Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Totally Awesome Jewelry - Learning Rainbow Loom

As you know my kids are Rainbow Loom crazy.  They are making them, selling them, teaching friends how to make them.  When my son has hockey, my daughter makes bracelets (in fact, she's making team bracelets now).  When my daughter has gymnastics, my son is busy whipping up some new fishtail bracelets for his friends.  It seems that wherever my kids are, the Rainbow Loom is there with them.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Rainbow loom itself is amazing but the instructions that come with it are pretty pathetic.  We hop on YouTube every once in awhile to follow instructions for new patterns but it means we need to be connected.  That's why I was really excited when I was approached to test and review the book "Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry" by Colleen Dorsey.  It is a new instructional book that teaches you how to make 13 different projects with your Rainbow Loom, Cra-Z-Loom or FunLoom.  It's more than just bracelets too.  Your kids (and you) will learn to make earrings, belts, necklaces and more.

Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry - Great instruction book


The book arrived just as the kids were getting off the bus.  they both ran to the table to get started.  I went through the first new pattern with my son (age 7) because I wasn't sure if he'd be able to follow written instructions.  I left my daughter (age 8.5) to fend for herself because I was curious to see if the instructions were manageable without a parent's help.  Both were successful.

Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry - Great instruction book


What I loved about this book:

  1. The photos and instructions were really clear.
  2. Every pattern included photos of the completed project as well as step by step photos.
  3. Every pattern also included a diagram of the elastics on the loom with numbered steps beside them.  
  4. The patterns progressed from easier to more difficult.
  5. Simple tips were included throughout that kind of gave you 'aha' moments.


Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry - Great instruction book

One of my favourite features of "Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry" was the way the patterns were laid out in the diagrams.  Each new pattern was depicted in 3 different colour combinations both in a photo of the final product and the diagrams showing the elastics on the loom.  This allowed the kids to really understand the basics of the pattern.  Once they'd done all three (or sometimes less) versions of the patterns shown, they felt comfortable switching it up and choosing colour patterns of their own.



Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry by Collen Dorsey is available in paperback at toy and book stores starting tomorrow, October 31st.  It retails for $9.99 and is the perfect add-on for the Rainbow Loom when giving it as a gift.  If a child already has a loom, package it up with a few new bags of elastics for a wonderful birthday gift.  It would also make a great stocking stuffer and we know Christmas is really just around the corner.


Book Giveaway:


Great news! I've got 3 copies of "Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry" by Collen Dorsey to give away! You can be one of the first to own it! Enter the rafflecopter contest below for your chance to win on of three Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry books!


Please note: The giveaway is open to Canadian residents over the age of 18 only.

Good Luck and happy looming! Can't wait to see the totally awesome rubber band jewelry your kids make!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Judging a Book (or a mom) by the Cover

I think we've all done it, judged a book by its cover.  More often than that, we judge other moms.  Our judgements are often based on their look, their comportment, their mood, how they're handling their kids.  I, like the judges on this show, made an assumption about this mom based on her appearance and I am the first to admit that I was totally off-base and wrong for making a pre-judgement.  


It is always a good reminder to reserve judgement until you yourself have gotten to know a person.  I came across this picture today and it follows along the same lines.  It is another good reminder with Halloween just one week away.

Image Source: Rett Girl
Take time to get to know people, learn about them, their talents, their struggles and their dreams.  More often than not you'll be pleasantly surprised, informed and enlightened.  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I Find Shopping Rewarding

So my name says it all.  I'm the "on a dime" mama.  I love shopping but my husband will tell you, I often have trouble pulling the trigger when it comes to actually buying something.  Now I'm not saying that I am cheap or that I don't like nice things.  I'm just conscientious with my money; I like a good deal and knowing that I'm getting value for my money.  That is why I was so excited to learn that my CAA Membership gets me exclusive discounts at stores that I love, travel and attractions that we want to go to as a family.  Did you know that a CAA Membership is so much more than just roadside assistance?  Honestly, I had no idea.




With CAA's new CAA Rewards program there are over 164,000 retail outlets and services worldwide that offer special discounts, savings and rewards to CAA Members.  That means savings on items such as clothing, hotel rooms and entertainment simply by showing my CAA Membership card.  What a great benefit!  But it gets even better.



One of the easiest ways to use my CAA Membership to my full advantage is to visit the CAA eStore and shop from over 40 retailers. Every time I shop at one of them, I earn CAA Dollars. It really is as simple as 1-2-3.


  1. I visit the CAA eStore where I choose the retailer I want to shop at.
  2. I select Shop Now and sign in with my CAA Membership number. I am taken directly to that retailer's website and shop like I normally would.
  3. When I check out, my CAA Dollars are processed and added to my account within 90 days.


Many of the stores are stores I already shop at but now I am being rewarded for shopping at them.  So, as I buy things that I would normally buy anyway I earn CAA Dollars that can be used to buy movie tickets, renew my membership, purchase travel merchandise, insurance renewal premium or even book my next vacation.  Every CAA Dollar I earn equals $1.00 CAD.  It is that simple. Why wouldn't I do my shopping this way?


So now this has me thinking about Christmas.  My son wants a new hockey bag and my daughter wants a Roots hoodie.  They are old enough that I can't simply divert their attention and throw a gift in the bottom of the stroller as we shop together.  This means that I do A LOT of my holiday shopping online after they're in bed.  Now I can visit the CAA e-store and earn CAA Dollars as I buy the things on their lists.  We can then use the CAA Dollars for an upcoming family vacation we're planning.  It's like free money!!!  

Being a savvy shopper is simple with a CAA Membership. I've discovered a way to get the things we need, save money doing it and even save for a future vacation.  All that tied up with my CAA Membership.  What can I say?  Shopping is definitely rewarding!


This post was sponsored by CAA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Creamy Pina Colada Guacamole Recipe - YOPA! Greek Yogurt Giveaway


Creamy Pina colada Guacamole Recipe - YOPA Yogurt

September is a bit of a crazy month in our house.  It is back to school, back to full time work and a lot of time on the road for my husband.  With the hubby travelling I am on double duty.  This adds another layer of stress.  Not only are we getting used to new routines, after school activities are beginning and I'm on my own to navigate these new waters myself.  In September I find it is important to remind myself to stop and enjoy little moments throughout the day.  If not, it is too easy to let it all go by in a blur and not savor the little things that truly make life interesting.

One of the things I began to look forward to was the afternoon break my co-workers and I added into our days.  It isn't long, perhaps 10 minutes but it is a time to chat, have a snack, release some stress and connect.  When I am stressed I tend to reach for something sweet. This was becoming a bit of a habit.  To change that we decided to take turns bringing in healthy snacks for an afternoon break.  I brought in YOPA Lotta Pina Colada Greek Yogurt for everyone to try.

YOPA! Lotta Pina Colada stirred Greek Yogurt


With 8 grams of protein, only 80 calories per serving, 0% fat, no gelatin or artificial colours or flavours it fit the bill.  I'll be honest though, I was a bit nervous as to whether I'd like it.  Usually I'm not a huge fan of Greek yogurt on its own.  I use it in smoothies and baking but find that it is too thick for my taste.  This was different though.  I found the YOPA to be smooth, creamy and light.  The Pina Colada flavour was perfect.  It had just enough pineapple and coconut flavour but wasn't too sweet, another problem I find with many yogurts.  It was a hit!

When I got home I had an OPA! moment.  I realised I had a few avocados ripening on the counter.  Two of my favourite Mexican treats are guacamole and pina coladas so why not combine them into one delicious dish?!?  Using my YOPA! Greek Yogurt meant that my guacamole would be even healthier, adding protein and definitely creamy.

YOPA! Lotta Pina Colada stirred Greek Yogurt

The results were delicious.  In fact, the kids gobbled it up after school and I had to make another batch to take with me to work for our afternoon break.  Thank goodness I had a second package of yogurts in the fridge and lots of avocados!

Creamy Pina Colada Guacamole Recipe:


Creamy Pina Colada Guacamole Recipe

Ingredients:


  • 2-Large ripe avacados
  • 1-100g container YOPA Lotta Pina Colada Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 c. Red onion - diced
  • 2 Tbsp. Cilantro - chopped
  • 1/4 or 1/2 tsp. cumin (to your taste)
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice (~1 lime)
  • salt to taste
  • grilled pineapple segments to garnish (optional)

Method:

  1. In a bowl, use a fork to mash your avacados.
  2. Add in the yogurt and stir until fully combined and smooth.
  3. Mix in the red onion, cilantro, cumin, lime juice and salt.
  4. Garnish with grilled pineapple segments.
  5. Serve!


YOPA! Giveaway:

Great news! This is your chance to try YOPA! Greek Yogurt yourself. Enter the rafflecopter contest below to be entered to win a $100 YOPA prize pack!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Please note: The giveaway is open to Canadian residents over the age of 18 only. There are a few other bloggers also offering this prize package.Please note that although you can enter across multiple blogs, you can only win on one. Follow the hashtag #OpaYopa on Twitter to find more YOPA! giveaways.

Good Luck!

I am participating in the YOPA Blogger Campaign by Mom Central Canada on behalf of General Mills,
and received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion.
The opinions on this blog are my own.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Rainbow Loom Fun & Instructions

My kids are loving the Rainbow Loom I bought.  I'll admit it, I'm loving it too.  I had seen it advertised and picked one up as a gift for a birthday party.  I thought it would be great for my daughter too so I picked one up for her.  Little did I know that my son would like it as much as she did and that they would be taking turns making bracelets for each other and their friends.

Rainbow Loom Fun & Instructions


The Rainbow Loom set is comprised of a hook (think crochet hook) and a plastic grid (loom).  You simply place coloured elastic bands on the loom and use the hook to link them together. Different patterns net different types of bracelets.

Rainbow Loom Fun & Instructions


I personally hated the instructions that came with the set.  I didn't find them clear and they only showed one type of bracelet.  I have found that the internet is a great source of instructions for different patterns.  Later I noticed that even the company sends you to YouTube to find better instructions than they provide.

It is funny though.  The first pattern they teach is the single loop which creates a bracelet like the ones below.



My son and other younger kids all seem to find this one difficult.  The hooking takes practice and they often find themselves knocking off an elastic when they are trying to hook one on.  I would highly suggest starting with the fishtail pattern.  It is easy and the results look far more complicated and impressive than they really are.  My daughter even made a necklace (worn as a hairband below), bracelet and ring set in the car as we drove to pick apples.

Rainbow Loom Fun & Instructions


I found that a tackle box is a great container for keeping all the elastics organized and ready to use.  I picked this one up at the dollar store for $1.25.  When we first got the mixed bag of elastics we sorted them ourselves.  Later we bought packages of individual colored elastics and we just refill the tackle box as needed.

Rainbow Loom Fun & Instructions - storage

I came across this photo of someone who used baby food jars to separate and store their elastics.

Rainbow Loom Fun & Instructions
Image: Mason Jar Crafts Love

While there are a million videos out there now, here are a few videos that I have found that are clear and easy to follow.  I've put them in the order I'd suggest trying them.

Fish Tail:



Single Triple:



Rainbow Ladder:



Starburst:



I met one lady in a store who bought one for her son in hopes of improving his fine motor skills but unsure if he would like it.  She was back at the store buying more elastics because he was obsessed.

Rainbow Loom Fun & Instructions - fine motor skill development


I even hosted a Rainbow Loom Bracelet making party for the kids and their friends as we prepared to make them as a fundraiser for the CIBC Run for the Cure.  It was a huge success.  They each helped the others if anyone got stumped and taught each other new patterns.  My friend threw a Rainbow Loom party for her daughter last minute when their pool party was rained out.  She picked up a loom for each kid and it became the activity and the loot bag.  They loved it!

Rainbow Loom Fun & Instructions


The Rainbow Loom was a great purchase that has exceeded my expectations.  It has provided hours of fun for the kids and if truth be told, for me too.  They use it at home and in the car.  I have created a Rainbow Loom Pinterest board that I'm always updating.   If you're looking for a great activity for your kids/tweens or a present for a birthday party, I highly recommend a Rainbow Loom.

Monday, October 7, 2013

I'm glad I got "that" off my chest!

Yesterday my family joined hundreds of  thousands of others across Canada for the CIBC Run for the Cure to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research.  The impact of being in a place where thousands of people have gathered for one purpose is awesome.

CIBC Run for the Cure - Toronto


We woke up to rain - yes, rain!  How could it rain on such an important day?  After a quick mad dash to grab rain gear we were out the door.  Nothing was going to curb our enthusiasm.  The excitement for the kids began at the subway as they noticed other people coming down to the platform wearing the same shirt as them and it only intensified as we arrived at the run location and were surrounded by other participants decked out in team t-shirts, crazy outfits and lots of good cheer.

CIBC Run for the Cure - Team Names and Costumes

Originally the plan had been for me to run with some of the other Run DMC teammates and the kids to walk with my husband but a few days before the run we decided to walk as a family.  We entered into this together and we wanted to see it through together.

CIBC Run for the Cure - Team Run DMC

So decked out in our Run DMC t-shirts, with our dedication badges on and pink pom poms in hand we embarked on our 1 km walk amidst survivors, their friends, their families and others like us who want to make a difference.

Although breast cancer isn't a light topic some of the team names were hilarious; Bibbity Bobbity Boobs, Simply the Breast, Helena's Honkers.  I can only imagine my son's reaction in a few years when he gets the joke.  I also loved the dedications, some heartwarming, others, like the one below - humorous.   It was inspiring to see so many positive people out on a gloomy day to bring awareness to the fact that an estimated 23,800 women and 200 men in Canada will be diagnosed with the disease this year. From the participants, to the musicians, to the countless volunteers that made this run possible, it was a remarkable day.

CIBC Run for the Cure

For the last month we have fundraised together and brought awareness to our community and friends.  My team went above and beyond my expectations raising over $2700 with another $200 on its way.

CIBC Run for the Cure - Team Run DMC Donations


The kids especially got into the spirit of raising money.  After hearing that they were selling homemade bracelets to raise money for the CIBC Run for the Cure they were invited to sell their bracelets at our local Jack Astor's restaurant on a Saturday night.  To prepare we invited some of their friends for a bracelet making party.  The kids all jumped at the chance to help out and together they made over 150 bracelets.

CIBC Run for the Cure - Rainbow Loom Party

Jack Astor's generously threw in free kids' meals for anyone who bought 5 bracelets and a $75 gift card to be drawn from anyone who made a donation.  It was a HUGE success.  The kids managed to raise $450 in that one evening!

CIBC Run for the Cure - Team Run DMC Fundraising for the Cure

When my family registered about a month ago I really didn't know how much that decision would impact our lives.  Now that we have done it once, we are ready to do it again.  The kids have already begun to plan out our team outfits for next year and they are ready to train to run the 5 km.  My mind has been blown by the generosity of our community and the way that we have been inspired and inspired others.  It has been an amazing journey and one that continues.  See you next year!

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

Thursday, October 3, 2013

She Laughs Without Fear of the Future - Run for the Cure

The CIBC Run for the Cure is this Sunday, October 6, 2013.  I can hardly believe it is already here. Training and fundraising have provided me with some unexpected and delightful encounters.  It is amazing how stepping out of your routine and trying something new can have such a powerful effect in so many aspects of your life.


CIBC Run for the Cure


Training:


As I mentioned in my previous post, I have really enjoyed some of the non-running benefits of training; the scenery, the company and listening to music.  I have also really enjoyed the running itself.  It has been great to kick-start my fitness routine and like many runners will tell you, it is almost meditative.  Most of my training has been good but I did have a minor setback last week that got me worried.  It wasn't an injury or anything to really be concerned with but it shook me as we are very close to race day.  


CIBC Run for the Cure
Out for a run to prepare for the race

My normal Friday morning running group wasn't able to go for different reasons so I took the opportunity to run with another friend in the afternoon.  She's training for a marathon and a WAY better runner than me but we've run together many times and I've always been able to keep up (mostly).  Well this run was terrible. Within 5 minutes of starting I was needing to walk.  I had to walk at least 4 or 5 times in the 6 kms we did.  I felt awful, my legs felt like lead and worst of all, I felt defeated.  

I didn't feel great all weekend and am only now getting my full energy back.  I think I had a bit of a bug.  Although I worried that I wouldn't have the energy to make it through the 5 km this weekend I am back on track and raring to go.  I also know that the spirit and energy of the event will carry me through even if I'm not feeling 100%.  


CIBC Run for the Cure - firemen in pink
Hoping to see these guys at the CIBC Run for the Cure this Sunday!

Fundraising:


Fundraising has also allowed us to connect with our neighbours.  You may remember that my kids came up with some creative fundraising ideas instead of just asking people to donate.  Well, they inspired one family in our neighbourhood to get involved too.  A few hours after we left their house they set up a lemonade stand with all proceeds going to the CIBC Run for the Cure.  Originally they were hoping to join our team but a prior commitment this coming Sunday didn't allow it.  Still, they had their lemonade sale and donated the $30 they raised to Team Run DMC!  I love how positive energy and charity can spread like wildfire.  Next year they will be running with us for sure.


CIBC Run for the Cure - fundraising ideas
Who could resist?  A neighbour selling lemonade "for the Cure".

My team has reached our collective goal and I have far exceeded my personal goal due to the generosity of friends and family. 


CIBC Run for the Cure


That being said, there is still time for more fundraising and we plan on attacking that this weekend.  A local restaurant (the one where my daughter first sold her bracelets) invited my kids to come back this Saturday and set up a table to sell their bracelets.  They are even providing gift cards and free kids meal vouchers to help encourage people to donate.  My kids are so excited about the prospect of raising more money for the CIBC Run for the Cure.


Team:


Run DMC is 11 members strong!  Most of us are first time participants and eager to show our support.  We've got our Team T-shirts ordered, we're planning some pink accessories and everyone has been training in their own way.  My kids have participated in the kilometer club during recess at school to prepare, another team member was running the beach while vacationing in Mexico.  You know my routine.  Our team is spread out so we're really looking forward to coming together on Sunday and doing this together!


Community:


One of the most unexpected and positive things that has come from training and fundraising for the CIBC Run for the Cure has been friendships I've made and personal stories that have touched me to the core.  I met a new friend online, a woman who is battling not only breast cancer but also pancreatic cancer. Through her I have learned about radiation, mapping (tiny tattoos on her belly to ensure her radiation hits the right spots), family histories of cancer and most of all strength, determination and the importance of positive thinking and good friends you can rely on.  She is truly an inspiration to me.  

I also learned that my son's grade 1 teacher is a breast cancer survivor.  She not only survived but went on to beat the odds by having three children after a mastectomy, aggressive chemotherapy and radiation and a year-long regimen of the strong breast tumour-fighting drug Tamoxifen.  There are miracles to believe in!


CIBC Run for the Cure - We are strong quote


I feel blessed every day that breast cancer is not a fight that I am battling personally.  I truly believe that the hard work, commitment and fundraising done through events such as the CIBC Run for the Cure will make a difference so that my daughter and future generations will grow up without the fear of breast cancer.  


CIBC Run for the Cure - laugh without fear of the future quote
Image Source

I know that I am setting a good example for my children and together we are learning about charity and empathy. We are having conversations about a scary topic in a non-threatening environment.  It is bringing us closer and providing us a goal to work towards as a family.  This is a real blessing.

There is still time to get involved.  You can participate, donate, or volunteer.  Join the conversation on Twitter or follow The Run for the Cure on Facebook to learn more. I can't wait to share stories from the day itself and who knows, maybe I'll even see you there!


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

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

10 Simple Halloween Treats Anyone Can Make!

Halloween is definitely a time for treats.  With parties at school and parties at home sometimes we just need a little inspiration to break out of the box.  Here are 10 simple Halloween treats you can easily whip up at home.  They're spooktacular!

10 Simple Halloween Treats Anyone Can Make!



Monster Food:

All of these treats have one item in common, Wilton candy eyeballs.  Pick up a package and let your imagination do the rest.

10 Simple Halloween Treats Anyone Can Make! - Monster Food
Image & Idea: thirty handmade days


Monster Cookies:

These monster cookies are actually made from a cake mix but you could use the same concept with your favourite sugar cookie recipe.  Add a little green food colouring to the batter and grab those candy eyeballs again.

10 Simple Halloween Treats Anyone Can Make! - Monster Cookies
Image & Idea: Lil' Luna


Purple People Eaters:

These are definitely going to turn heads.  Believe it or not, they're simple to make.  Grab some marshmallows, coconut, chocolate melts, candy corn, candy eyes and coconut.  There are photo instructions so it couldn't be easier!

10 Simple Halloween Treats Anyone Can Make! - Purple People Eaters
Image & Idea: See Vanessa Craft


Frankenstein Pudding Cups:

This is a great treat for the non-baker.  Instead of spending hours icing cupcakes or cookies, a Sharpie will become your best friend.  By simply tinting vanilla pudding with green food colouring and decorating clear plastic cups from the dollar store you can take something simple and make it frighteningly fantastic.  

10 Simple Halloween Treats Anyone Can Make! - Frankenstein Pudding Cups
Image & Idea: A Turtle's Life for Me



Jello Jar Monsters:

The kids will love digging in to these.  They'd also be a fun party activity.  All you need is some packages of orange Jello, clear jars or bowls and candy to decorate.

10 Simple Halloween Treats Anyone Can Make! - Jello Jar Monsters
Image & Idea: Echoes of Laughter


Frankenstein Treats:

A fun play on the traditional Rice Krispie square.  A little green food colouring and some candy eyes take them to the next level.  Lisa's free printable provides Frankenstein's hair.  Could it be any easier?

10 Simple Halloween Treats Anyone Can Make! - Frankenstein Treats
Image & Idea: Lisa Storms


Cheater Jack-o-Lantern Cake Pops:

These may look complex but they couldn't be any easier.  By using donut holes (Timbits) you avoid the whole process of making the cake balls and I found they were denser so they were less likely to fall apart.  Have fun decorating them all to be different.  You know that no two Jack-o-Lanterns are alike, didn't you? 

10 Simple Halloween Treats Anyone Can Make! - Cheater Jack-o-lantern cake pops
Image & Idea: Creative Mama on a Dime


Frank's Nuts & Bolts:

An edible container means no garbage - perfect for our litterless school.  A little black icing, candy eyes and pretzel sticks take ice cream cones and turn them into individual Frankenstein cups.  Fill them with Nuts n' Bolts or your favouite treat.

10 Simple Halloween Treats Anyone Can Make! - Frank's Nuts & Bolts
Image & Idea: Parent's Magazine

Ghostly Treat Bags:

Not a great baker?  Fear not.  You can jazz up store bought treats and provide a little portion control by packing them in these adorable little goodie bags.  All you need is some googly eyes and glue.

10 Simple Halloween Treats Anyone Can Make! - Ghostly Treat Bags
Image & Idea: Craft-o-Maniac


Creepy Hand:

This is sure to cause a few squeals as they are passed out.  What a creative way to hand out goody bags at a class party or on Halloween.

10 Simple Halloween Treats Anyone Can Make! - Creepy Hand Goody Bag
Image & Idea: The Queen's Card Castle


Royal Icing Googly Eyes:

Can't get out to the store to buy those cute candy eyeballs you see in many of these ideas.  Make some at home with this simple recipe.

10 Simple Halloween Treats Anyone Can Make! - Royal Icing Googly Eyes
Image & Idea: How Does She


Halloween is a really fun time but preparing for it shouldn't be stressful.  I hope you'll try one of these ideas and have a Spooktacular Halloween!

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