Raising Memories: 2017
  

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

August 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)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hanging Tooth Brush & Paste Holder

We have a small bathroom with limited counter space and somehow, all four of us ended up using different types of tooth paste. Talia, Ken, & I all have sensitive teeth, but mine are more sensitive, so I use a stronger sensitivity tooth paste. Katrina can't stand the taste of mint. Talia and Ken don't like the same flavour of paste. So, we ended up with a counter that was taken over by tooth pastes!


If you've got this problem, I think you're gonna like this D.I.Y. solution that I came up with!

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Gift Idea for Men - & a JORD Wood Watch Giveaway!

I know I'm not the only wife out there who has struggled to think of a gift idea for her husband. Men are difficult to buy for! Ken had his birthday a couple of weeks ago and I surprised him with a very unique watch as his birthday gift! He has always talked about how he'd love to get a really nice pocket watch that could be passed down in our family. He loves the idea of a watch that's all mechanical. This watch isn't for a pocket, but it's definitely unique because it's made of wood, for one thing, but it also has an amazing colourful face and a bunch of really special features.

Unique Watch

I want to show you some pictures of it because it's such a cool watch and also because at the end of this post, you're going to have the chance to win $100 USD to put toward your own wooden watch from JORD!  This watch is from the Sawyer series and it's named "Ebony & Ultramarine" because it's made from ebony wood and of course, it has that beautiful blue face! (I mean... handsome.. it's a men's watch ;)

Unique Watch

You can see in the photo above, that these watches come in a beautiful wooden box. It even has a little drawer in it where you can keep your wood polish. The boxes can even be personalized with an engraving.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Gold, White, Coral & Mint Shared Girls Bedroom Makeover

Our girls share a bedroom with a bunk-bed. When we first put them in the same room, we didn't take time to decorate and we found that the arrangement wasn't as functional as we would like. I recently took on the project to give their room a makeover and I'm very excited to give you the reveal today!

We started a few months ago with giving their bunk-bed a makeover. We bought the bed  second hand and it was a honey wood colour before. My mom and dad helped me paint it white one day and that made a huge difference! It looks so nice with the other furniture in the room, and with their bedding!


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tons of Free Easter Printables!

Over the years, I have shared a ton of free Easter printables on this blog!  They are for Easter decor, Easter activities, Easter gifts, and Easter recipes.  I thought it would be nice to keep them in one place so you can browse through and find what you want easily!

So here's a roundup of Easter Printables for you!



Saturday, April 1, 2017

April 2017 Sharing Time


Welcome to the April Link Party!



Friday, March 31, 2017

Sharing My Love of Photography with Instax Mini 8 ~ & Giveaway!

I have been looking for ways to share my love of photography with Talia. Like most kids "these days", she is experienced with taking photos with a smart phone or a digital camera but we rarely print those photos, so there's not much of a project or feeling of completion that comes from that. Sure they can take a photo and look at the screen to see what they've created, but that's where it ends most of the time!

When we visited my sister in Utah, Talia's cousin had a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 camera that all of the girls were extremely excited to use! There was something special about being able to see their creation in print, and to see it so soon after snapping the photo!

When I was thinking about birthday gift ideas for Talia's 11th birthday, I kept thinking about an Instax Mini camera because it would give me an opportunity to share my hobby with her in a way that would get her excited! I was right, by the way...


She has her very own camera now and she couldn't be happier with it! There are seven different colour options, so we went with raspberry because her favourite colour is red. 

This is the photo that got me thinking about getting her this camera:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Rainbow Grilled Cheese Instructions

Last week for St. Patrick's Day we made rainbow grilled cheese and I thought it was such a fun idea that could be used any time you want to make lunch more fun!  I had a few people ask how to make it, so I wanted to share the instructions here.


All you need to create this colourful meal is bread, butter, white cheese, and food colouring.

Start by grating your cheese (we used havarti mixed with mozarella) and separate into four bowls.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Katrina's Baptism Photos

Katrina turned 8 years old a few months ago which meant that a very special milestone was approaching for her: she would be baptized! I've written in more detail about baptism in our church (why we wait until age 8, baptism by immersion, etc.) in a past post about Talia's baptism. If you aren't familiar with our beliefs, you might like to check it out. In today's post I want to share some photos of Katrina in her baptism dress.



Just like we did with Talia, we took photos earlier in the year (because our girls have cold weather birthdays) so she wouldn't be miserable getting some outdoor photos! I love this portrait of her, shown below, (it reminds me how important it is to get out and get some good quality portraits of my kids at LEAST once a year, so that I can look back on these years this way).

Saturday, March 4, 2017

March 2017 Sharing Time


Welcome to the March Link Party!



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Teaching Children Financial Literacy

Ken and I have often reflected on the possibility of required classes in school for children and young adults that would teach them about managing their finances; we all need to know about how these things work, regardless of what we want to do for work!. As it is, it’s particularly important for us as parents to teach our children financial literacy. I put together a list of some ways to do that with your kids. Some of these we have done, some we are about to do and others we are looking forward to doing as our kids get older.

I’ll break the ideas up into three groups based on age.



At an Early Age

From a very young age, children can learn about money and why saving is important. Talia received her first piggy bank at a baby shower just after she was born, and that was the start of her financial learning! As soon as she knew what money was and received a little bit of it, we taught her about keeping it in her piggy bank and saving it for future use.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Digital Sketch Charades

While we were on our Florida vacation, we had a couple of "down time" days in our rental home. We had been walking Disney for days, so lounging around and resting our feet was an important part of our time there! Ken had his tablet with him and we had already found one really fun way to use the stylus at Disney World, so we were excited to try Ken's next creative idea: his version of digital Pictionary!



We figured out how to get the sketches up onto the T.V. and it was so fun to watch them appear! Here's how we did it:

Monday, February 13, 2017

QuickZip Bed Sheets Review & Giveaway

My least favourite thing about bed sheets is changing them! I hate it!  I hate folding fitted sheets when they're clean and dry. I hate trying to get them around the mattress properly. I've always wished there were an easier way! With something as old as sheets, I think it's pretty impressive when someone comes up with a new, creative way to make them work better and that's what I'm blogging about today! I've been using QuickZip Sheets for a couple of months now and I'm excited to tell you about them!



They may look pretty typical at first glance, but these are not your typical bed sheets!


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Martin's Newborn Photos

My newest nephew was born on November 25th and I went over to snuggle him and take some photos of him on his 5th day. My mom came along to assist me (both with the photography stuff and the snuggling stuff) and we made some fun memories with my sister, posing this little munchkin and rearranging his bedroom to get these shots. It's so sweet to see how they turned out!

 Marty's dad is a baseball fan, so we wanted to get a nice shot with a ball and glove.


He also happens to be a volunteer firefighter, so we took a photo with his coat & helmet.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

February 2017 Sharing Time


Welcome to the February Link Party!



Thursday, February 2, 2017

RESPs & Compound Interest: Why Starting Now is Better Than Later!

Finances are important, but they can get complicated, and it's easy to get frustrated with all the math and feel like giving up! Considering my recent posts about RESPs, today I want to explain some things about compound interest. If you're not familiar with compound interest or how it works then this post is for you! I'm going to tell you what it is, show you how it works, and demonstrate why it makes a big difference to your investment if you start saving as soon as possible!



What Is Compound Interest?

Simply stated, compound interest means that your interest earns interest. By investing early, you could get a lot more return for the money you invest when you start (your principal investment) than you would with non-compound interest (this is called simple interest).


A Visual Example

To help you see how this works, I've put together a chart for you that shows the difference between an investment with compound interest, compared to an investment with simple interest:


Monday, January 30, 2017

Orangetheory Fitness Update & Results

I've been tweeting about my workouts and the change in my perspective when it comes to working out and some of you have asked me what my secret is. It's been a couple of months since I told you about Orangetheory Fitness and it's about time I told you how it's working for me, and what has changed since I started!



If you read my previous post about Orangetheory Fitness, you'll know that fitness for me is about having the strength and the energy to do things I want to do (for myself, and with my kids). It has been a good decade since I worked out consistently for longer than a couple of weeks, and I am thrilled to say that this is the last time I'll be able to say that.  Things have changed, my friends!

I'm going to explain a few things to you about Orangetheory so that you can understand some of the changes that have happened with me.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Hot Chocolate with Homemade Candy Cane Marshmallows


Whether they've been working hard outside shoveling the driveway, building a snow fort, making snow angels or just hiking home from the school bus stop, my kids love to come inside and warm up with a nice cup of hot chocolate. We decided to make it more fun during their winter holidays last week and make our own marshmallows! I have always loved adding candy cane to hot chocolate (there's just something so good about that hint of mint mixed in!),  so we tried coating our freshly made marshmallows in a mix of icing sugar and crushed candy cane and the result was fabulous!

How to Make Your Own Marshmallows

I'm going to share the recipe with you because I made some alterations to the original marshmallow recipe I shared on the blog 4 years ago. That recipe was great but it made a TON of marshmallows. Today's recipe makes a smaller batch so it's just right if you're making them just for your own family.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

January 2017 Sharing Time


Welcome to the January Link Party!



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