Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Surviving Winter

I'll be the first person to admit I dislike Winter. I despise the cold. Physically my body doesn't ever stay warm so I endure 5 months of uncomfortable temperatures. I hate bundling up my kids in snow pants, looking for matching gloves, lacing up snow boots and having to start my van 20 minutes before we want to get in it. And you know what? My kids aren't big fans of the cold either.
Unfortunately I can't just hibernate under my electric blanket, I have to go outside to get places and keep my kids entertained all winter.

Here are some things we do to survive until flip flop season:

1. Family Swims
My kids love to swim! The pool is always suffocatingly hot (which is perfect for me). If I'm not swimming, I  bring a book and relax on the bench while my kids splash around me.
My community offers 2 free swims every weekend, so there's no excuse for anyone to miss out!

2. Winter Getaway
Every Winter we plan a family get-away. It gives us something to look forward to, gets us out of the house and have some fun together. We never go very far, but try to go somewhere new or that we haven't been to in a while. We stay at a hotel, swim in the pool, eat out at restaurants (all of our favorites!) I love planning trips, and the organizing alone will keep me busy for a week.

Nova Scotia has some great Winter Vacation Ideas to check out.
We've gone to Halifax and toured museums, visited PEI for the Jackfrost Fest and last year traveled to Moncton to have fun at Crystal Palace.

3.The Theatre
Plan an afternoon or evening and take in a family movie! We don't do it often, with a family of 6 it's a small fortune to see a movie, so it's a treat for all of us. We all love theater popcorn!

4.Family Day
Plan a day of activities for you and the kids. You don't even have to leave your house if you don't want! Set-up an afternoon of board games and puzzles. Bake some cookies, or cook supper together and curl up together with a good movie to end the day.
You can read about our recent Family Day here.

Since I can't keep my kids inside all Winter, I've forced myself to embrace Winter and took in a few Wintery activities.
We started skating this year. I'm glad we did, as it was Lily and Noah's first time, and why deprive your children of milestones just because you're freezing your a-- off?

Why not take in a sleigh ride? What kid doesn't love that. Invite some friends or neighbors and get together afterwards for a pizza party!

We have yet to ski. But how much fun would it be to load up the van and head to the hill for the day? Another milestone for my kids!

I'd love to hear some of your ideas for surviving winter!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Friday Fun Snack - Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

We made these during our snow day and they were beyond delicious! I ate 5 in a row, no lie. I'm also a sucker for cookie dough, I literally ate half the bowl.
Luckily I doubled the batch knowing that would happen, and now I have some dough left to throw in the freezer for a rainy day.

What you need

1 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Butter or Margarine
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Egg
2 cups Oats
1 1/2 cup Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1 package Chocolate Chips

How you make them

Mix it up
Place on cookie sheet
Bake @350 for 10 minutes (or until edges start to brown)

My cousin shared a recipe for with me that called for Jello vanilla pudding mix. Unfortunately since I was snowed in, I didn't have any so I improvised with the above recipe. She swears by this recipe, so I would recommend to give it a go as well!

1 cup butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 small package Jell-O instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups flour
3 cups oatmeal, old-fashioned or quick
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degree - bake 10 minutes (or until edges start to brown)

Monday, 20 January 2014

Accent Walls cont'd

 Remember my post on accent walls ? I took the spare time I had this weekend to do something about the bare wall in the girls room. I would've loved to throw on a fresh coat of paint, but I hate painting and I wasn't mentally prepared for the chaos that accompanies it. I did cover up a few holes in the walls, and I've accepted that at least 1 wall will have to be painted. Just not today.
I still loved the idea of framed baby pictures and searched around for some stick on wall art that I could incorporate with it.

This was my end result.

I love pictures. I love black and white. I love matted prints.
I used Wall Pops stick and peel wall art. I've used them in the past and loved them. They come in lots of neat designs and funky colors and easily peel off without peeling any paint.
These particular stripes were on sale at my local hardware store so I scooped them up! Who doesn't love a sale!

My aunt took this shot of Lily
and it fully describes her entire personality.
Jessee circa 2008 getting ready for our wedding.
I've always loved this picture of her.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Friday Fun Snack - Chocolate Chip Muffins

Muffins are awesome, my kids love them. I made regular and bite-sized (which are perfect for lunches and freezing)
I'll admit, I downsized my super-mom abilities today and used packaged muffin mix and added the chocolate chips (hold your screams).

 However, I did throw in some rolled oats, peeled apple and some honey. You can't judge me now!

What you need
1 Package Muffin Mix
1 Package Rainbow Chocolate Chips
1 egg
1 cup rolled oats
1 grated apple (peeled)
2 tbsp honey

How we made it
Mix everything
Peel and core an apple and grate into the mixture
Pour into muffin pans
Bake @ 350 until cooked

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Accent Walls

Now that the girl's bedroom makeover has finally started. (You can check out their new floors here) Jessee and Lily decided to take down their old posters and stickers and make a few new changes to spruce up their walls. To be honest, all the walls could use some TLC. I'm still contemplating whether or not I want to fill in all the holes and repaint.

So much work.

For now I've been looking up ideas for the large square wall behind their bed. It makes for a perfect accent wall. I'm a big fan of easy and frugal projects so I'm thinking of using some leftover paint and painting like I did in Noah's room or finding a stick-on mural.

These are some accent walls that caught my attention and some cute ideas I'd like to incorporate into their bedroom.

You know I've got a thing for chalkboard paint!

Love this!

I love everything in this room. Bookshelves, baby pictures and paper flowers.

Love the personalized bulletin boards.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Family Days

Mike was off this weekend and we had a free Sunday afternoon to spend altogether. Since we're a large group, we like to plan frugal activities. Lunch and an extended playtime at McDonalds followed by a free swim at our local Wellness Center sounded like the perfect afternoon. We topped the night off by supper in front of the tv together watching some Twilight and We Bought A Zoo.

Well done Matt Damon.

We spend a lot of time altogether as a family, but mainly it's running from a lesson to a birthday party, rushing through breakfast on our way out the door to school or a quick snuggle at bedtime. With Mike working shiftwork, and busy schedules our life includes a very limited amount of family time with all 6 of us.

It wasn't overly exciting activities. We stayed in our community and we had already visited these places before, but it was fun to get out of the house, do something active and be together. It had been a while since we had been to McDonalds or the Wellness Center so this was a treat for them. It's so fun to see my kids run around excitedly and just constantly be happy.

We laughed, made jokes and did tricks in the pool. It gave Mike and I the opportunity to take time to enjoy all the kids, together or one on one. It also gave the kids the chance to play together in a neutral setting, which I feel is important sometimes. There were no territories and no toys that belonged to another sibling. They only focused on being silly, having fun and just enjoying each others company.
Of course there were fist fights, dramatic tears, a bladder mishap and an unlimited amount of ear splitting whining. It wouldn't be a proper Talbot-Melanson-MacLean outing without any of those.

At the end of the day all the kids thanked us for the fun day. No matter how exhausted I was after such a busy day, making my kids smile was well worth it.

I think it's necessary for every family to have these kind of days. With life as busy as it is, it's so important to set aside that time to be together.
Happy Monday!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

The floor that almost wasn't

We have 1 room in the house that is carpeted. It has served as a bedroom for all of us at one point, and now permanently houses the girls. Carpet is nice and soft on your feet and keeps the room warm. But when it houses children, and animals, it never stays very clean and I was never one to take the time to fully vacuum or steam clean it to keep it as preserved as I would've liked. I steam cleaned it once, and for some reason it had a hard time drying properly. It smelled and still looked dirty.
So one day last July, I had enough of the stinky, dingy carpet and pulled up a corner to check what was underneath. After the second layer of disco themed carpet there was some nicely shaded plywood. I thought if I ripped the carpet up, we could live with just plywood for the summer while it was warm and then plan for a floor redo in the fall. We had some left over flooring from our last flooring project and Mike and my father had installed flooring before, I was sure it would be no problem to do it again. It seemed like a really easy project.
However, as I ripped up more carpet I realized there was a thick spongy underlay glued to the plywood.


Days later, after hours of back-breaking scraping, spraying and sanding I was left with this.


Not all of the underlay would come off the floor so little pieces of it would constantly stick to your socks and feet as you walked over it. I found myself vacuuming and sweeping daily. We threw down some rugs and mats for the girls to walk on, but it only helped a bit. Not to mention how ugly it looked. With busy schedules, budgets and zero knowledge on floor installation, the girls room stayed like this..for 6 months.


Then we finally bought some flooring !! Luckily we have some amazing relatives who work for beer who offered to install the flooring for us.

This room has never looked so good. I'm still on a happy house high!

One house project down.

Monday, 6 January 2014

The Beginning of a New Year

I took a large break from blogging over the Holidays. I took the much needed time to worry about nothing else other than family and Christmas. I'm feeling a little "out of shape" and it might take me a few posts to get back into the swing of things.

Of course our Christmas was fantastic. Our kids were spoiled, sugared and packed with Christmas cheer.

We were fortunate to spend the holidays with many of our family and friends, attend festive gatherings, and enjoy some of our regular family traditions. We watched almost every Christmas movie we could and drank all the hot chocolate we could handle.

Now that Christmas is over, the corner of my living room looks a lot darker and I probably gained a few pounds, or not. For me, Christmas food living isn't much different than most days. Eat a box of Pot Of Gold in one night? That's just a regular Saturday for me. I love that it's acceptable at Christmas time, my closet sweet tooth can actually show it's face and no one will judge me.

I'm always sad to see the holidays pass. I'm never in a hurry to take our Christmas tree down and I usually leave up half of my decorations until Spring. Without the holiday cheer to accompany Winter, it's basically just cold.

Real cold.

I made no New Years resolutions. I always decide on unrealistic changes and I never keep them. Join the gym? I'll never go. Give up sweets? What for? Be a nice person. Can I get any nicer?
My husband thinks I should cut down on my cleaning obsession or my frequent need to have things organized and straight. Why would anyone want to change that? Who wants a messy house! I'm saving him alot of extra housework and the embarrassment of a messy house when people drop by to visit. Who wants to be known as the man who's wife and kids are slobs? Think of his reputation! If you think about it, I'm clearly doing him a huge favor.

My plan is to begin this new year with a happy heart, and I'll go from there.

Bring on 2014!

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