The Gift Of Being Around Other Mothers

(This article was first published in Issue 04 of Flourish Motherhood, a quarterly and motherly publication sowing seeds of love and faith.)

When I was blessed to become a mother, it didn’t take long to appreciate the built-in community that comes with motherhood.

The first place I met other mothers was at my local library where our public health nurse taught us how to care for our newborns and where I heard how other mothers were coping. These mothers made me feel normal and not alone.

Then, when I took my toddlers to parent-child programs and eventually nursery school, I met more mothers and formed friendships. Grade school, high school, camp, our local playground, and athletic events – all of these places provided me with classmates in motherhood. Continue reading

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5 Simple Christmas Gift Wrapping Ideas

Wrapping Christmas Gifts
Wrapping Christmas Gifts

I don’t know about you, but I love wrapping gifts! I’ve loved the process of figuring out how much paper to use and in which direction to cut it since I was a kid. I love finding matching ribbons and twirling them with scissors. And, I love finding the perfect topper for each gift. When gift bags were invented, it was not a trend I liked at all!

My love for wrapping gifts started the Christmas I was in 3rd Grade, when I was asked to help wrap about 300 Snoopy stuffed animals that would be given to kids visiting Santa, in the American compound in Saudi Arabia where I grew up. I think there were about five of us and we had so much fun doing it. Every time I wrap a Christmas gift, I think of wrapping those Snoopy dolls.

I’m always impressed with how much effort goes into wrapping a gift by many people. Magazines are full of fancy and simple and creative ideas. The final pieces are works of art and so beautiful. One day, when I have a lot more time on my hands, I would like to wrap a gift like they do in magazines! In the mean time, though, I’m totally old school and use old-fashioned printed wrapping paper and ribbon.

Here are 5 super easy ways to finish wrapping a Christmas gift using different gift toppers. I went for the paper that comes on long rolls and all I did was look around the house for items to adorn the gifts. There are so many things you can add to a gift to make it special. Here are some suggestions based on what I did this year:

Use holiday candy

Wrapping Christmas Gifts
Wrapping Christmas Gifts

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My 8 Best Holiday Shopping Tips!

Holiday Shopping Tips
Holiday Shopping Tips

As the holidays approach, we are all looking for ways to shop smarter, and this year is no exception for me.

Although I’m quite organized about my Christmas shopping, each year I try to be even more efficient. Admittedly, I shop for the holidays all year round. It just makes sense to buy that perfect gift for someone on your list, anytime you see it. Most of us have gift closets for that very reason!

But, have you ever sat down and planned out how you’re going to shop better and differently? Well, I did that recently, and wanted to share my smart holiday shopping tips with you!

Tip #1: Make a list of people, including the gift you want to get them
I know this is the most obvious tip, but let’s be more detailed about it. Of course, you’re going to write down your family and friends as well as your doctor or kids’ teachers, and then you’re going to write the gift you want to buy for each of them.

Make sure you include a bunch of ‘extra’ gifts to have as backup. These include generic gifts like boxes of chocolate, a pretty diary, Starbucks gift cards, and bottles of wine. These are for when you’re invited last minute or when you’ve forgotten to add someone to your list.

Consult online guides for ideas and consider asking the recipient what they want. Although it’s fun to get a few surprises, I find it more practical to ask people what they would like as a gift. It makes life a lot easier and less wasteful for everyone.

Tip #2: Consult that gift closet or stash before you head out the door
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7 Stocking Stuffer Ideas For The Foodie In Your Life

7 Stocking Stuffer Ideas For The Foodie In Your Life

Foodie Stocking Stuffer Ideas
Foodie Stocking Stuffer Ideas

(This post is sponsored by Kitchen Stuff Plus. You can read the original post that first appeared on November 21, 2018, directly on their website, here; all opinions are my own.)

As a food and lifestyle blogger, I love receiving gifts that are themed around entertaining and spending time in my kitchen. And, I think people who like to be around food always appreciate getting something new to use. Here are 7 practical stocking stuffer ideas, for the foodie, cook, baker, and general kitchen enthusiast in your life!

Foodie Oven Mitts

Foodie Oven Mitts (Cotton With Printed Silicone)
Foodie Oven Mitts (Cotton With Printed Silicone)

When I was looking through the many household items at Kitchen Stuff Plus, I was delighted by these cotton-silicone mitts with the word ‘foodie’ repeated all over them! How fun are they? They’re 100% cotton with 100% silicone printing, which provides additional grip. I think they’re perfect for someone who creates and entertains in the kitchen. Continue reading

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Get Your Kitchen Christmas-Ready With These 7 Festive Pieces!

Get Your Kitchen Christmas-Ready With These 7 Festive Pieces!

Christmas Kitchen Ideas
Christmas Pieces For Your Kitchen Island

(This post is sponsored by Kitchen Stuff Plus. You can read the original post that first appeared on November 21, 2018, directly on their website, here; all opinions are my own)

It’s time to get ready for Christmas and the best place to start is in the kitchen, the central meeting place of our home!

My kids and husband love all of the décor and enjoy every piece I put out. How fun is it to eat off of Christmas plates and to be surrounded by the colours and scenes of the season for a few weeks a year?

I recently picked up these 7 festive plates and tableware items at Kitchen Stuff Plus and they instantly put my family and kitchen into the holiday spirit.

1) Placemats and a Table Runner

After using mainly plain red placemats, I changed things up this year by going with printed placemats. I chose the Festive Tree pattern because I liked the different coloured trees on the beige background and because they go with the mini-tree decorations I have around the house.

Christmas Table Runner and Placemats
Christmas Table Runner and Placemats

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Create The Perfect Floral Centerpiece In 7 Easy Steps!

William Ashley Secret Garden Floral Affair Event by Iittala and Alice's Table
William Ashley Secret Garden Floral Affair Event by Iittala and Alice’s Table

I’ve always wanted to learn how to make a beautiful floral arrangement and, this weekend, my wish came true!

As a blogger, I get invited to events throughout the year, but I knew that the William Ashley Exclusive Floral Event would be special. For one, the setting was the new William Ashley customer experience showroom on Toronto’s Mink Mile. With high ceilings, plenty of natural light, and a tea lounge, the new space was perfect for the Secret Garden affair.

The second reason this event was special is that it was hosted by Alice Rossiter Lewis. Alice is the founder of Alice’s Table, a Boston-based business that provides starter kits and support to ‘executives’ who in turn run their own floral parties. Earlier this year, she appeared on Shark Tank and left with investments from both Mark Cuban and Sara Blakely. Alice’s energy is contagious, the pace is perfect, and the end result is a gorgeous and fragrant centerpiece.

Alice Rossiter Lewis of Alice's Table
Alice Rossiter Lewis of Alice’s Table

On Saturday afternoon, I rode the escalator to the second floor of William Ashley’s Bloor Street location and walked past the soft teal chairs in the bright and cozy customer lounge. At the long coffee bar, I enjoyed my English Breakfast Tea in Herend’s Royal Garden teacups (the same pattern gifted to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) and admired the long table that was set up for our event. What an inspiring spot, amidst crystal vases and tableware, for an afternoon of floral arranging.

At each blogger’s place stood a 6 inch Kastehelmi vase made by Iittala, the Finnish design house. The Kastehelmi collection is distinguished by raised droplets, named after the Finnish word for ‘dewdrop’. Oiva Toikka, the designer, cleverly added these droplets to hide joint marks and lines. We put on our aprons and got ready to fill our beautiful vases.

As Alice took us through the steps of building our own bouquets, we chatted about each other’s social media accounts and our love for creating content. Bloggers being bloggers, we had our cameras out, taking lots of photos and videos. It’s what we do, and documenting our every move feels most comfortable among fellow bloggers!

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Here’s Why (I Think) I’m Going To Be Okay On University Drop-Off Day

Here’s Why (I Think) I’m Going To Be Okay On University Drop Off Day

Our oldest is going off to university the first week of September, and, admittedly, I’ve been a bit of a hot mess over here. I’m not ready for my daughter to leave the nest. Some days are good, others are not so good. My heart is sad and heavy, but my thinking is more along the lines of ‘it’s going to be okay’. Over the years, I’ve heard many parents talk about their experience, listening intently because I knew my turn would come. It has.

I spent the last months of my daughter’s senior year thinking about missed opportunities of being together, yet also understanding that a teen’s school and social life can take precedence. Sometimes I felt guilty about how I could’ve parented her differently as a kid. And, sometimes I just cried a lot.

When we first found out we would be parents, my husband said it best: ‘we’re going to have a visitor for 18 years!’ I was impressed with how insightful he was about raising kids and then letting them go. I’m a bit slower about accepting and understanding my role, but time has been the perfect teacher.

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What I’m Sending To University With My Daughter This Fall

 

Getting ready for back to school with Kitchen Stuff Plus
Getting ready for back to school with Kitchen Stuff Plus

(This post first appeared on the Kitchen Stuff Plus website, on August 1, 2018. You can read that post here and follow the hyperlinks to learn more about the highlighted products.)

Although it’s going to be very hard to say goodbye to my oldest daughter when she goes off to university in September, it makes me feel better knowing she’ll have what she needs to make her dorm room feel a bit like home.

When we looked at the Kitchen Stuff Plus website, there were many room décor and snack accessories to choose from! We chose items that are reusable and environmentally friendly, conducive to healthy eating, and durable – so she can still use them when she eventually moves off campus.

Clothing & Shoes Storage

Non-slip hangers and underbed storage containers
Non-slip hangers and underbed storage containers

These velvet-covered hangers ensure clothes stay put without sliding to the bottom of the closet. Because they’re all the same, the closet will look more organized and aesthetically pleasing.

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How Colorful Tableware Changes Your Outdoor Dining Experience

 

Simple Steak Dinner on Tableware from Kitchen Stuff Plus
Simple Steak Dinner on Tableware from Kitchen Stuff Plus

(This post first appeared on the Kitchen Stuff Plus blog, on July 19, 2018)

It’s amazing how a set of outdoor tableware can change how one feels about eating outdoors. I recently won a flatlay contest sponsored by Collective Influence, a blogger/influencer association, of which I’m a member, and Kitchen Stuff Plus, one of southwestern Ontario’s leading kitchen and homewares stores. The prize was this beautiful tableware set for eight that my family and friends loved using this past weekend.

Outdoor Tableware from Kitchen Stuff Plus
Outdoor Tableware from Kitchen Stuff Plus

The tableware is called the Madrid and it’s part of the Blue Sky collection. It’s made out of BPA-free melamine that won’t mark when you use a steak knife on it like we did this weekend! It’s light-weight, dishwasher safe, and the perfect size for a bbq meal or just lounging around at home or in nature. The dinner dishes are the same size as indoor plates but the side dishes and bowls are slightly larger. These larger side dishes and bowls can be used as extra dishes when you have more guests. Continue reading

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5 Ways To Make Toronto (Or Any Big City) Feel Smaller

Nathan Philips Square at Toronto City Hall
Nathan Philips Square at Toronto City Hall

Ever feel like Toronto is getting too big, too busy, and too hard to get around? Well, you’re not alone. In 2016, the census metropolitan area of Toronto was almost 6 million and is growing at a faster rate than the national average. In fact, Toronto ranks as North America’s 4th largest city in terms of population, according to the Economic Intelligence Unit, after Mexico City, New York, and Los Angeles.

I love living in a big city. There are always new exhibitions to see, restaurants to try, and quaint neighborhoods to discover. In fact, I often feel there are so many options to choose from, and that I miss out on some fantastic opportunities because I just can’t be in two places at the same time!

One of the things that I’d like to share more with you, the readers of my blog, is how to live slow and intentionally. I didn’t realize there was a term for how I like to live. I’m an emotional person, love connecting with people, and tend to overthink things. But I also appreciate all the things life has to offer, the big and the small, the material and the immaterial. I like being alone as much as I like being with others. And, I like walking outside as much as I can, enjoying nature and just feeling a part of the world. Yes, even in a big city, you can experience much of mother nature. Continue reading

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