Thursday, September 21, 2017

Casa Loma Symphony in The Gardens by The Toronto Concert Orchestra

Casa Loma Outdoor Garden

Casa Loma Castle is one of the top famous Toronto attractions with unique architecture, design and history. It is always a pleasure to visit the Castle and enjoy every second being there. It is really beautiful inside and outside with sculptures, paintings, gardens and fountains. This year we had a chance to visit the Castle for Disney Beauty & The Beast event, there is no better place than Casa Loma for this magical story.

Casa Loma Fountain

During summer time Casa Loma also hosts Symphony in the Gardens once a week in the evening from June to September. The Toronto Concert Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Kerry Stratton, brings the most popular musical compositions. Every performance is unique and the themes are meticulously chosen based on audience requests. For example, this season Star Wars fans could hear popular musical pieces from the movies and jazz and swing lovers could enjoy Frank Sinatra musical evening.

Sara Papini

This year we traveled a lot during summer time and were lucky to have an opportunity to join Symphony in the Gardens Grand Finale on September 12th thanks to warm Toronto weather (surprisingly this fall). We arrived early to the concert. The views of the city were stunning with CN Tower and the buildings. I wish Teddy could come to see and hear this performance but he has piano lesson that day. Not very often we have an opportunity to enjoy live classical music performed by professionals in outdoor majestic setting.

Casa Loma Garden

The performance was dedicated to classical musical pieces of famous composers like Mozart, Verdi, Rossini, Bizet and others. The evening was amazing in the beautiful gardens with fountains and flowers. It was warm and something magical was in the air when we listened rebellious Carmen and mysterious Dvorak's Rusalka performed by Danielle MacMillan and Sara Papini. Tenor Vaguif Kerimov impressed the audience with his remarkable voice. We stayed at the event till dusk. The Castle was lit up with colors. Casa Loma and Toronto are even more beautiful in the dark. The sounds of orchestra, soloist's voices and warm weather made this evening really enjoyable.

Toronto Concert Orchestra

The performance was till 10 pm. Visitors could enjoy al fresco food and drink options. There are tables conveniently set in the garden behind Glass Pavilion. It was magical evening, we are looking forward to new concerts in Casa Loma. Hopefully the weather will give us more opportunities to enjoy music in the garden. For more information about The Toronto Concert Orchestra please visit http://www.torontoconcertorchestra.com

Casa Loma
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Monday, September 18, 2017

Our Adventures in Italy Day VII: Pisa & The Leaning Tower

Leaning Tower

We left Rome early morning on the board of a high-speed rail train and arrived in Pisa around 10am. We booked a hotel just few hundred meters from train station, left our luggage there and took a taxi to Square of Miracles. I booked our tickets  to climb The Leaning Tower in advance and were afraid to be late. Train station appeared to be less then ten minutes drive from The Leaning Tower. The Square of Miracles is dominated by four great religious edifices: the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistery, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Camposanto  Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery). It’s partly paved and partly grassed. It was crowded there with tourists and people trying to sell something to you. We walked around The Leaning Tower first, absorbing view that we heard so much about. To be honest, we chose to spend vacation in Italy because we wanted to visit The Leaning Tower.

Pisa Tower View Pisa Aerial View Pisa Italy summer

Then we entered the Pisa Cathedral (or Duomo) through the massive bronze main doors. Its construction began in 1064, and set the model for the distinctive Pisan style of architecture. The mosaics of the interior, as well as the pointed arches, show a strong Byzantine influence. The facade made of grey marble and white stone set with discs of colored marble.

Teddy in Pisa Ted Museum Pisa

The Baptistery, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, stands opposite the west end of the Duomo. It is the largest baptistery in Italy. Its circumference measures 107.25 meters. Taking into account the statue of St. John the Baptist on top of the dome, it is even higher than The Leaning Tower. The Baptistery has remarkable acoustics and plain interior design with lack of decorations.

Pisa museum Huge Statue Pisa

It was time to climb The Leaning Tower. Unfortunately children before age of 8 are not allowed climbing and we had to take turns while Teddy had a lunch with other one of us in outdoor patio with tower view. You cannot take bags with you and have to leave all belongings (except camera and phone) in the locker. The tower looks from inside like a huge pipe with a covered top. The guide told us some interesting facts about building the tower and we started climbing 296 steps leading to the top. Construction of the tower began in 1173 and took place in three stages over the course of 177 years, with the bell-chamber only added in 1372.

Ted in Pisa Teddy Leaning Tower

The tower stands approximately 56 meters high, and was built to accommodate a total of seven main bells, cast to the musical scale. The tower now leans at about 3.99 degrees. This means that the top of the tower is displaced horizontally 3.9 meters (12 ft 10 in) from where it would be, if the structure were perfectly vertical. You can feel that you climb stairs in leaning position and have to touch the wall from time to time in order to keep the balance. It wasn’t so difficult to get to the top where seven bells of different sizes are located.  The Pisa is a small city without hi-rise buildings and it can be seen completely and clearly from the top of The Leaning Tower.

Pisa Market Pisa Bell

After visiting The Leaning Tower we found shade a cool breeze in The Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery) that is located at the northern edge of the Square. It was a relief for us, considering 35C on that day. The Camposanto Monumentale once contained a large collection of Roman sculptures and sarcophagus, but now there are only 84 remaining. The walls were once covered in remarkable frescoes. On 27 July 1944, incendiary bombs dropped by allied aircraft set the roof of the building on fire and covered them in molten lead, mostly destroying them.

 Pisa History Italy Pisa Art

Since 1945, restoration works have been going on and now the Campo Santo has been brought back to its original state. Original drawings of the Campo Santo frescoes are kept in Sinopias Museum where we headed after Camposanto Monumentale. The museum is very small and it was good because we were so tired and ready to go to the hotel. Before going back we stopped at the local flee market and bought a few T-shots and souvenirs.

Pisa Street

We decided to go back on foot and see the city. We walked just several hundred meters and reached Knights' Square  where located a beautiful Palazzo della Carovana palace. Teddy liked the music local musician played on a guitar there and even dance with him. We walk through main shopping street in the center of Pisa and checked a couple boutiques. Within 30 minutes we got to the hotel squeezed like lemons. It was a very hot day; we woke up at 5am and had a very busy day.  A good rest was crucial for us. Next morning we had a train to Florence.

Pisa stroll

This is seventh post about our summer vacation in Italy.  Related posts can be found here: 
Our Adventures in Italy Day I: Rome, Piazza di Spagna, Spanish Steps, Fountain Trevi, Pinocchio Store
Our Adventures in Italy Day II - Borghese Gallery, the Pincian Hill, Piazza del Popolo, Dolce Vita Stroll #familytravel
Our Adventures in Italy Day III - the Vatican City #familytravel
Our Adventures in Italy Day IV - Colosseum
Our Adventures in Italy Day V - National Roman Museum, The Pyramid of Cestius & St Paul's Outside-the-Walls
Our Adventures in Italy Day VI Rome - Saint Peter in Chains Basilica, Capitoline Museum & Basilica of St. Mary of the Altar of Heaven #travel
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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Disney Movies Coming To The Big Screen In Canada This Fall #PixarCoco #ThorRagnarok

While it is sad that summer is over with hot days, splash pads, beaches and outdoor activities, new season takes its turn to bring colorful leaves, Halloween candies, colder weather and harvest time. Our Canadian fall and winter can be furious and very cold. But we do not let gloomy days destroy our cheerios mood and love spending time at the movies watching latest releases. This fall Disney releases two fantastic movies we are waiting for so long and can't wait to see them.

Save the dates - November 3 and November 22, 2017!  

Thor: Ragnarok
Marvel Studios
Release Date: November 3, 2017

Thor Ragnarok

If you the latest updates, the movie promises to give many interesting turnarounds, lots of interactions, encounters, powerful battles and funny moments, of course! In Marvel Studios’ "Thor: Ragnarok," Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok—the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk!

"Thor: Ragnarok" is directed by Taika Waititi and returns Chris Hemsworth starring as Thor and Tom Hiddleston reprising his role as Loki. They are joined by Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson and Karl Urban, with Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Hopkins. The screenplay is by Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost and Stephany Folsom and Eric Pearson.

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban with Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Hopkins Director: Taika Waititi

Release Date: November 22, 2017


This animated movie is somewhat unique and special. Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colourful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history.

Directed by Lee Unkrich ("Toy Story 3"), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”).

Voice Cast: Gael García Bernal, Anthony Gonzalez, Benjamin Bratt, Renée Victor Director: Lee Unkrich

Adrian Molina and Darla K. Anderson were in Toronto this summer and we had a chance to talk about the production of Coco, where the idea came from and how it was created. We will share it in another post very soon. And today check the latest Coco trailer:

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Celebrating Time with Flik and Flak in Toronto #FlikFlakTurns30

Flik Flak Collection

Teaching kids time is not an easy task. While everything seems obvious to us, it is quite difficult to explain to our children. They could not understand seconds, minutes and hours and what time means. It was until Teddy went to school and learned everything with Flik and Flak thanks to his amazing teacher. It was easy and fast as Teddy explained and Flik & Flak were fun to learn with.

Flik Flak is the world’s favorite children’s watch. And Flik & Flak are characters who helping kids learn and tell the time. They find seconds, minutes and hours incredibly exciting. With Flik and Flak you will discover just how easy it is to know everything about the time. Flik and Flak are siblings. Flik is the big brother with very long legs and Flak is the clever little sister. Both of them love watches but, most of all, they love helping others to tell the time correctly. Flik has the job of showing the minutes. He takes a step forward every 60 seconds. After he has been round the whole watch face once, an hour has passed. Then it's Flak's turn: she jumps forward to show the next full hour.

Flik Flak Community Board

Since 1987, Flik Flak creates Swiss made watches for kids that help them to learn to tell the time so that they find it interesting and fun. This year Flik Flak celebrates 30 amazing years being best time friends with kids and we were happy to join the celebration in Toronto.

flik flak turns 30 flik flak 30

The Flik Flak party was hosted at The Big Chill. Everyone knows that kids love ice-cream. We were treated with a wide selection of flavors so hard to choose from with desire to try them all. What a party without balloons and party favors and Birthday activities!

Teddy Flik Flak

At the party we had a chance to view the Flik Flak collection of watches and even try on some of them. With Back To School around the corner kids definitely needed watches to learn how to manage their time at home, at school and other places where they play.

Flik Flak App free

The Big Chill has a fancy Community Board where everyone wrote their best birthday withes to Flik and Flak, saying thank you for helping learning time and being best children friends. We were also introduced to Telling The Time with Flik and Flak. This app was developed in co-operation with teachers and educators to playfully teach children how to read time. Step by step, they learn how to read the numbers, hours and minutes as well as how to tell the time. It is really great application, Teddy already had it before the party and I agree that it helps a lot. It is free to download and has various funny games and activities. Kids will love to check them out. Flik Flak watches are all Swiss made, they are shock-resistant, what is good for playground activities and water resistant up to 3 bars so at splash pad children know that it is time to stop and take a break. Flik Flak watches are machine washable and can survive a normal 40°C cycle.

Flik Flak icecream

Available on-line and in Swatch store across Canada, Flik Flak watch makes not only a wonderful gift to every kid but also an essential item to help them learn time and help in daily activities. We are happy to say Happy Birthday to this dedicated to kids brand and wishing many successful years in Canada.

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

9/11 Film Starring Charlie Sheen & Whoopi Goldberg #Remember911 Gift Pack Giveaway CAN/US

The film 9/11 is based on a true story and chronicles the lives of five average, everyday people who find themselves trapped in an elevator during the events of 9/11 in the World Trade Center.

It is an inspiring movie starring Charlie Sheen and Whoopi Goldberg titled 9/11, based on the original play, The Elevator and centers on the events of September 11, 2001.

 photo 911 Movie Charlie Sheen_zpscxdlwmx1.jpg

In the World Trade Center, a billionaire sits in his attorney’s office awaiting a divorce hearing against his wife. In a west side apartment, a bike messenger kisses his 5-year old daughter and sings her “Happy Birthday” before leaving for work. A maintenance man gets dispatched to help a tenant with his lock. In an upper east side apartment, a young model musters the courage to break up with her sugar daddy. As random as random can be, these individuals step into a crowded World Trade Center elevator.

Wrapped up in their own world, they all ride silently hearing only the sound of the elevator giving notice of each floor. When the elevator stops on the 34th floor, it empties leaving only these five behind. Moments later ... their world changes as the collision of a jet into the North Tower incapacitates the elevator.

With no understanding of what has happened and is happening around them, these fives are forced to band together and fight against all odds to escape from the impending horrific collapse. During these critical minutes, a story of courage, faith, and the will to live unfolds.

No matter who you are or where you were, that moment and the aftermath is indelibly etched in everyone’s mind.

Please check facts about 9/11 provided by Tuesday’s Children, the leading response and recovery organization supporting youth and families impacted by terrorism and traumatic loss relating to 9/11. And watch behind-the-scenes interviews with Charlie Sheen, Gina Gershon, and Luis Guzman.

Visit https://www.911movie.film for more information.

Everyone has a 9/11 Story. On September 11, 2001 I was in hospital and could not even walk. It was scary time, all our patients, doctors and nurses were stick to TV watching the news and could not believe what happened.

To Remember 911 events we are giving away #Remember911 Gift Pack that contains:
  •  9/11 poster Hand Signed Autographed by star Charlie Sheen
  • “Hope” Pendant with necklace
  • Guide to Talking To Your Children About 9/11 thanks to Tuesday’s Children
The giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents and ends September 23, 2017. The prize will be sent via FedEx or USPS. No P.O. Boxes please. a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Monday, September 4, 2017

It's Paw Patrol Party with PercyVites & Toys “R” Us

Percy Vites Personalized Invitation

We started using on-line invitations few years ago when decided to celebrate Teddy's Birthday Party and came across PercyVites. That time the idea of personalized video invitations was amazing and we were very excited to use it to invite our guest to the party at African Lion Safari. Since that time PercyVites grew up enormously adding new features, favorite characters and more videos to make sure everyone gets enjoyable experience using this popular planning service. Their invitations are very cool and easy to create, perfect for people of all ages and any special occasions. PercyVites planning tool allows easily manage party details, check who accepted your invitation, send reminders and updates, say thank you and much more.

Parties, especially birthday parties, are very important for kids. They can't wait to their next celebration. As much as they cherish, anticipate and really looking forward to Birthday celebration, the preparations should be made to ensure everything is smooth and fun.

PAW Patrol Party

So party is coming, guest list is prepared, a video made, invitations sent and party location booked. Now it is time to think about party supply. Unique Party Favors is a leading manufacturer and worldwide distributor of party supplies, is partnering up with PercyVites so that you can organize your birthday kid an unforgettable memorable celebration featuring a few of their favourite canine characters with this fun PAW Patrol Party Kit.

PAW Patrol Party Kit

Teddy likes PAW Patrol series and is excited to see Chase, Marshall, Rubble, Rocky, Zuma, and Skye at the party. PAW Patrol Party Kit includes most of essential party items like napkin, plates, paper caps, favor bags and balloons. These items are great quality and come in one set, so you do not need to think how to put everything together.

PAW Patrol

PercyVites invitations and Unique Party Favors kits are the great ways to organize your child's special day and you can get everything in one place, our favorite store Toys “R” Us. You do not even need to visit the store, you can make all your purchases on-line, from invitations to table cover you can find there.

Percy Vites at ToysRUs

PercyVites videos can be played on smartphones, tablets, home computers and smart TVs. You can choose character from popular TV shows like Transformers, My Little Pony, NERF, Littlest Pet Shop, Shopkins, Sonic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and more! The best thing you can ask your child to help to plan the party and enjoy preparing it together.

Percy Vites

Happy planning and enjoy those special moments with your kids you prepare with love and favorite characters. PercyVites is $0.79 per video invitation. PAW Patrol party kit is $49.99 for 8.


*I received the party pack for the purpose of a review but the opinions are completely my own based on my experience.
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Monday, August 21, 2017

My Little Pony Equestria Girls - Magical Movie Night DVD Giveaway CAN/US

As much as kids love My Little Pony stories, new Shout!Factory Kids DVD release this month My Little Pony Equestria Girls - Magical Movie Night made them really happy. There are three episodes and they connected to each other. Join Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Sunset Shimmer, Starlight Glimmer and others in their magical movie journey. There are lots of music, dancing, movie shooting and mysteries!

My Little Pony

The first episode is Dance Magic where dance moves take you on an interesting adventures. The Equestria Girls need a plan to raise money for the Camp Everfree fundraising campaign. Rarity finds out about a music video competition with a pretty good cash prize at local mall and wants her friends at Canterlot High to enter the contest. Other contestants from Crystal Prep Academy also participate in the contest. And they practice vigorously and have an amazing choreography. Nevertheless every girls group have something to bring to the competition and to the dance. There are different dancing styles, dancers skill and levels. But the girls learn that teaming up produces better result that competing with each other.

The second episode is Movie Magic, where The Equestria Girls have been specially invited by A.K. Yearling to go on the set of the upcoming Daring Do movie. They are super excited especially Rainbow Dash, who is such a good fan of the main star of the shooting film. However, when a rare and important prop from the set goes missing, The Equestria Girls has to find out what is going on and help the production continue. They have to track down the prop, find evidences and even save themselves against a malicious mysterious figure chasing them around the studio and trying to hurt them. So real adventures become more like a movie plot for the girls.

The last episode is Mirror Magic where Sunset Shimmer needs to return to Equestria as a pony to get a new journal as her old one is almost finishes. There, she meets new pony Starlight Glimmer and agrees to bring her back through the mirror portal to experience life as a human girl at Canterlot High. while Sunset Shimmer is away, a revenge‐seeking Juniper Montage finds a beautiful hand mirror enchanted with Equestrian magic. She buys the mirror in a regular store in the mall and quite fast finds out how it works. This mirror provides a window into another land and also makes things disappear into limbo, trapped between the two realms! When Sunset Shimmer returns girls are missing and Juniper Montage makes her disappear too. Luckily Starlight Glimmer is there who sees what is going on and eager to help!

My Little Pony Equestria Girls - Magical Movie Night is now available on DVD from Shout!Factory Kids. It also includes a Sing-Along from Dance Magic episode. For everyone how like activity kits there are also two coloring sheets available to download at Shout!Factory Kids site, completely free!

For our readers we are happy to give a chance to win two of My Little Pony Equestria Girls - Magical Movie Night DVD thanks to Shout!Factory and their amazing team. The giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents & ends September 5, 2017!

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