Would you like to win tickets to Disney on Ice: Worlds of Fantasy?

Rev up for non-stop fun with four of your favourite Disney stories! Disney On Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy, and it's coming to Ottawa's Canadian Tire Centre on Wednesday, Feb. 25, through Sunday, March 1, 2015.  

The on-ice excitement begins when an adventurous Mickey Mouse embarks on a journey with Minnie Mouse to uncover each world of fantasy, but the plan goes awry when their cherry red roadster unexpectedly breaks down. Although Donald Duck and Goofy try, it takes the assistance of the coolest cars on the ice to get the pistons firing again. Direct from Radiator Springs, Mater, Lightning McQueen and Sally speed into action, zipping and zooming around the frozen highway in an effort to re-energize the roadster.

As Mickey and Minnie's road trip continues, the whimsical scenery transforms the arena into an environment that captures the essence of each unique world to follow. Fluorescent coral and clam shell drums embody Ariel's world in The Little Mermaid and audiences enter the colourful fantasy land of fairies for the Tinker Bell segment.

The toys are back in town during the second act of Worlds of Fantasy, which brings together all the fun, humour and warmth of the beloved Disney Pixar film Toy Story 3. Woody, Jessie, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the familiar gang hit the ice for the ultimate Toy Story experience.

Worlds of Fantasy offers the perfect combination of elements for fans of Disney On Ice. "From the contemporary feel of Cars and Toy Story 3 to the timeless quality of The Little Mermaid and Tinker Bell, audiences will see four completely different Disney worlds brought to life," says producer Kenneth Feld. "All of this provides a value that is truly unparalleled in the world of live family entertainment. More than ever before, there's something for everyone."

We are giving away six packs of four tickets to six lucky Ottawa families. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. It's easy to win!

Please read the following before you enter:

  • All persons two years of age and older must have a ticket to enter the venue. 
  • Winners will be contacted by email and must pick up their passes at the Great River Media office at 250 City Centre Blvd., Unit 500 in a timely manner.
  • They are good for one the following performances: Wednesday Feb 25 at 7 p.m. or Thursday Feb. 26 at 10:30 a.m. or 7:00 p.m.
  • The passes must be redeemed for hard tickets at the Canadian Tire Centre Box office and they are redeemable right up until show time. The earlier you redeem the passes, the better seats you'll get. Seating is not guaranteed.
  • Capital Parent or Great River Media cannot be responsible for lost or misdirected emails.

Good luck!

Take a bite out of dinner planning with a freezer meal exchange (plus bonus recipe)

By Paula Roy

There’s something about January that inspires austerity in many forms. After the excess of the holiday season, budgets are revisited and food is often simpler. One sure-fire way to save both time and money on your wintertime food expenditures is to organize a ‘fill the freezer’ exchange.

A freezer food exchange operates in a similar fashion as the popular Christmas cookie exchange, where you make multiple dozens of one kind of cookie then gather with friends, possibly over a glass of wine, to share your creations. The best part is everyone takes home a wide assortment of tasty treats. 

Here are a few tips I’ve learned about savoury food swaps. First off, you need to do some advance planning. Your neighbour’s eight-bean casserole might be delicious, but if your kids won’t eat it, it’s probably not the right dish for an exchange. It’s a good idea to have all participants meet (although a Facebook chat works as well) to propose and select recipes that are agreeable to all, with minimal duplication. At the same time, you should roughly calculate a per-serving cost to ensure that each cook is spending approximately the same amount for ingredients. Plus, it’s nice to have a diverse selection of meals, ranging from casseroles to pasta dishes to soups and stews.

When evaluating recipes for made-in-advance meals, look at the ingredients and consider how they will fare after weeks or even months in the freezer. Cooked barley holds up really well to freezing, as do lentils and chickpeas; pasta should be cooked to just under al dente for best storage. It’s also a good idea to have some of your freezer meals fully cooked (just reheat and serve) while others can be ready-to-cook. 

Next up, be firm about respecting any important dietary restrictions. If you need dishes prepared in a peanut-free kitchen, for example, don’t assume that everyone understands how essential this is. The same applies to lactose intolerance, celiac disease and other food allergies. Make sure everyone in the group does not confuse critical food issues with dislikes. 

Suggest that all participants provide their recipes when you gather to share the prepared meals; if a new dish is a hit with your family, it will enable you to add it to your regular repertoire. Encourage cooks to include suggestions for any side dishes that would complement their frozen dishes. Examples might be ‘serve with warm, crusty bread’ or ‘goes well with Caesar salad’. 

Packaging is important as well. Containers should be compact and sturdy so they can be stacked efficiently in the freezer. Consider purchasing foil pans with cardboard lids at a dollar store; these come in several sizes and the lids are perfect for labelling with ingredients and reheating instructions. Zippered freezer bags or inexpensive, reusable plastic storage containers are two other options.

Depending upon the culinary interests of your friends, you may want to consider a different kind of freezer-filling activity. The host can provide several different marinades while guests can bring their own protein. The meat can be tucked into sturdy zipper bags with the marinade and frozen until needed. A few ideas to get you started: flank steak bathed in delicious soya, sesame and ginger, or buttermilk-brined boneless chicken thighs ready to be battered in cornflake crumbs and baked to crispy perfection.

If you like the idea of a frozen food swap but aren’t sure how to organize one, consider a service like SupperWorks, which has three locations in the Ottawa area. Visit with a group of friends and enjoy the convenience of having all ingredients purchased and prepared so all you have to do is assemble meals according to the recipes you’ve selected from the SupperWorks menu. Not only do you take home your creations, they do all the cleanup!

Freezer-friendly cheeseburger casserole

You will need:

  • 1 pound (454 grams) lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, minced
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups broad egg noodles
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar

In a large skillet, brown beef over medium heat, stirring occasionally to break up clumps. Increase heat to medium high; add onion, green pepper and mushrooms and cook for five minutes, stirring.  Add tomatoes and their juice, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt & pepper.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to low and simmer, uncovered, while you bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook egg noodles for 5 minutes; drain. Put cooked noodles in freezer containers and top with beef mixture. Sprinkle cheese over top and freeze. To serve, thaw and reheat 30 minutes, uncovered at 350F. 

Top toy picks: Teaching Cash Register

by Marcia MacQuarrie, The Noise on Toys

Our testers loved playing store with the Teaching Cash Register (3+, Learning Resources). Parents loved that this free style play is also an engaging way to introduce them to the coins and bills that make up our currency. But this toy also offers other ways to learn about money, like naming coins fed into the coin slot (works with real money, too), so even preschoolers can begin to recognize and identify pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. In our favourite game, kids are given an amount, say $1.43, and challenged to insert a combination of coins to equal it. Kids can also practice basic math with a flash card mode that quizzes them at three levels of difficulty. For families who prefer a non-electronic board game experience, Money Bags (7+, Learning Resources) is a great alternative where kids count coins earned for various chores as they race to finish with the biggest allowance.

For more information about this and other award-winning summer toys – or to apply to the play testing program – visit thenoiseontoys.com. Check out CP's past Top Toy picks right here!

Pinterest roundup: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

It's Monday! And that means we're sharing some of our favourite ideas from our Pinterest boards. Our February issue is all about babies, and we included some of our favourite board books for the earliest of readers. One of the books we didn't have space to mention was the classic Very Hungry Caterpillar, so this week we are bringing this book to life with some ideas for story-themed activities.  

Are you following Capital Parent on Pinterest yet? Follow us for family crafts, great kid-friendly activities, recipes and more. You can read all of our past Pinterest round-ups right here.

Ottawa parenting blogs we love: Domestique Manager

By Lynn Jatania 

Meet Angèle Lafond, the author of Domestique Manager.

Meet Angèle Lafond, the author of Domestique Manager.

Angèle Lafond knows her way around a budget. She’s got three kids and a busy household to run, and she’s always on the lookout for ways to do things smarter, easier, and, where possible, cheaper. And as a professional accountant in her day job, she’s got the skills and ingenuity to make it happen

On her personal blog, Domestique Manager, she’s got a cheerful and funny voice that brings you solutions to your everyday problems. Our absolute fave is her Life Hacks series – posts that turn awkward life moments into easy solutions. Want to eat cheaper in restaurants? Want to get a pedicure in ten minutes and at a fraction of the cost at home? Want to read up on dishwasher logistics to save unloading time? Well, that last one might be too much for the frazzled parents among us, but it’ll at least have you thinking about all the little ways you can save time and energy – and we all know how every little bit counts when you’ve got wee ones at home.

In between solving the world’s domestic problems, Angèle is a busy, involved member of the blogging community. Her blog is the place to go for info on upcoming events and bloggy conferences, and some great ideas on working effectively with brands. Add to all that her delightful adventures in parenting three little girls – her commentary on the Frozen frenzy, tales of homework with a reluctant Grade 2 student, and thoughts on being a Good Mother are charming and oh-so-true – and she’s one busy lady.

We’ll definitely excuse her minor coffee addiction – especially if it means she finds the energy to keep sharing life gems on her blog. Soon we’re sure to have this parenting thing all figured out together.

Notable Quote

I don’t know how you do things in your household but in mine everyone helps put away the groceries.

We’re a large (ish) family – 3 kids, 3 cats, 2 adults.  Our weekly grocery bill is anywhere from $200 – $300 dollars depending if we need to fill up on diapers, wipes, toiletries, and general household supplies. Toilet paper is expensive, y’all.

Did I mention that this large (ish) family lives in a small (ish) house?  I’ve seen ensuite bathrooms bigger than my kitchen. 5 people in said kitchen trying to follow my instructions because I’m slightly anal-retentive about where things go?  Think the Griswolds meets the old lady who lived in a shoe.

While I can’t change the size of my kitchen I can attempt to mitigate the chaos. It all starts at the supermarket. 

I place my items on the belt in groups of items, each group being separated by empty space. Each group represents a shelf, cupboard, or area said items are to be stored.  Pasta shelf, breakfast shelf, snack shelf.  Kitchen freezer versus basement freezer.  Upstairs bathroom, downstairs bathroom.  Ingredients for that night’s dinner. Once we’ve brought in the bags I become a traffic director sending kids and husband to freezers, bathrooms, and pantries with bags in hand. 

Read the rest of this post and other life hacks at Domestique ManagerInterested in checking out some of the other great Ottawa parenting blogs that have caught our eye? They’re all listed right here.

Pinterest roundup: window dressing

It's Monday! And that means we're sharing some of our favourite ideas from our Pinterest boards. We've been cooped up a bit this week and so we've been looking for something new to focus on in a crafty kind of way. That's how we got thinking about the windows. Why not? When we let the light shine through we open the door on slightly different ways of being creative. Here are a few ideas we like: 

Are you following Capital Parent on Pinterest yet? Follow us for family crafts, great kid-friendly activities, recipes and more. You can read all of our past Pinterest round-ups right here.