gift Card Giveaway and You're Invited To My Party!

I'm having a Stella and Dot party and you're invited! (Plus I'm giving away a $50 gift card, so keep reading!)

If I know you in real life, you're actually invited to my home (Thursday, November 25th at 7 pm). Please let me know if you plan to attend. (Just a heads up that I don't really live in "Blogville" - I don't want my real address out there on the net!)

For everyone else, feel free to shop the site! Here's the link to the invitation and catalogue:

My first introduction to Stella and Dot was last year. I couldn't make it to the party my friend was hosting, but I bought a scarf online because I told myself I "needed" it (though I'm going to put my lovely stylist on the spot at my party and ask her to show me some ways to wear it).

Palm Springs Scarf in Red Multistripe from Stella & Dot. Photo of luxurious lightweight scarf & wrap tied.

Next, I bought a necklace as a goodbye gift for that same friend who was leaving our school. I told her that I liked it so much I wanted to buy one...and ended up receiving it from her for my birthday! (It's actually very delicate; sometimes I wear it alone and sometimes I layer it with other gold pieces.)


I did some gift shopping online in June, and ended up earning bonus Dot Dollars, so I picked myself up some new layering bracelets.

Love bracelet by Stella & Dot. Picture of beaded bracelet with brass chain & colorful cord.Light bracelet by Stella & Dot. Picture of beaded bracelet with brass chain & colorful cord.Wisdom Bracelet by Stella & Dot. Image of worn silver plated brass chain with glass pearls on cord.

I wore these when I went behind-the-scenes at ET Canada, and host Cheryl Hickey immediately noticed them: "Oooh, Stella and Dot!"

Stella and Dot has been spotted on celebrities like Amy Poehler, Mila Kunis, Christy Turlington, Olivia Munn, Carrie Underwood, Elizabeth Banks, Jennifer Aniston, Sofia Vergara, Sheryl Crow, Katy Perry, Julianne Hough, Anna Kendrick...there's gotta be someone whose style you admire in that list!

Check out the stars in their Stella and Dot here:

This time around, I have my eye on the Madison Tech Bag - Poppy, for carrying things to and from school:

Madison Tech Bag - Poppy by Stella & Dot

and maybe a new, colourful statement necklace, for my TV appearances!

Juniper Statement Necklace by Stella & Dot

They have a nice girls' collection too, and I'm checking out this trio of high-quality earrings as a potential Christmas gift for Frannie (regular price $24):

Paris Trio Earring Set by Stella & Dot

Shipping is cheap ($7.95 flat rate) and super fast (I've received orders within 2 days) so there's lots of time to get Christmas gifts or accessories for your holiday outfits! Plus, returns are free.

Courtesy of my amazing Stella and Dot stylist, Janal Ingram, I have a $50 gift card to give away to one lucky Canadian This Mom Loves reader!

All you have to do to enter is browse their inventory here:

...and leave a comment letting me know what item you would purchase if you won. Bonus entries for following This Mom Loves on social media, so leave separate comments to let me know if you follow on Twitter, Facebook or through email. (4 possible entries in total.) I apologize that you have to type in the captcha letters/numbers each time, but if I take that requirement away I get an overwhelming amount of spam. Make sure that I have a way to contact you if you're the winner!

The giveaway will end on November 4, 2014 at midnight Eastern, but you can continue to shop the party right until December 16th.

Good luck, and happy shopping!

Monday, October 13

Halloween Fun From Hallmark

My latest Hallmark Press Pause Panel box arrived this week, right in time for Halloween decorating! Here's what I received, and where it's all going:


Halloween Door Frame Décor ($9.95)

I must say, I had never thought to decorate a door frame before, but these look quite spooky in the main area of our home. And it's the closest my girls will get to a pet cat.

Here's what it looks like on the door:

Boo Door Décor

This actually looks great hanging from our kitchen chandelier.


Trick-or-Treater Greeter ($19.95 with any purchase)

This motion-activated decoration will be hanging on my front door, ready to greet the trick-or-treaters with fun phrases as they approach!


Beverage Napkin Basket with Napkins ($12.95)


(Yes, I bribe. I mean, reward.)

Pumpkin Personalities Decoration Kit ($14.95)

This kit comes with a set of 3D eyes that light up and glow when you activate a switch, plus more than 17 stick-on decorations. A creative pumpkin with no cutting required!

Tricks the Toe-Tappin' Treat Bag with motion and sound ($15.95 with purchase of  3 cards)

My students are loving this guy! When you push the button, he shuffles from side-to-side while singing a Halloween parody of Mambo No. 5.

If you're looking for fun and festive Halloween decor, Hallmark has you covered!

Friday, October 10

I'm Heading To World Mastercard Fashion Week - What Do I Wear?

I'm very excited to be attending World Mastercard Fashion Week's "Fashion Saturday"  on October 25th in Toronto...though I have to say I'm a bit nervous about what to wear!

The Spring 2015 collections will be on the runway all week long, but "Fashion Saturday" is a bit different, giving the public an inside look at Canada's leading Fashion Week.

Here's what I know:

"Hosted by actor and host Lauren Collins (session one) and Cityline host Tracy Moore (sessions two and three) guests will enjoy a special Spring/Summer 2015 highlights fashion show featuring top Canadian designers, followed by a trends presentation with style expert Afiya Francisco, Maybelline's Grace Lee and Redken's Cindy Duplantis.

Attendees will also be able to shop the designer pop-up market, experience the Fashion Environment, participate in hair and makeup installations, sample VIP-style food and drinks and much more. Tickets to the three sessions (1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.) are available for purchase online. Student rates are also available."

I'll be at session two, hosted by Tracy Moore of Cityline - no stranger to This Mom Loves, as she's been a past Momterview as well as a behind-the-scenes feature. I asked Tracy about Fashion Saturday, and here's what she had to say:

"Fashion Saturday is a great way to get a glimpse of what is hot for the next season while schmoozing, sipping and shopping. Fashion is a passion I get to embrace every Friday on Cityline’s uber popular Fashion Fridays. Why not extend the fun into the weekend?"  

Thanks, Tracy! Looking forward to seeing you there.

Watch for a recap at the end of the month!

Wednesday, October 8

Getting Kids Involved In Charity/Social Justice: My CHEX Daily TV Segment

My latest segment on CHEX Daily is all about ways to involve your kids in charity and social justice, and why it's so important (plus I even found a way to make reference to an episode of Friends!)

Whether your child is interested in animals (volunteer at a shelter, walk a neighbour's dog), the environment (start a recycling club, plant trees) or education (be a homework buddy or tutor), they're sure to find a way to help others that works for them. If they want to fundraise for a cause, the sky's the limit - there are tons of ideas out there for raising money for charity.

Something else to keep in mind is that Ontario students need 40 hours of volunteer efforts to graduate from high school (yes, some have noted the irony in "requiring" volunteer work, but I think it's a great component for the diploma). It's a good idea to get started early - they can even begin the summer before they enter secondary school - since as they get closer to graduation part-time jobs, teams and active social lives can make it harder for them to fit in the requirements.

For kids (and parents) who think from a practical perspective, this sort of involvement always looks good on job resumes and school applications too (even if you don't live in Ontario and have to do it!)

The book I mentioned in the segment is this one, full of tons of ideas for making a difference, with and without spending money.

How To Be an Everyday Philanthropist by Nicole Bouchard Boles

If you're looking for ideas for classroom/school, here are the highlights of what our Student Government took on throughout last school year.

Thanks as always to CHEX Daily for letting me share!

Oh, and if anyone is thinking of leaving feedback that I look better when I wear brighter colours on TV (i.e. not in this segment), don't worry - I've already been told!

Sunday, October 5

Introducing OURS By Cheryl Hickey

When I went behind-the-scenes at ET Canada this past summer, host Cheryl Hickey shared a secret with me that I had to keep: she was developing a line of products!

Now that the official launch has taken place and I'm free to share, here's what Cheryl told me (while in the makeup chair, on her laptop and her phone!) about OURS By Cheryl Hickey:

"I’m coming out with my own brand of products: simpler, healthier, safer products for the whole family, so when you go into the bathroom you just need one shampoo, one conditioner, one soap, one oil, everything. It's coming out on September 30th and it will be sold at all Rexall stores across Canada. 

I’ve been working on it for three years and it was born out of necessity as I found I was using my kids’ products. You know as a mom that sometimes it’s because you’re busy, but sometimes it’s because of budget – it only allows for so much shopping so you just use their stuff. The problem was I was finding things that weren’t at safe and healthy as I wanted, and the organic stuff was so expensive you couldn’t buy it in large quantities. So Swiss Farm was looking to do something and we partnered up, so it’s very exciting! 

This has been the longest gestation period ever but we’re getting ready to launch and it’s something that I’m very passionate about with kids and family so I’m trying to extend that in a brand."

(Photo credit corrected 1/26/15)

If you're interested in knowing what's not found in any of the OURS products, here's a list of what this healthy product line does not contain:

  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Sulfates
  • SLS
  • PPG’s
  • PEG
  • Dyes
  • GMO’s 
  • Triclosan
  • Synthetic Fragrances
  • Animal Products
  • Bisphenol A (BPA)
  • Formaldehyde
  • Petrochemicals
  • Most common allergens
  • Cruelty Free

Photo courtesy OURS by Cheryl Hickey

A huge congratulations to Cheryl on the big product launch. Be sure to check out OURS By Cheryl Hickey at Rexall stores nationwide

You can read my Momterview with Cheryl Hickey here.