Very Good Causes

The Unity Button

My friend Davor gave me a unity button, and I love it. The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto describes the button as "a celebration of our identity as Aboriginal people and the diversity of our many nations. The most important part of each button is the centre, because this is where the spirits of the four colours meet." In the tradition of aboriginal storytelling, elders teach about equality and respect for people of all four colours.

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When you are wearing this button, people often ask you what it means, and that is the point. It is meant to get us talking to each other and to share our pride and respect for not only our own culture, but for all the cultures in this world. Rosie :)

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My First Dairy Queen Blizzard

I have never had a Dairy Queen Blizzard. I am not a huge ice cream fan except for Baskin Robbins and Ice Cream Junction's peanut butter chocolate. My husband was quite surprised I had never had a Blizzard and explained to me that they are quite delicious, a chocolate bar all whipped into ice cream. He was quite a fan as a child. Since yesterday was Miracle Treat Day and $1 from every Blizzard was donated to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, it was time to buy a Blizzard. I went for the S'mores flavour, although was tempted by the Mint Oreo. So yes, chunks of chocolate, marshmallow and graham crackers all mixed into my ice cream:

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It was awesome. So was my local Dairy Queen, crammed with adorable little kids getting treats post softball and soccer games. It was bananas in there! Rosie :)

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Revel & Riot 'God Hates Bags' Bag

As much as I love my Fieldguided Thunder in Our Hearts bag, I am tucking it away for now. My Revel & Riot tote just arrived, and it's pretty cool.

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The slogan "God Hates Bags" is a parody of the hateful signs carried by followers of pastor Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, which promotes an anti-homosexual theology. You can probably figure out what their slogan is. (They hate a lot of stuff- the Phelpses are the ones that protested the funerals of slain American troops.) Revel & Riot created these bags to ridicule the church's horrible rallying call. They are a small independent company based in Montreal that work to promote LGBTQ rights and awareness, and a proceed of their very cool merchandise is directed to underfunded LGBT services and non-profits. Rosie :)

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Service Dogs for Children with Disabilities

This week Sevenly has partnered with 4 Paws for Ability, a charity that provides life-saving service dogs for children who suffer from seizures. Buy a t-shirt (or any accessory) from the collection, and $7 from each purchase goes directly to the cause. Here's one of the women's tanks (there is boy stuff too.)

Sevenly- 4 Paws for Ability

Also adorable, the "Loyal Companion Pet Hoodie" so your furry friend can be as hip as you.

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You have seven days to support the cause. Check out the Sevenly website for the entire collection, which includes jewelry, kid's clothes and more. Rosie :)

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This Week's Sevenly Cause: Help a Child in Africa

Each week, Sevenly sells limited edition apparel that benefits a particular charity. That charity gets $7 for each purchase made. The stuff is super-funky and great quality, and if you buy two items there is no shipping charge. It kind of makes me only want to buy clothes from them, because if you have to buy more stuff, how great is it to help someone at the same time. The slogan for this week's charity is "Love is A Cure" and it benefits End7, an international advocacy campaign trying to eliminate seven neglected tropical diseases. Your contribution cures children in Africa from these deadly diseases for one year. Rosie :)

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One Week. One Cause.

April 2nd, 2013 is World Autism Awareness Day. It's expensive to provide therapy for a child with autism so it's great that Sevenly has made autism their charity of the week. If you haven't heard of Sevenly, you should really check it out. Each week, $7 from every purchase goes to the featured charity. There are several funky designs that show your support of autism awareness, including this lovely Light It Up Blue t-shirt:

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There are designs for men, women and kids, as well as accessories. Great stuff, great cause. Rosie :)

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Bikers For Autism

April 2nd is World Autism Day. This is the first year Canada will officially recognize this day. (We have Senator Jim Munson to thank for this; late last year he successfully got a bill passed by the House of Commons to make this day official in Canada. So, yay Jim Munson. Always thought you were super-cool.) There are so many cool Canadians that do amazing stuff for this cause. Two of my faves are the Bikers for Autism. This is a father and son team from Vancouver, James and John Baker, who ride their Harleys to raise money for autism initiatives. Last year they rode across Canada in support of the Osoyoos Autism Behavioural Centre and Autism Speaks Canada. I follow them on Twitter and loved the pics they would send out, capturing all the beautiful places they visited. Bikers for Autism are hitting the open roads again this fall. Keep track of them on Twitter @BikersForAutism or on their Facebook page. Rosie :)

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Bell Let's Talk Day

Anyone who has had their life touched by mental illness knows how much it sucks. I think it's awesome that Bell sponsors their "Let's Talk" day to raise money and awareness for this cause. Until midnight tonight, for every tweet using #BellLetsTalk in the message Bell will donate 5¢ more to help fund mental health initiatives across Canada. There is still time to participate, so if you use Twitter, tweet something with that hashtag. And if you are a Bell customer, 5¢ gets donated for every text message sent or long distance call made. Rosie :)

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Free Halloween Things To Do With Kids In Toronto

Free Halloween Things to Do in Toronto for Kids.jpgIf you need some ideas for fun and free things to do this Halloween weekend with your kids in Toronto, consider these events taking place at Wychwood Barns and in Bloor West Village:

BOO! at the Barns There are tons of games, crafts, Halloween movies, a costume contest and a dance party at this event, and all of the fun is free. Food and drinks require a ticket, although there is no charge for the pumpkin seed roasting. That's one of my favourite things about Halloween- roasting pumpkin seeds! BOO! at the Barns takes place on Saturday October 27 from 5pm to 9pm at Artscape Wychwood Barns, in Barn #2.

Pumpkinfest In The Village  Kids can get their faces painted, hunt for treasure and carve pumpkins at this Halloween festival in Bloor West Village which features lots of fun family entertainment like clowns, juggling and other wacky stuff. Pumpkinfest In The Village takes place on Saturday October 27 from 11am to 4pm. Click here to print out the form you need to participate in the Halloween Treasure Hunt.

And while it's not free, the cost for the Toronto West Halloween Fest supports a very good cause- St. Joseph's Health Centre. This event takes place on Sunday October 28 and features tons of music and food, a two-kilometre community parade and a party at the Palais Royale with a performance by Jaymz Bee's Royal Jelly Orchestra. Rosie :)

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Very Good Causes: New Circles Charity

Many of us have closets stuffed full of clothes we have barely worn. Every once in awhile we should give some of those clothes to charity. New Circles Charity is a Toronto non-profit organization that provides new and gently used clothing to people who need them. Cocktails & Closets, hosted by Fashion Forward, was held tonight in support of this charity. Sellers emptied their closets and jewellery boxes all over a cocktail lounge on King, and shoppers got to peruse the goods.

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Admission was a cash or clothing donation to New Circles Charity. The event was held at the Saviari Tea + Cocktail Lounge on King, which makes really pretty tea-infused cocktails.

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For more information about how you can donate to the New Circles Charity clothing program or hold a fundraising event to support this awesome cause, visit their website at www.newcircles.ca. Rosie :)

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Atwood Blend at Balzac's

When I saw this tweet from my favourite author earlier I was immediately intrigued.

I love Margaret Atwood, I love Balzac's coffee, and I like most birds, so a trip to re-stock the coffee canister was in order. The Atwood Blend is a mild amber roast with cocoa and caramel loveliness, and it supports the Pelee Island Bird Observatory. Margaret Atwood helped create the blend to raise awareness for this not-for-profit organization. A pound is $17 and you can get it at any of Balzac's locations. Rosie :)

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BuskerFest 2012 In The St. Lawrence Market

Scotiabank BuskerFest is on right now in the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood. If you are like me and love a good human statue, get downtown. There is lots of entertainment and the event supports Epilepsy Toronto.

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Like all good festivals, there are dozens of delicious things to eat that are terrible for your body but wonderful for your soul. As badly as I wanted a Blooming Onion, I opted for a Moroccan Spiced Brisket on a Bun by the Sultan's Tent & Cafe Moroc on Front (that's the restaurant with the hot belly dancers).

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BuskerFest runs until August 26th. Visit www.torontobuskerfest.com for a schedule of performances and the festival mobile app. Rosie :)

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High Park Zoo

The High Park Zoo is the perfect zoo to take your toddler. There are many different animals to see such as bison, reindeer and capybaras. It's a short walk from one species to the next, and it's situated in Toronto's beautiful leafy green High Park. Here's one of North America's largest land mammals looking very calm.

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Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world. It appears that once a rodent exceeds the size of a big stuffed animal, it goes from being totally gross to quite adorable. They are a very social species as you can see here.

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Hello reindeer! You show such composure despite the constant stream of parents parading their kids in front of you saying "look, look, there's Rudolph!"

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Along with many interesting animals, there are also lots of great twigs in High Park. My little man loves to run around and pick up twigs. The bison distracted him only momentarily from intense twig-gathering.

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There are also llamas, peacocks and wallabies at the High Park Zoo, which is free to visit. Due to funding cuts by city council, this zoo almost stopped operating in June.

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The non-profit Friends of the High Park Zoo and private donors have raised funds to keep the zoo going for at least another year. Make a donation if you go (there are donation boxes) or online at the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation. Rosie :)

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Free Outdoor Movies in Toronto

I used to see about a billion movies a year, then I became a mum. Since then my movie-going has seriously slowed. I barely count the two movies I saw at Mommy+Me screenings- I found it impossible to concentrate on plot points while nursing a voraciously hungry baby. (Not that it should have been hard to follow the plots to The Back-Up Plan or Letters to Juliet, but mummy mush brain is a real thing.) I finally just saw my first 3D movie, Promethesus. (And it was good, because Ridley Scott thought about how the 3D should add to every scene.) But before that, it was the Descendants. And before that, Jack Goes Boating at the Toronto Film Fest. Just one TIFF movie... it used to be ten!

I really love movies, and the only thing more awesome than seeing them in the theatre is seeing them outside, for free. And because we live in such a cool city, there are some options for doing that in the summer time. TIFF in the Park is so fun. Every Wednesday at David Pecaut Square (beside Roy Thompson Hall) there is a movie screening when the sun sets. There is a different theme each year- this year it's Screwball Comedies, which really strikes a chord with me as I can't go an hour these days without doing something ridiculous. We have TIFF and the Toronto Entertainment District BIA to thank for such a lovely and free thing to do in the city.

There are more free outdoor movies to be found in Toronto... Movies in the Park in Riverdale East on Broadview not only has a totally fun line-up (you missed Ghostbusters but Back to the Future is playing on August 5th!) but donations go to kids charities like the Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Club. I also just noticed a really cool tweet from MoviesRiverdale:

Um, I LOVE stuff like that- you can totally tell someone you love them ON THE MOVIE SCREEN! How romantic. And then you get to watch Back to the Future. The perfect summer night. Rosie :)

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Eat My Words

Once for my birthday, two former colleagues (and two of the sweetest ladies I know) surprised me with one of the most visually stunning gifts I've ever received. They placed a turquoise hat box on my desk tied up with a pretty brown ribbon. I had no idea what it was and when I opened it, I actually gasped, like people do on TV. Not just because I was relieved it wasn't a hat (they just don't work with my hair) but inside the box were the most beautiful cupcakes I'd ever seen. They were from Eat My Words. It is no secret how much I love a good cupcake, and these were like little works of art, topped with butterflies and flowers. You could barely bring yourself to eat them, but when I did, they were light and sweet and airy, just like perfect cupcakes should be. When the girls told me that sweets from Eat My Words support the Stephen Lewis Foundation it made me love the gift about a million times more. Rosie :)

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Shine a Light on Autism

April is Autism Awareness Month. The point is to shine light on a disorder that often leaves families in the dark. Like mental illness, no one wants to talk about autism. It's scary. So I like that my friend is selling beautiful bracelets to support this cause. Because anything that makes us talk about something that is scary is good. The more we talk, the less fear there is. And if beautiful things can help us talk about autism, well, the more beautiful things in a very scary world the better. So buy one of these stunning bracelets- some of the money goes to Autism Speaks, a brilliant organization that refuses to let autism cast shadows on families. And some of the money goes to my friend, who is awesome. And if you think buying sparkly jewelry is too small a gesture to make a difference, remember the words of the great novelist Proust: "It is always during a passing state of mind that we make lasting resolutions." Wear your bracelet, and when someone tells you how pretty it is, tell them why you bought it and what it represents. With a child being diagnosed with autism every 20 minutes, you could be starting a conversation with someone who really needs to talk. Rosie :)

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