#WW w linky – Vin de Merde

My girls were the ones who spotted the curiosity on this sign…who wants to try le vin de merde?…

#WW w linky vins de merde

As always comments appreciated and links to your own #WordlessWednesday posts most welcome!

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Pictures From France #NikonMOMents

I have been eager to share with you my Pictures From France #NikonMOMents – but it took some time to go through my 570+ pictures to decide which ones were share-worthy. Honestly, all of them are share-worthy! I thought it would be cumbersome taking my new Nikon HDSLR D3300 with a 35 mm lens with me (a smartphone is a whole lot smaller to pack!)…but you know what…the pictures I took are fantasticreally fantastic…and I don’t think another camera (or smartphone) would have done near as nice. What do you think?…

Panorama - Les Beaux

Panorama - Les Beaux

Panorama Aiges-Mortes

Panorama - Arles

Pictured above panaromas (great feature of the Nikon D3300 – so easy to capture an impressive sweeping view when you travel): The village of Les Beaux du Provence (1st two pictures), the impressive medieval wall surrounding the village of Aigues-Mortes, France, and the roman amphitheater in Arles.

The purpose of our trip was to visit family…and show our kids their French culture…I mean you don’t capture pictures like this in North America…

Arles, France

Uzes France

Pictured above: Arles, France.

And of those 570+ pictures I took some amazing close up photos of my family. Like…I-am-printing-them-and-framing-them type of photos. Professional quality (and I’m no professional!).

As you know, I don’t share pictures of my kids’ faces for privacy reasons…so please accept these “back pictures” to show a representation of my print-worthy pics…

France and a boy

boy jumping in water

Two above pictures were taken using the color pop mode on the Nikon camera. I must say – these are my two most favourite pictures of the whole trip. I love my son’s blue shirt popping out of the picture while we waited to tour a Duke’s grande house in Uzes, France. And the picture of him jumping in the waves of the Sea in Saint Marie de la Mer?…priceless.

Oh and that boy-jumping-in-the-sea picture inspired me to take a chance with another action shot

man jumping from bull

No bulls nor men in white outfits were hurt in the process of taking this shot ;-) 

And no it wasn’t a bull fight (we’ve had the bull fight discussion before)…it was a spectacle where the men had to try to get rings off the bulls horns. Very action packed.

And then…there were the quieter moments in France…

France by candle

And the quiet moments were often just before food moments in France…

France food

And I am the only one in the world who goes to France and loses 6lbs! But I added loads upon loads of family moments to our camera…and our memories. ;-)

Disclosure: I am part of the Mom Central Canada Nikon MOMents team and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Healthy Muffins Chocolate Blueberry Qi’a

Teaser: the following healthy muffin recipe is fantastic. And easy. Check out my recipe for Healthy Muffins Chocolate Blueberry Qi’a  (and new breakfast favourite here!).  Introducing Nature’s Path Qi’a Superfood – it’s a new and a must-buy to add to breakfast, baking, and smoothies…

Healthy Muffins Chocolate Blueberry Qi'a

What is Qi’a?Nature's Path Qi'a

Qi’a (pronounced Kee-ah) is our NEW Superfood Cereal made with Chia, Hemp and Buckwheat. This power trio of seeds and grains is chocked full of plant-based protein, fiber and Omega-3’s.

 

  • Certified gluten free
  • Vegan
  • No added sugar or salt
  • High in protein (6 grams per serving)
  • Heart healthy
  • Certified organic
  • Non GMO Project Verified

(Aside: as sometimes-writer-of-French I keep wanting to type Qui’a)

For a quick and healthy breakfast you can mix 2 Tbsp of Qi’a cereal with 5 Tbsp of milk (wait 5 minutes and the Chia seeds soak in goodness).

You can also sprinkle this superfood cereal on top of cereal, in yogurts or smoothies or into salads for an added boost.

I decided to develop a kid-friendly baking activity with Qi’a; making it a boredom buster and snack in one. And proof it was a hit?…my son ate FOUR Healthy Muffins Chocolate Blueberry Qi’a in a day!

This recipe is bookmark/print worthy!
Healthy Muffins Chocolate Blueberry Qi'a

Healthy Muffins Chocolate Blueberry Qi’a
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Healthy Muffins Chocolate Blueberry Qi’a are packed with goodness and super easy to make. Great for breakfast, school lunch, and afternoon snack!
Author:
Serves: 24 muffins
Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • ⅓ cup Nature’s Path Qi’a
  • ½ frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • egg substitute equivalent to 2 eggs
  • 300 ml of applesauce (I used 3 individual snack size applesauce containers)
  • **use organic ingredients wherever possible
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa and Qi’a in large bowl. Mix well.
  3. Add in chocolate chips.
  4. Add in egg substitutes and applesauce.
  5. Mix well.
  6. And in frozen blueberries and mix.
  7. Pour into lined muffin containers. Makes 24 muffins or one 9 x 13 pan.
  8. Bake for 30 min at 350 degrees. Great for breakfast, school lunch, and afternoon snack! Kid friendly recipe!

 

 

 

House Of Botori Review and #Giveaway

Fashion, function, comfort…these are all the things I look for in a diaper bag. In this House of Bortori Review we review the Amara Shoulder Bag…does this diaper bag have everything baby and parent needs to make life easier?…PLUS a #Giveaway below you will not want to miss!

 

House of Botori Review

ABOUT HOUSE OF BOTORI

House of Botori was born from the desire to bring bright, bold patterns to chic and style-lovin’ moms and babies everywhere. We’re setting the fashion bar just a little higher, but keeping it well within your reach. Our high-quality and affordable gear is designed to get you through your busy days with class, sass and panache.

The first takeaway you need to have in this House of Botori Review is what you’ll find inside the bag: Baby Zone and Mom Zone. Unlike other diaper bags – the House of Botori has taken into account that parents and kids require seperate and organized sections in a diaper bag. This is a fantastic feature.

House of Botori Review

The Amara Shoulder Bag

With eleven compartments this bag is organized. In the Mom Zone you will find a zippered pocket for valuables. Key fob, 2 wide expandable pockets for cell phone and other necessities.  And 2 pen pockets. In the Baby Zone you will find 2 extra wide bottle pockets (insulated with eco-friendly PEVA and fits multiple bottle sizes). Alson with 2 extra large pockets for diapers and wipes and a very roomy middle area of bag for change of clothes, toys, blankets and more.

The Amara Shoulder Bag is fully zippered (so nothing will topple out) and comes with tote handles as well as a long shoulder strap (allowing you to carry it as a tote or messenger style or sling).

The Amara Should Bag also comes with (and all matching the vibrate fabric of the bag): an insulated bottle holder (great for keeping water cool!), change pad, wet clothes bag, and mini pouch (great for soothers). It also has four feet at the base.

Of all the reviews I have done…this House of Botori Review probably had the most work…no only was it tested for a day at the park…it was tested as on a family vacation…

House of Botori Review

That’s me and the House of Botori bag in France. If you have ever taken a diaper bag on a plane and then on vacation – you know the kind of testing it went through. It had to be the diaper bag, Mom tote, snack bag, change of clothes bag, activity bag, and purse all in one. And my findings?…

GREAT DIAPER BAG.

Very comfortable to carry (and that is #1 when I look at reviews). The pockets kept everything organized and within arms-reach (I used the magnet pockets to keep small toys handy for the “I’m tired” kid meltdowns).  I wore it both as a tote and messenger style (and I add: Papa also carried it messenger style; proving this is a solid Dad bag). The colour was netural enough to go with any outfit. Recommend!

GIVEAWAY

Eneehi Roving Nursing Clutch - Adire Sand

Enter for a chance to win Eneehi nursing clutch (colour choice at discretion of House of Botori). This clutch opens into a nursing cover; providing privacy and comfort to both you and nursing baby. This giveaway is open to residents of Canada, excluding Quebec. Also open to residents of the U.S., excluding Alaska, Puerto Rico, Western Territories and Hawaii. 18 yrs and older. 

  [Read more...]

Steak, tomato, and lettuce wrap

Too hot to cook and too much fun to want to leave the back yard to spend even an hour in the kitchen..I had an idea to bbq dinner with a twist…this Steak, tomato, and lettuce wrap. It was easy, healthy, and oh so yum! They are so good…you will want to eat at least two!

steak tortilla 2

Oh and I strongly recommend adding my Easy Vinaigrette Recipe as the sauce to this wrap. It. Is. So. Good!

It was kinda fun to eat a hands-on dinner (the kids LOVED it). And it was fast. From bbq to table it really took minutes. That’s the kind of summer dinner I need. Less cooking. More play.

Steak, tomato, and lettuce wrap
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Sirloin Steak
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Vinaigrette (see link in post for easy recipe)
  • Dempster’s Tortilla Wraps
Instructions
  1. bbq steak (I like medium rare)
  2. Cut steak into strips
  3. Cut lettuce into strips
  4. Cut grape tomatoes in half
  5. Lay out Dempster’s Tortilla Wraps and assemble wrap (steak, lettuce, tomatoes, and vinaigrett). Roll and enjoy.

Assembly turns into a family activity as everyone gets to build their own dinners. Tender steak, crisp lettuce, soft tortilla (I crave carbs so the tortilla is a great alternative to rice, pasta, and potatoes). I will make this again and again.

Steak, Tomato, Lettuce Wrap

For other wrap ideas…this Black Bean, Corn and Quinoa Wrap look delish – it uses all the staple ingredients I have sitting around my kitchen.  Black beans (always have a tin for last-minute salads), corn (the #2 fav vegetable of my kids), Quinoa (right next to the corn in the freezer, and Dempster’s Tortillas (’cause I’ve told you how my kids love Breakfast Wrap Ideas).

Tortilla

 Disclosure: #spon and the steak wraps were a true hit. As always, the opinions in this post are my own. 

Party Planning Tips

From kids’ birthday parties to formal get together (think holidays!) I am a planner. Yes, I admit to writing notes and making a party checklist to ensure I don’t forget a thing. And this is where I share my Party Planning Tips. Tried. True. And shared here with you to make life a little easier…

Party Planning Tips

Isn’t that train cake fabulous?! I made it for my son’s last birthday. Party Planning Tip #1 – give yourself permission to make your life easier. A frosted, double layer, exquisitely decorated cake might have made June Cleaver proud but do I really need to do that to have a great party?! Nope. Boxed cake mix + chocolate pudding + Wilton train cake mold + royal icing + smarties + licorice for tracks. AND I let my three kids decorate the cake themselves  the day of the party (kid activity + giving Mom one less thing to do!). So what if you take a short cut in party prep – will anyone but you know?!

Party Planning Tip #2 – make a party planning checklist. I do (and it really helps you keep party organized).

cheese and broccoli strata2 Weeks Before

  • Set date
  • Invite guests
  • Set theme (birthday, weekend bbq, holiday meal or wine & cheese)

Week Before

  • Confirm r.s.v.p’s

Spaghetti Pie RecipeWeek of Party

  • Set the menu (be mindful of your guests food sensitivities and food likes and dislikes)
  • Grocery shop for party food (bonus points if you can incorporate make ahead foods)

Day Before Party

Slow Cooker Mac n' CheeseDay of Party

  • Clean bathrooms (June Cleaver would)
  • Hide toys (everyone does)
  • Prep food
  • Decorate party area (table cloth, napkins)
  • Run the dishwasher (and then empty the dishwasher!)
  • Put out the dinnerware (plates, cups, forks, knives, spoons, serving spoons)

And add a signature “something” which makes for an unforgettable party…my suggestion…

kidtinis Mocktail Recipe

And that Kidtinis Mocktail Recipe is a huge hit. Every. Single. Party.

And don’t forget that a smudge-proof kitchen makes life easier…Frigidaire Full Induction Freestanding Range

With their patented Smudge-Proof™ Stainless Steel finish, Frigidaire Gallery® and Frigidaire Professional® stainless-steel appliances have a new anti-smudge technology that resists those little fingerprints and is easier to clean than traditional stainless steel surfaces.

Smudge-Proof™ Stainless Steel is available on all Frigidaire Gallery® and Frigidaire Professional® products – see the collection here:http://www.frigidairekitchen.ca/en/smudge-proof/index.html

The How: How does the technology work? Frigidaire® uses high-grade stainless steel coated with layers of polymers, resulting in a sleek, beautiful stainless steel finish that is both durable and resistant to fingerprints. As a result, homeowners can have the look of stainless steel without the traditional maintenance typically experienced with standard stainless steel.

Disclosure:  I am part of the Frigidaire Canada Ambassador program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions on this blog are my own

How To Kool Aid Dye Hair

This is a fun and inexpensive “treat” activity for the big kids in your life. How To Kool Aid Dye Hair was a mega-hit with my big kids (and I must admit…it looks pretty darn cool). And it will just wash out so no worries about it being permanent. So for some streaks under your hair or to dip dye the ends (you could even ombre) here is my easy How To Kool Aid Dye Hair tutorial…

How to kool aid dye hair

You will need:

  • 1 package of Kool Aid (we used cherry)
  • 1 heat proof cup (we used a Tim Hortons travel mug)
  • 1 pot
  • Water
  • Stove
  • Paper towel
  • Chair (for sitting in while you wait for your hair to dye)
  • Elastics (to tie hair)
  • Old t-shirt (in case kool aid spills)

TIP: if you tie up your hair and just dye the bottom you will get the effect we did – which is handy because when hair is all down you can’t see the dye (for those fancy events when you don’t want red streaks) and looks funky when you tie it up (for those events where you want to show off your streaks).

STOP FOR SAFETY: have an adult help with boiling and pouring water

TIME: 20 minutes (plus hair drying time)

How to kool aid dye hair

  1. Put on old t-shirt, tie up the hair you do not want to dye, put chair next to counter.
  2. Fill heat proof travel mug with water.
  3. Pour this water into pot
  4. Add Kool Aid into water in pot.
  5. Put pot on stove and bring it to a boil.
  6. Once Kool Aid is boiling take it off burner and allow it to cool for 2 minutes.
  7. Carefully, pour hot Kool Aid into heat proof cup (be really really careful – you can burn yourself! – which is why this is a big-kid activity)
  8. Next, put heat proof cup on counter
  9. Sit in chair.
  10. Have someone dip and submerge the hair you want to dye into the cup (this is a 2 person job because if you tried to do it yourself you could spill the cup).
  11. Allow hair to sit in Kool Aid for 20 minutes.
  12. After 20 minutes, take paper towel and put it around your hair as it comes out of Kool Aid (paper towel will prevent Kool Aid from dripping everywhere).
  13. Air dry or use a hair dryer.
  14. Done!

If you would like to dip dye your hair you could just dip the ends of your hair directly into the pot with Kool Aid. Again, be careful because the liquid will be HOT.

Total cost: about $1.50 (but being the kid with the cool red streaks…priceless)

Kidtinis Mocktail Recipe

Born from a kid-version-martini (sans alcohol of course) my kids and I developed this fantastic (and super easy) Kidtinis Mocktail Recipe. It’s fresh, yummy, and a fun kid drink to serve at any party or get together. You’re going to LOVE this…

kidtinis Mocktail Recipe

Aside: We served our Kidtinis Mocktail in margarita glasses. The kids were thrilled to sip from fancy glasses.

Kidtinis Mocktail Recipe

Kidtinis Mocktail Recipe
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Think martini – without booze – for kids. This Kidtinis Mocktail Recipe is easy, yummy, and a treat at any party.
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup sprite
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • maraschino cherry
  • Ice cubes
  • Glass
  • Shaker
Instructions
  1. Pour equal parts sprite and orange juice in a shaker. Add in ice. Shake well.
  2. In glass put in one ice cube. Pour sprite/orange juice mixture into glass. Add in one maraschino cherry.
  3. Enjoy!

This drink would go great not only as a beverage but as one of your birthday party activities (think: birthday kid gets to do the shaking and serving making him/her the hostess with the mostess – or host with the most).

Even as a grown up – I love this mocktail recipe.

#WW w linky Boredom Busters

So my friends have gotten into the habit of sending me pictures of my book when they find it out and about…here are a few sightings of Boredom Busters (and yes, I smile every time I get a new picture of my book – it’s a dream come true).

Boredom Busters

Boredom Busters

Boredom Busters

As always comments appreciated and links to your own #WordlessWednesday posts most welcome!

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Free Fonts Headings

Continuing my series of Free Fonts here are my suggestions for Free Fonts Headings. You might notice I use Garamond and Pharmacy all the time. But Elephant and Porter Sans sure do pop…they make my list of 11 Favourite Free Fonts Tag: Headings list….

Favourite Free Headings Fonts

Are you also a font lover? My Free Fonts Children’s Hand post is one of the most-pinned Parent Club posts on Pinterest (really, readers love that graphic!).  And talking love – check my Favourite Free Valentine Fonts - it’s perfect for writing love notes.

Habitat For Humanity GTA #WB2014 Twitter Chat

You are invited to the Habitat For Humanity GTA #WB2014 Twitter Chat this Thursday June 19th! We are going to be chatting homes, families, Habitat For Humanity GTA, and a chance to win a $250 P & G home care bundle (wouldn’t that make house cleaning easier!)…

Habitat For Humanity GTA #WB2014

As you know, I’m a Habitat For Humanity Toronto Ambassador! And I am on a journey of learning (hello newbie here!) all about what Habitat For Humanity does, how one becomes a volunteer, and what exactly those volunteers DO on a women build.

There are two build sites set for this Fall (@Mom2Michael and I will be building Monday Sept. 15 at the Brimley location – and there are volunteer spots on both teams – you are most welcome to join us!).

P&G is the Presenting Sponsor of Women Build 2014 across Canada. P&G has generously donated a bundle of home care products from Tide, Swiffer, Mr. Clean, and Febreze, as a grand prize for our Twitter chat (amazing n’est pas?!).
Here are the deets on the amazing P & G Home Care Bundle. It’s valued at approximately $250.
  • Gain Flings 72 pacs Original
  • Gain Flings 72 pacs Moonlight Breeze
  • Bounce Sheets –  x 2
  • Mr. Clean Liquid Muscle x 2
  • Mr. Clean Multi-Surfaces Spray
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
  • Swiffer Sweep & Trap Starter Kit
  • Swiffer Sweeper Dry Sweeping Refills
  • Swiffer 360 Duster Starter Kit
  • Swiffer Duster refill pack
  • Dawn Ultra Anti-Bacterial Dishwashing Liquid
  • Cascade ActionPacs with Dawn
  • Febreze Air Effects Allergen Reducer x 2
  • Febreze Fabric Refresher Allergen Reducer 2
  • Bounty DuraTowel Mega Rolls
  • Charmin Ultra Strong Triple Rolls
To be eligible to win you must RSVP through the link below, participate in the chat, and be a Canadian resident (void in Quebec).
Hashtag: #WB2014
Thursday, June 19th, 9-10pm EDT
Moderators @ParentClub, @Mom2Michael, @HabitatGTA

RSVP now!

To be eligible to win the grand prize, you must RSVP using the link-up below. Enter your Twitter Handle as your “name,” and Twitter profile url under “URL.” Winner will be chosen randomly, using random.org, from among those present and participating in the chat, who appear on this RSVP list. Eligibility for prizing limited to Canadian residents only, excluding Quebec, age 18 and over.

Tips For Buying A New Vehicle

It served us well but the time had come to move on. I’ve just gone through researching minivans and I had to share these Tips For Buying A New Vehicle…and please keep in mind my tips are heavy on the what-family-needs-from-a-Mom’s-point-of-view and not very mechanic at all. Oh, and this is not sponsored at all – my authentic and unsponsored Tips For Buying A New Vehicle

Tips for Buying a New Vehicle

I will start with what we purchased…a new 2014 Kia Sedona from Scarboro Kia. (And for transparency: I went to school with the GM there - Dom Vigliatore - a super nice guy – and again – this is unsponsored).  Dom pretty much made the deal with me when he said…

“Buy the car which is right for you.”

Sure there are pretty cars. Cars with low prices. Cars which have features beyond your imagination. However, at the end of the day – you have to buy the car which is right for you.

Tips For Buying A New Vehicle

My number 1 was reliability (and I include safety with reliability). My old van had been completely unreliable of late (leaving us stranded many a time – and parents know – when you have to go pick up kids – unreliable just doesn’t work). We need a vehicle which is reliable. Every. Single. Day.

Next, determine what size vehicle you need. I knew we needed a 7 seater. However, with 7 seater minivans comes challenges…do you loose trunk space? Bench over captains chairs? Leg room?  We tried several minivans to compare comfort for our family. It’s important to “try on” a vehicle to see if it fits you.

Think economics. Price, fuel efficiency, mileage (that should be kilometer-age shouldn’t it?!). And what is the monthly % of financing? Basically, can you afford this vehicle?!

The Mom-in-me needed the family wants. Cup holders (I know sounds frivolous but road trip with 6 other people and you’ll realize cup holders can be battle grounds), trunk space, and storage are important to me. We also crushed on two features which weren’t necessary – but which would make life easier - bluetooth (so we can call hands free) and a usb port (so we can charge on-the-go). And if you do road trip like we do – check out my suggestions for Screen Free Travel Activities.

We knew what we didn’t need (heated seats) and what we absolutely needed (those 7 seats).

I think when choosing a new vehicle it comes down to that…what do you need and what don’t you need. That’s the easy way to determine which car is right for you.