Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Dream Kitchen + Win a $10,000 Ultimate Kitchen Makeover from Finish & Bosch

We sit down to a home cooked dinner as a family 7 nights a week (most weeks).  This, plus breakfasts and lunches means that we (me) spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  The food we make brings us together and lets us re-connect every night.  Life is busy but in the kitchen we all slow down.

Image: Dreamy Whites Online

Now, truth be told I have a tiny kitchen.  In fact, when we moved into our home 8 years ago we re-did the kitchen, replacing original 50 year old cabinets and counter tops with new modern cabinets and granite counters but we weren't able to do anything about the size of the room.  I tried to convince the designer to add an island (oh how I've always wanted an island) but she told me "look darling, you have a dollhouse kitchen, it is NEVER going to work."  Living in my kitchen now I realise she was right but it was a hard nut to swallow.  Still, I dream...

Can you imagine if you had $10,000 to spend on a kitchen reno?  What would you do?  I think I'd have a hard time nailing down the style of kitchen I'd want if I had carte blanche.  I love a farmhouse kitchen look

Win a $10,000 Ultimate Kitchen Makeover from Finish & Bosch

but I also love a traditional white cabinet too.

Win a $10,000 Ultimate Kitchen Makeover from Finish & Bosch
Image:  Alexandria General Contractors Harry Braswell Inc.

There are a few things though that I would absolutely want in my dream kitchen.  Some of these are bigger than others but they would all make for the perfect kitchen and allow my family to enjoy cooking and baking together that much more.

A pot tap above the stove:

    Win a $10,000 Ultimate Kitchen Makeover from Finish & Bosch
    Image: Indulgy

Functional Baseboards - stools, vacuum, storage:

Win a $10,000 Ultimate Kitchen Makeover from Finish & Bosch

A small fridge for drinks and snacks:

Win a $10,000 Ultimate Kitchen Makeover from Finish & Bosch
Image: Platinum Designs LLC

Hidden Message Centre/Family Command Centre:

Win a $10,000 Ultimate Kitchen Makeover from Finish & Bosch
Image: Diamond Reflections

A baking centre with marble counter:

Win a $10,000 Ultimate Kitchen Makeover from Finish & Bosch
Image: Houszz

Hidden storage for everyday items:

Win a $10,000 Ultimate Kitchen Makeover from Finish & Bosch

An amazing gas range:

Win a $10,000 Ultimate Kitchen Makeover from Finish & Bosch
Image: Bosch Canada

Okay, the more I look at kitchens the more I think that this one with a few of the neat hidden storage or organizational tricks listed above would be my DREAM kitchen!

Win a $10,000 Ultimate Kitchen Makeover from Finish & Bosch

One item I can't live without in my kitchen is my dishwasher. It is in constant use. I recently tried Finish® Powerball dishwasher capsules. Here's a little secret about me, I'm not a rinser. That means I usually have pretty dirty dishes in my dishwasher. Finish® left my dishes sparkling. I personally love that there is no measuring, just pop in a capsule and you're done.

Dreaming about a your dream kitchen is fun but having it in your home is even better!  Finish®, in partnership with Bosch®, is looking to make this a reality for 10 lucky winners. 

Win a $10,000 Ultimate Kitchen Makeover from Finish & Bosch

They will be giving away 10 Ultimate Kitchen makeovers valued at $10,000 as part of their Buy One Get One with mail-in-rebate in-store promotion.  Full contest details can be found here.

Hopefully you will be one of the 10 people turning your kitchen dream into reality!

Disclosure – I am participating in the Ultimate Kitchen Makeover Blogger Campaign on behalf of Finish. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Running for the Cure: Keeping Motivated - Songs,Scenery and Socializing

I've been seeing a real change in my resolve these last couple of weeks.  Starting a new exercise routine is difficult and sometimes it can feel overwhelming.  Let's face it, I'm not one for sticking to resolutions and staying motivated is difficult for the best of us. One of the reasons I was really excited to start training for the CIBC Run for the Cure was that it put a tangible goal in place.

I love that this was a goal that I couldn't get around.  As my husband will tell you (over and over), I am "a bit" competitive.  That means that there is NO way I would feel comfortable showing up and not being ready to run the 5 km, in fact I'd be mortified if I couldn't keep up with the other runners.  Secondly, I'm a team captain so I am supposed to be their fearless leader, motivating, setting an example and taking away any fear they may harbor.   October 6, 2013 is set in stone, I need to be ready to run!

Lucky for me I have found 3 amazing motivators;
Songs, Scenery and Socialization.

Let's talk socialization.  I am working more this year and our fall activities have started up.  This means that I am busier than ever and so are all my friends.  BUT now I have a regular running date with 3 different friends.  This means that on a weekly basis I get to spend about an hour chatting (while running) with my girls.  Honestly, this feels like found time.  It is amazing too.  When you are running and chatting you almost (almost) forget that you are running.  The time goes a lot faster.

A bonus of running with other people is that you have made a commitment to someone other than yourself.  If you have a hard time staying motivated, this is a great solution.  Many of us don't mind letting ourselves down but we don't like to let other people down.  Having a standing date to run with a friend keeps the momentum of training going.

The other thing that I've found exciting about running with friends is that they will often have different route ideas. This means changing up the scenery which we all know is a great way to get out of a funk.  I can't believe how many beautiful trails there are in Ontario, not to mention in my neighbourhood.  I feel like I have been missing out on some of this hidden gems because they are only accessible on foot or bike.  Getting outside, taking deep breaths and enjoying the immense beauty my city holds has been an added bonus and a real motivator for me.

On those rare occasions when I don't have anyone to run with, music is my friend.  Songs can help push you through or distract you when motivation is lagging and training feels tough.  If I'm running by myself you can be guaranteed that I'm listening to music.  I've found though that it can help me find my rhythm and really drive me forward.  Just like chatting with friends, it is a (well needed) distraction as I work to push myself further.

Here are a few songs from my running playlist:

  • Eminem - Lose Yourself
  • Set Fire to the Rain - Adele
  • Give It Away – Red Hot Chilli Peppers
  • Bang Bang Bang - Selena Gomez
  • No Creo - Shakira
  • What Goes Around - Justin Timberlake
  • Walking on Broken Glass - Annie Lennox
  • Forget You - Cee Lo Green
  • I Got a Feeling - Black Eyed Peas
  • Beautiful Day - U2
  • Raise Your Glass - Pink
  • Clocks - Coldplay
  • Closer To Fine – Indigo Girls
  • Work It - Missy Elliot
  • Hey Soul Sister - Train
  • Wonder - Natalie Merchant
  • Stay - Rhianna

An eclectic mix - YES!  Here's an important point I quickly learned when choosing music.  Although you'll want the music to be upbeat, I found that I would sometimes get so carried away running to the beat that I end up running too quickly and burn out.  I started running to a "gym" mix I had made at one point but the beats per minute were just too fast.  Instead I've found mixing some faster and slower beats allow me to push myself then slow my pace to catch my breath.  It's a fine balance.

It is amazing how music, friends and scenery can make something that seems overwhelming, doable. I feel I am well on my way to reaching my goal, I've made healthy changes to my routine that will stick with me moving forward and that feels good!

Image: Katrina Chambers

Has all this motivational talk made you want to join us?  You can still Register for CIBC Run for the Cure.  I promise, a goal like this that will impact so many lives makes training that much easier.  You can even join my team!  If you can't participate, why not Donate to an individual or team or Volunteer for the event!   Join the conversation on Twitter or follow The Run for the Cure on Facebook to learn more.

This post was generously sponsored by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, but the opinions are my own. For more information visit

Monday, September 23, 2013

Overhauling the Cabin: A Family Retreat gets Updated

This post brought to you by Royal Building Products. All opinions are 100% mine.

Over 50 years ago my husband's grandfather bought a piece of farmland on a lake.  I don't think he envisioned it originally but this property has turned into our meeting place each summer.  It has become the family gathering spot that truly provides inneumerable memories and marks the beginning and ending of summer each year.

Royal Building Products - Vinyl Patio Doors for cabin

At first his grandfather built some day cabins then eventually a more permanent cottage.  One of the day cabins remains.  It is rustic and charming but in need of a little upgrading and TLC.  As the kids get older and we need more space, we're upgrading the little cabin to make it a more comfortable and a permanent summer retreat for our growing family.

One of the big items we want to install is patio doors.  We currently have some very old picture windows facing the lake but we would like to replace them with patio doors.  It would improve the flow of traffic within the cottage and provide quick access to the water.   

Royal Building Products - replace old wood windows with vinyl patio doors

The Jazz Wide patio doors would be great because they can accomodate internal blinds.  This is a great feature since we will be putting a pull out couch in the room for overnight guests.  Of course I love the idea of having a full wall of windows that open up completely to create an outdoor room.  The Overture folding patio doors would be perfect.  

Whichever way we go design wise, using vinyl patio doors makes a lot of sense.  Vinyl requires almost no maintenance which is important at the cottage.  Vinyl has the colour integrated throughout so it will never need repainting and unlike aluminum or wood frames, vinyl will never pit, flake or rot. This is especially important for our cabin as it faces the lake.  

Royal Building Products - Expand indoor/outdoor space with vinyl patio doors

Right now our windows are very drafty.  Replacing them with vinyl patio doors will help reduce air leakage and drafts.  It will also lessen the sound transmission from outside to inside which will be great on those evenings when another cottager is enjoying a late night party on the water.  Having new Energy Star rated patio doors will also help us save on heating and cooling costs.  

Royal Building Products is a leader in the industry.  They have a full line of vinyl windows, doors and trims to suit every project and need, this means it is a one stop shop - love it!  I also love that they have manufacturing facilities in both Canada and the USA.  

Replacing the cabin's large windows with patio doors is our current plan but I have a feeling that we won't be able to stop at just the patio doors.  With such a beautiful addition to the front of the cottage I'm pretty sure we'll end up replacing all the other windows in the cabin too.  I can't wait!

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

10 Delicious Movie Night Popcorn Recipes

We're doing a fundraiser for the Run for the Cure and I thought it would be really fun to have a movie night at the house.  What movie night would be complete without popcorn.  Here are 10 amazing popcorn ideas for your next movie night!

10 Delicious Movie Night Popcorn Recipes

Funfetti Cake Batter Popcorn:

Image & Recipe: Sweet Tooth

What kid doesn't like cake?  This recipe takes the best of birthday cake and mixes it with popcorn.  Does it get any better than that?  


  • popcorn
  • yellow cake mix
  • white chocolate chips
  • vegetable oil
  • sprinkles

Cranberry Orange Caramel Corn:

Image & Recipe: The Novice Chef

This recipe may be for the more sophisticated palette but it would be great for the parents who come to watch the movie too.  


  • popcorn 
  • dried cranberries
  • chopped pecans
  • butter
  • brown sugar
  • corn syrup
  • orange juice
  • vanilla
  • baking soda

Cookies n' Cream Popcorn:

Image & Recipe: Sweet Tooth

Cookies and popcorn mixed together?  Yup, you got it.  This recipe takes the kids' favourite cookie and combines it with popcorn for a sweet treat that can't be beat.


  • popcorn
  • Oreos
  • vanilla candy melts

Peppermint Bark Popcorn:

Image & Recipe: Premeditated Leftovers

This is a festive recipe that would be great in the winter.  It ties together a favourite flavour of the winter, candy canes, with the tradition of popcorn.


  • popcorn
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • white chips
  • candy canes

Sweet & Salty Rainbow Popcorn:

Image & Recipe: Frugal Foodie Mama

Kids love colourful food and this rainbow popcorn recipe delivers.  A sweet treat that will brighten up any movie night.


  • butter
  • canola oil
  • light corn syrup
  • liquid food coloring 
  • kosher salt
  • popcorn

Apple Pie Popcorn Balls:

Image & Recipe: Couponing & Cooking

How much fun would this recipe be for a class movie day?  These little popcorn apples taste like apple pie. 


  • popcorn 
  • butter
  • marshmallows
  • Duncan Hines Frostings Creations Apple Pie flavor
  • red food coloring
  • pretzel sticks
  • green sour straws candy

Candy Corn Popcorn:

Image & Recipe: Sweet Simple Stuff

This seasonal recipe is perfect for the fall and Halloween parties.  The candy corn adds the perfect fall colour and taste.  


  • popcorn
  • salted peanuts
  • Rice Krispies
  • white chocolate (or candy melts)
  • dark chocolate
  • creamy peanut butter
  • candy corn

Caramel Nutella Popcorn:

Image & Recipe: Remodelaholic
Do you have a Nutella lover in your family?  This recipe creates a sinfully delicious movie night addition.  

  • popcorn
  • brown sugar
  • corn syrup
  • Nutella
  • vanilla
  • baking soda

Spicy Buffalo Popcorn:

Image & Recipe: Average Betty

This recipe uses hot sauce to spice up your popcorn.  It is the perfect addition to an afternoon of watching the big game with friends and family.


  • popcorn
  • buffalo wing sauce
  • butter
  • salt

Maple Pumpkin Spice Popcorn:

Image & Recipe: Family Fresh Cooking
A true fall popcorn recipe that ties in flavours of pumpkin and spice.  This is sure to be a hit with your movie watchers.


  • popcorn
  • coconut oil
  • maple syrup
  • pumpkin purée
  • sea salt
  • cinnamon
  • pumpkin pie spice
  • roasted salted pecans

The next step is to pick a movie everyone will enjoy.  I think that is a more difficult task than making the popcorn for sure.  Happy Movie Night!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Running for a Cure - Part 2: A Family FUNdraising Affair

As I mentioned in part one of this series, the whole family is doing the CIBC Run for the Cure together.  The kids and my husband are walking the 1 km route and I am running the 5 km route along with other team members.  This means there are 4 of us with fundraising goals and 4 of us fundraising for the same cause.

Running for a Cure: A Family FUNdraising Affair - CIBC Run for the Cure

This makes the task of fundraising a bit more challenging because we all know the same people.  As it is, fundraising at this time of the year can be a difficult venture.  People have just shelled out a ton of money preparing their kids for back to school and registering for after school programs.  Wallets are thin, money is tight.  So instead of just canvassing for a donation, the kids came up with their own creative plans that allowed people to donate but in return they received something too.

3 Simple Tips to succeed in fundraising:

  1. Set realistic goals.
  2. Let the kids come up with their own fundraising ideas.
  3. Make it fun.

Following the rules set out above we set a realistic goal.  The kids both set a target of raising $60.  We felt this was an attainable amount and if they happened to surpass it, that would be icing on the cake. 

Next the kids started brainstorming ways they could raise funds.  Ideas of lemonade stands, bake sales and garage sales were thrown out.  While we haven't ruled any of these out, my son decided that he could sweep people's front walks for a donation.

Running for a Cure: A Family FUNdraising Affair - CIBC Run for the Cure
Saturday morning - off to sweep front walks.

It was pretty sweet.  He set out on Saturday morning, broom in hand, and went to some of the neighbourhood houses asking if he could sweep their front walk for a $1 donation to the CIBC Run for the Cure.  He had his spiel down and at $1 who could resist?

Running for a Cure: A Family FUNdraising Affair - CIBC Run for the Cure

Well, I think he may have got a little more than he bargained for because there was a lot of sweeping to be done but he never once complained.  In fact if the job looked bigger I think he felt he was doing a better job.  Our neighbours were generous and his $1 donation request was soon forgotten.  He quickly reached his fundraising goal and as a family we got out of the house, connected with neighbours, shared information about breast cancer and the CIBC Run for the Cure.

Running for a Cure: A Family FUNdraising Affair - CIBC Run for the Cure
A little break along the way.

My daughter's fundraising idea actually fell in her lap one evening when we were out for dinner.  She brought her new bracelet making kit to occupy her while she waited for her meal.  Our waitress was chatting with her and asked if she could buy a bracelet.  After saying that she could just make her one for free the waitress objected and said that she wanted to start her off on her entrepreneurial venture.  We told her that my daughter was raising money for the CIBC Run for the Cure so we would put the money towards her fundraising goal.  The next thing we knew there was a lineup of staff asking to buy bracelets with the money going towards the CIBC Run for the Cure.

Running for a Cure: A Family FUNdraising Affair - CIBC Run for the Cure
Dinner and bracelets.  A new fundraising idea.

It snowballed from there.  She spent a few hours making more bracelets and has sold them to neighbours, family and friends.  Everyone loved having something to take away and knew that their money was going to a good cause.

Running for a Cure: A Family FUNdraising Affair - CIBC Run for the Cure

We still have some more ideas for FUNdraising which will hopefully include a movie night for their friends.  Our idea is to charge a nominal admission fee and provide a movie and snacks for everyone.  A movie for the kids and a free night for the parents.  I think it will be a success!

Running for a Cure: A Family FUNdraising Affair - CIBC Run for the Cure
The family that FUNdraises together, has fun together!

The most important part of fundraising is keeping the FUN in it.  The kids felt empowered by their ability to raise money for charity.  By drawing on their own talents and strengths we were able to reach out to different people for achieve our fundraising goals.  The experience has been fun, we have bonded as a family but we're not done.  We are still hoping to raise more before the run on Sunday October 6, 2013.

Feeling inspired?  You can join in too!  Register to participate, Donate to an individual or team or Volunteer for the event.  Each is just as important as the other.  Join the conversation on Twitter or follow The Run for the Cure on Facebook to learn more.

This post was generously sponsored by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, but the opinions are my own. For more information visit

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