Friday, August 31, 2012

Text it, Bump it, Share it with Text Bands! #HallmarkPressPause



When one hears the name "Hallmark", the first thing that likely comes to mind is greeting cards.  Hallmark has made its name as a trusted company that specializes in all your greeting card needs, but it's not just cards that Hallmark has!

I won't lie.  Whenever I'm at the mall, I sneak into the Hallmark store! I can spend a very long time in there, so I'm lucky my little one loves the store too!  The Hallmark store is filled with thoughtful gift items that let loved ones know how much they meant to you.  I buy picture frames, coffee mugs, jewelry boxes, figurines, and other special gifts there. They carry a wide variety of products for all the special events and moments in your life.  They have gift items for milestones like births, birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc. They also carry items for every day moments...because every moment with friends and family is a special one.

As a member of the #HallmarkPressPause Panel, I get to share all the latest and greatest items and news with my readers, friends, and family.  One of the biggest surprises in the latest #HallmarkPressPause shipment were the Text Bands!

Text Bands are "The Coolest New Way for Kids to Connect".  Kids can bump fists, shake hands, or high five each other to exchange messages. Kids can choose between the charcoal and purple starter bands with text module and then if they want to switch things up, the text modules can be inserted into other fashion bands (sold separately).  My favourite is the Minnie Mouse one!

Want to see how they work? Check out this video!


Though Little One is not even 4 years old yet, she was intrigued by the Text Bands. Hubby and I thought they were really neat and had fun playing with them. The ones who were even more excited about the Text Bands were the older kids (nieces and their friends)!  There's even a Text Bands site kids can go to and find lots of cool games they can play to trade messages with their friends.

Some of the Text Bands games include Zombie Outbreak

and Silly Sentences.

Here's where I insert my honest opinion:
I'm a "Word Girl" and though the idea of words morphing into shortened versions of the original word makes me cringe, I also realize that in many cases now, words are shortened to 'fit' into a message box that contains only a few characters.

Take Twitter, for example. How do you fit everything you want to say into a 140 characters? As a teacher of English, seeing "Sup?", "C U L8TR", "TY!", "YW!" and "That's Gr8!" irritates me. However, just as long as my students and my daughter realize that those are just shortened versions and not the actual words, and know how they are spelled and used, I'm okay with that. Using "CRZY" and "L8TR" is absolutely fine...so long as children don't write their essays that way, I'm fine.

In short, the Text Bands are great for getting kids interested in playing with words. It's a fun way to interact with friends. If a game (or in this case, a Text Band) can get kids excited about words, I think that's pretty cool.  

Pssst! FYI: I'm guilty of shortening words too these days. If you are on my BlackBerry contact list, you'll notice this when I'm busy or in a rush! My BBM messages are very brief when I'm busy!

I'll be sharing more exciting products from Hallmark soon! Stay tuned!

Disclosure - As a member of the #HallmarkPressPause Panel, I received an assortment of Hallmark products for review purposes.  Regardless of my affiliation with the brand, all the thoughts and opinions on this blog are honest and my own.
Monday, August 27, 2012

Work From Home Debacles


It was a day like any other.  The sunshine was streaming through my office window, the breeze blowing the curtains to and fro, and the birds chirping outside on a warm sunny day.

Okay, it was more like the sun was casting a glare on my computer screen, the wind was blowing through my window, making all my papers fly all over the office, and the birds were so noisy that they were making me lose my concentration.

Alas, I decided to take a break from teaching to be with Little One in her formative years.  I wanted to relish each and every moment of her young life with her before we sent her off to the big, bright world...also known as Junior Kindergarten!

I've been fortunate enough to be granted the opportunity to work from home and still be able to spend time with my Little One.  One thing I can tell you though, is that it isn't always easy.  People think, "Oh! You work from home, huh? You must have all the time in the world!" or "Wow. Must be nice to get paid to stay home and get free stuff!"

Ummm...Wrong.  

I don't get "free stuff".  I work for everything I have.  I do a lot of research and it takes time to test and write genuine reviews. In actuality, reviews take up only a small portion of what I do.  Not everything I do online is  directly related to the blog. One of the jobs I love the most is being the friendly face behind the tweets for PTPA. Shameless plug for a company I absolutely adore: Check them out at www.ptpamedia.com :) Apart from that, I have steady clients for whom I do editing, translation, and writing for.  I also help small businesses with promotions and social media. Needless to say, it can get pretty busy!

Sometimes I wonder if working from home defeats the purpose of staying home with my child.  Lately, she's been telling me things like, "Mommy! Don't work!" or "Don't go to your office! I don't like you working!"

We still do fun things like make polymer and learn about the process of oxidation. She may be only 3.5 years old, but I make sure our play time is fun and educational! We bake goodies for Dad and spend time in the garden. We go to the beach and have play dates with her friends. We do all of this, all the while with my BlackBerry glued to my right hand.  Thankfully, I can do all of my social media work from my BlackBerry for the most part!

The only down part of working from home is that I'm not able to give Little One my complete attention all the time. The other day, I was in a few conference calls and let Little One watch not one, but two Disney DVDs...back to back!  #TotalMomFail for me. That is not something I have ever done before, and it made me sad.

Then there was the time last week when I was really busy with work and deadlines, and my computer decided to go all wonky on me.  It kept freezing and not responding.  I sat in front of the computer monitor and almost cried.  I muttered, "Oh my gosh! My files are gone! ALL my files are GONE! My boss is going to kill me!" By boss, I meant one of my clients. I have no idea why I said boss.

Little One overheard me and ran to my office.  She was so concerned, and said, "Oh. My. Gosh! That's so scary! Your boss is going to kill you? Your boss is going to come to our house and kill you, Mommy? That's so scary!" 

In hindsight, perhaps I should be more careful of my words.  Little ears pick everything up and take things literally! I can laugh at it now. It was kind of funny to see the expression on her face.

I can tell you this for sure though:  Having a computer that freezes and acts up when your job is social media related is not fun!  My work computer has been acting up for about a week and a bit. Prior to that, we had no issues.  I have a laptop, but it's kind of sketchy now since the battery blew up.  Yes, I heard correctly. The battery blew up!

To find balance between home, child, family, life, and working from home, I've devised a plan that seems to work for us:
  • Get up earlier than Little One and do some work while she's still sleeping
  • Have Hubby and Little One eat their breakfast together and enjoy some Daddy/Daughter time
  • Take a break and do things with Little One - go swimming, play outside, check the animals, do some science experiments or arts and crafts
  • Have a meals figured out ahead of time and do prepping ahead of time as well
  • Stay on top of things as much as possible
  • Try to avoid frenzied last minute work additions (these seriously drive me crazy)
  • Have a schedule/routine and try to follow it as much as possible
  • Bring Little One to play dates so she can have fun with friends if workload isn't too heavy
  • If need be, let Little One visit her grandparents (she loves hanging out with them and they love spending time with her) 
Those are just some of the things that have worked for us so far.  For work from home Moms and Dads, what do you do to find balance between work and family?
 Oh, and it looks like we're in serious need of in the market for a new computer.  Do you have any recommendations?  We'd love to hear which computers you think are the best.

Nothing Miserable About Misery Bay! #ManitoulinSpotlight


I think I've found a little slice of Heaven.


It seems pretty crazy that I've been living on beautiful Manitoulin Island for eight years now, and the other week was the first time I had ever been to Misery Bay Provincial Park!  Okay, you got me.  I didn't even know we had a Provincial Park on the Island!


 I was shocked to see how crystal clear the water was!  You could walk out for what seemed like forever and the water remained shallow.  It was perfect since we had some little ones with us on our excursion.  The water was perfect.  The perfect temperature for swimming!

I have to thank my friend, AdventureGirl for introducing us to this breathtaking place.  It was such a fun, relaxing, refreshing day! Just being at Misery Bay made all my worries melt away.
 Misery Bay looks as though time had stood still and the land remained untouched by man.  Apart from some of the landscaping and general maintenance of the park to make it easy for park visitors to navigate, it really does look like it's nature just the way it was meant to be. Spectacular!

A little bit about Misery Bay:

  • Located on Manitoulin Island, the largest fresh water island (within a fresh water lake) in the world.  
  • Misery Bay Nature Reserve is located on an ancient flat rock sea bottom, known as an alvar.
  • The Great Lakes Basin has the only alvars found in North America, and most of the alvars found in the world.
  • Misery Bay Nature Reserve, because of its unique natural environment is also home to some special flora and fauna.
There is absolutely nothing miserable about Misery Bay! 

I was curious about how Misery Bay got its name, and found this on the miserybay.org website:

"According to local lore, the earliest settlers—lacking hay—came to the foot of the bay to cut marsh grass for their livestock.

One warm June day in the early 1880’s, a pioneer was cutting marsh grass there when two men approached in a small boat. The boaters shouted, “What is this place called?” Hot, tired, and swatting black flies, the farmer called back, “Misery!”
What the farmer did not realize was that the boaters were government surveyors, mapping the island. The surveyors wrote that name down, and it stuck. So this beautiful spot with its clear water, unique rocks, bountiful wildlife, and lovely wildflowers continues to be known as Misery Bay—a misnomer puzzling to today’s visitors." 


 There's an information centre/interpretive centre for visitors to educate themselves on all the flora and fauna, as well as the history of the park. The Summer staff we spoke to was very helpful and friendly. The kids had so much fun on our 'educational outing'.

Whenever I think I've seen the most beautiful part of the Island, I keep finding more hidden gems.  Isn't that photo just amazing? Misery Bay looks so pristine and so welcoming. I can't wait to visit again before the Summer is over.

Admittedly, it is quite the stretch of driving to get to Misery Bay from our part of the Island, but it is so worth it!  My 3.5 year old describes it as being "at the other end of the Earth"! Too funny!

It really is a hidden treasure though. If you visit Manitoulin Island, please make sure to check out Misery Bay.  If you live on Manitoulin Island, I hope you take the time to enjoy yet another place that makes Manitoulin so special.
Saturday, August 25, 2012

Family Time with Me in a Tree


I am reluctant to admit this, but we really don't spend much time as a family in this house. I wish we did. It makes me really sad that we don't have more family time.

With having the farm, we are always so busy.  Sure, we do a lot of things on the farm together, but Little One is too little to safely do things on the farm with us. When she was still a baby, we used to put her in her car seat and tote her all over the farm with us. She'd be on the wagon in her car seat while we loaded the wagon with square bales or she'd nap in her car seat while we split firewood.  I'd put her in the baby carrier while we checked on the animals and she'd comfortably snooze while attached to me.

Now, she's running around and into all sorts of things.  She's permitted to come along for some farm chores, but for others it's just too dangerous. We're teaching her how to respect the animals and the equipment, and to be aware that there are potential dangers.  She's pretty good and she 'gets it'.

With me working and Hubs working on the farm, there just isn't much room for family time. The farm is all consuming and pretty much a 24-7 thing.  Little One and I go on family vacations without Daddy.  That is something I desperately wanted to change.

We need family time.

When I was asked if I'd like to review Me in a Tree, I thought I'd give it a try.  I had read reviews online from other parents and I figured that if PTPA gave Me in a Tree their PTPA Award, they must be great.  After all, PTPA Award Winning Products are Parent Tested and Parent Approved!

Me in a Tree is a game-based family website that helps parents build stronger kids and happier families.  It uses fun, interactive, game-based techniques to grow a better family.

Using the site, we were able to conquer the chaos of every day life.  The Me in a Tree Calendar helps us manage day-to-day activities and makes sure that everyone is in the loop.  Granted, Little One is only 3.5 years old, she sits with us and is part of what's going on.  Okay, I guess the Me in a Tree is the best for HUBBY because he's the one who needs to be reminded of what's going on and when!

One of my favourite features of the site is the Family Things To Do. With this app, you can get your family, spouse, etc doing things and exploring together. Things to do that enriches relationships: Family Activities, Volunteering, Date Night, Parenting Programs.

Little One loves the site. Like I said, she's still too little to navigate the site on her own. She can't read yet! This said, she likes the idea of having a family site and she loves her new avatar! She helped customize it herself!

I also love the Family Huddle. Families get together to discuss schedules, important things, and work together on family challenges.  I've scheduled our Family Huddle times for Sundays.  Since I first mentioned the need for family time, we've allotted time on Sundays for family time.  It's hard to get away from the farm for an entire day, so even half a day or a few hours a day to do things as a family on a Sunday afternoon is a BIG improvement.

For more information on Me in a Tree, check out their website!  You can also find them on Twitter and on Facebook!

Disclosure - I was compensated for this post, however all the thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are honest and my own.
Friday, August 24, 2012

#LoveCDNBeef The 411 on Steaks



A steak is a steak is a steak, right?  Wrong.

I actually had no clue about all the different cuts of beef until I married a beef farmer.  I'm always surprised at all the new things I learn each day.  Okay, the fact that I didn't eat meat for much of my adult life could possibly account for my lack of knowledge when it comes to cuts of beef.

This said, in the past few years, I have become obsessed with good food, trying new recipes, creating new concoctions, throwing dinner parties, and feeding loved ones.  It certainly comes in handy, living on a working beef farm!

Another place I visit for all the info on beef is the Canadian Beef site. They've got everything you need to know about beef - from nutritional information to fantastic recipes!  Since Hubby and our 3.5 year old daughter are big steak fans, I check out the website frequently for new ways to create amazing steak dinners.

Did you know that steaks fall into three categories?

  • GRILLING - can be grilled without any extra prep or effort
  • MARINATING - needs to be marinated before  you cook/pan sear/grill/broil
  • SIMMERING - needs slow simmer in a nice liquid to ensure tenderness

I used to think steak as just to be thrown on the BBQ.  I've since learned that there are some amazing cuts of beef that make for the perfect dishes to delight the taste buds of friends and family.  The right cut, and the right method of preparing and cooking makes for positive results!

Below is an image I found here about the difference between steak cuts.
See?  They're all so different!

Hubby loves a good steak on the BBQ with roasted veggies and potatoes done on the grill.  Little One loves her Beef and Broccoli, a quick stir-fry type dish. I love my Korean Beef Bulgogi. I marinate it overnight, but it doesn't have to be marinated for that long. My Korean students marinate it for a few hours.  I actually don't know why I like marinating it overnight. As you can see with those three dishes, they are all prepared differently.

One of our favourite family recipes is thinly sliced sirloin marinated overnight with onions, garlic, black pepper, oyster sauce, sesame oil and then cooked with lots of vegetables like julienned carrots, mushrooms, and broccoli florets.

Want to learn how to choose the right cut of beef and cook beef like a pro?  Check out the videos here.
You'll want to check out Steaks 101 to find out how to cook each type of steak!

I've got some pretty exciting news to share!

  1. Canadian Beef and ShesConnected are having a #LoveCDNBeef Twitter Party on Thursday, September 13th at 9PM EST.  Follow @CanadianBeef and @shesconnected, and use the #LoveCDNBeef hashtag. Come join in on the fun and get educated on all things steak related!
  2. Canadian Beef has partnered up with Cutco Cutlery
As a #LoveCDNBeef Ambassador, one of the things we receive is a set of Cutco Steak Knives!  Okay, here's a funny embarrassing story.  I was up at 2AM because Little One was having night terrors.  I went downstairs to lay in her bed with her and my Blackberry kept flashing.  I saw an e-mail from Cutco stating that my order has been confirmed and shipped!  Not having ordered anything from Cutco, I freaked out and immediately sent an e-mail to them telling them to please cancel the order because I never placed an order for steak knives!

I was seriously terrified that I was the victim of identity theft!

Laugh if you will! :)

I totally forgot about the exciting partnership! Remember, this was 2AM, I was in total #zombiemoms mode, and was checking e-mail from my Blackberry.  Cutco replied, telling me they sent me the knives as part of their partnership with Canadian Beef and that they are excited about getting involved with something so exciting!

Note to self: Even if your Blackberry flashes like crazy in the middle of the night, wait until the morning to reply to any messages! Embarrassing! It's kind of like "Please! I insist! Take back the gift you were giving me. Honestly! Please cancel the shipment".  *sigh*

I'm so excited about all the exciting things #LoveCDNBeef and #SCCTO has in store for everyone! 


Disclosure: I am a Canadian Beef Ambassador and have been compensated for this post. However, all opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way by my association with the program.
Thursday, August 23, 2012

#LMDConnector The Fruits of Our Labour


As many of you already know, I live on a farm.  Being a city girl who married a farm boy, I had to learn  how to make things from scratch.  I had to learn quickly too!  Hubby's mother has made his family's food, clothing, and basically everything from scratch.  She made their butter, yogourt, bread, salad dressings (yes, she even made homemade mayonnaise!) and she made their clothes, quilts, etc.

Those are some pretty big shoes to fill!

Hubby, having not grown up with anything pre-made, from a box, from a can, or from the frozen section in the grocery store, has had to learn that though I love cooking, I have no time to make sure there are freshly baked desserts at every meal.  I know it's what he's accustomed to, but we certainly don't need it! At least our waistlines don't!

I did pick up a few tricks of the trade from my mother-in-law.  She has taught me how to cultivate and harvest all our produce and preserve them for Winter use.  Yes, that's right.  You work at the garden in the Summer and come Winter, you won't go hungry.

I've been married to a farmer for six years, and I've been having fun learning all about things farmers' wives do. Ummm...like make jams and preserves!
Cucumbers from the garden are great in cucumber sandwiches or cucumber salad, but they can also be pickled. Beets can be pickled. Tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and other veg can be made into a sauce that my mother-in-law calls Borden Sauce (the jar on the far right in above photo).

The only thing I'm not too keen on about making preserves is the amount of salt or sugar that needs to go into the recipes in order to properly "preserve" fruits and  veg.  Though I do some preserving and jam making, I prefer freezing our produce for Winter use.  Most of the prep just requires blanching, ice bath, and freezing.  With our corn, I blanch, cut the corn off the cobs, store in freezer-safe baggies or containers, and freeze.  Some produce, like berries can be frozen as is.
We have three large chest freezers.  This one is for mainly produce from the garden.  I have everything from beans to raspberries in there! The above photo is from the other year, but our freezers pretty much look like this every year!

Amazing to think all of the above started out like the plants in the photo  below!
We have a lot of apple trees on our farm.  Every year, we get tons and tons of apples.  One of the things I love to do is to make apple sauce.  I make huge batches of apple sauce, store them in ice cream containers and freeze them until I need to use them.  All I do is thaw the apple sauce and it's ready when I need it. I use it in my baking, and sometimes when I'm making homemade BBQ sauce.  It's great with pork.  Most of the time, Little One just wants to have apple sauce for dessert or for a snack.  We always have it handy in the freezer.
 HOMEMADE APPLE SAUCE

  • Wash apples
  • Cut in quarters
  • Place in big pot and add water so that it covers apples
  • Cook until tender (not mushy or falling apart)
  • Drain water
  • Place a few apple quarters into colander/fruit press like the one below
  • Press apples through colander to make the apple sauce
  • After you've made filled a medium sized mixing bowl, if you wish, you can add sugar.  Many of the ladies here add about a cup of sugar for a medium sized bowl. Sometimes they even use more!  I don't like Little One to have much sugar, so I generally omit the sugar.  Doing this makes the apple sauce pretty tart.  If you must have sugar, you can use a natural sugar replacement.  I've used raw sugar cane or Demerara at times.
  • If you like,  you can also add cinnamon for flavour.


  •  Bottle up your apple sauce and freeze it for later use, or eat it as is! It's delish!
You may notice that the apple sauce in the two photos above are different colours.  The top is from a variety of apply that is yellow and the second is a pinkish colour.  To get that lovely colour, I leave the skins on when I cook down the apples.  With the peel on and pressing the apples through the colander/press, you get that lovely hint of colour.  You wouldn't get that if you peeled the apple skins off.

I have to say that there's a huge sense of accomplishment making your own food...from the garden to the table.  Love it!


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.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012

#LMDConnector Old El Paso Mexican Fiesta! Olé! #Giveaway


Most of you know how I absolutely love Mexican food. I'm not talkin' your average tacos or burritos though. I'm talkin' full on, authentic, Mexican cuisine. I hate to admit it, but I'm a snob when it comes to food. I like good food. Food prepared with the best ingredients and made by loving hands. Thankfully for me, my Mexican students introduced me to mouthwatering favourites like chilaquiles verdes con pollo (my all time fave!), mole, pozole, barbacoa, chorizo, empanadas (my late grandparents made the best filipino empanadas), flautas...and more! I'm going to have to stop rhyming off my favourite Mexican dishes, because this post is making me so hungry!

Since moving from the city, I've had to become creative with my ingredients here on the Island. We can pretty much grow what we need and international ingredients are becoming more accessible. What I do miss about living in Toronto and Montreal the most (besides my friends and family) is the food!

For this reason, we've come up with International Dinner Nights with our friends. I've been craving Mexican food, and though I love chilaquiles and flautas, some of our dinner guests may want to stick with dishes they are more familiar with.  Ohhh...who doesn't love a good taco?!

Many of my busy mom friends have told me that have taco night once a week!  It's something their kids will actually eat too!

Good news! Old El Paso is launching three new delicious products that will please everyone!
  • NEW Extra Mild Super Tasty Hard Taco Dinner Kit
  • NEW Hot & Spicy Fajita Dinner Kit
  • NEW Mild Taco Seasoning
Check out the spread! 

 Little One's tacos always end up looking more like "taco salad". 

 Hubby likes things spicy!  I'm more of a medium heat kinda gal.  Little One loves everything! Our three 
and a  half year old will eat mild, medium, or spicy!  We had some dinner guests over for Mexican night 
and there was something for everyone! Everyone loved the variety and options on the dinner table.  

Our friend's 4 year old daughter ate 4 tacos!  Hubs said that he really enjoyed the fajitas. He said he thought there was something very different about these fajitas. "New recipe?" he asked.

Are you HOT & SPICY or MILD?  Do you like soft shell or hard shell when it comes to tacos? As you can see, there are so many options available for everyone's tastes! Guaranteed to please the entire family!  Mix it up, add heat, make things milder...do whatever your heart desires!

The wonderful people at Life Made Delicious and Old El Paso would like you to try out their line of Mexican products too!

One lucky reader of my blog will receive the exact same kit I received in the photo below!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure – I am participating in the Life Made Delicious Ambassador Program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of General Mills. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.

#WordlessWednesday - Haven't You Always Wanted An Alpaca?



Little One absolutely loves these cuties at the Noble Alpaca Farm!

Link up your Wordless Wednesday post! We'd love to check out your posts and comment!



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

#Win Passes to this Year's #SCCTO Conference for You & a Friend!



This year marks the Shes Connected Blogger conference's third year of offering brands and social media women the opportunity to network and get to know each other. I attended last year's conference and learned a great deal about social media and working with brands, built relationships with some of my favourite brands, and had a great time with my bloggy friends.

Bloggers from all across Canada will be heading to Toronto to network with some of the biggest brands and most influential bloggers. Both bloggers new and old will find something that will interest them. With so many topics to be discussed, there's bound to be something that piques everyone's interests.  Check these out:


Brands will want to check out this conference because as a brand, you will have the opportunity to market your  company in a great venue and network with many of Canada's influential bloggers.


Bloggers, this is a great chance for you to meet your online friends in person, network with great brands, learn how to grow your blog,  expand your community, and you'll also be able to gain knowledge on a variety of subjects you normally would  not have had otherwise.

Want to join us at SCCTO this October? How would you like to attend with a friend?  It's a great way to grow your business and mingle with your tweeps! You can also connect with bloggers and brands while experiencing  the power of social media first hand. This is what happened to me last year and so many doors opened up since.

 Shes Connected is for all bloggers, regardless of what you write about.  I know! I attended SCCTO last year and was not a "Mommy blogger" or a "Review blogger".  I was just a city gal who moved to the farm and wrote about our crazy life!  My blog is about family, parenting, life with a preemie, cooking, living a green life on the farm, and all the other everyday things that keep me on my toes! I guess what I'm trying to say is that every blog is different and every brand looks for different things in a blogger.

I'm looking forward to meeting and chatting with you there!  If you see me at the conference, say hello!


Register today if you want to guarantee a spot at this year's conference.

WIN TICKETS TO SCCTO!
As SCCTO Ambassadors, we've all been given the opportunity of giving away a PAIR of tickets so YOU can attend the conference with a friend too!  We were able to conduct the giveaway whichever way we decided.

You can also enter the Rafflecopter form below for your multiple chances to win or you can enter on individual blogs too. Lots of chances to win! Good luck, everyone!

Each winner will get 2 full conference passes  to SCCTO .  Shes Connected '12 Full Conference Pass~ Early Bird $172.35 + $ 26.65 HST)

Ticket includes admission to all conference programming, meals, breaks, sponsor areas, conference parties and expo floor on Friday and Saturday

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Disclosure - Tickets are provided by ShesConnected as part of the Blogger Outreach program. The opinions on this blog are my own.
Sunday, August 19, 2012

Counting the Days Until #SCCTO! Want To Know Why You Should Attend?


There are quite a few great social media conferences for bloggers and social media lovers to attend these days.  They're all so different in so many ways.  I've had quite a few people ask me about SCCTO.  From my experience as an attendee last year, I can say that I've had nothing but great things happen to me since. What a wonderful experience it was.

NEWBIE-FRIENDLY
First off, the ShesConnected Conference was my very first social media conference.  At first, it was a little daunting, since I had no idea what to expect.  I soon learned how "newbie-friendly" SCCTO really was.  I've been blogging personally since 2006, but only monetizing my blog in the past three years.  Initially, I blogged to keep family, friends, and former students up to date with my new life on "the Island".  It wasn't until after I had my daughter that the blog went in a different direction and I was able to monetize it.  I never thought much about making the blog "work" for me prior to that.  I am an English teacher by profession.  My main job (apart from being a Mom) was teaching.  I knew that many of the tweeps I tweeted with on Twitter were seasoned pros when it came to blogging.  I was looking forward to meeting these blogging superstars!
Not gonna lie! I was SO excited to see that Christine Cushing was at ShesConnected! I've been a big fan of hers for years! You know I'm a cooking show lover, right?!

I went in feeling like a small fish in a big pond, but attending the conference made me realize how much everyone had to offer.  Many of us were at different stages in our blogging careers and had a lot to contribute. Prior to SCCTO, I had been working with brands on a regular basis and had developed relationships with some of my favourite companies. SCCTO just took things one notch higher though.

Since SCCTO last year, I've been able to take a break from teaching and work from home.  So many doors have opened for me since SCCTO.  I was able to meet with brands I tweeted with and form great relationships with them.  I've been given ambassadorships, sponsorships, and opportunities I never could have imagined receiving.  It's been a pretty sweet year.
 With some of my fave tweeps! @WhispersInspire, @JustNikiV @aaricamakeupblg @BewilderedBug

INFORMATIVE
I learned quite a bit from panel members and am looking forward to learning a lot more this year. One of the things that amazed me the most was learning about the power of social media.  I'll never forget listening to @tjzmommy speaking about her sweet Zack and his Dream Room.  The memory of Tamara's Wig (as told by Look Good Feel Better) is never far from my thoughts.  I'm still shocked to see how a single tweet can change the world even a little bit at a time. Also, I was really honoured to be in the presence of so many intelligent women. What an inspiring, amazing bunch of ladies.

Like I mentioned before, I wasn't really a review blogger or anything like that.  I was just a city girl who married a farmer, taught ESL, had a preemie, and didn't realize people actually read my blog.  I had never pitched a company and didn't know what a "Rate Card" was or how to put together a "PR Kit". All I knew was how to write posts that interested my readers. I had some great conversations with bloggers at my table and they gave me lots of info and advice on how to make the blog work for me.

LIKE HANGING OUT WITH OLD FRIENDS
I don't know about you, but I tweet/FB with some of my bloggy besties every day.  Imagine meeting up with your fave tweeps IRL at a social media conference?  FUN!  Last year, I shared lots of laughs and tears with some of the women I hold closest to my heart. They have become such an integral part of my life.  They've seen me through exciting, fabulous highs and through sadness as well.  I don't know what I'd do without this amazing network/support system I've got. It really is like getting together with some of your best friends and just having a blast.
With @GgirlGgreen (one of the coolest gals in the Twitterverse)

MAKE CONNECTIONS
I went to SCCTO not knowing anyone IRL. As soon as I met my favourite tweeps in person, it was like we had known each other forever. I also made new connections at SCCTO.  It's amazing how welcoming and friendly everyone was.  I'm not only talking about fellow bloggers, but brands as well.  The brand reps really wanted to talk to us and were genuinely interested in hearing what we had to say. It was a great way to get to know them and to build relationships with them.  For someone new to this, it's a great way to get started and to get your name out there.

PARTY 
Last year, Town Shoes sponsored the ShoesConnectedParty for attendees.  It was a fun way to mingle with everyone, have some delicious hors d'oeuvre's, wine, and be surrounded by gorgeous shoes!  I was in Shoe Heaven, I tell you!  Again, the best part was probably just being with my friends and enjoying the evening.
This year, in honour of the ever popular "Fifty Shades of Grey", SCCTO is throwing a Fifty Shades party, sponsored by Benjamin Moore Paints!  It sounds like it's going to be one pretty fabulous party!

I wasn't sure what to expect last year at ShesConnected, but I can surely tell you to be prepared for lots of fun, laughter, mingling, and learning. It was a truly great experience for me and I am looking forward to returning this year as an Ambassador for ShesConnected and for Canadian Beef.

WHY SHOULD YOU ATTEND SCCTO THIS FALL?
All of the above mentioned are reasons you should attend this October!

  • Build your social influence
  • Connect and grow your community
  • Attend Hands on workshops where you’ll get the skills you need
  • Gain knowledge that will help you build your social brand
  • Learn alongside the brands how to build to partnerships

It's all about the learning, the information, the tools, the connections, and the fun! I guess my main thing was to go in with a positive attitude and an open mind.  Every experience truly is what you make it to be.  Last year's conference was nothing short of fabulous and I have a sneaky suspicion that this year is going to be even bigger and better (if that's even possible)!

Will you be attending SCCTO this Fall?  Let me know! I'd love to meet up with you!  I'll be sporting the name tag with the @chancesmommy Twitter handle and I look sort of like this...

Come say hello! I'd love to chat with you!

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.
Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mommy Mixology


I hate to admit it, but I am not really good with stress.  There.  I said it.  The past week was pretty overwhelming and I *gasp* could not wait until the weekend rolled around so I could have a drink.  Yes.  I really, really wanted to a drink.  That's something I haven't said in ages!

Our Summer has been hectic and chaotic with work, family, the farm, events, visitors, gatherings, get-togethers, parties, activities, and the household chores, the front yard, the garden, and everything else has been neglected. Little One and her friends completely wrecked our house, breaking things, toppling over the bookcase, trampling over furniture, flinging toys all over the house (which totally ticks me off, because Little One knows she's not allowed to do that). I glanced around the house and thought, "Oh. My. Goodness.  I think I need a drink."

 I haven't really drank much in the way of alcoholic beverages since before I had Little One.  I didn't drink because I was pregnant, then I was nursing for almost two years, and then I was too busy to kick back and unwind with my girl friends because I was running after a very busy little munchkin.

Tonight, that all changed.  I called in the troops and told them they needed to come over for supper and drinks.
I was sent Mommy Mixology and the ladies and I tried out a few drinks.  If you haven't heard of Mommy Mixology, it's written by Janet Frongillo.  As the cover of the book reads, there truly is "A Cocktail for Every Calamity".

It's a fun, light hearted collection of stories accompanied by a recipe for each calamity.  "Mommy Mixology shares stories, sympathies and some strong drinks to keep you laughing through it all."


“Mommy Mixology” to the rescue! Featuring more than 60 playful recipes, 20 color photos, and author Janet Frongillo’s personal tales of catastrophe and triumph raising three sons, this book shows that a good attitude and a fully stocked bar can keep any mom smiling through the worst and best of times.


My friends and I had some good laughs reading the stories and could totally relate to some of them.  We also got a kick out of the names of the drinks Janet Frongillo came up with.  It's been a very long time since I've been able to let down my hair and just laugh until I cried.  Too funny!  I really feel blessed to have good girl friends!

We tried out three of the drinks in the book and they were all delicious.
Son of a Beach
Shitzer Spritzer
Muffintopmommy Mudslide

I do have to say that I haven't laughed that hard in ages.  It certainly was great to unwind. I have to admit that I am a total lightweight when it comes to drinking, as I haven't drank much since right before I got pregnant with Little One and only have a drink a handful of times a year.  Those three drink recipes we tried were a little too tasty!


Want the recipes?  Get the book! :)

Mommy Mixology: A Cocktail for Every Calamity is available on Amazon.com.

Disclosure - I received a copy of Mommy Mixology to facilitate this honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are honest and my own.

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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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