Monday, 30 September 2013

The office

Happy Monday!
Remember my old post on Monday Mornings? It could very well brighten up your day!

Now that Madison is in grade 4, taking french immersion she thought she should take things seriously and asked to have a desk in her bedroom. When Mike's sister moved away for school, she left a small desk I had given her and an old chair in our barn so we thought we'd move it in.
This desk used to be an old telephone table in my childhood home. It stood in our hallway and housed a rotary dial phone and wrought iron chair with a red cushion. My father removed the drawers and refinished it years ago. It bounced around to several family homes and now it's found it's way back to me. I'm a ridiculously nostalgic person, so I'm thrilled to have a piece of furniture that I fondly remember while growing up.
It's a small desk space so there was enough room to store just the necessities.

Above the desk I hung a cork and memo board combo. It's great to write reminders for herself, and she has her school calendar posted so she can plan her week.
I absolutely love Alphabet Photography. I had purchased this frame at Dollarama months ago not knowing what I would do with it, and finally I filled it with letters spelling out her nickname "mads".

I used a cute basket I had purchased at Dollarama to hold her pens and markers. She had a princess tin that she liked that she uses to house extra notepads and tacks. A desk lamp was our choice for this space because it's small and has a moveable neck so she can adjust the lighting. Of course, what's a desk without a family photo!

She now has lots of room for her books and schoolwork. She has an organized area for pens and markers and she can stay up to date on her school happenings. It's also a great spot for her to be creative and write stories, which she loves to do!

I'm no Martha Stewart, I basically just threw together what I had to create a quiet space of her own. Here are some inspirational Kid's desks that put mine to shame.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Anniversaries + Friday Fun Snacks

Today my blog is officially 4 months old! In those 4 months, I've posted 52 entries, had 6,584 page views, 53 published comments and earned a ranking in the top 10 on Top Mommy Blogs.

Remember my very first blog entry? Give it a read.

I had no idea this blog would take me where it has today. I had no idea that my husband would actually be right. I started off just typing random sentences and somehow it grew into something fun and creative.
I love that people read it.
I love that people are inspired by it.
I love that people want to share it.
This blog would be nothing if no one ever read it, so thank you to everyone for your continued love and support.I love writing it!

What better way to celebrate than with cupcakes? Chocolate cupcakes.With peanut butter icing.
You're welcome.

What you need
1/4 cup flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup oil
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

How you make it 
Mix group A separately
Beat in group B
Add 1 cup of boiling water
Bake @ 350 until cooked


What you need
1/2 cup butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons milk
2 cups icing sugar

How you make it
Mix butter and peanut butter together
Gradually add icing sugar and milk until it's fluffy

If you like things a little easier, like I do, I discovered that mixing Betty Crocker's vanilla icing with some peanut butter can whip up a pretty good replacement.

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Lunch Box Hero Follow-up

I had so many readers view and write to me about yesterday's post on lunches that I decided to write a follow-up. I don't blame parents for craving new ideas for kid's lunches. You need to come up with something every day! Kids get bored with the same food, and thrive on anything new and exciting. Anytime I pack something that it is out of the ordinary, the kids come home raving about how awesome their lunch was. I like to be awesome.
Here are some ideas I use to spice up my kids' lunch-bags:

Instead of regular yogurts, pack a yogurt drink.

Try substituting rainbow goldfish instead of regular goldfish for a change.

Add some cream cheese or chocolate fruit dip to go with their fruit.

Instead of a plain apple, cut it up and tie it with an elastic (to keep it from browning) and pack some brown sugar or caramel sauce to dip the apples in.

When I make sandwiches I use cookie cutters to cut them into fun shapes.

Invest in a good thermos with a straw and pack a yummy smoothie. I also do this for a quick breakfast-on-the-go if the kids are running late.

Ever think of packing a waffle with a side dish of syrup to dip it in? (Tip: cut the waffle into rectangle strips for easy dipping)

Here's a glimpse of today's lunch..mmmm.
Apple juice boxes
Rainbow Goldfish
Apple sliced with brown sugar
Chicken and cheese sandwich roll
Licorice sticks for a sweet treat

And I send a note in their lunch a few times a week just to let them know I'm thinking of them while we're apart.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Lunch Box Hero

I'm finally back in the routine of packing lunches. I always found this a challenge, not knowing how much to pack, or what to pack. Making sure I pack everything the right way so nothing gets squished or broken. A few other mothers introduced me to these new Planet Lunch Boxes. Not only are these eco-friendly and dishwasher safe, they have a compartment for everything that allows you to easily pack a well-balanced lunch. No saran wrap, no plastic bags. Woohoo!

However, they're expensive, and I'm cheap. And my children lose things, constantly. So I didn't purchase these lunchboxes. I figured I could find some sort of Walmart  knock-off that could serve the same purpose. Wrong. I searched everywhere and no such knock-off. Luckily I did find a suitable plastic lunch container with 3 compartments at Sobeys that I was satisfied with. There are 2 small compartments and 1 large compartment with a top. The whole box folds so that nothing can fall out. It lets me control the amount of snack I'm packing, and looks so neat and organized! You know I love that!

I actually look forward to packing lunches now. So much so, that I've joined a facebook group created by the "planet lunchbox mothers" to share our lunch ideas and photos. They give me great inspiration to pack healthy and creative lunches.

Don't these look delicious? Beats the ham and cheese sandwich in a brown paper bag I used to get.

These lunchboxes can of course be used for adults too!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Friday Fun Snack Day - Chocolate Chip Cookies

We toned it down a bit this week, and made our favorite.
Need I say more.

What you need

2 1/4 cup of flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

1 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 white sugar
2 eggs

 How you make it

Mix group 1 ingredients separately
Mix group 2 ingredients separately
Gradually add together with chocolate chips
Bake 9-11 mins @ 375

And of course our favorite part!

Happy Weekend !

Monday, 16 September 2013

A little song and dance

Happy Monday Romantics!
From the moment I saw the video of a man propose to his girlfriend lip-synching to Bruno Mars, while his friends and family danced down the street, I immediately fell in love with what I call "song and dance marriage proposals".
You know the kind, someone surprises their significant other with a marriage proposal while a flash mob dances behind them to a catchy love song. There's laughs, tears and gasps. The people in the video get pretty emotional too.

Hope these brings a smile to your face and brightens up your Monday! These videos are proof that all you need is a little love to get through the day.

Live Lip Dub Marriage Proposal

With the help of family and friends, and a small marching band, Isaac proposes to his girlfriend while lip syncing to Bruno Mars' "Marry you"
How do you not say yes?

Home Depot Marriage Proposal

Dustin arrived at the Home Depot thinking he was there to help his roommate pick out some lighting for a party. What he found waiting for him was a mob of friends and family as his marriage proposal unfolded to the song, "Somebody Loves You" by Betty Who.
Where has this song been all my life?

Mobbed Flash Dance Proposal

With the help of the show Mobbed, Nikki was blown away by her boyfriend's flash mob performance. So was I.

Movie Trailer Marriage Proposal

Matt surprises his girlfriend with a marriage proposal movie trailer at the movies!
There is no song or dance in this proposal, but I couldn't resist sharing this talent.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Friday Fun Snack Day - Homemade Granola Bars

I've been wanting to make homemade granola bars forever. Finally I gave it a try. I found an easy, no bake recipe and basically tossed in whatever I wanted. It was my first time, so I wasn't sure how they would turn out but I was really pleased with them. This recipe only made about 10 bars, so next time I would recommend doubling the recipe.

What you need:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups cooking oats
1 cup granola - I used the honey almond granola for some extra sweetness and the almonds
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tablespoons chocolate chips - I cheated and used half a bag
I sprinkled in 2 tablespoons of coconut and honey roasted peanuts - this is optional

How you make it:
Stir together oats and granola and other dry ingredients you are adding. Set aside.
Melt butter, honey and brown sugar over medium heat until it comes to a bubble
Reduce heat and cook for 2 minutes
Pour in vanilla and stir
Pour over dry ingredients and stir
Pour into lightly greased pan and let cool at room temperature for 2 hours
Cut into bars and enjoy!

I added my chocolate chips with my dry ingredients so that the chocolate melted throughout the bars. You can also just place them on top of the bars once they are set in the pan if you would rather.

This recipe is great because you can add whatever you want. Coconut, mixed nuts, raisins, cranberries, marshmallows, chocolate chips, the list goes on! Especially if you have peanut allergies you can take nuts out of the recipes and replace with other tasty treats. Both my kid's schools are peanut-free so I made a nut-free mix so they can take them in their lunches.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Summer Checklist - The End

Now that summer is coming to an end, it's time to recap our Summer Checklist. I created this checklist as an inspiration for us to try new and fun summer activities. We only accomplished 7 things.Ugh. I hadn't failed as a mom in months, my record was going so well..until now. My children like to point out the empty check boxes on the chalkboard frequently as my punishment.
Perhaps I set our limitations too high. Who would've thought going canoeing and making homemade ice cream would've been such a hard task to accomplish. Apparently for us, it was. I searched some other family checklists online and I found things like learn a new joke, have pancakes for supper and wear your clothes backwards for a day. That stuff is easy. Why didn't I chose those activites? You can be sure I'll be revamping our checklist for next year.
Like I said, we did accomplish 7 things on our list. 7 fun things!

Here's our recap:

We had a campfire
I made delicious roasted bananas.
I split open a banana and stuffed it with marshmallows and peanut butter cups.
Wrapped it in tinfoil and left it on the fire for about 10 minutes. I know they might look a little unappetizing in the picture, but they weren't.
We also brought out some sparklers later in the night which are always a hit with a kids. (this could be an easy checklist activity).


We watched a movie under the stars

We made it to the drive-in once this summer. Once. It was raining and we couldn't really see any stars but we still had a great time!

We went on a picnic
This was by far one of my favorite summer moments. We picnicked beside the river after a refreshing swim. We made sure to repeat this activity throughout the summer.

We went to an outdoor concert

We rode the PEI Ferry

We didn't light our own fireworks, but we did watch them twice this summer. That counts right?

We visited the Farmer's Market
However, I don't know if I would actually call it a summer event we enjoyed. It was crowded, loud, we almost lost all 4 kids and everyone wanted something from every table we walked by. Since I wasn't made of money that day and the sound of screeching children was drilling a hole through my head, we didn't stay there long. Perhaps on another day, with just 1 child, or on my own this could be a fun experience. They had lots of great things to buy and enjoy. But you know I still scored a picture!

We performed a Random Act of Kindness
Since it was random, I had no camera to capture the rare kindness my 7 year old displayed. I wanted it to be something one of the kids thought up on their own. While waiting in the Tim Hortons drive-thru the customer ahead of us dropped a handful of change while trying to pass it through the window to the employee inside. Without a thought, Jessee jumped out of the car and immediately started to gather up the change and passed it inside. How proud was I.

In the end, we still had a fabulous summer and made many great memories. The idea of a Summer Fun Checklist was brilliant, and I'll definitely use it again. I hope that some of our activities inspired other families to try new things and create fun, family memories!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Guest Post - One Day at a Time

Two years ago, my good friend Amy packed up her life and moved to England. The amazement that is computers, skype and facebook has kept me updated on her life while living so far away. She posts a photo of something that's happening in her life everyday. I look forward to those photos, find myself searching facebook for them. They've become a big part of my day and it makes me feel apart of what she's experiencing. I asked her to volunteer to write a guest blog for me and she outdid herself.

One day at a time.

On the stroke of midnight, when we moved from 2011 to 2012 I took a picture. It wasn’t a particularly amazing picture, a bit blurry and dark but it was important. It was the first picture in a series of photo’s which have helped me see my life through a different lens.

When I woke up that morning, I posted the photo on Facebook and thought - "I’m going to find something in today which I think is worth stopping and taking a moment for". So came another day and another photo and I’ve continued this for over a year and a half (almost!) now.
The guideline I set for myself was simple - the photo had to be taken on the day it was posted. Some days this commitment has been a real pain in my ass but I think that it’s those days when I need this pledge to self the most. Those are the days when I need to stop and take the time to look around me, outside of me and see something else.
There have since been days where I have bent the rule to commemorate a dear friend or to highlight the adorableness of my grandnephew but each picture has had significance to me on that day.

Now 1.5 years later this collection of photos is more than just its individual images - it serves as a day by day snap shot of my life as I saw it, in that moment of each day. I’ve grown to know how important it is every day to:
1. Find something to be grateful about.
2. Find something which is worth taking a moment for.
3. Know how I want to feel and do things that make me feel that way.

I think many of us do this without really naming it or noting what it is that we’re doing. Brookers does this with her blog. My mum does it in her daily emails to me. The action, the gratefulness, the moment doesn’t have to mean anything to anyone except you – that’s the beauty of it!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Friday Fun Snack Day - Puppy Chow

Happy Friday!
Today's snack is not one bit healthy! But it is gluten free! I made this snack yesterday to celebrate the first day of school (yippee!) I had a bus load of hungry, tired kids roll in around 4pm and this certainly brightened up their spirits!
Speaking of the first day of school, were you as happy as my husband?

Life certainly has changed now that school is back in session. Life is quiet. Life is calm. Life is good.

I've never made Puppy Chow before, but remember eating it as a kid and loving every bite. It was pretty easy except I overdid the icing sugar and found myself straining it out of the mix later on. My advice is to use half the amount of icing sugar and then add more as you mix depending on your choice of desired coating.

What you need:
1 box of Chex cereal
1 cup of Peanut Butter or alternative if allergies are present
1/4 cup of Margarine
1 pkg Milk Chocolate Chips
3 cups of Icing Sugar

How you make it:
Melt peanut butter, chocolate chips and margarine. You can melt it on the stove, or microwave (in a microwave safe bowl of course)
Pour mixture over Chex cereal
Pour Icing Sugar into large Ziploc bag and add coated cereal.

This snack is great for bagging up individually for snack drawers.
Happy Weekend!

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Monday, 2 September 2013

Beach Memory Jars

On Fathers Day we took our first family trip of the year to the beach. At bedtime Madison called me into her room to thank me for the wonderful day we had, and told me how much she loved the beach and couldn't wait to go back. That made such a lasting impression on me, and I didn't realize how much it meant to her. It was Noah's first real experience, since he's only 2, he's always been too little to really enjoy it.We visited the beach more frequently than most summers, and our kids made some lasting memories.

Throughout the sunny season I collected sand, shells and rocks whenever we went to the beach. Now that the beach weather was slowly coming to an end, I decided I would finally put the rocks and shells I collected to good use. I created memory jars of our beach trips that everyone so enjoyed, so the kids could remember what great memories we created.

I bought a few jars from Dollarama and layered the sand, rocks and shells. I chose a jar with a top that could stay tightly closed and would be difficult for the kids to get off. I tied some craft straw around it with a label that read "Beach Memories 2013". I made one for each of the girls to have in their bedrooms.

They loved them! This a great keepsake or gift idea.
Decorating with sand and shells is easy and cheap. Who doesn't love a little reminder of hot summer days throughout their house.

Here's a few other beach inspired jars I love that you could make for kids or just to decorate your home.

Happy Holiday Monday!

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