Raising Memories: November 2011
  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gift Giving During the Holiday Season

It's time for the Holidays! Seriously, I've had my lights up since the week after Halloween (granted I have only plugged them in once- I just wanted to get them up before that activity involved dodging snow as it propelled toward my face... like last year ;)

I really really love Christmas time and have already started slowly bringing Christmas decorations upstairs... a sparkly tree here, a Christmasy basket there... they're making their way up from the basement, and I'm making baking plans and craft plans for the girls. I'm excited! :)

With the holiday season also comes the gift giving season! I'm hoping to teach my girls a bit about giving, service, and generosity this year by doing some extra baking to deliver to friends, by taking the time to write in Christmas cards, and involving them with gift-giving as much as possible.

I am trying to be very aware of focusing them more on the giving and less on the receiving part of Christmas. I would love for them to think of Christmas as a happy time to celebrate Christ's birth, gather with friends and family, and soak up the joy and gratitude for what we have.

There are of course certain people that we want to give gifts to at Christmas, that go beyond a plate of cookies. However, I prefer not to spend my holidays in malls searching and searching for an appropriate gift. There are so many other things to do with our time, and I don't want to let shopping eat up the time that we have together during the holidays! I love to give thoughtful gifts, though, when I can find something that's just right for someone, so, I've tried to be aware of gift-searching throughout the year so that I don't have to cram it in now.

Something new that we're trying with my husband's side of the family this year is that we're all getting together to provide gifts for a family in need, instead of buying gifts for each other. I can't wait to see how this goes!



How do you manage the gift-giving part of your holidays?
I'd love to hear your ideas and things that have worked for you!




This post has been sponsored by Empire Theatres who have come up with a great time-saving gift idea: You've heard me talk about Empire Theatres' Reel Babies program (there's still time to enter that giveaway by the way & your chances are great since there'll be 5 winners!) and now I want to put a plug in for Empire Theatres' Holiday Gift Pack. You spend $30 on a gift card and you get $30 worth of coupons for yourself or to combine with the gift card as a gift! You can even order these online here. Talk about quick, easy shopping- who doesn't love a reason to go to the movies? ;)

Here are the details:
Each time you buy a $30 Empire Theatres gift card you’ll receive a $30 Coupon Booklet*. Each coupon is good for one month, and start in January 2011. You can buy the gift cards online or at Empire Theatre Locations.

The coupon booklet includes:

■Buy one General Admission Ticket and get a second Ticket FREE
■Get $2 OFF any* Combo (*excluding Kid’s Pack)
■Admission Ticket, Regular Soft Drink & a Small Popcorn only $9.99 plus tax
■Purchase a Large Popcorn and get a FREE Large Coca-Cola® Soft Drink
■$6.99 Admission
■$4.00 OFF General Admission


Disclosure – I am participating in the Empire Theatre Gift Card Holiday Campaign by Mom Central Canada. I received compensation for my participation in this campaign. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Baby Liam



When baby Liam was just 9 days old, he had his first photoshoot. As you can see, he is adorable. It had been a while since I had done newborn photos, so it was a lot of fun to have Ken's cousin & his wife over to capture their 2nd baby. (You can see their 1st baby's photos taken 3 years ago, here.)


This little reindeer hat was adorable. I was so happy Vanessa brought it along!


Liam slept just enough for us, and was wide awake the rest of the time!


This might be my favourite shot- it's a tricky one to pull off- so glad Jon's got strong arms! He had to hold this pose for a while!


Baby Reindeer :)


I love this shot of Vanessa with her baby- I can just tell that she's whispering "Shh" to comfort him, and I think it's a beautiful "mommy moment". I wish I had a photo of me as a mom-in-action with my babies :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Making Apple Crisp

Remember the Apple Sauce post and the Apple Juice post?
Yeah, we made apple crisp, too. ;)



Bought these little containers for freezing at a dollar store, added baking directions & stashed in the freezer. I'm thinking these will be very handy when we need a dessert or something to contribute & find ourselves short on time!

Nice to know there's always dessert on hand ;)

And you can see in that last photo our final harvest of all things apple from our apple day!

What's your favourite thing to make with apples?
Got a good recipe?

--------------------------------

I want to take a moment to welcome Barnwood4U back for another month of sponsorship this month and let you know that not only are they sellers of awesome vintage wood furniture & home decor items, but they're also selling jewellery now!

Isn't this set pretty? I like the earrings (plus I'm a sucker for amethyst & purple- my birthstone & favourite colour. :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday Thoughts (Balance & Blogging)

Balance.

If you're a parent, I think it's safe to assume that you've spent some time working on balance.

It's a very common topic on my mind.

I'm always working to balance being a mother, a wife, a homemaker, a photographer, a blogger, and the list goes on.

I've been thinking a lot about this blog and about how it fits into my life. Raising Memories has evolved a lot since I first started it and so has my approach to blogging. Lately I've taken on a lot of opportunities for sharing fun products & organizations with you in this space. This year I've also become a writer for a great blog called HowDoesShe. My blog is taking sponsors for ad space on the sidebar, and it's starting to get busy over here in "Raising Memories Land".

Because some of the other things that I'm working to balance (mother, wife, etc.) are priorities, when I get busy, I find myself questioning what needs to go, to make more room/time in those areas.



Consequently, my mind has continued to return to that loaded question:
To Blog or Not to Blog?


I've been thinking about this for a long time, and I think I've finally come to a conclusion. For me right now, the answer is "to blog". Blogging is an outlet for me, it's a hobby, and it's something I really enjoy doing. I start to lose that joy when Internet time starts to take over. But I have some changes in mind for the new year that I'll be working to implement gradually as 2012 approaches. One of those is a schedule. I'm taking measures to be a little more organized with my blogging and Internet time management.

I've set some daily computer time limits for myself as well as found new ways to organize my plans for this blog. I'm hoping this will make for some better blogging in 2012- I don't want this blog to be too heavily weighted by sponsored content, but I think it's fun for me & for you, when I can share those things & offer giveaways, etc. So I'm making a point of spreading those things out and fitting them in among my posts that share fun activities and ideas of things to do with your kids. I'll also throw photography in there when I have something to share- but photography is one of the areas that I have cut back in, so you won't see regular sessions (and haven't seen them for some time).

I think a schedule will be nice for me & for you. If you're a regular reader, you'll know what to expect every day here.



So, here's my schedule for 2012:

Sunday: Housekeeping & Sharing Time
(Updates on what's going on at the blog like giveaways that are going on, and a chance to link up your own ideas & see some of the clever ideas that are being posted around blogland)

Monday: Monday Moments
(Pictures & kid quotes from life at our house)

Tuesday: Tutorial Tuesday
(A project we've tried with step-by-step instructions & photos)


Wednesday: Reviews/Giveaways/Sponsored Posts
(If we've got a fun sponsored post for the week, it'll go here, if not, I may not post on Wednesday)

Thursday: Thursday Thoughts
(I'm giving myself a place to share my thoughts- I always intend to do that here, but rarely do. I'm interested to see what I'll write about ;)

Friday: Feature Friday
(A post featuring a blogger and some of their best posts. If you're interested in being featured in the new year, send me an email to raisingmemories at gmail dot com.)

Saturday: Fun Idea/Activity
(A fun project idea that we've tried out & think you'd like.)

(I'm slowly getting into this habit for now- not everything will start right away, but expect to see a more predictable pattern in the new year)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Slugs & Bugs (Review & Giveaway)

A few weeks ago I heard about some CDs created by Randall Goodgame
(the man behind some of the Veggie Tales music).

We received the new CD, “Under Where?” and the girls & I really like it! I like that the songs have good messages within them. The girls think it's pretty funny. They like the rowdy tunes and laugh about the silly things said in the songs. I think this will be one of those CDs that's perfect to bring along in the car to keep them amused, or for playing & dancing around in the living room when they just need to be silly & get some energy out!

There is another Slugs & Bugs CD called "Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies" that looks good, too!
(Get a little listen here.)


You can visit http://www.slugsandbugs.com/ to find tour dates
Or visit their youtube channel to see clips from live shows.
They also have a parenting blog,
a Facebook Page and Twitter .

What’s that? You want the CD?
The Slugs & Bugs Team and I are teaming up to give one of my readers the Slugs & Bugs Under Where? CD!
If you don’t see the entry form below, click on “Read Me” just below this & then you will.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Moments (Sweet Girl & her Dolly)



Here is a photo I snapped of my little niece at my brother's wedding. She carries that little dolly with her everywhere she goes. (I think she is technically on Dolly Version 3 or 4.0 at this point ;)

Have any of your kids had dolls or blankies or other things they've been so attached to?

My Katrina loves her pink blankie (we have two soft pink blankies with silky edges- which is a good thing if one gets lost or has to go in the wash! ;)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

DIY Nail Art Templates

I think I forgot to tell you about this idea that I wrote about over at HowDoesShe...

So, if you haven't seen it yet, go check it out!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Scentsy

I love the way a scent can affect my mood or even bring back memories. I had some scented lip balm that I used to wear when I was a student at BYUI (and I wore it a lot because it was so dry there). I hadn't thought of it in years until I bought the same 3-pack and found myself reminiscing every time I put it on! I also love the scents of a season- those scented pinecones you can find in craft stores this time of year? LOVE!



So, I was pretty excited when Stacy Mayo offered to sponsor a Scentsy review & giveaway for me to host here on the blog. She sent me the Angora Warmer (shown below) & 3 scents to try.
If you haven't heard of Scentsy before, I'll tell you a little about their product and why I like it:

- SCENTS: there are a TON of scents & they're SO good!
- SAFETY: you get the scents without hot wax (it just warms so even if your kid sticks his/her finger in it, they won't get burnt), and without a flame
- PRETTY: The warmers look nice! There are pretty warmers, seasonal warmers, sporty warmers, the list goes on- you can find something for any room.
- SIZE: I love that they have a smaller plug-in warmer (so if you don't have a lot of surface space, you can just plug a little warmer right into the wall). These are great for small bathrooms.
- VERSATILITY: Found a scent you can't get enough of? No worries- you can get scents in the form of stuffed toys, antibacterial foam, hanging circles for cars, lockers, etc., room sprays, travel tins, and the list goes on!






Let me just tell you a little about my 3 favourite Scentsy scents so far: Sticky Cinnamon Bun (this makes me think of those scented pinecones! So perfect for Christmastime!), Autumn Sunset (I'm in love with this smell right now- it just SPEAKS Autumn to me- I think it'll also be nice around the Christmas holidays), and Black Raspberry Vanilla (I think this will be great any time of the year- I just feel happy when I walk into my bathroom & smell this!).

---------------------Now, a few good pieces of info. for you...-----------------------


Want a Scentsy Deal?
Contact Stacy ( candlewarmerscents@gmail.com )to see what her current specials are!

Want Free & Half Priced Product?
Contact Stacy if you're interested in hosting a party. She offers a traveling basket party (in the U.S.). You earn free and 1/2 priced products based on party totals.

Want to Sell Scentsy?
If any of you are interested in the business opportunity Scentsy provides, Stacy has reached the level of Director and works hard to train and help those she sponsors. She'd be happy to have you contact her to discuss how to become a Scentsy Consultant!  (This includes Canadians- Scentsy is pretty new to Canada, so it's a good time for Canadians to jump on board! :)

Canadian?
Beginning Oct 1, 2011 Scentsy started to offer free shipping to Canada on orders over $200 CAN...this is great news for Canadian customers- now a few friends can get together...pool their orders and get free shipping as long as their orders total over $200.

---------------------------Now, on to the Giveaway!!-----------------------

Stacy is giving one of my readers a full size warmer and 3 scent bars of their choice! If you don't see the contest entry form below, click on "Read More" and it should appear. If you have any problems with it, please let me know in a comment!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Smiling Pancakes & I Love You Pancakes



It really is amazing the happiness you can spread at the beginning of the day, just by getting a little creative with some pancake batter :)



One morning I made I love you pancakes for Ken and happy face pancakes for the girls- it went over quite well!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thank Attack!



Today I'm over at HowDoesShe and I'm talking about Thank Attacks!
[Come, Visit! :]


abc buttonCatch a Glimpse ButtonPhotobucketWhipperberry

Monday, November 14, 2011

Moments (Super Napper)



Need I say more than the title?
Found her like this one day & had to snap a photo. :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sharing Time (November 2011)

Time for the November Sharing Time- If you're seeing this in a reader, Come on over & check out the links & add some of your own!

Oh, & if you're Canadian, don't forget to enter the Empire Reel Babies Movie Ticket Giveaway!



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Giveaway Empire Reel Babies

I can remember what it was like to be mom of a new baby. It was wonderful! I loved spending time with my baby, taking care of her, and doing things with her. I was also exhausted and often longed for a little grown up time- there are suddenly a bunch of things that you used to do without a second thought that you can't do so easily with a baby. Sometimes time apart from your baby (and/or older kids) is just what you need to recharge and come back a re-energized, re-focused mom!

One thing that gets trickier as a young parent is going to a theatre to see a movie! When you've got a young baby, you're not always comfortable dropping them off with someone else while you do something for fun. About a month ago, I heard about a great solution!


Empire Theatres have a program called Reel Babies. You may have noticed their ad to the right of this blog. Participating Empire Theatres show movies every other week, at 1pm in the afternoon on Wednesdays. They're movies for moms, they're shown with lower volume, with lights not turned down all the way. They even provide a change table and baby swing inside of the theatre so that you can cater to your baby's needs without missing the movie!

I went & checked it out with Ken recently (we actually didn't take our kids because they're old enough to want to actually watch the movie, and we don't let them watch 'PG'). We were impressed by the set up though and found that we actually appreciated the lower volume & got used to the dim lights really quickly. The babies were remarkably content (and adorable). There was even a lady there at the beginning of the movie to ask us all if we were good with the volume and lights as they were. We give it a thumbs up for parents with babies young enough to not care about the movie! ;)

If you visit their website, you'll see that you can click on your province to find out which participating theatre is closest to you, and then if you register, you can vote on which movie you want to see at your next local event. There are 3 movies to choose from. I signed up a month ago, and I really appreciate the emails they send out to let me know when voting is open for my local program!

If this sounds like fun to you, and you'd like to try it out, you're in luck! Empire Theatres, Mom Central Canada, & I have teamed up to give 5 of you a pair of 2 free tickets to see a Reel Babies movie near you!

Just click on the "Read More" link below to see the form to enter the giveaway! :)

DIY Apple Juice

Last week I shared a tutorial on how to make your own apple sauce.
This week I wanted to tell you that we were even busier than you thought the day that we made apple sauce, cuz we made apple juice, too. (I should've taken a photo of all of the apples we bought- we were like a little apple factory over here!)

First we put water in the bottom of this contraption:

...and apples in the top. It heated up and the juice started coming out of that opening.


The girls were excited to watch while Ken let the juice escape into the jars. (We canned the juice)... don't mind everyone's PJs... we didn't bother to get ready before we got to work ;)


Here is our apple sauce & apple juice harvest.

It sure was nice to have those tools on hand (thanks to Ken's mom), and fun to learn how to make those things and to share it with the girls! Plus now we have some yummy homemade treats canned & waiting for us later- it always tastes better when you helped make it, right? :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Leaf Jumping



The girls had a great time raking & jumping in leaves at my parents' house.

So glad we were able to take the time to make those memories!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall Photos



I mentioned previously that I did a photography swap with a friend, for family photos. We did her family's photos in the country by an old barn. I arrived a little early to the location and had time to snap a few Fall photos. I'm clinging to Fall with the knowledge that a long Winter is on its heels. (But I'm totally looking forward to Christmas ;)

What's your favourite season?
Hope you have a Happy Monday! :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

DIY Apple Sauce Tutorial

Ever wondered how to make your own apple sauce??



When I was little we had an apple tree on our property. One time my aunt Janice came to visit from the United States and while at our house, she suggested we make apple sauce. I can still remember how good it tasted! So, when Ken suggested we buy a bunch of apples because they were way on sale this fall, I went with it!

You guys- it is EASY!


Step 1: Boil
Put clean, whole apples in a pot of water & boil like crazy until they start coming apart & stuff.


Step 2: Mush
We used a hand cranked mill to squish the apples (I hear you can mush or mash or squish them in several other creative ways, but my mother in law had a hand mill, so we lucked out ;)


Step 3: Flavour
All we added to ours was some cinnamon (which I love!), but if you wanted, you could sweeten with sugar or whatever other spice you like.

We canned ours, with my mother in law's instructions. I didn't take pictures of that process though, because I was too busy with other things!

So yummy & the apple sauce totally brought back memories!

Now, what are you waiting for? Go, get yourself some apples, call your kids in to learn about the process, have some fun, make some mess, then have a treat! :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Give Oh Give

Tonight as I sat on the floor, helping Katrina into her PJs, I could hear Talia practising her piano downstairs, and Ken repairing something while listening to Talia & "passing off" her songs. I had one of those moments where I was struck by how thankful I am to be a mother, to have a husband like Ken, and to have two sweet little girls. I sometimes have these moments in the middle of hectic everyday life. I'm so thankful to have the life that I have and I treasure each moment, knowing how quickly things could change.


I've mentioned before that education is something that is very important to me, and that although I feel strongly about staying home with my children, I know that is not an option that is available to everyone, nor is it necessarily always going to be available to those of us who are doing it now.

I'm sharing these thoughts with you because I was recently invited by LDS Philanthropies to attend a meeting with some other LDS bloggers. The meeting took place in Salt Lake City and I live in Canada, so I didn't make it. ;) However, I am happy to be one of the bloggers teaming up with LDS Philanthropies & LDS Business College to raise awareness during November about their quest to raise money for the Stella Harris Oaks Horizons of Hope Scholarship for single parents.

I've added a widget to my sidebar that you can see in larger form in this post. It allows you to listen to the story of Megan, whose life has been altered because of receiving this scholarship: (click on the little volume icon at the bottom right of the video, to hear it)



If you would like to contribute to the fund, even in a small amount, you can do so by clicking here or by clicking on the "GIVE" button on the widget in the sidebar. If you are a blogger, you can help spread the word by sharing the widget on your blog (clicking on the "SHARE" button on the widget).

It's amazing to see the good that can be done by a bunch of bloggers- we've already come so close to our original goal and it's only a couple of days into the month!

Hand Puppets


I bought some hand puppets at Michael's (they were really cheap) that had outlines of animals on them. We used fabric paint to colour them in.
It was a very successful project- mess (check), paint (check). ;)

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