Bowmanville Zoo and The Animals Gift

Bowmanville Zoo celebrates each Christmas season with a performance of The Animals Gift: a multicultural performance celebrating the animal and human bond. Now this year things were a bit somber at the media night as one of zoo’s family members died. Limba, an Asian elephant who had been the heart of the zoo died just a couple of weeks ago, so of course, the trainers and keepers and zoo patrons are all grieving for the loss of a beloved member of the family, but the show goes on as they say.

Now I did get to attend the Media Night last Friday night and saw some great new acts that involve a bit of magic, a big cat and little cat, baboons doing tricks, and one of only a couple of performing bison in the world.

What a great show it was! If you can get to Bowmanville (which is just less then an hour out of Toronto) may I suggest you take in a show at the Bowmanville Zoo any weekend this December.

I had to laugh at the baboons.

The magic was just that magical.


And there is nothing like the bond between human and animal.



Now if you want to attend The Animals Gift at the Bowmanville Zoo you can get tickets here.

*This is a sponsored post and as always my opinions and thoughts are just that mine

Nutcracker Ballet

The Nutcracker Ballet in Toronto

Nutcracker BalletWhen I was younger I loved the ballet, loved the movement and the music. When I was in university I was able to get to see the ballet a few times, and one summer even saw me sharing my dorm floor with students of the National Ballet of Canada. I would spend part of my day watching them practice, with my sketch book in hand. It was a time of great pleasure.

So I am delighted that my teen daughter has developed a love of the ballet as well so this Christmas season we are headed to see the wonderful Russian classic The Nutcracker.

Young talented dancers from all over Toronto and adjacent vicinities will be joined by Principal Dancers Kathleen Breen Combes and Jeffrey Cirio from Boston Ballet.   Toronto International Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker is based on the Russian Classical version performed by the world’s top ballet companies: The Bolshoi Ballet and Kirov Ballet.

We can’t wait to see it!

Since 2008, Toronto International Ballet Theatre has been delighting audiences annually with their Nutcracker production. Along with original choreography, beautiful costumes and magnificent sets, this annual production has inspired dancers and captivated audiences of all ages.

Ms. Stepanova  brings out the strengths of the community of dancers and interjects a fresh and fun atmosphere to the traditional tale of a Christmas dream; providing a unique experience to all who attend.

Following a sold out performance last year at the Toronto Center for the Arts, TIBT has added 2 additional performances to their schedule.

With only 3 show times this captivating and enchanting performance is not to be missed. Now if you want to go and see this wonderful ballet that is perfect for the season, CommonCentsMom can get a 10% discount. Enter the code TIBT5 to receive 10% off tickets.


Cooking with Cutco

Join the #CDNmoney Chat to Learn More About Direct Sales

Cooking with Cutco
The Direct Sales industry is a $2.2 BILLION business with over 900,000 independent sales contractors across Canada. We will be talking about Direct Sales with @CookwithCutco for the next #cdnmoney chat.
Do you love quality products?
Are you curious about a fun and flexible way to earn a great income?
Have you thought about direct sales ever? I have done direct sales before and met some great people and had some interesting opportunities along the way.
Are you looking for an extra income this holiday season? Becoming a CUTCO Cooking Consultant could be the right fit for you, especially if you love quality products.
Have you tried a CUTCO knife in your hand?
You could start your own rewarding career, as a part time or full time CUTCO consultant.
The CUTCO consultants enjoy:
20-40% comission
Free products and business supplies
Fun incentives like trips, ipads, shopping sprees and more.
Join us Dec 3rd at 7 pm to chat with the National Sales Director of Cooking with CUTCO, Rhancha Connell to learn more about direct sales and the opportunity with CUTCO. We will be using the hashtag #cdnmoney as always.
Please RSVP as we will be giving away two CUTCO knives! One Petite Chef’s knife (valued $137) and one trimmer (valued $71).



Talking Black Friday Prep with Flipp for the #CDNmoney Chat


Next week for the #cdnmoney chat on Twitter we will be talking about Black Friday Prep. One of the tools I am using is a new app, Flipp.  Wishabi recently launched Flipp – a free app available on iPad and iPhone. The app helps consumers find local sales and plan weekly shopping trips while on the go. The team from Flipp with their Twitter handle @GetFlipp will be joining us as we talk about getting ready for Black Friday. Fellow bloggers @mommykatandkids and @maryheston will be joining in on the conversation as well.

In getting ready for Black Friday in my house we always went through the flyers looking for the best deals, pen and paper in hand so we could make a great list to go by,Now no more papers to go through, no more list to write,simply download the free Flipp app, from Wishabi Inc. Flipp helps families save time and money…especially during hectic holiday shopping. You can start your shopping experience from your living room. It’s all about planning and getting ahead of your shopping trip. Busy Moms are loving the Flipp experience, I know I am.


Flipp has lots of great  features that will help you save money immediately this Black Friday. Flipp allows you to quickly favorite items that you wish to save, while browsing through an endless selection of both tailor made and general deals. Some of the things I am loving about the Flipp App.

Search for Products by Type or Store


You can search products by type or store to easily customize your shopping list,The ‘Clip’ feature allows you to send deals and sales directly to your shopping list. Meanwhile, your shopping list allows you to keep track of your intended purchases, even while browsing through the endless list of Black Friday deals.

Find the Best Deals with Discount Finder


The ‘Discount Finder’ lets you instantly highlight the best deals available, allowing the app to do the deep searching for you , great for Black Friday right.

Twitter Party Details


As I mentioned earlier Jay from @GetFlipp will be joining us, this Tuesday November 26th, 2013 from 7-8pm EST for the #cdnmoney chat and they are sponsoring 5 $50 Visa Cards that you can win if you RSVP and participate in the chat. The prizing for this special #CDNmoney chat is open to BOTH Canadian and US residents! Yes our US friends are encouraged to participate too, as Flipp works in both countries.


Cooking with Rosa

Cooking with Rosa at 7 Numbers

Last weekend I got an invitation that I simply could not turn down. I was invited to a cooking class at 7 Numbers with none other then mama, Rosa Marinuzzi, a talented Italian cook. Really it is no wonder Blog To considers Number 7 one of the ten best Italian restaurants in the city. After one meal, and one cooking lesson I want to live in Rosa’s kitchen.

Cooking with Rosa

I was invited to bring a friend along for the cooking class, so I brought my girlfriend Marcy along for the Italian cooking class, and the wine. It was a great mix of people with a few of us blogger types thrown into the group of about 20. At the table it was great food, good wine, and well there were lots of laughs and well everyone wanted to ask Rosa for cooking tips. After all why not learn from a master when you get the chance.

Cooking with Rosa

I know I ate so much great food, that I was definitely in food heaven by the time I came home having tasted some of the best Italian dishes to ever touch these lips. I definitely have to go back and take Rachel to this wonderful family restaurant. I feel in love with Rosa and the family who were more then gracious and welcoming. Really if you want to take in a wonderful evening out and come home a little smarter about food, attend a Cooking with Rosa class. You will not regret it.



Win Bon Jovi Tickets

Bon Jovi in Toronto Ticket Giveaway

Back in the winter Bon Jovi was here in Toronto and I got to go and see the show thanks to my really good friend Marcy Berg from Mortgages from Women. The Because We Can Tour was such a blast, I spent the night singing and dancing in the bar area, as we had bar rail seats! It was an awesome time.

Win Bon Jovi Tickets

Well here comes the fall, and Marcy and I are getting ready to have some fun tonight, and we get talking about Bon Jovi, and my crush on the man, and how Marcy has some spare tickets to the Friday night show, Nov 1st, here in Toronto.

There are 2 ways to win a pair of tickets and I have two pairs to giveaway.

1..I will be putting up a Rafflecopter here on the blog, follow the instructions for your chance to win.

2. The other set of tickets will be given away on Twitter to a follower of both @commoncentsmom and @marcyberg. You must also tweet to us using the hasttag #BonJoviFriNight your favorite Bon Jovi song. This contest Ends Wed Night at Midnight. 

Now if you don’t know who my wonderful friend Marcy is, she owns Mortgages for Women, and is a great mortgage broker, Bon Jovi die hard fan like me, and all around smart ass woman to know. I am thankful I can call her a friend and mentor and a great supporter of all I do here on my blog.

Now I am again going to be taking in the show this weekend, thanks to my friend so I hope I see you there.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*this post is sponsored by the wonderful Marcy Berg, Mortgages for Women and I am attending the show as her guest. 

National Womens Show

National Women’s Show Ticket Giveaway and Promo Code #NWSToronto

One of my favorite events of the year is in two weeks, I have always loved attending the National Women’s Show. This year it is happening the first weekend in November at the Metro Convention Center.

On the Centre Stage shows there will be shows presented by Mark’s! Canadian lifestyle specialist, Janette Ewen will be showcasing the latest fall/winter fashions from Mark’s while offering her best advice on style and dressing for your body type.

Andrew Downward from HGTV’s program, Divine Design with Candice Olson  will be in the building as well. Dini Petty, who I think is a Canadian icon will also be there. She is such a great advocate for women’s health. For my foodie friends there will also be a couple of good chefs in the house: Roger Mooking and Herbert BarnSteiner.

Now lets not forget the Toronto Firefighters Calendar men who will be showing off their stuff while wearing Mark’s line in a fashion show.

But for me beyond the shows and things to watch are the booths, I have always found new products that I love to try. In fact I also loved going home with so many coupons and things in my bag to try.

National Womens Show

Really it is a great girls day out. Now here is the thing I am giving away 2 sets of tickets here on my blog, and if you dont win use PROMO code: commoncents to get $4 off your ticket. 

To win the tickets, leave me a comment here. On this post, and tell me who you want to take with you, I will be drawing next Wednesday Oct 30th. You can get an extra entry if you share this post via Twitter or Facebook just let me know you did.


How to Plan a Disney Vacation Without Breaking the Bank


If you’re one of the many people who’d love to take the kids to Disney World in Florida but just can’t afford the high price tag, you’re not alone. While plenty of people would love to take a trip to Disney World at some point – especially if they’ve got young kids – it’s a trip that can cost thousands.

Luckily, there are ways you can save on your Disney holiday. Start planning your trip to Walt Disney World well in advance, so you can shop for the best deals on airfare and accommodation. If you have a large family of five or more members, you may want to consider booking non-Disney accommodations to cut costs. Unless you’re a big eater, plan to dine à la carte, instead of investing in the Dining Plan. Travel in the off-season and keep your eyes peeled for discounts to save even more.

Plan Your Trip in Advance

Start your cut-rate Disney adventure by planning your trip at least a year in advance. This gives you plenty of time to watch for the best rates on flights and accommodations, and it gives you a chance to save the money you’ll need to have a great time with your family. Use flight tracking websites to keep your eyes peeled for the best rates on flights as they come up.

Cut Accommodation Costs

If you want to stay in a Disney hotel, book your room 11 to 12 months prior to your arrival date. If you want the full authentic Disney experience, and you’re a family of four or fewer, this is the way to go. You can reserve your room with a deposit now and pay for the rest when you arrive.

If you’re a family of five or more members, however, you may want to consider staying in an off-site hotel. Disney has a limit of four people per hotel room, and area hotels offer free shuttles to and from the resort and the airport.

Another accommodation option is to book a Disney Vacation Club Deluxe Villa from a timeshare owner through a third-party broker. This is a fairly pricey option, but it’s still pretty reasonable for deluxe on-site accommodations, and it’s a great option if you’ve a large family. You’re going to have to pay for the whole thing at least a year in advance, however – which is another reason to start planning early. Local rental agencies also offer off-site vacation house rentals.

Dine à la Carte

The Disney Dining Plan gets you two meals and a snack each day, but that might not be the best deal unless you’re the sort of person who never skips a meal. Even if you’re not inclined to carry a cooler full of your own food through the park – and who could blame you – buying your meals à la carte gives you the option to skip a few of those expensive sit-down restaurant meals in favor of food counter fare or off-site restaurants.

Travel in the Off-Season

Visiting Walt Disney World in the off-season – September, January and August – will not only save you a bundle, but it’ll let you enjoy the park without the crowds. Whether you’re staying in a Disney resort hotel or off-site, you’ll find drastically lower prices during these slower months. Make up for taking the kids out of school by putting them into the Youth Education Series (YES). In exchange for putting them through a short edutainment tour in one of the parks, you’ll get discounted Park Hopper tickets.

Snag Special Offers

There’s no shortage of special offers on Walt Disney World holiday packages. Check the Disney website for package deals that include free dining plans or free tickets. Find out if your bank or employer belongs to the Magic Kingdom Club – you could get discounts on hotels, souvenirs and meals. AAA members are also entitled to discounts on lodging and tickets. Go to to get the free Orlando Magicard discount card.

A trip to Walt Disney World isn’t the cheapest vacation, but it’s not hard to cut costs while still enjoying a first-rate Disney holiday. Begin planning your trip well in advance, watch out for special offers, travel during the slow season, eat your meals à la carte, and consider staying in off-site accommodation to make your Disney trip more affordable.

Image by Express Monorail from Flickr’s Creative Commons

riverdale farm fall

The Best Places in Toronto to Experience Fall Colors

Every year my daughter and I have taken a hike on Thanksgiving Day. It is time to enjoy the colors of fall, the brisk air and to let the turkey settle. Since we have lived in several Toronto hoods we have hiked in several parks and on in several ravines over the years.

Some of our favorite, and best places to experience beautiful fall colors include Bluffers Park in Scarborough, the Don Valley Hills and Dale Discovery Walk, High Park, the Toronto Islands and Rouge Park, and if you are right downtown and want to stay there can I suggest a walk around the University of Toronto campus. I am hoping there are still leaves on the trees when I am there to speak in two weeks.

Rouge Park

When Rachel was little we lived in Scarborough and I fell in love with both Bluffers Park and the Rouge Park. Rouge Park was a favorite of ours with its beach and campground so close to the city, but not only is it great for the family that loves to canoe like we do, but also for the hiker so our fall hike has taken us to the paths in this 40 km Park in the city. Reaching from the lake all the way up to the Toronto Zoo, there is lots to explore and get lost in, and there are so many colors to see.

Now Bluffer’s Park is one of my favorite places to head in the summer, we love the beach there, and the view. With the high bluffs you have the perfect back drop for a great walk on one of the several nature paths, to enjoy the colors of the season. Think sunset, fall, Bluffers Park, and you have your perfect fall evening.


We also love the Riverdale Farm and when my daughter was little we spent many a day there, but did you know it is just part of the Don Valley Hills and Dales Discovery Walk? Think 3 hours of hiking along the Don River, and if you have kids the farm is an added bonus and you can do this hike in segments as well. The beauty along the Don is worth it for this hike in the city. riverdale farm fall


Now High Park has been our favorite place for our Thanksgiving Hike for the last two years. We climb the stairs down on the west side of the park and follow the creek bed to get the beauty along the way. My daughter loves to check out the ducks and the swans.

We were there this past Monday taking in some of the early fall colors. My daughter would of stayed with the swans if I let her. Do you see the reflection of the colors in the water?

2013-10-14 13.15.57



This is my favorite new fall shot of me, taken on Monday in High Park.

High Park fall 2013



The next fall walk for me will probably be the University of Toronto campus so I can take in some of the old buildings and the fall colors. Where in the city do you like to go to experience fall?



Shopping at the CAA eStore

CAA CArdAnyone who knows me knows I love to save, and one of the newest ways I have been checking out lately is the CAA eStore. There are so many Member benefits. Members can get exclusive deals while collecting CAA Dollars and you can collect those dollars and redeem them towards your next vacation, travel merchandise, movie tickets and even more.
By shopping with your CAA membership:
§  CAA Members have exclusive access to discounts, savings and special offers at over 164,000 retail locations and services worldwide.
§  It’s easy to save on great apparel, attraction tickets, hotel rooms and more.
§  The all-new CAA eStore lets you earn up to 40% in CAA Dollars on your everyday purchases when you shop online at 40+ partners like Walmart, iTunes, Sephora, Macleans and Tiger Direct! Visit the CAA eStore to discover  their new online CAA Rewards partners.
§  Every CAA Dollar you earn equals $1.00 CAD, and you can redeem them towards membership renewals, your next vacation, travel merchandise, Cineplex tickets and more.
When I was shopping I found so many deals that would let me save up to an extra 40% even if items were on sale at the retailer. Talk about double dipping, and if you used a CAA Rewards MasterCard, you get even more CAA Dollars. How is that for smart thinking? Just remember to pay your balance in full at the end of the month. 
Lots of my favorite stores are included. From Payless ShoeSource, Dell, Starbucks, Walmart, Tiger Direct, Roots and even iTunes. My teen loves that she can get 5% in CAA Dollars at iTunes when she shops through the CAA eStore. Which ones would you shop at?
*This is a sponsored post, but as always the thoughts are my own.