Browsing Tag


Covert Farms, Osoyoos

Canada, EAT, family meals, ROAM By October 25, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , 4 Comments

Covert Farms OsoyoosGene Covert is a pretty cool guy. But he has to be. His mother is still a pilot, and the 1952 Mercury truck that she decided to learn how to rebuild is still the touring vehicle for the farm. Not only does the farm started by his father specialize in organic growing, but they grow grapes for Peller Estates wines, house a summer freestyle ski training jump for the Apex Mountain freestyle team, produce organic wine and have the biggest puffy trampoline thingy and plastic rolling apparatus for kids I’ve ever seen. Oh, and his wife homeschools. So I pretty much can’t even begin to feel worthy.

Covert Cows OsoyoosWith a grumpy 6 year old who was instantly charmed by Gene, we began our tour of Covert Farms, nestled beside McIntryre Bluff which separates the north and south Okanagan. It took us all a while to get over the beauty of the truck and I admit that I took more photos of it than I did the farm for quite some time. Seeing grape varietals, feeding organic corn to cows and having a ‘snack break’ at an organic fruit mecca was incredible. But discussing vinticulture, sustainability and permaculture with Gene? Priceless. I spoke of my experiences as a McDonald’s All- Access Mom while touring cattle and potato farms. We talked at length about canning and preserves (yes. I did buy 90 pounds of organic tomatoes which have now been transformed into tomato sauce). The harvest season is the perfect time to go organic at Covert Farms, Osoyoos BC.

Covert Charcouterie MelonFeeling entirely comfortable, the kids asked questions and made observations. We were all sad when we had to get out of the truck. But it was then that the kids noticed the huge bubble-trampoline, and the adults sampled wines with local cheese and charcuterie. At which point we may have purchased a case of wine.

Covert Farms WineryNot only will the Covert family be added to my Christmas list, but an end-of-summer visit is in the cards for our family for many years to come.

Disclosure: Our family was given a tour of the farm and a wine tasting for the purposes of this story.


Covert Farms MDC Wine


Camp Must-Haves

EAT, fitness, GEAR, kids, LIVE, play, snacks By August 13, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , 3 Comments

Going to camp is an exciting summer activity for kids. Meeting new people, learning new games and going on adventures are some camp memories that are never forgotten. We have compiled a list of camp must-haves that will make your kids experience at camp even better…

1.  Pop Clocky. As most of us know, being at camp doesn’t mean sleeping in. Early wake up calls are inevitable. With Pop Clocky you can wake up the whole cabin with a fun start to the day. Pop Clocky resembles a Jack-in-a-box and makes early mornings fun. Sunny, Rosy, Gilbert and Charlie will make sure everyone up with the birds.

2. Allergy alerts from Mabel’s Labels will ensure that the peanut butter doesn’t pass the lips when the kids come back from canoeing a wee bit dazed and sunburned.

3. A few healthy snacks. Hippie Foods coconut snacks arrived at our office and I’m now hoarding them in my desk…. .

4. A Flashlight. For those long walks back to the cabin, in the woods, a flashlight is useful for avoiding injuries. We found one that’s also a portable music player – the Hipstreet bluetooth speaker/radio with flashlight will keep them dancing around the campfire!

5. A Journal. You can’t experience your child’s week at camp with them, so, by getting them to keep a journal they can keep up their writing skills and share every bit of their experience with you when they get home. We love this robot illustrated Mudpuppy journal/sketchbook.

6. A water bottle. Though you won’t be there to tell them to drink water and stay hydrated every minute, getting them to bring a water bottle will encourage them to drink more water and I’m sure they will be thanking you later. Having one of these adorable SIGG animals will make them want to keep it close.

7. An Eco Lunchbox. For those days when they’ll be going on an adventure and will be needing to carry around some snacks with them.

8. A backpack. A a similar idea to the eco lunchbox, when your kid is going on an adventure they will have a lot to carry. Whether it be sunscreen, a water bottle or a flashlight, your kid will be glad to have a backpack to put it all in. Companies like Land’s End allow for easy personalization.

9. Their own pillow case. She won’t have a chance to miss home when dozing off on this festive Mum pillowcase from Pottery Barn Kids. Better yet – you’ll avoid having a child return home with lice. It will be a reminder of home and be a lice blocker at the same time!


Walmart May Have just Ended the Mommy Wars

GEAR, style By May 23, 2014 Tags: , , , , , 1 Comment

Walmart Mom of the YearIt’s hard to classify anyone as ‘Mom of the Year’. What criteria does one use? While women sling insults at each other in the name of the mommy wars, we seem to be forgetting about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.

Choosing the ‘best’ is too hard. Do we award it to a mom overcoming a huge challenge? But one person’s hurdle could be a breeze for another woman. Do we give it to the mom who makes the best school lunches even though she has a staff bigger than Martha Stewart’s? Maybe we reward a mom forced to leave her family to work away from home so she can send money to her children. Or a woman who is hurting but rejoices in the face of negativity. A hard choice? We think so. Well, we have good news. Walmart may have just ended the mommy wars. Walmart’s Mom of the Year Award is now recognizing multiple people! Seeing that moms can thrive in many different areas, Walmart has designated categories:

– Environmental Superstars
– Community Champions
– Smart Savers (this definitely won’t be me)
– Loving Caregivers
– Everyday Heroes

Anyone else welling up with tears just thinking about who you can nominate? Know what’s even better? A Mom doesn’t have to win to feel appreciated. Every Mom of the Year nominee gets a profile page that can be shared with her friends and family. Loved ones can write messages and tributes on her page to ensure she never forgets what a great job she’s doing. Of course the nominees will print and laminate my comments to post on the fridge.. the bathroom mirror.. the car dashboard… the temper tantrum-ing toddler’s forehead…).

Many moms work like dogs for little appreciation. Why not give the biggest honour of all to a mom you know? Show her she’s doing a great job. Voting begins June 11th – let the heartwarming stories, tears and giggles begin! Moms are worth it.



The Fairmont Palliser Calgary

Canada, ROAM By March 25, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Fairmont PalliserWhen you have the opportunity to travel with just one child, magic things can happen. As a huge fan of Canadian history, I chose to stay at the Fairmont Palliser on a recent mom-son trip to Calgary.

Entering its 100th year, the Palliser is an icon – how I wish the figures framed on the walls could share their secrets!

We arrived during the holiday season and my son’s eyes bugged out at the stunning lobby displays. Then he saw the hand-painted cows used to fundraise for Ronald MacDonald House Charities, which UrbanMommies supports wholeheartedly. Moo-ing (of course) ensued and he was desperate to bid on a cow in the silent auction.

Fairmont Palliser CalgaryOpening the door to the room he exclaimed, “Now THIS is a good hotel room!” He then proceeded to jump on the bed and approved of the bounce. As a Fairmont President’s Club member, complimentary sneakers and workout gear in my size are automatically delivered to the room. One less thing to pack and worry about. Oh – and internet is complimentary as well.

Palliser 1The highlight of the whole experience was the gold floor lounge. At the top of the hotel, it mixed tradition with new cuisine and comfort. The hors d’oeuvres in the evening were not only kid-friendly, but delicious and healthy. My son was able to mix his favourite concoction of juices (in a wine glass) and grinned at the stunning view as snow fell in the heart of the city.

My favourite memory was teaching him how to play cribbage on an antique brass and wood board. After an successful outing to the Glenbow Museum directly across the street (they had exhibits on rocks and gems as well as military uniforms from all era which thrilled both of us!) we came back to the hotel and my son made a beeline for the cribbage board. We will forever be joined in cribbage and I will smile and think of that night every time I think of the Palliser.

Disclosure: UrbanMommies was not compensated for this review though we received a lovely welcome basket in our room. As always, our opinions are our own.


The People and the Snow at Big White Resort

Canada, ROAM By February 21, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Big White ResortToday Kelsey Serwa took Silver at the Sochi Olympics in ski snowcross, and I am willing to bet the Bullwheel at Big White Resort is packed already. Kelsey’s grandfather was a founder of Big White Ski Resort, and I can’t imagine a better hill to breed an Olympian.

Apres Ski Big WhiteLast month I visited the resort with Kimberly Clayton-Blaine to film a ski show for TheGoToMom.TV. Though I had been to the hill before, I feel as if it became part of my soul during this trip. I can’t quite pinpoint why. So many reasons, but more than anything, it was the people. Kind, helpful, happy residents and employees who love life and adore their hill took my breath away every day. There was an aura of gratefulness for being gifted with the snow and the facilities that was felt by all – especially the visitors.

It didn’t hurt that there were blue skies, incredible apres ski and kickass coffee in the Village Centre Mall (VCM) every morning. After darting through the trees caked in snow, the kids and I would warm ourselves in the open fire pits at the new outdoor venue called ‘The Woods’ as a DJ played. Telus fed us all hot chocolate and gave us funky glasses as the sun shone on world ski day. The new kids’ gear and candy shop in the village was a daily hit – and we even got a new ski suit for our picky son. In Happy Valley, a quick gondola ride away, both boys scaled the ice tower using ice climbing equipment while they were tethered to a rope. The younger son was a few months off from being the youngest person to ever scale the tower and ring the bell at the top. (My mother saw a photo on facebook and thought I had let them scamper up on their own. I assured her that Big White is incredibly responsible and safe.) Early on our final morning, the boys borrowed hockey sticks and a puck and hit the Happy Valley ice rink. I stayed by the fire taking photographs with tears in my eyes at the beauty of this magical Canadian experience.

Kids at Big WhiteCarnival nights happen twice per week, where kids can play games and do fun musical activities in the VCM. It felt as if the entire staff of the resort is involved somehow, and they live to get smiles from the children. The Loose Moose made an appearance when we were there and the children squealed. He’s just as recognizable to them as Mickey Mouse!

Al Reid The BullwheelMany a lunch, dinner and apres ski were spent at The Bullwheel. Al Reid is one of the most personable managers I have ever met. Plus he serves Nova Scotia donairs making The Bullwheel the only place outside of Halifax that makes them correctly. (Believe me – I’m a conoisseur.)  During our visit, Al and other fun-loving gentlemen had flooded an area at the top of the mountain and staged a hockey game on Hockey Day in Canada in order for skaters at Big White to play the ‘Highest Hockey Game in Canada’. Lovely, crazy and wonderful.

Whether it was the (cute) guy on the snowmobile who took the kids and I home after a wrong turn, the babysitter who made an everlasting impression on the boys, John Mooney, owner of a few great Big White restaurants who drove the kids and I home when their legs were too tired to walk, or Jim Lloyd, Director of Sales whose elegant care and attention left us wonting for nothing – it’s the people. No wonder Kelsey Serwa grew into a powerful athlete with the stamina to medal at the Olympics. She has incredible support in her Big White community. And wicked champagne powder.

Disclosure: UrbanMommies was hosted at Big White Resort for three nights. As always, all opinions are our own and are only biased based on of love of skiing and delight with the resort.

Want other BC Ski Resort roundups? Here you go!


Kid-Friendly Ski Resorts in BC

Canada, ROAM By January 15, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Kid friendly Ski Resorts in BCPicking the perfect ski resort for families in British Columbia is tough – because there are so many incredible options! I am a pretty avid skier and haul the kids everywhere in order to truly test the slopes and activities. Over the past year we have traveled the province to learn about the kid-friendly ski resorts in BC. I think you’ll love the options!

Big White Resort

Near Kelowna, Big White has more powder stashes that I’ve ever seen.  A fab place for intermediate skiiers and boarders, there are wide glades and fast lifts. The Village Centre Mall -“VCM” to locals – is the main lodge which houses equipment rentals, Beano’s awesome coffee, ticket sales and the ski school. Everywhere you look throughout the resort there are family activities, play spaces off runs and instructors gently guiding kids. Last year, Big White introduced the Flaik system to track every child in the moment via GPS. One staff member in the ski school watches the lighted map that indicates if any child it too far away from their instructor. That’s peace of mind for parents!! During the holidays kids can visit with Santa, in March there’s a festival to ‘Cruze the Blues’, encouraging visitors to check out intermediate runs over the entire hill and receive prizes. In my experience the music and vibe was addictive and Big White felt like a true community for young and old.

Kids Pizza Making BullwheelThe food on the mountain is exquisite. From the famous breakfast egg benedict at the Sante Grille to a higher-end gourmet and wine experience at Six Degrees, Okanagan wines and an internationally inspired menu may have you thinking you are on a continent other than North America. For lunch we loved the kid-friendly, healthy selections at the Globe Cafe and Tapas Bar all lovingly prepared by owner Jude Brunt. In the evening and for apres you should check out The Bullwheel. Chef Christopher Thomas has worked with Cirque Du Soleil and his talents can be tasted in every course. (He doesn’t do trapeze though). The pizza making for kids activity was a huge hit with the little ones.

Ice Climbing Tower Big WhiteThe only one in British Columbia, the ice climbing tower is not to be missed. At a height of 60 feet, it is made with four telephone poles doused in water. Crampons on your boots and clipped into a bulay system, the experience is completely safe (but still got my blood rushing and having me feel like a Bond girl). In the evening, family activities abound in the Moose Lounge in Happy Valley Lodge at the bottom of a short gondola ride. A bonfire melts marshmallows as you sip hot chocolate by the outdoor skating rink and inside there are games, music and Kettle Valley Steakhouse restaurant which you must not miss.

Stonebridge Executive LodgeWebsite:
Stay: Stonebridge Executive Lodge
Eat: Six Degrees, Kettle Valley Steakhouse
Apres: The Bullwheel
Climb: The Ice Tower
Relax: Beyond Wrapture Spa

Sun Peaks Resort

Sun Peaks Resort ViewsThirty minutes north of Kamloops, Sun Peaks Resort is modelled on an Austrian village and you can ski right through the centre to hit the Rocky Mountain chocolate factory, the Delta for apres or Oya for sushi. Made up of three distinct mountains, you can actually follow the sun to ski in a 360 circle throughout the day. The umbrella cafe at the base of Mt. Morrisey is a fun place to warm up, and at the top of Sunburst chair stands a restaurant – you can smell the fresh cinnamon buns baking from miles around. Kids at any age are fed like royalty at Masas, where they even offer mashed vegetables for really little ones. Older toque-wearing family members may want to hang at Bottoms and hit The Club at the Delta on the weekends.

winter-festival-of-wine-Sun-PeaksThe typical ‘interior’ snow is light and fluffy, and romance abound as you pass through a covered bridge and take a horse-drawn sleigh ride around the resort.  The terrain is very well-balanced and yet there are green runs off each main lift. Morriseys pub and Masas have great patios for the many days when the sun is shining.

Stay: The Delta
Eat: Mountain High Pizza
Apres: Masas
Do: Winter Festival of Wine
Relax: Sun Peaks Spa

Whistler Blackcomb

Whistler Blackcomb ViewsWith the look of the alps and a bar scene to rival Aspen, Whistler is a well-established, exciting mountain. The Peak 2 Peak gondola joins the two mountains giving you even more ways to structure your day. I have been to the hill with and without kids and I honestly can’t say which I prefer. When kids and dogs are in tow, the apres at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler is incredible. The hotel offers sleds so the kids can toboggan on the hill behind the hotel while adult rest their feet while having a fancy cocktail on the heated outdoor patio. The Four Seasons treats their mini guests to inexpensive gourmet treats and during special occasions will organize activities like magicians and fire dancers. The ski schools at both Blackcomb and Whitsler have the Flaik system so you can track your child’s route at the end of the day. On each hill there is a kids’ snow place – the tree fort or the castle – which delight the little ones.  Between full days on the slopes, swimming at the hotels and a few inevitable snowball fights.. my kids always sleep very well at Whistler.

Without kids, Whistler becomes a different beast. Bouncers at the door may have you on the guest list for Dub-Step night at Maxx Fish and you will have to make a tough decision at the Bearfoot Bistro about whether to sabre champagne or don warm coats in the icy cold vodka room. Fresh tracks can be had if you book a breakfast at the top of the mountain if you’re able to skip the clubs and get to bed early.

Olympic Rings on Whistler MountainBiathalon at Whistler Olympic ParkWebsite:
Stay: Four Seasons Resort
Eat: Barefoot Bistro
Apres: Garibaldi Lift Company (Whistler) / Merlins (Blackcomb)
Do: Try your hand at Cross Country skiing and biathalon at Whistler Olympic Park
Relax: Scandanave Spa
Nightlife: Buffalo Bills


Windsor Arms Hotel Toronto

Canada, ROAM By July 15, 2013 Tags: , , , , 2 Comments

I’m a sucker for older, stunning architecture. So as a student at the University of Toronto I would frequent Theatrebooks on St. Thomas St. and gaze longingly at Yorkville’s Windsor Arms Hotel. Later in life I would hang at the bar, hoping to gain nuggets of advice for career and stock market speculation. It’s that kind of place. But the artists, thinkers and socialites can’t be excluded. Not in a second. (The bar features original works by Charles Pachter).

This month I stayed at the hotel for the first time, and though they knew nothing of UrbanMommies Travel or my intention to do a story, they upgraded me. They said they just liked my name. Every room in the hotel includes a musical instrument – harp, guitar… and they have never had a noise complaint due to the music. On opening the door to the room I heard classical music playing on wired-in speakers throughout. It was so peaceful it made me need to have a bath.  Comfortable beds? I had to ask the housekeeping staff where they source their pillows.

There is a trendy tea room by the gorgeous Living Room Bar and I was so excited to see a rack adorned with vintage hats.  Patrons may ‘rent’ a hat for $10 and the proceeds go towards Dress for Success.  Brilliant.

A pet friendly space (under 35lbs), this will be one of the most opulent, elegant and luxurious stays you will ever have.  And you may learn a thing or two about music.  Because you’re not going to want to leave your room, even for the great Bloor St. shopping nearby.

The Windsor Arms Hotel


Cheesecake 101

Canada, ROAM By May 18, 2013 Tags: , , , , No Comments

Head to Campbell River for the fishing, but you might catch more fish with these mini cheesecakes thank you would with worms.. (or at least make yourself and kids very happy). The handmade treats from Cheesecake 101 are about 3 cms across, and decorated beautifully. If you’re doing a picnic or a selection of bite-sized desserts, head straight here and don’t pass go.

Cheesecake 101 Gourmet Outlet
Address: 660 Isl Hwy., Campbell River BC, V9W 2C3


Connecting with Mommy Bloggers

LIVE, play By April 5, 2013 Tags: , , , , 8 Comments

Ugh.  How I despise the term ‘Mommy Blogger’.  But it seems that brands, friends and PR firms tend to understand that concept and even magazines get lumped in.  As I meet more and more colleagues, I have become proud and honoured to be associated with the blogging community throughout Canada and the US and love ways to connect with like-minded business people and moms.  Too many parents have trouble remembering their identity and passions after having kids.  At UrbanMommies we believe you can help your children to thrive and learn when you’re a happy parent.  Math can be taught just as easily in a Parisian museum as it can be using flash cards.  And taking care of your soul as well as your family isn’t selfish.  Seriously.

Our Areas of Focus:

– Exclusive Family Travel
– Healthy Recipes
– Style for Moms
– Parenting and Pregnancy
– Technology and Gadgets
– Helping kids develop into the tween years

We’re always looking for contributors and love to read your posts too! Connect with us!!  xx Jill




Royal Canadian Mint Celebrates the Year of the Snake

Uncategorized By February 7, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , 3 Comments

Canada’s heritage, culture and values are vibrantly displayed on the Royal Canadian Mint’s new line of 2013 gold and silver Year of the Snake collector coins and the Mint is joining Vancouver’s celebration of this popular cultural festival by hosting a three-day program of activities, from February 8 to 10, 2013 at its downtown Vancouver boutique.  Come see how the Royal Canadian Mint Celebrates the Year of the Snake!

·         Be among the first 88 daily visitors to win a door prize;
·         Enter a draw to win a Year of the Snake gold coin;
·         Admire a spectacular gold display; and
·         Strike their very own “Snake” medallion* and take home this free keepsake in a special-edition red velvet pouch. (*While quantities last)

Friday, February 8
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Saturday, February 9
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 10
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Royal Canadian Mint Boutique
752 Granville St
Vancouver, BC
(Between Robson and Georgia)

Woo hoo!  The Royal Canadian Mint Celebrates the Year of the Snake!