Saturday, June 30, 2012

Grace's Sweet Life - Review


I love to bake.  I love creating delectable treats for friends and family to enjoy. I have to admit that I do a lot less baking now that I'm married.  When Hubby and I were still dating, I did a lot of baking!  My Grandmother always told me that the way to a man's heart was through his stomach! Boy, was she ever right!

On a recent trip to Montreal and Quebec City, we were able to sample some divine, delicious, scrumptious treats. These are the kinds of treats I never make because...well, they seem A) so labour intensive and B) the professionals do such a great job at creating them, so why should I bother?
Here's the tiramisu we ordered at juliette & chocolat in Montreal.  The rest of our party ordered various types of pot de creme (I believe there was one with passion fruit and another with chocolate brownie and sea salt).

As soon as we returned from our trip, guess what was waiting for me on my front doorstep?


A copy of Grace's Sweet Life: Homemade Italian Desserts from Cannoli, Tiramisu and Panna Cotta to Torte, Pizzelle and Struffoli!

Okay, how did the book gods know that we have a penchant for cannoli, tiramisu, and basically anything Italian?!

"Now you have no excuse" and "Could you make me that?" were words my husband and our 3 year old uttered through the drool as they leafed through the cookbook!

The book is filled with fabulous yet complicated recipes that can be reproduced in your own kitchen. The photos and presentation are stellar. Yes, my friends...even you can create spectacular, mouthwatering, eye-catching Italian desserts like Grace Massa Langlois can!

To learn more about Grace and to view recipes and stories about her Italian heritage, check out her website: www.GracesSweetLife.com.

Where to Buy:
Available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

Friday, June 29, 2012

#FoodieFriday - Manitoulin 'Poke'!


Our friends from California were visiting us the other week and if there's one thing you must know about Canine Cologne and her family, it's that they are foodies!  We took them on a tour of Manitoulin Island, Quebec City, Montreal, and Ottawa, and their trip was pretty much based around the food of all those regions.

They had to try authentic poutine from Quebec (if the cheese doesn't squeak, it ain't real poutine cheese!), real Montreal bagels, Schwartz's smoked meat, Tourtiere (homemade by me), and they also had to try fresh fish caught from our fresh water lakes right here on Manitoulin Island.

My Dad is a seasoned fisherman and is always on the look out for new recipes to try. He catches Rainbow and Lake Trout, Salmon, and whatever is in season.  Fresh fish straight from our fresh water lakes!

Canine Cologne mentioned that one of her foodie friends had this recipe for 'Poke' on his blog.  'Poke' (pron. "pou'kei") is a raw fish salad served as an appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine.  Since we didn't have the exact ingredients required, Grampy made some substitutions! This is something we often have to do on Manitoulin Island, but this results in fusion type edible creations that are even more fabulous because the ingredients are local!

Manitoulin Style 'Poke'

  • Freshly caught Rainbow Trout straight from the fresh water lakes of Manitoulin Island
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Teriyaki sauce (you can use soy sauce, sesame, etc)
  • Sesame seeds (Grampy didn't use any)
  • Green onion (Didn't have any on hand)
  • 'Ogo' (green seaweed salad, which we also didn't have, but Grampy substituted sliced up 'Nori' instead)
mmm-yoso's original poke recipe can be found on his blog.


Check out Canine's highlights from her Canada trip here, here, HERE, here (shout out for my gal, Nugglemama)! Wait, here's the one where my 'death meal' is mentioned! Oh, here's the one from our Nation's capital! All photos below are courtesy of Canine Cologne.
 Montreal style bagels (Kettleman's in Ottawa, ON)
 My 'death meal' (The meal I'd request if I only had one day left to live!) Seafood Pot Pie w/ Salad at Le Petit Cochon Dingue, Quebec City
 Queue de Castor, Ottawa, ON
 Schwartz's Smoked Meat, Montreal, QC
Tourtiere, chez moi!
Thursday, June 28, 2012

George's Cream to the Rescue! {Giveaway}


If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that I've got some little quirks and that there are just a few odd little things about me.
  1. Coffee puts me to sleep. I kid you not. A shot of Espresso knocks me out cold in 5 minutes flat!
  2. I  have a food sensitivity to green apples, which makes me really sad. Though I LOVE the tartness of green apples, they cause my mouth to get itchy and my lips to become inflamed. Seriously, my brothers laugh and tell me I look like a platypus when I eat green apple.
  3. I have extremely sensitive skin.
Yes, my skin is so unbelievably sensitive that doing dishes with even the mildest of dish soaps causes the skin on my hands to peel off.  Sorry if I'm grossing you out, but it's true! Even just taking a shower or bathing Little One makes the skin peel off my hands. It's painful and very unsightly. Okay, it's downright embarrassing!

When George's Cream asked if I wanted to review some of their products for them, I said YES!

Though you can't really see it in the photo, my skin was peeling off of my fingers. It was so bad that I had to keep Band-Aids on them to keep them clean. I really wish I could have shown you what my hands and fingers looked like, but trust me, you'll be happy I didn't share!

Can you tell I have a little girl who loves all things fairy?
After a few days of using George's Cream, my hands were back to normal. 
A little info about George's Cream:
  • George's Cream is Canadian!
  • Pharmacist George Doherty created George's Special Dry Skin Cream in his kitchen using his wife's cake mixer over 15 years ago!
  • The cream was created for local Albertans to help combat their severe dry skin from the harsh winters.
  • George's Cream's home grown formula has gained a reputation in Western Canada for controlling dry, itchy, scaly skin as well as for healing problem skin conditions (incl. eczema, psoriasis, sun and wind burn, etc.)
  • George's Cream can be purchased at national and independent pharmacies, drug store chains, and grocery retailers.
George's Cream does not contain Urea, Lanolin, or Parabens and has been specifically made to be hypoallergenic and fragrance-free. There are no additives, irritants, fragrances, or colouring which could irritate damaged skin. Thank goodness for all of that! George's Cream certainly worked well on my skin and I would highly recommend the products to anyone with dry skin or other skin issues. Oh, you don't have to have skin issues though! Even if you just want your skin to be nicely moisturized, George's Cream is great!

Do you want to try George's Cream out for yourself?
WIN IT!
George's Cream wants to give one lucky reader of mine (Canadian residents only please!) a George's Cream gift bag that includes an assortment of George's Cream Special Dry Skin Cream (450 g jar & 30 ml tube) and George's Light Special Moisturizing Lotion (360 ml bottle and 30 ml tube).  Prize package value: $35.00

To Enter: Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure - I received a variety of George's Cream products to facilitate this review.  All the thoughts and opinions on this blog are honest and my own.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - All Grown Up


Seriously, how did that happen?  It seems like only yesterday that Little One was a teeny, tiny, little preemie. Now look at her!

Feel free to link up your Wordless Wednesday posts! We love checking them out!

#LMDConnector Super Fibre1 & Nature Valley Giveaway!


As a #LMDConnector, I have the privilege of sharing some pretty amazing snack ideas with you.  My husband is always on the go and relies on having lots of snacks on hand all the time. As a busy farmer, he is in constant need of fuel to keep his body going while working on the farm all day.  While I have cut up raw veggies and an abundance of fruit on hand all the time, he tends to prefer to grab a fibre bar or granola bar when he's on the go.

In our house, fibre is very important to us (for obvious reasons).  Hubs and I eat high fibre cereals at breakfast and try to make sure to include it as a regular part of our day. Even our 3 year old eats lots of fibre every day.

Hubs has a sweet tooth and the bit of chocolate in a granola bar is all he needs to satisfy his craving for a little something sweet. He usually likes a little snack to tide him over until his next meal.
I was excited to find out that General Mills has some great snack options to offer.  I was sent a weekender tote with the following items:

  • 110 Calorie brownies with the benefit of added fibre
  • 80 calorie deliciously indulgent Thins 
  • Scrumptious 90 calorie Chocolate Caramel & Pretzel Bars

Delicious snacks with few calories per serving. When I was asked if I would like to try any of these delectable treats, I replied "You had me at chocolate!". The Chocolate Caramel & Pretzel bars sounded intriguing. I have to say that the 110 calorie brownies did not last long in this house. Hubs and Little One found them and the rest is history. I guess it's safe to say that they are a hit.

Would you like to try some too? Now you can!  Just head over to the General Mills Life Made Delicious Facebook page and get your Free Coupon!

Okay, it gets even better! General Mills is giving one of my lucky readers the very same weekender tote and General Mills Fibre1 and Nature Valley snacks as the one I received (a total of $50 value).
WIN IT!


This give away is open to Canadian residents only. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form. Make sure to leave me a comment telling me which treat you'd like to try!



Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Blogger program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Hey Canada!


Going on a cross-country road trip has been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid.  I think I was in grade 4 when I told myself that I needed to see all of Canada before I die.  Yes, I thought about things like that in grade 4!  I wanted to rent a Winnebago and travel coast to coast, take in the sights, and learn all about this great country of ours.

Thirty-something years later and that dream still holds true. I've travelled around the world, visited over eleven countries, twenty-something U.S. states, and only four Canadian provinces. I am sad to say I've seen more of Asia, Indonesia, and the Caribbean than I have my own country.

The dream is still there and I will one day go coast to coast with my daughter. I'd like to teach her about Canada and all its amazing wonders.

In the meantime, I live vicariously through Gran, Alice, and Cal.

HEY CANADA!

Join Gran, nine year-old Alice and eight year-old Cal as they embark on a magnificent road trip across Canada. Their journey is not told in traditional prose, but rather in a melange of poems, funny songs, and other fun and engaging ways.  They even tell their stories in tweets and blogs! It's a really interesting way to captivate their audience and make readers feel like they're going on a cross-Canada road trip with them.

The three voyageurs share their experiences through story, poems, comics, photos, and talk about historical facts and interesting tid bits about Canada. One really understands how vast, varied and surprising Canada really is. Canada truly is a multi-faceted country with so many hidden gems!

My child is only three years old, but she loves Hey Canada!  In fact, she loves having me read it to her and often repeats to others all the interesting Canadian factoids she's absorbed. As a teacher of ESL (English as a Second Language), I believe this is a fabulous resource for students studying English in Canada. This is a fun and light way of incorporating history, geography, and facts about Canada into a learning experience. It's a great tool for ESL teachers.

I'm taking part of an exciting blog tour. The Hey Canada! Blog Tour is from June 25-29, 2012. Make sure to check out the blogs participating in this virtual blog tour! It's going to be a lot of fun!

More information about Hey Canada!

Written by Vivien Bowers
Illustrated by Milan Pavlovic


Category: Juvenile Nonfiction - People & Places -CanadaJuvenile Nonfiction - History - Canada;Juvenile Nonfiction - People & Places
Imprint: Tundra Books
Format: Hardcover
Pub Date: May 2012
Age: 7-10 years
Trim Size: 8 x 11
# of Pages: 72 pages
ISBN: 978-1-77049-255-4 (1-77049-255-0)

CDN Price: $21.99 / US Price: $19.95
Monday, June 25, 2012

Celebrating Summer with The Great Canadian Blog Bash! #TGCBB



Summer's here! School's out! You know what that means! Time to celebrate time with family! What do you and your family do for Canada Day? Do you stay close to home? Do you go on road trips? Do you check out all the amazing sites and activities your neighbourhood and community have to offer?

I  have to say that when I lived in Toronto and Montreal, I used to partake in all the festivities...big time! I'd catch the parade, check out all the local fare, listen to local bands performing for Canada Day, and end the evening watching the fireworks.

Now that I live on an island that many of my Toronto and Montreal friends have never heard of before, I still do all of the above. Only now it's on a much smaller scale. The parade is much smaller. The fireworks aren't as lavish. This said, the sense of community is incredible! Islanders are proud Canadians and they know how to have fun!

You know what's also Canadian?  Manitoulin Chocolate Works chocolates are Canadian! More importantly, they're made on Manitoulin! Since many people in our great country are not familiar with Manitoulin Island, let me acquaint you with this beautiful island.

Manitoulin Island is the largest fresh water island within a fresh water lake in the world. Pristine beaches, breathtaking hiking trails, incredible flora and fauna, quaint countryside, idyllic hamlets, and villages by the water make "the Island" a great travel destination for those who seek the rest and relaxation this peaceful place has to offer. It's also a fabulous getaway for those who love adventure seeking and outdoor activities! The Island is known as a biker's haven. Cyclists also make Manitoulin a destination for riding the open highways and taking in the sights. Fishing on the Island is popular and avid fishermen flock to the Island to try to snag a prized catch!

Because I love supporting local businesses and want to share all that is fabulous about Manitoulin, I'm giving away some scrumptious Manitoulin Chocolate Works chocolate to one lucky reader! 


Included in this delectable prize pack:

  • 1 Pecan Butter Toffee bar
  • 1 Bag of Dirty Mint chocolates
  • 1 Bag of Cranberries with Blueberry Chocolate
  • 1 Bear Claw
To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Make sure you leave a comment (mandatory)!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'm participating in The Great Canadian Blog Bash for the second year in a row. Make sure to follow #TGCBB hosts Positively Pampered Patty, Mom vs. the Boys, Good Girl Gone Green, Whispered Inspirations, and Kat's Confessions!  There are tons of other amazing Canadian bloggers participating in this blog hop! Make sure to check them out too!

Check out Manitoulin Tourism, Our Manitoulin, and other websites on the net for more information or to plan your visit to Manitoulin Island, Ontario!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Food, Family, Celebrating, Summer, & Food Trends #LMDConnector


I won't lie. Food is a MAJOR part of our family's life.  It brings people together.  It helps us unite in times of celebration, and even in times of mourning.  Our family philosophy in our home is when it comes to food, it has to nourish you, provide you nutrients and all that healthy stuff, and it also has to be something you enjoy and can be excited about!

Let's face it, food is a central part of any get-together, party, or event.  We've got birthdays, graduations, and lots of other special occasions. Even if there's no event, every day is something to celebrate. That, and I want our three year old to have a healthy relationship with food!

On our farm, we always have lots of visitors over. I love to host dinner parties, so we're always experimenting with new dishes, as well as including family favourites.  This season, I've seen quite bit of the following:

  •  Local produce, local meats, and locally produced & inspired dishes
  •  Artisanal cheese (spicy, smoked, and tropical)
  • Gluten-free dishes
  • Mini desserts
  • Ethnic inspired appetizers
  • Street food inspired appetizers
With all the gluten-free dishes and ingredients becoming increasingly popular, it's more of a health incentive. I do believe this is a movement that will continue in our dietary lifestyles and that will become part of every day life. I even picked Food Industry & Innovation Expert, Dana McCauley's brain about food trends (because I like to do my research and go to the best of the best!).

Dana reminded me that:
gluten free is part of an over arching consumer force toward wellness
Even our friends at General Mills Canada have come up with some gluten-free recipes like gluten-free Coconut Ginger Rice, Cannellini Bean & Tuna Salad, Layered Yogurt Fruit Salad, gluten-free Cornbread and more!

Local Food Trends
Where we live, an exciting food movement has been gaining more and more recognition.  People are trying to buy locally produced food. The farmers' markets are becoming increasingly popular (they have been part of Island life forever, but even tourists flock to them).

Another thing I found interesting is that many people are going back to basics. Simple foods are popular again.

Inspired by what we grow on our farm, I decided to make a
Rhubarb Custard Pie to share with you.  As a city kid, I hated rhubarb. Plus, being Asian, it was never really something common in our diet. It tasted too bitter and I just never acquired a taste for it...until now.



Rhubarb Custard Pie

Crust:
2 c flour
2 tsp flour
1/3 c milk
2/3 c veg oil

Filling:
4 Tbsp flour
3 eggs, beaten
4 c rhubarb (I cut them into 3/4 in. pieces)
2Tbsp butter
2 c sugar (I use certified organic Fair Trade raw organic cane sugar)
A wee speck of homemade vanilla

Crumble Topping (optional):
3/4 c oats
3/4 c flour
1 c organic cane sugar (or brown sugar if you wish)
1/2 c butter
1/4 tsp salt
* If you want to use this crumble recipe for an apple pie, add 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Mix together pie crust ingredients and roll out pie crust. This recipe makes two 9 in. pie crusts. 
  3. Mix sugar, flour, butter together. Add eggs and vanilla. Fold in rhubarb.
  4. Pour mixture into two pie crusts.
  5. Incorporate crumble ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Cut in butter and work with fork or in pastry blender until the mixture is "crumbly".
  6. Add crumble topping evenly on both pies. If you like a lot of crumble on top, you can increase the measurements.
  7. Bake 10 min in 450 degree oven. Reduce heat to 350 and continue to bake for another 30-35 min.
Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Blogger program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.
Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Cash Giveaway!


With June almost over and school almost done for the year, many of you are probably thinking about what kind of things you'll be doing with your family this Summer.  Will you be planning a family road trip? Perhaps you'll go on a family camping trip? Maybe you'll stay close to home or even buy your children that giant trampoline they've been harassing asking you for. I know our three year old has been asking us for a trampoline and  a swimming pool for ages now!

You know what this means. A little extra cash in your pocket is always a good thing! Well, I'm happy to announce that This lil Piglet and Tales of a Ranting Ginger, together with a group of fabulous Canadian bloggers are proud to present the Summer Cash Giveaway June 21st 12:01AM EST - 28th midnight.

Enter to win $115 US cash via PayPal.  Anyone with a PayPal account can enter to win this cash prize; open worldwide!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/
">a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tuesday, June 19, 2012

#FisherPriceMoms Summer Fun & Shopping With Kids!


Now that June's here (halfway through June already?! Where did the time go?), the weather's warmer and Little One just wants to play outdoors.  On our farm, a mountain of gravel can provide hours of fun for a three year old!
Here are a few other reasons Little One loves being outdoors in the Summer...
I love that Little One enjoys playing outside so much. She explores the farm, goes on "little adventures" armed with her rubber bug boots and gardening gloves (yes, she's quite classy), and just as fun! She's also an only child, so she enjoys going on adventures with our dog and our cats. Lots of activity, lots of fresh air, I guess one cannot really ask for more.

Despite the fact that my child will play outside ALL day if I let her, there are times when I enjoy taking her out with me and going shopping for fun activities to do.  I always take Little One with me.  Whether we're buying things like bubbles or Tempera paints, or craft items like googly eyes and feathers, I always let Little One accompany me and choose what she would like to get.

So far, I've been lucky that she hasn't asked me to buy her the entire store!  First off, she's still little enough that I can put her in the shopping cart. Secondly, I tell her in advance that she can only choose two little things. She loves the fact that she gets to choose and is helping Mommy.

I do admit that there was a brief time when Little One was in between the ages of 2.5 to 3 years old when she used to want to buy so many things in the store. She wouldn't cry or whine, but she'd say "I want that!" or "Mommy, can you get this for me?" and she'd pick things up as we went down the aisles.

My secret?

Distraction.

I'd ask her if she liked a certain something (that I was willing to buy) and when she got all excited about it, I'd ask her if she'd like to carry it for me. While she would happily look at her new item, I'd put back all the other items she picked up along the way. It's a little sneaky, but it worked.

Little One is now 3.5 years old and is actually really good about going shopping with me.

Though I generally like having her involved in the decision process when it comes to our activities, I think our next Summer fun item will be a BIG surprise for Little One. We want to surprise her with either a bigger swimming pool than she has now (she has one of those little inflatable pools) or a TRAMPOLINE! She's been asking for BOTH, but we've said not right now and that we needed to think about it. I think Hubby has caved and is going to get her one of those two things she really wants.

If it's going to keep her busy, active, happy, having fun, and outside, then I'm all for it! I think Mom and  Dad will have a blast too!

Disclosure:  I am a Fisher-Price Mom and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.
Monday, June 18, 2012

Manitoulin Spotlight: Gordon's Park Eco Resort



Located on the beautiful island of Manitoulin, you'll find Gordon's Park Eco Resort.  It's a unique outdoor experience for those who would like to go camping, tipi tenting, or stay at a B & B or in a cabin and experience the beauty of Manitoulin.

Twin tipis 

It's not just a place to stay though. They've also got activities for the whole family to enjoy. You can go stargazing, visit the interpretive centre, play a round of mini-putt, go hiking, check out the fossils, take an edible wilds tour, swim in their solar heated swimming pool, check out their gift shop, and more!
Deer out back: Photo by Paul Beduhn 2012

Photo by Paul Beduhn: Art Show in the Interpretive Centre for Taste of Manitoulin

Photo by Paul Beduhn: Manitoulin - Bruce Penninsula Passage Ride 2012

One of Gordon's Park's popular attractions - Thursday Night Astronomy.
Thursdays in July and August are Astronomy Nights At Gordon's Park.
Photo credit: Milky Way and Northern Lights taken by Aaron Top at one of the star parties in 2011

The night will include an orientation into astronomy, a review of planets, northern lights and solar systems as well as instruction on the use of a planisphere (sky map) to find objects in the night sky.

You will learn how to star hop, view with the naked eye & have an opportunity to try Bausch & Lomb wide-angle binoculars & to observe through the Park's 8 inch Dobsonian Telescope.

Price: 15.00 per person

To get information or to reserve your spot please call 705-859-2470, contact us at rita@gordonspark.com or visit us at www.gordonspark.com


To view Gordon's Park's Calendar of Events, click here.

Ladies, Gordon's Park is having their annual Women's Outdoor Weekend next weekend! Grab your best girlfriends, pack up your gear, hit the open highway, and head on over for a weekend of R & R! Surround yourself with the beauty of nature, hang out with some awesome ladies, and maybe learn something new (like how to build a Nut Hatch Birdhouse)!

June 22 – 24, 2012 – Women’s Outdoor Weekend
All Inclusive Women’s Outdoor Weekend at Gordon’s Park on Manitoulin Island including two nights camping (other accommodations available), all food, supplies and workshops including a Welcome Campfire, Ice Breaker Games, “Focus on Nature” Guided Hike, Facials & Foot Bath, Nut Hatch Birdhouse, Solar Heated Swimming Pool, Putt-Putt Challenge, Open Mike Campfire, Nia – The joy of movement, Reiki Mini Course, Wind Up Luncheon and more. Optional And By Advance Appointment Only (25.00 per half hour) – Swedish Massage (Bev Lynch 705-859-1317 or firefly@amtelecom.net) and Tea Leaf Readings (Sharon Alkenbrack 705-282-0193 or alkens@manitoulin.net)
rita@gordonspark.com 705-859-2470, www.gordonspark.com and “like” them on www.facebook.com/gordonspark
190.00 + tax per person
Sunday, June 17, 2012

6 Years & A Happy Father's Day!


Today marks the day Hubby and I were wed.  Six years ago!

We had our dream wedding on our favourite beach on Manitoulin Island.  Carter Bay has been a very important place for us.  The location was perfect and the day was sunny (and HOT)!

It sometimes seems hard to believe Hubs and I have been married for six years. Sometimes I cannot believe we've been together for so long. Other days, it seems like only yesterday that we exchanged our vows.

Six years and a three and a half year old daughter later, here we are :)


HAPPY FATHER'S DAY
to my husband, my father, my brother, my friends, and all the other fabulous dads out there!
Friday, June 15, 2012

There's A Party Goin' On! A #SCCTO Party, That Is!


Last year, I was invited attend the ShesConnected Conference in Toronto.  What a fabulous conference filled with interesting speakers on different panels, experts from various fields in the social media world, brands that we know and love...and others that we learned more about at the conference.  SCCTO also gave me the chance to meet up with some of my blog buddies.

After meeting up with some of the brands and sponsors present at the conference, I built some new relationships and strengthened existing ones. An exciting one that came to fruition was my relationship with Canadian Beef! It sort of happened serendipitously too! While I was Tweeting with the good folks at @chickenfarmers during SCCTO, @justnikiv chimed in and said I should be Tweeting with @CanadianBeef because I'm married to a beef farmer! It made total sense, and ever since, I've had a lovely relationship with Canadian Beef - an integral part of my family's life, as they represent us and thousands of other beef farmers across Canada.

This year, I am excited to announce that I will be attending the 3rd Annual ShesConnected Conference! I'll be back, only this time as a SCCTO Brand Ambassador and a Canadian Beef Ambassador!

ShesConnected Conference 2012

I learned a lot from the conference and though I had been working with many brands before SCCTO, I found that after I attended SCCTO I got busier and busier! More and more brands started pitching me and the ones who I had already been working with asked me to work on more projects with them.

It has been a very exciting year!

Oh, and it continues to be an exciting one!  ShesConnected has so many exciting things planned for their upcoming Fall conference. Lots of fun stuff in store! Just as an example, ShesConnected is having their SCCTO Twitter Party on the last Tuesday of EVERY month!

A party every month?! It gets even better! You can connect with Brands who love Digital Women and win some pretty amazing prizes while you're at it!  Mark your calendars!

  • June 26
  • July 31
  • August 28
  • September 25
  • October 30
  • November 27
8:30 to 9:30 PM (EST)  Don't forget to include the #SCCTO hashtag and RSVP!



Disclosure - “I attended ShesConnected Conference #SCCTO in 2011 and I’m pleased to share my thoughts on last years conference. As part of the Blogger Outreach program with ShesConnected, I received compensation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Nature's Almanac


I have a little secret.  I love the Old Farmers' Almanac.  I have been getting my Dad a copy of the Almanac every year since we moved up to the Island.  Why?  Well, when move to the Island, gardening becomes a huge part of your life.  Dad always had a green thumb and had an amazing way of growing the most beautiful plants, but the size of his garden here is ten times the size of his garden in the city.

When you move to Manitoulin Island, producing your own fresh fruit and veg is just another regular part of life.  When gardening becomes such a regular part of your life, you often consult the Almanac!  Apparently, it makes for some good bathroom reading too. Shhhhh! I wouldn't know that. I wouldn't know one bit about all the amazing tips on blanching vegetables and freezing them for Winter use, or how best to clean everything in your house with just baking soda.  No. I wouldn't even know about what the best kinds of tomatoes are for certain tomato dishes or that we need to consult the Almanac for the best time to plant seeds. Bathroom reading? Nah. Not me! That's just icky.

Anyway, I've become curiously interested in almanacs, so when I was asked to review A Nature Lover's Alamanac: Kinky Bugs, Stealthy Critters, Prosperous Plants & Celestial Wonders, I was elated!

I know! I am a big book work and I could not stop reading it! Hubby and our three year old also love all sorts of facts and trivia, so this was the perfect family reading material!


FUN NATURE TRIVIA FOR CITY DWELLERS AND SUBURBANITES ALIKE!
Did you know that…We all have follicle mites living on our faces? The caterpillar of the silver-spotted skipper blasts its frass (poop) five feet outside its nest? In India, the humble pigeon is a symbol of lust? Jumping spiders sometimes watch TV with you? Spring moves north at about 16 miles per day, or 100 miles per week? Healthy garden soil has the same characteristics as a good chocolate cake? The North Pole rarely points north? A tick can live up to 18 years without food? When a frog eats something disagreeable, it disgorges its entire stomach, brushes out the offending victual, and stuffs its stomach back down its throat?

Isn't that fascinating?!

Oh, there's much more too! There are so many interesting little-known facts about nature in this book. Trust me, you'll learn something new each day!

One of the things my pre-schooler loves the most is the part that mentions which constellations you can see in the night sky each month of the year. Where we live, we can see the the Milky Way really well because there is hardly any light pollution. We can even view the Northern Lights and Perseid Meteor Showers from our front porch. The fact that Diane Olson's A Nature Lover's Almanac mentions cool tid bits like that, just captured the interest of my three year old daughter!

A Nature Lover’s Almanac is written by Diane Olson and illustrated by Adele Flail (Gibbs Smith, $12.99, Paperback, ISBN:978-1-4236-2224-6, June 2012).
Feel free to click here to preview A Nature Lover’s Almanac on Google Books.

Disclaimer - I was given a copy of A Nature Lover's Almanac to facilitate this review. All the opinions expressed on this blog are honest and my own.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Manitoulin Spotlight: Gypsy Family Farm


Since we do live on beautiful Manitoulin Island, I thought it would be wonderful to incorporate a bit of the local flavour and share some Island gems with you. Every week, I'll be showcasing a different Island "must see"!

My very first Island spotlight is the amazing Gypsy Family Farm.

If you've ever visited Manitoulin Island and have stopped by the Farmers' Markets, undoubtedly you'll have met Farmer Ted.

He's the guy with copious amounts of fresh local produce, smiling and always ready to offer suggestions and recommendations of what to buy and how to prepare it! I always love bumping into him at Farmers' Markets. Honestly, his produce is beyond compare! I've bought everything from lipstick red peppers to assorted squash from him. You can tell how much hard work and dedication he puts into his farming!

The group description on Gypsy Family Farm's Facebook page reads:
Put a face on your food. Welcome to Gypsy Family Farm where everything has a story. We are located on pristine Manitoulin Island, Canada and are dedicated to food production through ethical farming practices.
What I love about Gypsy Family Farm and Farmer Ted is that they work tirelessly to provide people with real food. Real, fresh, local food! Farmer Ted posts regular photos of what he's growing and he also offers farm shares to Island residents. Farm share members can get a glimpse of what they are about to receive every week.

Gypsy Family Farm also makes jellies and other good things!  Last year, I picked up some of Farmer Ted's Royal Pain jelly! It is perfect served on top of stone-milled crackers with melted Brie! Oh, so good!

Next time you're at the Farmers' Markets on Manitoulin Island, make sure you stop by and say hello to Farmer Ted. Oh, and make sure to pick up some delicious lettuce, peppers, lettuce, and other Gypsy Family Farm items for a mouthwatering salad made with all local produce! Farmer Ted is fabulous at introducing people to new, interesting, and unusual edible masterpieces (like the "lipstick" red pepper I mentioned earlier or the "crayon carrots" he has).

Photo credits: Gypsy Family Farm and Farmer Ted photos via Google Images. Royal Pain image courtesy of yours truly.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - You Know You're A Farm Kid When...


You know you're a farm kid when your Dad gets a few loads of gravel dropped off at the farm and you think it's the best thing on Earth!

Link up your fabulous Wordless Wednesday posts! We'd love to see them!

Friday, June 08, 2012

#HallmarkPressPause Summer Gift Giving


It's no secret that Summer is a busy time.  Graduations, weddings, birthdays, and many other special occasions seem to take place in the gorgeous, warm Summer months.

I never know what to get for new graduates.  Kindergarten graduation, elementary school graduation, high school graduation, college graduation...it's so tough to find the perfect gift! I like giving practical yet thoughtful gifts. Money and gift cards are practical, but I find them to lack in the "thoughtful" "I'm thinking of you" department.

As a member of the #HallmarkPressPause panel, I received some amazing items from Hallmark Canada. I'd love to share some great gift giving ideas with you!

{GRADUATION}
How about giving that special graduate in your life this fabulous photo album? The Class of 2012 Album is perfect for keeping your school memories and photos together.

What about these cute flip-flops to go with the album?

Ditch the heels after graduation and put on these comfy flip-flops! I love the Class of 2012 flip-flops!

Oh, the places new grads will go! Graduation means new adventures and moving onto bigger things! What an exciting time!

{WEDDING}
Hallmark has an extensive selection of beautiful photo albums for weddings. I was sent the one from the Fabric Album Collection. Embroidery, rich fabric, and embellishments make these albums very whimsical and romantic. Perfect to add all your photos from your "special day".

I thought these Love Birds salt and pepper shakers were adorable! Two ceramic love birds are nestled in a ceramic nest. Very cute gift idea.  These would even be great as wedding favours!  I'm Filipina and in my culture, all weddings have to include the perfect Bomboniere.



{NEW BABY}
I really, really love the recordable books. We have a few and it's nice for Little One to be able to listen to Mommy read her a book even if I am not with her (like when she's on an overnight at her grandparents'  house).

What's in Mommy's Tummy? Is a sweet book that helps to answer kids' questions about the new addition that is about to become part of the family. Each page has two open-ended questions that parents ask and children answer. You can play back these precious moments at the touch of a button!

{BIRTHDAY}
My godson just celebrated his 1st Birthday. Hallmark has an adorable singing Cake Plush. The candle lights up as it plays "Happy Birthday".

{CARDS}
Of course, Hallmark is known for their cards. I have to confess that I am addicted to beautiful cards and stationery. I love pretty paper, and I can appreciate the beauty of a Hallmark card! There are so many gorgeous cards to choose from.
I'm really happy to be part of the  #HallmarkPressPause panel so I can share all of these amazing gift ideas with  you.  Hallmark has the perfect card and gift for every special occasion.  If you check out their website, you make sure you take a look at Hallmark Rewards and consider getting a FREE membership.

As a member, you will be entitled to:

  • Savings
  • Exclusive Offers
  • Special Member Prices
  • Sneak Peek
  • VIP Treatment



Disclosure - As a member of the #HallmarkPressPause panel, I received the above items for review purposes.  Though I am affiliated with Hallmark Canada, all the thoughts and opinions on this blog are honest and my own.

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About the Blog Author


City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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Life on Manitoulin: Just a bunch of ramblings from a city girl gone country!

Life on Manitoulin: Just a bunch of ramblings from a city girl gone country!

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