Monday, November 25, 2013

Supporting Kids and Small Business Through Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding, where others kick in cash to launch an idea, a project or an investment, is a great way to support small businesses. 

I recently learned about a new online photography classroom for kids on Kickstarter and think it's a great idea for helping kids to explore their creative sides and express themselves.

Kids Photography Academy (KPA) is an online classroom of video lessons and other tools where children ages 6-12 will learn to "tell their own story through the art, science and fun of photography."  Created by Canadian mom and professional photographer Janet Pliszka, Kids Photography Academy will help kids learn more about the art of photography in a fun way from the comfort of their own home, and on their own schedule.

Janet was drawn to using Kickstarter to fund her project because the “rewards” based platform is friendly and suits her brand, and generous personality. In fact, the “rewards” for backing her on Kickstarter are pretty much a simple pre- purchase for the video lessons, so you'll get back what you put in as soon as the classes are available.

You can fund any amount, but there are various levels and rewards present. For Kids Photography Academy, the preset funding levels range from $10 to $1500. For example:
  • For only $35 you receive the first video series of 3 photography lessons pre-released in December. 
  • The “best value” level would make a great gift. Get a Canon Powershot camera, 12 classes and a KPA Photog Essentials Kit for $375. 
The great thing about Kickstarter is if the project is not fully funded, you have
not paid anything. In this case, if it reaches full funding, you receive back your investment in a wonderful experience and photography lessons with transferable skills for your child.  If you love supporting small business like I do, I recommend visiting crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and others to help get some really cool projects off the ground.

If you would like to support Kids Photography Academy, the funding program is open until November 30th. Watch the inspiring video and then follow the links if you wish to pre-purchase lessons for your kids and back the project at the same time.

Kids Photography Academy is currently in development, seeking funds through Kickstarter for professional video production. If you would like to support this small business owner achieve this dream, you can pre-purchase the lessons and back this project at Kickstarter before November 30. KPA will launch in December 2013. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

On My Way to Blissdom!

Blissdom Canada

In a couple of hours I will be headed to the Blissdom Canada Conference for the third year in a row. I was planning to write a lovely fun post about memories from the last two years, what I've learned at previous Blissdom conferences and what I'm hoping to get out of going this year. 

However, time is running out... I still have to finish packing, feed the family and finish off a bit of work so I can participate fully over the next two days, without having to worry about unfinished business hanging over my head. 

Posts about Blissdom will have to wait until after I get back.

If you're going to Blissdom, please say hi if you see me. I'd love to meet you!

Update: Blissdom Canada 2013 was amazing! If you're interested in reading more about this year's conference and what I took away from it, be sure to read my post on .

Breaking Out of My Cooking Rut with Fresh Canteen

Are you in a cooking rut?

Have you ever wished someone would just deliver all of the ingredients for a new recipe to you so you could whip up a delicious meal without having to make a trip to the grocery store? 

I like to cook, but often get stuck in a bit of a rut and find myself making the same meals over and over. Whenever I do get adventurous and decide to try a new recipe, I'm often stopped because the recipe calls for some obscure ingredient that I don't have in my fridge or cupboard. I spend way too much time at the grocery store as it is, so the thought of running out to buy that ingredient is often enough to discourage me from experimenting with new recipes.

That's why I was delighted when Fresh Canteen contacted me and asked me if I'd like to try one of their meals. 

Fresh Canteen to the rescue...

Fresh Canteen is a new startup based in Toronto that promises to "satisfy the cooking and hunger pangs of time-crunched, shopportunity-deprived urbanites with a unique concept that delivers ingredients and a healthy dab of chef-inspired pride, direct to customers' kitchens."

This service allows you to select how many Fresh Canteen meals you would like in any particular week and then delivers all of the ingredients with recipes directly to you. You order online by Friday and your meals are delivered to you in an insulated box the following Tuesday. The food will stay cold in the box for up to 24 hours, so you don't need to worry about being home to accept the delivery.

At this time they only deliver within the Toronto area, but I'm told they are hoping to expand their delivery area soon. We live outside their delivery area, but found out they will deliver to workplaces, so I had them deliver my order to my husband's office in Toronto and he brought it home with him.

Each week there are six different meals to choose from, with a focus on fresh ingredients with new twists on classic recipes. They are all designed to be prepared by all levels of cooks in about a half hour. I hard a difficult time deciding which meal to try. I almost went with the salmon, but in the end decided to try the Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Horseradish Butter, Mashed White and Orange Yams and Peach Arugula Salad. It was rated as "fair" on the difficulty scale.

Ingredients for my Fresh Canteen meal

To say I was excited to open the box was an understatement. Everything was well packed, and fresh looking. I was anxious to try it right away, but due to other commitments I had to wait a couple of days to prepare the meal The ingredients were still very fresh a couple of days later when I did have a chance to try the recipes.

The full colour instruction sheet was very well designed, and laid out all of the steps for preparing the entire meal in a systematic order so that everything would be ready at the same time. I loved that the ingredients were fresh and simple, with a bit of a twist on what I would normally made.

The meal was delicious, and although it took a little longer than it said it would, that's probably because I'm not really used to following a recipe. (I'm usually more of a make it up as I go along girl when it comes to cooking.)

Ready to cook my first Fresh Canteen meal!

Ingredients for the salad dressing.

The meal turned out beautifully. The salad was delicious and the Horseradish Butter for the steak was to die for. (In fact, I've already made the butter again since then and it will be something I continue to make from time to time to jazz up steaks or roast beef).

The Parsley-Horseradish Butter was delicious!

I actually had enough salad ingredients to make a small salad the next night as well and we had leftover yams. The steak however quickly disappeared - my husband could definitely have eaten more of it!

Bon app├ętit!

Overall, I was very impressed with my first Fresh Canteen experience, and will definitely order from them again. I think it's a great way to try new recipes and prepare delicious healthy home-cooked meals without a lot of effort.

For more information on Fresh Canteen, visit their website at
You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter to keep updated on their weekly menu offerings.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary meal from Fresh Canteen in order to facilitate this review. All opinions and photos are my own.