An Inside Look At The New Duran Place For Kids In Oakville!

There’s a new sand box in town, and it’s not at your local playground!

Last week we had the pleasure of visiting the new Duran Place For Kids, as part of our Travelling Tots program.  Owned and operated by a local Oakville family, this unique play centre is based out of a beautifully restored commercial school in downtown Oakville.

The owners, Claudio Duran and Tina De Crisci, know a thing or two about children. They have five children, they are foster parents and Tina is an elementary teacher.

The previously mentioned sand box, is actually an entire room filled with Sandtastik sand!

Venture a few steps into the next room and your little one’s imagination can run wild with these life size building blocks.

The best part?  There’s a comfortable sitting lounge in between the two rooms where families can relax with a complementary coffee while surfing the free wi-fi (that is, if you can tear yourself away from playing yourself!)

The bottom floor reminds me of a modern wooden ski lounge – it’s currently being used for the centre’s variety of art programs – both for children and adults.  The space can also be rented for adult parties/meetings.  Liquor licenses available!

The middle floor is set up for music lessons.

The beautiful upper floor is filled with natural light via the original windows.  Families can enjoy a variety of activities up here like Salsa Tots, Yoga, ballet, Hip Hop, and Kickboxing.

A short flight of stairs up and you’re on the 1,300 square foot rooftop.  The owners are toying with a number of ideas as to how to use what is soon to be the most popular floor.  From a summer green space to create art, to a mini ice rink in the winter – the possibilities are only limited by the wild imagination.  Rumour has it that the roof top also boasts prime seating for the Oakville Santa Claus parade!

You’re sure to be delighted by all kinds of other surprises throughout the building, including beautiful artwork and 5 mini fairy doors!








Each floor is available to rent for parties, as each floor is equipped with its own kitchenette and washroom.  The only thing to be mindful of is that the rooms are only accessible via stairs – grandfathered in its use since major renovations in 2000.

There are a few parking spots onsite and some are also available on the street.  Entry fees for play are just $10/child.  Have fun exploring this amazing new addition to Oakville!

The steps involved in buying or selling a home can seem overwhelming, and that’s especially true when deals happen fast. A recent survey by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) found that the majority of Ontarians who bought or sold a home in the last five years weren’t in the market for very long.

Among the buyers surveyed, nearly 57 per cent said they purchased their property within three months of when they started actively looking.

For sellers, things happened even more quickly: 67 per cent said they sold their property in under three months. Overall, 54 per cent thought the process took less time than they had anticipated.

When you’re ready to make a move, take a deep breath, sketch out a plan and get informed before you enter the market. After all, you may begin by casually browsing listings only to stumble across a place you love, and suddenly find yourself in the throes of a major purchase. By being informed right from the start, you’ll have confidence in the decisions you are making, even if they do happen quickly.

Following these four must-do tips is a great place to start:

1. Shop around before you shop around for a home

Real estate salespeople and brokerages vary widely in terms of experience, expertise and services provided, so meet with at least three salespeople before you sign an agreement. When you have a shortlist of representatives, ask each of them some questions to determine which one is right for you:

– Walk me through your real estate experience.

– Describe your general approach to buying and selling, and how your approach will best suit my needs.

– Tell me about the fees and commissions I’ll have to pay.

– Which services does your brokerage provide, and are any of them included in our agreement?

– How often will you provide me with progress updates, and how will we communicate?

– Could you please provide me with some references?

2. Look them up

Before you meet with any salespeople or brokers, be sure to look them up using the “Look up a real estate salesperson, broker or brokerage” search tool in the top right-hand corner of RECO’s website. It will tell you if they’re registered and in good standing, and if they have faced any disciplinary action.

3. Read and understand everything

When you hire a real estate representative to help you buy or sell a home, you will likely be asked to sign an agreement that defines your relationship with the representative’s brokerage. It’s a legal contract that spells out how long the agreement is for, the location it covers and what fees or commissions will need to be paid.

Also, when you buy or sell a home, you will need to sign a legal contract to complete the transaction. This agreement contains a lot of important information in addition to price and conditions, such as whether the appliances and light fixtures stay with the house.

These are just two examples of real estate agreements that are legally binding, meaning you typically can’t back out once you’ve signed on the dotted line.

Whenever you’re presented with a document that requires a signature, read it and understand it thoroughly. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, or request that your representative walk you through it, line by line. If you’re still unsure about something, consider asking your lawyer for advice.

4. Be an active participant in the process

Your salesperson is a knowledgeable resource who can help you make informed decisions, but you should always remember that you’re the one in the driver’s seat, even when the car appears to be accelerating down the expressway.

Be an active participant in the process. That means being open and candid with your representative about what’s important to you in a home, and which services you expect from him or her. Your salesperson can best help you when you’re clear about what you want.

And it means you have a responsibility to perform your own due diligence: asking questions, understanding any required paperwork, conducting your own research (when necessary), and being an active participant through every step.

Remember, you own the process.

Looking for a larger home for your growing family? Check out some helpful advice about whether to buy first or sell first and the 5 questions you should ask before selecting a real estate representative.

There’s a lot of information out there about market trends and how to get the best price, but you also need to know about your rights and responsibilities as a home buyer or seller.  

When it comes to real estate transactions, the more you know, the better you’re protected. Visit RECO’s website to learn more.


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Enjoy a TRUE full-time income with part time hours, and be part of a recession-proof industry! In The Mix is an interactive and exciting dance program that incorporates iPad technology, designed to get children’s minds and bodies moving. We are looking for motivated, entrepreneurs who want to run their own business Regions.

Here’s what we offer:

We are currently in schools all across the GTA with increasing demand. Brampton, Mississauga and Barrie is our latest expanded regions.  This is an excellent opportunity for people looking to maintain the perfect work life balance while running a successful company from home.

Business and dance background NOT required…just the right attitude and enthusiasm to be a part of something GREAT!

This opportunity is for someone serious about earning an lifestyle that promotes self esteem, confidence and teamwork with children all over Canada. We are looking for passionate and driven individuals to join our team. Learn more by clicking here.

Contact: June Marino

Operations Manager


in the mix

We have discovered a new tool to help make meal planning easier! Meal Garden is virtual marketplace that allows you to easily find healthy meals based on:

  • What you and your family like (or dislike)
  • Time available for preparation
  • Budget
  • Allergies

Think of it as a ‘google’ for meals! Within one app you’ll be able to:

  • Find recipes from around the web (or from your own cookbook)
  • Automatically generate grocery lists for those recipes
  • Pre order the ingredients for pick up from participating grocery stores (yes – this is the future of grocery store service!)
  • Search restaurant take-out/delivery options
  • Order meal services like Mealspirations, Fresh Canteen, Green Zebra Kitchen, Organic Produce Boxes, etc.

Play with AppMG copyThe system will act as a concierge; managing the scheduling and payment aspects of these processes and even recognizing ingredients on-hand (ie what’s in your pantry).

At the heart of this system is a series of ‘Health Algorithms’. Every recipe or meal in the system is processed through these algorithms to determine a ‘Health Value’. This value is prominently displayed and can be calculated specifically for your family. Simplifying the process of eating healthier.

This app is still in the testing phase, and Meal Garden is looking for input from moms like you. They’ve created a simple demo system for you to walk through and then answer 5 short yes/no questions at the end. The whole process will take less than 3 minutes, and you’ll be entered to win a $100 Gift Certificate to a grocery store of your choice!  Just follow and click on the blue dot.  Survey must be completed by midnight on Monday Nov 3rd.

Ready to give it a try? Click here.

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Guest Blog Written By Monkey See Monkey Do

Young children throw temper tantrums quite often and unfortunately it’s not always easy to tell why. Maybe it’s because they want something from you, they’re frustrated and unable to  communicate, or simply tired.  It can be embarrassing at the time but we have to remember it happens in every family. Here are some RECE recommended tips for defeating an episode with ease.



Transitioning my babies to solids, and introducing them to new foods was, and is, one of my fave experiences.  I enjoyed it with my first, and therefore couldn’t wait to start with my second little guy. It’s so exciting and fun to watch them try new foods, flavours and textures for the first time. One of Roman’s original favourites was the blueberries and banana combo. So messy, but oh so delicious!


Roman @ 6 months old (now 5 years old) enjoying his blueberries & bananas

In my search for new combos of flavours for Nico, I stumbled on Tyler Florence’s roasting recipes, and his cookbook Start Fresh. This particular cookbook of his is filled with recipes, for infants, babies, toddlers and well…adults too. Tyler loves to roast. He says in his cookbook that it’s “your best tool for winning your children over to what they may still consider the dark side of eating; fresh vegetables. The roasting process brings out food’s natural sugars and deeply develops its flavour in a way that boiling and even steaming simply can’t”

He’s right!!!! The proof is in the difference between a roasted sweet potato on the bbq vs steamed.

Using fresh blueberries from the market (#summerbucketlist), I ventured to try roasting the blueberries and bananas instead. Wow! So sweet and delicious! It was a big hit, not just with Nico but the whole family! While Nico eats his as a puree, the rest of us mix it in our oatmeal, yogurt, and just this past weekend, we put it on top of our homemade banana ice cream (#summerbucketlist).


For Tyler’s original recipe, click here.


Throw about 4 Bananas & a bunch of Blueberries (about a pint) on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper


After about 20-25 minutes in the oven. Usually gauged by when the banana starts to split


Peeled bananas and blueberries in the Nutribullet


Pureed and put ice cube trays, ready to be frozen and packaged in a ziploc bags.

Tip: Check out Fresh Baby Ice Cube Trays. They are great for freezing, and so easy to pop out the purees once frozen.

These messy smiles say it all!

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Checking off another item from our bucket list – SPLASH PAD! We had a great time this morning at the splash pad, followed by a picnic lunch on the grass. Hot summer days don’t get any better than this!DSC_0831

Top things to bring to the splash pad: bathing suit, swim diapers, hats, towels, buckets/toys, sunscreen, change of clothes and of course snacks!


Splash Pads in the Halton Region:

OAKVILLE has 15 splash pads to enjoy this summer. Click here for a map of locations and hours (courtesy of the Town of Oakville)

BURLINGTON splash pads, including 2 new splash pads this summer. Click here for locations and hours (courtesy of the City of Burlington)

MILTON splash pads are open from 9:00am – 9:00pm till September 6th. Click here for locations (courtesy of the Town of Milton)

Our Summer Bucket List…

Strawberry picking
Vegetable picking
Make homemade popsicles and/or ice cream
Have a picnic in the park
Lemonade stand
See a movie at the Drive-in
Go to Ripleys aquarium
Go to Zoo
Fly a kite
Go to the beach
Spend the day at Bronte creek
Make a bird feeder
Paint outside
Take the Ferry to Toronto Island
Nature scavenger hunt
Go to a concert or storytime in the park
Yoga in the park
Go to a Ribfest
Visit Canada’s Wonderland
Watch fireworks
Family road trip
Go to a local festival
Visit a splash pad
Stand up paddle boarding
Biking with the kids in the Chariot
Attend a workshop at Home Depot or Michaels
Go fishing
Visit a farmers market

Make a pie

Join us this summer as we tackle our Summer Bucket List. Check back for updates on our journey and experiences, recommendations and tips.  Share your own stories, comments and pictures on your experiences with your bucket list. Oh and please let us know if you think there is anything we should add to the list!

One of the great things about the summer is being able to attend a Ribfest almost every. A summer tradition for many families, cities across the GTA will host a Ribfest at some point during the summer. We attended the Toronto Ribfest at Centennial park a few weeks ago and it did not disappoint.

Right here in our neighborhood, Canada’s Largest Ribfest will be at Spencer Smith Park August 29 to September 1.  Enjoy first class ribbers, first class entertainment, and hot sunny weather!

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A Few Tips for Enjoying  Ribfest:

1 – Pack lots of napkins and wipes. While there will be plenty available, it’s best to have enough on hand and closeby for those sticky fingers and messy cheeks.

2 –  Share. As there will be many food vendors,  you will want to try as much as you can. Consider sharing with friends and family. Get a few racks of ribs from a number of ribbers, so that you can try different ones. Each rib vendor specializes in their sauces and how they prepare and grill the ribs.

3 –   Bring Cash. Food Vendors don’t generally take visa or debit, and a bank machine will be hard to find while on the grounds.

4 – Go Hungry.  With so much food to choose from, you’ll want to make sure your stomach is empty and ready. If Ribs aren’t your thing, don’t worry, there is so much more to enjoy; Pulled Pork, Kettle Corn (Auntie Jo’s Kettle Corn), Corn on the Cob (Ontario Corn Roasters),  Fries & Poutine (The Fry’s The Limit), Ice Cream & Snow Cones (Mr. Frostee Treats) and much more.  You won’t leave hungry!

5 – And most importantly. Have Fun! Enjoy the sunny weather, great entertainment, and good company! The summer is finally here!


Check that off The Summer Bucket List.

Strawberry picking
Vegetable picking
Make homemade popsicles and/or ice cream
Have a picnic in the park
Lemonade stand
See a movie at the Drive-in
Go to Ripleys aquarium
Go to Zoo
Fly a kite
Go to the beach
Spend the day at Bronte creek
Make a bird feeder
Paint outside
Take the Ferry to Toronto Island
Nature scavenger hunt
Go to a concert or storytime in the park
Yoga in the park
Go to a Ribfest
Visit Canada’s Wonderland
Watch fireworks
Family road trip
Go to a local festival
Visit a splash pad
Stand up paddle boarding
Biking with the kids in the Chariot
Attend a workshop at Home Depot or Michaels
Go fishing
Visit a farmers market

It’s Crunch Time!!

This is the last week of school! A few months ago, you had grand plans to get your child’s teacher a gift that was both creative and personal  Perhaps you were going to order them a personalized gift or tap into your artistic side and make that School Supply Cake you saw on Pinterest a while back? And now you are thinking you definitely won’t have time to make the apple cake pops.

Photo Courtesy of MommyGAGA

Photo Courtesty of Skip to My Lou

With only have a few shopping nights left, time is not on your side. We’re here to help you.

We asked a group of teachers what gifts they love receiving from their students, and hands down they all said, GIFT CARDS! They can never have enough. Some of the top faves; Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Cadillac Fairview, LCBO, Chapters, Michaels and  Bon Appetit.  While teachers do love gift for their own personal use, they also appreciate gifts for their classrooms or staff rooms (school supplies, books, games, coffee makers, toasters, etc).



Combine your gift card with a personal card from both you and your child, and your child’s teacher will know how much they are appreciated.

Other great gifts: Flowers/Plants, homemade cards or pictures from your child and bottles of wine!

Gifts to stay away from: Candles, Creams, Chocolate and Mugs!

Happy Shopping and Have a great summer!!


4 Great Ways to Enjoy a Non-Alcoholic Beer this Summer

With summer on our doorstep here are four novel ways to enjoy the refreshing taste of beer without the limitations of alcohol.

Beer Popsicle – Two long-time summer favourites have finally come together to help you beat the summer heat in the form of homemade beer popsicles. And with non-alcoholic beer these popsicles can be enjoyed by the whole family – the kids probably won’t even know it’s made from beer. Tip: use a Krombacher Radler to get some citrusy goodness in your pop!

Beermosa – Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so make it special with a non-alcoholic beermosa. Combine two parts beer to one part orange juice to get a healthy and refreshing cocktail to kick-start your day. Then again, you might just want to relax and have another. Tip: try a light and crisp lager like Texas Select to spritz up the OJ or try a wheat beer like Krombacher Weizen to combine notes of citrus, banana and clove and provide a vitamin rich boost.

Beer Picnic – A picnic isn’t a picnic without some ice cold drinks. Put some premium non-alcoholic beer in the cooler and you’ll be sure to turn some heads and some minds. Don’t resist to the urge to have some fun at your friends and relatives expense – serve the beer in a cup and see if anyone can tell that it’s non-alcoholic. After that you can feel good that everyone can drive home without any worries. Tip: enjoy anywhere but be prepared to receive some puzzled looks.

Beer Marinade – Beer and barbeque are like chips and salsa, you can’t have one without the other. But did you know that beer-based marinades can help reduce the formation of potentially harmful substances in grilled meats? Studies found that grilled pork marinated in beer produced half the levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) compared with unmarinated pork. Tip: try darker beers like Sagres Dark or Clausthaler Golden Amber to maximize the effect.

-Ted Fleming, Founder of Premium Near Beer


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