Thursday, February 25, 2010

Going for the Olympic green medal

Latest News from the David Suzuki Foundation
By David Suzuki with Faisal Moola

Several people have asked me if the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics will be the greenest games yet. The answer may be yes – if we’re talking about the abundance of greenery and lack of snow brought on by record high temperatures during one of the earliest spring seasons the city has experienced.

With respect to environmental impact, all Olympic Games leave a very large footprint. Thousands of people flying in from all over the world, along with local transportation and the infrastructure that must be created, mean a lot of carbon emissions get spewed into the atmosphere.

What many people may not realize is that, along with sports, the Olympic movement has two other official “pillars”: culture and the environment. People in Vancouver have seen evidence of the cultural pillar, with an amazing line-up of music, theatre, and other cultural events for the Cultural Olympiad.

Vancouver Olympic organizers have also tried to reduce the environmental impact of the 2010 Games. For example, venues and infrastructure have been built using energy-efficient technologies, clean-energy sources will be used for many aspects of the Games, and carbon offsets will balance out a significant portion of the emissions from the Games. As a result of these and other initiatives, the 2010 Olympics are expected to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than previous Winter Olympics.

But that doesn’t mean the Vancouver Olympics are as green as they could be. In fact, we may eventually have to rethink our approach to such global mega-events if we are serious about reducing the impacts of climate change, particularly as the very future of winter Olympics depends on having winters cold enough to sustain snow and ice.

We hope that future host cities, and the IOC itself, will learn from the lessons of the 2010 Olympics. For example, despite an emphasis on public-transit use during the Games, the Vancouver Olympics will leave the region with few long-term improvements in sustainable transportation. Instead, the highway up to Whistler was widened at a cost of $600 million. And so far, 2010 Olympic organizers haven’t made the most of opportunities to tell the story of their climate initiatives to Canadians and the world. Because so many people will be focused on the host city, and because climate change is a defining issue of our time, the winter Olympics offer an unparalleled opportunity to inspire billions of people around the world with solutions to global warming.

The IOC itself must also play a stronger role to ensure that Olympic organizers take the environment seriously. A look back at previous Olympics shows remarkably varied performances regarding the environment, with the Athens 2004 Games standing out in particular for their weak environmental record. The IOC should set minimum environmental benchmarks so that every organizing committee has clear targets to meet – or exceed. Such benchmarks would also allow successive Olympic Games to be assessed and compared and opportunities for improvement to be identified.

The IOC should also put in a place an external monitoring body for each host city to ensure that standards for addressing climate impacts are upheld. For example, the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 was created to increase accountability of the London Olympic organizers with respect to their sustainability commitments.

And because not all host countries have the same financial means, the IOC could create an environmental fund, with financing from media-rights revenues or other sources. The fund could help less wealthy countries to incorporate environmental considerations into their games, and to invest in long-term environmental and social initiatives in their regions.

Of course, environmental initiatives around Olympic Games are a shared responsibility. For the Vancouver Games, the federal, provincial, and municipal governments, the organizing committee, and other organizations are all accountable when it comes to ensuring that the Games themselves are green and that they leave a lasting legacy for the region.

The Vancouver Olympics have demonstrated that climate change initiatives, such as green venues and clean energy, are not only doable but affordable and can leave lasting legacies for host cities. Future Olympics can and should raise the bar even higher by finding ways to reduce their climate impact and inspiring their worldwide audiences with climate solutions.

{Taken from the David Suzuki Foundation Newsletter. Written by David Suzuki with Faisal Moola}

Undress Me In The Temple of Heaven

Backpacking the world, finding ones self, after years of confined classroom instruction it is the dream of many college graduates to venture out into the “real world”, discover diversity first hand, and authenticate their life through exotic experiences. Susan Jane Gilman and her college friend believe their adventurous sojourn into the mysterious unknown of southeast Asia will allow them the opportunity to conquer the world, to collect experiences which will provide them with worldliness and fonder for conversation for a lifetime!

“But this is our one big chance. We do this, and for the rest of our lives, we’re going to know certain things that almost nobody else does. I mean, do you really think the world needs just a couple more Ivy League assholes--two more people like us who go on to become corporate weenies or lawyers, sleepwalking through life?” (Gilman 2010: 22)

Oprah called Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven “unputdownable”, I call it intensely palpable! An epic journey of discovery Quickly Gilman and her friend plummet into the dangerous depths of the secretive and cloistered communist People’s Republic of China of the 1980s. Inexperienced travellers, youthful and naïve, yet self-satisfied with their self-confidence and intelligence suddenly find themselves “undressed” by their foray into an unknown and foreign culture. Their strength of character is laid bare and their physical and mental well-being tested to the ultimate limits.

This book was a departure from the ordinary and is the most captivating memoir I have had the pleasure of reading. Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven is a testament to the adventurous spirit of impetuous youth and its immense impact on ones personality, character and life development. It is when Gilman encounters personal crisis merged with the xenophobic forces of 1980s China that this memoir becomes the story of inner strength discovery.

I have often dreamed of journeying the world, experiencing first hand the nuances of the many cultures I have only read about…and I still have plans to do so. This memoir may scare off some, it may entice others to test their strength, regardless it will be a riveting story too quirky and strange to be anything but true!
{Oh and there is a Canadian connection…but you’ll have to read the book to discover what this may be.}

Win a copy of this page-turning memoir! Five copies are up for grabs here at Northern Mama!
To Enter:

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Extra Entries:

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Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents. Giveaway closes March 14th, 2010 10:00pm CT. Read Giveaway Rules for further details.

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TCM Presents 31 Days of Oscar!!

The Oscars are just around the corner and during the month of February Turner Classic Movies has been building the momentum while honouring the best of the best in movie history! I know I got a late jump on this excitement but I could not resist joining in!

I am a Classic movie lover! My husband thinks I'm a classic movie buff guru but I know better than to claim such expertise. I am a TCM addict and honestly I am still continually confronted with how little I know about movie history and how many fabulous classic movies I have yet to see. TCM's 31 Days of Oscar is a perfect way to catch notable movies both beloved and well-known, or perhaps--at least to you personally--more obscure and dusty on forgotten shelves!
TCM's 31 Days of Oscar month long tribute could be coined a classic in itself, now in its 16th year hosted by the great Robert Osbourne--true movie guru! Robert Osborne is the official biographer of the Academy Awards and the Academy’s red carpet greeter.

22 films make their debut on TCM this February including:
Gladiator (2000), Titanic (1997), Mrs. Brown (1997), A Room with a View (1985), Trading Places (1983), Frances (1982), Only When I Laugh (1981), Alien (1979), Julia (1977), Serpico (1973),Lady Sings the Blues (1972), Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), An American Dream (1966), Morituri (1965), Summertime(1955), Call Me Madam (1953), The Snake Pit (1948), Moonrise (1948), Kiss of Death (1947), Kitty (1945), Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938) and One Hour with You (1932).

I started to compile a list of my favourites on this years 31 Days of Oscars roster but realized it would span the length of this web page and beyond! I will spare you the horrendously long list and just name a few:

Mildred Pierce, Inherit the Wind, Little Women {there are two versions in this line up}, Waterloo Bridge {I have always admired Vivian Leigh's beauty}, Wuthering Heights and Of Mice and Men {both based on novels I adore}, the light and romantic Roman Holiday and the heavy and dramatic Nun's Story {Audrey Hepburn another actress I've admired for years with whom I share a birth date}, Humphrey Bogart's Maltese Falcon, Casablanca and of course the later African Queen, I must admit a crush on James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause but also I warned my list goes on and on!

Just have a look at the schedule for yourself to find your favourites!

There are still 7 days left of fabulous movies. Whether you are already a huge fan of classic movies and movies of the recent past or are just discovering this world of amazing story telling TCM's 31 Days of Oscar presents the history of film at its best.
And to enhance your 2010 Oscar experience further TCM would like to offer one Northern Mama reader an Oscar Party Pack which includes everything you need to make Oscar night a night to remember!

To Enter:

Extra Entries:

  • Be a Northern Mama Follower {Google}
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Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents. Giveaway closes March 3rd, 12:00am CT. Read Giveaway Rules for further details.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wonderful Wednesday!

Photo from CTV news --TORSTEN SILZ/Getty Images

I have become glued to my television the last week and a half as I live vicariously through the great Canadian athletes which continue daily to make a nation cheer, laugh, cry, and spontaneously break into song! Never have I heard such spontaneous outbursts of our national anthem, never have I encountered such intense national fervor. As stereotype dictates we are proud of our country but often with a passive, laid back, nonchalance. This humility should never be mistaken for indifference nor ingratitude and perhaps now this inner pride we often hold so close to our chest has now been unleashed, put on display for the rest of the world!

Many Canadians may view our win against Russia in men’s hockey a highlight of the day….not to downplay the immense excitement around this game of historic rivals let’s forget the men! Men may dominate the world of professional sport but in the Olympic realm it is the Canadian women who are reign supreme. In the Turin Olympics Canada brought home 24 medals, 16 of which were won by Canadian women!

My source of pride today, the cause for this wonderful Wednesday, are the amazing and admirable Canadian women athletes who set model examples. Winning 4 medals today--gold, 2 silver, and a bronze--they are proving themselves a force to be reckoned with! These women are not heroes merely because they are Olympic medalists but rather due to their overall strength of character.

Congratulations Ladies!!

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

David Suzuki Foundation Olympic Message!

It was back in June that I received a letter from the David Suzuki Foundation written by David Suzuki with this Olympic message which I thought prudent to share now as the Olympic spirit sweeps our country coast to coast!
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Here is the excerpt:

"Recently, we teamed up with Canada's top winter atheletes to turn back the clock on climate change. And as Canadians, winter is a huge part of our national identity.

I've talked to many Olympic atheletes who tell me that winter sporting events around the world are being cancelled because there isn't enough snow. In this way, winter sports are like the proverbial canary in a coal mine--early indicators of Global warming. We decided more people needed to hear this warning, and what they could do about it, so we profiled the Winter Olympics.

With the help of our donors, over 70 of Canada's top atheletes, and members across Canada, we convinced the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Winter Olympics to take responsibility for the Games' climate impact by making the event carbon neutral. The organizers are now aiming to offset almost all of the Games' carbon emissions with investments in green energy and projects that reduce greenhouse gases. Our next steps are to ensure that the carbon offsets are top quality, and that the organizers promote climate solutions to an expected audience of 3 billion people around the world.

The amazing thing about this commitment is that so many people made it happen together. Donors funded out climate change research, atheletes and DSF members signed our online petition, newspapers and TV stations picked up our story, and the Olympic organizers took notice!

It really proves that amazing things happen when groups of ordinary Canadians--and extraordinary athletes--take action together to tackle climate change. In 2010, we'll show the world that Canada wants to solve climate change, and send a strong message to the government that we want a sustainable future.

For more information on our other important programs, I invite you to visit ."

{Excerpt from a letter written by David Suzuki in June 2009}

Take the Chill out of Tax-Time With Carolina Pad's Hot Chocolate Collection!

It’s that time of year! Crunching numbers with bated breathe, rummaging through drawers and boxes for those elusive requisite receipts and documents in panic and frustration, heart pounding as you approach that final crucial calculation, waiting for that positive or negative result! Yes, you know what I am referencing. Denial is futile…it is Tax Time!

To be honest you may think me fit for a straight jacket but I actually love tax time. Obviously this love only stems from the fact that we can most often expect a wonderful return. I’m sure my amicable relationship with tax time would turn on a dime if I discovered it would be us writing a cheque to the Canadian government {or dear old uncle Sam if we were Americans}.

Despite the joys of my tax “windfalls” I admit to pulling my hair out over misplaced paperwork and numbers which just don’t add up. The worst of the frustrations could easily be avoided with greater forethought and a few organizational tools. Carolina Pad--industry leader in stylish and trendy school and office supplies--wants you to be prepared so you won’t be scrambling this time next year! As winter ends and tax time approaches Carolina Pad’s most popular collection, “Hot Chocolate”, will warm away the tax chills!
Carolina Pad sent me the perfect “Hot Chocolate Collection” organizational package to get my tax act together:
~ 13 Pocket Expandable Folder ~ MSRP $7.49
~ Package of 12 File Folders ~ MSRP $5.99
~ 26 Pocket Expandable Folder ~ MSRP $17.99
~ 8 Pocket Folder ~ MSRP $6.99
~ Box of 6 Binder Clips ~ MSRP $2.99
~ Box of 10 Paper Clips ~ MSRP $2.99

I love the various pocket folders! No longer do I have to stuff receipts and documents hurriedly into boxes and envelopes only to be misplaced or relegated to paper heaps. I used the 8 pocket folder to house my tax information, relevant and eligible deductions and other useful tips and forms. The 13 pocket expandable file folder offers the quintessential home for receipts, and other saved documents. I bundled the receipts and documents according to category clipped each bundle with the Hot Chocolate paperclips and assigned each category its very own pocket. Easy Peasey…organized and if you can believe it fashionable too!

I used the file folders and adorable binder clips to enclose the previous year’s tax summaries and other larger forms. The file folders fit easily into the expandable pocket folders. I will be filing my finished return and then the returns for consecutive returns in the larger 26 pocket expandable folder! Durable and well designed adorned with attractive trendy patterns and colours, I’ll be using the left over folders and clips for my substitute teaching materials, so thank you Carolina Pad for organizing my life! Carolina Pad cannot guarantee you a healthy return but they can certainly contribute to your preparedness with style!

Get organized this year! Carolina Pad is offering Northern Mama readers a 10% online discount code: Tax_Relief to help you purchase what you will need.
And don’t scramble this time next year enter to win the same Hot Chocolate Collection Package I received here at Northern Mama!
To Enter:

  • Visit Carolina Pad and tell me what your favourite collection is! {Required}

Extra Entries:

  • Be a Northern Mama Follower {Google}
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Giveaway open to Canadian and US residents. Giveaway closes March 15th, 2010 10:00pm CT. Read Giveaway Rules for details.

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Another Chance to Win ~ Flirty Aprons Announces!

Flirty Aprons wants you to have another opportunity to win a FREE FLIRTY APRON or other discounts. Here 's the information they asked me to pass on to you:

Go to Flirty Aprons website and take a look at the resource section located at the bottom of the page. Then submit a paragraph or two that could be used in our new resource section titled Bridal Shower Gifts.
The best/longest submission will receive a FREE FLIRTY APRON and the runners up 50% and 25% off ...respectively.

All submissions can be sent to Ends February 28th!

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gary Unmarried: The Complete First Season Now on DVD!

As I inserted the first disk of Gary Unmarried: The Complete First Season on a bitter, snowy day and huddled blanketed upon my couch I was skeptical. Having never seen the show prior to receiving this DVD set I had the vague impression that this would be a show far more appealing to beer guzzling, belch respecting men. It wasn’t at all Neanderthal but rather clever and sharp, shot through with witty, biting humour for both sexes.

My husband and I both found ourselves chortling and at times laughing hysterically. I’m sure most divorced couples could take a page from Gary and Allison who, though they obviously have irreconcilable differences and often loath each other when all is said and done put their children first and continue a relationship which though contentious is amicable enough.

Jay Mohr plays Gary Brooks an uncomplicated guy newly divorced and experiencing single parenting, dating, and his ex-wife’s zingers! While Gary dips his toe into the dating pool after years of marriage his ex-wife throws him a curve by revealing she skipped the toe dipping and is diving in full force! Also starring the zany Ed Begley Jr. this 20 episode, 3 disc compilation is brimming with hilarious one-liners, insults and come backs but never understates the importance of family connections. With all Gary’s bravado he is still just a divorce father trying to muddle through his new life experience.

Gary Unmarried: The Complete First Season bonus features include: Bloopers and deleted scenes, a day on the set with star Jay Mohr, and an all-access tour of Gary Unmarried. Also included in the features is Ed Begley Jr.’s “Planet Begley”! If you know Ed Begley you will remember he is an eco-friendly expert. Now he is using his expertise to make-over the Gary Unmarried set!

Looking for laughter on a cold winter’s day? I recommend Gary Unmarried The complete First Season, released by Disney Home Entertainment February 9th, available now!

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"It's All Too Much" DVD and Book - Winner!!!

Congratulation's again Suzie!
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Flirty Aprons Creating Domestic Divas!

I may not be a domestic goddess, my domestic skills are substantial but mediocre. Regardless I can still be a domestic diva and look great even if I’m just creating spaghetti! Thanks to Flirty Aprons I think I look adorable in the kitchen no matter what concoction I am whipping up.

Flirty Aprons are stylish, fun and well…like their name “flirty”. Think of the 1950s and 60s domestic divas when a woman’s home was really her queenly domain, then think retro apron with a twist. Though flirty aprons may have a bit of a retro design concept the amazing selection of prints, patterns, and colours make flirty aprons hip and modern.
I have never been an apron wearer. Though I may have found myself chastising myself for staining a top or dusting my pants with flour I hated the idea of draping an ugly bibbed apron over myself. I don’t care to look like Aunt Jemima or some pioneer woman working a frontier home. I want to look like the modern-day fashionable mom that I am.

Flirty Aprons sent me a beautiful and bold Teal and black print apron featuring just enough frill to be feminine while still maintaining a sleek modern style and flair that adds that hint of flirtation and “sex appeal”.

I’ve never felt more chic while burning cookies in my life…I never said a flirty apron would make you a better cook. You’ll just look fabulous doing it!

Flirty Aprons wants you to look great in your kitchen whether your preparing gourmet delicacies or just making cookies with the kids! One lucky Northern Mama reader will win a flirty apron of her choice!

To Enter:

Extra Entries:

  • Be a Northern Mama Follower
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Open to US and Canadian residents. Giveaway closes March 8th, 2010 10:00pm CT. Read Giveaway Rules for further details.
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Orglamix ~ 100% Organicly Beautiful!

I have never claimed to be a natural beauty. I would love to be the type to jump out of bed in the morning whip my hair into a ponytail and still be viewed as a shining beauty or even just as adorable. Instead I have to work at my appeal. My skin is more than imperfect and my hair uncooperative but I don’t care to douse myself in chemicals vying for beauty either. If I am going to use products to enhance my outer self I want them to be safe, healthy, and just plain do what they are meant to.

orglamix is a business which understands that enhancing beauty can also be natural and chemical free. Of orglamix creates organic mineral based cosmetics of the highest quality! For years I have not bothered with eye shadow. I felt applying it was an extra hassles and I often found it difficult to choice coordinating colours or colour collections which suited me. I minded little but when I would chat with women who had impeccably enhanced their eyes with luxurious colour with just that perfect hint of shimmer I admit I was a bit envious of their skill. I thought it was my lack of makeup application aptitude but lately I have discovered it may have been I was just not using the right products.

I received the 3 eye-colour eclipse collection from orglamix as a review sample. Yes, I chose a collection because I did not want to trust my colour coordination skills which seem to be adept when it comes to decorating and art but do not seem to translate into the make-up artistry department. orglamix has an overwhelming array however of individual colours, colour collections, bronzers, rice powders, and other mineral cosmetic products from which to choose! 100% pure minerals all orglamix products are artisan crafted and because of their ever growing popularity orglamix is expanding and continuing to develop new products. All orglamix products are proudly formulated without: Nano Particles, Bismuth Oxychloride, Synthetic Dyes, Parabens, Synthetic Fragrances, Petrochemicals, Parabens. orglamix is also a proud member of PETA!

What makes products so special? Not only are they 100% pure and natural, artisan crafted and carry an amazing range of options, but the quality and beauty of the products are like no others I’ve tried. Now I am no expert and I have obviously not tried every cosmetic in existence I can honestly say the three eye-colours I received are stunning. The eclipse collection includes: Grape Hyacinth, Sweet Pea, and Teak. The consistency of the minerals is so smooth and fine, the colours are vibrant and rich, but what I love most is the shimmer--just enough to convey a youthful glow! Whether you are looking for smouldering , funky fun, or subtle natural orglamix has your colours!

Because the eye colour is mineral it is a loose powder contained in small makeup pots. Portable and easy to use just be sure to purchase a bamboo makeup brush for application. As an aside, though this has nothing to do with the product itself when I opened the packing envelope in which my orglamix collection was enclosed I was met by the most delightful scent. Packaging can honestly mean the difference between feeling like a business actually caters to its customers. My orglamix cosmetics were enclosed in a beautiful reuseable organza drawstring bag enclosed with scented leaves. Wow, often the little touches and the time and care involved makes one feel like a queen!

Graciously, one Northern Mama reader will receive her choice of three orglamix colours or one 3-colour orglamix collection! I think you will be very impressed!
To Enter:
  • Visit orglamix and peruse the vast collection. Tell me your favourite three colours! {Required}
Extra Entries:
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  • Become an orglamix Facebook Fan
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  • Blog about this giveaway with a link back here {please leave the link to your post}

Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents. Giveaway closes March 7th, 2010 10:00pm CT. Read Giveaway Rules for details.

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Roses ~ Winners

Congratulations to the following 5!

I'll be in touch with Misscrabbypants, Dina, Sizie, fredamans and Tannie'sChatter soon!-)
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POM Winner

Oh, it has been a busy crazy week with the kids at home, are some winners!

Congratulations to Randa @The Bewitchin' Kitchen!

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Valerie Bertinelli Losing It And Keeping Fit! DVD Review and Give Away!

My Story:
I never worried about my weight or my size until after I had my children. I had always been a petite girl, usually the smallest and fittest in my classes growing up. As an adult the weight was harder to keep off but manageable with some effort. However, after I had my two children , for some reason I could not seem to get the weight off, in fact, it kept piling on. I didn't even realize how much I had gained until I saw a couple pictures of myself and received some negative comments on my appearance from people in my own family. Then, one day the phone rang and it was my sister asking me to be the Maid of Honor in her upcoming wedding. That was my motivation to lose the weight! I wanted to look my best in her wedding photos and to feel better about myself. I was living in the Arctic at the time and the community I lived in had no gym, no fitness center, nothing even close! My only alternative was to read books, load up on workout equipment, and a few exercise dvds. It took me two years, but I did it! I went from a size 12 to a size 2, all on my own! The wedding photos were beautiful and I felt fantastic!

My point is two fold. First, we all struggle with our weight and body images at some point(s) in our lives but we can do something about it. My second point is that you can do it without a personel trainer, without a gym, without fancy equipment, and without costing a fortune. All you need is motivation! It comes from within you!

Video Content:

Gaiam (a lifestyle company) sent me a Valerie Bertinelli DVD called Losing It And Keeping Fit! to review recently. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the content of this video.

This dvd has 2 full body workout options: a 20 minute level 1 (for beginners) and a 40 minute level 2 workout (for those intermediate people). Plus it has 2 ab segments in the bonus section.

The only equipment you need to do this video is a yoga mat (if you like) and a set of 2 dumbbells.

In level one Valerie performs squats and lunges galore, hip raises, ab exercises, push-ups, standing rows, and more. You will not escape the mountain of squats and lunges in level 2 but Valerie does add cardio bursts throughout the routine that jump start your heart rate and add a bit of fun. You will also use the hand weights off and on in this level, performing chest presses, chest fly's, tricep extensions, weighted abs, bicep curls, hammer curls, and more.

The first ab segment (Everyday Abs) consists of 5 reps each of 12 different ab exercises, for a total of 60 crunches all together! The Ab Challenge has all the same exercises but you do 10 reps of each of them for a total of 120 crunches.

My Opinion:
What did I really think about this video? Well, it is not your average, everyday, run off the mill exercise video, that's for sure. I am used to a formal, structural, serious workout tape. Valerie Bertinelli Losing It and Keeping Fit! is not any of these things. Valerie manages to make you feel like you are doing the workout with her and her personal trainer, not just watching. There are no background groupies doing the exercises in unison, only Valerie and Christopher Ross Lane appearing in your living room. Valerie uses a sense of humor that I have never seen in an exercise video before. Valerie and Christopher are seen throughout the video bantering back and forth as he tries to get her to follow his program. I believe Valerie is trying to get us to see that exercise needs to be fun (not always serious) to motivate us and to sustain us on our journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Sometimes Valerie is shown making small mistakes and having to catch up with Christopher or asking him to wait a second. Some people might think she looks unprofessional because of these things. I thought this was a great motivational concept! Why? Because no one can do an exercise video perfectly the first few times they do it! It made me feel more comfortable doing the video, knowing that it's not just me that makes mistakes, even Valerie Bertinelli does. Finally, I compliment Christopher for his way of explaining how you can make the presented exercises easier or harder in case you need to adjust to your own difficulty level.

All that being said, as most of the video is filled with variations of squats and lunges I believe that if you have bad knees or can not do a proper squat or lunge that this video is not for you.

This video, I think, is perfect for beginners, seniors, or those of us that just want a change to our regular exercise routines.

The Give Away:

If you are motivated and have a desire to lose weight and stay fit then Gaiam can help you. One lucky Northern Mama reader will receive a free copy of Valerie Bertinelli Losing It and Staying Fit! dvd.

To Enter:

  • Visit Gaiam and check out the Valerie Bertinelli DVD and tell me why you would benefit from or want this exercise DVD {Required}

Extra Entries:

  • Be a Northern Mama Follower {Google}
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  • Grab our button
  • Follow on Twitter @Northernmama35 and tweet {1x daily}
  • Blog about this giveaway with a link back here {please leave the link to your post}

Giveaway US and Canada residents. Giveaway closes March 8th, 2010 10:00 pm CT. Read Giveaway Rules for details.

Review By Nikki

Chicken Soup for The Soul: True Love!

I am an incurable, unsalvageable, hopeless romantic. I believe it was my interest in novels which sparked my romantic inklings, and I am lucky enough to have a husband who after 15 years of togetherness and 12 years of marriage still gazes at me with starry adoration , a man whom I still look upon as my ideal! We met as university students and I have believed in love at first sight ever since. We became instantly inseparable.

When my husband and I moved to the arctic and began teaching a close friend of mine. A vibrant, vivacious Newfoundlander asked us how we had met. She enjoyed collecting tales of first meetings and like her I think many of us have the urge to hear stories which further the notion of True Love. Chicken Soup For the Soul: True Love is a book which does just that.

I recall reading Chicken Soup For the Soul and many of the Chicken Soup Books to follow as a teenager. It has been years but Chicken Soup for the Soul continues to produce volumes of down-to-earth, "every person" stories we can all relate to! Chicken Soup for the Soul True Love introduced by beloved figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, presents 101 stories of love, dating and marriage--uplifting, heartwarming, and sometimes humorous.

I chuckled over the woman who chose her cat over entering the tempting world of speed dating, and the “husband instruction manual”, felt the tingle of goose bumps induced by stories of quirky twists of fate drawing people together over time and distance and held back tears as I read of long lived, enduring marriages and romances.

I found some very well written pieces but what I think most endearing about the Chicken Soup for the Soul books is their lack of literary prowess. They are stories by everyday people for everyday people. Un-pretentious, easy to read, and easy to relate to, these 101 stories make uplifting and fun reading.

Some personal favourites:
Flour Power ~ an endearing story of a woman finding a perfect fit in the lives of her boyfriend and his children.
We’ll Manage ~ “The Bride wore a simple dress buttoned up to her slender throat. White ankle socks accentuated a pair of her mother’s black high heeled shoes. A lace window curtain was on her head, the “train” flowing several feet behind her.
The groom wore starched jeans, a Roy Rogers T-shirt, and a pair of brown cowboy boots.”

Understanding the Rules of Engagement
~ A great tear-jerker of a proposal tale!

Husband Instruction Manual ~ A hilarious user manual for a brand new 2010 husband…complete with a warranty!

Date Nght ~ The perfect relate able story for married couples with kids keeping the bonds strong and cherishing those moments together.

The Last Vlentine ~ A husband waking one last time to sign a valentine for his wife.

Paradigm Shift ~ Revealing the dynamic. Unconditional nature of true love which surmounts even illness and defies the physical!

Enjoy these heartwarming stories and many more! 3 Northern Mama readers will win a copy of Chicken Soup For the Soul: True Love
To Enter:
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Extra Entries:

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    Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents. Giveaway closes Marxh 4th, 2010 10:00pm CT. Read Giveaway Rules for details.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Disney Hannah Montana Sandwich and Panini Grill!

To many young girls Hannah Montana is living a dream--Clothes, glamour, pop star popularity! Anything boasting a Hannah Montana graphic, design or theme seems to make the wish lists of giggly, fashionable pre-teen girls. The Pop Art Toaster Disney Hannah Montana Sandwich Maker and Panini Grill features the pop star kids love while serving a practical purpose parents are totally down with!

I don’t know about preferences in your home but my children often enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches as a lunchtime favourite. Now that Pop Art Toaster gave us a free review Hannah Montana sandwich maker, my girls are even more eager for lunch, their plates graced with very cool, and awesomely fun Pop Star grilled sandwiches! The Disney Hannah Montana Sandwich grill is a purple and white compact two sandwich maker. It comes complete with both regular grated removable grill plates and pop star themed grilling plates--guitar and musical notes on one side, the words Pop Star on the other. These interchangeable grill plates make this a versatile appliance. Funny how sandwiches branded with pictures and slogans are tastier to children than your average grilled cheese! To children it’s exceptional and any way to make mealtime special is a definite bonus!

Easy to use just insert the preferred grills, plug in the grilling unit and wait for the appliance to heat up. The grill light turns green when the grill temperature has been reached. So easy that you can supervise your children using it. The grilling plates are non-stick so they are easy to clean. It doesn’t take long to heat up but I do find the grilling time a little longer than pan frying a sandwich or grilling on some high end grills. My children don’t seem to mind the extra time when “pop star” appears on their sandwiches though. I guess graphic edible art is worth waiting for!

Would you be interested in this cool innovative appliance? Voice your opinion and we may just convince Pop Art Toaster to let Northern Mama host a giveaway!

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Sophisticated Green Smart Finback Wine Carrier! ~ Review and Giveaway!

Invited out for the evening dinner party, and planning to bring a bottle of wine but don’t want to throw it into a paper gift bag making it appear like a birthday gift? GreenSmart will save you from turning an elegant evening into a birthday bash with their sophisticated, and practical Neogreene Finback Wine Carrier! Sophisticated because of it’s sleek appearance and variety of trendy colours. Practical because of its insulating value keeping wine chilled and safe from breakage.

I have touted the environmental advantages of fabricating neogreene versus neoprene products several times in the past. Neogreene has a different bonding process than that of neoprene and therefore does not require the same toxic chemicals! It's waterbased and requires less petroleum. Neogreene’s benefits however include even more than its eco-friendliness. This material has an insulating and breathable quality which makes it a practical and efficient fabric.

GreenSmart’s Wine Carriers are functional and attractive. Perfect for parties and even picnics these wine totes are available in single and double bottle designs. Named after whales, 10% of profits support the World Wildlife Fund. I love the simplicity of sliding the bottle into this stretchable and elasticized bag, then grabbing the handle and heading for the door. Use the bag just for transport or use it as an alternative to gift wrapping. Reuseable and durable, and available in a variety of attractive modern colours, this is a cool, urbane product you’ll love!

Bring sophistication to your next invite! Win your own GreenSmart Finback Wine Carrier here at Northern Mama!
To Enter:

  • Visit GreenSmart and tell me which colour your would choose for your wine carrier {Required}

Extra Entries:

  • Follow Northern Mama{Google Friends Connect}
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Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents. Giveaway ends March 3rd, 2010 10:00 pm CT. Read Giveaway Rules for details.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Canada's First Olympic Gold on Home Turf!

To be honest have mixed emotions regarding the Olympics. I see eye to eye with protesters when I hear them voice concerns about the exorbitant expenditures on what essentially boils down to a sporting event for the elite few while others suffer lacking life's basic necessities. But I absolutely love my country and because as Canadians we tend to be less than pompous regarding our national pride I can't help but feel aglow when I see Canadians shine!

Canada is one of the most amazing countries in the world! We have a magnificent country in land mass, natural resources, and natural beauty! As Canadian Rick Mercer put it last week B.C. is a "sexy" province that will make foreign visitors drool! More than all of this we have an understated nationalism and a strong sense of social responsibility. Perhaps the Olympics is not the perfect venue for showing this to the world but it certainly does just that and for this I see the benefits of such a costly event!

Last night for the first time in history a Canadian won an Olympic Gold medal on home soil! We had chances in Montreal and Calgary but finally in Vancouver we've struck gold! First but hopefully not the last, congratulations and félicitations Alex Bilodeau--Canadian Men's Moguls Skier! Congratulations silver medalist Jennifer Heil, and Bronze medalist Kristina Groves! It is wonderful to see Canadian excellence and Canadian pride!

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Winner of the Eden Fantasys Giveaway:

Congrats and Happy Valentine's Day to Liz W.! You've won the Eden Fantasys $35 gift certificate!
Winner of the Kideo Video:

Congratulations pam! You've won a Kideo personaliazed video!

ID Me Labels:

Congrats Josiefiorda for winning the ID Me Labels!!

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Save the Natural and Historical Beauty of Niagara Falls!

I have just reviewed the breathtaking novel The Day The Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan. But Cathy does not preserve the history and beauty of the falls within the pages of her book alone. Cathy is a founder of the non-profit organization Friends of Niagara Falls. I wanted to share with you her letter regarding a proposed development which threatens the natural beauty of Niagara Falls and the historical Loretto Academy mentioned in Cathy's novel. Please add your support to this wonderful cause!
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Cathy's email:

Lots of you know I’ve helped found Friends of Niagara Falls, a non-profit organization working to preserve the environment and natural beauty of Niagara Falls. Our first task is a big one: stopping the high-rise development planned for the green space of Loretto Academy (yep, it’s the convent school where The Day the Falls Stood Still opens in 1915), located atop the bluff adjacent to the Horseshoe Falls.

The treed grounds of Loretto frame the falls in nature, a much more fitting backdrop to a natural wonder of the world than a wall of hotels. The high-rises will cast shadows on the parkland surrounding the falls and the falls itself and are expected to increase the number of rain-like days at Niagara Falls, as has been the case recent high-rise development.

Please show our government your opposition by signing the Friends of Niagara Falls petition.

To get informed and get involved, visit the Friends of Niagara Falls website.

Please pass these links onto friends and family.


The Day the Falls Stood Still ~ A Mezmorizing Read!!

"Beyond the hedge and gate marking the perimeter of the academy, and the steep descent leading to the wooded shore, I can see the upper river and the falls. Endless water plummets from the brink to the rocks below, like the careless who slip, like the stunters who fail, like the suicidal who leap. I nudge my attention downriver, to clouds of rising mist."
(Buchanan 2009:5)

I grew up in Ontario, discovered the falls like most Ontarians in my youth through family day trips. Its majesty and awe inspiring splendor, though tarnished by the wild build up of tourist traps and bizarre attractions, has retained its grandiose magnificence and remains a natural wonder to be marvelled! Though I had heard tales of death defying feats involving barrels and the rush of urges to defeat nature, to win over it and bond it up, harness its power, never had I felt its allure more than reading Cathy Marie Buchanan's The Day The Falls Stood Still.
Cathy Marie Buchanan
Buchanan's debut novel reads nothing like a first attempt but rather as the product of a long literary career. It is both lyrical and eloquently written with historical acumen. A haunting love story so deeply entrenched in its resplendent setting as to render it spellbinding.

It is the story of Bess Heath, a young girl living with her family in picturesque Niagara Falls during the rise of Hydro Electric power. It is the early 1900s and Bess's father once the director of the Niagara Power Company finds himself out of work. The family finds themselves in reduced circumstances and soon only their daughters can bring them the hope of social standing through their marital choices. Bess however discovers the truth of love with a Niagara "riverman".

Tom Cole knows the river as though it is an extension of his being. His admiration for the natural wonder of the falls, it's whirlpool, and the river, extends beyond the power of its harnessed energies to a respect and awareness of its natural force and its preservation. A hero in his own right--daring to rescue those lured by the danger of the falls--but not one with status and social standing, Tom Cole loves Bess with a passion and care even stronger than the power of his beloved falls! Through fateful family tragedy and loss, Bess is heartened by a metaphysical world Tom has introduced to her which parallels the mystic nature of the mists of the falls and the mysteries of the river.

"Even Mrs. Stowe had written about the lure of the falls, the sudden impulse that seized her when she gazed too long. I take Life and Letters of Harriet Beecher Stowe from the secretary and easily enough find the passage. "I felt as if I could have gone over with the waters; it would be so beautiful a death; there would be no fear in it."Though she does not say it, it seems Mrs. Stowe had the wherewithal for careful deliberation, even at the brink. It seems her more rational mind prevailed."(Buchanan 2009:123-124)

Buchanan captures the period striking a personal cord through authentic, honest characters. She pulls the strings which bind us to the past, the strings of universal emotion and wonderment. A deluge of emotions washed over me as I was plunged into the lush history of the falls and its surroundings. The lure of the falls has never felt as strong even as I recall my misted face and the roar of falling waters! Now I feel the lure of not only the plummeting cascade but of the people whose lives unfolded beneath its mists.

Become immersed in the unforgettable history of Niagara Falls through the lives of Cathy Buchanan's characters by reading The Day the Falls Stood Still.
You can read 20% of the book at Harper Collins Browse Inside.
Win a copy here at Northern Mama!
To Enter:

Extra Entries:

  • Follow Northern Mama {google}
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  • Subscribe via email
  • Follow me on Twitter @Northernmama35 and Tweet about this giveaway {1x daily}
  • Blog about this giveaway with a link back here {please leave me the link to your post}
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Giveaway open to Canadian residents. Giveaway closes February 25, 2010 10:00pm CT. Read Giveaway Rules for details.

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