Zwap Blog

NORDIC NATURALS – WIN A NORDIC NATURALS SWAG BAG! – EXP MARCH 14/13

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I had the pleasure (total sarcasm!) of attending my doctor’s office in January for my annual physical.  After being poked and prodded for ½ hour, my doctor informed me that I was in good overall health BUT, she wanted me to start taking daily Vitamin D and Calcium supplements.  After all, these supplements are recommended for women my age.  *Shudder*  I think I aged 10 years after hearing those words, lol.

So when I was contacted by Nordic Naturals to review some of their supplement products, I jumped right on board….

READ FULL REVIEW

 

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Nordic Naturals Review & Giveaway Coming Soon!

 

Another great Zwap Review & Giveaway is in the works! The great folks at Nordic Naturals have just sent me some of their products to test out! The best part? They’ve also offered up a prize for one lucky Zwapper! So stay tuned to this Blog…my review will be coming as soon as I’ve had a chance to try my supplements!

In the meantime, please check out their website:

NORDIC NATURALS

Super Duper!

Love the name of this company (Super Duper Publications)! Never heard of them before? Well you’ll be hearing more of them soon.  I was recently contacted by Super Duper asking me to review their fun and educational kids products.  While we spend time having fun playing with the toys we received….please check out their great website:

SUPER DUPER PUBLICATIONS

KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED ON THIS BLOG FOR A SUPER DUPER GIVEAWAY!! COMING SOON!!

 

 

Make Someone’s Day With A RAOK

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Seems you hear these words used a lot these days.  Pay It Forward. Random Act Of Kindness.  You know, the act of doing something nice for a fellow human being without expecting something in return.

Have you ever experienced a “Random Act Of Kindness” (RAOK)? I’m happy to say I have – numerous times in fact.  The best part?  They have happened to me on some of my worst days, the kind of day where EVERYTHING seems to be going wrong.

A RAOK can be anything that you consider “nice”, “thoughtful” or “kind” and tends to happen “out of the blue”.  It’s the stranger’s hand that places a loonie on the coffee counter in front of you as you are frantically digging into the depths of your purse for your own loonie.  It’s the person that notices you from behind an armful of packages, who steps up to open the door,  AND who helps you carry the packages to your car.

Many of you may remember seeing the recent “Random Cup Of Kindness” campaign from Tim Hortons.  Canada’s favourite coffee shop mailed out packs of $5 Tim Hortons Gift Cards to various bloggers and social media enthusiasts, asking them to hand the cards out at random.  Some chose to pass them out at their local malls to weary Christmas shoppers.  Some chose to show up at local children’s hospitals to pass them out to tired and stressed parents.  Others chose to pass a card out to a stranger on the street

This marketing campaign was a great success for Tim Hortons, and left many people with that warm, fuzzy feeling of either having done something good for someone else, or having something good done for them.  One such Blogger who was involved in this campaign was my friend Chris, aka “Canadian Dad”.  You can read about his participation here Canadian Dad  .

It is Chris who was my inspiration for my next quest.  You see, I’ve joined Chris’ “2013 Creative Pay-It-Forward” campaign (which I thought was a great idea).  Here is what Chris posted on his Facebook page:

2013 Creative Pay-It-Forward: 

The first five people to comment on this status will receive from me, sometime this calendar year, a handwritten note along with a gift – perhaps a book, a donation made in your name, or a piece of pottery, maybe some music – a surprise! There will likely be no warning and it will happen whenever the mood strikes me. 

The catch? Those five people must make the same offer in their FB status. 

Ready, Set, Go!

Basically, Chris asked for 5 readers to provide him with their names and addresses and promised those 5 readers that, over the next year, all 5 of them would receive a small gift from him.  The gift could be anything – a book, a song, a gift card – anything.  The gift didn’t have to be anything big.  The gift could arrive at any time over the year.  Each gift would be an act of paying it forward.

The catch? Now I need to “pay it forward” and offer my own random acts of kindness.  So now I am asking for 5 volunteers to accept a gift from me, and join me on my quest to make others happy.  All I ask is that you must “pay it forward” by pasting Chris’ suggestion on your own Blog or Facebook Page.   Any takers?

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First image courtesy of  adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Canadian Dad image courtesy of Canadian Dad 

The Great Canadian Toilet Hunt

Skip…No RUN!…To The Loo, My Darlin’!

You know you’ve been there.  You are happily browsing through the store aisles, all set to purchase something, when it hits you.  Remember that Combo #3 you had for lunch? Guess What? Well, it’s knocking on your back door…..and it wants out….NOW!!

If you’re lucky, you’ve picked a store like Future Shop, Michael’s, RONA, or Sears for that afternoon’s shopping trip.  Thankfully, these major retailers all provide their customers with access to a plethora of stalls for the purpose of “doing your business”.  But what about if you are shopping at a small shop, for that one-of-a -kind gift for cousin Vinny, when the urge hits you?  You frantically eyeball every doorway in the store, hoping against all hope that you will see those magical symbols:

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Problem is, you don’t see them.  GULP! What are you going to do now? You walk up to the counter with every finger and toe crossed (not to mention your legs at this point!) and quickly ask the staff member if  they have a washroom you can use.  Then you hear the dreaded answer “I’m sorry, our washroom is for staff only”  Your blood pressure immediately hits the roof! What are you going to do now? You scurry out the front door trying to think of the closest washroom, and crossing those legs of yours ever tighter.

Sound familiar? Well, this type of situation has happened to me more often than I’d like to admit.  You see, me and washrooms, they go hand in hand – especially when I’m out shopping.  It never seems to fail.  Inevitably, thanks to my wonky bladder, I almost always have to visit the Land of the Porcelain Gods at some point when I’m browsing the aisles.  Aside from those wonderful multi-stalled washrooms in the big “box” or department stores, did you know how difficult it can be to locate a public washroom?  Trust me, I know all about this difficult task.  After many “near misses” I now scout out every available washroom in any retail establishment or restaurant that I enter.  I’ve gotten so good at locating the closest washrooms, I’m thinking of crowning myself  ”The Toilet Goddess”.  Definitely not a crown to be proud of, lol.

For those that like to have a good laugh over “urgent” washroom issues, I could fill a book with my funny washroom experiences. Like the time I had to go so badly that I left behind my cell phone on the back of the toilet.  Quite frankly, all I could think about was getting to the toilet. So “relieved” that I made it, the last thing on my mind was my cell phone.  Long story short, my poor sister had to make a 1/2 hour return trip back to the store to pick up my phone.  Or the time that……..well…..I won’t get into that story, lol.

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Although I’m making light of my trials and tribulations with finding public washrooms, for those that have bladder or bowel difficulties like me, this type of experience can make you literally never want to leave your house.  Even if you know where the public washrooms are, will the door be locked when you get there? Will the toilet be – yuck! – plugged? Will you be faced with that dreaded “one sheet per customer” toilet paper dispenser?  What about a washroom that hasn’t been checked since last Canada Day? You’ll never find a shred of TP in that washroom!  How about having to stand in line at the gas station waiting for that “magic” key that will gain you access to the “outhouse”?

While I can’t promise they are clean, loaded with stalls, or filled with bountiful supplies of toilet paper, there ARE public washrooms located at a store or restaurant near you.  You just need help finding them.  That’s where Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation Of Canada and TENA come to the rescue.

Who better to know where to find public washrooms than the people at CCFC or TENA? So for those of you wondering where to find the closest public washroom:

 

CAN’T WAIT BATHROOM FINDER

“ABOUT” THE CAN’T WAIT BATHROOM FINDER

 

TENA BATHROOM FINDER

 

Know of a public washroom that ISN”T listed? Be sure to help a fellow “Toilet Goddess” and go ahead and add it to the list.  You will make someone else very happy….and relieved!

“Woman/Man image courtesy of  David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

“Toilet Paper image courtest of  Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

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Sun, Fun & A Mom Central Canada Twitter Party!

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This is one Twitter party you DON’T want to miss! Trust me…it looks like it is going to be FUN!  Our friends at Mom Central Canada have teamed up with Visit Orlando to bring you a great Twitter party full of FANTASTIC prizes.  Check out the list of prizes being offered:

#VISITORLANDO PRIZES

Assisting Mom Central Canada with their Twitter party will be @hvbabywilltrvl, @ChildMode & the lovely @Listen2Lena (<—–one of my favourite bloggers!)

They will be “chatting about all of the fun, affordable things to do in Orlando and giving you the inside scoop on why Orlando is the perfect destination for everyone”

The Orlando, Florida region (and of course, DISNEYWORLD!) is a prime vacation destination for so many Canadian families.  I bet some of you already have your Florida vacations booked! Who isn’t itching to escape this nasty winter weather many of us have been experiencing? I know I am…I would LOVE to be heading to Orlando.  *Sigh*…I haven’t been there in over 20 years!

So c’mom….er…c’mon and join me tonight at 9PM EST for the Mom Central Canada #VISITORLANDO Twitter party!  I’ll be there and I hope to see you too!

Be sure to read the rules for the party.  You can find them here:

#VISITORLANDO Twitter Party Rules

Never attended a Twitter party before? They are fun…but extremely fast-paced.  Be sure to use a website, something like “TweetGrid”, to help you keep up with the conversation.   I wouldn’t attend a Twitter party without it!

You MUST be following @MC_Canada to be able to participate.  I also highly recommend following the co-hosts as well —-> @Listen2Lena, @hvbabywilltrvl, & @ChildMode

See you there!!

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Canada Is About To Be Target-ed!

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Have you noticed the online ads? The contest? Increased comments about them in Social Media circles?  Yes, Canada is about to become Target’s latest bull’s-eye.  Target is setting their sight north of the 49th parallel.

The closest Zellers to me was recently taken over by Walmart.  However, many of you will be seeing Target opening their doors in a neighbourhood near you…and soon.  According to the “store locator” on their website, some stores will begin opening in winter 2013 (that means any time now):

Store Locator

 

Have you seen the Debit and VISA Credit Card Target will be offering?  Check out my Deals post for more information:

Target REDCard 

So what are your thoughts about Target coming to Canada?  Yay or Nay?  Are you getting a Target near you or a Walmart like me? Will you be shopping at Target?

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Protect Your Data – How To Protect Yourself And Your Data

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You may have recently seen advertisements about this website.  Their ad caught my attention awhile back. I thought this would be a good thing to share since so many of us have cell phones full of personal information.  I often think about the security of my laptop…but tend to forget about how important it is to keep my cell phone safe. Stop and think about how much information a thief could gather just from stealing your phone.  There are lots of good tips on how to protect your personal info…take a moment to read this.

 

http://www.protectyourdata.ca/

 

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A Fix For The Dreaded Boogies!

Ahhhh yes….the dreaded “Boogies”.  If you’ve got kids, you know all about them (more than you care to know I’m sure!).  They appear with great abundance during the long winter months, thanks to all the nasty colds that seem to go hand-in-hand with this time of year.

Ever try getting a child to blow his/her nose properly with a tissue, especially when it is plugged? Boogie Wipes www.boogiewipes.com  to the rescue! Boogie Wipes are gentle saline wipes for stuffy noses.  You can find Boogie Wipes at various Canadian retailers such as Loblaws and Shoppers Drug Mart.

Why am I telling you about Boogie Wipes? The great folks at Boogie Wipes recently sent me a bunch of samples of their wipes to test out.  What do I think of Boogie Wipes?  I don’t know yet.  My Boogie Wipes are currently tucked away in hiding.  We haven’t been able to test them out yet as we are one of the very few families that haven’t caught one of those dreaded colds…..yet!!! I know it’s coming…there’s no escaping it.  Until then, we sit and wait to use our Boogie Wipes.

Stay tuned for more………..

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The Return Of Magneta Lane

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I was recently contacted by Eric Alper, Director Of Media Relations for eOne Music Canada.  You know Eric – he is CTV’s Music Correspondent.  You may also know him as “ThatEricAlper”.  He has thousands of fans following him on Twitter – and that’s where I originally “met up” with Eric.  

Eric wrote to me to tell me about the new EP being released by Magneta Lane “Witchrock” http://magnetalane.com/magnetalane/.   Toronto’s Indie-Rock bad girls are back!

Magneta Lane


So who are Magneta Lane?

Magneta Lane are a Canadian indie band hailing from Toronto, Ontario. The all-female line-up consists of family members Lexi Valentine (vocals & guitar) and Nadia King (drums) and French (bass). The band has received critical acclaim for their debut EP The Constant Lover. Their first single, also titled “The Constant Lover”, as well as their second single, “Ugly Socialite”, have been on rotation on MTV, VH1, and MuchMusic. The group formed after Valentine and King attended a concert in Toronto and met the band backstage. After the meeting they decided that watching a concert was not satisfying enough. The trio came together in fall 2003 and spent the next year playing shows in and around their native Toronto. Since then, they have broken into international indie scenes. Their sound has been compared to The Runaways and The Pretenders while honoring such influences as Nancy Sinatra, Sonic Youth, Hole and other 90′s alternative rock. They released The Constant Lover and Dancing with Daggers on Toronto based indie label Paper Bag Records. Both albums were successful and allowed the band to tour Canada, the US, Japan and parts of Europe. The band signed to Last Gang Records and released Gambling with God in Canada on September 15, 2009. Gambling with God, was released digitally in the U.S with a bonus track titled “Shatter” on November 9, 2010. Magneta Lane is set to release their 3rd LP in the Spring of 2012. The album is being produced by Rick Jackett and James Black of Finger 11.

Are you a fan of Joan Jett? Chryssie Hynde? Patti Smith? You will definitely hear their influence in Magneta Lane’s music. Lead singer, Lexi Valentine has a voice that is strong, throaty…. and yet smooth.  Her voice is well-suited to Magneta Lane’s songs, with just enough punch..but still easy on the ears. 

Magneta Lane’s songs are full of great guitar riffs, energy and bite! My personal faves?  Definitely “Witchrock” and “The Constant Lover”. What about you? What is your favourite Magneta Lane song? 

Check out Magneta Lane’s Music & Video’s here:

 http://magnetalane.com/magnetalane/musicvideos/

 

Magneta Lane

 To celebrate the release of Witchrock, Magneta Lane are holding an EP Release Party on February 14th @ The Rivoli in Toronto:

Magneta Lane CD Release Party 

Thursday Feb, 14th 2013 @ The Rivoli - Toronto

GET YOUR ADVANCE TICKETS HERE

 

Oh and, by the way guys, as you can see from the photos, these ladies aren’t hard to look at either :)

Be sure to follow the ladies of Magneta Lane on Twitter https://twitter.com/magneta_lane  and on Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/magnetalane

 

***All opinions expressed here are my own.  I was not financially compensated for this blog.  eOne Music provided me with a free download of the new Witchrock EP***

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Hello, You’ve Reached Customer Service, How May I Help You?

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So, you’ve just had a really bad customer service experience while shopping at one of your favourite retailers.  What do you do? Do you lodge a complaint? If so, how do you do it and who do you complain to?  Do you voice your complaint via Social Media? Do you make a phone call to the Manager of the store? Do you pay a personal visit to the Manager? What about when you purchase a product and it fails to live up to your expectations, or breaks upon first use?  Do you complain to the company?

On the flipside, do you let a company know when they have provided you with outstanding customer service or a fantastic product that you just can’t live without?

More often than not, we tend to share our complaints with people rather than our accolades.  We are much more likely to criticize than to praise.

I’ve had more than my share of great customer service experiences over the last couple of months.  I’ve already written about one of them on this blog. I had another one yesterday.  I was grocery shopping at my local Loblaws store.  While the cashier was ringing up my order, she scanned one product that rang up at more than a dollar higher than the sale price I had seen on the sign in front of the product display.  Turns out,  the sign was from “last week’s sale”.  Needless to say, I was already salivating as the cashier was discussing the price check with the other staff member.  The words “Scanning Code Of Practice” (SCOP) were flashing in front of my eyes.  Yes, I ended up getting the product for free.  What was the best part of this experience? In my opinion it was the fact that the cashier admitted the mistake and then proceded to inform me that I would be getting the product for free – as per the SCOP.   Wow! I didn’t have to jump through the usual hoops to ask for the product for free!!  This was the first time I had benefited from the SCOP without having to ask for it (and sometimes argue!).  Kudos to my Loblaws cashier for actually knowing about the SCOP, and automatically giving it to me.  That to me was great customer service.

Coming up in the next few weeks, I will be writing about another well-known company I recently had reason to contact due to problems I had experienced with their product.  I wrote to them thinking they would acknowledge my email and then quickly file it under “trash”.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Not only did they acknowledge my complaint promptly,  but they went “above and beyond” and provided me with one of the best customer service experiences I’ve ever had.

Stay tuned to this blog for more!

What about you? How do you deal with your complaints? Your great customer service experiences? Do you speak up?

 

Above image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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Do You Ask For Freebies Wherever You Go?

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I recently acquired my yearly supply of contact lenses from my eye doctor. I did not have one of those “free contact lenses” certificates that you can obtain online from various companies, so I just asked if I could have a trial pair of a different type of contact lens than what I was purchasing. I also asked if they had a trial size bottle of contact lens solution. I ended up walking out with an extra pair of contact lenses and a bottle of lens solution for free. So don’t be afraid to ask for samples when you visit your eye doctor. Last year I managed to snag a free pair of “coloured” lenses to try out.

Why not try a few of my other suggestions for gathering freebies.  It never hurts to ask! 

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  • Your family doctor will often have trial sizes of various pills like Tylenol, Advil, etc. Ask for some samples while you are there.

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  • Don’t forget to ask for extra freebies from your dentist next time you go. Mine always gives me a new toothbrush, but I always ask for some floss and a trial size toothpaste and never have any problem getting the extra goodies.

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  • Buying perfume at the perfume counter? You are probably spending a fortune on a nice bottle of your favourite scent. Don’t forget to ask for other samples they may have kicking around. I bought some cologne the other day and the man at the counter ended up giving me 2 samples of men’s cologne, 2 samples of women’s perfume and a promotional pack of tennis balls. Cosmetics counters at department stores/drug stores often have make up samples you can ask for.

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  • Staying at a hotel? Leave a note for housekeeping and request extra shampoos/shower gels (etc) next time they clean your room. You will end up leaving with plenty of goodies if you do this each day of your stay. You can often get samples from the front desk if you forget something at home. Also….don’t forget to take that nice pen and paper from the desk/drawer. We can all use those pens and little pads of paper at home. What about the tea and coffee that is left for you? Take those home to enjoy if you don’t use them up in your room. During my visit to the Dominican Republic I was left numerous packages of beautiful Dominican coffee each day of my stay. I piled a whole bunch of packages into my suitcase, took them home, opened them all up and put all the coffee in a coffee tin. I ended up with almost a whole can of coffee to enjoy at home for free (not recommended for the cheap coffee that some hotels leave for you, lol).

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  • Taking your furry friend to the vet? Ask for food samples (etc). You never know what they may have on hand. My vet always has a pet magazine you can take free of charge as well as the odd sample of pet food/treats.

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  • Taking a donation to your local Humane Society? Check to see if they have dog/cat food samples for your animals. My shelter receives the food they feed their dogs and cats free from Royal Canin. This company also leaves out samples of the dog and cat food in the lobby for anyone to take. See if a similar program is set up at your shelter next time you are there.

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  • Taking your car in for servicing? Ask if they have any promotional items kicking around that they would like to give to a good customer (you!). I’ve done this a few times and have ended up with a nice keychain, pens, can opener, ball cap, etc.

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  • Need a calendar for the new year? Don’t forget to start asking for them (probably by November) when you visit various businesses. Your bank will likely have them as well as various retail shops.

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  • Do you ask for free refills at fast food restaurants? You should! Most fast food restaurants in Canada will provide you with free refills…you just have to ask. I’ve done this at McDonald’s, Wendy’s & Harveys. Of course…must be on same visit!

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  • Looking for free Wi-Fi?? Besides Starbucks, McDonalds (etc), did you know that you can usually get free Wi-Fi at your local library? If not, you can usually find a library computer that you can use for a set period of time while at the library.  You can also find free Wi-Fi at rest stops in Ontario.

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  • Going to the bank? Why not ask them if they have any freebies? Banks give away free calendars, promo items, cheque book covers, registers, pens, etc.

 

Anyone else have good ideas on asking for freebies?

 

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FAMILY DAY 2013

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It’s a month away, but Family Day 2013 will be here before you know it!  What is Family Day? It’s a statuatory holiday in the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and as of this year, British Columbia.  Depending on the province, it is celebrated on either the 2nd or 3rd Monday of February. Unfortunately, for the residents of the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec & the Territories, Family Day is just another work day, as those provinces do not recognize this holiday.  

For those of you lucky enough to get a holiday on Family Day, what are your plans? What fun things would you like to do with your kids?  After all, that’s what this holiday is all about…spending time with FAMILY.

If you are looking for things to do on Family Day 2013, check your local city/town website to see what activities may be planned.  Free activities (or discounted attraction prices) for the family can be found in abundance on Family Day.  Here are just a few that I have come across while searching the internet.  If you know of any others, please share them with us by commenting in this blog.  

 

HOCKEY HALL OF FAME – FREE YOUTH ADMISSION ON FAMILY DAY (Toronto)

Back to HHoF.com Home Page

Monday, February 18, 2013
10:00am – 5:00pm

KIDS are FREE ON FAMILY DAY! PLUS each youth will receive a FREE muffincompliments of Brookfield Place – Marché Restaurant (located just steps from the Hockey Hall of Fame’s exit).

Up to a maximum of 4 youth (13yrs & under) will be admitted FREE with the purchase of one regular price adult admission. Admission must be purchased onsite. Offer cannot be combined with any other promotional offers.

Voucher for free muffin will be provided upon admission into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Offer valid on February 18 at the Brookfield Place – Marché Restaurant location only, while quantities last.

Plan your visit today!

 

NATIONAL ART CENTRE ENGLISH THEATRE FAMILY DAY (Ottawa)

Ages 5 +
English Theatre invites you to participate in our third annual celebration of family.

Join us for a memorable day of stories, games, interactive displays, and special workshops.

This special family day event, launched in 2011, features a cornucopia of hands-on activities for children and the people who love them…and it’s all free!

http://nac-cna.ca/en/englishtheatre/event/4484

 

TIFF Bell Lightbox (Toronto)

On Family Day, Monday, February 18, bring the kids down to TIFF Bell Lightbox for a whole day of special family films, activities and workshops—all for free!

http://tiff.net/bellfreeweekend

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