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Hosting a dinner party is supposed to be fun-not stressful, but more often than not we leave things to the eleventh hour. Often times, five minutes prior to our guest’s arrival, we find ourselves frantically running around, trying to apply our mascara and lipstick, while at the same time handling the last minute prep! Who wants to endure that stress if it can be avoided. Here are a few tips and tricks from the Ladies of L&L on how to properly organize and prepare for your hosting duties so you can keep calm, cool and collected come party time.

Who has time? If I were to offer you a free one-hour spa treatment of your choice everyday for a week, would you accept it? Could you find the time?  If not everyday, surely you could do it every other day? Would you be able to...

Anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE to cook & bake.  In fact, one of my secret dreams is to be a chef and to have my very own FOOD NETWORK show. Over the past few years I have developed an affinity for The Art of Barbecue.  Let’s face it, I am no match for Bobby Flay when it comes to grilling, but whenever I get the chance to barbecue a meal I feel content.  I think it has something to do with the fact that BBQ-ing for me is connected to summertime and being outside. Once the snow comes, my trusty old barbecue goes into hibernation until spring returns.

[caption id="attachment_1169" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Prize-winning chicken recipe Prize-winning chicken recipe[/caption] I’m such a sucker for the cookbooks and special issue cooking magazines that are “best 10 recipes..” or “1 pot dinners”. So you can understand that resistance was futile when I came across the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book “Prizewinning Recipes”. I always like to test drive a cookbook by starting with chicken dishes:

I have been staring at the blank walls in my master bedroom for almost 4 years now. Talk about being indecisive! Okay, maybe not totally blank because I did install a wallpaper accent wall where I have my bed, but I have been hankering to add a personal touch above the headboard - specifically something I could create myself. It has been a long time waiting, but hey, now I get to share it with all of you!

My husband and I were very lucky this summer. We had the privilege of traveling to California for 9 days while our three children were at sleep away camp in the Laurentian's. So.... it was just the two of us now! The kids were off, the house was strangely quiet and my mind was racing. While I was pretty psyched about the cleanliness of my child-free house, being alone with my husband felt almost awkward. What was I going to do without the pre-occupation of my children’s every move? I missed them. A lot.

With the ever growing popularity of DIY sites and blogs that provide fun, simple and inspirational ideas on how to host an amazing event, we often find ourselves asking: why spend the money on hiring an event planner when we have all the basic guidelines available at the click of a mouse? Well the answer is simple, time is money! Hiring an event planner provides you with guidance, expertise and experience that is sure to save you time, money and stress in the long run.

I’ve been in the financial industry almost my entire business life, so I suppose I take my financial knowledge for granted. When I worked in private banking, some of my clients were older ladies, widows mostly, who were in the terribly uncomfortable position of finding that they knew almost nothing about the finances that their husbands had handled. Luckily their partners had set them up with professional money management accounts, so they had advisors looking after their investments. But when it came to paying bills and making purchasing decisions, they had no idea where to begin.

Soup can be a great starter for a meal or the meal itself. This minestrone soup recipe can do both – really! If you have never made soup before, fear not young soup Jedi! Soup making easy it is.

This soup is done in 3 steps (no gimmick!). The trick to good soup is to substitute to your own tastes. If kale makes you gag, then leave it out. If you want to sneak in a vegetable that your family is refusing to eat... soup is a great place to drop it in. This recipe has been adapted from the Liquor Commission Board of Ontario (LCBO)'s Food & Drink magazine (Autumn 2008).

My name is Stephanie Mitelman, and I am a certified sexuality educator. In this blog I will be addressing readers’ questions on sexuality, health, and relationships. Please don’t be shy to send me a question you have! I will be happy to answer one every month! I just had the Mirena IUD inserted. My doctor explained the basics, but what else do I need to know?

A novel as magical as this, should not go unnoticed.  Do you want to feel like a child again?  Did you always love the circus, even though you may never have gone to one?  After reading this story, did you consider yourself a rêveur?  I know I did.  I would like to dress like one and see if anyone notices!  I loved this book so much because it played with your mind and dreams—it is not an ordinary circus with clowns and ringmasters, it is one that involves magic.

Deeply inspired (as always) by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, and in particular by his personal experiment of A Year of Living Without, I have decided to embark on the same experiment.

I am doing this for the same reasons Leo writes, below:

“It’s my way of finding out what’s truly necessary, of simplifying my life, of making room for other things.

I’m testing the boundaries of my needs. It’s good to test your personal boundaries now and then (or, if you’re me, all the time).

So what’s the Year of Living Without?

The terrible two’s.  We’ve all heard about this challenging phase.  We attempt to prepare ourselves by reading parenting books that highlight the “effective” or “right” ways to intervene with our kids.  But until your toddler is sprawled out on the floor, crying hysterically and screaming bloody murder as onlookers size you up with a judgmental glare, you have no idea how intense, frustrating, confusing and embarrassing this behavior can be.

Life as a Mom is busy and hectic.  Life as a Single Mom is exponentially busy and hectic.  The lunches, carpools, schedules, laundry, social directing, and daily adventures keep Moms constantly on the go, and as a result we often forget to take time just for ourselves.  It’s hard to balance family time with time for yourself.  I know that for me, it’s always a struggle.  After all, I see myself as Mommy first and then everything else follows.

Contributing factors include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:

  •  Online dating
  •  Friends with significant others
  •  Changing Facebook statuses
I will confess that watching Facebook relationship statuses change almost on a weekly basis is… enervating. Watching countless "friends" ('cause let's be honest, no one is FRIENDS with all their Facebook "friends") change their relationship statuses from "in a relationship" to "engaged" makes me wonder, hmmm…. what is it about me?