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.

The Best Things to Do and Try and this Years CNE

It is that time of year again. The Canadian National Exhibition is returning once again! Did you know this exhibition is one of the largest in North America and has been around since 1879! Every year they add new attractions, new shows, and there are always new foods to try.

If you don’t already have your tickets, there are some easy ways to do things on a budget. Go opening day and get in for  $8.

Kids Toonie Mondays are also back. Kids get in for $2 on Monday, August 22nd and 29th. There are also ride ticket specials on these days.

For youth day, August 30th, youth under 17 can get into the CNE for $6. Here again look for ride specials.

Mondays to Thursdays at the CNE you can get in for $6 after 5 pm.

Now that I have shared some great pricing deals lets talk about what will be great to see and do at this year’s Ex. Yesterday was Media Day at the CNE, and if you follow me on Twitter, you saw me sharing some of what’s new and exciting.

What do I think will make for a great day? With so many things to see and do there is something for everyone in the family. From the rides to the all the entertainment, games and shopping to explore there is always fun to have when the Ex comes to town.


Do you have little ones? Make sure you check out the farm and Kids World. One of the acts not to miss in the Farm area is the Agri-Magic show from August 19th-24th.  It’s a great interactive show that will teach your kids about Canadian farming. While in the farm area as well be sure to check out the butter sculptures.  The Kids World Stage is full of great acts this year as well. Make sure you check out the Incredible Magic of Professor Wick, Bob the Builder, Thomas and Friends and there will even be a few character meet and greets.

Love a parade, check out the daily Mardi Gras Parade. I was even it one year!

One of the other new things to check out is the CNE Innovation Garage. An exciting new showcase for the latest & greatest consumer products complete with a Pitch Competition and an Innovation Playground where CNE visitors can interact with inventors and their innovations!  This is only on opening weekend so be sure to check it out then.

pokemon go at the CNE

Make sure you check out the The Great Canadian Water Ski Caper, and the CNE brings great shows back to the waterfront.


Now if you are into the Pokemon Go game, you can even take it the the CNE. There are 30 pokestops and three gyms on the CNE grounds.

Love food. There is much to check out and try.

Ever thought of eating bugs? You can try a Bug Dog at the Bug Bistro. They only cost $6.75


We love how creative Frans can be and can’t wait to try a blueberry milkshake for $12.

blue berry milkshake CNE

My daughter can’t wait for a Jolly Rancher doughnut from Tim Hortons. They are $1.50

We also can’t wait to try the Sweet Potato Pie for $6. It has maple marshmallows and bacon.

sweet potato pie CNE

One the things we are looking forward to most is watching the final Tragically Hip concert on screen at the Band Shell.

Let me know what you are looking forward to at the CNE.





The Best Free Summer Festivals in Toronto

Yes, we are two weeks into Summer and a few of my favourite festivals have passed already. Lumination the RedPath Waterfront Festival and Pride were all lots of fun this summer and there are so many more free summer festivals  in Toronto this year. I love that I can jump on the TTC, attend a festival, take in some great summer music and kick back. Over the years my daughter and I have hit up many of these.  So what are the best festivals in Toronto that are also free ?

Here is my list of 12 festivals you do not want to miss:

beaches  jazz festival

Beaches International Jazz Festival (July 2th-26th)

We have always loved the Beaches International Jazz Fest. We love going down during the Streetfest which is from July 21st to July 23rd this year. With over 45 bands playing that weekend you are sure to find something you love. With over 10 stages you get to listen to some jazz, some blues, some latin, some swing, some funk some r&B and more.

Taste of St Lawrence (July 8th-10th)

Scarborough’s largest street festival is worth heading to the east end of the city. From a midway to music you will find everything as this festival really celebrates the diversity of the area.

salsa on st clair

Salsa on St Clair (July 9th-10th)

One that is close to us is Salsa on St.Clair. This is one hot and sexy street festival. This year it is this weekend, July 9tth and 10th. This free celebration of latin culture transforms St Clair Ave into a salsa party. It really is lots of fun. Think romance if attending.

Big on Bloor (July 23rd-24th)

Big on Bloor closes off Bloor between Dufferin and Landsdowne. At this festival, there are over 50 original hands-on cultural projects commissioned especially for you. It really is a great family event with lots of fun.

Shield to Shore Festival (July 22nd-24th)

Having family in Nova Scotia I have to say I am looking forward to the Shield to Shore Festival at the Harbourfront,  July 22-24th. This new festival will celebrate the Atlantic region with unique music, storytelling and more.


Taste of the Danforth (August 5th -7th)

Taste of the Danforth is the of the largest festivals that happen. Live Greek-themed events, such as archery, plate smashing, traditional dancing? You will everything you love about greek culture at this festival.

Wheels on the Danforth (August 13th)
Love Classic cars?  Look forward to scoping out classic cars and motorcycles, shopping, and listening to live music the the Wheels on the Danforth car show. Think hot cars and hot music, sounds like the perfect summer day.

Tamil Fest (August 26th-28th)
Street performances, food vendors, a Tamil Canadian mobile museum and lots of stuff for the kids as well. This one is on Markham Road over three days! According to organizers this will be “the largest Tamil Street Festival outside of the Indian Sub-continent.”


Toronto International Buskerfest ( Sept 2nd-5th)

We have always loved the Toronto International Busker Fest. This year it has moved to Woodbine Park and will happen over Labour Day Weekend. Think jugglers, acrobats, musicians and more. The Festival does raise funds for Epilepsy Toronto.

Artfest 2016 (Sept 2nd-5th)

Artfest 2016 is an outdoor art and craft show that celebrates Canada’s top artists. The Distillery District is the perfect backdrop for this event Sept 2nd – 5th.

Toronto Ukrainian Festival (September 16th-18th)


Every year I head to Bloor West for the Toronto Ukrainian festival. This 20-year-old festival celebrates the best of Ukranian culture with dance competitions, music, a parade and lots of great food.

Roncesvalles Polish Festival (September 17th)

The “world’s largest celebration of Polish culture in the world is celebrated right here in Toronto in Roncesvales. Insane, yes! There are four stages of live music and dance, and lots of pierogies and giant jelly doughnuts.  Which will you love more?  Saturday night , polka the night away under the stars.

There are several more festivals and events around Toronto that are free to attend all summer long, almost every day you can find something free to do!