Simplify for 2018

I have decided that this is the year I actually do it. I simplify. I get organized.

I won’t call it a resolution because if I do, it FOR sure won’t happen.

Two things really sparked this for me. First, our long-awaited basement renovation is finally starting this week. I cannot begin to describe how excited I am about this. The basement will essentially be a playroom/family room/guest room with laundry and a small bathroom.  I am thrilled that all the kids toys and books will finally have a permanent home (as well as the husbands extensive vinyl collection) but the basement was full of crap. Like SO. MUCH. STUFF.  Basically our entire childhoods were boxed up and living down there. We have moved it all out now but it is taking longer to go through the piles of things and purge then I had ever imagined. We have taken about three van loads of stuff to donate and I am sure we will be sending at least three more soon. Getting rid of massive amounts of stuff I have been holding on to for literally decades has been hard but very invigorating and I have decided to continue the purge throughout the house and, dare I say it, my life!

Serendipity is my friend. The other day I was scrolling through the ‘gram and I stopped at Emily Ley’s account (a fellow twin mom and mom of three). She is the founder of the Simplified Planner and also the author of A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living. She was offering a free e-book for her Simplicity Challenge when you sign up to her mailing list (find it here without signing up) so I printed it out right away. There are so many amazing tips in there and mixed with the goals that I had already set for myself, I have come up with a list of ten ways I will be simplifying my life in 2018.  Again, not a resolution. Goals.

  • Clean out your bag- If you are like me, I carry around a ton of stuff in my bag. I change bags frequently but somehow all the junk just migrates. I am now trying to keep my bag more organized by keeping makeup and bits and bobs in a pouch so that everything is contained and there are no random hair ties and lipsticks floating around the bottom of my bag.  I am using a cute Kate Spade pouch similar to this one. If you like the look of your pouch, you are more likely to use it!
  • Purge your wardrobe and make it look pretty– I went out and bought a bunch of new velvet hangers at Homesense in an attempt to fit more in my fairly small closet. In the process of replacing all my bulky wooden hangers, I took literally every single piece out and had to hold it in my hand and look at it. If I didn’t think that I would wear it soon, I threw it in a pile to donate. For my drawers, I pulled every single piece out and dumped them all on the floor- when I reached for piece to re-fold it, I had to make the same decision.
  • Buy better, not more– Now that I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff, I have decided to try to cut down on impulsive, fast fashion purchases. I plan on keeping a list in my yearly planner (more on that later) of items that I want and really do my research to find exactly the right piece. Maybe it’s from Zara or maybe I will have to spend more, but it will have to be the perfect piece to make it into my newly arranged wardrobe.
  • Make a list of books you want to read this year– If you are a regular follower of mine, you know that I am a bit of a book addict. I buy a TON of books… more than I can ever realistically read. I need to curb the spending on books so I have decided to make a list of books I want to read this year and try to stick with it.
  • Clean out the pantry- If your house is like mine, you pantry or wherever you store your dry goods becomes a total disaster. Stuff gets crammed in there and soon enough, you are buying repeat items because you have no idea what you have. Cleaning it out, tossing anything that is too old or expired and arranging it so everything is visible will help cut down on unnecessary purchases. Also- you may find that you have some items that you can donate to a local food bank!
  • Weekly Meal Planning– Another way to avoid purchasing more food then you require. Planning meals cuts down on expense and food waste. I used to be very good at this but in recent years, life with babies got in the way. Really excited to get back to it!
  • Family calendar- My husband and I both have work events and separate social events that we need to keep track of in addition to appointments and activities for the kids. Sharing a calendar on iCal means that we always know what everyone is up to so we don’t double book. I have found that being able to see how the month is shaping up keeps me from getting overwhelmed and enables me to make sure that everyone gets to where they need to go.
  • Use my planner– Every year I buy a beautiful planner and every year it gets woefully neglected. The most successful year I had with a planner was when I used it more as a journal and a goal keeper then to track appointments (which are on the shared iCal calendar anyway!) This year, I received a lovely day per page planner from Paper Source  (pictured below) for Christmas. The day per page give me lots of room to take notes, make lists and write down random thoughts.
  • Purge that junk drawer– Don’t lie and say you don’t have one. Everyone has one somewhere in their home. For us, it’s in the kitchen island and it is where rubber bands and batteries go to die. Clean that puppy out and you will realize how much garbage has accumulated in there and how good it feels to say goodbye to it (until next year when it is full again!)
  • Go through the kids things every month– this may seem excessive but when you have three rapidly growing and changing kids, it really helps keeping their clothing and toys from getting out of control. I do this especially with the twins stuff, as once they outgrow something there is no need for me to hold on to it anymore (no more babies coming our way). I usually divide the purged items into a pile for charity and a pile to sell at a consignment store (if you live in Toronto, I suggest Merrily Merrily for consigning)

** Bonus- Take time for just you every day. Even if it is just a 10 minute shower, a 20 minute bath with a glass of wine or a walk or bike around the neighbourhood. Clear your head away from the family. It will make you a happier parent, partner and human!

 

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What I read- Autumn 2017

What I read- Autumn 2017

Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys (via Netgally- available  January 9th 2018 in the US and Canada. Available now in the UK)- Traveling from England to Australia in 1939, the inhabitants of a large passenger ship become enmeshed in each others lives, affecting everyone in different ways. I loved this book as I felt it really brought to life the spirit and drama of the era and let me tell you, there is a twist that cannot be missed! Fantastic historical read.

Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs – Camille has become paralyzed by fear since her husbands tragic death while on vacation years before. When she discovers that her sick father wishes to return to French town he grew up in, she must find the courage to travel again. Once in France, shocking discoveries about her father’s family and the appearance of an intriguing man force her to embrace life again.  This book was another super delightful read conjuring up the era of the Second World War, with a sweet love story mixed in. Perfect beach read for this winter!

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker– Looking in detail at the lives of five victims of a still unknown serial killer that terrorized Long Island in the early 2000’s. Exhaustively researched, the victims are brought to life as women, daughters and mothers and how Craigslist and the inaction of police were both instrumental in the deaths of these marginalized people.

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey – In this book, the author explores how ghost stories are shaped by the history of the places that are said to be haunted. Looking at famous (and not so famous) hauntings across America, the reader gets a strong sense of how we look at our past as reflected by the stories we tell .

The Break By Marian Keyes– Amy’s husband Hugh wants a six month break from marriage but he makes it very clear that he is not leaving her. He takes off to Asia leaving her totally confused and devastated. Then she decides that if he gets a break from marriage, then so does she!  I have read every one of Marian Keyes’ novels and this is probably one of my favourites. I laughed so hard and cried almost as hard. For me, that makes it a newer perfect fun read.

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella (advance copy via Netgalley- available February 13th 2018)- Sylvie and Dan have been together for years, with a nice home and adorable twin daughters. Life is nice… but a little boring. They decide to shake things up by creating special surprises for each other. This decision will lead to shocking revelations about their marriage and family that neither could have anticipated. This book is classic Kinsella, the author of the Shopaholic series. Another perfect vacation read.

 

 

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Getting hygge for the holidays

I want to be cozy this Christmas. As our calendar for the end of November and December gets totally nutty (but fun!) I am already fantasizing about the quiet week between Christmas and New Years when it is all about hanging out at home and being lazy. No school, work or lessons to dash off to and only fun things (or nothing at all) on the roster! I can’t wait. If you want to get into the hygge spirit, check out my cozy picks below!!!! Hygge for the Holidays

 

Candle- Le Labo / Blanket-Lands End / Socks-  Lands End/ Mug- Kate Spade/ Cheese Plate- Fortnum & Mason / Hot Chocolate- Soma /Monopoly

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Holiday 2017- Five ideas for family fun in Toronto

 

I love to share the fun and magic of the holiday season with my kids but there are SO many options these days that it can get a bit overwhelming. Here are five wonderful options in Toronto this year that have caught my attention!

 

Black Creek Pioneer Village– On weekends November 18- December 23rd, Black Creek transforms in to an old-fashioned Christmas village. Complete with food, music, tree trimming and wagon rides, this is the perfect tradition to get you in the holiday spirit. In December, meet Santa and feast on a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings (the first three Sundays in December)

Toronto Christmas Market-  I first visited the Christmas Market in its first year and I LOVED it. My parents were in Europe at the time and I was so envious of them getting to see the holiday lights and enjoy the markets in Paris. Over the last several years, the market has become incredibly popular, so much so that there is a charge attend on the weekends ($6 per person after 5PM on Fridays. Children 2 and under are free) It can be insanely busy on the weekends and in the evenings, but if you head out early enough it can be a really enjoyable outing for the whole family. There are market stalls, tons of fun food options, a giant Christmas tree, music and of course SANTA! (November 16 –  December 23, 2017. Closed Mondays)

A Christmas Carol (Soulpepper)     – For many families Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is required movie viewing. To expericec the tradition in person, check out Soulpeppers’ annual stage production. Audiences also enjoy free entrance to the Toronto Christmas Market via the Cherry Street entrance. (Show runs from December 7th-24th. Best for ages 8+)

A Christmas Carol (a Ross Petty Production) – For a more lighthearted musical version of Dickens’ classic, check out this production. Ross Petty’s shows are based on the traditional English pantomime, which means lots of audience participation and inevitably at least one character in drag. I loved going to these as a child and I can’t wait to take my own kids! (Show runs November 24th- December 31st at the Elgin Theatre)

Holiday Bricktacular at LegoLand Discovery Centre (Vaughn Mills) – Legoland is Mecca for my eldest son. What better way to celebrate the holidays (and fill those long days between Christmas and New Years) then with Lego! Write a letter to the Master Model Builders, test your little ones skills creating Lego holiday decor and just have a blast. ( Legoland Discovery Centre is located in Vaughn Mills. Check the website for dates and ticket information)

 

What are your favourite family holiday traditions?????

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True Crime Podcast Round Up- Fall 2017

True crime has always been a fascination of mine and there are several podcasts that I have become addicted to that I wanted to share. These are not the type of podcasts that are gratuitously gory. These podcasts actually want to see crimes solved, people found and status quo’s changed. Check them out!
True Crime Podcast Roundup

 

The Vanished– Super in-depth an sympathetic looks at one missing persons case per week .

The Trail Went Cold – Hosted by Robin Warder, this weekly podcast looks at cases that have gone cold. The host is super enthusiastic and a bit geeky (his obsession with Unsolved Mysteries and Reddit are sort of hilarious)

Already Gone– Hosted by the velvet voiced Nina Innstead, this podcast features missing persons and murder cases, often from the hosts home state of Michigan. Very well researched and thoughtful.

Someone Knows Something– A CBC podcast hosted by David Ridgen currently has two seasons available for download.  The first season investigates the disappearance of 5 year old Adrian McNaughton in Eastern Ontario in 1972. The second season  looks at the 1997 disappearance of Sheryl Sheppard two days after she got engaged on live TV. Totally absorbing.

Missing and Murdered: Who Killed Alberta Williams?– Another CBC podcast, Missing and Murdered is a deep dive into the 1989 murder of young indigenous Alberta Williams in Prince Rupert BC. Host Connie Walker goes down the rabbit hole on this amazing piece of investigative journalism. T There is a new season featuring a new case coming soon and I cannot wait!

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The Pull-Ups Potty Promise and a Giveaway!!!

June is Potty Training Awareness Month and we are making the Potty Promise to ditch the diapers!!!

 

  I wasn’t sure that they (and I really mean “I”) was ready for this particular milestone but the twins’ teacher had been telling us that they were ready to start training. Then one day our daughter wanted to wear her cute new “unders” … and well, that was that. Once that kid has decided on something, it’s happening, regardless of mommy!

I had a really hard time potty training my oldest son and the entire experience was incredibly frustrating and anxiety ridden for all of us. I vowed that I would not let it get the best of me the second time, even with twins!

I have learned a lot from potty training three kids and here are my top five tips!

  1. Make sure your little one(s) is ready. Take the Potty Training Signs of Readiness Quiz  to make sure that now is the time to start. There is nothing worse than pushing a child into training when they are really not at all ready, emotionally or physically. However, don’t assume that just because they are young they aren’t ready. Some children are ready at 18 months!
  2. Make sure they really understand the difference between Pull-Ups®  Training Pants /Underpants and diapers. In our house,Pull-Ups® are considered to be underwear and the twins try to keep them as clean and dry as they would underwear.
  3. Be consistent. Don’t go back to diapers during the day once you have introduced underpants and/or Pull-Ups®. The twins know that diapers are only for night time these days and love to choose their own underwear and Pull-Ups® patterns. This autonomy makes them feel like big kids and they are so proud of that!
  4. Make it fun but don’t depend on bribes. Check out Potty Training Games and Tools for some cool ideas. Keeping the mood and tone of training fun is a key to success!
  5. As a parent, don’t stress the small stuff. Your kid will learn to pee in the potty. They will not be going to high school in a diaper. Don’t worry if they have an accident in the grocery store. No one is judging you. This is a small blip in the parenting journey. They will get it and you will make it through. You got this!!!

  

To help you make the #PottyPromise this month, Pull-Ups® and I want to give you your own Potty Partnership Starter Kit!

 

PullUps_StarterKit_Boy

 

Please enter via the widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

** Giveaway runs until June 30, 2017.  Eligible for Canadian residents 18+, excluding QC**

*While this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

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Better morning nutrition with Greens Plus!

Being a parent is hard work. No surprise there but I am always amazed at how my health and diet suffer while taking care of three crazy little ones. I never have time to eat a proper breakfast in the morning- sometime it is just coffee and whatever scraps that the kids refuse to eat (and if I am being honest, sometimes stuff that has fallen on the floor). In an effort to see that the grown-ups in the house do not come down with Scurvy, my husband has started making smoothies in the morning. They are the perfect on the go breakfast- quick, nutritious and portable. The only think that I felt that we were missing was some added greens, so we have added a scoop of Greens Plus from Genuine Health to our morning blend. Greens Plus is formulated with 23 plants and essential nutrients and helps keep me going all day.

There are so many delicious smoothie recipes out there, but one of our FAVOURITES right now is the Hello Sunshine Smoothie, created by Joy McCarthy, a holistic nutritionist

Smoothie 1

  • 1 peeled orange
  • 1 peeled kiwi
  • 1 cup cubed pineapple
  • 1 peeled banana
  • half a peeled lemon
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 scoop Greens Plus
  • 1 cup coconut water

(This recipe serves two and we add a scoop of Flax as well!)

Smoothie 2 Smoothie 3

Not only do we love this recipe, the kid do too! Giving them a glass in the morning (however messy) sets my mind at ease knowing that they got an extra kick of veggie power going into their busy days!!!

 

 

** I was provided with this product free of charge for review purposes. All opinions are my own**

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Toddler Favourites- Two Years Old!

Toddler Favourites- Two Years Old

Leapfrog Number Lovin’ Oven– We don’t have room for a play kitchen in our house so this little talking oven is a real life/spacesaver

Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway Set–  SOO happy that I kept all the tracks and trains from the twin’s big bro ( are they ever expensive)! They love them as much as he did.

Megablocks Big Building Bag– WOW do all three kids enjoy these. The twins are well on their way to being  master builder and their brother loves helping them make elaborate constructions! Next stop- LEGO!

IKEA Lockig Potty– Cheap and cheerful. Let the potty training fun begin.

“Chicka Chicka Boom Boom”– This is a favourite book in our house and a fun, rythmic way of teaching the alphabet.

Beanie Boos– All three kids are OBSESSED withe these big eyes plushies.

 

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What I Read- February 2017

What I Read- February 2017

 

The Breakdown by B.A Paris (vis Netgalley. In stores June 20th 2017) – When Cass passed a a broken down car on a forested road in the middle of a driving rainstorm she never imagined that she might have prevented the murder of the driver. As the intense guild increases, she starts to question her own memories of that night and of every day since- she seems to be missing time.
Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry– After Nora finds her sister dead inside her rural country home, she cannot let it go. She is convinced that it has something to do with the vicious assault that her sister suffered years earlier.
The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell– In Toulouse, Louisiana folks get married young. Four friends negotiate young love and heartache.
Flapper by Joshua Zeitz– An historical account of the rise of the cultural and feminist revolution of the 1920’s that brought about the Flapper.
What did you read this month? I am always looking for new books!!!
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Favourite Things- February 2017

February 2017 Favourites

 

Santa Clarita Diet– Sheila and Joel are just your average California real estate agents until Sheila begins to crave the taste of raw meat…. turns out she’s a zombie. Part horror, part frothy family comedy, this show is super fun if you can stomach A LOT of gore. This Netflix show is the perfect binge- ten episodes at half an hour each means that you can easily kill this one (pun intended) in two nights!

Sephora Makeup Brushes– While purging my way though all the stuff in my bathroom cabinets, I realized that I was using makeup brushes that were at least 5 years old and many were much older than that. I decided to purchase a totally new set from Sephora, which are infused with charcoal powder, which has antimicrobial properties.

Sephora Contour Palette– Another thing that I noticed was that I didn’t have a proper all-in-one contour/highlight palette. This one from Sephora is awesome. The pigments are rich enough for my fair skin and  are super blendable.
Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer– Oh dark circles, how loathe thee. I am constantly trying out different products to cover up my under eye shadows. I recently saw this product recommended on a vlog so I picked it up and I love it. Good coverage, easy to apply and blend and doesn’t go dry and cake-y as the days goes on.
Icone Kimono CardiganSimons has become a fave online shopping destination over the last year or so (Canadian company means better shipping rates and NO DUTY) for good quality, inexpensive basics. I LOVE this cardigan so much. The shape is super chic and totally different than any other sweater I own.
Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill  by Sonia Purnell– Winston Churchill is a towering figure in 20th Century history as the Prime Minister of England during the last years of World War Two. His wife Clementine, his lifelong companion and staunchest supporter, is ofter overlooked or misrepresented in biographies of him. Here, Purnell writes about how “Clemmy” shaped the life of her larger-than-life husband.
Ikea Tea Lights– In my quest to fully embrace Hygge this winter, I am burning a ton of candles. Ikea tea lights burn clean and are super inexpensive.
Dr. Jart Water-Sure Gel– I have used Dr. Jart BB creams in the past and loved them but until I received a sample, I had never tried the creams. This gel based moisturizer is amazing and while pricey, a little goes a long way. Perfect over your favourite serum.
What was your favorite product or thing that you discovered in February?
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