Girl Guide cookies available at Save-on-Foods – Online and in store

Shortly before we were all sent our collective rooms, my daughter brought home 24 boxes of Girl Guide cookies. At first, we were super happy knowing that we would have an almost unlimited supply of cookies for our family. Then we were sad, knowing we had eaten 6 boxes of our unlimited supply of cookies in the first week of isolation.

And these weren’t my favorite ‘Thin Mint’ type – no these were the half vanilla, half chocolate kind, and in my family, no one likes the chocolate. We had to make a rule, you must eat an equal quantity of chocolate with the vanilla so that we were not left with only chocolate at the end. This seemed smart at first, but it only really doubled our intake, and that, my friends, is why we must keep our eye on the Girl Guides, they are smart cookies.

We managed to find a new home for our remaining boxes with a friend with a large family – our small family was beginning to get worried about what kinds of exercise we might need to do to burn off 24 boxes of cookies.

There is no door-to-door delivery for cookies this year so if you want to pick some up Save-on-Foods has them on sale both online and in-store. The cookie drive is a really important funding tool for the Girl Guides so don’t be afraid to seek them out at Save-on-Foods or with friends and family with young guides. They will probably thank you for taking some boxes off of their hands, that is if they have any left.

Read the full press release below.

Save-On-Foods partners with Girl Guides of Canada to sell cookies at stores across Western Canada

LANGLEY, BC, March 27, 2020 /CNW/ – Save-On-Foods is sending boxes of Girl Guides of Canada’s famous chocolate and vanilla sandwich cookies to all 175 of its Save-On-Foods and Urban Fare locations to sell the cookies on behalf of Girl Guides amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Girl Guides sell cookies as a major fundraiser to support their programs which offer girls and young women opportunities to develop confidence and life skills. Traditionally, local units set up outside of retail stores to sell the cookies or go door-to-door to their neighbours. On March 13, 2020, due to the ongoing need for social distancing, Girl Guides suspended all in-person Girl Guide activities to ensure the health and well-being of girls, adult members, volunteers and the greater community.

This suspension has virtually halted the annual spring Girl Guide cookie campaign, one of the organization’s two major fundraising initiatives. As a result, Girl Guides put out a call for help to safely sell the cookies.

Save-On-Foods answered the call, offering to send all the boxes of cookies it could to all Save-On-Foods stores across Western Canada. Now, more than 210,000 boxes of cookies are on their way. The company expects the cookies to hit shelves as early as late next week and they’ll be available at all Save-On-Foods and Urban Fare locations from B.C. to Manitoba and north to the Yukon.

“Save-On-Foods has a long history of supporting our communities, and we wanted to help Girl Guides with this fantastic tradition,” said Save-On-Foods president Darrell Jones. “For many people, these cookies mark the start of spring, and we are happy to give our customers the chance to support Girl Guides by picking up a box or two next time they shop at Save-On-Foods.”

A box of cookies costs $5 and all proceeds go to Girl Guides of Canada. The cookies are available in store and online while supplies last.

Whether girls are planning a camp or buying supplies for activities, the funds from Girl Guide cookie sales make it possible for girls to participate in activities that help them build their confidence, and life-long skills,” says Jill Zelmanovits, CEO, Girl Guides of Canada. “Many units have Girl Guide cookies that they cannot sell at this time while they focus on doing their part to practice social distancing to ensure the health of their community. Having the support of a retailer like Save-On-Foods is essential to ensure girls in Guiding can continue to have access to our amazing programming and we are so grateful that they have jumped in to help us out. Their amazing commitment to sell more than 210,000 boxes is a huge relief to our local girl guides and will help us get these cookies into homes across Western Canada.”

About Save-On-Foods

Save-On-Foods is committed to Going the Extra Mile for customers in every community served, every day. Known for its unique approach in customizing each store to best suit the needs of the neighbourhood by carrying more than 2,500 locally-made products from more than 2,000 local growers and producers, the company has been innovating and putting customers first for over 100 years. Save-On-Foods, its supplier partners, team members and generous customers have donated more than $30 million to children’s hospitals and contribute $3 million in donations to food banks across Western Canada each year.

About Girl Guides of Canada

Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada (GGC) empowers every girl in Guiding to discover herself and be everything she wants to be. In Guiding, girls from 5-17 meet with girls their own age in a safe, inclusive space to explore what matters to them. With programming options ranging from innovative STEM activities to outdoor adventures and discussions on mental health and healthy relationships, girls in Guiding can customize their experience to dive into the topics relevant to them – all with the support of engaged Guiders who are committed to positively impacting their lives. Girl Guide cookies is the official fundraiser for Girl Guides across Canada. The money raised through cookie sales funds innovative and dynamic programs for girls. Over 6 million boxes of cookies are sold each year and Girl Guides have been selling cookies since 1927. For more information visit GirlGuides.ca and follow @girlguidesofcanada on Instagram or @girlguidesofcan on Twitter.

Breakfast Club of Canada – Diverting 250,000 breakfasts to families in need!

Those of us working from home with children in this age of Covid-19 are beginning to realise how much our school system was doing for our children. We have become teacher, social director and playmate on top of being concerned parents. The Breakfast Club of Canada was providing an extra service to 250,000 Canadian students – breakfast.

Breakfast Club of Canada estimates that over 1 million youths are affected with food insecurity in Canada. That is a lot in a country of 37 million. Breakfast Club is diverting their current funds for breakfasts to high risk families. However, they don’t have enough money for all the people that are in need, and are asking for help to close the gap.

If you are in need or can give please see the complete press release below for further information.

Breakfast Club of Canada Sets Up an Emergency Fund to Reach Out to Children Across the Country 

MONTREAL, March 20, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ – Backed by its network of corporate partners, Breakfast Club of Canada is setting up an emergency fund to support breakfast program enrollees and local community organizations that assist food-insecure families and children throughout Canada during the COVID-19 crisis.

Some 250,000 students usually depend on the Club and its partners for a healthy breakfast every school morning, but the total number of children and youth across the country affected by food insecurity is actually greater than 1 million. To help minimize the repercussions of this crisis on them, Breakfast Club of Canada is reallocating the funds normally earmarked for schools to high-risk regions and established partners that are already well equipped to serve them.

In order to be able to address the needs of children for as long as possible during the crisis, Breakfast Club of Canada is turning to its corporate partners and the general public for help.

A number of partners have already stepped forward and announced a contribution to the Club’s emergency fund: belairdirect and Intact insurance 500k, Danone 200k, Kellogg Canada 150k, National Bank 50k. Other partners such as Sodexo also have offered their support.

Anyone who wants to contribute to the emergency fund can do so through the Club’s website.

Breakfast Club of Canada invites community organizations that wish to apply for a special grant to fill out an online application.

The emergency fund will:

Focus on food-insecure households with children across Canada, including those in Indigenous communities

Target high-need neighbourhoods

Be administered in collaboration with respected community organizations that are familiar with and rigorously apply hygiene and sanitation measures associated with handling food as well as the requirements developed by public health authorities to control the spread of COVID-19.

Quotes:

“Right now, we need to do everything we can to honour the pledge we made to children 25 years ago and make sure they get the nutrition they need to grow up healthy. We have built a strong network over time and we will be putting it to work now for their benefit.”

– Daniel Germain, President and Founder, Breakfast Club of Canada

“Our front-line staff members and our partners are a tremendous resource for Canadian families during these trying times. More than ever, we need to be able to count on one another so we can deliver on our mission and feed children who are experiencing food insecurity.”

– Tommy Kulczyk, Managing Director, Breakfast Club of Canada

“For many Canadians, food insecurity is a daily concern but during a crisis, it’s even more so. We are supporting Breakfast Club of Canada and their new emergency fund to ensure that resources are available to those in need.”

– Anne Fortin, Senior Vice President, Direct Distribution, and Chief Marketing Officer, belairdirect and Intact insurance

”We feel that in these challenging times, children in Canada need us more than ever. Together with our employees across Canada, Danone believes that we can use our business as a force for good to help feed hungry children and provide them with an access to healthy food.”

– Dan Magliocco, President of Danone Canada

“As always, through our global Kellogg’s Better Days purpose platform, we help deliver critical nourishment to families when they need it most. We are proud to support the efforts of our longstanding partners, Breakfast Club of Canada, to help ensure Canadian families and children continue to get access to the food they need during this unprecedented time.” 

– Tony Chow, President, Kellogg Canada Inc.

About Breakfast Club of Canada

Accredited by Imagine Canada for its effective governance, the Club provides much more than breakfast: its approach is based on commitment, self-esteem and capacity development using an optimal formula adapted to local needs. Breakfast Club of Canada helps feed more than 243,500 children and youth in 1,809 schools across the country. To learn more, visit breakfastclubcanada.org.

SOURCE Breakfast Club of Canada

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Avengers Campus: Disneyland’s newest park

Disney launched Star Wars: Galaxy Edge, their Star Wars-themed park in June of 2019. On July 18, just over a year later they are opening an entirely new park with an Avengers theme called Avengers Campus. Marvel is a huge property for Disney, and considering the job they are doing with the Star Wars franchise, we should expect a top quality experience.

The park seems to be built around an existing attraction, that was launched in 2017, called Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! But there is a ton of new stuff as well.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Characters you’ll find – Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, the cast of Black Panther, Ironman, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-man and the Wasp, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Taskmaster, Thor, Doctor Strange. I am sure I missed some and I am sure they will add some more too.
  • WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, which takes guests on an interactive escapade.
  • Iron Man in his new armour, the Mark 80.
  • An original story tying all the characters together.
  • WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, the first Disney ride-through attraction to feature this iconic Superhero.
  • Doctor Strange will train recruits in the ways of the mystic arts by bringing his ancient Sanctum to life with powerful spells.
  • Three new dining spots
  • Impossible™ plant-based large and micro meatballs with pasta served in a super-sized spoon with a tiny fork

That is just a taste of the fun Disney has in store for their newest park. Read the full press release below.

ANAHEIM, Calif., March 11, 2020 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Avengers Campus, an entirely new land dedicated to discovering, recruiting and training the next generation of heroes, will open July 18, 2020 at the Disneyland Resort, inside Disney California Adventure Park. Guests who are lifelong fans of Super Heroes and those discovering them for the first time are invited to team up with the Avengers and their allies to live out their Super Hero dreams in this fully immersive land that mixes innovative technology and fun for all ages.

Avengers Campus brings together Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for the common good, and they’re calling all recruits to join the action: Team up with the Avengers and their allies; sling webs with Spider-Man, taste-test inventive food and drinks and become part of a bigger universe. Kids and guests of all ages will find their powers as they unite with family and friends to take an active role alongside some of their favorite heroes, with a chance to live out their own heroic story.

Avenger Campus Entrance

Guests will have the chance to witness Spider-Man swinging into action high above Avengers Campus with gravity-defying, acrobatic feats never seen before in a Disney park. That may inspire them to experience the new attraction, WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, which takes guests on an interactive escapade. And that’s just the beginning of the fun. Families and friends will train with Black Panther and Wakanda’s elite guards, the Dora Milaje; team up to save The Guardians of the Galaxy from The Collector’s Fortress; encounter heroes (and villains), and experience the thrills as Avengers hold off their foes and save the day. Those seeking provisions for their next mission will find them at Pym Test Kitchen.

While exploring Avengers Campus, recruits may encounter Iron Man in his new armor, the Mark 80, revealed for the first time at a Disney park. Ant-Man and The Wasp appear for the first time at the Disneyland Resort and Doctor Strange will train recruits in the ways of the mystic arts at an ancient Sanctum. The villain Taskmaster also debuts at Avengers Campus, and Black Widow, Black Panther, Thor, The Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America and Captain Marvel are among those joining the action.

“When we set out to create these extraordinary Super Hero experiences across the globe, we designed a new Spider-Man attraction for Disney California Adventure park in an immersive land with amazing character experiences,” said Scot Drake, portfolio creative executive for Walt Disney Imagineering. “We also crafted an original story that ties all the experiences together in ways that are authentic to these characters. We worked side-by-side with teams that brought the Avengers films and comics to life to create a place that champions the next generation of heroes.”

“Avengers Campus will be a place where fans and guests can finally step into the universe they love, and stand alongside some of their favorite heroes,” said Dave Bushore, vice president of Franchise Creative & Marketing for Marvel Studios. “The optimism inherent in Avengers Campus captures the diversity, power and teamwork these extraordinary characters possess, and now they come together to unite people from all over the world under one guiding principle: We are stronger together.”

Step into a new place in the universe

The doors to Avengers Campus welcome all Avengers, their allies, and new recruits. Tony Stark offered up the site, formerly one of his father’s Stark Industries complexes, as a place to train the next generation of Super Heroes.

The story of the land unfolds with authentic detail as Avengers Campus is comprised of several heroic locations, each hosted by a different Avenger or their ally to share their unique powers, technology and knowledge with recruits. Optimistic and forward-looking, these represent galactic spaces, mystic places, modern architecture and sleek technology.

The first key address is the Worldwide Engineering Brigade – also known as WEB. It brings together bright innovators like Peter Parker who have been assembled by Tony Stark to invent new technologies and equip everyday people to become heroes. WEB is home to the new WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, the first Disney ride-through attraction to feature this iconic Super Hero.

Avengers Headquarters is the heart of the land, an iconic building where guests may catch a glimpse of the Avengers springing into action ready to save the day.

Sling webs with Spider-Man and unite with the Guardians of the Galaxy

Tom Holland will reprise his role as Spider-Man in the land’s new attraction, WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure. This new, action-packed adventure invites guests to put their web-slinging skills to the test, a feat accomplished with innovative technology adapted specifically for this attraction. The mission: team up with Spidey and help capture the out-of-control Spider-Bots before they wreak havoc on the Campus. During an open house at WEB, Peter Parker and the aspiring inventors ask guests to wear 3D glasses and test drive their latest invention, the WEB Slinger vehicle, which allows them to sling webs like Spider-Man and experience what it’s like to have super powers.

Avenger Campus at night

This family-friendly attraction blends physical sets and virtual environments to take new recruits on an interactive escapade. There is no height requirement for this attraction, allowing aspiring young heroes to join the fun.

Looming high above the land is the towering citadel of Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!, a fan-favorite that opened in Disney California Adventure in 2017. Guests are the protagonists of this rockin’ adventure as they help rescue a cosmic gang of misfits. Taneleer Tivan, a.k.a. the Collector, has brought his unique collection of fantastical fauna, relics and species from across the cosmos to Earth. To their misfortune, Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Drax and Groot were recently made a part of Tivan’s “collection” and are being held captive within his Fortress. It takes some raucous mayhem, music inspired by the soundtracks from the movies and thrilling free-fall drop sequences for this adventure to break out the Guardians.

For the first time: Taskmaster, Ant-Man and The Wasp join a land full of heroes

Throughout Avengers Campus, Super Heroes come to life in ways that are more exciting than ever.

At Avengers Headquarters, guests have a chance to witness epic action as Captain America, Black Panther or Black Widow face their villainous foes. Or, they may see Spider-Man defying gravity as he flips 60 to 65 feet in the air above the rooftop of the WEB building. Following those stunning moves, Spider-Man will swing down off the building to ground level to meet up and say hello to new recruits.

New recruits at Avengers Campus may have heroic encounters with Iron Man in his new armor, Captain Marvel, Ant-Man and The Wasp, Doctor Strange, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther and Thor, some of whom are making their first appearances at the park. Loki gets into mischief, and Groot continues to roam near the Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

The villainous Taskmaster, who will have a role in the upcoming film “Black Widow,” is seen for the first time at a Disney park at Avengers Campus. Taskmaster’s abilities include photographic reflexes. Taskmaster can replicate Super Hero moves, making this new villain a balanced foe for the Campus heroes.

Recruits can train with Black Panther’s loyal bodyguards, the Dora Milaje, to learn wisdom from Wakanda and what it’s like to be a member of this elite royal guard. Okoye, the leader of the Dora Milaje, also debuts for the first time in a Disney park as she leads this training encounter.

Exploring the overgrown ruins of an ancient Sanctum, guests can learn mysterious secrets from Doctor Strange and discover ancient, magical artifacts. Doctor Strange will train recruits in the ways of the mystic arts by bringing this ancient Sanctum to life with powerful spells. At night, the Sanctum glows even more vividly with majestic colors and lights, pulsating with mystic energy.

Pym Particles produce tiny treats and big bites

When it is time to take a break from the heroics, three new dining spots will offer sustenance.

Pym Test Kitchen: Just as Ant-Man and The Wasp used “Pym Particles” to grow and shrink just about anything, the Pym Test Kitchen applies this innovative science to the food creation. This unbound potential allows Pym Test Kitchen to showcase normal foods at unusual scales, including shareable bites, inventive-sized entrees and tiny treats. As guests watch the Pym food scientists at work in the kitchen lab, they will see a conveyor belt transport a regular-sized pretzel into a quantum tunnel – and it comes out big!

Guests will be able to taste-test foods like the Impossible™ plant-based large and micro meatballs with pasta served in a super-sized spoon with a tiny fork. Another choice is the “Pym-ini,” a panini on toasted focaccia with meats, cheese and marinara dipping sauce, which can be served by the slice or as a long, multi-portion sandwich. Those will go well with a glass of Pingo Doce, the distinctly green beverage from Avenger lore that will be available at Avengers Campus.

Gigantic soda cans and condiment bottles will be mounted in the vestibules so diners can tap into their accompaniments. Outdoor seating is a great place to watch for Super Heroes as they may be nearby taking on a challenge from Taskmaster.

Pym Tasting Lab: Adjacent to the Pym Test Kitchen, an oversized beer can overhead signals that grown-up beverages are available at Pym Tasting Lab. Guests may order a craft beer, ranging from a blood orange hefeweizen to an amber lager. These are poured from a reverse draft system where, thanks to the food scientists, the glass fills from the bottom up. Those thirsting for a beer cocktail will have four to choose from, along with bite-sized snacks.

Shawarma Palace: Fans may recall that after the Battle of New York, the exhausted Avengers took Tony Stark up on his offer to try the food at the “shawarma joint” about two blocks from the battle zone. There at Shawarma Palace, the Avengers discovered their new favorite food. The Avengers loved the food so much that when it came time to build Avengers Campus, they invited the Shawarma Palace crew to open a second location at Avengers Campus. Now, guests and heroes on the go can enjoy their favorite shawarma-inspired snacks at this food cart, which is decked out with memorabilia for Avenger fans. This cart offers hand-held savory wraps with fragrant chicken shawarma and garlic sauce. Or, guests may choose the Impossible™ plant-based falafel wrap.

Terran Treats: Taneleer Tivan did not limit his collection to lovable misfits; he is also curating a weird and wonderful menu of intergalactic eats at this food cart near Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! Churro spirals with unique flavors, and a cosmic orb with an outer shell revealing a decadent creamy filling, are just a few takes on what concoctions he has conceived to lure guests to his Fortress.

The latest in Spider-Bot prototypes

At the WEB Suppliers store, guests may find just what aspiring WEB members need, including swag to show off some WEB pride, items to tinker with at home and something every hero needs – a friendly sidekick. Interactive Spider-Bots, much like the ones seen throughout Avengers Campus, are powered by a remote control with eight articulated legs that move forward and backward. Guests may customize their Spider-Bot with tactical upgrades to harness the powers and style of some of their favorite Super Heroes including Black Panther, Iron Man and Black Widow, as well as Ant-Man and The Wasp. Guests may also connect with their friends’ Spider-Bots for epic showdowns.

Other must-have items at WEB Suppliers include a specially-designed backpack to carry and show Spider-Bots when they are not in action, stylish Spider-Man goggles that light up and interact with their surroundings, a Spider-Man action figure that interacts with mini Spider-Bots, Web-shooters that come to life with lights and sounds, a take-home spider web kit and Funko Pop! vinyl figurines of Spider-Man and Iron Man.

The Campus Supply Pod is the place to power up with official Avengers Campus gear including performance fleece hoodies and tees, headwear, drinkware and other Super Hero supplies.

Guests may learn more about Avengers Campus at Disneyland.com/AvengersCampus.

About the Disneyland Resort

The Disneyland Resort features two spectacular theme parks – Disneyland (the original Disney theme park) and Disney California Adventure Park – plus three hotels and the Downtown Disney District, comprising unique dining, entertainment and shopping experiences. The Resort’s hotels are the luxurious, 948-room Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which also features 50 two-bedroom equivalent Disney Vacation Club units; the magical, 973-room Disneyland Hotel – both AAA Four Diamond properties – and the 481-room Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel with its “day-at-the-beach” theme. For information on attractions and vacations at the Disneyland Resort, visit Disneyland.com, call (866) 43-DISNEY or contact local travel agents. Located in Anaheim, Calif., the Disneyland Resort opened July 17, 1955. Open daily, year-round.

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REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets In Concert

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

A scene from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Courtesy Warner Bros.

I have been a Harry Potter fan for a long time. I’ve seen all the movies multiple times (in the theatre and at home) and am currently reading all the books with my kids. To say that the excitement of the series has worn off over the years is an understatement. That said, seeing Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performing the film score live took things to a whole new level and blew me away.

Against a warning from house-elf Dobby, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) heads to his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to discover that the Chamber of Secrets has been opened and a snake-like Basilisk is on the loose petrifying students. Harry and his best friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) look for clues to try to catch the monster and close the Chamber for good.

RELATED: Toronto’s Sony Centre announces next chapter in the Harry Potter Film Concert Series

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second part of the Harry Potter series. The film, directed by Chris Columbus, came out in 2002 and surprisingly holds up very well on the big screen. It was the last Harry Potter film with Richard Harris as Professor Albus Dumbledore (Harris passed away before the film opened) and it introduced the lovable house-elf character, Dobby. Kenneth Branagh played celebrity Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, and if you’ve read the book you know he nailed the part.

Seeing the film with a live orchestra performing was a truly unique and magical experience. My kids, who just saw the film at home for the first time a few months ago, were on the edge of their seats totally absorbed by it. There were even moments where the hair on my arms stood on end I was so wowed over it all. A lot of people came dressed up as their favourite character and the conductor encouraged the audience to cheer and be loud. As someone who has seen the film at least three times before, it was a brand new experience and I highly recommend checking it out.

Two things I will note since I was asked about both. Yes, you can hear the dialogue of the film as the orchestra plays. They also include the English subtitles, which I thought was a nice touch (especially when the crowd was cheering). There is also a 15-minute intermission in the middle.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets In Concert screens at the Sony Centre for Performing Arts on October 13 and 14. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit sonycentre.ca. A performance of the third film in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, is scheduled for May 16 and 17.

Have you seen a Harry Potter film in concert? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Hamuq mattress review: A better bed-in-a-box

Hamuq mattress review

My queen size Hamuq mattress right after it expanded from the package.

After suffering from one too many uncomfortable sleeps I finally decided to ditch my old, saggy mattress and get something that wouldn’t make me cry when I went to bed at night. I knew I wanted something with memory foam, that was easy to get into my house and that was made to the best standards possible. My research led me to review the Hamuq mattress and I couldn’t be happier.

Hamuq is an online mattress retailer based in Peterborough, Ontario. All their mattresses are made in Toronto under strict quality and labour standards and they only use environmentally-friendly materials to make their mattresses (along with Canadian steel). Supporting a Canadian company and sleeping on something that isn’t packed with chemicals were both important to my wife and I.

What truly sold me on the Hamuq mattress as opposed to the many other bed-in-a-box options out there is that it is a hybrid pocket coil and memory foam mattress. Most online mattress retailers, like Casper and Leesa, only sell solid memory foam mattresses. With a pocket coil mattress you get the benefits of a firm mattress, the comfort of a pillow-top mattress and it also extracts heat and helps you sleep much cooler.

WATCH: Hamuq mattress unboxing and review

The Hamuq mattress is available in twin, double, queen and king sizes at varying price points from $699 to $999. No matter what size you order it is shipped for free to your door in a convenient, reasonably sized box. Hamuq also offers a 101 night trial so if you are not totally happy with your mattress purchase they will give you a full refund and pick the mattress up for free (if you send the mattress back it is donated to someone in need and not thrown in the garbage).

For my Hamuq mattress review I picked up the queen size mattress and it arrived a couple of days later. Because the mattress is rolled and compressed, my wife and I had no issues bringing the box (which was much smaller than I expected but also much heavier) inside and getting it into our bedroom.

The mattress is really compressed and packed inside the box. Once I got the rolled up bag of mattress out I carefully opened the plastic and BAM! It grew into a queen mattress (for some reason I compared this to being a big burrito). The process was very cool and satisfying to watch, and our kids were blown away by the whole thing (watch my Hamuq mattress review and unboxing video above to see it grow).

Our first impression of the Hamuq mattress was that the material felt very soft and high-end. There was also no off-gassing or nasty odor at all, which is expected from new furniture these days. As soon as I laid down on it I felt my back thanking me.

After my first sleep on it I found my back wasn’t sore the next morning. Where I used to spend 10 – 15 minutes each morning trying to work out the pain so I could stand straight, I now jump out of bed fresh and ready for the day ahead. After sleeping on the Hamuq mattress for a few months my back still feels great and I now dread having to sleep in a hotel (or anywhere else).

We got the mattress in early August when it was still quite warm out. As promised, the Hamuq mattress sleeps much cooler and I noticed right away I wasn’t waking up all sweaty. Now that the nights are getting cooler I find the mattress is still a comfortable temperature when I get into bed at night.

The big bonus of the Hamuq mattress is the pocket coils. If I do toss and turn in my sleep my wife doesn’t feel it at all, and vice versa. We both end up getting a much better sleep because of this. It’s also much easier to share the bed if one of our kids shows up in the middle of the night (which they do a lot more now that we have such a comfortable bed) or if our cat wants to curl up with us.

The one issue we had wasn’t an issue with the mattress itself but with our old box spring. Along with it and our bed frame, everything was way too high to get into bed without having to leap up (I’m 6’5″ and it felt high). The good news is that you can use the mattress on a slatted frame without a box spring, as well as on a platform bed or directly on the floor.

Overall we are very impressed and happy with our Hamuq mattress and highly recommend it. My only regret is that I didn’t know about it sooner and suffered with back problems and many bad sleeps for way too long.

If you want to try a Hamuq mattress in-person, Hamuq has a pop-up event planned in Toronto on Thursday, October 12 as part of the Peaces Night Market at 401 King St. W. from 5 to 10 p.m. For every sale made that night, $100 will be donated to the Toronto Humane Society. The mattress used will also be donated to someone in need after the event.

For more information on the Hamuq mattress, visit hamuq.com.

Are you in the market for a new mattress? Do you own a Hamuq or other bed-in-the-box brand mattress? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Birthday’s On-Demand: Netflix now helps celebrate your kids birthday

Netflix Birthdays On-Demand

Along with interactive choose your own adventure shows, special countdowns for New Year’s Eve and a growing library of original kid-friendly content, Netflix has now launched Birthday’s On-Demand.

RELATED: Netflix will help you trick your kids to go to bed early this New Year’s Eve

With Birthday’s On-Demand parents can cue up characters from 14 different Netflix shows to celebrate with. Characters include LEGO Friends, Dinotrux, Barbie, King Julien, My Little Pony, Beat Bugs, Skylanders and more.

About Birthdays On-Demand

Birthdays On-Demand is a one-click birthday hack for the 44 per cent of parents who feel the social media-fueled anxiety of pulling off the perfect birthday celebration, and the 69 per cent who wish there was an easier way. No glitter, no confetti, just family-friendly entertainment that’ll be the icing on the cake at any birthday bash.

To find the Birthdays On-Demand featurettes on Netflix search for “birthday,” “birthdays,” “Birthdays On-Demand” or “birthday songs” or visit netflix.com/birthdays.

Will you use the Netflix Birthdays On-Demand feature for your child? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Head back to school with the Luma Home WiFi system

Luma Home WiFi

If you’re worried about online security, have kids in the home or have a lot of connected devices, the Luma Home is a solid, secure mesh WiFi system that offers many great features.

In my review of Netgear’s Orbi WiFi system earlier this summer I mentioned that mesh WiFi routers are all the rage these days. And while the Orbi is a powerful system, it lacked some features I expected and I found that the base station and satellite were unreasonably large (especially if you live in an apartment or smaller house). This led to me looking into other mesh WiFi systems like the Luma Home.

Unboxing

Because I live in a side-split and have had issues with coverage in the past, I went for the three-pack Luma offers. This comes with a base hub and two nodes (they are all interchangeable and any of the three can be used as the base hub). I was immediately impressed with the size of the hexagon-shaped units when I opened the box as these are small and well-designed, and you can plug them in and hide them easily around your home.

Setup

I connected the main hub to my cable modem in the middle of my basement and followed the instructions on the Luma app to complete the setup of the nodes and find the best placement for them. The app asks for the type of home you have then uses Bluetooth to sync the nodes to the main hub. The app makes the setup super easy and hassle-free and I was up and running in under 20 minutes.

The connection

While not as powerful as the Orbi, I found the WiFi connection from Luma to be stable and strong throughout my entire home, even with a family of four and endless devices connected I found everything worked seamlessly.

RELATED: Orbi delivers on performance, falls on features

Luma also constantly fine tunes the connection depending on where you’ve placed the nodes and what is happening around your home. You will also be notified via the app if there are any issues. This is a great as it learns your habits and helps you get the strongest signal.

Each of the nodes has two ethernet ports that can be used to connect to other devices, such as smart home hubs or networked printers. If you find you are having issues getting a strong connection between the three units wirelessly you can wire them all together via the ethernet ports to create a larger wireless area.

The Luma nodes also have a USB port. Unfortunately, these are only able to charge devices, like an iPhone or iPad, and not connect to a network drive or printer.

App and features

Where Luma stands out from the Orbi and other mesh WiFi systems I’ve tried is with the features it offers via the app.

You can name and assign all devices connected to your network to individual people. This keeps your network more organized and means you can set ratings for each person, pause the Internet for a person and also monitor if anything weird is happening with a specific device.

RELATED: Google Home review: How my family got hooked on a personal assistant speaker

This is ideal if you have children in the home (or roommates you want to limit). I set my son’s profile to a PG rating so that any content or sites he tries to view on his iPad that is not PG-friendly will not work, including YouTube videos. If I call him for dinner and he’s not listening, I can pause his connection. I can also set a time limit for him and set a daily bedtime – a time of day where his assigned devices will not be able to access the Internet.

Luma also monitors for any malicious activity and will alert you to such. This is perfect for devices that don’t have anti-virus software available, such as TVs and light bulbs. Because of this feature I was able to identify that my Vizio TV was sending info to a tracking site and that my Pixel phone was constantly hitting a phishing URL from a tab I had opened in Chrome.

For extra security you can also sign-up for the $5 per month Luma Guardian service which gives you a stealth VPN service, antivirus protection and a 2-year extended warranty on your Luma WiFi devices. It also monitors your ISP speed to see if you’re getting what you’re paying for.

The only feature missing from Luma that annoyed me is the ability to see your bandwidth usage. This would be a great addition and hopefully they add it in the future.

Final thoughts

If you’re worried about online security, have kids in the home or have a lot of connected devices, the Luma Home is a solid, secure mesh WiFi system that offers many great features. Because of it’s compact size, it’s also perfect for people who live in an apartment or smaller home, and for students heading off to college.

The Luma Home WiFi system three-pack sells for $399 at Best Buy Canada. Single units can be purchased for $149.99. For more information on the Luma Home WiFi system, visit lumahome.com.

Are you interested in mesh WiFi systems? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Download this tip sheet to help keep your kids safe online

The Modern Parent’s Guide to Facebook and Social Networks

To promote his new book The Modern Parent’s Guide to Facebook and Social Networks, author Scott Steinberg has compiled an excellent tip sheet for parents and teachers on online safety for kids.

Technology & Kids: An Online Safety Guide offers online safety hints and tips and ways to protect your privacy online. It also covers screen time and limits and how to teach digital citizenship (“treat others online the same way you’d like to be treated”). It’s a great resource to get the conversation on online safety started.

Download the tip sheet for free at akeynotespeaker.com.

About The Modern Parent’s Guide to Facebook and Social Networks:

The ultimate guide to navigating today’s fast-moving social media landscape and keeping kids safe on the Internet, from bestselling keynote speaker and trends expert Scott Steinberg. Providing the answers that parents and teachers need to know to teach responsible social media habits, protect children’s privacy and make social networks a more positive part of household and classroom life, The Modern Parent’s Guide to Facebook and Social Networks offers crucial insights for equipping kids with all the tools that they need to succeed in a connected world.

For more info on the book and to order a copy, visit akeynotespeaker.com/parents.

Do you teach your kids or students about online safety? Will this tip sheet come in handy? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Toronto’s Sony Centre announces next chapter in the Harry Potter Film Concert Series

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

A scene from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Courtesy Warner Bros.

On the heels of a Harry Potter themed shop opening in Toronto, the Sony Centre for Performing Arts have announced that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban will be the next chapter in the Harry Potter Film Concert Series.

Coming to the Sony Centre on May 16 and 17, 2018, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in concert features the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performing the score from the film while the film plays on a 40-foot screen in high-definition.

“The Harry Potter film series continues to be a once-in-a-lifetime cultural phenomenon that delights millions of fans around the world. It is with great pleasure that we introduced for the first time ever an opportunity to experience the award-winning music scores played live by a symphony orchestra, all while the beloved film is simultaneously projected onto the big screen. It is an unforgettable event,” producer and creator Justin Freer said in a press release.

About Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry, Ron and Hermione, now teenagers, return for their third year at Hogwarts, where they are forced to face escaped prisoner, Sirius Black, who seems to pose a great threat to Harry. Harry and his friends spend their third year learning how to handle a half-horse, half-eagle creature known as a Hippogriff, repel shape-shifting Boggarts and master the art of Divination. They also visit the wizarding village of Hogsmeade and the Shrieking Shack, which is considered the most haunted dwelling in Britain. In addition to these new experiences, Harry faces a werewolf and must overcome the threats of the soul-sucking Dementors. With his best friends, Harry learns some advanced magic, crosses the barriers of time and changes the course of more than one life.

Earning an Oscar-nomination for the score, the spellbinding and incredible music composed by John Williams became an instant classic, conjuring beautiful, soaring motifs continuing the adventures of Harry Potter on his magical journey.

Can’t wait for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in concert? Then check out Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in concert – the second film in the series – at the Sony Centre this October 12 – 14.

The Harry Potter Film Concert Series began in June 2016 with the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It has since gone on to hundreds of performances in more than 35 countries.

Tickets for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in concert at the Sony Centre go on sale on Friday, August 18. For more information, visit harrypotterinconcert.com.

Are you excited for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in concert? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Google Home review: How my family got hooked on a personal assistant speaker

Google Home

My Google Home patiently waiting for me to ask it something.

Ever since I heard about the Amazon Echo a couple of years ago I’ve wanted a personal assistant speaker. The idea I could just walk into my home and tell it to turn on lights or adjust my thermostat was the obvious next level in my dream of having a high-tech house.

While I waited for Amazon to release the Echo (or its cousin, the Echo Dot) in Canada, Google unleashed the Google Assistant on its line of Pixel phones. The Assistant was near perfection and was the main reason I ditched my iPhone and made the move to Android (bye, Siri). It kept getting better and better, too, with new capabilities being added frequently.

So when Google announced the Google Home, their Echo competitor, back in 2016, I was intrigued at what it could offer. It appeared to be just like the Assistant on my phone but able to do more in my home and for my entire family. And unlike the Echo, which uses Bing to look things up, Home has the almighty Google Search behind it. Then Google did something Amazon didn’t (and still hasn’t) – they released the Google Home in Canada!

Now, my excitement of having a personal assistant speaker over the years was not shared by my wife. My kids, of course, were on my side, but she was not sold on having a device “listening” in on us and told me I was never going to be allowed to bring one into our home. When Google offered to lend me a Home to review I figured it would be the only way I could convince her we needed one and, spoiler alert, it worked!

Here’s what impressed my family the most about the Google Home and why we can’t live without one now.

The speaker

I was not expecting much in the sound department from the air freshener looking Google Home. I’m used to streaming music via my Sonos system, which is still the gold standard for connected speakers in my opinion. That said, the Google Home offers really good sound quality that fills my living room quite nicely.

Being able to control Spotify (my streaming music service of choice) and raise or lower the volume via my voice is also a big benefit and a huge timesaver. This was by far the biggest selling feature for my wife, and even my kids ask it to play songs they like (although my youngest is hooked on Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” thanks to Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare and that’s all I hear now).

Home control

Controlling my lights and thermostat by voice is what I wanted the Google Home for in the first place, and it has lived up to my expectations!

The Google Home works with a majority of “smart” products and was easy to connect with my Philips Hue bulbs, Nest thermostat and Lutron switches. I can say things like “Ok, Google dim my living room lights” and ta-da, my living room Hue bulbs dim! Or I can say “Ok, Google adjust the temperature to 21” and I can see my Nest light up and adjust the temperature. It also works with the Wink hub, WeMo plugs and switches, TP-Link bulbs and Samsung’s SmartThings hub (among a slew of other devices).

Sadly, Logitech does not support the Google Home in Canada yet so users of the Harmony remote won’t be able to control their TVs via voice (this is an option in the U.S. and I still don’t understand why it doesn’t work here). If you have a Chromecast though (which, I do not) you can use the Google Home to control it via voice.

It really is an assistant

Since the Google Home is connected to your Google account it truly does act as a personal assistant. “Ok, Google what’s my day like?” will tell you things that are on your calendar, let you know how long your commute to work is and tell you the weather for the day.

You can also ask for the latest headlines and it will play you clips from news providers you’ve selected (CBC, Global News, Sportsnet and CityNews are available Canadian sources). And it works for multiple users, meaning my wife and I can both access our own info depending on who is talking.

Perfect in the kitchen

Using the Google Home to add items to our shopping list, set timers when we’re cooking, convert measurements and even find recipes are features of the Home I never expected to be hooked on. It’s pretty much the perfect kitchen gadget and has become a great motivation to get me cooking more.

General knowledge

With a six and a 10-year-old in the house we get a lot of questions about a lot of different things. We try our best to answer everything we can but when they ask a question like “how many home runs did Jackie Robinson hit?” I need to look it up. These questions usually come up at the dinner table when phones and computers are not around (and not allowed). Now we can ask the Google Home questions to get the answer and that tends to lead into more questions and more learning opportunities.

My wife also found this to be a blessing when doing homework for a class she was taking. Instead of getting distracted on her phone or computer she asked it a few questions to clarify info as she was writing notes.

Games

The Google Home is loaded with fun word and sound games you can play. These range from trivia and math-based games to things like Mad Libs and Tic Tac Toe. Because there is no screen, you need to visualize and actually use your brain a bit more than if you were just playing a game on your phone or tablet. My kids and I find it’s great to play these around the breakfast table and I’ve even caught them forgoing their iPad time in favour of these games.

The Google Home can be purchased in Canada for $159 from the Google Store. It’s also available to purchase at Best Buy and Home Depot.

Have a Google Home or want one? Share your thoughts on it in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.