Saturday, December 22, 2012

From Our Family to Yours ~ The "Season's Greetings" Dilemma



I was raised Roman Catholic.  My grandparents were devout Catholics. Religion played a large role in our family.

I grew up with friends of various faiths, religions, and cultural backgrounds.

In college and university, most of the people I hung out with were Jewish. Being included in Seder dinners were the highlight of my year back then! I took everything in and marveled at the traditions different from my own. To this day, my friends know that if you share a knish, latke, matzo ball soup or gefilte fish with me, I'm your best friend forever.

I ended up marrying someone who belonged to the United Church. I thought my grandmother was going to be upset. I knew how pious she was. Her response when I told her Hubby was United was, "It's okay! We all believe in the same God."

My friends are Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Anglican, United, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Baha'i, etc. It never really mattered to any of us. Though religion and faith are a large part of who a person is or becomes, it does not define them. What matters most is the way people treat one another.

I realize writing all of those religions in the same sentence may anger some. I really don't mean to offend (and, I hope I'm not!) anyone by including everyone in the same sentence. To me, it's all about the person. It's the mutual respect and love for people as human beings.

Every December, I run into the same dilemma. How do I address the Holiday Season to people of various faiths and religions? I used to send out Christmas cards, but then some friends mentioned that they felt it offensive because they didn't celebrate Christmas. To me, it was more about the message of love and thanks...and also a simple "I'm thinking of you".

I started sending out Happy Hanukkah cards and Happy Kwanzaa cards, etc. I soon discovered it was too hard for me to keep up with all the different celebrations. I still wanted to let people know I was thinking of them, so I started sending out  generic/non-religious Happy Holidays cards.

It didn't sit right with me though. I felt that I wasn't celebrating the religion I believe in.

I do realize saying Merry Christmas to people on the street, at the bank, at the mall, and at restaurants may be a faux pas, because there are many who do not celebrate Christmas and may take offense. At the same time, is it okay to say Happy Christmuskkah or Merry Kwanzmaskkah? Hmmm...

I thought this Ben Stein commentary was interesting.  I even checked out some more Ben Stein info on Snopes (because I'm nerdy like that).

For me, no matter what your faith is or what you believe in, Merry Christmas to me means offering kindness and love to all. What are your thoughts?

 How do you greet people during the Holidays? What are your opinions on things like "the holiday tree instead of Christmas tree" or "Holiday party instead of Christmas party"?


To all of our friends and family: Our warmest wishes, whatever Holiday you are celebrating! Thank you for being part of our life here Life on Manitoulin and in real life.

Friday, December 21, 2012

@TELUS' What Would You Give Campaign‏


One of the messages my husband and I are trying to convey to our four year old daughter is that it is better to give than to receive.  We want her to know that it feels good to give to others. Whether it be in the form of organizing a fundraiser, making a donation, performing some random act of kindness, giving to others feels good and makes others feel good as well.

TELUS also believes in giving and they want to make sure that the feeling is alive and strong this Holiday season.

TELUS asked people on their Facebook page "If you could give anything to anyone, what would it be?" The responses were overwhelming. TELUS was amazed by the generosity of their online social community. They took their fans' words to heart and realized they could make some of those wishes come true.

With all the touching and amazing fan stories, I'm sure the decision was a difficult one to make. To capture the power of giving this Holiday season, TELUS shares some of their fans' thoughtful, heartwarming stories:

Check out the videos of Chelsea Schmelzel, from Prince George, BC and some of our other wish recipients at http://telusgiving.com

Be prepared to cry! Have those tissues close-by! This video had me sobbing!



Thought I'd share this with you. Happy Holidays!

Yet another reason we love TELUS.


#PGMom Helping You Through the Holidays ~ P&G Holiday Survival Kit Giveaway


You're probably thinking, "Why is that Christine offering us a P&G Holiday Survival Kit for after the Holidays?"

Right?

I know you're wondering!

If you're anything like me, you'll be exhausted after all the build up for the holidays, the visiting, prepping, cooking, cleaning, eating, visiting, cooking, cleaning, eating (repeat three or four times). You'll say that you love the holidays because you get to spend time with your beloved family and friends. You'll rehash favourite memories, make new memories, tell stories of yesteryear. Maybe you'll embarrass a friend or family member. Maybe you'll be the object of those embarrassing "Remember when?" moments. All in all, you will relish your time with your loved ones because the holidays are largely about being able to be with those most near and dear to your heart.

Then you'll be excited when it's time for everyone to go back to their normal lives and routines, because by gosh, the holidays are exhausting. Fun, but exhausting.

The truth is, for us, the celebrating doesn't really end after Christmas. I actually consider January as still the holidays. We still have friends and family events - New Year's, birthdays, etc.

{ Some items I find that save me during the holidays are }

Venus & Olay Razor and Satin Care with a Touch of Olay Shave Gel
Okay, I have a confession. I'm Asian (not that you hadn't realized that already) and many Asians aren't very hairy. My confession is that I only have to shave my legs once every few months. How is that possible? Like I said. I'm Asian. I can go the entire Winter or Summer and never have to shave. This said, I absolutely love, love, love the Venus & Olay Razer and the Satin Care with a touch of Olay Shave Gel. It makes the shaving process an enjoyable, easy, and fun one. Yes, I do get excited about shaving my legs! Who doesn't love silky, smooth legs?

CoverGirl LashBlast 24 Hour Mascara and CoverGirl Blast Flipstick
As I mentioned already, I'm Asian. This means I've been blessed with puny, skimpy, barely there lashes. I'm not-so-quiet about how envious I am about my husband's and daughter's lashes! They both have incredibly long, beautiful lashes. No fair!  CoverGirl LashBlast 24 Hour Mascara is great because it gives good coverage and lasts 24 hours. You know, for all the partying you're going to be doing and for all the photo opps you'll be having! The CoverGirl Blast Flipstick is also one of my favourites. I love the dual tones to mix things up or add new depth and go from a daytime to nighttime look.

Secret Outlast Deodorant
Crazy busy getting things ready for your parties or entertaining the troops? Keep your cool with 48 hours of odour protection, designed to outlast your day. My Momma always said "Never forget to wear deodorant". True story.

Tide to Go
So handy to keep a Tide to Go pen handy in your purse in case of spills. Trust me. I'm the girl who spills things on my shirt. ALL. THE. TIME. Never fails.

Duracell Batteries
What's worse than getting your kid a gift that they really wanted so badly that they were willing to sell they're younger brother for (errrr...I mean do their  homework without prompting and clean up their room, the bathroom, the living room without so much as a peep from Mom) and only to discover that batteries are not included?! DOH!! Said in my best Homer Simpson voice. So many holiday gadgets and toys require batteries. Having a good stockpile of Duracell products on hand is key. I mean, c'mon. "Here, little Jimmy! Do you like your new toy? Awww...too bad you can't play with it. We don't have batteries".

What do you think of my favourite Holiday Survival Kit items? You want some of your own? Today is your lucky day! Giveaway open to residents of Canada.
{WIN IT}

  Holiday Survival giveaway pack includes one of each: Pantene Moisture Mask, Venus & Olay razor and Satin Care with a Touch of Olay Shave Gel, Herbal Essences Set Me Up Heat Protection Spray, CoverGirl LashBlast 24 Hour Mascara, CoverGirl Blast Flipstick, Secret Outlast deodorant, Tide to Go and Duracell.  Valued at $65*
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure - As a #PGMom, I receive special perks. Despite my affiliation, all the thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are honest and my own.
Thursday, December 20, 2012

We've Been Charminized! Holiday Entertaining Edition #PGMom



I'm married to a frugal farmer, but there are certain things in life I simply will not scrimp on. Ketchup and toilet paper.  I know it sounds crazy, but those are two things I am really particular about.

I've tried dozens of different toilet paper brands and for many years, I thought that by choosing the "green" toilet paper, I'd be saving A) money and B) the environment. Truth be told, we went through a lot more toilet paper with the toilet paper I wanted is to use.  Neither my wallet nor my heiny thanked me for it.

My husband reminds me that in some countries, toilet paper is a luxury. This said, I'm pretty sure he notices the difference between thin, sandpaper-like toilet paper and the soft, luxurious Charmin toilet paper. I am pretty sure he prefers the latter!

Since the holidays are also about comfort and entertaining, "Charmenizing" your home is perfect! What a great way to make guests feel comfortable, welcomed, and taken care of. During the holidays (and even on regular days), our home is filled with visitors. Always.

This year, we are Charmenizing our home! What does that mean?

Every detail from the toilet paper, tissue, linen, and bedding will have our guests in m ind.

Oh! Here's an interesting Charmin tidbit I learned about at the P&G Event in November:
Charmin has an app that can help you find clean washrooms when you're out and about! Don't laugh! I'm totally in love with this app! I for one, have a strong aversion to public toilets and public bathrooms. I'd sooner hold it until I get home than suffer from some of the odiferous washrooms I've had the displeasure of using on road trips or shopping trips. Let me tell ya, I am the Queen of squatting and hovering.

Sadly, my 4 year old daughter has developed my intense dislike for public washrooms. I don't want her to hold things in or have to make me pull over on the side of a deserted country road. Finding a public bathroom where she can sit and not squat is a good thing. Have I mentioned that I have all the "good" bathrooms between Manitoulin Island and Sudbury mapped out for us? I really do. That was one of the first things I did as a new parent with a baby in diapers. Find clean washrooms for road trips.

To check out Charmin's Sit or Squat App, click here.

I'm really excited about Charminizing our home for the holidays.
Oh, I'm not going to keep all the Charmin goodness to myself. I'm sharing it with you guys! One of you can win the following Prize Pack items to Charminize your home!
{WIN IT}
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure - As a #PGMom, I receive special perks, however all thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are honest and my own.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012

#WordlessWednesday ~ Sweet Child 'O Mine w/ Linky


She's got a smile it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky
Now and then when I see her face
She takes me away to that special place
And if I'd stare too long
I'd probably break down and cry...

This song always gets me. Heard it on the radio in the vehicle today. One of my favourite bands as a teen.

Link up your Wordless Wednesday posts!
 

#SunRype = Healthy Snacks During the Holidays {Giveaway}


The holidays are a busy time of the year. It leads many of us grabbing for some quick, unhealthy snacks. Put an end to the unhealthy grab and enter our SunRype prize pack giveaway hosted by MommyMatter.com. MommyMatter has teamed up with Life on Manitoulin, This Lil Piglet, and Ninja Mommers to bring you this awesome giveaway and give you more opportunities to win!

SunRype is a PTPA Seal of Approval winner and a top recommended product by many parents throughout Canada. It is a healthy alternative to the quick drive thru window or the vending machine massacre. The array of products available from SunRype is astounding, making it easy to incorporate fruit & vegetables into your families routine!

Why not try to win some of these amazing products with our $50 SunRype prize pack giveaway jam packed full of SunRype products. To enter, simply complete the following PromoSimple entry form and you’ll be on your way to winning an awesome $50 prize pack provided by SunRype.ca. Regulations: Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only. All others will be disqualified if entered. Complete the following form for entry in giveaway. Ends December 31st, 2012. Enter Now!

Thomas Cook Kids First Family Vacations Package {Giveaway} #TCKF



Thomas Cook Kids First Family Vacations is a “kid reviewed, parent approved” vacation program. Want vacations filled with fun at the guaranteed lowest prices? This is Thomas Cook Kids First Family Vacations' aim.

Thomas Cook has partnered with Sunquest, Transat Holidays, Holiday House and WestJet Vacations to offer resorts which are focused upon family travel. These resorts offer services such as kid friendly dining, medial assistance nearby or on the resort, mini-fridges in the rooms, kids programs and can accommodate larger families.

To check it out first hand, Thomas Cook sent me the Thomas Cook Kids First Vacations package. The package is sent to everyone who books a vacation.

This is an incredible package!
The total value is $500, but other components make this package so much more than that! Little One loved the Oliver & Olivia activity book, the greatest travel bloggers this side of the Atlantic.

In May, Little One and I  went on a trip from Toronto to Vancouver, Vancouver to Tokyo, and Tokyo to Manila. Traveling excites her and she keeps asking when we will be going on our next international vacation! She was only three years old at the time and acted like a seasoned traveler!

The Thomas Cook Kids First Family Vacations seemed to bring back all the travel memories for my young child and make her want to go on another adventure. She insists that we will be going to the Philippines again this May. No doubt, the activity book sparks Little One's  imagination and love for traveling.
Together, Little One and I ended up "planning" our next vacations around the world. She wants to go back to Japan, because she said she has only been to Tokyo/Narita Airport.  If you ask Mom, Mom would say a beach hop around the world would be nice!

We were perusing the Thomas Cook website and let me tell you, Mommy and Daddy really want to go to the Caribbean, Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Hubby and I went to the Dominican Republic for our honeymoon and would like to return with Little One this time!

The gift cards included are genius! They are so handy! I would definitely keep the $50 Visa card on hand just in case of emergencies (because you know that when traveling, you need to expect the unexpected!). I would use the $25 Indigo card to purchase items to keep Little One occupied on the plane ride and even on layovers. Lastly, the $25 Shoppers Drug Mart card would come in handy for travel essentials like toiletries, first aid kit items, Children's Advil, Children's Tylenol, Gravol...Hey, I traveled to the other side of the world with a three year old! I quickly learned to always have these things on hand. You can't often get the same kind of products you're used to, so it's good to be able to have some with you.
When I traveled with Little One last May, for some reason our airline gave us seats that were far apart. I'm talking several rows away. Obviously crazy, right? Little One was THREE years old! Being able to choose our seats in advance is always a concern. It seems insane to seat parents away from their young children. Luckily for us, a very kind gentleman offered to switch seats so I could sit with my three year old.
 
My opinion? All in all this is an amazing package. The gift cards are fabulous and a great touch, but the Park 'n Fly savings, FREE seat selection and FREE airport lounge pass are what had me sold! We will definitely be checking in with Thomas Cook Kids First Vacations for our next vacation with Little One!

Keep up to date with all the Thomas Cook Kids First Vacations news on Facebook or Twitter.

{WIN IT}

Kids First Family Vacation Package

The wonderful people at Thomas Cook are giving one lucky Life on Manitoulin reader a Kids First Family Vacation Package. Enter by filling in the Rafflecopter form below. Open to residents of Canada. Giveaway ends Jan. 8, 2013.

a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclosure - I was given the Thomas Cook Kids First Family Vacation Package to facilitate this honest review. All the thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are honest and my own.

On Turning 37



When I was a teenager, 30 seemed "old" to me. I couldn't even fathom being 30. That just seemed so far away.

When I was in my 20s, I was scared to turn 30.

When I entered my 30s, I realized that 30s were the best years of my life. Wiser (one would hope!), stronger (experience makes us so), more stable (financially), and more experienced. Truth be told, I love my 30s. I keep joking about how turning 37 brings me that much closer to 40. 40 is close to 50. 50 is close to 60. After 60, things all go downhill and then you die. I'm just kidding!!! I don't really feel that way. My husband is 42 and reminds me that you're as young as you feel.

{37 wacky things about me}
  1. Coffee makes me sleepy. A shot of espresso or cappuccino, and I'm out like a light in minutes.
  2. I don't sleep nearly enough as I ought to.
  3. Whiny kids drive me batty.
  4. I have a very low tolerance for stupidity.
  5. Ignorant, inconsiderate, rude jerks really tick me off.
  6. I like listening to 80s pop and classic rock when I drive.
  7. I sing Christmas songs as soon as Halloween is over.
  8. I love my little girl more than she will ever know.
  9. I am a crier. Me + sappy movies = a horrible mess! 
  10. I even cry during Tim Horton's commercials.
  11. When I need a pick me up, I watch America's Funniest Home Videos.
  12. I can't stand the sight of blood or open wounds. 
  13. My gag reflex is like none other. Just the thought of something gross sends me into dry heaving.
  14. I hate all things poopy.  I live on a farm. Go figure.
  15. My favourite Christmas movie is A Christmas Story.
  16. Every Christmas, I watch The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (original version), Rudolph, and Frosty the Snowman.
  17. I'm a great baker of desserts.
  18. I don't really like eating desserts.
  19. I can't make jello.
  20. Homemade pie crusts are not my forte!
  21. I've been teaching ESL since 1998!
  22. I put teaching ESL on hold last Summer to work in social media full time.
  23. I miss my teenage years. The 90s rocked.
  24. Growing up, my idol was David Suzuki.
  25. I belonged to various environmental and recycling committees when I was in college and university.
  26. When I was a student at Concordia University, our enviro group used to congregate in the lower level parking lot and sort worms. Yes, we were big into vermicomposting!
  27. I always root for the underdog.
  28. I support local & Canadian.
  29. I've always wanted to learn how to play acoustic guitar.
  30. New Zealand and Australia are on my bucket list.
  31. I'd like to travel across Canada from coast to coast with my husband and daughter.
  32. I am blessed with a fabulous family.
  33. I've got great friends.
  34. I lived and taught in Japan for two years.
  35. I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like had I stayed in Japan.
  36. Give me a latke or a knish and I'm your best friend.
  37. I always thought I'd end up marrying Jordan Knight from NKOTB.
Monday, December 17, 2012

All a Mess


In the wake of the Newtown school shootings, I find myself crying a few times a day. I didn't know any of the families who lost their precious children. I didn't know the teachers and school staff who were killed. Does it really matter? All I know is that precious lives were taken. Lives that had just begun to flourish.

I heard the news on Friday afternoon when my social media partner sent me a BBM. I was in shock. My heart sank and I wanted to drive to school and pick up my four year old daughter. I just wanted to hold her. Forever.

It's Monday morning and I still cannot believe what happened just days ago. I wonder how people can go back to business again - so soon after the tragedy. I wonder how life can go on. Yet it must. So many lives are forever changed. How does one put the pieces back together after something like this happens?

Little One is only four years old and we haven't spoken to her about the shootings. She just turned four. Personally, I think she's too young to be told about this kind of sadness, gun laws, mental illness, etc. At the same time, I don't want her to be misinformed should she hear things from her peers. Then again, she's in Junior Kindergarten. Not sure if her peers will be aware of this anyway. Regardless, these are things that I think about as a parent.

Have you explained the shootings to your children? If so, how did you explain it to them? What did you tell them?

For tips on how to talk to your children about the school shootings in Newtown, CT, Alyson Schafer has a great post on the PTPA Blog.

Weekly Giveaway Link-Up 4 Canadians w/ @SoberJulie @chancesmommy @ThisLilPiglet @MommyMatter




 Life on Manitoulin, along with friends, Sober Julie, This Lil Piglet, and Mommy Matter are bringing great Canadian friendly giveaways all in one place! This will be a weekly feature to make life easier for us all.

If you have a Canadian friendly giveaway on your blog, feel free to link up! If you're looking for great Canadian giveaways, find them here!

Don’t forget to mark this page on your calendars! We will be bringing you great giveaways every Monday!!
Friday, December 14, 2012

Earth's Own's @Almond_Fresh & So Good Beverages {Giveaway}


I know it may strike people as somewhat amusing that I spent much of my young adult life as a vegetarian and am now married to a beef farmer.  In the days when I was vegetarian, we didn't have as many vegetarian food options in restaurants as we do now.

Even non-dairy beverages were hard to come by.  When I was at a cafe and inquired as to whether they had any soy milk, the server told me to grind my own soy beans. Ummm...Thanks. Realizing this was a sarcastic comment, I didn't go into how I'd have to soak and strain the soy beans too. I just decided to forgo the soy milk since they obviously didn't have any at that particular establishment.

So Good soon became my best friend. Other soy milk brands available were kind of chalky and not very easy on the palate. I quickly fell in love with So Good Vanilla and Soy Good Chocolate (as well as So Good Original).  To be healthy, I opted for the Original.  For a treat, I'd occasionally have the Vanilla or Chocolate. If you haven't tried So Good Vanilla, it tastes like the milk in  your cereal bowl right after you've eaten Frosted Flakes.

The taste is smooth, delicate, and I love it on its own or in a smoothie. I'm no stranger to soy milk, but I also wanted to try other alternatives. I tried rice milk and more recently, almond milk.

When I was at the ShesConnected Conference in Toronto last Fall, I was introduced to Almond Fresh. I love that Almond Fresh is a source of 9 essential vitamins and minerals, including Calcium, Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin D!

Just recently, I was given the opportunity to try out some beverages from Earth's Own. My family sampled the So Good Original, Chocolate and Vanilla. I wanted to try the So Good Strawberry, but for some reason we haven't been able to find it in any of the stores here.

Both Little One and Hubby are true farm kids. They love their dairy. I personally like the variety and the alternatives sometimes. I love dairy too, but I also love the soy and almond beverages. Plus, with lactose intolerance on Hubby's side of the family (his nieces are lactose intolerant), I wondered if Little One may be as well. So far no signs, but I wanted to introduce her to some alternatives just in case. Hubby says that farm kids are not allowed to have allergies, but I'm not so sure!

I found that both Hubby and Little One enjoyed the Chocolate and Vanilla So Good better than the Original. I loved them all.

When it came to the Almond Fresh, Little One said she liked the So Good better. I kind of knew that would happen, because for some reason, my child does not like nuts.

I even bought the 3 pack of individual sized Almond Fresh beverages so it would be more portable for when we're on the go. I was the one who ended up drinking them.

Of course, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I just thought it may be nice for Little One to have in the vehicle while we ran errands.

Since the Holidays are upon us, I just had to get Almond Fresh's Noel Nog!  What's Christmas without "eggnog"? This is a great alternative!

It's got the same great flavour as traditional eggnog, but to me it feels much lighter (which is a good thing!). Hubby said it's something he could get used to as well.  Admittedly, he's a traditional kind of guy and prefers traditional eggnog, he did say that the essential flavours were present in the Noel Nog!

Want to try some? You can find Noel Nog at these stores.

You can find out more by connecting with Almond Fresh on Facebook and Twitter, and So Good on Facebook.

I wanted to let you in on a few other cool things about Earth's Own:

 Earth's Own donated $150 to our Mount Sinai Perinatal Parents Benefit Concert. We raised a total of $1,435 for families with babies in the NICU this Holiday Season! Thank you, Earth's Own!

Also, did you know that So Good is a PTPA Award Winner? It's pretty wild! I was really excited to discover that!
 {GIVEAWAY}

Earth's Own would like to give you a chance to try So Good & Almond Fresh yourself!  Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to be entered to win product vouchers for both products! Giveaway open to residents of Canada. 
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclosure - We were given the opportunity to test the above products. All the thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are honest and my own.
Thursday, December 13, 2012

What a Girl Wants ~ Piggy Paint Review @PolishCanada


Despite my best efforts to not raise a girlie girl, Little One is indeed a fan of all things pink, purple, frilly, frou-frou shi-shi, and full of bling. The more bling, the better. She's one of those "Go big or go home" kind of girls. Kind of like her grandmother (my mom).  In fact, Little One is so much like my mom, the similarities are uncanny.

I'm sure you won't be surprised at her reaction when we were asked to test out a variety of Piggy Paint nail polish from NailPolishCanada.com!

Let me first introduce you to NailPolishCanada.

Imagine having all your favourite nail polish products available online and in one place? Oh, and if you're in Canada, even better, because they're a Canadian online store! Hooray! I can't begin to tell you how devastated I get when I complete my online shopping and am ready to "check out", only to be informed that there is no shipping to Canada. Oooof! Totally disappointing.

Now, I can peruse tons of favourite items and buy them because I know that NailPolishCanada will send them to me! Oh, and in my experience with them, they have been super fast in getting our items to us!

I was excited to see that NailPolishCanada has nail polish for kids! Many of the websites that carry Piggy Paint are American, so to have Piggy Paint accessible online for Canadians, that is a treat for us!

I let Little One select the shades she wanted to try out. Of course it had to be purples, pinks, and bling!

Here are her selections:



 I wanted to post photos of Little One's adorable mani and pedi, but she got really shy and said she doesn't want you to see her hands and feet.

We tried ALL the colours and had great results. My favourite is Glamour Girl. The colour is really pretty and the shine and shimmer is a great touch. Little One loves them all, especially the Fairy Fabulous because she loves all things fairy right  now.

We did have to put on a few coats of each. I really like that Piggy Paint is safe to use on chidlren's nails and that it's non-toxic, low odour, and "Natural as Mud".

Piggy Paint makes a great stocking stuffer for all the little fashionistas on your list! I've bought some in the past for all my little nieces and for some of Little One's friends. I'm so happy we can buy them online at NailPolishCanada.com!

For a limited time, NailPolishCanada is offering FREE Canadian Shipping for orders over $25 or flat rate $3!

For more info, check out NailPolishCanada via their website or connect with them on Facebook and Twitter!

Disclosure - We were given the products mentioned in this post for review purposes. All the thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are honest and my own.



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

#WordlessWednesday ~ Subtle w/ Linky


My four year old has been squealing, "I WEEEEE-WEEEEEE WANT TO GO TO DISNEY!!!!"  every time she sees a Disney commercial or the intro with the Magic Kingdom and fireworks in the beginning of a Disney movie.

I found THIS on my iPod.
Subtlety, thy name is four-year old!

Link up your Wordless Wednesday posts! We'd love to check them out!

IAMS HOME 4 THE HOLIDAYS


Hands up if you have a fur baby at home!  If you do have a furry member of the family (of the canine or feline variety and not the human variety!), you'll know just how special they are and how very much part of the family they are. I am reminded of this often...especially during the holidays.

Let me introduce you to our fur baby.

This is Chance.
Chance - Not pronounced the English way, but the French way. Chance as in "Bonne chance!" (good luck). In case you weren't already aware, my Twitter handle, @chancesmommy was selected because Chance was my baby long before Little One was even a glimmer in my eye.

Chance was my first baby. In fact, I cannot even fathom a sweet pup like Chance not having a family to live with.  This always reminds me of the fact that there are so many dogs and cats that are without homes...and this makes me really sad.

Did you know that  IAMS HOME 4 THE HOLIDAYS is in its 14th year of setting out to find forever homes for orphaned animals?
The Iams Home 4 the Holidays pet adoption drive enters its 14th year and remains focused on raising awareness of pet adoption while also ensuring proper nutrition for more homeless pets this year. The program which runs Oct. 1, 2012 through Jan. 2, 2013 celebrates over 7 million pets adopted out since its inaugural year and continues to educate potential pet owners about the wonderful animals available at local shelters and rescue organizations. This year, Iams will again work in conjunction with founding partner Helen Woodward Animal Center, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and more than 4,000 animal organizations worldwide to encourage pet adoption.

“Shelters and rescues around the country are overflowing with great adoptable animals awaiting forever homes,” said Mike Arms, founder of the adoption drive and president of Helen Woodward Animal Center. "Last year a tiny, starved dachshund was brought into a shelter, weighing maybe one pound soaking wet, and very cold and miserable. The shelter helped nurse her back to health and she was adopted by a wonderful couple that fell in love with her and named her Baby. Stories like these show us the importance of promoting pet adoption and how a program like Iams Home 4 the Holidays can make a huge difference in the life of a pet.”
  Adoption drive founder & president of Helen Woodward Animal Center, Mike Arms

{What Can You Do To Help?}

Canadians can participate in the program in more ways than one. Lend a hand by:
 
* Donating through Bags 4 Bowls – For those who are already pet parents, Iams will donate one bowl of food to a participating Iams Home 4 the Holidays animal organization for every specially marked package of Iams pet food purchased during the campaign
* Adopting from a local shelter – Every day more and more animals end up in shelters or in rescue care, and more than 25 per cent are pure breeds*. This is important to keep in mind when deciding to bring a pet into your life, the animal you’re looking for is probably in your neighbourhood shelter. To find a participating animal shelter or rescue organization near you, visit iams.ca or facebook.com/iams
* Volunteering – Shelters need volunteers to do everything from feeding, caring for and keeping rescue animals company, to assisting at events and fundraisers. If you can’t adopt but would still love to help do so as a volunteer
* Visiting Facebook.com/iams – Visit the Iams Facebook page and click to “Like” the page or various messages, photos, videos, etc. For each “Like” comment Iams will donate meals to participating animal shelters

For more information about the campaign or to find out how to get involved, become a fan of the Iams Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Iams or visit www.iams.ca.
Monday, December 10, 2012

4 Fab Canucks Weekly Giveaway Round-Up!


With the Holidays just around the corner, and pocket books a bit tight for many, being able to win some gifts is a great idea, yes?

Sober Julie, Life on Manitoulin (aka @chancesmommy), This Lil Piglet, and Mommy Matter are bringing you a place to post your giveaways and a place where you can find great Canadian giveaways to enter.

If you have a Canadian friendly giveaway on your blog, feel free to link up! If you're looking to enter fab giveaways, we'll be posting every Monday!

Good luck, everyone!

My Husband Wanted Me to Tell You... #PGMom


One of the great things about being a P&Gmom is that we get to learn more about the company and the products we've been using for years. Sure, I knew about most of the products in the P&G family, but there were a few new ones to me.

My husband wants me to tell you that the best present ever is the Duracell Instant Charger!  I know, right? So easy to please.  What man doesn't love gadgets, batteries, and toys?!

The Instant Charger was such a hit with Hubby, that he said his brother-in-law and my brothers and father  would probably love this as stocking stuffers for Christmas this year.

I  have to agree that this is one of my favourites too. I've actually had to use it several times already. Perfect when you're out and about and your cell phone or iPod battery are dead! Just charge 'em up with the Duracell Instant Charger! It fits nicely in my purse too! Love, love, love!!!
I may have to get one for every family member this year!

Amongst all the items P&G sent us (which just so happen to be items I buy regularly!), were the UNSTOPABLES! The Downy UNSTOPABLES were introduced to me at the #PGmom event in Toronto last month.

In our little focus group, we were chatting about laundry and related products. Two of the ones I hadn't used were the Tide pods and the UNSTOPABLES. To be honest, I was in awe as Sassy Modern Mom raved about this amazing product that she could not get enough of.

After having had the opportunity to try them out, I can see what all the fuss was about! They really do keep your clothes smelling good for days upon days! I live in an old farm house with a farmer and a four year old. Enough said. These UNSTOPABLES are heaven sent.

Just shake the tiny fragrance beads into the cup, toss into washing machine before you start your load, add your fabric softener, drop in your laundry, and wash! Presto!
I have to say that usually, my husband, daughter and I react to fragrances because of our sensitive skin. I'm happy (and relieved) to report that we did not react adversely at all. Another thing is that you don't need to use a lot of the UNSTOPABLES in your load. I used less than a cap-full and the clothes were still fragrant!

I'm extremely sensitive to fragrances. I'm not kidding. I can't even go into the fragrance/perfume department at large department stores. One whiff of the perfumes and the gag reflexes kick in instantly.  Usually if something is overpowering, I get really ill (and it happens really quickly too!). So odd, because at the same time I really appreciate my clothing, blankets, towels, and pillows smelling fresh all the time.  Like I said, I married a farmer who spends most of his time in the barn. Fresh smelling clothes are something I really, really value and appreciate!

The UNSTOPABLES are great! I have to thank Sassy Modern Mom for highly recommending praising   them and P&G for sending us some to try!

I'll be posting more about all the great items we were sent by P&G. Stay tuned!

Disclosure- I am a #PGmom. Although I am affiliated with P&G, all the thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are honest and my own.
Saturday, December 08, 2012

T'is the Season to be Baking & Crafting, Fa la la la la, la la la la! #LMDConnector



 I don't know about you, but I've always found a certain charm in all things homemade.  No, seriously! There's something so special about a handmade card and knowing that someone put the time, effort, love, and thought into making your present.

Sure, a completely renovated basement and a new 53 inch TV would be great. Oh, and a trip to either Disney World or Hawaii would be greatly appreciated as well. Hubby, are you reading this?!

All kidding aside, in the past few years I've been all about the DIY gifts. Now that Little One is a little older and can  help more (Read: Not destroy the kitchen completely), it's really a lot of fun to create things with her.
For me, the Holidays are all about FAMILY.
It's about the turkey and stuffing,the Bûche de Noël, singing Christmas carols, watching Frosty the Snowman and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the kids excited to see if Santa came to deliver presents and just being together. Of course, it's also a time for us to remember the true meaning of Christmas and the reason we celebrate. I remember going to midnight mass every Christmas. We haven't done that in a while since Little One wouldn't last until midnight.

For me, Christmas is all of those things, and it's also about the BAKING!

My husband finds it interesting that I love to bake, but I am not big into sweets. I do enjoy concocting things that make people happy. I pretty much bake only on special occasions.

Resurrected from the blog vault:  You may have seen some of these before, as I like to recreate these during the Holidays. Since it is the Season of Giving, I will share this recipe! I can't remember where I got the recipe. I've been making these since 2007 though!  When you see these, you'll know why I only bring these bad boys out at Christmas!

{ CHOCOLATE CREAM CHEESE CUPCAKES }

Ingredients:
Filling
1 pkg cream cheese, softened (8 oz)
1 egg, beaten
1/3 c sugar
a pinch of salt (and over the shoulder for good luck. Kidding!)
1 pkg chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate, 6 oz)

Cupcake
1 c sugar
1 1/2 c flour
1/4 c baking cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c water
1/2 c oil
1 tbsp vanilla

* Cute festive candies, sprinkles and other embellishments are the perfect finishing touch - along with your go-to cream cheese frosting.

Instructions:
  • Combine the cream cheese, egg, sugar and salt in a bowl.
  • Add chocolate chips. 
  • In a separate bowl, mix sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, water, oil, and vanilla. Make sure to mix well and until smooth.
  • Line muffin tin with paper cups. Fill 1/3 of the way. If you're feeling a little daring, fill 1/2 full.
  • Drop a spoonful of the cream cheese mixture into each cup.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
  • Once baked, remove and let cool before icing and decorating.
Above: Cross section of the Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcake. The minty candy cane decorations are really festive and perfect for the Holidays!

Below: It's not Christmas without Shortbread Cookies!!! I used the same Holiday decorations/embellishments on these, but with a Royal Icing.


 As for the crafts, I love the idea of having Little One make a decoration for the Christmas tree each year. I also love reusing, recycling, and re-purposing items around the house.  These ornaments were made before Little One was born. After Hubs and I got married, I wanted a Christmas ornament for the tree each year. I made one for Hubs and one for me using old light bulbs.

This is a great thing to make if you don't know what to do with all those burnt out light bulbs! Don't throw them away!

What are your favourite Christmas recipes?  Do you also make Christmas crafts? What do you think of homemade/handmade presents?

For lots of fun holiday cookie and baking ideas, check out the LMD Facebook page. Pillsbury will be sharing their ideas from December 3rd to the 15th and Betty Crocker will be sharing their ideas from December 17th to the 31st.
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
Friday, December 07, 2012

Win 1 of 4 Samsung Galaxy S III Phones #GalaxyChristmasGiveaway @TELUS


I remember my very first cell phone.  It was 1998 and I was living and teaching in Japan.  In Japan, everyone (from kids to grandmothers) had cell phones! Back home in Canada, it wasn't as commonplace to have a cell phone as it was in Japan back then. Even if you had one, it was one of those huge, clunky, monstrous ones!

I had a really sleek, compact, beautiful (yes, beautiful! I was in love with my phone) cell phone. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen! Compared to the huge, honkin' eye sores I  had seen in North America at the time, this thing was super small and thin! I didn't think I'd ever get that excited about a phone again until now.

It's the Season of Giving, and we are so excited to announce that...

This Lil Piglet, Mommy Matter, Life On Manitoulin and Sober Julie are giving away 4 Red Samsung Galaxy SIII!! Galaxy Christmas Giveaway

The Samsung Galaxy S III

Perfect for: the guy on the go or the socialista who wants the world at their fingertips.

The phone on everyone’s wish list this year, the Samsung Galaxy S III can literally do it all, from social networking to taking care of business. The 8 MP camera can also snap up to 20 pictures in just seconds. Available in sleek blue and white, this hot device is also available in a festive red for the holiday season. The Samsung Galaxy S III is available at TELUS for $159.99 (16 MB of memory) and $209.99 (32 MB of memory) on a three-year term with a minimum $50 plan/add-on.

If you are looking for gifts for friends and neighbours, check out the Cuddly Holiday Critter from Telus.

Telus Critter
TELUS’ cute and cuddly critters make the perfect stocking stuffer – and they help out in local communities, too! For each critter sold, $2 will be given to local grassroots organizations across the country. Since 2001, TELUS’ annual critter sales have generated close to $700,000 for hundreds of local charities across Canada like Big Brothers/ Big Sisters, Sick Kids Foundation, Opération Enfant Soleil, Boys and Girls Clubs and more. More than 220 TELUS stores across Canada are participating in this year’s campaign and the money raised in each location will go to organizations chosen by local TELUS store employees. The cheetah is available in select TELUS stores for $8 plus applicable taxes until December 31.

Enter to WIN 1 of 4 Samsung Galaxy SIII

Entry is simple, just fill in the Rafflecopter form below. Be sure to fill out the required information as entries will be verified. This giveaway is open to residents of Canada 18+ and will end December 31st. Winner will be notified and have 48 hours to respond. Telus is always interested in interacting with you all, you can find them on their Facebook Page or Twitter @Telus where they always do their best to answer questions. Right now they have an app on their Facebook Page where you can upload photos and make personalized Holiday Cards! Good luck everyone, we know someone will love receiving these red Samsung Galaxy SIII phones!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Food Safety, Talking Thermometers, @CanadianBeef, a Roast Recipe & a Giveaway! #loveCDNbeef


Cooking roasts can be a little daunting for some.  After all, they are huge, thick slabs of meat. You want to make sure to cook it properly. The same can be said for a thick cut of steak. Though my husband likes his meat on the slightly rare side, I'm more of an "I like my meat 'done' done" kind of girl.

Canadian Beef makes cooking roasts as easy as 1-2-3!

You can view a step by step video on oven roasting and even learn how to make the perfect gravy!  I love this site because it's such a wealth of information. There are so many amazing recipes, step by step "how to" videos, tips, and info on all things beef.

I can often be found with my Tablet perched on my island in the kitchen and scouring the Canadian Beef site for new recipes. Any questions I have when it comes to beef, I visit the Canadian Beef site!

My husband loves a good steak, but will tell you that one of his favourites is actually roast. Why? Well, he is a frugal beef farmer and a roast is one of the most economical cuts! Think about it. A roast can feed an entire family and you'll likely have leftovers for the next day.

Roasts are easier to prepare and cook than one may think. Because I'm usually really pressed for time, I often cook my roasts in my slow cooker.  This said, I really do love a good oven roast. Another beautiful thing about a roast is that you really don't need to fuss much over it. They practically cook themselves. I  have a great Dutch oven that I use to sear and cook my roasts in if I don't use the slow cooker.

One of my main concerns (especially since we have a little one now) is food safety. Not that it wasn't a priority before. I'm just much more mindful of it now.  This is why I am so excited to have received a cooler tote from Canadian Beef, an apron, and a Talking Remote Meat Thermometer. You can transport your meat from the grocery store or market to your home in your cooler tote, and make sure your meat is cooked perfectly with your Talking Remote Meat Thermometer!

So cool! The thermometer actually TALKS! It tells you when your meat is cooked! Seriously! It speaks when your meat has reached the right temp. I absolutely love it! No more worrying that meat is not cooked through properly...EVER!

Check it out here! Isn't this the coolest?


{Chrissy's Sunday Roast}

Ingredients:
1 c. Balsamic vinegar
6 cloves garlic, minced
freshly ground black pepper
fresh herbs of your choice (I actually used dried because that's what I had on hand) For this recipe, I used dried thyme, rosemary, mustard, a touch of cayenne and cumin, and a pinch of cinnamon) Sounds odd, but so tasty with the balsamic!
1 large onion, sliced
a little oil to sear
a little water


Instructions:
Marinate roast in balsamic vinegar with spices, onions and garlic overnight or at least 30 minutes (in fridge).  Remove from fridge. In Dutch oven, heat oil and sear meat. Cover and let cook. **Here is where the tricky part can be. Many recipes tell you how many minutes per pound to cook or what internal temperature you need to get to to make sure your meat is cooked. With the Talking Remote Thermometer, it tells you when you meat is ready! I usually cook my roast (if cooking in the oven at 350 degrees) for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Before I got my talking meat thermometer, I used to put my roast in for longer.  Talk about really wanting to make sure everything was cooked thoroughly!!

The roast was cooked to perfection (as you can see in the video posted above). The meat was so tender!
For a side, I decided to cook up some squash from our garden (these are our last two from the garden) and onions, garlic, and okra.  This happens to be one of my 4 year old's favourite dishes!

Butternut squash and okra sauteed with onions and garlic.
See? I wasn't joking when I told you that my 4 year old loves okra!

Et voila!


{WIN IT}
You thought that talking remote thermometer was pretty cool, right? Well, you can win one! The good people at Canadian Beef are giving one away! To enter, fill out the contest form here. With the talking remote thermometer, you will know when your roast is cooked to perfection...because it tells you! Estimated value: $120.00.  Go on! Head over to www.beefinfo.org and enter their contest now! Good luck!

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, December 06, 2012

Chilly Days Call for Chili (& Onion Crunch)



As you know, I married a beef farmer.  I've been living on a working beef farm since 2006. Both Hubby and our four year old daughter love their beef.  One of their favourite meals to eat on a chilly day is...You guessed it! CHILI!

I love my chili loaded with veg from the garden.  In the Fall or Winter, if we  have any of our veg in cold storage or in the freezer, I use them.  If not, I buy it at the local grocery store.  Some may think it odd for me to go heavy on the veg in chili, but I love the texture and nutritional value of those brightly coloured vegetables!

{ C's Chili }
Ingredients
2 to 3 lbs ground beef
2 large onions, chopped
4 - 6 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, diced
2 - 3 tomatoes, diced (or a can of diced tomatoes)
1 large carrot, diced (sometimes I shred the carrot because Little One now claims to not like cooked carrots)
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 large red pepper, diced (you can add orange and yellow peppers too. So pretty and tasty)
1 - 2 cups corn (I use corn from our farm, blanche, cut the kernels off the cob, store in Ziploc bags and freeze)
1- 2 cups kidney beans (soaked overnight OR 1 can kidney beans)
1 -2 cups chickpeas (soaked overnight OR 1 can chickpeas)
1 -2 cans tomato sauce, depends how thick you prefer your chili (if you don't make your own, you can use store bought)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili or cayenne pepper (I don't make it too spicy)
1 tsp thyme
a few splashes of vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar (optional)
oil to brown beef

As you can see, I'm not one to follow a specific recipe and don't give exact measurements. "Just go with how you like it or with what tastes right to you" is my motto.  People hate it when they ask for one of my recipes and I tell them I don't really have one!

Instructions:
In a large pot, heat oil and brown the beef, making sure to break it up into small pieces.
Add onions and cook until soft. Add garlic, spices, veggies and cook over medium heat.
Add sauce, vinegar, sugar, beans, chickpeas, and reduce to low. If you let simmer for 2 hrs+, the result is yummy, great-on-a-cold-day chili!

Just to be different, we added a sprinkling of Onion Crunch on top of our chili. I was trying to be fancy without having to fuss with cooking up crunchy onion rings to add on top! The Onion Crunch added an extra depth to the chili.

Curious about Onion Crunch?

Onion Crunch is a new, crunchy onion condiment that can be used to add a little "Je ne sais quoi" to your family's favourite meals. I've used it in casseroles, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and on vegetables, homemade pizza and burgers!

It's also the only all-natural kosher (parve), vegan, non-GMO crunchy onion topping in the U.S.

I'm a big fan of onion and garlic (in pretty much everything)! Love the crunchiness of Onion Crunch.

Disclosure - I received the above product to facilitate this honest review. All the thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are honest and my own.
Wednesday, December 05, 2012

#FisherPriceMoms Toy Year in Review & the Joy of Giving During the Holidays


Can you believe the Holidays are just around the corner?  I can and I can't.  It's hard to believe that a year has flown by.  The hot chocolate with candy cane swirls, the Christmas baking and comfort food making all signify the approach of the Holidays, but part of me does not know where the year whizzed by!

Thinking of my year as a Fisher-Price Mom, I have learned so much about the products and the company I have loved since I was a child.  I'm just glad that my daughter can enjoy the fun and learning I had with Fisher-Price as well! 
 
In January of last year, it was official - I was included as one of the Fisher-Price Moms! Thus began a fun year of learning more about Fisher-Price and their products and sharing exciting news and information with friends, family and readers.

We got to see first hand how Fisher-Price has something just right for different age groups and levels of development. It was pretty interesting to see how Fisher-Price has been present for almost all of Little One's milestones!

 
 
I also discovered that Fsher-Price is not just about toys! They have a huge variety of products for babies like the Fisher-Price Fast Finder Diaper Bag and the Fisher-Price Stretch 'ems!

They WOWED us with their newest items.  Little One spends hours playing with her toys! Her absolute favourite Fisher-Price toy? It's a toss up between her Little People play sets and the Servin' Surprises Kitchen & Table she received!



We shared with our readers all about Fisher-Price Celebrate & Save. Fisher-Price has some great savings on items that are great for your children and they're perfect for when you need to give a gift to someone else's child or children! Savings are a good thing!
I think the most valuable thing I took away from this experience so far has been learning more about Fisher-Prices's The Joy of Learning.  I love how Fisher-Price now has The Joy of Learning Playtime Guide! I discussed how Fisher-Price was instrumental in each of Little One's developmental milestones.
 
This year, I also thought a lot about my Holiday shopping habits. Once again, I am happy about Fisher-Price's Celebrate & Save! With our ever growing family and our circle of friends expanding with the births of a few new additions, I take advantage of the Celebrate & Save savings! Make sure to check out websaver.ca for your Fisher-Price savings coupons!

{T'is the Season!}
This year, in the Spirit of Giving, Fisher-Price is giving us the opportunity to share with others.  I've been asked to choose a charity to donate to. We have selected Haven House/Manitoulin Family Resources.

Little One chose this item to donate to Haven House. We hope that children there will be able to enjoy this Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Fun with Friends Musical Table.


That's not all! We are also spreading the joy by giving a friend who is expecting her first baby a Fisher-Price Snugabunny Cradle & Swing!
 

It's important for us to teach Little One that not everything is for her and that giving and sharing  actually makes us feel better than receiving all the time. Though we may not be extremely wealthy, we are definitely in a position to help others whenever we can. 

I'm thrilled that at four years old, Little One enjoys being able to give. We thank Fisher-Price and Mom Central Canada for allowing us to do this. I love that Fisher-Price is all about giving this month!
 


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.

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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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