Day 7 of the 10 Days of Giveaways – No More Guilt


Let’s make it through to the New Year without feeling guilty, shall we? NO MORE GUILT. Even with all the parties, the drinks, the rich foods, the desserts, the eggnog, the cookies, the treats, and the chocolate…you can do it. And you can get your kids through it too without gorging on too much junk food and feeling bad about it (and maybe sick too).
I’m not suggesting you avoid any of the delicious items you crave during the season. I’m simply going to give you my top five ways to have it all in a realistic way. You can maintain balance through the holidays. It’s possible.

#1: Don’t Go Hungry
I literally mean don’t GO hungry. If you’re heading to a holiday party, cocktail party, or function, have a little something to eat before you go that contains a little protein and fibre. This could be a small salad, veggies and hummus or even an apple with some nut butter. We all know we make better decisions when it comes to food when our stomach isn’t growling. Ever grabbed that bag of chips when grocery shopping on an empty stomach? Yah, THAT. Avoid it by eating a small snack and then you’ll be able to resist piling everything on your plate.

#2: Plan Ahead
When it comes to kids and parties, we all do it. We put out the chips and popcorn and candy before the meal is even served and then our kids go all crazy and eat EVERYTHING and don’t eat a lick of dinner. If you’re concerned that snacks at a party will be unhealthy, or that your kids will only eat cookies, bring something! Plan to bring a fruit or veggie tray and let your kids know they have to have some of the good stuff before the bad stuff. Same goes if you’re hosting an event, have a healthy option so parents and kids can make better choices and leave it up to them!

#3: 80/20
I live by the 80/20 rule every day and this allows me to eat the birthday cake and have the wine and NOT have the guilt that usually comes along with it. 80% of the time, I eat as healthfully as I possibly can. I drink water, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and make good decisions. This leaves the other 20% of my life to enjoy some treats and not worry so much. So if you start doing this now, you can allow yourself to “let loose” at a party and not feel bad about it the next day because you’ll get right back on track.

#4: Have the Treats
This goes hand in hand with #3. If your Great-Aunt only makes her special one-of- a-kind shortbread cookies that no one else makes and you can’t get them anywhere else and this is your only chance…well EAT THEM. And enjoy them! The Holidays don’t have to be all about food but there is something special about certain holiday treats that are only available NOW. They don’t sell eggnog in July…just sayin’.

#5: Every Day is Another Chance
So you made some bad decisions? Drank too much? Let your kids eat the Gingerbread house for dinner? It’s ok. Every day is another chance to start again and make a change. Have a really great breakfast. Find something green for lunch. Remember to hydrate. And take a deep breath.

You can make it through the holidays this year without gaining weight, without feeling sick, and without feeling guilty. Be aware of what is going on around you and how you feel. Enjoy yourself. Don’t stress! Plan ahead. And remember to smile and have fun! The holidays are only here once year and you deserve to enjoy them. Happy Holidays!

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The one thing I did with both of my kids was music classes – it’s like the universal love language amongst the under five crowd. Alison Porter, owner of Love Notes Music, shares a really wonderful gift guide and overview of the instruments your kids might like. This post is a real treasure. Speaking of treasures Alison is giving away a 12 week class (usually $276) – and you can join as early as January. For your chance to win make sure you tag a friend on Facebook or follow us on Instagram.




As the director of an early childhood music school that readies children to play an instrument I often get asked at holiday times to recommend places to buy glockenspiels, xylophones, hand drums, drum sets, ukuleles, guitars, keyboards, shakers etc. for young children. So here it is – my musical gift giving guide for parents of 0-5 year olds which will cover all those topics.

The first thing I always tell people is please, if you are looking for a real instrument for your child to play, for the love of Pete, do not buy the cheapest thing going! Cheap instruments sound bad, go out of tune easily, can be harder to play and you run the risk of turning your child off of playing an instrument because the instrument itself will hold them back and deplete their enthusiasm very quickly. In some cases you don’t have to spend much more to get something decent and your ears and your child’s long term joy will thank you in the long run.

Now, if you have a 3-year-old or younger who is rough on toys and you think the instrument will be used as a hammer as often as it lends itself to a tune, by all means get the cheapo uke or glock.

Also, FYI, none of the raft of links I’ve posted here are affiliates, i.e. I don’t make any money off them so click away with full confidence that I actually just LOVE these products and shops.


You can’t go wrong with a uke! This mellow little sweetheart is very popular these days and it also happens to be the perfect entry level instrument for kids. Soft strings, small stature, great price point. I highly recommend Kala ukes (and their sister brand Ma-Kala) – great tone and durability. These American made beauties come with glowing reviews from top uke players, guitar shops and ukulele teachers alike and start at about $75.

Kala and Ma-Kala ukuleles and can be found locally at 12th Fret Guitars, Cask Music and online at Empire Music.


The go to name for smaller guitars is Beaver Creek. Every teacher and guitar junky I talk to agrees on this. Beaver Creek makes ½ sized classical guitars that have nylon strings which go easy on small fingers. They also come in fun colours – pink, blue, ultra-hip sunburst and au natural.

Beaver Creek Guitars are available locally at 12th Fret Guitars and Cask Music and online at Cosmo Music.


In my early childhood music classes I have spoiled myself and the kids with top-of-the-line glocks and xylophones by Studio 49. These are classroom grade instruments with beautiful tone and tuning. They ain’t cheap though. I have tried out dozens of mid-range metal glocks and I just cannot get excited about their tinny sounds – and so many of them are poorly/haphazardly tuned! My advice is to stick to their mellow wooden cousin the xylophone or just get a really small and therefore quiet glockenspiel. Good brands to check out for toy glocks and xylophones are Plan Toys and Djeco.

The Studio 49 glockenspiel and xylophone I use in my classes are available online at St. John’s Music. Plan Toys and Djeco instruments are available locally at Silly Goose Kids and Treasure Island Toys. Also, for a not too pricey personalized and hand-made glock try Cake In The Morn.


Hands down, my favourite hand drums for kids are by Remo. Everything from their cheap and cheerful “Lollipop Drums” to their huge family sized “Gathering Drum” is quality. They’ve got soft mallets, kid friendly designs and a great reputation among early childhood music educators.

Remo Drums are available locally at Long and McQuade and online at Empire Music.


My go to one-stop online shop for early childhood music toys is the Canadian-owned Empire Music. They carry clavés, harmonicas, wrist scarves, egg shakers, triangles, gift sets, and so much more. Locally, Silly Goose Kids and Treasure Island Toys both have nicely rounded out selections for 0-3 year olds and Long and McQuade has a solid selection for 3+ years in their percussion department.


Drum kit for you kid eh? Brave you! For the little drummer in your family you can’t beat Westbury RB Junior drum kits. They’ve got replaceable and tuneable skins (there’s that sounding better thing again!) and all metal parts.

RB Junior Drums are available locally at Long and McQuade.


For keyboards, I wanted to get the skinny from a pro, so I talked to Larra Debly, owner of local music school Sweet Music Lessons to get a solid recommendation. Larra said to look for a keyboard with “weighted keys” to simulate the feel of a real piano. She also warned that If music lessons are in your child’s future to look for a keyboard without too many bells and whistles as they can be a tad distracting. (drum beats, orchestra hits, flutes and choir voices oh my!) However, if you are looking for something a little less serious check out Mastermind Toys locally and online for a wide variety of keyboards – they even have one shaped like a cat and also a cool gigantic foot piano!

A wide selection of keyboards with weighted keys are available locally from Long & McQuade.

Is your kiddo addicted to making music? Why not try out a free trial class?  At Lovenotes School of Music parent/child music classes our expertise lies in building solid musical foundations for 0-5 year olds in a fun and nurturing environment.



We’ve got an amazing selection of stocking stuffers from our direct mail friends, plus a special self care gift from our friends at BSide Beauty. This one is so jam packed we’ve decided to spread it out over the whole weekend, so you have plenty of time to enter to win all these goodies. The deadline for entries will be Monday 11th December 2017. You’ll find all the details on how to enter below, but first let’s introduce you to our friends and their amazing products.

Last week a friend was telling me about how she worked for Arbonne and got a Mercedes – crazy eh? I can see why direct sales companies are so successful – they take away any and all need to actually leave your house. With small kids at home wandering around a mall is absolutely not something I do these days. I asked my friends from Arbonne, Beauty Counter, and Young Living to give me their top stocking stuffers. The great news is that you can still make purchases and get them in time for the holidays.

First up: Erin from Arbonne

If you want to fill your own stocking – Glossed Over Lip Gloss – Cardinal, it’s red of course!  Then for a little sparkle the Sheer Glow Highlight Stick  After all of your parties are done you will need a little downtime perhaps in the tub with the door locked!  The Rescue and Renew Soak will remove the impurities and will cleanse the skin.  And finally for the kids, who doesn’t love the smell of cookies?  Have a little fun in the tub with our Sugar Cookie Bath Time Gift Set! And we’re giving this all away!

Giveaway: We’re giving away all of this in today’s giveaway. See details below on how to enter.

To order contact Erin Binns at or visit

Next up: Jocelyn from Beauty Counter – Beautycounter’s mission is to get safer skincare into the hands of everyone.

Clean Slate Holiday Duo ($58) – Our activated charcoal set. Start your day with a clean slate.
Cleansing Balm ($94) – My 6-year old daughter calls this “magic” as it soothes any itchy eczema areas she has so quickly, that the irritation stops and literally disappears.
Better Baby Care Set ($70).  A trio of baby bath-and-body formulas and an exclusive, limited edition buddy crafted by kids brand Finn + Emma. Includes Baby Gentle All-Over Wash, Baby Daily Protective Balm and Baby Soothing Oil.

Giveaway: Beautycounter’s Rejuvenating Radiance Serum helps even the look of skin tone, improve hydration, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles thanks to a combination of vitamin C, mixed fruit acid complex, and algae and marine extract. Lightweight and easily absorbed, the formula is a must for layering under your moisturizer. See details below for how to enter to win.

To order contact Joceyln Rose Settle at or visit


Third up: Lourdes from Young Living on the Danforth

Young Living’s Premium Starter Kit, a fantastic gift for the whole family. Equipped with a diffuser and eleven premium essential oils and blends that will not only pamper but help relieve cough and cold symptoms.

The Desert Mist Diffuser – Give the gift of relaxation with a gorgeous Desert Mist diffuser that comes with a bottle of Young Living’s Lavender and Citrus Fresh. This multi-purpose diffuser is a humidifier, atomizer and aroma diffuser.

Young Living Plus+ Dietary Oils for Cooking – Add a drop to water, holiday baking, your pasta sauce and favourite savoury dishes. Young Living’s Plus+ dietary line has been approved by Health Canada for cooking with and ingesting.

To order contact Lourdes Calderon at or visit

Giveaway: Young Living Lavender oil and Carrier oil.

And last but not least, BSide Beauty

BSide Beauty offers an array of services for all your beauty needs. We offer manicures, pedicures, makeup application, lash extensions, threading and full wax services – plus a bar menu you’ll love.

And on Tuesdays between 10am and 2pm, you can bring your baby (between 0-8 months) and get a 25% discount! Now that sounds like some guilt free self care!

Today’s giveaway is a massive gift pack overflowing with amazing products from these four friends of ours. To enter, tag a friend on Facebook. For an extra entry, tag a friend on Instagram. (Both people must be following Emily D Photography.) You have until Monday 11th December 2017 to get your entry in and encourage all your friends to do the same!

Blanket Scarf

Day 2 and next up are our friends at Smithery!

Smithery is an e-boutique based on the principles of personal styling to simplify shopping and make fashion more inclusive. One of our biggest style tips is to always think about your outfit in threes – the 3rd piece is the easiest way to take two basics and turn them into a LOOK. That includes vests, cardis, statement necklaces and the go-to 3rd piece of the season…the blanket scarf. And – bonus!-  it’s especially giftable because you seriously can’t have too many (not in Canadian winters!) and they fit all sizes.

What to think about when picking out a blanket scarf? Here’s a few starters:

  1. What colour is her coat: if you know what her jacket looks like, pick a scarf that will be a happy match. That can mean incorporating the same shade or picking a shade that is brilliantly contrasting.
  1. What is her colouring: Warm skin tones look better with warmer shades and cool skin tones look better with cooler shades
  1. What would she love but maybe not buy for herself: That’s the fun of gifting! A wild card can turn into the compliment magnet she never knew she was missing.

Every Smithery blanket scarf comes with a box of Teapigs loose leaf tea and styling tips. We’re calling it the cozy pack and it’s back for it’s second holiday season because styling the blanket scarf can sometimes feel elusive. But it’s not! The easiest and our favourite simple way to style it is below:

The Triangle

  1. Hold it open as a full square
  2. Fold the square in half to make a triangle
  3. Place the point of the triangle in front of you and hold the ends in either hand
  4. Cross the ends behind your head and pull them around to the front
  5. Tuck them under the scarf and adjust so you have some breathing room around the neck

Follow along with these step by step visuals from

How to Style a Blanket Scarf

Once that’s down, there are so many other ways to make the blanket scarf work for you.  This pinterest board will get you inspired!

Win this blanket scarf to gift (or to receive!). To enter hop on over to Facebook and find the Day 2 Giveaway posts on both the Mommy Connections East Toronto and Smithery pages and tag a friend in each. Have your friend follow our page for another entry and follow us on Instagram.



We have ten days of exciting giveaways that are all local and easy to get this close to Christmas. We’ve tapped into the collective knowledge of our many presenters who have been generous enough to provide a ton of giveaways and even more great information.

I’m so OVER all of the American gift guides – I mean seriously – you find a ton of cute things, go to buy it, get it delivered and then have to pay duty. I’m sure it’s clearly indicated but who even has time to read those details ;-).

With my own laziness in mind and a commitment to supporting the female run businesses I know and love I thought I’d take you along for the ride. These gifts are things that either I or my family has loved. All of the gifts we’re giving away are both beautiful and useful.

So, for the next week and a half I’ll be sharing a ton of my favorite things – it’ll be like my very own opinion festival and, in exchange for your attention, I’ll be giving something away every single day either on Instagram or Facebook.


Our first giveaway is a $500 gift certificate with me, Emily D Photography. To enter hop over to my Instagram or Facebook and tag a friend on the giveaway page. You will get one entry into the draw per person you connect us to. If your friend decides to follow us on Instagram or Facebook that also counts as another entry. Get an extra entry if you join my photography newsletter.


Would you like to win tickets to Toronto’s premier early parenting show, The Baby Show?

You can spend the day getting pampered, learning from experts, and shopping everything pregnancy, baby and toddler from top local and national brands!

Mommy Connections fans can save $3 off the $15 ticket price with the online promo code MC2014, buy yours here.

Enter for your chance to win a pair of tickets to The Baby Show, September 27 & 28 at the Direct Energy Centre, Hall D, Exhibition Place!

One lucky grand prize winner will also walk away with a pair of tickets to the VIP Lounge!  Enter our contest by clicking on this link:a Rafflecopter giveaway


Contest closes Monday Sept 22nd, 11:59pm.

mommyconnection-February-2014 My daughter just started preschool, yikes, yes I know preschool.  Crazy how quickly these little ones grow up.  The reason she started was because I had another baby! She had never been in daycare before he arrived so I wasn’t exactly on the ball with labeling everything she took to school. Then I discovered Elora labels!!!! Ordering is really easy.

It takes just 4 simple steps;

1. Choose your package type

2. Pick your color combo

3. Choose your ICON

4. Add your name

My labels arrived within a couple days and then the fun began!!! In my set of labels I received:

– dog tag (which I put on her lunch bag and backpack)

– foot labels for her shoes she’s brings to school

– square labels for all her clothes (we all know how much their clothing goes missing)

– big heart shaped labels for her bigger items (lunch bag, dolls)

– slim labels for other items like spoons, forks, sippy cups, etc.

The package came with more than enough and now I feel relieved sending items to school knowing that if it get mixed up it will be returned.

Oh I almost forgot the best part, it’s FREE shipping in Canada! So if you need a set of labels…..

Enter our contest to win your own standard set of Elora labels, valued at $34.95 CLICK HERE TO ENTER CONTEST.

HealthyMomAndChild copyWe know moms are the experts, but they are often left feeling voiceless, and as though their needs go unmet. 

“42% of Moms believe that the majority of marketing is not geared towards ‘women like me’” – (webershandwick)

We hear you, and you and you!

We need your help – fill in the Mommy Connections childcare survey and let us know what the major decision making factors are when considering childcare. Improving the opportunity for watertight childcare is the end goal so lets reach for it.

The contest will close on Sunday February 8, 2014 at 4pm – don’t hesitate!

The winner will be chosen randomly, so DON’T FORGET to include your email at the top of the survey before you begin!

All you have to do is go to this survey (link posted below) and fill it out:

Now for the good stuff! The prize:


Valued at an average of $80 per ticket, one participant from Alberta and Ontario will be chosen at random to redeem this fabulous prize. Some conditions do apply. Please see Terms & Conditions (at the top of the survey) for details.

The link to the survey is again posted below. Good luck and thank you for taking the time to make sure we reach our end goal. Top quality childcare.

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