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Road Trip to PEC’s Drake Dev Fuelled By Costa Coffee at Shell

I’ve done my fair share of road trips over the years and often times prefer the journey behind the wheel rather than flying and spending unnecessary commute time sitting in airports, but having done so many, I have learned through trial and error that there are a few key elements that go into making a road trip not only bearable but fun – a comfy ride, the right company, good tunes (hello XM Satellite radio) and of course coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

In an effort to spend some much needed quality time together, the mister and I took take a day trip to Prince Edward County in partnership with Costa Coffee at Shell to explore the adorable town two hours outside of Toronto and to be amongst one of the first to have a Costa experience here in Canada. So here’s the honest to goodness truth, I quit drinking my daily perquisite of 4-5 cups of coffee a day a little over a year ago, which bummed out my boyfriend because his coffee obsession is next level but from time to time, I still treat myself to a good cuppa joe. Rejean on the other hand my friends, is well known for his coffee obsession and was the perfect partner in crime to taste test hot bevies from the UK coffee chain that has gained a devout following of coffee lovers since opening it’s first shop in 1971. We won’t be expecting stand-alone Costa Coffee shops, well not soon anyways, but instead the brand has installed innovative, state-of-the-art, self serve bars where you can get quality barista style coffee on-the-go at select Shell gas stations here in Canada. I know you’re probably thinking there is just no way coffee at a gas station can rival the premium roasts found in the city’s most loved coffee shops but this is exactly why I had my guy’s discerning coffee palette on hand for some taste testing. To be quite honest, the promise of keeping him caffeinated helped me get him out of bed at 5:30am on a Sunday morning!

The self-serve bar is a far cry from coffee stands in most gas stations with an easy to use, beautiful touchscreen display with more than 250 drink combinations that allows you to easily create any of your fave hot beverages you would normally order during your daily stop in at your local coffee shop like espressos, ristrettos, macchiatos, cortados, cappuccinos, americanos, chai and vanilla lattes. Not a coffee lover? No problem! Costa Express at Shell has you covered with non-caffeinated options like white and black teas and even flavoured hot chocolates. The best part – as you wait for your customized beverage to be created, mini surround sound speakers play jazz music and also mimic normal background sounds one might here in a cafe (i.e. baristas at work preparing drinks) to give you that coffee shop feel which we thought was a hilarious and very cute added touch.

So with both our Cadillac XT5 and our bodies fuelled up with americanos and vanilla lattes at Shell, we were ready to tackle the snow covered 401 eastbound to beautiful PEC. Last Sunday’s snow storm put a bit of a monkey wrench in some of the surprises I had up my sleeve for Rejean with so many of the stores and wineries closed down but we are Canadian so I wasn’t going to let the weather stop us from having some fun at the Drake Devonshire Inn on the Lake. PEC is a magical little place that I discovered a few years back and have made it a yearly tradition to make the trek down in the summer to spend time at beaching at Sandbanks Provincial Park but this was my first time being in the area during the winter season. After taking a look at the current activities the Drake Dev had going on, I was pleasantly surprised to see morning Vinyasa Yoga classes which was truly the catalyst for our ridiculously early departure from Toronto. With hour long vinyasa flows offered a couple days a week with instructor Sam Ravenda in the beautiful “Glass Box” space in addition to their newly offered Devonshire Detox Weekend Yoga Retreats, the Drake Dev is a prime spot for all you yoga lovers to get your zen on. We spent a lot of time walking the exterior of the property, which is lakeside, and during the winter is as close as you’re going to get to feeling like you are in a snow globe. It’s absolutely stunning (if you can brave the cold temps) but we cheated the cold by fire pit with piping hot Costa Coffee.

Known for their 13 kitchy guest rooms, the countryside retreat is equally known for their food and drinks. The hotel boasts five menus that focus on seasonal, crowd pleasing dishes and upscale comfort foods with insanely delicious brunch options, served all day on Sundays that include my favourite- apple compote and fresh creme buttermilk pancakes, chill-maple glazed friend chicken with pecan waffles and a breakfast burger. And oh the drinks…the wine list boasts whites and reds from some of the top vineyards across PEC, natch and cocktails that kept Rejean and our friend Jess content like infused bourbon and maple syrup, classic Manhattan’s and epic caesars.

Post brunch we lounged in the “living room” which houses the Drake Dev’s permanent and rotating art exhibits that are commissioned by both local and international artists that create work which visually reflects, interprets and enhances the Drake Dev experience. The exhibit’s current rotation on now is called “About Face” and will run until March 14th, 2017. It features pieces from artists shedding new light on the faces that surround them, in the forms of various portraiture; painting, photography, textile and sculpture. After the rest of our property tour, we headed back to the Glass Box for a several rounds of ping pong, cocktails (Mocktails only for this designated driver!) and many, many laughs before heading safely back to the city.

Photography by JessBaumung.com

Want to elevate your commute with quality Costa Coffee now available at Shell? Click here to find a Costa Coffee at Shell location near you!

Degree UltraClear Black + White: The Secret to Keeping Clothes Looking New

The most important thing I put on every morning may not be what you think it is. I’m sure most women claim it’s their favourite lipstick, a supportive bra or moisturizer but for me it’s my antiperspirant. I have experimented with deodorants for years, struggling with their lack of sweat protection and until discovering Degree’s Dry Spray Antiperspirants  just over a year ago when I got first got involved in their #BeTheMotion campaign. Engineered with Motionsense technology, it releases extra body odour protection the more you move (key on those long work days that end with a workout) and is formulated to provide 48 hour protection but didn’t really tackle the issue of those embarrassing and annoying white marks that too often get left behind on our favourite garments.

Degree Ultraclear Black + White Dry Spray Antiperspirant not only packs the power of coverage like it’s predecessor, but now also is designed to keep clothes looking new – so good riddance to nasty white marks on your go-to blacks and yellow stains on your favourite summer whites, all done with the subtle scent of rose, lily and fruit that lasts all day.

Photography by JessBaumung.com

Want to keep your blacks, black without your vibe being killed by white deodorant marks? Head to DegreeDeoderant.ca to learn more.

“Workin Mom’s” The Revolutionary Show You Should Be Watching Right Now

Like most other baby crazed women in their thirties, I’ve long fantasized about the joy of learning that I am expecting, the day I bring a healthy baby into this world and the phenomenal bonding experience with the little bundle of joy in the year after his or her birth. But what the hell happens after mat leave? Nobody ever talks blissfully about what it’s like to return to their old life before baby at the office. To be quite honest, when it comes to how I would handle my return to work, I have literally given it little to no thought at all. Until now!

Cast (L – R) Jenny (Jessalyn Wanlim), Anne (Dani Kind), Kate (Catherine Reitman), Frankie (June Rinaldi)

Well my friends, for those who are new mothers, soon-to-be mothers or dreaming of becoming mothers one day – you need to be carving some time out of your busy schedules on Tuesday night’s to watching Workin’ Moms. Hilarious, honest, refreshing and totally unfiltered, Workin’ Moms, which debuted on January 10th and incited a cult following almost instantaneously, has managed to pull people away from the Netflix vortex, back into cable television-sphere. Really, a huge feat in itself! I knew by very early on in the second episode that this series had me; hook, line and sinker when I laughed so hard snot literally came spewing out of my nose. In the scene Reitman’s character, a frustrated first time mum, has a mini meltdown trying to get her stroller into the back of her Lincoln MKX SUV screaming, “You have be work for NASA to get this shit folded down!” before launching the still erected pram into the trunk with the girth of an elite athlete. Kate’s lack of patience for the Mommy basics like strollers and breast pumps, telling other judging mom’s to ‘eat a bag of dicks’ and her willingness to fight to have it all in every aspect of her life is exactly how I see myself transitioning into a Workin’ Mom.

Nailed it. Watch a new episode of #WorkinMomsCBC tonight on @cbc, 9:30/10pmNT. #momlife #babygear #stroller

A video posted by Workin' Moms (@workinmoms) on

Created by the über talented Catherine Reitman, who is also an executive producer, writer, and plays the lead character Kate Foster, pulls up the curtain on taboo issues that are barely even discussed within the Mommy Community; postpartum depression, workplace insecurities resulting in not feeling like you can keep up or still have what it takes to get the job done, resentment, nanny stress and of course the identity crisis that apparently most women suffer post delivery but very rarely open up about. According to Reitman:

“I went back to work after six weeks. I was surrounded by very important people.  I had just realized I missed my first Mother’s Day. I kept going and was trying to laugh, but I don’t know what happened. I just started bawling. It was so awkward for everyone. But, at those moments, it’s real and it’s true pain.”

Each character’s storyline is based on real life events – art imitating her life if you will. Meticulously thought out and well played by Reitman, making the show’s four leading ladies just as relatable as the women we grew to know and love in Sex and the City and Girls:

The series follows the lives of Kate and her Mommy Group acquaintances as they desperately attempt to juggle parenthood, careers, sex, marriage, and PPD and trust me – the struggle is real! But after binge watching the first four episodes, I’m amazed at how Reitman has managed to keep shit real with just the right amount of comedic elements and touching moments which no doubt reassures new mom’s that they are not alone, even though it can seem so isolating. And although I can’t entirely relate to everything just yet, it’s super fun and entertaining to watch others navigate their way through their newly found Motherhood.

Workin’ Moms airs on CBC on Tuesday night’s at 9:30pm. Catch up on missed episodes here.

Travel Smarter with the CIBC Air Canada Conversion Visa Prepaid Card

While my travels outside North America have been far less than in previous years, I’ve had countless business travel south of the border for work projects this year. As you can probably imagine, I’ve had my fair share of nightmares on the road during business trips. Like having my credit card and/or debit card compromised while abroad, resulting in my financial institution having to shut them down for security reasons. Trust me, it is THE worst! And my struggles don’t end there unfortunately. Over the last year for some strange reason, my bank client card began having issues in most ATM machines outside the country. With my frequent travel to NYC for work projects, it had started to become quite an annoyance.

The last thing anyone wants to worry about while traveling is having issues accessing money. So, I’ve learned a few tricks and tips along the way helping turn me into a savvy traveler, but of course the learning never stops. I usually make sure to never leave the country without some cash in my destination’s currency but this starting to pose as an issue when the Canadian dollar continued to plummet. I mean, have you ever had leftovers of a foreign currency after a trip and tried to re-convert them to Canadian dollars? If not, DON’T!!!

cibc-air-canada-ac-conversion

Enter the new CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion VISA Card. I did some research on CIBC’s latest card offering a few weeks ago, desperate to discover anything that would help me in my future travels. I’ve dabbled with a prepaid credit card or two in the past, but this one is in it’s own league. Similar to other prepaid Visa card options, you load the card with funds and you can use it for transactions anywhere Visa is accepted. But one of the biggest things that sets the Conversion card apart from the rest is that you are able to load it with up to 10 currencies, and manage your funds through a dedicated app. Yes, that is not a typo – 10 different currencies, so naturally it is an appealing option when traveling or booking ahead and can also be used at restaurants, stores, for online purchases and even for withdrawing local currency from ATMs.

So what does this mean? 1) No more line-ups at banks and currency exchange centres, 2) No more fear that your bank card will not work in ATMs abroad (FINALLY) and 3) Allows you to avoid those crazy credit card fees, making this card one hell of a travel companion. And if that’s not enough, if you order your card before December 31st , you can receive 15% off select Air Canada flights.

CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Card

I took the card out for its first test drive a couple weeks ago on my last trip to New York and was able to check my card balance, view current exchange rates, move funds between different currencies, reload more money to my card and view all of my NYC transactions right through the mobile app on my phone. All sounds great right? It did to me but that didn’t stop me from delving a bit deeper into things such as CIBC’s Air Canada’s Conversion card’s supported currencies, expiry policy, transaction limits and associated fees, so here’s the skinny:

Support Currencies:

  1. Canadian Dollars – CAD
  2. United States Dollars – USD
  3. Euros – EUR
  4. Great British Pounds (UK) – GBP
  5. Mexican Peso – MXN
  6. Hong Kong Dollars– HKD
  7. Australian Dollars – AUD
  8. Japanese Yen – JPY
  9. Turkish Lira – TRY
  10. Swiss Franc (Switzerland)– CHF

Expiry Policy:

Luckily, the funds on this card will never expire. However the card itself will expire on the last day of the month printed on the card. There’s no need to worry if the card expires with a balance on it though, all you need to do is call the number on the back of the card to get a replacement. *A replacement card will not be sent out automatically after it’s expired – it must be requested.

Transaction Limits:

Minimum load amount (single Transaction) $100 CAD equivalent
Maximum load amount (single Transaction) $3,000 CAD equivalent
Maximum balance $20,000 CAD equivalent
Daily (24-hour) maximum point of sale purchase limit $3,000 CAD equivalent
Daily (24-hour) maximum ATM withdrawal limit $2,000 CAD Equivalent

 Fees:

Are there upfront fees? No, it is free to activate your card and should you choose to ship it to your home via courier, you’re looking at about $15. While all ATM withdrawals are free within Canada – there will be fees charged by CIBC in other countries with a chance that non-CIBC ATM providers may charge additional fees. That being said, it’s in your best interest to stay away from ATM withdrawals abroad unless absolutely necessary.

CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Photography by JessBaumung.com

Are you ready to start traveling smarter? Click here to learn more about the CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Visa Prepaid Card.

Tech Talk: What You Need to Know About Apple TV 4G

I did a TV detox for almost a year. Not intentionally, but with Netflix, Shomi, Crave and other online streaming options allowing us to watch our fave programs on our laptops, what was once one of the most used things in my household ended up sitting on a console collecting considerable amount of dust. Well, a lot has changed around here since getting Apple TV. Since it’s launch in 2010, it’s design had really not evolved and it was still using an interface dating back to the iPod days, quite possibly the reason why the device has consistently been eclipsed by it’s prodigy siblings, the iPad and iPhone. If you’re one of those people who prefer to wait for a later generation of a product so a brand has time to get all the kinks out, then now would be the time to try out the best version to date of Apple TV.

The latest version has powerful hardware, a significantly redesigned remote and an operating system worthy of an Apple product in 2016. Plus, there’s a legit app store now, which turns the device into a killer platform for entertainment, workouts and gaming right in the comfort of your own living room.

Apple TV Fitness Apps

The ultra sleek new Siri remote not only looks attractive when placed on your coffee table or TV console, but it’s also super functional. Say goodbye to endless button pushing kids. With the smooth touch surface, selecting and navigating is made so much easier with swipe capabilities. In addition to the menu and play/pause buttons, which the remote had before, there is now a home button and volume controls. Plus, since it’s wireless you don’t even have to point it directly at the Apple TV console. Worried about having to add yet another remote to your collection? We’ve trained the intelligent Siri remote to adapt to work as our television remote control.

Apple TV Fitness AppsHere’s what you will receive with you Apple TV purchase. *Note HDMI cable is sold separately

Once you’ve set up your Apple TV, which can be done simply on the corresponding app on your iPhone, the well laid out home screen makes it easy to search iTunes for movies, shows and music, and search/download from the app store etc. There aren’t any third-party apps installed by default, which is kind of a good thing in my personal opinion. This means, only the apps you love and use frequently are displayed on the home screen. The only downfall so far to be honest, is not having access to some of the new and amazing third-party apps that have been developed for 2016 that are not available in Canada *welp*. I frothed at the mouth thinking of all the potential binge watching I could do on HBO, Showtime and HULU and the workouts on Beach Body On Demand but nope – no dice for us Canadian residents. However, there are still a handful of apps making Apple TV a worthwhile purchase even if you reside south of the border…and let’s start with some that will get/keep you in shape:

Apple TV fitness apps

Fitness Focused Apps

Think you have no time to get to the gym after work? Can’t get out of bed extra early to make it to that yoga class? Or better yet, need some inspiration for some active mobility stretches before you run? I’ve combed the app store and online to find fitness apps that ticked all the boxes; high quality videos of varying lengths and forms of exercise, affordable prices, an app perhaps with an iOS version that sends me push notifications to nudge me when I haven’t worked out. Even a corresponding Apple Watch app component that will tap into the watch’s sensors to track my heart rate and cals burned. This may be too much of an ask, but I remained hopeful. After spending some considerable time trolling and testing, I’ve realized there is a HUGE potential for health and fitness apps on this platform and has even got me thinking of someday creating my own third-party app. With the updated version of Apple TV, tvOS has made it much easier for third-party apps to be created, so I suspect we will see a lot more comprehensive fitness apps popping up in the near future. Although there are some great options out there, I still think the fitness focused apps haven’t reached their full potential yet. Here’s a few of the contenders that were able to meet some of my tough criteria…

Zova:

Apple TV Fitness AppsPhotography by JessBaumung.com

One of the first tvOS fitness apps created, Zova also comes highly recommended by the peeps at Apple. It offers a ton of free video content, which is awesome, and is even equipped with Apple Watch integration so you’re able to see your heart rate on the TV screen while you workout. However, you have to pay $10+ a month to unlock the premium version. Still cheap in comparison to most others though, but I would have liked to see at least one option in the app store that was available free to users. Furthermore, majority of the videos are much shorter than I would have liked to see – 15 mins or less and no instruction. There’s just a model demonstrating each move sans voiceover. On the plus side, Zova is great for those who want to be led through a quick ab workout, short flow sequence to start the day or pre run stretch routine.

Daily Burn:

Apple TV Fitness Apps

Daily Burn has been featured in Vanity Fair, the New York Times, Shape, Good Morning America and the Today Show because of the success of it’s subscribers and now I know why. With over 500 workouts in 20+ amazing programs from strength training, HIIT, weight training, yoga, dance and more – there is something for everyone. Plus, there is a new 30 minute Daily Burn 365 workout every single day at 9am EST that replays on demand for 24 hours, specifically designed for beginners. When you download the app on Apple TV, your eligible for a 30 day free trial – something that most apps should allow you to do so you can ensure you are getting what you’re promised prior to purchasing. Once your free month is up, the premium membership will run you $36.99/mth. Workouts average anywhere between 30-40 minutes making them great on their own but also works well when you add in a run or other cardio workout but the app does not sync with the Apple Watch to monitor calories burned and heart rate.

Grokker:

Apple TV fitness apps

This yoga focused app also provides users with nutritional plans and cooking videos for those who are looking for some food inspo. Grokker’s program ranges from one week to six weeks in length and the series are designed to save you time with over 70 goal oriented series to choose from. My suggestions, “Get Tight in 28“, “x5 Intensity“, “Daily Muscle Relief” and the “21 Day Relax Mindfulness Meditation“. Love that you can schedule workouts in the in-app calendar as a reminder of which series you should be doing next. Users can also easily track progress such as total minutes of exercise and calories burned to stay motivated. If you have an Apple Watch, you will be able to track your heart rate and active energy during both fitness and yoga workouts while also contributing to your Activity Rings. Free to download and use, but just like the rest of the more sophisticated fitness apps out there, you have to pay for the good stuff. A premium subscription enables you to download an unlimited number of premium videos per month and will cost you $14.99 or $119.99 monthly or annually respectively.

Cody:

Apple TV Fitness Apps

Cody is the priciest out of the bunch because you actually pay per plan, not by month – so if you’re looking for an affordable fitness app, this isn’t it! The cost depends mainly on which plan you pick but on average will cost you somewhere between $40-50 and there is no free trial option. Some may argue that it is in fact good value for money because the videos are super high quality plus Cody offers offline downloads so you can do your workouts on your iOS device while traveling. If you’re the type that likes a variety and prefers to switch things up each day, you may not love that the app forces you to stick within a program, however on the plus side, this is the best way to achieve results.

Honourable Mentions

I would be straight up lying if I told you this was my only use of my Apple TV at home. Let’s be honest here, there are a plethora of entertainment, news, music, food and television streaming apps to make you forget all about cable television. On heavy rotation at our place right now – Netflix, TED Talks, Shomi, CityTV, People Entertainment Weekly Network, The Scene, Kitchen Stories, Made to Measure (for all my fave fashion documentaries and movies), and RedBull TV.

Apple TV is available at Apple stores, Best Buy locations and online at Apple.com starting at $199.

Activia Women #InSync Series and Commercial

This year has been very emotional for me. The word “emotional” usually has a negative connotation to it, but in this particular instance, its all positive. A few months ago I was approached by Danone to be apart of an amazing campaign with Activia Yogurt. The very first thing that stood out about this potential partnership was that it did not appear to be a blatant product push. In fact, when I read the campaign overview I was surprised to see that the project was not product focused at all, but rather a chance for 9 Canadian women to be able to tell the country their story on how they live a balanced life.

Could this really be possible? Can a company actually want to focus on my personal story and journey, rather than promoting their existing products or a recent product launch? Well…turns out, yes they most certainly did and the timing couldn’t have been any more perfect. After the struggles I’ve had to endure, there has been many times where I wanted to give up and didn’t understand why I kept getting faced with so much adversity. However, 2016 has been my best year yet and I have finally started to reap the rewards of all the hard work I put into getting healthy and building a personal brand.

Activia Women InSync Series

I’ve fought my illness for a very long time, only becoming more successful with managing it’s ugly symptoms in recent years by learning to live in sync. Meaning, putting a system in place and developing a new lifestyle for myself that contained the right amount of exercise, activity, diet and meditation. Furthermore, also learning to create boundaries between my work and personal life. So goodbye to working until midnight and never having a day off.  Creating a more harmonious balance in my life not only helped facilitate my recovery, but it also allowed me to spend more time with my family, friends and to nurture the first serious relationship I had been involved in for what seemed like ages. Don’t get me wrong, this was no easy feat. This turn of events began almost five years ago and at this time, my full time job was to just get healthy. My weekdays were filled with medical appointments, meetings with my dietician, naturopath, acupuncturist, reiki specialist, chiropractor and RMT, oh and let me not forget my psychologist and the numerous Cognitive Behavioural Therapy classes I had to attend to help me deal mentally with everything going on. My illness isolated me and caused me to become anti-social, ultimately was the end of my engagement (which truth be told was a relationship that was flawed and toxic from the start) not to mention the tangible losses such as; my loss of income from not being able to work, my vehicle, and having to move back in with my parents as an adult. Trust me, it was a lot of loss all at once and looking back now, it’s not at all surprising why I was also suffering from depression and anxiety.

People always ask me how I found the strength to turn things around. To be honest, a lot from that time was a blur and I cannot really remember every single detail. I am athlete and competitive by nature so I think I just wasn’t going to go out without a fight. I knew truly deep down that up until that point, I had not done everything I could to rehabilitate myself, besides drowning my body in pharmaceutical meds prescribed by specialists and laying in bed watching my life pass me by – which was clearly not working. I mean, I didn’t think things could possibly get any worse, so I decided to attempt the alternative route with eastern medicine. This change of direction, in addition to my ridiculously supportive family, eliminating stress, changing my diet and consistent exercise was critical in getting me to where I am today.

As part of this multi-faceted campaign with Activia, I shot an individual commercial going a bit deeper into my personal story, which was shot earlier this summer in Montreal. When you live something day to day, it’s difficult to see how far you’ve come but being a part of this project has allowed me to reflect on everything that has happened and see my exponential growth. I cried uncontrollably the first three times I watched this video.  Almost not recognizing the person in it because just five years ago I was a young women on bed rest suffering from a debilitating illness not knowing what the future holds. My life has changed dramatically and through balance I’ve created, I feel strong, I am happy, I am creative, I feel limitless and I am finally in sync.

activia-chatelaine_100eos5d_2167

There’s so much more to come in this campaign and I can barely contain my excitement, so stay tuned. In the meantime, click here to learn more about the other 8 women and their stories, search the hashtag #InSync on social media or follow Activia Canada on Instagram and Youtube.

Manulife Vitality: Life Insurance That Rewards Your Healthy Lifestyle

What do you live for?” is a question I was recently asked at work while discussing an upcoming project and a million thoughts and answers rushed into my head at once. Family, love, unity, peace, and health were just a few of the words that immediately came to mind. Sure, I do a pretty good job at taking good care of myself by eating well, working out and staying active, but I have not been thinking about my future in regards to my family/loved ones after I pass. I have always found it difficult to think about death and what happens following but now that I have started thinking about starting a family at some point, the topic can no longer be avoided.

As we grow older, get married, build families and even start businesses, you come to realize that life insurance is a fundamental part of a sound financial plan. For some reason our generation doesn’t normally think about life insurance for ourselves until we are forced to and truth be told, up until a few weeks ago, I did not have a life insurance policy of my own. Turns out, life insurance is more affordable than you may think, so there’s no excuse why more can’t entertain obtaining coverage before any these milestones.

Trust me, I know the idea of life insurance can be daunting or better yet, confusing and it’s hard to know what you really need or want. So here are four reasons why you should be considering it:

  1. To add financial security. Trust me, once you decide to have children, you will want to know your kids (and partner) will be taken care of when your gone.
  2. To protect your family and loved ones if they depend on your financial support for their livelihood. In this instance, it will replace your income when you pass.
  3. To leave an inheritance.  Even if you don’t have any other assets you can create an inheritance for your loved ones by purchasing a life instance policy and name beneficiaries.
  4. To bring peace of mind. No amount of money could ever replace a person. Period. There aren’t many things in life that are guaranteed, but having life insurance can help provide protection for the uncertainties

Photo by Darren Goldstein/DSG Photo.

That being said, I recently discovered Manulife Vitality – a life insurance program that actually rewards people for leading a healthy, balanced lifestyle. For those of you who make a conscious effort to stay active, workout and eat clean, these dividends plus the affordable program options just may encourage some of you to begin thinking about life insurance as well, sooner rather than later. This past Tuesday, I got a chance to help kick off the launch of the Vitality program in Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square, alongside dear family friend, Mike “Pinball” Clemons, Vice Chair of the Toronto Argonauts. The theme/question of the day was, “What do you live for?” and visitors at the event got to share their answers with the Former Argo QB and two time coach. The Manulife branded pop-up had fun, fitness focused activations and visitors were able to get free bike tune-ups, discover TRX exercises with the help of Goodlife Fitness staff, jump into the boxing ring with Pinball to test out Canada’s first ever “Workout Computer”, receive prizes/giveaways and learn more about why Manulife Vitality may be a suitable option for life insurance.

So how does it work exactly? After purchasing a product with Manulife Vitality, you are then required to fill out the Vitality Health quiz online to see how your health measures up against your age. Through this process, you’ll be given your Vitality Age, which could actually be higher or lower than your real age and serves as an indication for your overall health. Part of what makes the program unique is customization – and seriously who doesn’t love products or services created just for them? One of the best parts about Vitality is that once the system has gathered all your lifestyle and health data; a customized, goal oriented program is created to encourage and inspire people to make healthier choices by using convenient and easy-to-use tools. Manulife has have even partnered up with Garmin to include a free wearable tracking device to make tracking healthy activities a breeze. And not to worry all you Apple Watch and Fitbit lovers out there – you can connect these devices to the Vitality system as well!

Manulife Vitality

As you may assumed by now, Vitality program status is simply based on the number of Vitality points you earn each year which results in a tiered system; Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. This status is used to determine a member’s eligibility for rewards and to calculate their annual cost of insurance. By being active, getting regular health screenings and even reading online health related materials, earns more Vitality Points when you track them using the easy online tools provided to members or the Manulife Vitality mobile app. Intrigued yet? If you’re interested in learning more information on the Vitality program or would like to sign-up for your own customized life insurance, head to manulifevitality.ca

This post is sponsored by Manulife, but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

2017 GMC Acadia Whistler, BC Experience

With fast paced lifestyles being the norm these days and car consumers becoming far more discerning each year, it’s not surprising that drivers are looking for much more out of vehicles now more than ever before. We need more cargo/storage capacity. Additional space for more passengers. Want better fuel efficiency. Desire a luxury aesthetic with premium finishes. We’re intrigued by next generation technology (who ever thought we would be living in a world with 4G LTE wifi in cars?!). Or require 4WD capabilities for winter driving conditions. I mean, the list of Canadian customers reasons for purchasing a vehicle can just go on and on. In the past I viewed cars similar to the way I looked at real estate and men. It sounds odd and funny but ti’s true. I believed that there was no perfect vehicle, house or man – and finding one that ticked all the boxes wasn’t realistic. For years car customers have sacrificed in one way or another. Twenty years ago, if space was high on your priority list, you were probably sacrificing on style by having to choose a minivan to accommodate a family of 7. Wanting better performance meant a heavier vehicle frame and increased engine size; resulting in poor fuel efficiency. Japanese and German vehicles were known for their style and design, but it was the American manufacturers that were known for comfort. Fast forward two decades and we may be moving towards a world where it’s possible to get your whole wish list in one vehicle.

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

Last week I ventured all the way to beautiful Whistler, British Columbia for a couple days of adventure and to discover the all new 2017 GMC Acadia. Our drive from Whistler commenced from Vancouver Airport, where we headed up the scenic Sea to Sky highway, giving us our first taste of the brand’s most innovative Acadia to date. On our itinerary during our surprise filled visit with GM Canada…an unbelievable outdoor experience that included learning how to ride like the mountain bike pros on the GMC sponsored Pump Track, an exclusive ride inside the Guinness World Record Breaking Peak to Peak Gondola that spans the entire distance between Whistler and Blackcomb, lunch overlooking a breathtaking vista of snowcapped mountains at Christine’s on Blackcomb, an ATV off-road excursion with RZR Tours at Cougar Mountain and dinner at Whistler’s premier dine dining and award winning restaurant Bearfoot Bistro. And if that wasn’t enough, after our delicious four course meal at Bearfoot, we headed to the restaurant’s lower level where patrons will find the Ketel One Ice Room – the world’s coldest vodka tasting room and only sub-zero vodka room in Canada. If you followed my trip on snapchat, you most likely saw our group donning white Canada Goose parkas to help us brave the -32C (-25) temps in there, while we sampled a few of the vodka’s in their 50 plus collection.

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

GMC, a brand known for it’s professional grade heritage, bold features and craftsmanship, has refined the latest Acadia with the help of premium finishes, innovative features and tons of space options for both passengers and cargo. Here’s a quick look inside the 2017 GMC Acadia:

The revised mid-sized SUV’s exterior has modern updates with sculptural lines that made our motorcade of Acadia’s stand out as we made our way up the winding highway. But it’s the car’s interior and tech features that really stand out in my opinion. It may not look like it from the outside, but this cross over fits up to 7 passengers quite comfortably despite losing a bit of interior room compared to it’s previous year’s model, thanks to premium seating and the vehicle’s easy access to it’s 3rd row. How? With the assistance of Acadia’s fold flat 2nd row seats that allows you to be ready for whatever your next adventure might be. You can go right ahead and file the enhanced second-row Smart Slide® seats under “Mind Blown”. This row can tip, pitch and slide forward even when a child seat is attached. Shocking I know! And this should go without saying, but this feature is only recommended when a child is NOT strapped into it’s car seat. If more cargo space is what you really need, designers have placed built-in seat release levers to make it super simple to fold the second row seats completely flat from the back of the car.

For those of you have have kiddies or nieces and nephews you look after on weekends like I do, the comprehensive suite of available Driver Alert and Active Safety Technologies to help protect drivers from the unexpected on the road, would blow you away. With the increase in deaths of babies being inadvertently left behind in cars, the Acadia has the industry first “Rear Seat Alert System” that reminds drivers that items and/or children may still be in the vehicle’s 2nd or 3rd row seats. Knowing you have the added safety of sensors, radars and cameras to help detect potential crash situations, can bring comfort to drivers with young children and babies on board. Other notable technologies that are a first for the Acadia that can even probably help with yearly insurance fees are the Front Park Assist, Lane Change Alert and Lane Keep Assist, Knee Airbags and much more.

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

I’m not sure about you, but I’m always a fan of anything that makes long road trips bearable or working on the road manageable and GM’s fleet was ahead of it’s time introducing 4G LTW wifi connectivity via OnStar, Apple Car Play capabilities (allowing drivers to utilize all the functionalities of their iPhone or Android devices to make calls, send texts, listen to music and access maps all displayed on an 8″ colour touch audio system), plus Five USB ports ensures everyone is happily connected and charging.

A common worry for those moving from a car to cross over or SUV is no doubt gas mileage and rightfully so. Advanced design and engineering as allowed the 2017 Acadia to be over 700 lbs lighter than it’s predecessor, resulting in better fuel economy. You will find fuel range for the Acadia different depending on the model and engine size of course. For car buyers who’s priority is fuel efficiency the clear choice is the 2.5L engine getting drivers 11.0/9.2/10.2 L/100km (City/Highway/Combined). If fuel efficiency take a back seat to performance, then the 3.6L V6 engine with 310 horsepower plus active fuel management is the way to go with 13.0/9.3/11.3 (City/Highway/Combined) L/100km.

The 2017 GMC Acadia is already available in showrooms now in Canada and price points for the base 4-cylinder front drive only Acadia SL start at $29,995, with the top line Acadia Denali AWD starting at $47,845. For more information on all Acadia models head to GMCCanada.ca

GapFit x AKT Hamptons Summer Retreat

As picky as I can be with my workouts, I’m just as particular about the clothes I wear when doing them. Gap has been making workout wear for several years now and it’s growing success and popularity was the catalyst for @GapFit launching separately on Instagram last week, which will focus solely on promoting the latest from the brand’s activewear collections. To celebrate their coming of age in the social space, the GapFit team hosted a fitness retreat in the Hamptons, the destination every New Yorker dreams of spending their summer at!

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So what was on the itinerary for this epic summer weekend? Sweat, sweat and more sweat. Gap teamed up with Canadian cutie and the creator of AKT in Motion, Anna Kaiser, to put us through a handful of workouts and ended the weekend with a stretching and foam rolling class designed for us to test out the GapFit’s hero pieces from the current collection. Women from all over the world arrived in Montauk last Friday (Editors from some of your fave glossies and digital publications; Vogue, Elle, Refinery 29, and Fashionista.com just to name a few) and stayed at the infamous beachside resort Gurney’s Montauk. If you’ve never been to the Hamptons before, the Gurney’s property is exactly what you would expect a hotel there to look like. Fresh minimal, clean aesthetic but not in a stuffy way. A very relaxed vibe that immediately makes you feel like you’re at home visiting a friend at their beachside compound.

Gurney's Montauk

gurneys montauk

gurneys montauk

Aside from the hotel being dreamy, it was the workout gear that got most of the ladies excited when we each arrived to our rooms. Beautifully coloured prints adorned the bras, tights and shorts and the perfect light weight tanks to layer over our looks during or post workout were all packed into the a black quilted Gap backpack. My faves –  Lightweight Mesh Tank and the Breathe Air Twist Back Tank, which both have GDry moisture wicking fabric to keep you cool and dry even during the most intense workouts. Not to be outdone by the Summer Sports gFast Training Tights and matching bra. I’m actually a “workout in my sports bra” kind of girl and the GapFit bras did not disappoint. It was legit 95 degrees during our Hamptons stay so we greatly appreciated the Coolmax® lining in the bras and four way stretch fabric.

GapFit AKT Summer Retreat

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Capris are not my favourite thing and if you’ve been following me on snapchat you are already well aware of this. I have had many a rants about how I feel about my long legs in capri tights BUT I couldn’t deny the cuteness of the gFast cross training tights that also came with matches bras. Not only do they look good but their functional too! The four way stretch system in the tights allowed to move during our sessions with ease and they each seemed to retain their shape throughout the day without the fabric becoming baggy in the wrong areas (you know the unsightly sagging in the bum, crotch and waist areas). Also, have you ever had the drawstring from your favourite pair of tights come completely out of the waistband in the washing machine? It’s one of my pet peeves to be honest. The gFast capris include an adjustable enclosed drawcord to prevent this from ever happening and a flat lock system to also stop everyone’s worst nightmare – chaffing.

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GapFit2016-Montauk_6368Photography by Max Breslow Photography for GapFit

Special thanks to Gap Canada and GapFit for an unforgettable experience in Montauk. I left the Hamptons with sore muscles, a belly full of amazing seafood, new friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. All these GapFit looks are currently available in store and can also be found online at GapCanada.ca.

Household Obsessions: The Dyson Small Ball Animal Vacuum

It’s been two months since we’ve officially moved into our new digs by the waterfront and it’s everything we were looking for, including double the square footage. Before taking possession, I thought of all the amazing benefits of having the additional room until after the second week when I realized the amount of time it takes to keep this place clean – eeeek! Between residential construction going on outside next door, our dog and my boyfriend dragging crap in on his running shoes from trail runs, I literally spent the first month cleaning the floors every single day. Obviously not my fave way to spend the little free time I had at home.

Enter my new Dyson Small Ball Animal! Honestly, I dreamed of owning a Dyson my entire adult life. I mean, it’s the Bently’s of vacuums and I am almost certain my friends (and snapchat followers) were slightly disturbed by my excitement the day I got it. I am still wondering if my happiness over a house hold cleaning appliance makes me a weirdo or god forbid a real adult.

Dyson Small Ball Animal

In our home, sweeping only just wouldn’t do. I had found the sweeping motion allowed me to scoop up some dirt but for the most part I was simply sweeping the dust into the air which just ended up settling back onto the floor minutes later – super annoying! Dyson’s are known for their ability to maneuver easily into difficult spots, around furniture and the Small Ball has the latest ball technology that makes reaching hard to access spaces easy.

Dyson Small Ball Animal

Dyson Small Ball Animal

Most vac’s trick us into believing they’ve captured all unwanted dust particles with their loud motors but this bad boy’s 2 tier 19 Radial cyclones capture even the finest of dust, while also generating 30% less noise. A feature Brooklyn thanks me for. My old one terrified the crap out of my dog and she would bark incessantly until the vacuuming was over. Also, as a pet owner, a vacuum that has unique tools designed specifically for your fury friends is pretty cool. The Tangle Free Turbine tool removes hair from rugs, carpets and upholstery and believe it or not, there is also the Dyson Groom tool that removes hair directly from our pup before she sheds it around the condo. It also captures and removes dead skill cells and loose hairs keeping Brooklyn’s coat and our home tidy between her grooming appointments. With the majority of our floor being hardwood, the Articulating Hard Floor tool has soft nylon bristles that makes our floors look exactly the way they did the day we moved in…and if that’s not enough, the entire device only weights 5.5 kg.  It’s sleek, small design saves storage space, making it perfect for condo living.  Check out this video to see how the Dyson Small Ball Animal in action:

Photography by JessBaumung.com
I love finding things to make my life more efficient. With my new Dyson, I’m no longer cleaning our floors every single day, giving me more time to actually enjoy our condo instead of cleaning it. Learn more about the Dyson Small Ball Animal and the rest of the brand’s amazing products by heading to DysonCanada.ca.
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