A Day at the National Women’s Show in Toronto

Every year I love attending the National Women’s Show in Toronto. Saturday was no different. With over 500 booths, lots of on stage speakers, shows, and entertainment there was lots to keep my friend Tammy and I busy and smiling!  We had a great time at the show.

We started the day browsing the booths. There were some great brands there. Lots to explore and so many new brands to try. I was very thankful for my swag bag full of goodies to try. Samples are always a great way to learn about new favourite brands. As you walk through the show there are so many samples. So many new things to learn about, see and explore and it is always a great place to start your Christmas shopping.


Ran into my friend Heny We met Sam Dhutia the CEO of Sweets Canada gourmet chocolate bars which is a division of QFoods Canada. My girlfriend and I had a great time thrying to  choose from including their popular “Edible Flower” Chocolates, and of course their Fruit Covered Chocolate.  I came home with some Qbites. The taste and packaging is sure to impress even the most “sophisticated” chocolate connoisseur. I know I enjoyed them as I watched the election results.

First up on the main stage was since I am a single lady had to watch Laura Bilotta the CEO of Single in the City matchmaking as she reenacted the the classic tv show The Dating Game. I remember that show from when I was a kid. It was fun to watch and the bachelor ended up picking bachelorette number 3. I got a chance to talk to the bachelor when I ran into him later and we talked about his choice and the other 2. It was fun to hear his thinking behind his choice.

Here is a short video of part of the show.


After The Dating Game, my friend Tammy and I explored some more booths. One of the booths I stopped by was the DermVisage booth. Since I am starting to get older, skin care is starting to matter to me. I spoke with Ursula who spoke to me about DermVisage anti aging skin care products and the science of anti-aging skin care. She even did a skin analysis on me.


What were the results? I have dry skin and it gets drier in the winter. Ursula talked to me about the DermVisage products and how they could help me. DermVisage products brighten the skin, reduce dark spots and even out the skin tone leaving the skin feeling smoother, hydrated and brighter. I have been trying the sample pack that Ursula sent me home with this week and it is making a difference.


After the skin analysis, we hung out in the culinary and wine areas. We took in a great cooking tutorial from the Chicken Farmers of Canada and then it was time for wine! We tried out a new gin, some joiy, a slushie and some wine. All of it was good. While we were hanging out in the wine area we ran into some sexy firefighters who were there promoting their 2017 Toronto Firefighters Calendar. We even got out pictures taken with them. If you like hot men and women you may want to purchase a calendar. The proceeds go to support the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.


Then it was time to head over to the Main Stage where we took in a fashion show with NARCES. There were lots of great evening fashions. Both my girlfriend and I enjoyed the show.


Next up was Fashion on Fire with the Toronto Firefighters. They were showing off fashions from Banana Republic. Lets just say these men were hot. They can rescue me anytime. Actually as they engaged the audience I even got bit of a lap dance from Mr December. Too bad there are no photos of that! My girlfriend Tammy did get a great short video though of the end of the show.


After the firefighters, we cooled off and browsed a few more vendors and then it was time to head home.




How to Have an Allergy Friendly Halloween with the Teal Pumpkin Project

teal pumpkin project

My teen has a food allergy. She has a few, so we are always mindful of food allergies. It seems many kids these days do, so how do we have an allergy friendly Halloween? Back in 2014, the Teal Pumpkin Project began to raise awareness and promote the inclusion of all kids in the Halloween fun. If you have a Teal Pumpkin in front of your house, kids know you have allergy friendly treats.

We participated last year by making sure our candy treats included allergy friendly ones and even had stickers for the kids with severe allergies. There are lots of things you can be picking up as you get ready for Halloween.

There are lots of nut-free food options ( Nuts are a big allergy for many kids).  T Starbursts, Ring Pops, Chips, Tootsie Rolls, Jolly Ranchers, Twizzlers, plain chocolate bars, gold fish crackers, Mike and Ikes and lollipops were just a few of the options I saw while out shopping at Walmart this morning.

To be able to include kids with severe allergies or weird ones like my teen. One of her allergies is mint. Who is allergic to mint? This year we found temporary tattoos at Dollarama. Some of the other items you may think of might be: plastic spiders, Halloween pencils, marbles, bouncing balls, stickers, McDonalds Restaurant coupons, mini notepads, glow in the dark sticks or playdough. I am sure you can think of-of more to add to this list.

Over the years my teen has brought home quite the haul, and I have always admired parents that try to include everyone. One year when she was about five there was one house that gave away small stuffed animals, another house on the same street had a hot chocolate stand instead of treats because the kids might be getting thirsty. They also had water bottles or soda for those who wanted a choice. Another year our neighbour was a dentist so of course, they handed out small toys.  You can simply think outside the box so everyone can be included.

Let me know if you participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project




Join Us for the #CanadasGarage Winter Prep Twitter Party

It snowed today here in Toronto, which reminded me if I was still living in rural Nova Scotia like I used too I would be getting my car ready for winter.  When I lived outside of Truro, I was twenty minutes from town and worked at the local mall so my car had to be in great shape all the time. I learned with that car how important winter prep was! I even took an auto care course so I could take care of some of the basics myself.  I also learned to count on my local Canadian Tire store for whatever we needed when it came to getting my car winter ready.


When it comes to car care and getting a vehicle ready for winter I encourage a visit to Canadian Tire, they have everything you will need. As I type this a good friend is getting his car ready for winter. It is at the garage getting the winter tires put on. Oils and fluids will be checked and winter wiper blades will be put on the car.  Safety and visibility are two things you want all winter long!


Have you ever wanted to get in the car without brushing off all that snow? One of the things I know after driving those mountain roads is it is so important to have a car emergency kit, to have a great snow brush  and always have your fluids topped up.  You can get all of those looked after at Canadian Tire.

Another thing I relied on were my winter tires. They saved me more than once on black ice. There were many late nights on the mountain that I was very thankful for my snow tires. Do you have all seasonal tires or do you switch your tires? Even living here in the city, snow tires come in handy. Did you know that Canadian Tire even has a price match guarantee on tires, with that you will also get an additional 10% of the lower price in Canadian Tire Money?

The other thing about winter that I used to hate, how long it would take to get the car warm. These days you can even remotely start your car so it is nice and toasty before you even have to take a seat.

Check out Canadian Tire Automotive  to see all the ways you can prep your car for winter or perhaps you want to winterize your own ride, they can help you do that as well.

Also, play for a chance to win $50,000 with Reflex Ice.  There are over 1000 instant prizes and a $10,000 travel voucher to be won.

Twitter Party Alert


This Wednesday, November 2nd  join us for the  #CanadasGarage Winter Prep Twitter Party at 7pm EST

Hosted by @CanadianTire.

There is NO RSVP and there is over $1,000 in prizing to be won!

Hope I see you there!


Get Halloween Costume Inspired with Netflix

Can you believe Halloween night will be here quickly? Are you still looking for some DIY costume inspiration? While watching Netflix this weekend my teen and I were inspired by several of the characters we have watched over the past few weeks. We reflected on some of our past costume choices and thought about next week. There are several Netflix-inspired Halloween costumes you can make on a budget and there are some great shows to watch on Netflix to get you in the Halloween mood.

In the past Rachel has gone as Blue from Blues Clues, Cinderella, a hippie, a bat princess, a pirate, madman inspired and most importantly she has always had fun creating her costume. Do your kids help create their costumes?



There are several Netflix-inspired Halloween costumes you can make on a budget and there are some great shows to watch on Netflix to get you in the Halloween mood.

For Families, there is the Stream and Scream Guide

Right now on Netflix there is lots to watch to get you inspired as you think about what you want to be this year for Halloween.



Frights and Delights
1. Stranger Things
2. DreamWorks Spooky Stories 1 & 2
3. Monster High: Why Do Ghouls Fall In Love
4. The Nightmare Before Christmas


Ghostly Good Times
1. Casper’s Scare School
2. Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures
3. Ghostbusters 2
4. The Little Ghost


The Dark Arts
1. Alvin and the Chipmunks meet Wolfman
2. Scooby Doo Zombie Island
3. Goosebumps
4. Monster High: Haunted


Vampire Bites
1. Hotel Transylvania 2
2. Vampire Diaries
3. School For Little Vampires
4. Scooby Doo and the Legend of the Vampire


Netflix Inspired DIY Halloween Costumes

For the Kids


For the Adults:

Have a favorite character from a Netflix series

  • How about going as Kimmy Schmidt? All you need is a backpack, a map of NewYork, sunglasses and you are set to go.
  • You could follow my daughter and get Mad Man inspired and you may even have what you need right in your closet.
  • Love Orange is the New Black, don an orange jumpsuit and pretend you are an inmate or you could go as a guard or even the warden.
  • Down a tiara and ball gown and go inspired by the new Netflix Drama The Crown.
  • You could get inspired by the new show Stranger Things as well.



Top School For the Creative Student: CMU’s Creature & Character Design Program


Ever wonder how they create the makeup effects and creature characters in some of your favourite shows and games? There are schools that teach digital makeup effects and creature and character design. My teen has loved taking arts courses in high school and because of the Dual Credit program offered between a number of the colleges here in the city, she has even had the opportunity to take some digital animation courses.  Now she is considering CMU College of Makeup Art & Design, here in Toronto, which has several creative courses and has recently added a Digital Makeup Effects Artists program specializing in Creature and Character Design.

Do you have a creative kid like mine? How are you steering them as they make their college choices? I know for us, my teen is trying to decide between her love of art and her love of science. She is exploring classes and clubs that allow her to explore before she settles on a career path.  We have been looking at several options.

If you do have a creative teen like mine, you may want to look at all CMU offers. They can definitely help steer them in the right direction if this something they are considering career wise.

digital animation

The Digital Makeup Effects Artist program at CMU is an intense, condensed course that packs much into 17 weeks.  This course pairs traditional character and creature design with their digital counterparts so students get hands on experience in both elements.  The courses included in the program: life drawing, figurative sculpting, photo shop, digital and practical sculpting, as well as career planning help prepare the students for real world job opportunities.

The Curriculum includes:

  • 2 weeks of Digital Sculpting in Photoshop:   A basic knowledge of Photoshop technical theory, tools, palettes and painting will be introduced followed by advanced techniques. Image manipulation, special effects, photo retouching, restoration, colour correction and painting texture maps for 3D work will be thoroughly explored in preparation for environment and character concepts.
  • 1 week of Life Drawing: Students learn to draw the human form through observation. There is a focus on human anatomy, musculature, and fine details. All of this helps the student to use these skills in a 3D environment.
  • 1 week of Figurative Sculpting: The course introduces the student to the basic skills needed to develop concepts in 3D. This course will provide knowledge of process and representational form, demonstrations and practice in armature building, basic and advanced anatomy, musculature and fine detailing, which will lead to a study of a the human skull and figure. These studies will then be transformed into a creature head and figure sculpture.
  • 6 weeks of Digital Character DesignZBrush: This course gives the student critical skills needed to be a 3D Character and Creature Designer. Students use Zbrush software and learn about 3D workflows, 3D painting, 3D anatomy studies, and 3D concept creation. Students will progress to design and create high-resolution 3D characters, creatures and environments. Students also get to learn the 3D scanning and printing processes and the technical training needed to complete this work.
  • 6 weeks of Practical Creature Design: This course allows students to create an advanced sculpted character. This course is ideal for artists interested in working in a special makeup effects lab building projects for a film or television production, animation studio, museum or entertainment venue, to name a few. By the end of the course every student will have created a creature.
  • 1 week of Career Planning: This course combines all the students have learned and prepares them for the workforce. Students learn how to create their online portfolio, a CV/Resume, and a personalized career toolkit.


Once all the coursework is done, students receive a diploma in Digital Makeup Effects Artistry for Creature Character Design. For more information on the course get more information from the CMU website.


The 5 Best Places to Experience the Fall Colours in the GTA

It’s that time of the year. Fall is slowly coming to Toronto; it’s time to exchange those flip flops for sips of pumpkin spice and a sweater especially at night.  It is also time for our traditional fall hike. Every year, my teen and I head out for a long hike on Thanksgiving Monday. We love taking in mother nature, especially when she is so full of colour!

So where is the are the best places to experience fall colours in all their glory in the Toronto area? I have some favourites. Here are the five best places:

1. High Park

Yesterday at #highpark it was all about the leaves and squirrel watching. #naturelovers

A photo posted by Hollie (@commoncentsmom) on

Over the past few years, High Park has been our favourite place to go for a hike. We climb down the stairs on the west side of the park and follow the creek towards the lake. We then often head over to the High Park Zoo. My teen loves the ducks! I am sure we will see them again on Monday.


2. Bluffers Park


Some years ago, we lived in Scarborough, and both of us loved this park. This park combines with Rouge Park to give you 40 km of trails to explore, but we love the change of colours right along the cliffs. They are beautiful to behold.

3. Riverdale Farm


We love this farm, and when my now teen was little, we spent many hours at this park. We love that their is a working farm right here in the city. There is lots of history to explore in this area, and the Don Valley is just a short walk away.

4. Don Valley Brick Works


We love the Evergreen Brick Works Community Centre for the history it provides but loves the views and trails in this area even more! There are so many great trails and so many great vistas from which to take that perfect fall photo shot.

5. Humber Valley


The Humber River is quickly becoming a favourite place of mine. It has parks all the way from the Lakeshore all the way up to Steeles. This series of parks makes for a great day of hiking, vistas, and beauty. We are currently in love with the Humber Marshes Park right now.

Let me know if you decide to take a hike in or outside the city; there are so many great places to take in the views.


Apples and Turkey come to SUBWAY Canada

If you have been following me on any of my social media accounts over the last few weeks, you may know that SUBWAY Canada and the Turkey Farmers of Canada invited me and a few other social influencers to an apple orchard here in Ontario for a very special launch.  Who doesn’t love hayrides, picking apples and trying new foods? I know for me those are things I love.


They invited to this beautiful apple orchard just north of Toronto, where our day started with a hayride. On the hayride there we could see the apples were ready for picking, something that we would get to do after lunch.


After a fun hayride we got to taste some of Chef Chris Martone’s wonderful creations. First up were some wonderful apps and great drinks.


Then we headed up the hill for lunch where we had the best views over the orchard. Lunch was a salad, the new carved turkey sandwich with a wonderful cranberry mustard sauce. That sauce is so good I hope they keep it on the menu! Dessert was an ice cream sandwich made with 2 of the new apple pie cookies that are now available at Subway Canada.



There are so many things you can do with carved turkey besides the new premium sandwich that I found in my local Subway today!

Just think of it, if you are a salad lover:

Chipotle Southwest Turkey Salad

Carved turkey on a bed of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green peppers and olives drizzled with a wee bit of Chipotle Southwest Sauce.

Mediterranean Inspired Salad

Carved turkey on a salad of spinach, cucumbers, onions and tomatoes..which sauce would you choose for this one?

And I love the idea of carved turkey and bacon. You could create a club sandwich.

For dessert, you have to try the apple pie cookies. They are delicious! Now, we were told these would not be stores till the 11th, but I found carved turkey in my local store today! Let me know how you enjoy the new carved turkey?

After lunch, we got to go apple picking! That was so much fun. I even took part in a maze they had in the orchard. I thought I was going to get lost. I have to thank SUBWAY Canada and the Turkey Farmers of Canada for the invite. If you try a sandwich, tag me in any social share I would love to know your thoughts.





Scheduling Fun and Family Time is So Important

It is September, and our lives here are getting rather busy. My teen is adapting to a new high school that she loves, and I have been busy dealing with the business side of CommonCentsMom. We have also had lots of invites and activities this month. If you follow me on my social channels, you may have seen some of these. With life getting so busy this year, we had to make a choice. We had to choose to schedule family time.All summer long my teen and I hung out together, we did lots of fun stuff and connected. As life got busy this month, I found myself craving family time, so we scheduled it. What did we decide we wanted to together? Nothing exciting? We didn’t even go out, we got out our favourite junk food, baked a couple of pizza and did a marathon of movies on Netflix while cuddling on the couch and getting caught up. Making time to simply enjoy each other’s company is so important.

So what have we been watching?

Well, I have a thing for Disney movies, so we did a night of those.


First up was Zootopia which just came out on Netflix.  We had seen this movie in the theatre and just had to watch it again. I am in love with a certain sloth.


After we had watched Zootopia, we got into the Pirates of the Caribbean Movies. We watched four of them. Yes, I have a thing for a certain Captain.

Both my teen and I love the assortment of Disney movies that are on Netflix. Have you checked them out yet?

We have also started watching a tv series together once or twice a week. There are some great choices on Netflix, where you can binge on a whole series. Currently, we are watching Breaking Bad which neither of us had seen. before. We have just started Season 2 and things are starting to get interesting.

Whenever we are relaxing and getting caught up though we have to have a snack? Is movie and tv time in your house snack time?  Here are a couple of recipes you might want to try for your next movie marathon.

First up are the Walking Tacos



Second are the  Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwichs


If you try them, send a photo to me. Let me know what are your favourite movie snacks and what are you currently watching on Netflix?





There is Still Time to see Cirque du Soleil’s LUZIA Show in Toronto


luzia_logo_wtaglineMany critics and Torontonians have been singing the praises of the Cirque du Soleil’s show LUZIA. Have you seen the show? If not, it is still here in Toronto still October 16th! I also have a 30% off deal I can give you. Sweet right!

Think of a Mexican circus come to life. From what I have heard about the show from others I can’t wait to see it next week. I hear that set designer Eugenio Caballaro has outdone himself and from the photos, I have seen online they really do take us on an imaginary trip to Mexico.

Did you know the term “Luzia” stems from the Spanish words “luz” which means light and ” lluvia” which means rain?  I have been told there is even a water curtain in the show that brings a memorizing effect.

I can’t wait to hear the musical backdrop as well. The music was composed by the amazing Simon Carpentier. Can’t wait to that vibrant Latin and Mexican music! We all know the Cirque du Soleil’s shows are amazing and I so can’t wait to see this one!

LUZIA, the latest Big Top show by Cirque du Soleil, is a poetic and acrobatic ode to the rich and vibrant culture of Mexico. Like in a waking dream, LUZIA takes you to an imaginary Mexico, where light quenches the spirit and rain soothe the soul.   Now Playing until October 16th at the Port Lands. Join me there.

Don’t miss the show critics are raving about. Save 30% on great seats with this special offer! While quantities last! No promo code needed, already applied.

Hope to see you there!








Check in With Your Financial Advisor: #CheckinWithInvisor Twitter Party Alert



Despite what you may think, having a financial advisor isn’t only for the uber-wealthy. Many people are also using advisors to help them make better financial decisions for today and the future. This includes things like short-term savings goals or even opening and managing an RESP for your kids. And as they are now heading back to school, it’s a good time to check in with your financial advisor.  

If you’ve got a financial advisor managing your assets, how often do you meet with them? How often should you be checking in? The answer depends on what assets are being handled, and whether anything changes in your life, like a birth, death, divorce or job change. If you’ve just got an RRSP, checking often may not be a huge deal. If you have multiple accounts that need adjusting regularly, a quarterly meeting may be more appropriate, but you should be checking in at least twice a year.





Checking in regularly with your advisor helps them understand you and your needs, while it gives you the opportunity to ask questions, talk about any options that you don’t fully understand and advocate for yourself.  

Even if you’re just thinking about making a change, or need reassurance about your current situation, a quick conversation with your advisor may be in order. You will want to make sure they know your goals. Some questions you can ask during your meeting with your financial advisor include:

* What is my current financial situation?

* Do I need to reconsider any of the goals we’ve previously set?

* Am I on track with retirement savings?

* Are there any services or additional investments you might recommend I make right now?

* Are any changes necessary? Why or why not?

Finding the time can sometimes seem daunting – we all have full schedules, right? But do you know that these days you can now check in online? Invisor lets you do just that.

Join us for the #CheckinWithInvisor Twitter Party

Join us

Now on Wednesday, Sept 7th at 8 pm EST there is a Twitter Party coming with Invisor, a leading online investment advisor. Yes, there are real people giving us advice. There is also prizing that will get you on the right track. So follow @InvisorInvest on Twitter and join us for the Twitter party next Thursday.