Tag: GTA

“How To Cake It” Makes A Delicious Read

Yolanda Gampp is a self-taught cake artist who started out baking novelty cakes in her mother’s kitchen and is now one of the forces behind How To Cake It, a hugely successful, Webby Award-winning YouTube channel and online community of over six million cake enthusiasts from around the world.

Yolanda and her work have been featured on the Today Show, and in Buzzfeed, Daily Mail, and Cosmopolitan, while Yolanda has served as a guest judge on popular Food Network shows such as Cake Wars and Sugar Showdown.

Inspired by her father, who worked as a baker, Yolanda graduated from chef’s school and discovered that her true passion was working with sweets. Yolanda lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband (Mr. Cake) and young son.

We at Momma Braga had the pleasure of reading, How to Cake It by Yolanda Gampp and it was a delicious read to say the least. The book reflects on Yolanda’s own experience going from a beginner baker to a cake artist. It is designed to grow your skills whether you are just starting out or perfecting your cake skills.

In this beautiful book you will get detailed recipes, tips, designs and so much more. We love the way the book is divided into different sections. You begin at the “Bake It” section and “Yo’s Recipe Box”, where Yolanda lays out the foundation by sharing the recipes for the cakes that you will need to carry out her magnificent designs. Then there is “Yo Knows” where she shares her tips, tricks, and fundamental skills for success in caking. After the real fun begins when the art begins in “Cake It.”

What I love is that in this section it is broken down a bit further depending on the level you are comfortable with. Beginners can start with, “Caking Your First Steps,” then as you progress you can do “Cake It Up A Notch” and finish off with “Cake It To The Limit.” There are just so many amazing skills that you can learn through this great book. I only touched the icing on the cake. 😉

So how easy are the recipes in the book? I put it to the test and I am a perfect example as I am not great at following recipes. I was so nervous about trying it out that I had to call in for some back up which was my sister who loves to bake. We set up a date for our cake day and of course my three year old daughter was excited to join in the fun too.

Since I am a chocolate lover it was only natural to pick, Yo’s Ultimate Chocolate Cake recipe. After reading the recipe, it appeared to be much simpler than I was anticipating. I got all the ingredients listed and was ready to start!

We went through each step to make the batter for our Ultimate Chocolate Cake. I have to note that the instructions were very simple and easy to follow especially for me as I don’t follow recipes well but this one made sense to me.

We got our batter into a pan and placed into the pre-heated oven. We waited patiently and it was smelling great. Before we knew it, it was all ready. We removed it from the oven and waited for it to cool down before we did our taste test.

Now it was the moment that I was waiting for since we started putting the ingredients together – eating it! We cut a piece and of course we made sure to have our glass of milk ready to wash it down with. We took a bite and it was delicious! I couldn’t believe that I actually baked something from scratch and it tasted amazing. We couldn’t help but notice how moist it was (even on the next day) and the chocolate taste was perfection. We now had dessert to offer to our weekend guests and it was loved by all.

This #MelandNikkiReview was really fun to do as we got to try a yummy recipe. For this review we give, How to Cake It, 5 Yo’s out of 5. Yolanda beautifully articulates recipes, trick and tips in this must have cake book.

This Cake book is not just a book full of recipes, it is an opportunity to create memories with your family. It is a book that can be opened up in your kitchen and followed at your finger tips. It can be passed on to your children and then their children. They hold those memories that are made with each page turn especially if you accidentally let batter hit the pages. Those are all precious moments that can not be obtained through an online recipe but one that is forever shared in a book. This book is definitely one that can be used for a lifetime and just think of all the wonderful cakes that can be shared at the dinner table with all your loved ones.

To get your copy of How to Cake It, you can click here. Make sure to follow Yolanda on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see what other remarkable creations she does.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga

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A Little Leafy Is “Punny” And Amazing!

Laughter is said to be the best type of medicine and who doesn’t like a good laugh?! I know that I love laughing and definitely like to make the people around me laugh.

This is why when I met Stef from A Little Leafy at the Baby Show in Toronto this year, I fell in love with her business! So what happens when Momma Braga likes a company, we write about it of course!

We had the sincere pleasure to interview the creator and business owner, Stef who gives us the inside scoop on everything, A Little Leafy.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

“My name is Stef and growing up I was the kid who spent her days drawing and wanting to make everyone laugh. That creative passion is what drove me to be accepted into an arts program which lead to graduating as a Graphic Designer. My motto is “a little can do a lot,” not only because I am quite little in size, but also because I believe a little chuckle can go a long way in brightening someone’s day – and that is why I do what I do!”

Tell me a little bit about, A Little Leafy and the products you sell.

“A Little Leafy is where you can find “punnies” that have come to life. The majority of my illustrations include a pun or cheesy joke, accompanied by a smirking comical character! My illustrations are available on a wide range of ever expanding products! Some fan favourites are Mugs, Cards, Prints and my all new Stickers!”

What inspired you to create your business?

“Two years ago, right before I opened my shop, I was severely injured, I slipped a disc in my back and had to leave my job. I was instructed to stay laying down in my room as my back recovered, and this led to my illustrating some punny comics to cheer myself up and release my creativity. I’ve combined my love for a good laugh with my art and so began A Little Leafy!”

What do you hope your customers get from purchasing your products?

“My biggest goal is to spread smiles, and I love that I am able to make someone laugh through one of my punny creations. It really is the littlest things sometimes that can make a bad day into a good one (nudging back to my shop motto), and whether I get a smile, chuckle or slapping your knees laughter – I’m honoured to be part of that reason!”

Where would you like to see your business in five years?

“I hope that my punnies will spread laughter from home to home, and grow to reach new people! I absolutely love being a small business owner and being able to use my art to make others smile, so if I can continue to do so and extend the amount of people my company can reach – I would be ecstatic! I love doing this, and my shop is not just what I do, it is me!”

If someone is interested in purchasing products from you, where should they go? Do you do custom orders?

“I currently have an online shop linked on my website where you can purchase my products! For my local friends I also have a shop nook inside Arts Market on 846 College Street in Toronto – and in addition to that I am always popping up at a local market and love meeting my customers! Custom orders are always welcome, I love personalizing my designs to fit my customer’s needs!”

You are a young and inspiring woman, what advice can you give to a young person who may want to pursue their own business?

“My advice would be to go for it, no matter what. I have had to deal with many people, and I still do to this day, that will want to give you their opinion. In most cases unfortunately it’s negative, because the truth is most people don’t like taking risks. If you never try, you’ll never know and worse than that – you’ll regret never trying. Just keep powering through, keep being positive and keep doing you, because those same people will come to you at the end and instead of saying you can’t, they’ll be asking how!”

What would you say has been the biggest help in you pursuing your dreams?

“The biggest help for me is definitely my family. They not only encourage me, my family also stays up late keeping my inventory organized. I bounce my ideas off of them and not only do they help me physically putting up and taking down show set-ups – but they are also by my side helping me sell! A Little Leafy would not be where it is today without my little sister, Tori. She helps me literally almost every single day, with anything I need. She’s been my biggest supporter from the beginning and I’m truly grateful to have been blessed with an amazing sister. In all fairness I DID ask Santa for her when I was 3…”

Lastly, is there anything you would like to add for our readers?

“I would love to say thank you! Thank you so much for taking the time to learn more about me, thank you for smiling at my punnies and thank you for supporting my dream! It truly means the world to me!”

Thank you Stef for giving us the opportunity to interview you and your amazing business!

It is hard not to giggle or smile when you see a creation by A Little Leafy! I loved it so much that I had purchased a mug and a bib from them with some really punny creations on it. I have also included them in my gift giving this year.

What stands out with A Little Leafy is something that you can’t really buy and that is passion. When you meet Stef or when you deal with her company, you can’t help but notice the heart she puts behind everything she creates. She honestly LOVES (I think more than I do of my blog – didn’t think that was possible) what she does and it is reflected in her creations and in her interactions with her customers. That in itself is what makes A Little Leafy part of Momma Braga’s Recommended List.

If you are looking to see the products available you can check out her Etsy shop, or her location at 846 College Street in Toronto. But A Little Leafy also shows up at local events and some that she will be at this November are the following:

Saturday November 4 from 9am to 1:30 pm at The Vaughan Market Place, 1 Villa Royale Ave., Woodbridge, ON.

November 17, 18 and 10 at the Seasons Christmas Show at the International Convention Centre.

Make sure to pass by and say that you read about her on Momma Braga! 😉 Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Can’t wait to get my products for my loved ones for Christmas!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga


The Condo Kids: Project Haunted Condo

The Condo Kids are back and just in time for Halloween!

I was very excited to see the next book release for the Condo Kids as I loved the first one, The Condo Kids: Adventures with Bob the Barbary Sheep. I was curious to see what kind of adventure the condo kids were going to go through in this next book.

The Condo Kids: Project Haunted Condo has all the amazing condo kids that we fell in love with in the first book and this time their adventure involves finding a ghost. Noah, Michael and their friends embark on a spooky adventure to try and solve the mystery that has become the talk of their building. There have been reports of disappearing food, vanishing wigs and mysterious white flashes which could only mean one thing – right?! You will need to read the book to see if the Condo Kids solve this mystery or if they get outsmarted.

We give this book five ghosts out of five. The book literally had me giggling out loud. The imagination the Condo Kids is amazing and is reflected in the adventures that they have. I truly love the storyline and how much fun these children have living in a high rise! It truly is such a delight to read from beginning to end. Oh! At the end you get a little taste for the next upcoming Condo Kids adventure – can’t wait! Another great job Jackie Burns!

 

I recommend to check out The Condo Kids especially if you have children in the 6-9 age group and they don’t need to be living in a condo to appreciate the story. Not only is this book entertaining for children to read but when you purchase this book, 10% of book profits go directly to support Earth Rangers. Earth Rangers is the kids’ conservation organization, dedicated to educating children and their families about biodiversity, inspiring them to adopt sustainable behaviors and empowering them to become directly involved in protecting animals and their habitats. Talk about wins all around!

Please feel free to visit Amazon or The Condo Kids website to purchase the book directly.

Looking forward to the next book in this series! You can follow The Condo Kids on social media to keep up-to-date on what’s going on (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest).

Until next time…..Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga
#MelandNikkiReview

Kidpreneur Making A Difference Through The Nice Bench

It always amazes me to see young people wanting to make a difference in the world and it is empowering to see them make an impact. This rings true to Owen who is already making a difference in his community and his inspiration came from his own family.

Imagine being a parent and told that your child has Leukemia. Sounds like a horrible nightmare, doesn’t it?! The Armstrong family had this happen to them when their nine year old son, Caden, was diagnosed with Leukemia. This family battled and stayed strong together. Now their other son, Owen makes benches and uses the proceeds to help other families travel to get treatment for their child.

We got a chance to chat with Owen and his mother Kirstin who gave us a deeper look at The Nice Bench Co. So grab your tissues and enjoy this inspiring story!

1. How did it all start? How was the idea developed?

“The inspiration for the benches came when Owen built and painted a bench for his little sister, Anikka. His grandparents and auntie loved Anikka’s new bench so much, that Owen was fueled to make more. He built twelve with scrap wood on Christmas Day! Those first bench prototypes were a little rough-looking, but the idea was born.”

2. What type of products does your company do?

“I get some help from a local high school student, named Ryan. He helps me build my nice benches. I have created three lines for these benches, “curious”, “wild” and “happy” – all words my mom uses to describe me! The “curious” line is basically anything I feel like doing, right now I’m really still in to stripes. The “wild” is roughed-up so it looks like it’s been out in the wild (rustic charm) and the “happy” line is solid paint in one of the milk paint colours I have chosen. There’s a big colour palette to choose from.” – Owen

“The step stools are painted using non-toxic, biodegradable, zero VOC milk paint and sealed with 100% natural hemp oil which often comes to us by way of donation from a Canadian company, Homestead House.

Curious
Wild
Happy

 

Owen has expanded his collection to include custom name plates and growth charts, and his step stools are now morphing into actual three-seater benches. We have some custom orders, with custom sizes for these that we are creating. Very exciting.

Every month, we try something new. Last month, in honour of childhood cancer awareness, we created a solid gold bench – the #gogold bench. This month we are featuring some artists work on the benches and later we will be doing something with Halloween inspired colour treatment.

BRIKA

Owen has some exclusive projects on the go for BRIKA (an online platform showcasing and selling heirloom quality artisan craft) and another: a screen-printed “THRIVE” bench for the ever-inspiring MAX LOVE PROJECT (a non-profit that aims to maximize quality of life and reduce serious health risks for all childhood cancer survivors with fierce foods and whole-body wellness).”

THRIVE

3. With the proceeds from the sales, how does it help families with children who are getting cancer care treatments?

“For every product sold, Owen collects $5-$10 ($5 from the sale of name plates and growth charts, and $10 from every bench) and purchases gas gift cards for childhood cancer families traveling long distances to Sick Kids Hospital for chemotherapy treatment.

One quarter of families of children being treated for cancer lose 40% of their total household income. Over 50% of mothers reported relinquishing their employment to provide care for their child. (Source: Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center)

Loss of income is huge, then add up all the extra hidden costs of medicine, childcare, meals on the road. Takes a toll on the family. Owen is hoping to offset that in the little way he can – by paying for the families to get their child to treatment.”

4. Can you describe what your family went through when your child was diagnosed and getting treatment?

“There are no words. Utter shock. A surreal, out-of-body experience. Our eldest boy, Caden was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of nine. What? Kids don’t get cancer.

It is so cliché to say that our world was turned up-side-down but it truly was. Pure chaos. We had just moved three hours north of the city and were set up to live on an island for the summer when we found out we had to turn around and relocate to be near Sick Kids, in Toronto. We had nowhere to go. A family of five. Thankfully, friends and family (our community/life-support) helped us out in ways that go way above and beyond. An expecting couple gave us their home for the summer, we had meals delivered, activities set up for our other two children, the list goes on-and-on. Incredible. We are beyond thankful for their help, it brings tears to my eyes.

Watching Caden endure years of treatment, lumbar punctures, complications, IVs…gutted me. This nightmare has shaved years off my life. I’m sure of it. Despite it all, I was determined to remain positive and happy and strong for Caden. I think he was doing the same for me. He remained stoic, fierce and next-level brave through it all.”

5. Is there any advice that you can provide to other parents who are going through what you have gone through?

“I attached zero negativity to the cancer. I only wanted glowing, positive energy around him. It’s tough, especially in the middle of the night when all is quiet, but I wouldn’t let myself spiral into that abyss of darkness and let my mind go “there.” Mind over matter.

Mind Over Medicine by M.D. Lissa Rankin is all about the power of thought. This book really helped me in the very early days of diagnosis. It gave me back a tiny bit of control. I could adopt a positive mind-set and teach Caden to use visualization techniques. Every night he would send out his “patrol guys” and they would make sure his body was rid of any cancerous cell that may still be looming.

We got through it. We just celebrated Caden’s End of Treatment with that very community that supported us through it all.”

6. How can someone purchase your products?

“Products can be purchased directly from Owen’s website, https://thenicebenchco.com. Owen will also be featuring products to sell at the upcoming Seasons Christmas Show from November 17-19 at the Toronto International Centre. Stop in to meet the young kidpreneur!”

Such an inspiring and strong family! We are truly touched by what Owen is doing and admire his drive as a kidpreneur. We know that Owen has a very bright future in anything that he does and the assistance that he is providing to families is heartfelt. I am sure the families that are getting the help appreciate the heart of gold from this family. Keep up the great work Owen and know that what you are doing is so much more than a nice bench. You are giving hope to families by helping them travel to get the treatment they need for their child. I know in my heart that this means the world to them. Special thank you to Owen and his mom Kirstin for taking the time to have us interview them as we are honoured to have had this opportunity!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

Learning Swim Skills Through Aqua-Tots Swim School

Every year we hear about children falling into pools or waters and drowning and it’s always tragic to hear. This is why we felt it was important to have our daughter learn to swim. Of course we will combine the swim lessons with water safety and what to do in case of an emergency.

Therefore, my sister-in-law was on the case to help me find a swim school that would be a great fit for our family and provide the program that would teach the skills that my daughter needed to know. After a lengthy research she found the Aqua-Tots Swim Schools.

The school was originally founded in Arizona in 1991 and has grown considerably over the years to have a strong North American and international presence thanks to its carefully crafted swimming program for children. Aqua-Tots Swim Schools Mississauga is the first Aqua-Tots location in Canada and has had its doors open to the Toronto West and Mississauga communities since January 2017.

With a focus on safety, a heated pool, a facility designed for families, and on-going progress reports across eight swim levels, Aqua-Tots Swim Schools introduces babies and children of all ages to safe swimming and water practices. Open six days a week, with flexible morning and afternoon lesson times, the swim schools offers a range of classes.

Aqua-Tots Swim School had a great history and structure and we loved their mission statement: “With more than 80 swim schools worldwide, Aqua-Tots was founded on the principle of equipping children with life-long water safety skills. Aqua-Tots Swim Schools is committed to helping children of all ages develop these life-saving skills through an engaging curriculum that is especially designed to complement each child’s life stage.”

Photo Credit: Aqua-Tots Simming School Mississauga

This is exactly the type of school that we were looking for and therefore, Nikki was registered in the Beginner program which is Level 3, LeapFrogs.

Aqua-Tots Swim Schools, teaches babies as young as 4 months old and children of all ages how to be safe in and around water and develop a love for swimming. Each of the eight levels has a focus that’s specific to the age and ability of the child. For example, the Level 1, Tadpoles class is for guardians and infants and focuses on water adjustment. Additionally, attention is on safety and breath control.

Level 2, Minnows, on the other hand, is still a guardian and toddler program, in which toddlers learn about the importance of boundaries in and around water with an ongoing focus on safety. Each new level develops at a comfortable pace for the child. Advanced levels, such as seven and eight have little ones working on the butterfly stroke and building endurance after they have mastered the other main strokes.

Photo Credit: Aqua-Tots Swimming School Mississauga

Our first swim lesson was scheduled on a Sunday afternoon and we made it a family affair. I have to be honest as that is the only way I know how to be but I was very nervous for many reasons. One reason was on how Nikki was going to react going with the instructor to the swimming pool without me and the second reason was on her safety. I think it is natural for us parents to feel like that especially with something new.

The time came and it was time for Nikki to start her class. The instructor called her name and took her hand and her progress sheet (I like to call it her report card) and off they went. To my surprise Nikki didn’t even turn back to say good-bye and I can feel the tears welt up in my eyes. I sat down to watch the class in session and she was a real pro looking like she was in her element. I couldn’t help feel really emotional and proud at the same time. The first swim class was a wrap and Nikki fell in love with swimming!

We started our swim classes in July and are still continuing once a week. We have changed the format of her swim classes from group to semi-private classes and even the day of the week that we wanted to have it on. So we love the flexibility that they have been able to offer for families. Nikki has improved her confidence in the water and has really picked up on the skills quickly. But we know with time, she will be swimming to her hearts content soon.

For this #MelandNikkiReview, we give Aqua-Tots Swim School 5 LeapFrogs out of 5. Here is why we love them:

  • Great programs that are tailored to toddlers and children to help them gain the skills needed to swim.
  • Flexible schedules available for families which is so great for working families.
  • Clean and safe environment. They are extremely clean and have safety in mind. As a parent, it is important to learn about your swim schools safety procedure.
  • Caring instructors and staff members who make you feel like part of the family.
  • It’s fun! Your child learns and has fun at the same time.

If you are looking for a swim class for your child then we suggest looking at Aqua-Tots Swim School. Enrolment is on-going, season-neutral and takes less than 5 minutes to complete. Visit Aqua-Tot’s website to read about the different levels of swimming lessons https://www.aqua-tots.com/swim-lessons/swim-levels/. If you are in the Mississauga area you can call the Aqua-Tots Swim School at 905-848-2782 which is located at 1970 Dundas Street East, Unit 6. Also make sure to follow them on Facebook to see what’s new. For Aqua-Tots main office, follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Special thank you to Natalia from Aqua-Tots Swimming School Mississauga for taking the time to contribute some background information to this article and to the staff at Aqua-Tots for making swimming so much fun for my daughter.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

*Please note that this not a paid or sponsored post. This article is an honest review of services that we have used and are currently using.

 

20 Fun Things To Do In Hamilton, Ontario With Families!

By: Grace Cross, Editor of The Baby Spot

Twitter

Originally Posted Here

Just over a half an hour from Toronto, Ontario, lies Hamilton, a city that is flourishing so quickly it is not to be missed. After recent price hikes in the Toronto and greater Toronto market, we find Toronto city ex pats settling in Hamilton. A steel city from its past, Hamilton is in a flux of change of construction and rebuilding. Many chefs, artists and businesses are flourishing here and now Hamilton’s many secrets are being discovered.

Whether you are a local looking for something to do, to a tourist from outside of the city or abroad, Hamilton does not disappoint. The locals are incredibly friendly, proud and knowledgeable about their beautiful city, the architecture is beautiful and there are so many hidden gems in this city that one article will not do it justice. Here are the fun things to do in Hamilton.

Our list is everything we have found to do in Hamilton so far. There will always be more things to do as the city is changing. If something pops up, we will add to this list, but if you have discovered something great and we have missed it, please leave your ideas in the comment section below!

We have included things to see and do both for families and for parents who are looking for a child free time. Everyone can benefit from this list!

WATERFALLS

This is no secret to the locals but a big surprise to those visiting. Hamilton has over 100 waterfalls in the city that snake along the Bruce Trail into the Niagara Peninsula. Yes, each waterfall is breathtaking and a must see. From Albion Falls to the Devil’s Punch Bowl, this makes a perfect date or family hike! Bring a picnic or just hike to see the falls and go down the mountain to enjoy a nice lunch in the city. Whatever you choose, you will not be disappointed.

It is said that Hamilton is the waterfall capital of the world! This is a major attraction for both tourists and locals alike! Depending on the waterfall, the hiking trails range in difficulty. Not only will you see a breathtaking waterfall but also experience some of Southern Ontario’s beautiful nature walks on the famous Bruce Trail. Hamilton has so much natural beauty and now you and your family can spend days exploring all of its scenic waterfalls!

DUNDURN CASTLE

This castle is breathtaking and overlooks the bay! Whether you want a historical adventure inside this beautiful castle or to walk its grounds with your family, you will not be disappointed, no matter what time of year it is! We recommend seeing Dundurn Castle during every season because it is so beautiful.

This Italian style villa was built in the 1830s, learn more about the family who lived on the upstairs and servants who lived below. The Duchess of Cornwall is the museum’s Patron and also, the great, great, great granddaughter of Sir Allan MacNab, the former home owner.

If you come on a Saturday afternoon in the summer, you will most likely see many wedding photos taking place in and around this beautiful castle. We love going in the morning or in the evening for a nice stroll.

The tours are not to be missed! Regular tours are there to show visitors the grounds. Learn a piece of local and Canadian history! Dundurn Castle is either a perfect family day or a day date with your hubby.

BAYFRONT PARK

A great family outing! Bayfront Park is to be explored. Right in the heart of the city lies a beautiful park that is easy to walk (bring the little ones who have just started to walk or the elderly) the trails are easy to navigate and the paved walkways are wonderful for walking or bike riding. Find a quiet spot and teach your little one to ride their bike or bring a picnic lunch and find the beautiful gazebo by the bay. Did you find it?

A great spot for family photos, Bayfront Park is not to be missed. Parking is free! What a find considering this is a big city.

HMCS Haida National Historic Site

History buffs and attraction lovers alike, this is your place! The HMCS Haida National Historic Site is located at 658 Catharine Street North, Pier 9, right by the Lakeshore. This WW2 Tribal Class destroyer is now not only a memorial of the war but a floating museum! You can choose a tour or a self-guided tour, which comes with a booklet to show you everything that you will need. The self-guided tour is very easy to follow and is good for families who have children who may want to go a little slower or faster.

Are you a war buff? Interested in something different to see? Check out this HMCS Haida, it is a historical treasure, resting in front of the city.

GAGE PARK

On Gage Avenue South and Main Street East lies beautiful park lands. This is a fine example of what a city park should look like. This 10th century era park is a gem for generations to enjoy. It has a splash pad for the children in the summer, a beautiful rose garden and a Children’s Museum located on site. The fountains around the park are gorgeous. Absolutely stunning and make for great family photos.

Gage Park is beautiful for a date night walk or a great place to go for a family bike ride or walk. There is so much to see and do this place is not to be missed.

CANADIAN WARPLANE HERITAGE MUSEUM

It’s time to go up the mountain now to the Canadian Warplane and Heritage Museum. Located next to Hamilton airport, this museum is not to be missed! From heritage planes that our Canadian WW2 vets rode in to a flight simulator (we crashed accidentally into the city of Hamilton, we are not meant to be pilots) this is an adventure for the whole family!

Some of the guides are people who lived through World War 2 and sometimes share personal accounts of what it was like. All of the staff are extremely knowledgeable. For an extra fee, you can be a passenger and fly in some of these amazing planes!

Children and adults alike can climb into some of the planes to see what it was like flying these across Europe. There are so many things to look at and so much to be proud of. We took our one year old here and she had a blast! She was amazed at the planes and felt like such a big girl when she climbed into a cock pit. This is truly a great place for the whole family. Go early to avoid the crowds and enjoy! Upper James is just a short drive away for lunch.

THE JAMES STREET NORTH ART CRAWL

It is up to us as parents to inspire our children. The James Street North Art Crawl is the place to do it! We love Hamilton as it is big city with a small town feel.

Every second Friday of each month between King William and Barton Street is the art crawl. All of the galleries in the area open the same night and stores stay open from 7-11pm.

Go in and out of galleries and events and see what is inspiring Hamilton. This is a very relaxed event and you can go with your children or friends to enjoy this amazing night on the town!

WEIR’S LAVENDER AND APIARY

We love this place. Lavender fields in Hamilton! Located in Dundas Ontario (one of the towns that joined Hamilton years ago) is Weird Lavender and Apiary. Take beautiful photos in the lavender fields or speak to the family about beekeeping. Don’t be afraid, these are the friendliest bees we have ever encountered. Walk away knowledgeable about the bee industry and which bees you may encounter that were brought here from Europe.

Learn how we should try to plan indigenous plants to Southern Ontario to keep these mild mannered bees a live.

Weir’s Lavender and Apiary has both French and English lavender which means you have the edible more subtle lavender (English) and the stronger lavender (French). Have your children play in the striking purple lavender fields, take photos and enjoy.

There is also a great gift shop full of keepsakes for the whole family!

VALENS LAKE SKATING TRAIL

We want to include things you can do in Hamilton all year around and just because the winter months are long in Canada does not mean you should not visit and stay inside!

Valens Lake Skating Trail is something out of a dream. Walk, or, ahem, skate through the woods. There is nothing more Canadian than lacing up your skates, the smell of pine and the crisp cold snowy air.

Be surrounded in pine and spruce trees as this old camp ground road is recreated into a 425 meter skating path at Waterdown Rotary Memorial Park.

It’s a great place for the family to skate, to suggest for a photo opportunity (think engagements or engagement photos for family members) and more!

ART GALLERY OF HAMILTON

We are obsessed with the Art Gallery of Hamilton. The second floor is free for all to see with some famous Canadian paintings. There is also a structure of a mini mega city surrounding a car that will make the children fall in love with museums! This is a great place to educate the whole family on paintings, sculpture and more!

The whole museum is free on Fridays and they have so many classes for children. We love the café and their gift shop is not to be missed. From fun little artifacts to buying paintings, this is a fun way to get something for yourself or your family that you will always remember. Go to this museum regularly as you will always learn something new, or better yet, become a member.

THE LAKEFRONT

The Lakefront is a popular destination for Hamiltonians and visitors alike! Connected with Burlington’s Lake front, park at Spenser Park in Burlington and walk, ride or roller blade down the beautiful lakefront trail. If you feel a little hungry, stop off at Hutch’s, a famous restaurant in Hamilton that has been there for decades. Go inside and see the amazing 50s diner that is so popular and grab some comfort food to go. Stay inside and eat with a beautiful Lakefront view or continue on your adventure and see how far you can go on the trail!

WILD WATERWORKS

Need to cool off from a hot day in the city? Wild Waterworks is a perfect way to have a great day with your whole family! From the wave pool to the little squirt works for the kids, your whole family will be busy all day long! Make it easier on everyone by booking a cabana and head to the Easy River for some coveted rest and relaxation.

If you’re looking for a discount, simply go after 4pm and enjoy the park at a cheaper rate. For all others, go early so you can have the whole day to get your slide on!

TALL SHIPS

The tall ships are a sight to be seen for the whole family! These majestic ships are at Pier 8, where the 11 vessels follow each other before they dock. They offer free deck tours and harbour cruises, live music on the dock and more. Your children will admire the beautiful ships as they grace the bay.

WHITE HERN HISTORIC HOUSE AND GARDEN

What a hidden gem right downtown! The White Hern House and Garden is filled with all of the original things from the families that lived in their house. If you frequent historic house, you know that this is not always the case. The staff is amazing and they know how to make this tour even more fun!

Hear about some tales and folklore about the locals or admire the fascinating objects of how people once lived in Hamilton. How did this property stay in the hands of the same family for more than a hundred years? You are just going to have to visit!

VALENS CONSERVATION AREA

Going up to Flambourough is an amazing day trip for the family or with friends. Valens Lake has a great camping ground with 225 campsites and 125 of those states have electrical and water hook ups! Spend the night in nature and enjoy without driving for hours from the city!

Check out the beautiful Lookout Tower, Valens Lake and the Fishing Bridge or spend the day at Valens Lake Beach!

DUNDAS VALLEY CONSERVATION AREA

The views, the hiking, the trail center! From winter to summer, this is a place you want to visit again and gain. Check out the lush Carolinian forests, the beautiful meadows or be brave and dip your feet into one of their cold streams. There are so many rare plants to see! Go bird watching, hike as long as you like or go for fantastic photo opportunities. Whatever drives you, you will love the 40 kilometer trail system. A word of the wise, if bringing your precious pooches, keep them on a leash!

You can walk, ride, horseback ride, and ski in the winter! This trail has something for everyone.

HAMILTON FARMERS MARKET

Since 1837 Hamilton’s Farmers Market has been a source for Hamiltonians and their visitors to get their fresh produce and more! With over 60 vendors to check out, you can get local, national and international foods for both you and your family to enjoy!

There are also flowers and other goodies and presents you can pick up. Go in for a bite to eat or stay and roam the vendors for hours. The choice is yours!

DYMETS FARM

Head up to Dundas to enjoy this family farm! From their famous pumpkin patch in the fall to a great market place, pretend this farm is yours for the day as you explore its many facets. You can even have Dymet’s Farm host a birthday party there! This is a must visit place for locals and visitors alike!

ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS

Though headquartered in Burlington, many of its gardens and sites sprawl into Hamilton. From Jazz and Blues Wednesdays to its fascinating gardens and trails, this is the perfect place to spend with your children or on your own! Visitors come from all over the world to walk through the Royal Botanical Gardens and you should not be a stranger.

There are endless things to do for children that you can make multiple visits and attend one of their many events and just scratch the surface of the Royal Botanical Gardens. It’s best to get a membership so you and your family can visit and revisit all year!

BATTLEFIELD HOUSE MUSEUM AND PARK

It’s time to dive into a piece of Canadian history as we head to Stoney Creek for this one. The Battlefield House Museum and Park has a stunning monument as its crown jewel. Children will marvel at its size and this is a great time to educate them on Canadian history. The park and gardens are stunning as well.

The Battle of Stoney Creek took place in 1812 and there are battle re-enactments which is a sight to see! Bring the whole family and watch as you slip through time and watch the Battle of Stoney Creek. This somber moment makes us feel like a part of history and gives your children a new perspective on what happened so many years ago.

The museum is fantastic, with staff dressed for the period time and are full of fascinating information. Your children will get to step into past for a few hours and have experiences that they will never forget!

What makes Hamilton great is that it has endless spots for date days and for the whole family. Hamilton has hidden gems, its staple spots and new must see places every month! We will continue to update this list so that you get the most out of visiting Hamilton, Ontario Canada!

Ever After Entertainment Adds Disney Magic!

“Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.” – Walt Disney

The best part about watching Disney movies is the magic that it brings through every story and character that they create. This magic can also be seen come to life when you visit the amusement parks all over the world. This is why many say that it’s an experience of a lifetime…

Just imagine being able to have this magic part of your special occasions such as your child’s birthday?!

Ever After Entertainment in Toronto is doing exactly that! They offer that magic and authenticity to your front door with princesses, fairy tale, superheroes and star war characters.

I had the honor of partnering up with Ever After Entertainment to see what they were all about and to get the first hand experience to share with all my loyal readers and fans.

This past weekend we celebrated my daughter, Nikki’s third birthday and we invited Princess Belle to join our festivities in which Ever After Entertainment made it happen for us. We were fortunate to have Belle available as we know that a Princess’ schedule can get hectic.

Princess Belle called before her arrival to let me know that she was almost at our home (I have to admit that I was extremely excited with the phone call). I got the 6 children (3 girls and 3 boys) ready to greet Princess Belle in our living room.

Princess Belle gracefully entered and all the children were in shock to see that Belle was really there. My daughter was so excited that she couldn’t stop smiling from ear to ear and said, “Princess Belle came to my party!” All the kids quickly gathered around to see what was in store for them. Belle started off with a get to know each other where she asked each one their name, age and who their favorite princess or superhero is. Each child disclosed with great delight all the information that Belle had requested (it was really cute to see!). Of course Nikki was excited to let Belle know that she was her favorite!

The next part was the enchanting singing performance and it was truly spectacular! Many of my guests couldn’t believe how beautiful Belle sung and some thought it was a recording as it was that good!

Special story time was the next activity where Princess Belle shares her story with all the party guests and it was captivating even for all the adults that were in attendance.

Then it was some interactive fun with dance freeze. It really got the children up and dancing. They all had a real blast and of course prizes were awarded at the end. But the magic didn’t end there as all the party guests got to either get a makeover or magical tattoos for those who wanted one. All our party guests wanted a magical makeover and they even got some Pixie Dust too! It was so great!

We then took the party outside for the signing of Happy Birthday which Nikki loved! Nikki even shouted out, “Come Belle. Come with me outside!” We all sang Happy Birthday and then the most special moment happened when Nikki was crowned and made into an honorary princess. I have to admit my eyes were teary as I saw my little princess filled with such joy with her very own tiara and certificate.

Then everyone had a chance to take a picture with Princess Belle before she had to return to her Princess duties. We even had a few adults at the party sneak in some photos and selfies before she left. Of course Momma Braga had to take a picture too as she has been my favorite princess since 1991 (the original release year of Beauty and the Beast).

“We believe in making dreams come true by inspiring the imagination of children, both young and young at heart.” – Ever After Entertainment

 

We all said good-bye to Princess Belle and every guest talked about how great the experience was. From the youngest at 3 to the youngest at heart at 65, it was enjoyed by all.

So what can I possibly say about this experience and what score does it get on the #MelandNikkiReview?

It was a superb and magical experience and we rate it a 5+++ stars out of 5! Highest rating to date on the #MelandNikkiReview and has made it onto the #MommaBragaRecommended list.

Ever After Entertainment provided us with superior service from start to finish. They offered us Disney magic that one would only think could come true in dreams. Princess Belle made my daughter the happiest girl in the world and as a parent that is the only thing I could ever ask for. The pure joy and entertainment she received tickled my heart pink! Not to mention the joy she provided to the older guests who were big fans of hers. She not only made the birthday girl’s wish come true but to many others too (like myself). The princess party program was perfect and kept the children highly entertained! If you have been to a kid’s party, you do notice that it can be a little hectic. But for that one hour it was organized and filled with admiration.

Ever After Entertainment offered so much more than a character to celebrate a special occasion. They offered an opportunity for the adults to feel like a kid again and to the children, that dreams can come true if you believe.

If you are looking for entertainment for your child’s party or even for special event like a bridal shower, look no further as Ever After Entertainment is the top choice. They offer different types of parties that you will need to check out such as the Princess PartyFairytale Party, Superhero Party, and Star Warrior Party. There are so many options and no matter which one you pick, it will not disappoint! Make sure to book in advance and you can check out their pricing here. You will need to tell me how you enjoyed your party as I would love to hear about it! I am already thinking about which one I want next year for Nikki’s birthday and maybe for my own. 😉

Special thank you to Stefanie and Princess Belle from Ever After Entertainment for allowing us to imagine, “Far off places, daring swordfights, magic spells, a prince in disguise.” – Belle

Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google+ to see all the dreams they are fulfilling.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga


 

Malasada World Will Rock Your Taste Buds

Growing up in a Portuguese household it was a special treat when my mom would make us malasadas to eat. For those who may not know, a malasada is a Portuguese confection, made of egg-sized balls of yeast dough that are deep-fried in oil and coated with granulated sugar. It really is delicious and it is well known to be a delight that was created from the Azores and Madeira.

Therefore, when I heard about a place called Malasada World, I was extremely excited! How could I have not known that there was a place that specialized in malasadas and where exactly was this place???

Malasada World is located at 33 Ainslie St N in Cambridge (formerly known as Galt City). They are located in a perfect spot, downtown.

So this meant that Momma Braga had to take a road trip! I couldn’t try this place on my own so I had to bring my entourage (my family) with me.

We planned a Saturday outing to Cambridge which is about a 45 minute drive from where we live. We found a parking lot just a few minutes North from where Malasada World is located and it is free for the first two hours (not bad considering that when you park in downtown Toronto, it is never free). Even though we had a gloomy and rainy day, we were still all excited to try a malasada.

We arrived and were greeted by the friendly staff and we got to meet Steve, the face that runs Malasada World!

Steve outside of Malasada World.
Photo Credit: http://www.bassem.ca

My impression of Steve surpassed my expectations as he is a nice and humble person to meet. He has a great sense of humor and if you are at his shop and you don’t want your family to know, he will keep your secret! 😉 He is also the one at the back working really hard to delight your taste buds. You can say that he made a great first impression on all of us.

Now it was time for the true test…the taste test. Was the malasada going to pass the Momma Braga taste test? Will Malasada World make it on the #MelandNikkiReview?

Yes! Yes it did!

Since I have been known for my candid honesty on my blog, I have to say that the traditional malasada that I tried was much better than any other malasada that I have ever had before (sorry mom!). It was fluffy, light and had just the right amount of sugar. It was perfection! I don’t say that often but I can in this case. Everyone in my group loved it as much as I did and my group is one of the hardest critics to please, so bravo Malasada World!

So how did Malasada World begin and who exactly is Steve? I got the inside scoop to share with all of you!

Tell me a little about yourself.

“I am a first generation Portuguese Canadian, born in Cambridge Ontario. I am a 43 year old father of two wonderful young women. My family is from Santa Maria in the Azores, Portugal. I am a classic trained Chef with just over 20 years of experience in different segments of the food and hospitality business. Food and hospitality industry runs in the family.”

Photo Credit: http://www.bassem.ca

What inspired you to call your shop, Malasada World?

“I was thinking of a name that would really help make the brand/concept stand out and speak for itself. I narrowed it down to three names. Luso Donuts and Tia Maria’s Malasadas were the others. I even did a little survey on Facebook to see what my friends would pick. In the end, we picked Malasada World! It was the one that made the most sense after much thought.”

When did you start your business?

“I started the vision for this business concept many years ago! About 11 years ago, I told one of my colleagues it would be nice to just make donuts for the rest of my career. That was Chef Andrew Dymond at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The first time I made them for sale was about five years ago in Prince Edward County at a friend’s farm called, Vicki’s Veggies. Our shop in Cambridge has just recently celebrated its one year anniversary! We opened on Portugal Day in 2016.”

Tell me a little bit about what you serve.

“At the shop we offer everything the MALASADA has to offer! Different varieties including the Traditional Style I grew up with. We also make the Hawaiian style that are enjoyed today in bakeries all over Hawaii. We have developed our very own version of the Malasada with different toppings and refer to these as our “Signature Style.” Our most popular is called the DoughNATA. It is a hybrid of the famous Portuguese custard tart called a “Pastel de Nata” and our Malasada. It’s kind of both put together (minus the puff pastry)!

I have also taken the Malasada dough and developed a line of Baked Malasada Buns and Loaves. This Malasada bread is showcased and used in our daily sandwich menu. We are MALASADA WORLD!”

What do you hope your business accomplishes?

“I want Malasada World to be recognized for being the BEST Portuguese inspired fast casual specialty donut shop! I also hope to achieve international success with a location in Sao Miguel in the future.”

Where would you like to see your business in five years?

“I hope to grow the business and have additional locations in and around Southern Ontario. I am currently looking for the right investors to team up with.”

Anything new on the horizon for Malasada World that we can officially announce on Momma Braga?

“We are currently working on the business plan for a mobile unit for Malasada World. Either a food truck or trailer. We would then be able to serve our customers at private parties and corporate events!”

How important was it for you to bring a piece of your culture to share with the world?

“It was very important for me to somehow include my cultural background and family food experiences into my business model. I think that Portuguese cuisine in general is under represented and is not as familiar as other cuisine’s of the world to the general public. Portuguese cuisine is wonderful and I would like to showcase it more.”

Photo of Steve’s dad and mom who is expecting Steve. You can tell the family’s love of Malasadas!

Thank you so much Steve for the inside scoop and for allowing Momma Braga the opportunity to feature you!

For this #MelandNikkiReview we give Malasada World, a 5+ DoghNATAs out of 5! This is the first review over 5 and it is much deserved. Malasada World has made it on the #MommaBragaApproved and #Recommended lists. If you are looking for a taste of culture done at its finest then Malasada World is for you! Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and please note their posts may cause you to drool.

A Momma Braga tip is to order your malasadas in advance especially if you are travelling from afar as they do sell out fast! To avoid disappointment, feel free to call them at 519.267.7177 or email them at malasadaworld@gmail.com. Walk-ins are always welcomed but you will need to arrive early to taste some malasada goodness!

Once again thank you Malasada World and Cambridge for having us and I will be back!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

*Please note that this is not a paid or sponsored post. Momma Braga did not receive any form of compensation in exchange for this review and all opinions in this post are my own honest opinions.

 

5 Tips For A Trip To The Zoo

By: Karen Silva
Twitter

The zoo is one of my favorite places to go! It’s an amazing feeling to see all the wild animals in person and not to mention that the zoo if full of interesting facts about these animals too. When I found out that my sister wanted to take my niece to the Toronto Zoo, I just had to tag along. However, I knew that going with a two and half year old you just can’t pick up and go, so we had to make sure we were well prepared for the trip.

Here are my top five MUST haves that you should bring with you when going to the zoo. However, if you have never been to the Toronto zoo I suggest you check out their website first.

Stroller or Wagon

We all know that the Toronto Zoo is full of all sorts of creatures, which means there is a lot of walking involved, so make sure you bring a stroller or wagon for your little one. They can get restless and tired throughout your visit and having one of these with you will not only make their visit more comfortable but will work great if they want to take a nap. It will also help you carry items you decide to bring or buy while you are there. Also be sure to check out the zoo train, in my opinion it is worth every penny and is great for younger children. It goes around the whole zoo leaving you at designated areas where you can see other animals. In case, you do go on a very hot day, this ride is very refreshing.

Food/Snacks and Water

The great thing about the Toronto Zoo is that they allow you to bring your own food and drinks as they have great picnic areas that you can eat at. Now it may seem easier to just bring a cooler with ice with you; however the reality is you won’t want to lug that around with you, and you have to remember that the zoo is a big place and requires a lot of walking. Bring simple things like sandwiches, snacks and water bottles. If you want to keep things cool keep a cooler in your car and make the trip back if you wanted or bring ice packs in a large lunch bag. Some great snacks for your little ones that’s easy to pack is Gold fish crackers, grapes, bananas, etc. There are also some great places at the Zoo that you can stop in to purchase food and drinks too.

Protective Gear

As we all know the sun can be quite dangerous when being over exposed, so it is important to put on the sunscreen before heading out and pack some to re-apply after lunch. Even on cloudy days the sun is still doing its job and often times the sun may peek out later that afternoon, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Also make sure that you are all wearing comfortable clothing such as running shoes, light colored and light material clothing; as well as a hat and sunglasses. Dressing appropriately will make your whole experience more enjoyable. Trust me, I made the mistake once wearing flip flops to the zoo because it was so hot but in the end my feet were killing me from all the walking because my feet weren’t properly supported.

Capturing the moment

You want to remember this day so make sure that you take lots of pictures, not just of the animals but of you and your family. As a family you can write a list of the animals you want to see and/or take pictures of and make it a goal to check off each one. Also be sure to check the zoo’s gift shop, they have great things in there that you can purchase as a souvenir.

 

Smooth Good-bye Transition

Sometimes kids are so exhausted with the whole experience and spending hours at the zoo that leaving shouldn’t be a problem. However, we do have to keep in mind that some children may not want to leave and will pout, kick and scream to stay. In case this happens, I will share with you some smooth transition ideas that will help you all go from the zoo to your cars without fighting tears.

If you are planning on visiting and purchasing something from the gift shop, be sure to save that for the very end. It will give your child something to look forward to and will keep them distracted with a new item all the way to the car. If you’re on a budget make sure to bring along one of your child’s favorite toys; however leave it in the car. It could be used as motivation to go back to the car. At the end of the day you know your child best so you can use the best tricks that you know will work for you in that situation.

I believe that the Toronto Zoo is a great trip to take with your children. It is not only very informative but an amazing experience for children to see these animals in person as appose to seeing them on the T.V.

 

About the Author

Karen Braga graduated from Sheridan College with an Early Childhood Education Diploma. She worked with children for about five years before expanding her skills in Administration. Karen is a loving Godmother/Auntie to one. Combined with her ECE background and passion for DIY projects and baking, she has recently become an expert writer for mom blogger, Momma Braga. Karen hopes by sharing her knowledge, tips and tricks, she can bring families together through her creative ideas.

Bifanas (Beef Sandwich) Recipe

Bifanas is a popular dish in the Portuguese community and I learned how to make it recently with my mom. To my surprise it was really simple and didn’t take too long to make. Normally this dish is done using pork but we use beef instead.

I know that simple and easy to do dishes is always ideal for families and hopefully you will all enjoy this as much as we do.

BIFANAS

INGREDIENTS

  • Beef (Thin cut is best)
  • 3 onions
  • Red Pepper (or Green or Yellow)
  • Tablespoon of butter
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Paprika
  • Half cup of wine
  • Half cup of water
  • Buns

DIRECTIONS

  • Marinate your beef prior to cooking. I usually do this the night before to have the beef soak in the juices for more flavor.
    • Wash beefs well.
    • Place beefs in a bowl and add the following ingredients; salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, half cup of wine and half cup of water. Measurements for the ingredients are based on what you normally use in your meat marinating.
    • Leave the beef covered and in the fridge for the next day cooking.
  • The following day you can start cutting up your onions and bell peppers to be cooked which will be used in the sandwiches.
  • In a pot add the onions, bell peppers and the beef (without the sauce that it was in). Also add a tablespoon of butter.

  • Let it cook and stir as its cooking.
  • Once it is cooked, add your favourite tomato sauce and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  • After the 5 minutes, it is ready to be served.
  • Take buns and place the beef, onions and bell peppers in them.

And there you have it, bifanas in the simplest way! Give it a try and let me know what you think of it!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga