Easy 31 Day Declutter Challenge

2 years ago, I did a simple 31 Day Declutter Challenge. It was just 15 minutes of decluttering per day, for every day of the month. This year I'm going to do the challenge again (starting on January 1st) and I want to invite you to join me! 

I'll be sharing before & after photos every day on Instagram, during the month of January. If you'd like to join in, please share your photos on Instagram (in a post or story) and tag me @raisingmemories! If you tag me, I can share your posts on my stories so we can all be inspired by each other!

How the 31 Day Declutter Challenge Works:

  1.  Make a declaration to the internet of your intentions, to keep you accountable (tag me @raisingmemories in your post- I'd love to see it!)
  2.  Commit to share daily before & after photos on social media (I'm doing this on my Instagram stories every day of January & I'd LOVE for you to follow along and tag me @raisingmemories in your posts!)
  3.  Invite friends to join in- Won't you join me?? I would be thrilled to know I'm not alone in this! If you want to participate, just share your before & after photos on Instagram (in your stories, or in a post) and tag me (@raisingmemories) so I can see them and share them with everyone else who's following along!  

Let's all be inspired by each other!

One Month Decluttering Challenge by www.RaisingMemories.com

One Month Decluttering Challenge by www.RaisingMemories.com

I'm not going to lay out a list of areas for you to declutter for two reasons: First, I I want to be able to choose the area based on how I'm feeling that day. Second, we all have different homes with different problem areas, so my goal is simply this:

Choose One Small Area of your home to tackle each day. 

Commit to 15 minutes of Decluttering each day.

You can certainly spend more than 15 minutes if you're really getting into it, but only commit to 15 minutes. This means your daily area must be manageable and you give yourself permission to stop after 15 minutes. (I'm hoping this will help to avoid feelings of overwhelm and/or the desire to give up!)

If you'd like an easy way to organize your plan, I'm sharing a free printable worksheet!

I hope you will follow along and let me know you're following along- we can keep each other accountable!  If you're joining in, I'd love to cheer you on too, so please tag me on instagram @raisingmemories. I'll see you over there!

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Thoughts on Christmas, Love, and Stress

This post about Christmastime, expectations, boundaries, love, and service was written in 2017 but I'm feeling and thinking about many of the same topics lately and wanted to re-post it this week as we are now less than 10 days away from Christmas!


You know that magical feeling that seems to be in the air around Christmastime? We often talk about the excitement around Christmas with gift giving and Santa coming and the extra kindness and generosity that comes with the season. I think that magic that we're feeling this time of year all comes from love.

Blog Post on Handling Christmas Stress for Moms

We want to create and participate in that magical experience of Christmas (that tangible sense of being surrounded by love) and that's what motivates us to do all that we do this time of year: we shop for gifts, bake cookies, plan special meals, fill our calendars with parties and gatherings with the people we love, sing in choirs, attend performances, go to church, do service for others, and the list goes on and on! Some of you even coordinate the antics of an elf on the shelf in the midst of it all!

Decorating with Personal Photos (& Canvas Prints Giveaway!)

I have always loved using family photos in our decor so I suppose it shouldn't come as a surprise that this ended up being the solution to an empty wall in our new bedroom. I'm so happy with the way that it turned out- I can't wait to show you!

I also have a discount code and a giveaway for you, to be able to order your own personalized Canvas prints, so be sure to stay tuned to the end of this post if you'd like to enter!

A Secret 12 Days of Christmas Gifts Surprise

Here's a fun set of 12 days of Christmas gifts that can be left on a doorstep secretly for a new surprise on each of the twelve days!


Near the end of the year a couple of years ago, I was struggling with feelings of frustration with the uncertainty that came with Ken's PhD. He had been in school far longer than we planned or expected and there was no end date in sight. Those last few years of Ken's degree were difficult for both of us. As I was dealing with some of those feelings and trying to focus on the positive and on all of our blessings and all of the good in our lives, something pretty awesome happened to us!

12 Days of Christmas Gifts
12 Days of Christmas Gifts

I wanted to share this experience with you because I've been thinking a lot about how we can serve others this month and I thought sharing this might inspire some of you with some ideas of how to show love and support to the people in your life. Whether you feel you can set aside the time, effort, and money to do something as involved as this, or there's a cute idea in the mix that sparks an idea for you, I hope it inspires you to do something kind for someone else.

12 Days of Christmas Gifts

2019 Holiday Gift Guide Giveaways

I'm giving away EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM. in this year's gift guide!!

All gift guide ideas are right here in this post, from Kids to Parents and even Stocking Stuffers.

Here are all of the items from this year's guide along with links to the Instagram posts where you can enter to win them!!

We'll go in order by the categories, starting with kids, moving on to parents, and then stocking stuffers:

Instantly Print Photos from Your Phone | Polaroid Lab

Raise your hand if you take a lot of photos on your phone but rarely print them... I'm feeling pretty confident that I am not alone in this! So I'm totally on board with any product that helps to make it easy to print a photo from my phone.

I've been trying out the new Polaroid Lab from Best Buy and it is a game changer!

Instant Cell Phone Photo Printer Developer

Here's how the Polaroid Lab takes your digital images and transforms them into a printed photo:

2019 Holiday Gift Guide Giveaway Days

It's Gift Guide Giveaway time!

It's time to get some great ideas for your holiday gift lists and wish lists AND a chance to win them!
I have a LOT of giveaways planned for you this month!

This year, all giveaways will take place over on Instagram but you can come back to this blog post each day to see what new giveaways have been added and click a link to take you to the post where you can enter!

I'm excited to share some of my favorite gift ideas with you, including some old favorites and some new discoveries. I hope you get great inspiration for your holiday shopping and your personal wish list!

Raising Memories Holiday Gift Guide Giveaways 2019

Giveaway Days Details

Flooding at the Cottage!

While we were living at a cottage, looking for a place to live, we had a lot of adventures, not the least of which was some pretty intense flooding and I cannot move on from sharing about that time without sharing that with you!

I've already written about some of the most beautiful moments from living at the cottage with you, how it affected me- how our family really needed that time of peace and healing, and how spending a lot of time in nature inspired creativity in our kids. Now let's get onto the crazy, adventurous part of that time!

Here they are standing on the front lawn! Water is well past their ankles & goes all the way to the road!

After living at the cottage for a couple of weeks. we started to have a lot of rain. As the rain continued, the lake level rose and soon we had waves crashing up over the dock and puddles in the front yard that turned into a little lake of their own that spread until it slowly covered one step and then another of the front porch and we wondered if we would need to move to a hotel because the water threatened to reach the door!

Here are a few photos from that time:

Nature Inspires Creativity!

It was interesting to sit back and observe the way that being in nature brought out creativity in our girls while we were living by the lake. We didn't have a good Internet connection while living there, so screen time was easily avoided. The girls were homeschooling during that time, so they had more free time than they typically would, and we didn't have any friends in the area. With all of those factors combined, they needed to find things to do with their time and the backyard was one of the best places to do that. They found so much to do out there, and all of it exercised their creativity.

It was common for me to be busy in the cottage and to glance out the window to see a scene that looked something like this:

Cheesy Tortilla Chip After School Snack

We're a couple of weeks into school now and like every year, I find myself searching for ways to fit quality time in with my kids during the busy time between getting home from school and going to bed for the night. We're so busy with the necessary chores, homework, and running around that I'm finding the best way to fit quality time in, is to slide right up next to them while they're busy with something on their list of things to do. One thing on our list is after school snack time, and it makes things run more smoothly if I can have a snack prepared for them when they walk through the door!  This seemed like a good time to re-share this blog post from a few years ago, with an easy snack idea that everyone in our family likes. All you need are 4 ingredients and a microwave!


My family is made up of cheese-monsters! We all love a good cheesy snack or meal.  Last month I shared a favourite after school snack from my childhood (these chocolate chip cookies) that could be made ahead and frozen. This month I want to share another after school snack from my childhood. This one is really quick and easy to prepare right before you eat it!

We made this snack with Ivanhoe's high quality aged cheddar cheese and it was delicious! 

Here's what you'll need:

- Tortilla Chips (or Crackers)
- Shredded Ivanhoe Old Cheese
- Sour Cream (we used the extra thick Gay Lea Gold Sour Cream)
- Salsa

And the preparation is ridiculously easy:

Living at the Cottage

Here are some photos from the time we spent living in a cottage, on a lake.
It was a special, meaningful, healing period of time for our family.
I cherish my memories of that time!

Back in February when we knew we would be moving, I spent a lot of time looking at websites, searching for a home for our family. It was difficult to find very many rental homes that were in our price range. As time continued to pass, I became pretty discouraged and worried. Then I found someone looking to rent their cottage out by the week or by the month. The cottage backed onto the lake, we would be able to afford it, and although not close to work, it was less than an hour drive away so we thought it could work as a temporary place to live while we continued our home search in person. I struggled with knowing whether this was the best choice for us, and continually tried to remind myself that things would work out somehow, and that I needed to exercise trust that that was true. Looking back, I can see that it was totally true. I hope I'm learning through experiences like this, so that when times come in the future that I need to exercise that sort of trust, I'll be stronger at doing so.

5 Ways to Prepare for Smoother School Mornings

This post was originally written a couple of years ago when our girls were heading back to school. I wanted to re-share these tips and in looking at these photos I noticed that the backpacks they got that year were re-used last year and are still in great shape, so this year they're going on year 3! I can definitely speak to the quality of High Sierra's bags. Now, whether you just started a school year or you're about to, I hope you'll appreciate these tips 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.

Surprising Old Friends in Our Old City

The girls' main goal while back in our old city was to surprise each of their best friends from school who didn't know we would be in town.  The surprise went really well!

We drove to Talia's friend's house and surprised her at her door (which went perfectly) and then went to the bus stop for Katrina to surprise her friend. We got both of the surprises on video to remember the moment. :)

Arriving in Canada

The story of our Utah to Canada moving road trip has come to an end, and now it's time for our arrival back in Canada!

Review of the Road Trip

We carefully chose the stops that we wanted to make during our moving trip from Utah to Ontario. When we originally moved there, we intended to visit St. George Utah, where it's much warmer than the rest of Utah, but we didn't have the chance during our 10 months living there so we decided to go there for our first stop. We had always wanted to show our kids the cool (kid friendly) things in Las Vegas, so that was stop #2. We also wanted to visit Ken's cousin's family in Texas so we made that happen, and made the best of the driving time in between, to see a couple of cool places like the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam.

Arriving "Home"

Visiting Family in Texas

One of the stops we planned on our moving road trip was in Texas. Ken's cousin (who was his Best Man at our wedding) lives there with his wife, 2 daughters the same ages as ours, and a son. We have visited them as often as we have been able to through the years, and even met them in Florida for our first trip to Disney World. They came to visit Utah in the summer while we were there, so we saw some of them then, but we couldn't wait to spend more time with them. It was our favourite stop on our road trip!

We arrived on a Thursday (March 21st) after a long drive, and there was one thing we all wanted to do: visit Bedford Snoball! (This is a local treat place that they have frequented for years, and we have visited with them several times before). It was a highlight of our trip & we went back almost every day!

During one of our visits, we took the photo on the right after looking through photos from a previous visit, 7 years ago (crazy to see how much they've grown!)

A Family Service Project for Homeless Families

Early this summer, we watched a movie called Little Red Wagon, about a boy who set out to help homeless people. It all started with a neighborhood food drive. By the end of the movie we were all inspired. When it was over, I thought, "hmm, our city surely has some homeless shelters, I wonder what we could do to help." That's how our project began, and now that it's complete, I thought I'd share how this family service project unfolded and hopefully inspire some of you to find a way to serve your community with your kids!

Step By Step How to Help a Local Homeless Shelter

I started by doing an Internet search for local shelters and soon found one that caters to women and families. I found a website and a facebook page and quickly saw that they were looking for food donations as well as items for a kids' program they run on weekends. It didn't take long to find a couple of contact emails and soon I was in touch with a volunteer who runs the kids' program and another person who could tell me what food items they are most in need of right now.

Shared Girls' Bedroom with Loft Beds

Our girls shared a room in our home in Utah where we only lived for 10 months- it was quite a whirlwind with moving to a new country and getting settled there! I took some photos of their bedroom while we were there and am finally now getting the chance to share them here.

How to Make the Most of a Small Bedroom

There were three bedrooms in our townhouse and we used the smallest one as an office. Ken & I used the largest room and the 2nd largest room (which was technically the master, with an en suite bathroom) went to the girls.

Road Trip Stops (between Las Vegas & Dallas)

After a couple of nights in Las Vegas, we got back in the car and started driving toward Texas. It was a lot of driving but we found a couple of places to stop along the way! (Full map with details later in the post)

Our first stop along the way was the Hoover Dam.

Baby Mollie Rose (Newborn Photography)

If you go way back to the earliest posts of this blog, you'll see that it started as a photography blog- even before I had the idea to create "Raising Memories". I don't regularly work as a photographer now, but every now & then something special happens in my family and I get the chance to practice photography again by doing a little session. That opportunity came up when sweet little Mollie Rose was born and I was happy to be able to take some photos of her, when she was just 17 days day old.

We weren't able to get together any sooner than that because her mom & dad live several hours' drive from where we live now, but when we had the opportunity to meet in the middle, at Ken's parents' house, we jumped on it!

Las Vegas, Nevada (Moving Road Trip)

Back in Utah when we booked our hotel for two nights in Las Vegas, we chose Circus Circus because we found a great deal and because it included a water park! We didn't tell the girls where we were staying for this stop because we wanted to surprise them. Although we stayed in an older room that didn't have anything special about it, we were positioned just across the street from the waterpark which served our purposes just fine!

Visiting Las Vegas Nevada with Kids

Here are a few of our must-see stops in Vegas when you're traveling with kids and need some ideas of things to do in Vegas besides gamble! 

8 Ideas for Summer Fun At Home With Kids

It's summer, school's out and suddenly all of your kids are home way more than usual and you find yourself looking for ways to keep them happy without setting them in front of a screen!

Today I'm sharing 8 fun activities you can do with your kids. Some of these are my own, and some are links that have been shared in my link party that I would love to try with my kids! I hope they give you some inspiration or items to add to your family's summer activity bucket list!

St. George, Utah (Moving Road Trip)

Halfway through March, with snow in the mountains and cold in the air, we said one last goodbye to my sister and her kids, we walked out of their house, got into our car and started driving away from our home in Herriman, Utah.

I was relieved because we were finally finished packing and emptying our townhouse. I was excited for our road trip and the adventures ahead of us.

Those feelings of anticipation were mixed up with the sudden pushing through of the feelings of sadness, loss, and uncertainty that came with leaving our new home in Utah that I was finally beginning to feel settled in. I had struggled to plant roots in this new place and it seemed that just as they were beginning to take hold, I found myself pulling them up without a clear vision of where I would soon be attempting to plant them once again.

Bed-in-a-Box Comparison (Endy vs. Douglas vs. Logan & Cove)

With several unpredictable events in our life over the last couple years, we've ended up with a total of 4 different mattresses in 2 years! Today I'll share a comparison review of Endy vs. Douglas vs. Logan & Cove, to help you see how the different bed-in-a-box mattresses compare to each other!

We recently started sleeping on the Endy mattress and this seemed like a good opportunity to share some of our mattress-in-a-box experience. In this post I'll share our observations about a few different mattresses we've tried, to help you if you're shopping for a mattress-in-a-box and would like some real life comparisons to refer to as you do some research!

Endy Douglas and Logan & Cove Comparison

Endy vs. Douglas vs. Logan & Cove 

We started out with a traditional springs & foam mattress that we tried out in a store before purchasing and slept on that for quite a few years, until it was time to replace it. At that time we decided to try the Douglas bed-in-a-box which we enjoyed for just over a year- until our house filled with smoke and consequently, we had to dispose of our damaged mattress. We replaced that mattress with a different style of bed-in-a-box that included foam and springs (this was the first I had heard of a bed-in-a-box with springs!) called the Logan & Cove. We brought that mattress with us when we moved to Utah and slept on it for a year before moving back to Ontario recently.

DIY Faux Wood Floating Shelves & Cariloha Bamboo Towels

Here's how I created faux wood floating shelves in our bathroom closet with supplies from the dollar store!

Our new rental townhouse came with a linen closet inside of the upstairs bathroom. I was very happy about this because our townhouse in Utah didn't have any closets (other than the bedroom closets). This closet had white wire mesh shelves and I wasn't too crazy about them. I didn't love the look and I didn't really like that they have holes in them. It just so happened that a budget organizing YouTuber I watch called DoItOnADime published a video on her channel shortly before we moved in, about a hack to make wire shelves look like floating wood shelves! I loved the idea and with just a few dollar store supplies, I thought it was worth a try!

(Update: It's coming up on 2 years since I made these fake floating shelves & they're holding up great!)

Fake Floating Shelves and Soft Bamboo Towels

I was really happy with the result! If you'd like to try this project yourself, here's what you'll need:

Saying Goodbye to Utah

Our time in Utah came to an end pretty quickly when Ken found out about his new job offer. We found out about the job at the end of January and by the time things were finalized, we had about 6 weeks before we would start driving back to Canada so it was a pretty busy time of selling a lot of furniture, packing all of our stuff, finding someone to sublet our rental townhouse, and trying to make arrangements for our arrival in Canada.

During that time, we also tried to squeeze in as many appointments as we could (haircuts, eye appointments, dentist appointments, etc.!) Here's a photo of the girls & I after our eye appointments:
...and here are the haircut before & afters:

Some Thoughts on Comparison, Social Media, & Opening Up Online

This post is about comparison, "invisible" struggles, and the role that opening up online and through social media (or not opening up) plays in our perceptions of others' lives....

Sometimes you look at someone in the pew across from you at church, or you follow someone on Instagram and think you have a pretty good idea of what their life is like, how happy they are, what sort of weight they’re carrying in terms of life challenges, and how well they’re handling things.

Authenticity and Transparency Online

You probably compare them or their life with yourself or your life- whether you mean to or not. You probably have a warped perception of what life is really like for them. (Please note that I said warped perception- this is good news because there’s a good chance that your inadvertent comparing is making you feel worse about yourself, your life challenges, and how you’re handling everything! If you can realize that the comparison you’re making isn't really a fair one, it may help you on that front.)

My Weird Ellen Dream

A few days ago I was getting ready for the day and as I was doing so, the details of a dream I had the night before slowly started coming back to me. I found myself chuckling as I remembered more and more of it and thought I needed to document it. So today I bring you my weird Ellen dream:

Strange Dream with Ellen Degeneres Oprah Winfrey and Sheri Dew

In my dream, I worked at The Ellen Shop (which was located in a strip mall). Ellen was always at the store, sitting at a special desk. When I arrived at work, I was told by a supervisor that all employees would get 40% off of all jeans that day because the Oprah show would be surprising Ellen by coming to the shop at 4:30 that afternoon. I started shopping and trying on jeans and hoodies until I realized that Ellen could see me and I thought I better stop shopping since I was supposed to be working.

We're Back!

Well this is possibly the longest break I've ever taken from blogging...

Details on what's in the background can be found in the Cottage Instagram stories (linked below).

I wasn't able to blog during our road trip from Utah to Canada because I was relying on hotel WiFi and had little free time. When we arrived back in Canada and were living at the cottage, we were relying on our cellphone plans for internet access and since we were out in the country, that wasn't the best connection and creating a hot spot was extremely ineffective.

Cottage Life

My best way to document our time at the cottage was through Instagram and mainly Instagram stories. If you're interested in looking back through my cottage story posts, I'll link them for you right here. I recommend it- it brings back great memories for me to watch this little series of posts. :)

Road Trip from Utah to Canada

I also have a story feature for our moving trip from Utah to Canada, so you can check that out if you'd like to get a glimpse of our road trip.  I would like to share some of these memories in blog form if I can get to it, but I'm not sure when that will happen, so these stories are your best bet if you'd like to catch up on what we've been up to.

For now I just wanted to make an appearance back here on the blog, to say a quick hello and let you know that I haven't disappeared! I hope you're still here too because there's lots more to come!

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Becoming Minimalist Homeschoolers?

Last time I wrote, I told you about how we would soon be homeless. Thankfully, I can now say that we have a short term plan for where to lay our heads when we arrive in Ontario!

Photo not of actual lake ;) This was taken at our Couples Resort getaway in Northern Ontario!

At this stage, we're planning for a month or two of minimalist living & homeschooling at a cottage by a lake...

Homeless in 3 Weeks

We finally have a set moving date! We will be leaving our home in Utah in 3 weeks and heading back to Canada. Do we have a home when we get there? Not yet! ...and I'm really trying not to stress about that!

Here's a bit about our plans so far:

An Announcement...

Lest you see the photo at the top of this post and assume that I'm writing a throwback post about "that time we moved to Utah", I'll encourage you to look closely at the photo to see what has changed since I posted it in April 2018 (I did a little photoshopping). That's right, the arrow is pointing the other way! We're moving again, and this time we're leaving Utah and heading back to Ontario, Canada!

When I wrote about our move to Utah I said, "We don't know how long we'll be in Utah but I guess we're getting used to not being able to see too far into our future."

Our 1st Two Weeks of December

The last time I did a week or month-in-review post was in September (for August). I keep meaning to catch up! Maybe I'll do that eventually, but for now, I've got a review of our first 2 weeks of December.

I want it mostly for my own records, but if you want to keep up on what we're up to, here you go! ;)

Brooklyn's Baptism Photos

My niece turned 8 in December and was baptized a couple of days ago. (I wrote about what baptism is like in our church and shared some more LDS Baptism Pictures when Talia was baptized so if you're not familiar with LDS Baptism and are curious, you can check that out).  We took some photos to commemorate this special moment in her life.

Great to be 8 Photography

Our plan was actually to meet and do this in the Fall, before it got very cold outside but busy lives took over and we found ourselves squeezing this photoshoot in on the day before her baptism, right in the cold of January!

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