Tag: Toronto

The “Once Upon A Time” Of Ever After Entertainment

Every story starts with Once Upon A Time and we love getting the story of how it all began. That is what makes stories so wonderful to tell.

We love Ever After Entertainment (just see our raving review on them) and we wanted to know about how their “Once Upon A Time” came to be.

We had the honour to interview the founder of Ever After Entertainment, Stefanie to get the exclusive scoop.

Before we whisk you away into “Once Upon A Time,” let us remind everyone what Ever After Entertainment does.

They provide an experience like no other as they bring magic to a celebration. Whether it is a princess, a fairytale character, superhero, or star wars character, they bring it to your front door to make the believers believe that dreams come true.

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

Now it is time for our exclusive scoop with Stefanie who encompasses all qualities that one would admire in a princess. She is kind, intelligent, and a strong woman and you will see that from our interview.

Once Upon A Time…

When and what inspired you to start Ever After Entertainment?

I started Ever After Entertainment right after I finished an intensive two year musical theatre conservatory in New York City, called Circle in the Square Theatre School. I adored musical theatre and performing, so when I heard that some of my classmates worked for similar companies in the states, I was immediately inspired to start something of my own. I have always loved anything to do with Disney Princesses! I grew up on all the movies, so performing as a classic princess seemed like the perfect fit!

Owner and founder, Stefanie, in the centre of some amazing Princesses (Belle, Ariel, Cinderella and Aurora).

What was the first year like?

The first years was super tough – for the first six months, the phones were quiet. I didn’t really know where to start and I was relying on “old school methods” of marketing to get my name out in the community, and that just was not working for me. As soon as I started to figure out what type of advertising worked, business began to pick up, and it picked up fast! It was definitely an exciting time when the phones started ringing, but I quickly realized that no one was going to knock on my door and ask me to come to their party. When we were just starting out, I had to go out and do free events to market Ever After Entertainment. Anything from school events, city fairs and free birthday parties – if there was someone who wanted a princess, I was there!

Who has been your most popular character request?

Elsa…Elsa and Elsa! As soon as Frozen came out, “Elsa” or the “Ice Queen” was the most requested character. We had to hire 5 performers in 1 month just to keep up! Now as the Frozen craze has died down a little, some of the more classically loved princesses are becoming more popular. My personal favourites are Beauty and The Little Mermaid – both are requested regularly.

Why is providing a magical experience important to you?

I’ve been a huge Disney Princess fan since I was three years old and I discovered The Little Mermaid. I would eat, sleep and breath everything Ariel! I know that if I had the opportunity to have Ariel attend my birthday party as a child, that would have made my year! Knowing that we can make a child’s dreams come true by bringing their hero to life, means so much to me. These princess characters teach children lessons about family, friends, passion and love, and we are so lucky that we get to bring those lessons and magic to people’s families and homes.

How do you find the perfect person to play the part?

All of Ever After Entertainment’s princess performers are professionally trained actors and singers. We want our performers to not only look like the princesses they are portraying, but they also must embody their personality and be able to sing all their signature songs. Our cast is filled with a diverse group of wonderfully talented ladies from all over the GTA – but they all must have a love for children, and of course, a love for princesses!

Where would you like to see Ever After Entertainment in the next five years?

I would love to see Ever After Entertainment grow across Ontario. Ideally we would love to have performers in all different regions across Southern Ontario, so that we can provide a magical birthday experience to children and their families all over the GTA.

Who is your favourite Princess to play?

It’s so hard to choose! I think if I had to pick one, it would be Ariel. I mean, what girl doesn’t want to be a mermaid?! I just love Ariel’s songs, and story – and it’s so much fun to be a red head. Like I said earlier, The Little Mermaid was my most beloved movie growing up, so she is of course my favourite princess to portray!

This is how Ever After Entertainment got it’s “Once Upon A Time” and some more inside scoops of this impeccable company. Special thank you to Stefanie for giving us the opportunity to interview her as it was a true honor.

We at Momma Braga can’t say it enough that Ever After Entertainment is truly the very best! Once you book with them you can rest assure that your celebration will be that much better! They truly pride themselves of staying authentic and professional from beginning to end. It is a magical experience for all and you won’t regret having them there.

To book your party, click here. Also 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

 

Paw Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure

Paw Patrol, Paw Patrol
We’ll be there on the double
Whenever there’s a problem
‘Round Adventure Bay
Ryder and his team of pups
Will come and save the day
Marshall, Rubble, Chase
Rocky, Zuma, Skye
Yeah! They’re on the way!

 

It is hard not to sing along to one of the most popular shows for kids, Paw Patrol. We have been watching Paw Patrol for over two years and if you have small children in your family then you probably have been surrounded by it everywhere you go!

So when my sister-in-law got us tickets to Paw Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure, I was thrilled as I knew my 3-year-old would love it. The tickets were purchased back in January and instead of telling my overly excited daughter about the event, I waited until the day of. If I told her in advance I would have to listen to Nikki ask me EVERY single day if it was Paw Patrol day; therefore, for the sake of my sanity I waited until the day of. I know many parents can relate to this too! 🙂

The wait was so worth it too! When my sister-in-law told her that she was going to see Paw Patrol, Nikki was thrilled and started singing the Paw Patrol theme song. In all honesty, I was  surprised that our cover was not blown since I made sure that Nikki was all Paw Patrol ready! 😉

The Big Paw Patrol Day

We arrived with some time to spare to comfortably find our seats and get some treats to eat.

*Tip: It’s always great to arrive early when an event is this popular as it was a very busy venue with tons of little fans everywhere.

Soon after, the lights dimmed and a voice over came on to signal the start of the show and the audience roard with excitement (including Nikki who got out of her seat).

Paw Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure is a fun full adventure where the main characters go on a treasure hunt to find a lost treasure and of course there are some saving to do along the way which these pups know how to do so well.

The show was full of music, dancing and colorful sets that truly engaged the audience. You can’t help but sing-along or even dance in your seat (while no one is watching). 😉

This is why we give this event 5+++ PAWS out of 5 for being PAWSOME from start to finish. It’s hard not to fall in love with Paw Patrol especially with how happy they make your child feel.

This event was a wish come true for my daughter who has always wanted to see them live and that in turn has made me the happiest mom on earth. There is nothing more special than seeing your child enjoy something that they love and if that means six little pups who save the day then that is great in my books.

From left to right: Auntie Amanda, Nikki and Momma Braga

Not only was Paw Patrol Live an entertaining delight but one that made a little girl believe that wishes come true!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga

 

Kids Up Front Toronto: Making A Difference One Ticket At A Time

Coming from a background of the non-profit world, I have the utmost respect for many charities who work tirelessly for their causes.

During my tenure as a fundraiser, I encountered Kids Up Front Toronto and was impressed by their mission and impact. So I was excited to introduce them to the youth clients and to all the staff members that I worked with.

Now as a parent blogger, I am excited to introduce this amazing organization to all of you and this is way overdue.

“Remember your first concert. Now imagine giving a child that feeling for the first time.”

Kids Up Front believes that all children deserve to experience the magic of the theatre or the excitement of a hockey game. Kids Up Front makes sure that children and their families affected by poverty, abuse, illness as well as newcomers to Toronto gain exposure to the community through the distribution of tickets.

Photo courtsey of Kids Up Front Toronto

How did it all start?

“Kids Up Front began in Calgary in 1999. Our founder, John Dalziel was surrounded by empty seats in the Saddledome and believed that thousands of deserving children and youth could benefit from unused tickets. Kids Up Front Toronto’s founding Executive Director, Lindsay Oughtred, had the same idea in 2006. She was a high school English teacher, inspired to fill seats on the field trips she was taking her students on. Lindsay discovered Kids Up Front, left the classroom behind, and the rest is history! Kids Up Front operates in Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Atlantic Canada.”

Photo courtsey of Kids Up Front Toronto

The Impact on the Lives of Children, Families and the City of Toronto

The impact of the work that is being done by Kids Up Front Toronto is one that uplifts children, families and the whole community.

• Children benefit from developing a sense of belonging; feeling included; gaining exposure to “normal” childhood experiences.
• Parents benefit from feeling valued; having the means to give their child a special experience; re-connecting with their child in a positive way.
• Families benefit from sharing constructive leisure activities; encouraging positive social interaction between parents, children and siblings; healing and strengthening relationships.
• Communities benefit from having engaged citizens; strengthening of community values; inspiring future leaders.

“Thanks to our generous donors and over 240 agency partners, Kids Up Front Toronto distributed nearly 85,000 tickets valued at over $2.8 million in 2017. Children have community building experiences that help boost self-esteem and families form stronger ties by allowing parents and children to connect in a positive way. We believe Kids Up Front is helping to create a more inclusive city by removing financial and social barriers.

Photo courtsey of Kids Up Front Toronto

Making a Difference Through Kids Up Front

“Kids Up Front is a simple idea with an incredible impact. Thanks to our extensive network in the GTA, we are able to accept tickets (even just hours before game time or show time!) and get them into the hands of children and youth who do not otherwise have the opportunity. Kids Up Front also provides charitable tax receipts for the value of the ticket donation (with proof of purchase). It truly is a win-win for everyone!

If you don’t have tickets to donate, EchoAge birthday parties are another great way to help Kids Up Front give deserving kids a break.”

It is easy to make a difference in the lives of children and their families through Kids Up Front Toronto. You can donate your tickets, donate money or even donate your time. So many options to make a world of a difference in the community.

How Can a Child Be Referred To Benefit From Kids Up Front

“Kids Up Front partners with child and youth serving agencies to ensure our tickest are going to families who will truly benefit from these incredible gifts.”

To see a list of these amazing agency partners, click here.

Upcoming This Year

“We are working toward our goal of 100,000 tickets valued at over $3 million by 2020. The more tickets we have, the more people we are able to reach. We would love to finally get rid of our waiting list of agencies looking to partner with Kids Up Front. We are also continuing to raise our profile in Toronto. We want every single person in the city to know what to do with their unused tickets.

Nationally, we can’t wait to watch Kids Up Front Ottawa and Kids Up Front Atlantic grow in their first full year as our newest Kids Up Front regions.”

Photo courtesy of Kids Up Front Toronto

I have personally seen the impact that Kids Up Front Toronto has done in the community. The smiles, excitement and pure enjoyment that the youth and kids exhibit during an event is the most heart tugging moment for anyone to see.

So if you have tickets that you can’t use or just want to give a child an opportunity of a lifetime, then I say Kids Up Front is the place to start in making a difference!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tanya, Program Manager at Kids Up Front Toronto for taking the time to do this exclusive interview with us at Momma Braga.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

4 Tips on How To Turn Tears Into Cheers In Swimming

One of my fears when my daughter was enrolled in swimming was the tears that may come with her learning. Luckily, we did not have any tears from her but from me instead.

Besides my inability to let go when I should, I have seen many children cry before their swim class and even during it. So I went to the experts at Aqua-Tots Swim School to see if they can offer tips to help parents in this type of situation.

I want to first state that crying when learning how to swim is very common and normal. So don’t feel like there is something wrong. When you have a great school like Aqua-Tots Swim School to help you along the way, in the end you both will feel much better.

There are some common reasons as to why children cry. Here are the four most common ones:

  1. It’s New – Swimming lessons are a new experience. There are new sights, sounds, textures, smells, faces, and interactions in the pool environment.
  2. Age – With time, your child will gain control over their emotions and learn to enjoy the water.
  3. Fear or Anger – Some children are genuinely fearful of the water and it takes time to help them overcome their fear. Other children can become angry and use tears to control the situation.
  4. Separation Anxiety – Your child may experience separation anxiety and feel anxious when away from familiar people and places.

Hearing your child cry is always hard (I know it is for me) and there are ways to help them when it comes to swimming lessons. Here are four tips to help.

  1. Be Positive and Keep Your Eyes on The Goal – As a parent, you can encourage your child with compliments and praise on what they do well in each lesson.
  2. Keep Cool – Being calm helps your child settle down faster.
  3. Practice At Home – Make it fun! Use the tub, shower, and pool to practice swimming skills (i.e. holding breath, water submersions, etc.)
  4. Be Consistent – Skipping or discounting swim lessons inhibits swimming progressions and will extend the time it takes to learn how to swim safely.

The layout at Aqua-Tots is great to help the child gain trust of the instructor as the parents can view the lesson through the viewing gallery which allows them to interact with their child. This way your child is aware that you are near and rooting for them. This space allows the instructor and the child build trust and a bond will form.

This is one of the many reasons why Aqua-Tots is amazing as they are there for you every step of the way. Their instructors care about your child and they are trained to:

  1. Identify the reason your child is crying so they can best alleviate the tears.
  2. Build trusting relationships with your child.
  3. Offer consistent routines and terminology in every lesson.
  4. Help your child build trust in the water.

Water is an adaptive environment and it takes time to adjust. The more frequently your child comes to lessons, the faster the crying will subside. The general rule of thumb is:

  • 3+ lessons per week – crying subsides after 3-4 lessons
  • 2 lessons per week – crying subsides after 5-6 lessons
  • 1 lesson per week – crying subsides after 7-8 lessons

With these tips and with the guidance of the swimming school, you will be at tears to cheers in no time. Just remember that at Aqua-Tots Swim School they never leave your side to ensure that everyone is happy.

If you are interested in swim lessons, give Aqua-Tots Swim School a call at 905-848-2782. Also make sure to follow them on Facebook to see what’s new.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

–          Momma Braga

 

This article is brought to you in partnership with Aqua-Tots Swim School, Mississauga.

Momma Braga’s 7 Bests of 2017

For the last two and a half years, I have had the opportunity to work with companies and brands through my blog which I am truly grateful for. I have met some amazing people who I can call friends and have seen some really neat products.

Therefore, for the very first time I have compiled a list of “Momma Braga’s 7 Bests” and you may find that some of these products can be great gift ideas too!

Each company listed below is fairly different from one another but one thing that they have in common is the love of families in everything that they do. They all have superb customer service and they have all been previously added to the Momma Braga Recommended List. I am just finally writing an official one out. 😉

*Please note that this is list is in no particular order and this is not a sponsored or paid article by anyone listed.

Mimos Pillow Canada

Mimos Pillow offers parents a safe pillow option for baby which also helps prevent and correct flat head syndrome. Now a Class 1 Medical Device in Canada, their mission at Mimos Pillow Canada is to lower the astounding 47% of babies that develop cranial deformities (flat-head syndrome). The Mimos Pillow has undergone clinical trials for effectiveness and is international laboratory tested for breathability (TUV).

The Mimos baby flat head Pillow both prevents and corrects positional skull deformities. This is why we love this product! It is doing an amazing thing for babies all over the world and helping parents sleep with peace at mind knowing their baby has a safe pillow to use.

Remember that you can use promo code: MOMMABRAGA at checkout to get $10 OFF your purchase of a Mimos Pillow. Babies will thank you and their parents too! 🙂

EZPZ

The original all-in-one placement + plate. EZPZ provides a stress free meal time experience with their mats. The mats suctions directly to the table, making it nearly impossible for tiny hands to tip over. It is designed for infants and toddlers (9+ months) with a variety of different colors and styles available. We also can not forget the Care Bears collection that was recently launched (possibly my favorite of them all!). EZPZ also has the play collection where arts and crafts can be super fun with them.

The happy mat promotes self-feeding and it helps children develop their fine motor skills. It also helps children with special needs such as autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and low vision. Their products are tested by feeding specialists and therapists which makes it comforting to know that it works with families in mind.

EZPZ also has launched ONO which is a pet line which is super cute! Hoping to feature this on Momma Braga soon. Now your furry family members will have a bowl that involves less mess!

I have always been a fan of EZPZ since day one and will continue to be one as their products are amazing and they have an amazing company philosophy in helping families.

These products would make great gift ideas and you can purchase them directly online on EZPZ’s website and if you live in Canada, you can purchase them from the Canadian distributor, Hip Mommies.

I See Me!

I See Me! provides the highest quality, most personalized children’s books. Their mission is to increase self esteem in children through personalized books that celebrate the uniqueness of each child. The goal is to show each child how absolutely unique and special he or she is, to teach the child how to spell his or her name, and to build vocabulary skills. However, I See Me! does a lot more than that and I am not sure if they even know it…they give family moments and memories to share together!

Being able to read a personalized story about your child to your child is a wonderful experience. The face your child makes to hear that they are the star of the story is priceless. With each page turn is a memory you are making with your child and it can be enjoyed again and again. There is something special about a book and it becomes magical when every detail in the book in around your child. It becomes a keepsake for a lifetime.

This would make a unique gift for a child that they will treasure forever. We can’t get enough of their beautiful stories and we have become fans of all that they do. I have already started looking to see which books I will be getting for my soon-to-arrive niece.

If you would like to see what they have available and how you can order a copy for a special child or even adult, feel free to check their website.

The Nice Bench Co

The Nice Bench Co. is a kids’ furniture + accessories brand dedicated to supporting non-profit organizations who help lead the fight against pediatric cancer – a cause very close to heart and home.

The founder of the Nice Bench Co is Kidpreneur, Owen who is only nine years old. He definitely has impressed Momma Braga with his amazing skills and heart. We recently ordered a growth chart from him and it was superb. There should be no surprise that they made it onto the list as their story inspires hope, strength, and love.

This would make an excellent gift idea and not only would you be supporting a kidpreneur follow his dream but you would also be helping families in need.

We just love all that they do and I am sure this is only the start to Owen’s successful business venture. To purchase a great product from The Nice Bench Co, make sure to visit their website.

A Little Leafy

A Little Leafy is a small local shop who is doing big things in the world and that is smiles. With a creative passion, business owner, Stef, turns her art into “punny” designs. These designs can be on mugs, pillows, shirts, cards, etc. You can’t help but smile when you see what she has created.

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 Bests and it should be on everyone’s wish list.

To see what “punnies” are available to purchase, please visit the Etsy shop online and you won’t be disappointed.

Ever After Entertainment

Ever After Entertainment is the premier choice for character entertainment in the Greater Toronto Area. Their characters bring the same magic and authenticity to your front door that you would find in theme parks around the world. They believe in making dreams come true by inspiring the imagination of children, both young and young at heart.

They truly are amazing as we have used them this year for my daughter’s third birthday. The service was superb from start to finish. 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. It truly is a magical experience!

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.

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.

You can give the gift of swimming lessons to a child this holiday season and Aqua-Tots Swim Schools would be the perfect place to get them. To learn more about how to purchase a certificate, feel free to contact the Mississauga location at 905-848-2782.

There you have it! Momma Braga’s seven bests of 2017 and they all hold a very special place in our hearts. It was a hard list to compile but they all reach the Momma Braga standard with superb service and family at heart.

From the bottom of my heart, I want to extend a big thank you to all the companies that have worked with Momma Braga this year as it was a true honor to work with all of you and promote your brands to my amazing readers from all over the world. I am hoping that next year, I can bring a lot more to everyone and hoping to compile a even bigger list of bests! 😉

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga


 

Swim With Santa Event Splashes With Joyous Spirit

We had the pleasure of attending the Swim with Santa event which was done by Aqua-Tots Swim School in Mississauga.

This was a member-exclusive event which was an all-ages and complimentary with the annual membership to the school. It is one of many great perks of registering at Aqua-Tots Swim Schools.

The event was on Saturday, December 2nd from 2pm to 4pm and we were excited to go, especially Nikki who just adores going to swim school.

We arrived a little early which gave us some time to settle. We couldn’t help notice how beautiful and festive the swim school was decorated. They did not miss a single detail, from the candy cane shaped balloons at the front entrance to the festive décor at each activity section.

Our first stop was to drop off our non-perishable food donations for the Mississauga Food Bank which Aqua-Tots Swim School was collecting. Nikki happily placed our donation in the box and we were ready to see what to do next!

Nikki of course sat right at the arts and crafts station as it was her opportunity to get creative before Santa arrived. Nikki made a snowman ornament, coloured an Ollie with Santa page, and made a snowman mask. She had a blast!

Santa soon arrived and Nikki was in disbelief that he made it all the way to her swim school. Nikki was awfully shy so she opted out to take a photo with Santa. However, the pool was open for the family swim and Nikki was very excited to swim with her daddy (my husband , Mike).

It was so wonderful to see them both go into the swimming pool and Nikki showing her daddy all the skills that she has learned during swim class. They had such a wonderful time swimming together and Santa even made an appearance on deck to say hello to all the children with their families (please note that Santa did not go in the swimming pool, hehe).  Even though I was only a spectator, I couldn’t help feel the joyous spirit with the Christmas music playing in the background and watching all the families having so much fun. There was a holiday story corner where you can hear your favourite holiday story, a festive photo booth with props to capture your moment at the event and there was also a relay game where you need to help Santa deliver his gifts. All of these activities combined made it such an amazing event.

Not only did this event encompass all the fun from the holidays but it captured the spirit! Aqua-Tots Swim Schools showed the true spirit of the season by collecting non-perishable food items for the Mississauga Food Bank and they were also selling Ollie ornaments (Ollie is their official Otter mascot and the ornaments were created by one of the staff members – talk about talent!) which proceeds from the sale was benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters Charity. The true spirit of the season is giving and that is exactly what Aqua-Tots Swim Schools was doing on this fine Saturday afternoon.

Of course we had to purchase one and we have proudly hung it on our tree at home.

Above all, we had an amazing time at this very special event. We enjoyed every piece of it and the best take away for us was doing it together as a family. As we left the event, my husband turned to me and said that this was the best afternoon! He got to spend some real quality time with Nikki and this is everything that he ever wanted. Hearing that made my day as it was so nice to see them bond as my husband works different shifts and sometimes long hours so quality time is hard to do. This event gave that opportunity and it was just so much fun!

Remember that if you are looking to enroll your child in a swimming school, Aqua-Tots Swim Schools would be a great choice as they offer these types of events that really bring the community together.

Also make sure to follow them on Facebook to see what’s new.

Until next…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga


 

 

Fresh City Is Providing A Healthier Way To Do Groceries

“Fresh City makes it simple to eat a healthy and seasonal diet. Working with some of Ontario’s best farmers and makers to deliver fresh produce and healthy local + organic groceries right to your door.”

They are a city farm and are proud to work with some of Ontario’s finest growers. From sourcing from organic farms, to packing in reusable bags, to delivering with electric bikes, their operations respect both people and planet. They are a Certified B-Corp and have been featured in several documentaries for their pioneering work in farming the city.

Located at Downsview Park, they organically grow on two acres and in a greenhouse. It’s where they run farm tours and events as well as many of their workshops.  The 3,000-square foot greenhouse is fully self-contained and off-grid, the greenhouse boasts rainwater capture and irrigation system and uses solar energy to power the fans.

Fresh City has created a Member Farmer Program as a way to connect urban farmers to land, facilities, and a supportive learning community. Today the program supports over 20 farmers as they pursue self-sufficiency and farming business dreams. Fresh City farmers grow vegetable, herbs, and flowers for them to sell.

Sounds like an amazing operation, doesn’t it?! Well, it just got better with the recent launch of the baby/toddler category.

I had the opportunity to recently try their services and products to see how it would work for my amazing community of readers.

Firstly an account would need to be set up on their website where you would put in all your information and then you can begin to follow the instructions to order your groceries online.

There are many things that can be ordered and I just didn’t know what I wanted to try first but I did manage to put a good list of things from a variety of the different categories but especially from the baby/toddler category.  My order was inputted with a simple click of the mouse and my delivery was scheduled for the following week on a Wednesday. It was very simple!

The delivery date arrived and I was excited to receive the package. It arrived promptly on the Wednesday and was neatly packed in a great reusable bag which can be returned or you may leave it at your door for the next order delivery date. I would call this environmentally friendly!

The baby and toddler products that I received were some fruit snacks, Hugga Bear Chocolate chip cookies, pasta with different shapes (dino and farm ones which are super cute!) and we also got the sensitive unscented baby wipes. We also got ourselves some neat things too.


The products all looked so great and they are high quality food. The fruits we got are fresh and taste great! Everything that we got we have loved.

Therefore, for this #MelandNikkiReview we give Fresh City 5 Kiwis out of 5 for the quality of food, prompt delivery, simple to use service, environmentally friendly and offering healthy options for families in the Greater Toronto Area. It’s a mouth full of great qualities but all worth mentioning. It’s a service that is great for families who want healthy options and it is convenient at its finest.

There is more with Fresh City that you will need to check out such as the prepared meal, recipe kits and so much more.

As a special offer to Momma Braga readers you can receive $20 off your order as a first time customer by using promo code: FRESHREADER. What a great offer – thank you Fresh City!

Make sure to follow Fresh City on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as I am sure there will be so much more to come from them.

Special thank you to Kim from Fresh City for giving Momma Braga the opportunity to review their great service and keep up the great work!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

How I Survived A Carousel Ride In Order To #MomWin

By: Grace Cross
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The body can betray you sometimes. I want to be a person who goes on the scariest roller coaster and then immediately jumps on the second scariest roller coaster and lives to tell about it. I am not scared of heights and I love the views! However, my body wants to court the garbage pail, sending me and my lunch contents into a never ending stream of yesterday’s food choices.  I throw up. I get a headache for over 24 hours. First world problem, absolutely! In an alternate universe, I ride the highest roller coasters for days.   But like most people when something makes them feel bad, I avoid it. That is, until I became a Mom.

My little one is brave and loves to try new things and experiences. Those experiences defy my stomach as this little human being likes things that are fast, high and fun. Let me climb the highest jungle gym. Let me spin until I fall with dizziness. Let me hang from this high tree. The world is this child’s oyster.

Luckily, when it comes to rides, my partner has the drive for everything fast and furious and loves to take our child on these adventures. However, that was all challenged with a girl’s day with one of my favorites, Momma Braga.

Momma Braga is that ride or die friend you have always wanted. She has a whole lot of life in her tiny frame but she shares in my nausea of rides. We like to do the same things and we click. Meeting a bestie in your 30s is something dreams are made of. Though our children get along like peas and carrots, I love hanging out with Momma B on my own accord as well.

When Momma Braga and her fun sister in law and little Nikki invited us to the Toronto Christmas Market, I knew it was going to be a fun time. The joy of Christmas is in Toronto, there are a lot of fun vendors and a Christmas tree that would knock your socks off. Also Campbell’s was doing a great donation drop off. It’s always great to give back to the community!

It smelled like Christmas, It felt like Christmas. It was cold (obviously, being Canada) but it’s not too cold. The warmth of so many bodies browsing amongst the vendors and the dodging visitors taking endless Christmas selfies can keep a body warm. But beyond a show stopping Christmas tree had our children’s destiny… a merry-go-round.

I remember being able to stomach it. I was five years old and I wanted the horse that looked like it would go the highest. I would hop on with my visiting cousins and we would pretend we were “racing”.

Be honest, the best times in your life are sometimes not the biggest moments in your life. A given best memory would be perhaps your child being born or if you chose to get married. But some memories are not just milestones or big events. Some of the best times in your life are on a beautiful centurion merry-go-round, ‘racing’ your cousins on a summer day.

I don’t know when I started getting sick on rides or how. But now it’s a time to call to action. It’s a girls evening in Toronto, my partner is not here to take my daughter on this spinney ride. It’s my turn. My little one is so excited to go on her first merry-go-round ride and her friend is equally thrilled. Plus, Momma Braga is getting on.

Her sister in law generously buys our tickets and dispenses the advice to just focus on one point, rather than letting your eyes follow the spin of the carousel. Okay, I can do this.

We get on this wobbly merry-go-round and the kids are already filled with dreams and requests on what horse to ride on. The lights are bright and Toronto looks beautiful. I bid adieu to the CN Tower that stands prominently in the Toronto skyline and I hear the horn go off. The ride is going to begin. The sound echoes the horrible horn like sound of the alien in War of The Worlds when the aliens are about to annihilate the human race. I smile at my metaphor. Momma Braga is a whole 8 inches shorter than I am and she is holding up little Nikki. We both look at each other and say our good-byes, as we both get sick on these things. And we start to spin. Then I focus. I focus on my child’s smile. I focus on the hair blowing in the wind. I focus on the joys of “racing” with her best friend right beside her. I focus on the “Oh Gosh’s” that Momma Braga is saying. She’s not sick. I am not sick. We are impending something that is not going to happen. I focus on how this was me, many moons ago, with the same innocence of life just beginning and not having any of the answers and not really having many questions either.

The horn blows again and Momma Braga, our kids and I wobble off. We did not throw up or have a terrible headache. What we do have is two very excited little people who are so proud to have gone on their first merry-go-round ride.  As I step off the merry- go round I take pride that I was not sick and that my little one had a good time. Then I realize, I had one of those “best small moments” of my life.

Sometimes, a #MomWin is conquering a small fear you have had. Sometimes our children challenge our comfort zones and teach us lessons that have magnitude. I remember my Mother in law telling me she had a fear of heights and my partner dragged her up one of those epic waterslides that have what looks like to be a 90 degree fall. Before she can convince him to rethink this, he slides down. Now she’s stuck. She has a seven year old at the bottom of this waterslide, alive yet alone. She could walk down the 14 flights of stairs or she can get to him quicker, by sliding down. But she’s scared. But her son is amongst hundreds of other people at a waterpark while she is stuck at the top of this really high and really scary waterslide. As I’ve mentioned, she has a fear of heights. However, her #MomWin overpowers her and she puts her arms over her chest and crosses her feet and slides down the scary waterslide! She ends up by her child’s side. She still has her fear of heights but her urge to protect her child outweighed her fear. In my humble opinion, she still has the fear but now realizes it’s manageable and it does not overcome her.

No matter if your challenges are big or small our children can be our biggest teachers, without even knowing it. Some of our life’s challenges can become our greatest memories, no matter how simple or profound they are. I got to get on a merry-go-round and the winter day melted into those summer memories of my childhood, racing with my cousins. Except, I was reliving that memory with my favorite person on the planet, my child. I got to experience it with one of my dearest friends and her daughter which is awesome.

And a simple day became a great day.

No matter how big or how small in my case a challenge is, a #MomWin is a #MomWin. How did you have a #MomWin #DadWin or #ParentWin? This goes for family members like aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends of children as well. Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.

Now, after my overblown confidence of not getting sick over a simple ride, I may be able to tell my partner the next time my little one gets the urge to try a ride that I’ve got this after all!

The Toronto Christmas Market was voted one of the World’s 10 Best Holiday Markets by Fodor’s Travel and Top 10 Christmas Markets by Jetlegs. It is located at the Distillery Historic District in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is a not for profit organization that charges admissions only on weekends starting at 5pm on Fridays (it gets pretty busy!) and is open 7 days a week. It boasts dozens of vendors that sell Christmas wears, yummy treats and so much more! In 2017, it is currently celebrating its 8th year and we have to say it’s its best year yet! Be sure to go both during the day and at night when the lights are up. It is truly two different experiences! We can’t wait to go again next year!

Disclaimer: No Moms were harmed in the making of this article. An ego was bruised but no harm done 😉 

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