Saturday, 29 November 2014

Staying Hydrated with @BritaCA The #Gift That Keeps On Giving - #BetterBringYourBrita

Brita: For a happy, healthy and hydrated holiday season.

The holiday season is here and we're busier than ever, shopping, baking, and visiting! 
We're so busy we often skip meals, and forget to drink enough water to keep us healthy and hydrated. To make sure you stay hydrated this holiday season you better bring your Brita!

H2O: 2 Hydrogen + 1 Oxygen atoms = Water 

One small molecule essential to life.

Water has a multitude of functions and responsibilities both in our bodies and the environment. So not surprizingly the health benefits of staying hydrated and drinking enough water are many. 

Image via Brita
Image via Brita

Did I mention we are busy? So convenience is a priority. But convenience with a complete disregard for our Earth is not acceptable. Clearly there must be a way to have the convenience of hydration without adding millions of  plastic bottles to landfills. 

My demands of products I buy either for myself or others are as follows:

Convenience.
Adherence to the principles of: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Good price point, and value.
WAIT ... I'm not done! 
I also want the functional to be fashionable!

I love that Brita has pitchers and bottles in a plethora of colours, sizes and styles to suit everyone's hydration management plan for the holiday and all year long.

In my opinion they make fantastic gifts and truly are gifts that keep on giving! 

The bottles and filters make perfect stocking stuffers! Grab a pitcher for the college or university students in your life, or as a house warming gift for a first apartment or home. The 18 cup capacity dispenser sits on the counter top and is perfect for a cottage or chalet owner.


Both Brita bottles and pitchers are convenient, easy to use and come in a variety of price points. Brita's bottles and pitchers are BPA free, and the bottles are dishwasher safe (top rack). You'll find the pitchers available in multiple shapes and styles ranging from 5 - 10 cups capacity.


Using refillable bottles drastically reduces the number of disposable bottles going into landfills. Also, you can opt to participate in BRITA'S Filter For Good - Recycle Your Brita Filters Program

Each Brita you gift to someone is a gift of better health, for that person and our earth. 


"Tis the Season" and Brita is generously providing a Brita Pitcher or Bottle for one lucky reader to win. (prize, and its style & colour subject to sponsors choice and availability) This giveaway is open to Canada, and runs from November 29th - December 5, 2014.



Be sure to follow Brita Canada on Facebook and Brita Canada on Twitter for all their updates and news! Brita Canada - Where to Buy


Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about staying hydrated this busy holiday season.

Note: I receive Brita product for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own and reflect my personal experience with the brand and product.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Let The Grinch Have Roast Beast I'm Having @BostonPizza #UltimateHolidayFeast #PrixFixe

Boston Pizza's #UltimateHolidayFeast

Black Friday today, CyberMonday to follow,
You're all shopped out, and your stomach is hollow. 

The crazy countdown to December 25th has begun,
You feel like The Grinch and have stopped being fun.

But what's the point without time for the ones on your list,
Without family and friends the true meaning is missed.

The Whos down in Whoville understood this and knew,
and lucky for us Boston Pizza does too!  

They created a menu to help spread some good cheer, 
With our family and friends that we all hold so dear.



So while The Grinch has his Roast Beast! 
Boston Pizza has "The Ultimate Holiday Feast"! 

Their Holiday Menu Prix Fixe is a three course meal for one price, starting at $24.99.


Prix Fixe: 3 courses for 1 fixed price! 

There is the threesome I picked especially for me,
The Prix Fixe makes your meal what YOU want it to be!

With options like these you're sure to have a perfect meal,
With a price starting at just $24.99, it makes a great deal!

It's easy as pie to give these nom noms as a gift!
Buy a Gift Card in store or online, it just takes a jiff!

If  "sharing is caring" is the motto to your life,
Share a BP Appetizer Platter with a friend or your wife! 

Mark it down on the calendar and be sure to remember,
the Holiday Menu is only here till the 28th of December. 


Boston Pizza has been so generous in the spirit of the season,
and supplied me with gift cards for a giveaway I know you'll find pleasin...
This giveaway is open to Canada, and runs from November 29th - December 15th, 2014.
Can't seem to get the giveaway widget to announce winners so I am listing them here:
1.) Josie T 2.) Lori B 3.) Erika E Congrats to the winners!

Yep, Just me Cathy thinking out loud about Boston Pizza's Holiday Menu.

Note: I was compensated for this post. All opinions are my own and reflect my personal experience with the brand and the product.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Initiatives like @topskateshop #GiveTheGiftOfSkateboarding, That's why you should #ShopTheHood & Support #SmallBusiness #Ottawa

Once again I am moved by the efforts and giving spirit of small business and the people behind them. As if running a business isn't busy enough, but to then pull in your favours, and invest the time and effort to run a contest like Top of the World Skate & Snow Shop Give the Gift of Skateboarding contest just shows you how important small business is the a community!

This wonderful contest for Ottawa youth runs November 21st - December 19th, 2014. 
and in the words of the Top Team:

"We all know the amazing effect skateboarding can have on someone. It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't stepped on a skateboard what it can do to you. It is a gift that some of us were very lucky to receive at one point in our lives and that's why this Christmas, we've teamed up with the amazing people at Supra Distribution and DELUXE to help 6 deserving young people receive the gift of skateboarding.
In the form below, we're asking you to nominate somebody under the age of 16 that you think deserves a brand new complete setup courtesy of our friends at Supra and DLX as well as a prize pack from Top of the World this Christmas. In addition one lucky winner will be selected to receive a free week at Top’s annual summer skate camp. Once you've nominated this person, we'd like you to write us a short explanation of why you think this particular young person is deserving of this gift."
Do you know a deserving youth in the Ottawa area to nominate for this wonderful opportunity?
If so you will find the link for the nomination form below!

Image via Top of the World Skate & Snow Shop


I can tell you from first hand experience how wonderful the staff at both Top of the World Skateshop and their Skatecamps counselors are! 

Image from Cathy Thinking Out Loud

This might be a perfect time to read about it!

Remember to support local small business and #shopthehood!





Top of the World.com
Top of the World on Twitter
Top of the World on Facebook






Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about giving the gift of skateboarding!

Note: I have not been compensated in any way for this post. The purpose of this post is merely to support a great local business and share about their amazing initiative to help local youth.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

WHAT 2 WATCH WED #W2WW Recommendation #33 #JackRyanShadowRecruit #JackReacher #Movies @Netflix_CA

I regularly have conversations on social media and in real life with friends and family about which TV shows, or movies are good to watch. So I thought why not share these recommendations on Cathy Thinking Out Loud once a week, on Wednesday (aka #W2WW). Please share yours in the comments section! This week I am recommending two action packed movies that both have Jack as the main character. You can find them on Netflix Canada

Image via Netflix 

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

(2014, 3.7/5 stars, PG 13)















Image via Netflix 


(2012, 4/5 stars, PG 13)














Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about what to watch.

Note: I have not been compensated for this post in any way. All opinions are my own, and the purpose of this post is merely to share with my readers.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

I've got this in the bag! Tote-ally Fabulous Bags to Help You Get a Handle on #HolidayShopping!

I love bags. Not so much purses as tote bags.
Nothing screams QUALITY like a tote bag made of fabulous materials with outstanding workmanship.

The thing I appreciate most about tote bags is the ability to combine function with the potential to be the fashion accessory that completes a look. There is no reason Santa's Sac should be nicer than yours, so here are my favourites to get a handle on Holiday shopping, and still look tote-ally fabulous!

Le Pliage Tote Bag - Image via Longchamp


The To Go To Bag - Prince - Image via Roots 


Yona Leather Tote - Image via Danier

Last but not least, be sure to have a couple of these in your tote! They come in a variety of colours and designs, fold up small, and are super sturdy. 
They're also perfect as teacher's gifts and stocking stuffers!

Envirosax - Image via Envirosax


Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about Tote-ally Fabulous Bags.

Note: I have not been compensated for this post in any way. The purpose of writing this post is simply to share with my readers some of my favourite things. 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Take Large Doses of Laughter & Call Me After the Movie! #StreamTeam @Netflix_CA Laughter is the Best Medicine.

Laugh, Chuckle, Snicker, Giggle 
Laughter:
That wonderful sound that expresses one's amusement, entertainment and reaction to humour. It can make us cry, roll on the ground, snort, howl, have a fit and apparently in some cases pee. It makes us feel happy and in the short cold days of winter who couldn't use a bit of comic relief? 


November's StreamTeam Theme is all about how laughter is the truly the best medicine. I have childhood memories of cuddling up on my parents bed and watching TV when I wasn't feeling well. I did the same with my kids. It just makes everything feel better. 
So if you or the kids are feeling a bit under the weather, or just need a good dose of comic relief be sure to check out these recommendations. 
Which ones tickle your funny bone most? My family is partial to Despicable Me.










Delicious homemade chicken soup is the perfect meal to warm you up or make you feel better! This Faux Pho Chicken Soup  is chocked full of immunity boosters and ingredients to keep the family feeling their best. Start a new Sunday afternoon tradition of a Mug-O-Soup and a Movie. 

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about Stream Team. 

Note: As part of the Netflix Stream Team I receive Netflix and a streaming device free of cost for the purpose of my Stream Team reviews and posts. All opinions are my own.

WHAT 2 WATCH WED #W2WW Recommendation #32 #TheAlmightyJohnsons #Series @Netflix_CA

I regularly have conversations on social media and in real life with friends and family about which TV shows, or movies are good to watch. So I thought why not share these recommendations on Cathy Thinking Out Loud once a week, on Wednesday (aka #W2WW). Please share yours in the comments section! This week I am recommending what I thought was a rather hilarious series call The Almighty Johnsons. You can find it on Netflix Canada

Image via Netflix



The Almighty Johnsons

(2010, 1 Session - 10 episodes, NR 4/5 Stars)
FYI: This is not a show for kids; due to language and some nudity.





Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about what to watch.

Note: I have not been compensated for this post in any way. All opinions are my own, and the purpose of this post is merely to share with my readers.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Mind Your Own Business! Mind it Here, Mind it There, Mind Your #BusinessAnywhere #ModernBiz

Mind your own business!
Easier said than done. Small business owners in today's uber connected global economy have a long list of responsibilities, concerns and issues to learn about, plan for and contend with. 


In other words many things to juggle and many balls to keep in the air at any given time, and chances are if you are successful at this #modernbiz juggling act you're successful in your Small Business or you are working for Cirque du Soleil.


So how do you mind your own business in this time of #ModernBiz. Surely there must be a component of workplace flexibility and the ability to work anywhere. It must go beyond the ability to cut, past and bookmark for later when you do the actual work on a desk or laptop. It must be more that just being able to check your email, surf the web, and interact in social media.

To me #ModernBiz is the ability to fully conduct your business anywhere. Including full access to information, documents, images. Including the ability to fully edit, create, and communicate. It must include the ability to do your books, banking, inventory ... and in the words of Dr Seuss: 
"in a house, in a box, in a car, in a tree, in a boat, on a train" or even on a plane.

There are so many devices, apps, services, and resources to help small business #workanywhere, that the sheer volume can be overwhelming. Where do you start to figure out what you need, where to get it, and can you afford it? But you must ask yourself: Can you afford not to?
  
I think it's safe to say a good place to start is device(s) and which are best suited to enable you to conduct your business anywhere and everywhere. Two devices with features that work for me are the Dell Venue Pro, and the Microsoft Surface Pro 3
I find the Dell Venue Pro 8 excellent value, and I really like the full version of Windows 8. I personally find the screen size on the small side to be a full time replacement for my laptop, but more than adequate for travelling and work outside the office. It should be noted my kids whose eyesight is clearly better have no such problem with the screen size. Bonus: unlike my laptop that must be taken out of  my carryon going through airport security my experience has been that my tablet and phones do not. I have the Dell BlueTooth Keyboard Folio  to go with my Venue Pro and it is the best bluetooth keyboard I have used to date. 


Image via Dell.com

I have not had the opportunity to test drive the Surface Pro 3 (not that I won't love too) but there are several features I am really drawn to including being to use the stylus to make notes right on an image, map or page. I find the challenge of integrating documents, notes and graphics extremely frustrating and often opt for the old school method of copying and pasting everything to a word document and printing a hard copy to make notes on. Not only is this method time consuming, not practical without access to a printer, I also find it equally challenging to get the hard copy with notes back into a quality digital form. I fully understand this no doubt due to the operator's skill and knowledge (or lack there of) but I am the majority not the minority so any device that can provide easy intuitive solutions to the tech challenged has my vote. The price point on the Surface Pro 3 is high but given the specs it may make the larger up front investment cheaper in the long run.


Image via Microsoft Store

There are many brands and devices, tablets, laptops, and phones in a variety of price points to help make business anywhere and everywhere a reality for you. Look around, read reviews, ask questions, and be sure to take advantage of the resources offered by brands who make the devices. Many have blogs, forums and resources specifically for small business where they share a gold mine of information, and links to resources. 

Next take stock of what your business requires you to do and what tools, apps, and services will allow you to do that anywhere. This may include virtual meetings, file sharing where multiple people have access to edit a document, payroll or real time inventory. Each business and business owner will have different needs and priorities but a suite of products may be your best and most cost effective option. Products such as Windows365 for Business can help you to keep all those balls in the air, and make the idea of doing business anywhere your reality. Look into what products work best for you, ask others what they use and why, and be sure to take advantage of all the free information, tutorials, and support the companies providing the tools, services and apps have to offer.

Given that much of the business we do today is online, keeping your business secure must be a priority. You can't simply hope it will take care of itself, or that no news (yet) is good news. Have a plan and the tools, systems, and products you need in place to secure all your transactions and safe guard information, including client and staff personal information, payroll, and banking information. Prevention is a far better option than crisis management after the fact. Most of us are not experts in this area, but there are resources available to educate yourself, ask questions, and help you determine what products and services you need, why you need them, and the initial and maintenance costs. 

Security also includes secure storage and back up of all your data and information. The cost of not doing this could sink a small business. Multiple safe guards and preventive measures are a must.

I admit that my knowledge of services, tools and security are a work in progress. That's why it is so important to share information. What great tips, tools, apps, or products do you use and find to be a great fit for your small business? 

Here are a few places you will find a stockpile of great information on all areas of business: Microsoft for Your BusinessTELUS Talks Business Blog, and Dell Canada Social Centre - Small & Medium Business Resources and Dell for Entrepreneurs

If you are not already on twitter, you might want to consider joining and following:

@DellSmbCA
@MicrosoftCanada
@TELUSBusiness
@TheArtOf

and while you are there join in on some of the many business related chats found on twitter. They are an excellent place to ask questions, share information, network and be part of a community.

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about Small Business. 

Note: I was not compensated in any way for this post. The purpose of this post was merely to share my opinion and some resources I thought might be of interest to my readers.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

WHAT 2 WATCH WED #W2WW Recommendation #31 #AugustRush #Movie @Netflix_CA

I regularly have conversations on social media and in real life with friends and family about which TV shows, or movies are good to watch. So I thought why not share these recommendations on Cathy Thinking Out Loud once a week, on Wednesday (aka #W2WW). Please share yours in the comments section! This week I am recommending the movie August Rush. You can find it on Netflix Canada


Image via Netflix 




August Rush - via Netflix

(2007, PG, 4/5 stars)











Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about what to watch.

Note: I have not been compensated for this post in any way. All opinions are my own, and the purpose of this post is merely to share with my readers.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

#RememberanceDay: Remembering 365 Days A Year - Our Actions Speak Louder Than Words.

Remembering 365 Days A Year

Image: Poppies -  via Aubry Benoit of Ottawa - Wikipedia

I admit I am sentimental and my kids would say easily brought to tears. I am proud to be Canadian, and every year on Remembrance Day I attend the school assembly or watch the ceremonies on TV, and predictably when I see the older veterans in their uniforms, blankets wrapped around them while they stoically stand or sit in chairs or wheelchairs often in the rain or the snow, I cry. They make me proud, when they humbly tell their stories of bravery and service. It always makes me sad, that no matter how good life after war has been, the clocks can never be turned back. They cannot unremember, or unsee what they have seen and experienced. No one comes out of such experiences untouched or unchanged.

Today like other Remembrance Days I watched my teens leave for school with poppies on their jackets. There will be an assembly at their school. I think to myself  ... I hope they conduct themselves accordingly, and take the time to reflect on how very lucky they are. I hope they appreciated what others before them sacrificed on their behalf. 

Then I turned on the television to watch the coverage of the Remembrance Day Ceremony to take place at the War Memorial in our nation's capital. Watching as thousands of people gather for the ceremony. In particular I watch the senior veterans that come despite the obvious effort to do so. I wonder as I do every year why the uniform hats do not cover their ears, and they must be cold, and every year marvel at them standing tall and proud. If they are cold they show no sign of it. 

My Husband is home today, which is unusual and I ask him if he is going to watch the Remembrance Day ceremony. He tells me "no". I ask him "why not?". I am curious since he was an air cadet for five years. He participated in many Remembrance Day ceremonies. (paraphrasing here) His response is "He doesn't support one day of remembrance and 364 days of memory loss". He clearly does not want to talk about this, but does make one last comment. "If we truly want to honour our veterans for their service we should start by providing the services, support, counselling and resources they need. We would not find reasons and excuses not to and politicise the process". 

I mull over what he has said for a moment. He is right, and often after seeing a news report, or documentary think we should be doing a better job at providing the support, resources and counselling they need; but I have never thought of it in relation to Remembrance Day. 

The phase "Actions speak louder than words" comes to mind. I have said this to my kids so many times. I believe we teach by example, and the behaviour we model is the behaviour our children learn. They see that there is all this ceremony on November 11th, and learn our commitment is one day a year. As citizens of this great country we need more than words one day a year, instead we need action 365 days a year. We need to put in place mechanisms that provide those who serve resources, and support their families trying to cope with living without them while they are on a tour of duty. We need to support their families trying to cope with living with them as they reintegrate and deal with both physical and mental wounds and scares that come with that service.

I am by no means an expert in this area, and definitely do not have all if any of the answers, but surely we can do better. Small actions add up to something big. Each of us could learn more, write a letter, volunteer, reach out, take some sort of action that loudly demonstrates our thanks.

I leave you (and myself) with this question: What one thing can we each remember do to change words of thanks and gratitude into action?

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about Remembrance Day.
Lest We Forget.