Raising Memories: 2017
  

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Paper Plate Snake Puppet Craft

Here's a craft your kids can play with when they've finished making it! This cute little snake was made from a paper plate and a few simple household and craft supplies. It was simple to make and  easy to involve my kids with so I thought it'd be a good one to share here!


Here's what you need for this project:

Friday, October 13, 2017

Popsicle Stick PomPom Spider Craft

We are in Halloween craft mode over here; two spider posts in a row! Earlier this week it was a spider treat and today it's a simple spider craft. These would be fun to hang with fishing wire, just about anywhere, to give a creepy (yet cute) vibe. :)




Here's what you'll need to make your own:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

DIY Spider Pops Video Tutorial

Katrina woke up sick on Thanksgiving morning so she (& Ken) missed our extended family Thanksgiving dinner. She stayed home from school yesterday to finish recovering even though she was feeling a lot better than she was on Monday. We decided to break up the relaxing on the couch & watching My Little Pony routine with a little Fall crafting.


We gathered our supplies and grabbed some tootsie pops to make these cute (and super simple) Halloween themed treats.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

October 2017 Sharing Time



Welcome to the October Link Party!



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Fun Fall Shoes for Kids & Tweens with Skechers

I have big feet. I've had big feet since I was pretty young, and I will never forget the time my mom took me shoe shopping at a department store and the sales lady reacted with total shock when she realized how much bigger my feet were than her own. I was embarrassed and I felt my big feet were something to be ashamed of. To be honest, I'm still not totally over it. I don't want my kids to feel this way, so I'm doing my best to help Talia to find awesome age-appropriate shoe styles despite the fact that we can already share shoes.



Friday, September 29, 2017

Parks Canada Xplorers Program for Kids

During our Eastern Canada Road Trip, we discovered that Parks Canada has a special Xplorers Program for kids and families. At some Parks Canada locations, they will give your children an Xplorers booklet filled with fun activities and tasks to accomplish. During your visit, your children complete some of them and at the end of the visit, they receive a certificate and a little "dog tag" style souvenir that shows where they went.


We discovered this while we were on Prince Edward Island. I wish we had known about it at the start of our trip because it would have been so nice to have stopped at Canada Parks in each province that we visited! We got pretty close on our way back home, though!


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

End of Summer & PhD Party!

To celebrate Ken's successful PhD defense, my fabulous sister-in-law and mother-in-law put together an "End of Summer/PhD Party" and got a bunch of our friends and family together to play games, enjoy food, and celebrate!


My sister-in-law was in charge of the games and she came up with some really fun ideas! With the help of my brother-in-law who brought this awesome rope, she planned for a game of tug-of-war.

She also created this giant Twister game with spray paint! We used an app to "spin" and then had fun watching everyone get twisted up!


Monday, September 25, 2017

A Mommy Daughter Photography Date

One of the best things I did with Talia this summer was to take her out for a "mommy daughter date" to take photos. I've written before about sharing my favourite hobby with her and I recently told you all about how I've been able to re-embrace my love of photography with a new, lighter camera. Well, now I'm combining both of those!

For our outing, I wanted to introduce Talia to digital photography with a DSLR, so she used one of my older DSLRs and I used my new mirrorless Fuji X-A3.

Photo Credit:Talia

It was fun to play with my new camera and I loved that I didn't have to deal with any hand pain throughout our time together. The best part about it all though, was seeing Talia get into it! The first photo in this post (above) is one of my favourites.  Talia had gotten low to the ground to photograph this dandelion (below) and I wanted to get a photo of her. She quickly tilted her camera up at me and I love the way that shot turned out!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

An Announcement & A Project (Printable Iron-On Shirt Designs)

It is very exciting to announce that after many years of University, Ken is finally finished school! I don't think I'm able to put into words yet, what this journey has been like. Someday I hope to write more in depth about it, but for now I'll just let the T-shirt do the talking! To celebrate Ken's successful thesis defense, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law threw a party. Ken and I made some T-shirts for our family (and learned a few things along the way).



Monday, September 18, 2017

Re-Embracing My Love of Photography with the Fuji X-A3

This is the story of my love of photography, my biggest physical struggle to date, and a camera that allowed me to re-embrace my love of photography.


I started to love photography when I got my first point & shoot film camera at 12 years old. In high school and university I took photography classes, working in dark rooms to develop my own film. Ten years ago I bought my first DSLR camera. I dove into that hobby and learned everything I could soak up about photography and began doing photo sessions for families, babies, couples, and events like weddings, and other parties. I loved it!


Friday, September 15, 2017

His & Hers Wood Watches (& Giveaway)

This year for his birthday, I gave Ken a wood watch from JORD that he had his eye on. That watch has been a big conversation starter; everyone is interested when they notice it's made of wood! I can tell it was definitely a successful gift because he will often make a comment to me (even 6 months later) about how much he really likes it. As you can tell from the photo below, JORD makes men's watches AND women's watches and we now have "His & Hers" watches!


I was really excited to find the Cora Zebrawood & Turquoise watch because the face is one of my favourite colours! I think the grain of the zebrawood is really unique as well and I love the Swarovski crystal markers because they add an extra touch of femininity to it.

Friday, September 8, 2017

MOSAÏCANADA 150 and Cirque Du Soleil Volta (Gatineau & Toronto)

The final stop on our road trip across eastern Canada was in the Gatineau area of Québec. We drove around 10 hours from Saint Andrews, New Brunswick to Ken's cousin's house in Ottawa where we stayed overnight (Gatineau is the part of Québec that borders Ottawa).

MOSAÏCANADA 150


While we were in Gatineau, we visited the MOSAÏCANADA 150/Gatineau 2017 exhibit in Jacques-Cartier park. It was absolutely beautiful!


There are 40 different arrangements and they are all pretty amazing! One of the first that we saw was this Anne of Green Gables one- perfect after a trip to Prince Edward Island! :)

The Printer Ink Solution!

We use our printer a lot in this house! We've gone through several printers, each with their own special features, but the one thing that has always been a big nuisance, no matter the printer, is ink! Buying replacement ink cartridges can be just as expensive as the printer itself!

Our Printer Ink Problem


This was a big issue with our last printer, which wouldn't let us print with black ink unless all of the colour cartridges were working. That printer was designed so that ink was being used up even when we weren't printing things, to keep the nozzle clear and wet. We went through so many colour cartridges each year, that we finally decided it would just be cheaper to get a new printer!

Cartridge-Free Printer


It was at this point that Ken's parents told him about their new printer with Epson's new "Eco Tank" technology. These Eco Tank printers are designed to work without cartridges! When Ken told me about it, we knew this was the ink solution we had been searching for- NO MORE CARTRIDGES! The printer has refillable tanks on the side of it that you simply top up any time they get low.


Enough Ink for 2 Years


The printer we got was the Epson ET-3600 and it has everything we need in a printer. It comes with two sets of ink bottles (one to fill your printer with, and one to refill it with later). The ink that comes in the box is enough for up to 2 years of printing (up to 8500 pages). To put this in perspective, that's equivalent to about 50 ink cartridge sets!!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

5 Ways to Prepare for Smoother School Mornings

We had a whirlwind first school morning and after just one school day, I'm reminded of the huge difference a little preparation can make for smoother school mornings!

Yesterday was the first day of grade 4 for Katrina and grade 6 for Talia. I usually like to take nice "1st day of school" photos in the morning and drive them to school so I can help them find their new classes and be there to offer any reassurance, comfort, or pep talks that may be needed.

Disclaimer: This calm photo was not taken on the first day of school.

This year however, we were in a hurry because I received a court summons for jury selection for yesterday. I was just as nervous about that as the girls were for school yesterday morning! We only have one car so I grabbed a quick cell phone shot of each girl before jumping in the car and we all drove to the courthouse where I said goodbye and Ken took the girls to school.


Monday, September 4, 2017

The Algonquin Resort & Saint Andrews New Brunswick

Although heading toward home from Nova Scotia was a bit of a sad thought for us after such a wonderful trip eastward, we were excited to get to see more of New Brunswick. New Brunswick is a beautiful province, full of lush forests, fields, and breathtaking vistas. We loved all the little towns that we passed through, but one of our favorites was St. Andrews where we stayed the night at the incredible Algonquin Resort.

The building is breathtaking and the grounds, the interior and amenities are no less impressive.

The room we stayed in was charming and nicely decorated. It was a small room with two double beds, a desk, a closet, a dresser and T.V. as well as a very nice bathroom. Our youngest daughter described it as: "Amazing, awesome, super comfy bed, stunning," and..."kapow!" (I'm not too sure what to think about that last one - but she sure was excited talking about it!)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

September 2017 Sharing Time



Welcome to the September Link Party!




Current Giveaway:

I shared a recipe and a $75 Giveaway this week- it's still open, so don't miss your chance to enter!



Thursday, August 31, 2017

Peaceful Family Cottage Retreat (Oceanstone Resort, Nova Scotia)

Nova Scotia was the final province on our summer road trip list and the last stop before heading homeward. We were in for a real treat in Nova Scotia because we stayed at the Oceanstone Seaside Resort, just a few minutes from Peggy's Cove. We stayed in an adorable cottage named the "Periwinkle Cottage",  with the ocean just steps from our back deck. It was peaceful, relaxing and absolutely lovely!



If I were to visit anywhere near Halifax Nova Scotia (about 50 minutes away), I would definitely want to come back again! It's such a beautiful place for a family getaway, a couple's retreat, or a group event. In fact, the Oceanstone is recognized as one of the top 5 places to get married in Canada!

Turkey Lentil Ragu Recipe & $75 Visa Gift Card Giveaway!

Back-to-School time somehow manages to creep up on me and surprise me every year! I'm only a few days away from the first day of school and my mind is buzzing with thoughts of what to pack for school lunches, what to cook for easy family dinners, what to send in their new backpacks to put in their new desks, how to create the ideal routines, and the list goes on and on! It's easy to spend a lot of money preparing for our kids to go back to school so Canadian Turkey and Lentils.org want to give one of you $75 to put toward those costs!

They've also given me a great recipe to share with you, so while we may have long lists of things to get in order this time of year, at least we can get our lists of easy, inexpensive, healthy meals started!


The ideal dinners during the school year are the ones you can easily turn into leftovers for a quick lunch or another dinner later in the week!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Prince Edward Island - Road Trip with Kids

I've always loved nature. One of the things I love most about L.M. Montgomery's books is her descriptions of the beauty of her surroundings in Prince Edward Island. I always hoped I would be able to see it in person someday. When we arrived at Cavendish Beach, I came over a grassy hill to take in an idyllic view: sandy beach surrounded by red cliffs with blue skies. I had a moment to myself, feeling very alive and like I had "made it" to a place in time that I had spent years thinking of while never being quite sure that I would make it. It was pretty awesome and I'm glad I got to share it with my little family!

Prince Edward Island Beach

Friday, August 25, 2017

Charlottetown Prince Edward Island - Road Trip with Kids

The idea for our road trip across Eastern Canada came to life one night while the girls and I sat, cuddled up on the couch, watching Anne of Green Gables. I knew I wanted to go someday, but that's when I really started thinking about doing it this year. We spent three nights in Prince Edward Island and most of our time in and around Charlottetown or Cavendish. This post is all about our Charlottetown adventures!


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Top Notch Lobster Fishing Excursion (Prince Edward Island)

Without a doubt, if you ask Ken what his favourite experience of our entire Eastern Canada road trip was, he'll tell you about our lobster fishing tour! It's definitely up there in my top moments, too. This was SUCH a memorable, educational, delicious, and fun experience!



Monday, August 21, 2017

Moncton New Brunswick Road Trip with Kids

I took the girls to the library a few weeks before our road trip and we borrowed books about each of the provinces we would be visiting. We learned about some of the unique landmarks and features of each of them and at the end of that educational afternoon, one of the things at the top of our lists of things we were excited to visit was Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick. We decided to stay in Moncton for two nights, between Quebec City and P.E.I. as it is central to many of the things we wanted to do.



Friday, August 18, 2017

Fun Family Friendly Hotel (Delta Beauséjour in Moncton)

The second stop on our Eastern Canada road trip was New Brunswick. We stayed in Moncton for two nights because it was near some of the activities we wanted to do. As soon as we decided on our destination, I started my search for a family-friendly hotel in the area and came upon Hotel Beauséjour. It's a Delta hotel by Marriott, so we were looking forward to it because we've had great experiences with Marriott hotels!


We arrived in Moncton after a 7.5 hour drive (plus stops) so we checked in quite late at night. We were all wide awake still, so the girls were thrilled when they were greeted with a bag of cotton candy! I have to admit I was thrilled too; I still get excited about cotton candy.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Québec City Road Trip with Kids

On Day 1 of our family road trip across Eastern Canada, we drove 9 hours (plus stops) from our home in Southern Ontario to Québec City.




Monday, August 14, 2017

Family Road Trip Across Eastern Canada

I grew up in Southern Ontario and although we took several family road trips to the U.S.A. during my childhood, it wasn't until recently that I ventured outside of Ontario within my own Country. My curiosity about the other provinces was first peaked as a child, when I read Anne of Green Gables and read L.M. Montgomery's romantic descriptions of the beauty of Prince Edward Island. When I learned more about the geography of our whole country, I found myself with an unspoken bucket list item, to visit the coasts of Canada someday. This year is Canada's 150th and it seemed like an appropriate time to take that leap (or drive, in this case) and visit Eastern Canada with my family!


If you're following me on Instagram, you already know that we began our journey on the first of this month. Now that we have returned home, I have so much that I want to share with you about our experiences and what we learned about road-tripping across Canada with kids!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

September 2017 Sharing Time


I look forward to seeing some patriotic ideas in this month's linky!


Welcome to the August Link Party!




Current Giveaway:

This month I posted our review of the Douglas Mattress- including a video unboxing, showing how a queen sized mattress could fit into this little box! There's also a mattress giveaway on that post, so don't miss your chance to enter it!



Monday, July 31, 2017

Donating Hair!

When Talia was 4 years old, she got her hands on some scissors and cut her hair. She only cut the front of her hair, and had enough left at the back to donate her hair. Nearly two years later, her hair had grown enough to donate again. It's been about 5 and a half years since then, and both of our girls' hair has grown quite long again, so they decided to donate together this time!


Here are some more photos of before & after:


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Douglas Mattress Review & Giveaway

Ken and I have been trying out a new mattress for the last month. I waited to make sure we'd had some good time and experience with it before I shared our experience with you and I'm excited that it's finally time to tell you about it! (and to show you how a Queen sized mattress can fit inside of such a tiny box! Keep scrolling for a video... )

Our Mattress Backstory: 


We had been sleeping on our mattress for 8 years and I know, from my past as a furniture saleswoman, that we're right around the time when we might consider replacing it, depending on its performance. We LOVED our mattress when we bought it and for many years after, but recently we have both been waking up feeling stiff and sore. I've had a sore neck and shoulder and occasional back pain; he has had back problems, and we had suspicions that these could be, in part, improved by a new mattress.

Mattress In A Box


I had heard about foam mattresses that get delivered to your doorstep, squished and rolled up all tiny, inside a box. I had heard that you could try these mattresses for a decent period of time before deciding whether or not you wanted to keep them, and the company would refund you if you didn't like it!

I had already started to research this concept when I found out that Novosbed was interested in partnering to share their new brand, "the most Canadian mattress in Canada", the Douglas mattress.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Gooey Marshmallow Brownie Recipe

All you need are some marshmallows and chocolate chips to take your regular brownies from good to amazing! I'm impressed by how the marshmallow layer on top of these brownies stays soft even after the brownies are cool. We love adding some extra deliciousness to a simple brownie mix!


Here's what you'll need:


Brownie Mix & required ingredients
(our mix calls for vegetable oil, water, and an egg)
Marshmallows
Chocolate Chips

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Canada 150 Celebration at Canada's Wonderland

July marks Canada's 150th anniversary and Canada's Wonderland is celebrating all month long with Canadian-themed live entertainment, special events, and unique Canadian food! Our family wanted to get in on the fun so we headed back to the park last week. Here's a sneak peek at what the celebration is all about - we had such a fun time!


We didn't have to take more than a couple of steps into the park to see that Canada's Wonderland is celebrating Canada's 150th! There were signs, flags, and flower gardens in Canada's red and white. We even spotted a "Canadian Mountie" walking through the park, on stilts!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Turn One Curtain Panel into Two!

When I was working on the girls' shared bedroom makeover, I found a great deal on some long curtain panels for their window. When I got them home I was faced with a surprise challenge that led me to making one panel into two! Here's how it all went down:


I found some white curtain panels on clearance for $8 each and was excited to take them home and hem them to a shorter length that would fit the girls' bedroom!


Saturday, July 1, 2017

July 2017 Sharing Time

Happy Canada Day today!!! What a special one this year, with Canad's 150th! 
I look forward to seeing some patriotic ideas in this month's linky!


Welcome to the July Link Party!



Thursday, June 22, 2017

DIY Emoji Birthday Party

When Talia turned 11, she knew she wanted an Emoji themed birthday party, so we embraced it and came up with several DIY party activities and decorations to create a fabulous tween emoji party! Here's what we did:

Thankfully, Emojis are pretty simple to recreate, artistically! I made a round cake and covered it in homemade buttercream frosting, dyed yellow. I set aside some of the frosting to dye red and some to add cocoa to (to make chocolate flavoured accents).  We went with a kiss face emoji cake and I love the way it turned out!


It's always fun to party plan with the birthday girl involved. Here we are, right before the party started, happy with all of the things we came up with together!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Relaxation & Adventure at The Couples Resort in Muskoka, Ontario

Right now, you're probably indoors sitting at your computer, tablet, or smart phone; but prepare yourself to take a virtual journey to The Couples Resort in beautiful northern Ontario near Algonquin Park. Ken and I escaped for an amazing couple's getaway 2 weeks ago, and my hope is that through this post and these photos you can experience some of the beauty, relaxation, and rejuvenation that we discovered!


It was a 4 hour drive from where we live in Southern Ontario, to get to The Couples Resort and it was such a scenic drive, going through Algonquin Park! We had some great conversations and listened to a book together. When we arrived at the resort, we checked into our room and I took a few photos and a video so that I could share them with you here!


Monday, June 5, 2017

Summer Lovin' Cash Giveaway!

I cannot tell you how excited we are for Summer! We're looking forward to slowing down and spending some much needed time having fun with family and friends. Summer is the perfect time to make special memories with your family. How about winning some PayPal Cash to help you to do just that?




I have teamed up with an amazing group of bloggers to bring you the ultimate cash giveaway worth $425USD PayPal Cash! We wanted to celebrate all things summer and make it easier for you to get out and do the things you want to do to make great memories with your family! Take advantage of this wonderful giveaway and enter now for your chance at the Summer Lovin’ pot.

What would you do with the money if you won?



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Sunday, June 4, 2017

June 2017 Sharing Time


Welcome to the June Link Party!



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Free Money for your Child's Education

It's easy to shy away from education savings plans when you feel like you don't have a lot of extra money to put aside, but did you know there are 3 different incentives that the Canadian government offers for people who want RESPs? They will help you out by actually adding extra money to your education savings plan and, you may not even have to add any of your own money!

Want some tips for how you can get the most out of those government grants? Read on!



Tip #1

If you're a low income family, you can get free money for your child's education (up to $2000 total, without contributing a cent of your own!). You have no reason not to start an RESP with that kind of incentive! Check out the Canada Learning Bond for details and to find out if you qualify! (Hint: if you receive the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS), you definitely want to look into this)


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Canada's Wonderland & the Best Time to get a Season Pass for 2017!

Last Thursday we let our girls miss school and we all went to Canada's Wonderland for the day! Visiting the park brings back two main sets of memories for me: the year that our family had season passes to the park, and the times that Ken & I went together, as teenagers! I have special memories from attending the park from both of those stages in my life and now I'm making new ones with my kids at this older age.

If you're a local, did you know that the best deal on Canada's Wonderland Season Passes is happening right now? If you plan to attend more than once, this is the way to go! I'll share season pass details at the end of this post.


You can see from our jackets and hoods that it was a bit of a chilly day, but going to the park in May or June while most people are still in school is our favourite time to go because the lines are so short! We didn't have to wait long for any of the rides we went on!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Katrina's Baptism

Katrina's 8th birthday was several months ago, but I want to get her baptism day documented, so this post is late but I needed to get it published. You might remember that I shared photos from Katrina's Baptism Photo Session and in that post, I said that a post about the baptism day was coming. Well, here it finally is!  I also mentioned in that post that I explained a little about what baptism in our church is like, in a post about Talia's Baptism Photos (so if you're wondering why our kids are getting baptized at age 8, or have any other questions, you can check that post out).

Here's a photo of Katrina in the bathroom, all ready for her special day. She wore the same dress that Talia wore when she was baptized. Talia's shoes from her baptism weren't the right size for Katrina though, so she ended up wearing silver shoes instead- we didn't have time to go out and find white ones!


Ken and I were each baptized by our fathers when we were 8 years old, so this photo of Katrina with her dad, all dressed in white, is a special way to remember this day.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Easy D.I.Y. Heart Plaque Tutorial

Today I'm going to show you how to make a very simple plaque decoration that you can hang on your wall- perfect for adding to a photo collage, to mix things up! This one was very inexpensive and easy to make!


When I was planning this wall collage for the girls' bedroom makeover, I had a few items to work with (the mirror, the "Follow Your Dreams" canvas, and the K & T letters (which were white at the time). I knew that I wanted to include photos, and I needed something to fill the spaces that was a little different. I had seen a canvas with a heart on it and I really liked that idea, but I couldn't find a canvas the right size for my collage.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

May 2017 Sharing Time


Welcome to the May Link Party!



Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Outside Fun with PlasmaCars - Giveaway!

It is FINALLY Springtime and we are SO happy about it!! My kids are so excited to go outside without having to load up with winter boots and mittens and hats and snow pants, etc. and I'm so happy they can get out and have fun together in the sunshine!  We got some new toys for outside play (and if you stick around 'til the end of this post, you've got a chance to win a PlasmaCar of your own, from PlaSmart!)


These PlasmaCars arrived on our doorstep in boxes one morning just as the girls were leaving for school and they were SO EXCITED! They didn't know we were getting them, so it was a total surprise to them and I wish I had been ready with my camera to record their reaction because it was priceless!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Blogger Conference & Thoughts on Connection (BConnected 2017)

My history with blogging goes way back:


I started a semi-private online journal in 2003 (which I still contribute to, for my own records). My first public blog was created in 2007 (not long after helping another photographer to shoot my 1st wedding), to share my photography journey with friends and eventually clients. When Talia was a toddler and Katrina just 9 months old, I started Raising Memories in 2009 with the goal of motivating myself to do fun things with my kids.

7 years ago, it hadn't even occurred to me that I could monetize or grow this blog to what it is today! I can remember the first email I received from a company that wanted to partner with me. I thought it was some kind of scam at first! This blog has come a long way since then and I truly love what I do.

Some things I see as milestones in this blogging journey of mine were a couple of campaigns I worked on that involved getting together with other bloggers. In 2014 I worked on a campaign with Nikon and met several bloggers who I still keep in touch with now. Several months later I was a part of a campaign with KFC where I met more bloggers and heard them talking about blog conferences they had attended. At the time, I just wasn't willing to put money into my blog beyond what I absolutely had to (like paying yearly fees to own "raisingmemories.com"), but that little conversation was like a seed planted for something that finally bloomed this weekend. ;)

My First Blogger Conference


A year ago, a bunch of my "blog friends" attended a conference in Ottawa. I couldn't make it work, but I made myself a promise that when that conference came to Toronto, I was going to make it happen. This past weekend, the BConnected Conference came to Toronto and I was there with ticket in hand. :)

All photos shared in this post were taken by Mostafa Photography (unless otherwise noted)

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