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It’s a Hallmark Christmas and a #Giveaway

It is that time of the year that we are all busy getting ready for Christmas. The decor gets pulled out, the house gets decorated, hot chocolate is sipped, and our favourite Hallmark movies get watched. We are definitely a Hallmark house. From our decor (thanks to the team at Hallmark Canada) to what’s on tv you would think you have entered a Hallmark home at our place.

As a teen I started collecting Hallmark Christmas ornaments. We have always been a Hallmark family, even my grandparent’s tree had Hallmark ornaments. I am so glad to keep this tradition alive.  I have been blessed to work with Hallmark Canada over the past few years and they have sent a box this year that was filled with beautiful decor items, cards, gift bags, gift items and of course a few ornaments.

I went through the box while watching a Hallmark Christmas movie and  the W Network. Did you know they have been showing many a Hallmark movie this month.  Since I have been in recovery mode after a fall late last month I have had the time to snuggle on the sofa and watch some of my favourites. Have you been watching?

The box itself was filled to the brim with a great selection of items and I wanted to share a few of my favourites.

There is the 2017 Dated Frame, which I thought would be a perfect gift for grandparents. I love giving the gift of photos.

There was lots in the box for the wine lover. When I saw the Mover and Shaker Martini glass, I thought of a girl friend who is a definite mover and shaker every day. It’s available for $19.95. There are also great bottle tags and wine charms that would be a divine add on.

They also sent this beautiful copper coloured retangular metal tray, a 3×4 Pillar candle, mixed rosehips, and adorable poinsetta lights. I have combined these for a beautiful centerpiece for my coffee table.

To add to my snowman collection for this year there is the “Stockings Hung with Care” Snowman and pup. It is only $17.95 when you purchase 3 cards. It is the 14th in the snowman series. So far I have 5 from the series. Candy canes light the way in sync to the tune of Jolly Old St. Nicholas.

Two of my favourtie things in the box this year were the Mixed Media Santa and the Mixed Media Santa in a Sleigh. Both are great decor pieces that would look perfect on the mantle.

Here on my blog, one reader can win the Mixed Media Santa this holiday season.

*Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only.

**Giveaway ends December 15th at 12:00 am.

 

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Let’s Talk Practical Stocking Stuffers for the Family #ChurchandDwight

It’s almost crunch time when it comes to Christmas shopping! Yesterday, I was out shopping for the stocking stuffers for our family. I know traditions are different in every family some go expensive, some go for chocolate and candies and some go practical. We tend to go practical in our family with a few food items along the way. I grew up this way practical stocking stuffers have always been part of the package along with at least one clementine and some chocolate.

Typically in ours you will find clementines, chocolate, always a new tootbrush, toothpaste, personal care items, socks and if for a kid there is always a small toy. So we are a family that thinks practically but we like many others have a sweet tooth and a craving for a bit of fun.

What about your family?

My friends at Church & Dwight have some suggestions for you. They are all very practical for those of you who are like my family and love to have a few practical items amongst what you give.

It happens every year! Just when you think you’ve wrapped up your holiday gift list without going over-budget, you realize that there are still stockings to stuff. Not to worry, we have you covered. Here’s a list of some of the best stocking stuffer ideas out there that are both practical and affordable.

Gifts for Her

Batiste™ Dry Shampoo Lotus: With hints of Apple, Wildberry, Grape and Citrus, Batiste™ Dry Shampoo Lotus instantly refreshes your hair between washes by absorbing excess oil from the roots, leaving hair smelling fresh and clean for every and any occasion.

Nair Nourish Crème for Legs & Body with Grape Seed Oil & Nair Nourish Crème for Face with Grape Seed Oil: Nair™ Nourish™ Crème with grape seed oil and antioxidant rich Resveratrol provides a luxurious at-home hair removal experience that nourishes the skin. It’s like a spa treatment in the comfort of your own home.

Gifts for Kids

 

Orajel Spider-Man and My Little Pony Anticavity Fluoride Toothpaste and Manual Toothbrush: The perfect stocking stuffer for your children, and their smile! Thanks to these beloved classic characters brushing has never been more enjoyable for kids, and healthy holiday presents have never been easier!

 

Gifts for Adults

Vitafusion Men’s and Women’s Complete Multivitamins: Be at your best through an exhausting month. Vitafusion™ Multivitamins will help ensure your body has the vitamins and nutrients it needs for a happy holiday season and a successful year ahead.

Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant Bright & Strong Toothpaste and Battery-Powered Brush: This is the only toothpaste with Baking Soda, Fluoride and Liquid Calcium. The brush does more than just whiten – it removes 2X more plaque than a manual toothbrush. Use them together and everyone will want to know the secret behind your gorgeous smile.

Diovol Tablets: Enjoy and indulge this season. And stop heartburn and indigestion in its tracks! Diovol™ Tablets provide effective and quick relief of occasional digestive problems.

Ovol Regular Strength Chewables: Too much bubbly this season? Keep these chewables close by to help avoid unwanted hiccups at a holiday party.

RUB A535 Anti-Inflammatory Cream: Shovelling, sledding, and skating can be harsh on your muscles and joints. RUB A535™ Extra Strength Heat Cream is effective at soothing stiff, sore muscles, and sprains.

Trojan Chain Reaction Lubricant: Ignite your intense passion and watch sparks fly with delightfully unpredictable changing sensations. Trojan™ Chain Reaction™ Lubricant allows you to reach new heights of pleasure with a special blend of intensifiers that keep releasing a variety of sensations during use, providing a unique experience every time. Get ready to work up a sweat unlike any other because with this long-lasting lubricant, you won’t want it to end!

Gifts for the Whole Family – Aged 6 and Up

Gravol Ginger Lozenges: Don’t let a bumpy flight or long car ride ruin your holiday travel this season. Pack Gravol™ Ginger Lozenges to prevent nausea and vomiting.

OxiClean Stain Fighters & Arm & Hammer Baking Soda NOTE:

The holidays can be a messy time of year, so share your secret of keeping things fresh, clean and stain-free with OxiClean™ Versatile Stain Remover and Arm & Hammer™ Baking Soda

A Practical Stocking Stuffer Giveaway

And, today may be your lucky day. From vanity cabinet must-haves to at-home beauty treatments, jump on the chance to win a holiday stocking filled with tried-and-true products valued at $150 to help cut down your holiday shopping list.

In the comments let me know and don’t forget to enter using the Rafflecopter entry.

What are your favourite stocking stuffer products listed here?

*this post is sponsored by Church and Dwight and I do receive product and cash for my posts as part of an ambassadorship.

**giveaway is open to Canadian residents only.

***giveaway ends December 20th, 2017

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How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft Online

Common sense tells us we are all at risk for identity theft? So how can you best protect yourself? Especially from online attacks?

There are some simple things you can to ensure your personal safety online.  Personally, I have had my wallet go missing and I hate to admit it has happened more than once. I know for me I got the sinking feeling and worried most about my identification. Since many of our lives and daily transactions are now done online, it is just as important to protect our online identities.

No one is exempt from online identity theft. We have seen thousands of people impacted each time a company gets compromised. Even the credit bureau, Equifax was recently compromised. Fraud is a real issue and it impacts many Canadians on a yearly basis. A couple of years ago Interac invited me to an evening out where I learned lots about the dark web and the real dangers that lurk at every turn. So how can we can we best protect ourselves from identity theft online? This is important to know as many of us right now are doing our Christmas shopping online.

How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft Online

  1. Create a seperate shopping ID account. When you shop, do you use the same email address as all your social accounts? Don’t! Create a seperate account with very limited permissions. Use this for banking and shopping.
  2. Watch what you share online. In the age where many of our lives are online, don’t overshare personal info. You never know who is watching. Share what you would share if you were giving a speech with a megaphone.
  3. Sign up for a credit monitoring service and get alerts. Did you know you can get alerts every time  your card is used? Credit Karma offers a free service. This means if new credit is opened in your name you are alerted as well as any major changes even a creditor reporting late payment.
  4. Don’t carry non essential ID. Do you carry your SIN card? Stop! Carry what you need.
  5. Be careful where you store your credit card information. In the age of the internet of things it is easy to have your card info stored in many places. Be mindful where your information is being stored. It may not be that secure over time.

Remember an once of prevention helps especially when it comes to your credit.

Recovering From a Slip and Fall

Last weekend, I went to Kitchener Waterloo for a party at a friends house and spent the night. The next day I was out and about and met up with another friend for a hot chocolate and some Christmas shopping. It was a perfect weekend.  It was perfect until I was on the way home and tripped and fell as I was running to catch my bus home that had just arrived at the stop. Immediately I was in immense pain and couldn’t get up for a few minutes. Literally, I couldn’t move.  I had pulled my muscle and scrapped up my knee and bruised my leg as well. It was a pretty brutal fall. The fact I did far from home was a real issue as well. How I managed my way home that night I am still not sure. Let me say this the pain level was real. I think I broke down and cried several times throughout the trip.  It truely was a slip and fall, so how does one recover from a slip and fall?

 

Here is what I have been doing.

Know what is going on with your body?

At first I think it was a scrapped knee and a few bruises. It was not till I went and got seen that I truely knew the extent of the damage. I had pulled a muscle as well as all the visible stuff.  I have learned from my sister who is a bus driver that since this happened on city property at a bus stop I should have reported immediately. Since I have found out what is happening to my body I have been following my doctors advice.

Rest and Elevation

This week I have spent plenty of time on the sofa with my leg elevated resting. I have also been taking pain medication which is why the blog has been quiet. I will be back to posting as of Monday and you will want to be back as there will be 2 giveaways posted this week.

Follow Doctors Orders

I am doing as my doctor says and my recovery will take a few weeks but I will mend. I should be back to normal just in time for Christmas and my birthday later this month. I have been using hot and cold treatments, essential oils and pain meds all week long. I feel like I am on the mend finally that is why you finally see me posting today.

So have you ever slipped and fell and done major damage to yourself? If you have let me know your story.

 

 

 

Let us Remember Our Vets Today and Everyday

Today is Veteran’s Day here in Canada. More and more,  Lest we forget, we stop and thank those who have gone before at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day. Many of us wear poppies today to remember the poppies that grow on Flanders Field. Each year I am proud to pick up my poppy and thank a veteran who has served.

Every year I am reminded of the stories that I know from personal family research. Lately, I have been using Ancestry.ca to learn even more about the heroes in my own family. This weekend if you want to research the military stories in your family you can do so for free.  In every generation,  I have had family members who have served here in Canada and who are serving in military services around the globe.

First, there was my great-grandfather. Charles Pollard who was a WW1 veteran. Not much is known about his service but that he did serve. He served as part of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Norman and Alice Pollard
Grandpa and Grandma Pollard just before my grandfather shipped off.

Then there was my granddad Norman Pollard and his brothers. He was one of 3 brothers who went and served. One did not come home: my Great Uncle Charlie was killed in action in 1942. He is buried in Germany. My grandfather was captured at Dieppe and transferred to a POW camp in Poland. In the final days of the war, with the world closing in, these men had to march for 86 days across 600 miles toward Berlin. My grandfather brought home with him unspeakable memories. He was hospitalized in England for 5 months after the war and then another 5 months at Sunnybrook Hospital before he could go home to his family. My grandfather’s story even made the local news as he was listed as missing in action and then when he was liberated.

Did you know when they would share news of those in the fight back then they would share what street they lived on? I live just a few blocks from where my grandmother sat and learned her husband was missing in action. The same home where she would receive a letter smuggled out of the POW camp telling her, he was alive. He was liberated not long after that letter reached her in May of 1945.

uncle_ron

My uncle Ron served as a diver with the Navy and did several peacekeeping missions. My uncle was even buried at sea.

My cousins Ronny and Tom have both served. Tom continues to serve.

My teen’s big brother, Seth serves in the American forces and has served in Afghanistan.

There was my grandfather Hilliard Kain who served in the Canadian Navy, as did my stepfather Alfred Smoat.

remember our vets- graduating class 1953

My mom was a member of the Canadian Airforce as well. This photo is of her graduating from basic training.

I am thankful to each and every family member who hearts were big, whose strength was real, whose courage was beyond measure. I am thankful for all we have as Canadians and know it is because of the valor of men and women just like my family members that I can even blog today. We owe huge debts of gratitude for each who have served.

As an action note, today if you are thankful for the service to this country of others, please support the vets in your community. Often they come home injured and get forgotten and let me put it this way, we don’t do enough at any level to offer the support or services so many need. Health care and home care right now are needed by so many vets who served so valiantly and funds are lacking, rehab care for our returning warriors is lacking as well in so many ways…so please add your voice to mine and write a letter saying that our VETS deserve the best treatment and access to funds we can possibly afford.

Today may we forget not the sacrifice and service of those who have served and those who wear a uniform every day so we can live here in Canada as we do.

Who today will you remember? For me it a long line of family members who have served in every major Canadian military action, from war to peacekeeping efforts every generation has given what they can to serve this great land I call home.

How to Have a Happy Halloween on a Budget

It’s hard to believe it is the middle of October already, and if you are like me I start thinking about Halloween the day after Thanksgiving. Halloween though can cause a drain on the pocketbook. It’s one of those holidays where it is easy to spend and spend. We absolutely love Halloween in this house. My teen has already been down to Niagra area for a Haunted Hayride, corn mazes, and a bonfire this past weekend as she helped a friend celebrate their birthday. So how can we have a happy Halloween on a budget? Trust me, it is possible to do and you can it on a budget.  Here are my rules for a great Halloween:

Budget

Before you spend a single dollar on Halloween, plan your spending. Have a budget in place. Are you going to be buying costumes for yourself, the kids, pets? Planning on attending local Halloween events (what are the costs involved?)? Are you going to decorate your house? Are you handing out candy? Trust me, you can save on all of it, but first, you have to know your budget.

Get Inspired on Pinterest

We love Pinterest for inspiration. If you check my Pinterest boards you will see I have a Halloween board that is full of decor and costumes ideas and another board full of Halloween food ideas

Shop What You Have

We love holidays in this house. I have a Rubbermaid container for every season, every holiday. Over the years, I have collected favorite elements for my Halloween decor and possible costumes. What do have in your closet, attic, or garage that you can use? For me, I have been blessed to have been a Hallmark blogger so I have a collection of favourites that I use year after year. I also keep past costumes if I see a potential use for the pieces. Do you have a dress-up box? We had a tickle trunk for years. Everything my daughter wore for dress up was up for grabs when it came to Halloween costumes.

 

The Dollar Store

We love dollar stores, you know the ones where everything is one dollar or pretty close to that. For Halloween, we purchase things we need here most often. Need Halloween makeup you can find it? Need temporary hair colour, you will find it, Need a few decor items you can find that too. Here where I live I have two favourite dollar stores: Dollarama and Dollar Tree. Be careful at Dollarama though many items are more than a buck! Look for value.

Thrift Stores

The third place I hit is thrift stores. I have shopped a Value Village in the past for Halloween but they are now getting almost as expensive as Walmart and other retailers when it comes to Halloween costumes.  My current favourite places to thrift shop for Halloween in Toronto right now happens to be the Salvation Army thrift stores. We have found some great costumes and dress up clothes at thrift stores by keeping our eyes peeled.

Save Money on Candy Shopping

Do you have hundreds of kids hitting your house? You can save on Halloween candy as well. We found a couple of bags of candy that we know kids love at Dollarama for three dollars a bag but to save on things like chips, chocolate bars, and Twizzlers check your sales flyers the two weeks before Halloween.  With your Flipp app, simply enter the word Halloween or candy in the search bar and watch all the adds appear. Simply clip your favourite or the best buy and remember you can price match at stores like Walmart and the Superstore.

Thes are my tips for a budget-friendly happy Halloween. How do you celebrate Halloween without breaking the bank?

 

Cat Adoption: Things to Think About #ChurchandDwight #ad

When my daughter was little we were cat people. Fact is we would have a cat right now if our landlord allowed pets (there is a no pet rule as someone has an allergy). We had two beautiful cats, Tiger and Bandit. Tiger, we got as a kitten but Bandit was an older cat when we adopted him. We have experience with both kittens and older senior cats.

There are many things that get better with age, and a feline friend is one of them! If you’re thinking about adopting a kitten or know someone who is, ask that they consider a senior cat instead. Sure, kittens are cute, but adult cats have a great deal going for them. Read and share this list of why adopting a senior cat might be right for you!

  • Senior cats are some of the hardest to find homes for — so when you adopt a senior cat you’re literally saving a life! This is a great life lesson to instill in your little ones.
  • A senior cat’s personality has already developed, so you’ll know right away from your first encounter if he or she is a good fit for your family.
  • A senior cat won’t grow any larger, so you’ll know exactly what you’re signing up for. Plus, you won’t have to upgrade to a larger cat house or litter box as they continue to grow.
  • A senior cat may be house-trained with basic etiquette and not attack feet, bite hands or use the couch or carpet as a scratching post.
  • Senior cats are often already litter trained and are less likely to “forget” where the box is. To help keep cats happy about their litter box, no matter what their age, use a quality cat litter like Arm & Hammer Slide. It traps odours for 7 days, and is dust-free with a soft texture that’s easy on paws. What’s best is the patented EZ Clean technology means the used litter slides right out! No more scrubbing or scraping the bottom of the box!
  • Senior cats are often content to just relax in your company, unlike younger cats, who may get into mischief because they’re bored. Bandit loved to snuggle with my daughter.

Did you Know? With Friday, the 13th approaching, it’s important to remember that senior cats aren’t the only ones that tend to be forgotten – black cats are too. The superstitions that surround black cats have a real impact on them finding a forever home. Remember, the idea that black cats bring bad luck is nothing but a myth so don’t let that stand in your way of welcoming a deserving cat into your family.

Have you adopted a senior or black cat? I’d love to hear about your experience.

To adopt a senior or black cat or learn more about cat adoption, visit your local SPCA or go online.

*this post is sponsored by Church and Dwight. As always my opinions are my own.

Getting Ready for this Years CNE

It’s hard to believe that the Canadian National Exhibition here in Toronto is a mere seventeen days away. Opening day is Friday, August 18th! Our family and extended family have always loved attending the ex. We go several times each year. We have our traditions, memories and meeting places.  My teen loves the midway, youth day, and the candy apples. Where I love the shows, music, shopping and all the new foods every year.  If you want to do the CNE on a budget, now is the time to prepare.

Go for the Advance Purchase options

By purchasing your tickets early you can save up to 34%. Purchase CNE Gift Card Tickets at participating GTA supermarkets and Canadian Tire stores in early July. Tickets are also available for purchase at participating GO Transit stations. Click here to purchase online.

Download Your Child’s tickets

Taking kids, can’t find your passes that came with their report cards? Download a free pass for them before August 17th. Be quick though these free passes are not available once the CNE begins.

Plan Your Days

From new events like the East Coast Kitchen Party opening weekend to the classics like the Air Show, there is lots going on at the CNE this year. We are loving the music line up and make sure you check out the international performers as well. By the way, do you know who is headlining the Ice Show this year? Elvis Stokjo.  With this year being Canada’s 150th year there is lots of  Canadian content to this year’s ex. So much to see and do!

 Take Advantage of All the Free Things to Do

Some of our favourite things to do are free. We have always visited the farm, Kids World is full of fun activities for the little ones, we always take in a show everytime we are there and don’t forget the daily Mardi Gras parade at 6 pm. As well as all the free performances, do check out the exhibits as well. This year I am looking forward to checking out the Celebrate Canada exhibit and the Quilt of Belonging.

Let me know what are you looking forward to at this years CNE?

mom sneak Netflix

How to Get Your Netflix Time In #StreamTeam

Have you ever found yourself with no time to do the things you love? Life has been getting busy here. My teen will soon be off to college and there are now 4 kids under five under the roof ( 2 born in the last 3 months and two that are starting school this fall). It seems when I am not spending time with my own girl I have two little boys and two little girls to delight in. We are three families under one roof after all.  When I am not at work, I am currently either spending time somewhere in the house. There is an old saying many hands make light work and that is definitely what living in my house is like. So how do I find the time to do the things that I love? How do I get my Netflix time in? For me sometimes, I have to sneak it in.

Recently Netflix did a survey and found moms are great at the #momsneak. I know I am. Check out this infographic:

mom sneak Netflix

 

I know for me there are 3 places I sneak some Netflix time. I have a one hour commute to work each day. A few times a week when I am not listening to some of my favourite podcasts I am catching up on a show that I have downloaded from Netflix. If you have not downloaded a show I highly recommend it. I also sneak some time in when I head to the laundromat. It’s just enough time to watch a movie while I get the laundry done. The last place I sneak Netflix time is in the bathtub. There is nothing like a great soak, a favourite beverage, and a great flick.

 

So tell me, what kind of mom sneak are you? How do you make time for you each day? For me, it is all about that magical balance that allows me to steal a few minutes here and a few minutes there.

* I have been a proud member of the #Streamteam for the past 3 plus years but this is my final post as a member of the team. I did receive compensation in the form of free Netflix and some swag, no cash ever. I will miss the team and getting to bring you my readers exclusive content but there is a time and season for all things. 

How to Save for Summer Fun

 

Taking a summer vacation is an expense that is a luxury for many Canadian families. It’s hard to save when money is tight! For my own family, we have needed a summer getaway, so we came up with a plan that would get us away enjoying Canada this summer for Canada’s 150th birthday.

 

What did we have to do?

 

Set a Goal

While you may not have the time to save big for an extravagant vacation this year, you can definitely plan for the future. How much money do you need? Where do you want to go? You will want to know how much a vacation to your ideal spot is going to cost. My teen and I thought of several places we wanted to visit and decided on some time in Niagara Falls for Canada Day. Can you just imagine the fireworks and the light show?

 

Take a look at hotel rooms, airfares, train fares and the like so you can set a realistic goal.

 

Look for Ways to Save and Earn

When trying to save money for something special like summer fun, you can find ways to save some and earn some. Bring the whole family in on the plan. Teenagers can pick up part-time jobs and learn to earn and save for something they really want to do. They can even help create the summer fun budget. My teen and I plotted our summer adventures a couple of months ago. Then we had to come up with a plan to earn and save.

 

Get a Separate Bank Account

It is easier to save for that special trip if you set up a separate bank account. Recently, we are liking the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account. With their current 2.30% interest rate and the fact that EQ Bank has no monthly fees, your savings can add up quickly. I suggest setting up an automatic payment between your main account and this savings account, that way you can save automagically.  If you deposit a $20

bill every week for 12 months you have $1,040.00 saved for summer fun. Interest on this would be about $23. Would you miss $20 a week? Most of us would not and think it could be earning interest along the way as well.

 

I should let you know EQ bank is a digital bank that provides a great mobile banking experience that helps Canadians save more faster. When you are ready to spend your summer fun money you can simply transfer your money with 5 free Interac e-Transfers® a month and take advantage of the fact that the account has no minimum balance, no monthly fees and unlimited day to day transactions.

 

Set a Budget

We have set a budget for summer fun. Each week we know what is in the pot. There is money for our trip and there has been money set aside for our days at Canada’s Wonderland, the CNE and the local festivals we like to attend.

 

Now you may be a wee bit late to the game for this year but you can always start planning for next year now. Simply open that bank account and watch your savings soar as you plan for and get excited for the vacation ahead.  In the meantime, plan a frugal summer of fun in the city where you live.

 

As a special treat for my readers to get your summer savings started, new accounts opened have the chance to win one of 10 $150 deposits into your new savings account! That’s equal to taking care of a hotel room for a night away.