Mothers Day Gifts

Mother’s Day Gifts from Hallmark #LoveHallmarkCA

Becoming a mom is one of the best experiences a woman feel. I remember the first time I held my daughter, motherhood was something I always wanted. Even though motherhood did not come under perfect circumstances for me I have been blessed and changed by motherhood.  This Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day to celebrate all the moms we know.  We cherish all the times and special moments we have shared over the years. We talk, we share and we have bonded more over time and memories.  I won’t be able to spend the day with my mom since she lives far away, but I will give her a call and chat on Mother’s Day.

I recently received a box full of Mothers Day gifts.  It was a rainy day and I couldn’t wait to get outside and use my new umbrella. The Catalina Estrada Flourishing Blooms Scarf is one of my favourites. It is something that just adds style to just about any outfit I put on. It has been a great fashion accessory and has been spotted wearing it often.

Mothers Day Gifts

Mothers Day Gifts from Hallmark

Mothers Day Gifts

There are a variety of gifts that will be a sweet addition for anyone’s taste. Your mom will love any of these Hallmark items.

  • Catalina Estrada Springtime Petals
  • Catalina Estrada Flourishing Blooms Scarf
  • Signature Gift Bags
  • Catalina Estrada Flourishing Blooms Cuff Bracelet
  • Blue Ceramic Tea Mug with built-in Infuser win a
  • Catalina Estrada Hummingbird Haven
  • Catalina Estrada Blue Rose Cosmetic Bag
  • Signature Greeting cards

Shower mom with love and make it a special day full of fun and memories to last a lifetime.

mothers day gifts

It’s time to enter and win a special gift or two for Mother’s Day. One lucky reader from Canada will win a Catalina Estrada Flourishing Blooms Scarf

and a Catalina Estrada Flourishing Blooms Cuff Bracelet.



Money Lessons I Learned Under the Kitchen Table



I am starting a new series of posts today about where this Common Cents Mom comes from and how I got my common sense ways. When I look back, I found that each decade I learned some pretty important lessons. Lessons that have carried with me.

When I was young one of my very favorite things to do was build a fort under the kitchen table. I would do this often and then in my fort I would sit, read and mostly observe and sometimes it was even my hiding place. It was here I first learned my mom hid money from my alcoholic stepfather what lesson did this teach me?

#1. Hide money, stash it away, don’t talk about it. Well, stashing money away is vital  especially when you may live in not the best of circumstances and may want a quick escape. An emergency fund is important. You must be prepared.  As time would teach me a rainy day or emergency fund helps you in so many ways, most of all it give you security.

Now the don’t talk about it where I think my mom got it wrong; I have realized it is important to have at least one other person you talk to about money. Someone who knows where things are in case of an emergency.

#2. A lesson I wish I didn’t learn. Don’t pay bills on time if you pay at all. Many times my mother would get calls from bill collectors, she would rob Peter to pay Paul. I was taught it was okay to hide debt. How wrong this that? Many times debts went unpaid. I had this bad habit for a long time. Debt is never something you should hide or shy away from. Yes, you may get behind, life happens but never neglect a plan for repayment.

#3. Hand me downs are a good thing. I am glad I learned this when I was young and remembered it in my adult years. Second hand, vintage, whatever you want to call it. Reusing is a very good thing! Everything I used for my fort was an item I was reusing and creating into that day’s fantasy. Even today I love finding things that can be given a second life as my new bedroom finds last month.

I learned all these things even before I was allowed to handle money but that is a story for another day.

Family is What You Make It and a Dose of Netflix Families

Families really do come in all shapes and sizes, colours and genders. In my time here on earth I have learned family is what you make it. Today many people never see that traditional family with a mom and dad and kids under one roof. Some are like mine, a single parent home with a child or children, others maybe lead by a grandparent and some well can even be made up of people thrown together by circumstance.

I never planned on raising my daughter on my own in a single parent home. I never planned on giving birth homeless and my residence being a home for battered women far from my immediate family. I was ever so thankful for two families that really took care of me and my daughter at that time. My two friends Galyn and Lynette and their families took us in and well for even the briefest of times were like family.

Sometimes you can think you have that ideal family, then overnight your world can be turned upside down as that son, brother, husband explains they are not attracted to women (this can also happen in so many other ways daughters coming out, a child feeling transgendered etc). You are left to pick up the pieces and remake your idea of family in a new way. There are choices to make. Who will you really let be part of your family?

After our fire 11 years ago another family took us in and really took care of us for the next 2 years. We were part of their family and extended family.

After my dad and grandmother died, my own family size shrunk and for the last few years it has been my daughter and I on our own. We have great friends around but it is not quite the same. Yes, I do have family but with them so far away in Nova Scotia it is hard to get quality time together. I have learned that we once again had to rethink what we thought about family.

During the month of May a dear friend has been in a coma in the hospital, she is more like family as it was her family that took care of us after the fire. She woke up last week, and is in a step down from ICU unit, and as I sat with her this week and watched her sleep, I thought about just how much her and her family mean to me.

As a distraction this month I have been binge watching some Netflix, and well started watching the new show, Grace and Frankie. I even shared this show with my mom who was looking for something new to watch on Netflix ( I had gifted her with a year of Netflix at Christmas time). We have been able to share and laugh at it which has been nice. My daughter discovered Full House, a show I watched in the 90’s and laughed when she realized that the Olson girls started on that show. She also laughed when I told her one of my crushes back then was John Stamos. There are a number of shows that talk about family in all it shapes, sizes and even genders on Netflix, that are perfect for sharing with your children, if you are looking for something new to watch grab some popcorn and watch one of these.


Tell me what are you watching these days? I have learned family can be made up of many people all of them may drive you a little crazy but you love them still the same. Now let me go get distracted and do some more binge watching.

Happy Thanksgiving: Counting My Blessings

happy thanksgiving counting my blessings
sitting down to count my blessings

I started a tradition awhile ago: each Thanksgiving I count my blessings. I actually count them more often then that but on this day each year I do make a written list that goes in my journal..a habit I began as a young woman.

What has me feeling like counting my blessings?

1. I am thankful for another year of life.

2. I am thankful this year we finally have a diagnosis for my daughter, we know what we are dealing with.

3. I am thankful that I can turn to God in humble prayer each day.

4. I am thankful for the work that was put in my path this year. First doing the daycare, then the wonderful opportunity with ShesConnected and now with Print Three.

5. I am so so thankful for this body of mine, it is fairly healthy and I am so thankful for that

6. I am thankful I have a daughter who challenges me all the time to think outside the box. I love being made to think.

7. I am thankful for friends. Each one has blessed my life in ways that are very measurable.

8. I am thankful for being a blogger and the many wonderful things it has brought into my life, from work, to friends the blessings from blogging are so numerous that I could literally write a post a day for a year and I wouldn’t be finished being thankful for all my blog has brought me.

9. I am thankful for our little apartment. For 11 months now it has been a safe place, a comforting place, a place where love grows.

10. I am thankful for you: my readers, my community, each of you matter to me. You count.

11. I am thankful that God loves me, just as I am, and I am ever so thankful for faith and the faith of many women that he has allowed to come into my life no matter what denomination, church, masjid or temple they attend. Having women of faith in your life is always a good thing.

12. I am thankful for the seasons and all they bring but my favorite is happening right now. I am grateful for crunching leaves, cool breezes and even pumpkin.

13. I am grateful for the internet as it has brought so many wonderful people into my life that have impacted me, changed me, molded me into who I am today.

There is much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and I wish to you a blessed one with your friends and family!

Let me know what are you thankful for today.

A Year in Review

What a year 2011 turned out to be! It was filled with both highs and lows.

The year started with me unemployed, but I did not stay that way for long. By the end of the year I became a business owner,small business but still. Working with kids again is a joy.

I also became a better blogger this year I think. I found out I was amongst the top 100 tweeters from Toronto on Twitter, and one of the top 20 individual bloggers in the city as well. I want to say I have been blessed this year by every connection I have made. I got to meet many more in the Social Media community and it has been a pleasure getting to know so many people.

I also got to attend more then a few Social Media/Blogging conferences this year. The year started early with Social Media Week and Podcamp Toronto. Then in the fall I attended both She’s Connected and Blissdom Canada. I again must thank my now friend, Annie Urban who made sure I got to Blissdom Canada.

Personally it was a joy for me to get to write about a few of my favorite brands and even get paid to do so. I loved working with each brand this year, and I can’t wait to see what 2012 will bring.

I was honored when Savvy Mom picked me as one of their favorite 35 blogs after reviewing over 700 blogs. Really I did a happy dance that day.

On the personal front relationships both begun and ended this year. Some where difficult to see go. But one lesson I have learned sometimes someone comes into your life for a season and enriches it but then it is time to move on your own path.

My daughter Rachel’s year started very roughly and I am thrilled to say we are ending it on a high note.

We battled bullying for the first 6 months of the year, which even saw Rachel not in school for 2 months. Really the spring took a toll on her, by the summer she needed the time to simply recharge.The only highlight Rachel had from her time at Ionview Public School was a play she got to be in this spring called Pink Lemonade. She made a great Mother Goose.

The summer saw us enjoying the sights of Toronto with friends who visited, getting to Wonderland thanks to my friend Scott Stratten, getting to the Ex on Warrior’s Day and hitting the beach.

This fall Rachel started at Alpha 2, a wonderful school in the TDSB that uses an unique approach to Education where Rachel is thriving. She is happier then I have seen her in years which is a good thing.

Overall 2011 brought joy, hard work, new friends, and fun. Along the way there were some sour notes but by the end of the year we were optimistically looking forward to the adventures of 2012.

Forgetting You Not

My grandmother Alice Simmons Stewart Pollard was the most amazing woman, and here I am 5 years later and I miss her so very much.

I remember well the lessons I learned in her kitchen. You see my parents divorced when I was young and I spent a good chunk of time in her kitchen.

She taught me when things are at the darkest, there is a light a coming.

She taught me to be thankful for what I do have.

She taught me to be a smart shopper.

She taught me the importance of family ties.

She taught me how to make the best Toads in the Hole.

I will forever be thankful for the amazing lessons I learned from this amazing grandmother. I pray you are resting in peace.

Free Family Day Activites in Toronto

Are you still looking for something to do this weekend in Toronto? It is a long weekend here as we celebrate Family Day and there are many great free or low cost activities you can do with your family. Here are some of the ones that looked great  to us:

Riverdale Farm has always been a family favorite of ours. Rachel when she was younger loved  exploring this in the city farm.

Family Day at the TIFF Bell Lighthouse is on both Sunday and Monday. A great way to catch a flick, or enjoy the exhibitions and activities they will have.

The National Film Board is also hosting a free Family Day on Monday. There is free animation fun on Monday but you do have to register for the workshops, otherwise there will be screenings, and a digital scavenger hunt you can enjoy. There will also be a pixilation workshop you can get in on every hour on the hour.

The Winter Apple Ball on Family Day celebrates the apple with an attempt to break a world record for the most people apple bobbing. Looks like they have a long list of activities to celebrate the apple.

The city of Toronto is hosting events on Family Day at 4 locations from noon to 4 pm. There will be dance, street theater, games and so much more.

Down in the Beaches the Beach BIA is hosting its 4th Annual Family Day with a load of free activities. Everything from chocolate tasting, to games, face painting and the works.

Down on the Harbourfront there  will be lots of great activities as well and rumor has it maybe a few Olympians to meet and greet?

You can even go fishing without a license as it is Family Fishing Weekend. You are allowed to fish anywhere fishing is permitted.

Love the outdoors? You can take a free guided walk in Rouge Park.

In the Bloor- Yorkville Area there is the Icefest on both Sunday and Monday. Think ice sculptures and a circus theme.

All of these are great ways to spend time with your family this weekend here in Toronto.

So what are your plans for the long weekend?


Tea Time

Tea time works for me. Steeping up a pot of tea and having a great conversation is always a wonderful way to spend part of the day. Last week I inherited my grandmother’s tea cups. Some of these great fine china cups are over 60 years old. It has been a delight to enjoy a cup of my favorite blend. Tea time works for me. Are you a tea drinker? If so what is your favorite kind? and do you have a favorite spot for that great cup?

*this post has been Submitted for Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Mom and Works for Me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer.

Planning a Frugal March Break

Its that time of year again and while some parents use March Break as the chance to get away there are many more of us who want to do the break in a frugal way. We want to keep those cents in our wallets.

My  tween and I have planned a fun packed March Break here in Halifax on a budget. Our budget=$25

What are we planning?

Monday- Tween won a $25 gift certificate to Build a Bear so we will be heading to Mic Mac Mall. I am sure she will spend an hour deciding what new thing she wants for her bear. Do you take advantage of online contests? This gift card came from a contest on Twitter. Total Cost to Mom= $0

Tuesday- We are heading to the library..Have you checked out your local library lately? After the library we will head to Tims for a hot chocolate and a chance to Roll Up the Rim. Total Cost- $4

Wednesday- The Empire Movie Theater is once again hosting $2 matinee’s. We are going to the movies. ( Snacks will be in Mom’s purse). Cost $5

Thursday- Grandma is coming to visit so we are planning a board game day.

Friday- We are going out for lunch with grandma. (Budget -$16) Do you have time with extended family in your plan? We are also taking in the Family swim at the Sportsplex (tween won a pass from school).

What are some other things we could have done?

  • spa day( at home manis and pedis)
  • cooking day(let the kids take a crack at cooking)
  • Baking Day( do you have a family favorite cookie?)
  • Cleaning Day( have you heard of spring cleaning?)
  • Service Day( have you thought of helping out a senior in your neighborhood)
  • a hike looking for signs of Spring

All these are a few ways that you can plan a frugal March break. What have you planned? Or have you tackled planning yet?

I am now off to read what every one is tackling this week on 5 Minutes for Mom.

Sharing Our Frugal Family Christmas

A couple weeks back I shared how we were going to have a frugal Christmas. Today I wanted to share some pictures of our Christmas. Christmas Eve Day My mom and I visited MySalon in Dartmouth. Great little hair salon owned by my sister. She gave me a color and cut as my birthday gift.

Christmas eve tradition the opening of one gift..always pajamas and this year there was a bathrobe and slippers in the box too.

Christmas morning my tween made breakfast, and it was yummy: waffles,strawberries and whipped cream.

After opening presents at my house we headed to my sisters and there there were more!

Christmas dinner ended with me having to blow out one monster candle as I turned 45!

After dinner headed to the movies and saw Up in the Air. Here we are waiting for my tween daughter and her uncle who decided to see Avatar instead. I think they saw the better movie.

And that was our frugal Christmas. I hope you had a good time with family and friends this holiday season.

Lets try and share that holiday magic with us each day of the year.