Sharing the ‘Little Things’ That Made Me Happy In A 24 Hour Period!

Enjoying the little things in life

When you enjoy the little things in life, you feel happier. It sounds simple, and it is. You know what I’m talking about: the little things like appreciating a blue sky after a few days of rain, walking around comfortably in above zero temperatures after weeks of freezing weather, and engaging in a pleasant 15 minute conversation with your teen.

In today’s busy world, I feel like I’m always on the go and that I don’t have a second to myself. Well, in the last few days, I’ve enjoyed a lot of little things that have made me happy, despite running around and overscheduling my time. Perhaps inspired by the little notebook I picked up from the dollar store recently or perhaps inspired by mindfully appreciating every moment I have with friends and family, I thought I would share the simple things that brought me joy over a 24 hour period.

Here are the little things that made me happy over the course of a day: Continue reading

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5 Tips For Hosting An 18th Surprise Birthday Party!

My oldest daughter turns 18 in February and we decided to throw her a surprise 18th birthday party. She’s got a lot going on during her last year in high school including balancing school, social life, and university applications. We knew she wouldn’t have time to plan something that we could work on together, so I thought it best to throw her a surprise. I’m glad we did, because, a few days after her party, she said that she would not have had time to plan a party on her own.

I’d never thrown a surprise party at home before, so this was new to me. The hardest part was hiding some of the decorations and the cake, as well as orchestrating her being out of the house. Also, having 3 hours to decorate and get the food and activities ready was quite a challenge. But, I had lots of people helping me and it all worked out. I think the main thing to keep in mind is that kids like to be together, no matter what the occasion.

Here are my 5 tips for throwing a successful 18th surprise birthday party: Continue reading

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7 Holiday Gift Ideas Inspired By The Toronto Gift Fair!

It’s mid-November which means it’s the Christmas and holiday season everywhere you look! Given that clothing, shoe, electronic, department, and jewelry stores derive anywhere from 20-30% of their annual revenue from holiday sales, it makes sense that stores are heavily promoting gift-giving!

And, for us consumers, getting a head start on holiday shopping is always a good way to enjoy a stress-free holiday season. I’m always amazed by my friends and family who are so ahead of the game. You know what I mean: that friend whose house is all decorated by December 1st and whose shopping list is done. This is the friend who’s enjoying the holidays the way they’re meant to be enjoyed: relaxing in front of the fireplace and listening to Christmas carols – doing anything except shopping at the mall! Every year, I say I’m going to get more and more things done ahead of time, and I do a pretty decent job, especially with my holiday baking! (more on this in a future post).

Because buying gifts is the most time-consuming and most difficult part of the holiday season, I thought I’d suggest some ideas for preparing and completing your list. Here are some ways to think about your holiday gifts, as inspired by the Toronto Gift Fair. Continue reading

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My Basic Morning Skin Care Routine

Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash, Reversa Cleansing Micellar Solution, Reversa Solution for Oily and Acne Prone Skin, Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen
Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash, Reversa Cleansing Micellar Solution, Reversa Solution for Oily and Acne Prone Skin, Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen Lotion

This is my first beauty post!

I thought I’d dip my toe into the beauty blogging world and share some of my favorite go-to products, starting with five that are part of my morning skin care routine. I’ll share more in upcoming posts, so stay tuned!

I wouldn’t describe myself as having beautiful skin. I battled acne as a teen and in my early twenties and I was very self-conscious about it. It defined who I was for a few years. I was on a couple of different medications until I found the right one. And, finding the right one was a game changer for me. Then, things settled down, acne-wise, but I experience breakouts from time to time. Over the years, I’ve figured out what works for me and why. I’m very picky about the products I use in terms of how they address acne and oily skin: they can’t feel oily on my skin. The less greasy they feel, the more likely I will be to incorporate them into a regular skin care routine!

Let’s start with these five items that are part of my daily skin care routine. Continue reading

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Always With Love

It’s Valentine’s Day and last year I wrote a post (link here) about why I’m okay with Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day is as good a day as any to talk about love because every day is a good day to talk about love. But, what is love, really? It’s lots of things and it’s about describing how you feel about lots of things. It’s about falling in love with a person or your first-born child. It’s about loving something inanimate like your first home. It’s about forgiving people and accepting them for who they are, and that, to me, is the most important part.

The title of this post comes from my Dad, who, since I’ve become a parent, has repeated to me: ‘always with love’. By this, he refers to how I parent, discipline, guide, and teach my kids things. It’s so hard to be patient, to forgive the things your kids say to you or about you. It’s so hard to punish or tell a child you don’t approve of what they’re doing, nicely. But, that’s what you have to do, and, to do it properly, you have to do it with love. Continue reading

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The Chevrolet Volt And The Perks Of Going Electric

Do you have an electric or hybrid car? Have you ever thought about owning an electric car? My family doesn’t own one, but after recently test driving the Chevrolet Volt, I’m wondering why it’s taken me so long to seriously think about the perks of owning an electric car.

We’re in a car industry revolution now, like it or not. The rules of the game in vehicle technology and how we think about transportation in general have changed significantly over the last few years.

Not only do we have connected cars, but automated or self-driving cars are here, with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers forecasting 75% of cars on the road will be automated by 2040. And, electric cars are becoming easier and more economical to own, in part due to advances in clean energy, increased battery life, and wider availability of charging stations in buildings and malls.

Given all of these exciting advancements, my husband and I were definitely interested in test-driving the latest Chevrolet Volt at Hogan Chevrolet, in Scarborough, Ontario. Continue reading

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New Year’s Resolutions, Goals, or Both?

Happy New Year to all of my readers!

How do you feel about a new year? How do you feel about making New Year’s Resolutions? If you made any last year, did you keep them? Do you set New Year’s Goals as well?

To quickly answer these questions: I find new years and new beginnings to be generally exciting and hopeful. I’m okay with making some New Year’s Resolutions and managed to keep most of mine from 2016. As for New Year’s Goals, I think they’re as important as resolutions. When I asked my family if they thought there was a difference, we all agreed that resolutions are more like daily habits we want to work on while goals are longer term items we work towards that can be measured and tracked. (If you want to read more about setting goals, you can check out this link to the Mind Tools website.)

As I look back on 2016, I would say that I had a great year, for which I feel lucky given the many terrorist attacks and tragedies we saw. I traveled more than ever, which is a big deal for me as I overcame a lot of anxiety over traveling by plane. I caught up with more family and friends than ever, and I’m so happy about being in touch with them more regularly, thanks to social media and long distance conversations over the phone or WhatsApp. And, I got to spend time blogging, connecting with new people, and learning a lot about freelance writing. Continue reading

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Seven Tips For Hosting a Stress-Free Holiday Party

fullsizerender-29For the past few years, I’ve hosted a holiday luncheon for about 40-50 people, kids included. It’s the one big party I have every year to invite the people that have included us in their family celebrations throughout the year and that we see on a regular basis.

The first year or two, the party planning was stressful, mainly because I wasn’t equipped with all of the plates, cutlery, serving dishes, chafing dishes, and coffee maker that I needed and I wasn’t sure about the timing of getting things done. Recently, though, I’ve figured out how to make it as stress-free as possible and I can say that this year’s party was the easiest. It only took 5 years, but that’s okay! If you’re considering hosting some form of holiday party, I hope some of these tips will help:

Tip 1: Give as much notice of the party as possible. I try to give the guests about 3-4 weeks’ notice. Because I hold the party at least 3 weeks before Christmas, most of the guests are still ‘free’ and not caught up in the holiday shopping or other parties. It’s also a fun way for you and the guests to ease into the holiday season.

Tip 2: Start cleaning out the freezer and fridge two weeks before the party. Go through the fridge and freezer and make a mental note of what you can use in the next week or two and toss what is expired. Start buying fewer perishable items like fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy products, so that your fridge remains clean and empty. Cook meals that won’t have too many leftovers.  And, consider ordering in or eating out for the last two days before the party… bonus for you and the husband and kids!

fullsizerender-31Tip 3: Bake ahead. Sounds easy enough, but this means that your freezer, from the tip one above, has been cleared out and can handle all of the desserts you are making ahead and freezing. It also means you have made a list of the desserts you are planning on making and that you have on hand storage containers, plastic wrap, waxed paper, and all of the required baking ingredients. Start baking two weeks ahead so the last week can be spent on prepping the house and buying fresh food for the party. Continue reading

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Crying In Baseball And What The Game Teaches You About Life And Parenting

Photo taken by Ken Blaze, USA Today Sports; usatoday.com
Photo taken by Ken Blaze, USA Today Sports; usatoday.com

With all due respect to Tom Hanks’ character in A League of Their Own, the fictionalized movie about the All-American Girls Professional League, and the infamous line ‘There’s no crying in baseball’, I’m here to tell you: there IS crying in baseball – and that’s okay.

I’m talking about the kind of crying on players’ faces as they realize what it means to become World Series Champs. The kind of crying by loyal fans because ‘fairweather fan’ doesn’t apply when 1908 is the last time your team won. And, the kind of crying that overcomes you at home as you watch the players’ own emotions become your own.

Very early this morning, the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series, defeating the Cleveland Indians at Cleveland’s Progressive Field. After rain delays, numerous pitching changes, extra innings, and questionable moves and strategies by their manager Joe Maddon, the Chicago Cubs became the 6th team to ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to become World Champs.

Let me stop right here with the baseball jargon, because I’m in no way qualified to talk baseball with any authority. Rather, I’m a fan who appreciates what baseball teaches me about life and how I weave these lessons into my parenting.

I fell in love with baseball in elementary school, when I had a crush on a boy in my class. It’s that simple. Thankfully, my two brothers played baseball, providing the perfect cover for showing up at games. Over time, I cheered on the teams, kept the score on the old-fashioned wooden scoreboards, and even sat in the announcer’s booths in my small hometown. I learned the rules and saw up-close the upsets and triumphs of the players, the teams, and the parents who so badly wanted their sons to excel at baseball.

Today, my love for baseball means cheering my girls on in softball games and taking them to watch the Toronto Blue Jays. I love what the game teaches my kids about life. And, the World Series last night did not disappoint. Here’s what I’ve observed. Continue reading

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5 Tips For A Successful Kids’ Halloween Party

fullsizerenderIt’s Halloween in a few days which means it’s one of my favorite times of the year!  I’ve got childhood memories of wearing my costume and marching in a parade at school for parents and kids to admire.  I’ve got adult memories of carving pumpkins in my college dorm.  I’ve got lots of memories of going trick-or-treating with my kids over the years.  And, handing out candy dressed in a witch hat is an evening I look forward to all year.  So, in my opinion, Halloween is a great excuse to have a party!

I’ve thrown a few Halloween parties for the kids over the years, sometimes themed in with one of my daughter’s birthdays.  It’s just too easy to have a Halloween party, especially when the dollar stores, drug stores, and corner stores are all so well-stocked with fun crafts and ideas.  Did you know that, in the US, Halloween is about a $7 billion a year industry?  Canadians spend about $1 billion, which is more per capita than Americans do on Halloween costumes, decor and candy, according to an October 2014 article in The Financial Post.

img_3046Here are my 5 tips for hosting a party, followed by photos of what I’ve done.

Let the kids be involved in setting the agenda.
Do kids come wearing their costume or not?  What do they want the main activity to be? What do you want to serve? How many people is comfortable for you and your child to entertain? What time do you want to have the party?  I think Halloween is more fun in the dark, so if you can do a late afternoon party, go for it. Continue reading

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