Joanna Anastasia

Lifestyle

All you wanted to know about being an influencer on Instagram.

Before I begin let me say that I really hate the term – Influencer. Every time I sign a contract that says I am one, I cringe. Why?

Well, “influencer” as a term says nothing about the job of being a writer/a photographer/ sometimes a videographer/a stylist/an editor/ a social media coordinator. It only indicates that anyone who is active on Instagram is there only to influence other people choices – to make other people buy things.

Well, I am not an Influencer. I do not wish to make my work about manipulating you into buying things. Nor are many other big Canadian bloggers that have grown to be my friends. What are we then and why do we “expose our lives” on instagram?

  1. We know Instagram is a tool– and we all use this tool differently. You can’t assume it’s the same tool for everyone. For some people it is a way to propagate their work – whether it’s their blog content, the photography work, the creative work, the small shop they might have, or a full on business – Instagram is a great place to show to others what we are doing on our blogs or websites, what we create, sell and make. It can be used to gain money and sell products. It can also be a tool to connect with people and feel less alone. To share our story. Or to jurnal the everyday life. And many of us will be using it for all of the above all at once.
  2. We are not our Instagram profile. We share only what we want to and you can’t assume you know everything only because we share 5 stories a day. Nobody has a perfectly clean house all the time – nor perfectly behaving kids. Nobody does yoga all day or drinks coffee in bed 24/7. What you see is a moment of someones day. Sometimes a styled moment. Our profiles are a representation of how we want to be seen- or how we would like to see our lives. Or what we like seeing. And there’s no right or wrong here. Some of us will want to be seen as imperfect and messy: blurry-photos-and-no-makeup, and some will choose to show the put-together-and-nicely-dressed version. But we are all human with large spectrum of behaviors and we chose which side we want to show you.
  3. We have a love-hate relationship with Instagram. We love it for the opportunity to use it as a tool for whatever reason ( see point 1) but we hate it for it lack of transparency within how it works. The algorithms are always changing, and the longer we’re on it, the more it feels like Instagram wants us to pay more and more it in order to show our content to our own followers.
  4. We use different tools to manage our Instagram. From giveways to help us grow, to group pods, to comment pods to help each other with the algorithm, most of us use different tools. We don’t like talking about it, as it’s seen as somehow shameful, but the unpredictable ways algorithms work mixed with the lack of transparency on algorithm changes make us want to try everything just to be able to show our own content to our own followers. We make mistakes and we try new things. Some people have assistants to help them engage, some of us have agents to help with the sponsored content, and some use paid apps. It’s always changing and everyone has a different opinion on what’s good and what’s bad, what works and what doesn’t.
  5. We compare each other a lot. It’s a public space so we are very aware of what others are doing, how many likes they are getting and who they work with. And we constantly compare ourselves. It’s a mental exercise not to do so, and it requires a lot of effort to just do your own thing without comparison, remembering the mission and values we have put on ourselves.
  6. We suffer from anxieties. Almost every Instagrammer I talked to admits they live with anxieties -some only from time to time (me) , others all the time. Why? Well, I think the point 3, 4 and 5 are to blame.
  7. We work much more than you think. You might think it’s only snapping photos with a phone, and getting things for free, but a typical “Influencer” creates content for 4-5 posts a week ( if not more), which means: planning photos ( some photos will be very spontaneous but for most part they are planned- so where what, how and with who) executing photoshoots ( styling, setting things up,) editing ( most of us use digital cameras and then we spend hours editing in lightroom or photoshop), writing captions ( this may include researching topics, editing text) posting ( a lot of times it means working in the evening every day), responding to comments, engaging with other people content ( this alone can take 2 hours a day), planning the editorial calendar, responding to emails, reporting statistics after sponsored content. And if like me an “Influencer” has a blog, then there’s also; writing articles ( often this includes more prep work, and many more photos) managing a website, managing more social media channels ( Pinterest, Facebook) and more emails.
  8. We make money through sponsored content. Yes we do promote products- some of us only the products that we used for years, some of us promote things that we wanted to try, some of us make pretty photos of things and see the sponsored collaborations as an exercise in creativity (me). Some of us use our private lives as an inspiration, and some of us will style and pretend for the photo. And yes, we are paid for posting photos and stories with products to our Instagram. Now, you may think we are payed for nothing, but let me just say that we do a job of a photographer, model, stylist, editor, and copy writer. And in between sponsored content we usually create all the content for free for our followers to use- since most of us do have a mission- which means that in our free from sponsored content time we will either develop recipes for free for your use, or DIY projects, or styling ideas, or write inspiring text, or share pretty inspirations for life with kids, travel, beauty etc.
  9. We question ourselves a lot. Everyone I ever talked to questions their worth – from the content we create, to the positive impact we may or not have, to the role of our kids in our posts, to our mission. Even after years online we still ask ourselves questions about what and why are we doing. And we know everyone will judge us for whatever we do.
  10. We are on Instagram because we love creating and connecting with others, and it has nothing to do with being an exhibisonist. Most of us are “Influencers’ because we truly love the creative aspect of it – making photos, creating things and images, writing and connecting with others. Yes, our instagrams are rooted in our lives, but remember point 1 & 2 – we all have different motives and we are not our profiles- so if we share things with you it’s not because we are exhibitionists, It’s simply our way of creating and connecting.

Now, of course there are plenty of Influencers that are not my cup of tea- and my instagram may not be your cup of tea either.

And if ever I find a better way to share my blog content, connect with other moms and be payed for my creativity- while I raise my kids – I may abandon it all together – but for now, it’s a big part of my life- with all the fun, the difficult and the ugly..

Ultimate guide to the best Disneyland food

If you’re planning your next Disneyland trip and are feeling overwhelmed with the all of the choices offered at Disneyland, this blog post is for you! During our last stay we were testing breakfast places, foodie spots and cutest new snacks, and believe me when I say that only the best are featured here! And, they are all kid friendly!

The best Breakfast place in Disneyland

Disneyland foodie guide

There are many great places to grab breakfast but my favourite must be the Flo’s V8 Cafe in Cars Land! Starting with the impeccable decor and 50ties vibes, and finishing on the yummiest menu, this place is a hidden gem of Disneyland! Why? Because their breakfast is so much more than bacon and eggs!

What not to miss at Flo’s V8 Cafe:

  • Flo’s Classic Shake
  • Brioche French Toast
  • Chicken Tamale Breakfast
  • Waffles

The best gourmet lunch in Disneyland

Yes, there is plenty of great restaurant to go for lunch while at Disneyland, but which one will be truly memorable?

My absolute favourite is Cafe Orleans – and I am a foodie living in Montreal remember? Well this place is in my top eating experiences EVER ! First, it’s absolutely beautiful, second their food has so much taste it’s ridiculous! Parmesan french fries? A perfectly cooked tuna salad? Best grilled cheese ever? Check!

What not to miss at Cafe Orleans:

  • Charcuterie Board
  • Fried Chicken and Beignets
  • Pommes Frites ( aka best parmesan garlic french fries ever !)
  • Nicoise Salad
  • Three-Cheese Monte Cristo

Cutest Disneyland snacks

I think Disneyland is known for it’s yummy cookies and amazing ice cream, and ALL THE SNACKS! To be honest this is probably our favorite thing about Disneyland too, and with Mickey turning 90 years old this year, there’s a lot of novelty foods throughout the park – best part, it’s all delicious and picture worthy!

Our favourite Get Your Years on – Mickey is 90 snacks:

  • Mickey “cup” in Tomorrowland’s ( it’s reusable and makes for a great souvenir !)
  • Raspberry Rose Mickey Macaron at the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe
  • Mickey Jumbo Pretzel in Hollywoodland
  • Carmel & chocolate Mickey apples from Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff
  • Birthday Hat macaroon ( with sprinkles inside!) at the Cozy Cone Motel in Cars land
  • Mickey shortbread cookies at the Gourmand coffee stand in front of Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
  • Rice krispies treats form the White Waters Snacks

Also, these rice krispie snacks make for great bring-home-and-gift snacks!

Now, how about amazing dinner places? The type where the service is on point and you feel like on a date night? With really nice decor and good wine? There are plenty!

And great news is that you can take your kids and babies with you! Our baby slept in the stroller, and girls where sipping Shirley Temples and where colouring calmly; because after a whole day in the park kids have zero energy left for misbehaving!

What restaurants not to miss for gourmet Disneyland experience :

  • Napa Rose Lounge – elegant, with plenty of space for a stroller by your table, with seasonal menu and amazing drinks and vine selection- the perfect family celebration/romantic dinner destination!
  • Carthay Circle Restaurant – hollywood glam meets delicious food and fancy drinks, should I say more?
  • Lamplight Lounge – right by the Pixar Pier, it’s a perfect spot for dinner on the terrace while watching the sunset! The foodie place by excellence!
  • River Belle Terrace- relaxed atmosphere, lovely view and Southern style menu, definitely a family favorite!

And last but not the least, if you were wondering where you can grab a strawberry margarita, well the best ones are at Rita’s Baja Blenders at the Pacific Wharf, cheers!

Disclosure: this post was brought to you by Disneyland, all opinions remain exclusively my own.

I always wanted to visit Disneyland with my kids: I imagined it being fun and colorful and I knew there would be some rides and a princess or two. But what we have experienced on our trip last week have exceeded my wildest dreams! And now I know why people call Disneyland the most magical place on earth!

See, I used to hear friends saying they won’t go to Disneyland before their kids hit a certain age, and I even used to think that it’s not a fun place for adults without kids.. But let me start with saying that Disneyland is so much more than a place with Disney characters walking around and some rides!

What I have experienced is that Disneyland has something for everyone- young and old, crazy or calm, adventures or reserved! There is plenty of exciting rides for the thrill seekers, there is lots of calm attractions for the calm types, there is plenty to do for both little and big kids, and the food scene is amazing! And if you’re an adult who likes to travel to beautiful cities and sightsee, like I am, then you’ll be amazed too!

Actually the food is so good that I’ll be sharing a separate post all about Disney food- stay tuned!

We traveled with our three young kids, who where 7 months old, 5 and 7 years old, and we have mostly focused on the little kid attractions. Before going though, here’s what I suggest to do:

  1. Upload the Disneyland app– it will help you plan your days in Disneyland, help you know the park, show you the waiting times for the rides, let you make food reservations and order your food ( yes, you can order your food on the app and then just pick it up! Such a great life hack with kids!)
  2. Make dinner reservations– while there are plenty of snacks on the go, some of the more fancy restaurants do need a reservation! Good news is that sometimes you can do it even the day before!
  3. Check the weather and pack “layered” clothing– it tends to get a bit chilly in the evening, so it’s good to have a jacket or hoodie! And don’t forget comfortable shoes! You will be walking a lot!
  4. Get your tickets online, and get the Max Passes too– they will let you skip the waiting lines ( very important with little kids!) and once you’ll get them, make your ride selection in advance too!
  5. Check if your travel stroller/umbrella stroller is in a good shape. If your kids are younger than 4 years old then I would suggest a stroller, though you can always rent one in the park!
  6. Note where are the Baby Centres– if you’re suddenly out of diapers or baby food you’ll be happy to know where’s the closest Baby Centre!
  7. Plan which Disney characters you want to meet and check on the app where they are!

So if you are wondering if you should go to Disneyland with your little kids, and if so, what are the best things to experience while there, here’s my top 10 :

1.Pixar Pier – this new beautiful part of Disneyland has everything – from the ultimate thrill ride to the best ice cream, it’s simply lovely and was my favourite place to hang out both by day and by night! What not to miss :

  • The Pixar Pal-A-Round Ferris wheel – perfect for kids and anyone who enjoys a beautiful view – bonus- the not swinging cabins are a great attraction to experience with babies, and you can even breastfeed while on the Ferris wheel in peace!
  • The Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff – absolutely the cutest shopping and treats spot!
  • The Incredicopter – definitely THE ride for the thrill seeker ( my hubby went on three times!)
  • Lamplight Lounge & Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats- The foodies dream spot- with the amazing menu, over the top drinks ( both alcoholic as non alcoholic) and a beautiful sunset water view- definitely a must ! ( and it’s kids friendly too!)
  • The World of Colour – breathtaking after dark show!

2. Paradise Garden Parks – best little kid friendly rides! What not to miss :

  • The Little Mermaid Undersea Adventure– my girls did it twice and where begging for more- and this in another ride that you can do with a baby on your lap!
  • Golden Zephyr and Jumping Jellyfish rides- perfect for the preschoolers ( they just need to be higher than 40 inches)
  • Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta– with all the palm trees and the loveliest of architectures this place feels like a destination dining experience on it’s own!

3. Mickey’s Toontown: The cutest place for toddlers and preschoolers, full of little kid friendly rides and yummy snacks! What not to miss:

  • Mickey and Minnie meet and greet – while you can meet all of the Disney characters throughout the park ( use the Disney app to plan who and where to meet) meeting with these two who started it all is an experience of a lifetime !
  • Visiting Mickey’s and Minnie’s house– your kids will feel like in a cartoon while discovering the singing kitchen appliances and all the cuteness hidden inside!
  • Little kids rides: Chip “n Dale treehouse, Gadget’s Go Coaster and Donald’s boat- all are perfect for little kids!

4. Cars land– is the home to the the beautifully made Grand Canyon, the best ever Car’s inspired ride, a 50ies style diner with amazing breakfast lunch and dinner, and a family friendly ride that will delight all Cars lovers- definitely a must see ! Here’s what not to miss:

  • Radiator Springs Racers– is a fun ride for anyone higher than 40″ -With the desert landscape of the Disney·Pixar movie Cars and a fast but not too scary it’s a perfect family attraction!
  • Flo’s V8 Cafe– a perfect spot for breakfast lunch or dinner- with the most on the spot 50 decor, will make you feel like you traveled back in time!
  • Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree– great little kids ride ( from 32″ and up! )
disneyland with kids

5. New Orleans Square– my personal favorite, and a biggest surprise of our trip- the beautifully recreated Louisiana inspired setting, with the loveliest architecture, the most amazing food and fabulous atmosphere! What not to miss:

  • Cafe Orleans– Best lunch spot ever with the most epic fried grilled cheese and best fancy fries I have ever had!
  • Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island– this is a great place for little kids (there’s no height requirement) and especially great for toddlers and preschoolers who need to run around!
  • Mark Twain Riverboat- a lovely sight seeing tour on the old-fashioned steam-powered vessel, is yet another attraction that you can do with both little kids as babies!
  • Haunted Mansion- a must do ride with no high requirements!
disneyland guide

6. Fantasyland – an absolute must with little kids! Here’s where you’ll meet the princesses, hop non a ride with Alice In Wonderland and experience the fairy tale magic! What not to miss:

  • Mad Tea Party– this classical spinning attraction that is perfect for everyone-there’s no height requirement do you can even go with your baby ( though my baby was napping so he missed the pleasure!) This one is an absolute blast and a great photo spot too!
  • Alice in Wonderland ride– another great ride for young kids and toddlers, with the storytelling agde!
  • King Arthur’s Carousel– an old fashioned carousel that my girls loved!
  • Dumbo the flying Elephant– also a great ride for the young kids!

7. Pixie Hollow– a fairytale house and literally a hidden gem! Also, a great place for snapping the instagram perfect shoots! Why visit? :

  • Meet and greet with fairies
  • Calm down and rest in the shade ( good option for tiered toddlers!)

8. Hollywoodland– this is where you’ll feel like you’re visiting the glamorous city, listen to life jazz music and watch the best shows! What not to miss:

  • Frozen show- need I say more?
  • Superhero meet and greet – my girls loved meeting Superman!
  • Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue ride- any age and any high ride! Perfect for families with little kids!

9.Grizzly Peak– if you’re in to camping and forest adventures, you’ll feel right at home! But also, it’s a really great place to explore with the little kids! Here’s why:

  • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail– after braving the rides and sitting in the stroller, little kids will love to run and explore this forest trail ( and if you have a busy toddler you’ll love how calmed down he’ll be after that!)
  • Soarin’ Around the World – absolutely beautiful and surprising ride, feels like flying over the continents and was definitely one of my favourites! Bonus- it’s good for kids as small as 40″ so most likely you can do it with your preschoolers too!
  • Hot Fresh Churros- do I even have to say anything more?

10. Character dining– breakfast or dinner with one of your favourite Disney characters? Happy and amazed kids? Yummy food? Should I say more? Here’s where you can experience it:

  • Storytellers cafe
  • Goofy’s Kitchen
  • Napa Rose Restaurant
  • Plaza Inn

I really hope that this list will be a great starting point for your first family trip with little kids to Disneyland! Though of course Disneyland has so much more to do, see and experience – you just need to go and see for yourself!

And to help you plan your Disneyland trip I prepared this printable planning checklist:

You can download it here!

Also, if you are a Canadian Resident, then there’s a great promotion happening now : you can purchase an adult 3-day, 1-park per day ticket in advance for as low as $207 USD total―that’s just $69 USD per day! See here for more details!

And for all things food and drinks- stay tuned for the ultimate foodie guide to Disneyland, coming soon!

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Disneyland Canada, all opinions remain exclusively my own!

My experience with Toyota Sienna

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Toyota Canada. In exchange for this post I have received perks in the form of compensation and was lent a vehicle for shooting purposes. All opinions on this blog are my own. 

my experience with toyota sienna

Every superhero needs their Batmobile, am I right? Well, this supermom combats spills and tantrums all while keeping her family safe and comfy in the 2019 Toyota Sienna.  That’s right. The Lazy Moms family partnered with Toyota to test out the 2019 Sienna, and guess what? We absolutely love it and don’t want to turn back! Well actually, we do reverse out of parking spots, which is made much easier with the van’s Backup Camera and the Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert feature… but you know what I mean. 

Going from a family of 4 to a family of 5 made for lots of changes. One thing that we noticed immediately was space. Though Julien is small, boy oh boy, does a new baby take up space! The opportunity to test out the Sienna mini-van was just what we needed. The flexible seating for 7 or 8 made our travels cozier for everyone. The extra space allowed Rose and Lili to bring along a few extra (toy) passengers on our errands. Before this never would have been an option! Space is very limited in our compact SUV. 

Just like all of Toyota’s vehicles, the Sienna is built for quality and durability. The Sienna is undoubtedly kid-friendly, but also stylistically approved by mom! I was impressed by its bold and exciting exterior… one wouldn’t usually expect a minivan to look good too! The 2019 Sienna also offers 8-speed transmission and class-leading 296 horsepower which THRILLED my hubby. The tech geek in him also enjoys the voice-activated navigation, EntuneTH 3.0, and Apple CarPlay™ features as well. Check. Check. Check. 

my experience with toyota sienna
my experience with toyota sienna

There are many perks of driving a Toyota Sienna, I can assure you! But my husband and I agree that what we love the most is the “built-in babysitter”, otherwise known as the Rear Seat Entertainment system (available on SE AWD and XLE AWD models only). With Peppa Pig on replay, this magical feature distracts my littles for hours on end. Add a snack for complete silence (another super power trick of the supermom). Now if only all three would be so still when it comes time to take a picture… The Toyota Sienna can take us anywhere, I just wish I could take some of the features with me anywhere and everywhere as well! On top of all these exciting features it’s the only minivan in Canada with All-Wheel Drive! 

Check out our video capturing REAL life of a family of five versus what you see every day on social media. 

How to survive the freezing cold with kids

survive freezing cold with kids

Here in Montreal winter gets really really really cold. Between December and March we are used to -15Cto -20C degrees with the peaks of cold up to -35C ! And in my daughter’s school kids go out to play every single day. Snow, wind or ice, they always play outside. The only exception is rain or the weather colder than -25C! So you can imagine how winter gear is really, really important for us!

To top it of, on the weekends my girls like to play in our backyard, and every longer weekend we pack up and head up north to visit our family that lives in the even colder place then us ( yes, it exists. It’s called Saguenay. )

survive freezing cold with kids

And this year we got to test the Souris Mini winter gear line, and boy they did not disappoint! We got the three piece sets for them, and one cute sherpa suit for the baby. And it’s been almost two months now that we have been testing them- in all the winter conditions you can imagine! And I must say I’m impressed!

survive freezing cold with kids

Disclosure: this post was brought to you by Souris Mini, all opinions remain entirely my own. 

The snowsuits are really made for our Canadian winters. They are both 3-in-1 snowsuits that are made up of a coat, snow pants and a quilted jacket ( perfect for fall and spring!) They are seriously cozy, with plush lined hoods and a zipper openings that are camouflaged by a windproof flap!

I love that they have the reflective tapes in front and back for extra safety, backpack-type straps inside the coat and a back interior pocket in which a heating pack can be placed! I really wish I could have one in my size!

survive freezing cold with kids

So when we went to the coldest place I know ( aka , behind the wall, aka winter wonderland, aka Station De Ski Valinouet)  I knew they would be warm and cozy-  and indeed, they were so comfy that they wanted to play outside even at -25C!

survive freezing cold with kids

survive freezing cold with kids

survive freezing cold with kids

survive freezing cold with kids

And in all honesty, the key to surviving winter with kids is the right gear. For you, and for the kids. Because if you’re dressed for the weather, then you can really enjoy the skiing, sledding and skating- and actually have fun during the winter months! 

survive freezing cold with kids

How to survive the cold weather with kids:

  1. Dress for the weather- dress in real winter gear with lots of layers and wind and water resistant upper coat.
  2. Do try winter sports that work with your lifestyle. It can be as low kea as walks in the snow park or sliding. Even 20 minutes outside will make you and your kids feel better.
  3. To avid cabin fever try mixing up the indoor activities – crafting, board games and imaginative play are our favorite!

And remember, winter is much more fun when we play outside!

Disclosure: this post was brought to you by Souris Mini, all opinions remain entirely my own. 

Car seat hack

car seat hac- one seat fits all ages

One of the things that can break you as a parent or help you, is the right baby gear. Because parenting is hard enough, – I believe that all baby gear should make  life easy and not drive you crazy with any malfunctioning! Starting from the right stroller for your lifestyle needs, a baby camera to the best car seat – baby gear should be making life easier!

One of the things ( in our life ) that may be a bit particular, is that we have family living 500km away and we visit each other a lot. This means that we are on the road A LOT. It also means that when grandparents are here – or when we visit them – we tend to switch cars, divide kids between us, and do a lot of “musical car chairs” . And in all that, our kids car seats get A LOT of use.

So this Evenflo EveryStage Deluxe All-in-One Car Seat  that I got exclusively from Babies R Us Canada, is exactly the type of baby gear that we need – and let me tell you why you might love it too!

car seat hack

car seat hack

car seat hack

First, it’s a one seat fits all – which means that if you are expecting one baby, this can be the one and only car seat you’ll ever need – as it’s perfect for newborns up to school aged kids! It adjusts and expands for older kids, and when rear facing and declined, it’s soft and snuggly for the baby while being very sturdy and extremely safe!

And in our particular case, it’s the perfect seat because all our kids can fit in it – so when we’re switching cars with family visiting and dividing kids between us, all we need is to lend this Evenflo seat to grandparents and they can drive around with every one of their grandkids! Now that makes things so much easier!

Disclosure – this post was brought to you by Babies R Us Canada, all opinions remain my own.

car seat hack

Another thing that we love about it is that it’s really comfortable, has 2 removable ( hello easy clean! ) cup holders and is easy to instal! So if this one seat fits all does not count as a car seat hack – aka mom win- then I don’t know what does! And while parenting may still be a bit of a make up as we go thing, at least our car seat game is strong!

car seat hack

car seat hack

And so, if you have any expecting parents on your gift list, then I think leaving this car seat under the Christmas Tree will make them very happy!

car seat hack

Disclosure – this post was brought to you by Babies R Us Canada, all opinions remain my own.

 

 

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