Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sofia the first party invitations

So in a little less than a month we are going to be hosting Little Miss's second birthday. Boy time flies! As she has a mild liking for Sofia lately, and serves us tea constantly, so Tea with Sofia was an obvious theme. As I prepare for this party in the next couple weeks you can expect several posts, so consider this the first in the series.

First things first! The invitations!

 One of my good friends cut out the teapots for me on her cri-cut machine. Then I created a stencil of the design from Sofia's skirt, and stencilled it on. Lastly I added a few pearls, because a lady always needs her pearls!

The other side included the necessary info.  A friend clued me in that the simplest way to make any kind of image like this is in powerpoint/keynote. So there is your tip for the day! All the layers are so easy to manipulate independently you can customize to your heart's content.

Next up is the envelopes. I love this design and confess to using to almost every time! It is much easier to make than it looks, I promise

Step 1: Square off your paper.
Step 2: Bring all four corners to meet in the middle
Step 3: Glue a contrast band around the middle
Step 4: Decorate and you are done! 
I told you it was easy!

All set to go out into the world!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"Love Happens" to drive me crazy!

How many times a day is it healthy to think about a release that is still over 2 weeks away? Once, twice? I hope not, because I sure think about it more than that! As you may or may not know, as an AppleCheeks ambassador, I unfortunately know no more than any of you! Though of course I scour for hints as intensely as all of you. So far my "research" has gleaned these tantalizing tidbits:

-it is not a re-release (though how excited would I be to see LF or Samoa back again!)
-it is not a print
-It is something they have never done before (last time they said that, Joy! was the first diaper made with coloured fleece)
-it is in fact a diaper ( I had my doubts for awhile)
-this is going to be the biggest, and bestest release yet!
-and most tantalizing of all, It is somewhere in this picture!

Is it the light coloured dark snaps in the pile (or is that just storm?) is it the medium shade in her hands, or the dark colour just peeking out from behind the pile? How many hours have I spent staring at this photo?

So what do you think it is going to be? What do you hope it will be?
I would love to see a girly shade, but I am not getting my hopes up. I am trying to consider the colour gaps in the AppleCheeks line-up but there are not very many anymore, they have been great at giving us a great variety over the years.
 However there is a district lack of pink and purple! (a girl can always dream right?)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Guest post for AppleCheeks

Well, sometimes the AppleCheeks blog feels like my second home, but I really don't mind, probably because there is so much love there. So surprise surprise, I am up there again, this time talking about Swim Diapers.  Check me out here.
This is really quite timely, this evening I was packing to go swimming tomorrow, for the first time in a few months, and I was staring at her swim diapers wonder whether to take the sz 1 or sz 2, so obviously I grabbed them both!

My favourite Podcasts

Ok in the spirit of some of my other list posts lately, here are my favourite podcasts! Being at home with a little one, I like to have background noise going on while doing my chores. I love listening to podcasts and a way to keep my mind engaged and to amuse me in what could be a potentially lonely day.

I first found Stuff you missed in History Class over 3 years ago, and listened as much as I could whenever I got a chance. However it was during my maternity leave that I burned through every single back episode! I am now sadly on a ration of a couple of new episodes a week, when they are published. I like that they treat serious history in such light way, it is so interesting and engaging. I must admit I am a sucker for the episodes set further back in history and those about royalty.

When I finished Stuff you Missed in History Class,  I ask the lovely hosts what to try next, and they recommended Sawbones. Boy were they right, in my familiar pattern I burned through a their back episodes and again am on podcast rationing. The podcast is hosted by a hilarious couple who employ the straight man (or woman doctor in this case) funny man dynamic to perfection. They share the crazy things we have attempted to cure or treat illnesses in the past. I must admit that when I saw this weeks episode was "menstruation", did a little fist pump just imagining the craziness that I was in store for.

I have been trying to get into some other podcast now. I have listened to about half of the episodes of "The History of the World in 100 Objects", but I honestly really miss the levity, I guess I need some laughs with my learning! I have listened to a couple by "Stuff mom never told you" and it may have some serious potential, but the jury is still out.

Which Podcasts do you listen to? Can you recommend some for me?

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Great Cloth Diaper Change: Then and Now

So last year I decided to jump in head first and organize The Great Cloth Diaper Change 2013. I have organized plenty of parties and events in my time, but this was my first time organizing a public event. It was definitely overwhelming, and a serious amount of work, but I think it was worth it in the long run. Call me crazy, but this year I am gearing up to do it again!

What is GCDC? Officially it is an attempt to have as many babies as possible changed internationally simultaneously into a cloth diaper. It can be a symbolic change from a disposable into cloth, or a cloth to cloth celebration of your choice. Two years ago there were over 8000 change, and in 2013 we beat that number with over 10000.

Why bother with GCDC? I admit it seems a little strange to be dedicating so much time to promoting a product from which I do not benefit monetarily, but I have benefited in so many other ways. Cloth diapers to me are:

1. Environmentally responsible
Disposible diapers are full of suspect chemicals that I do to want to expose my child to on a constant basis, and short of EC cloth diapers are the only way to do this. Also the sheer amount of garbage generated by disposable diapering is staggering.

2.Economically responsible
Cloth diapering a single child is unquestionably less expensive than putting the same child in cloth diapers. However when yo consider using those same diapers on a younger sibling, that child is essentially free, that is when the numbers become astounding.

3.A rallying point for an absolutely fabulous group of moms
This to me is community worth celebrating, no only are we trying to promote the physical decision to cloth diaper your baby, but we are supporting the parents themselves, by providing these times to bond with other parents in a similar situation.

What would I change for this year? I am already narrowing in on a new location, so we can start working on promotion and registration. That way hopeful we can get a few more people on the day.  Last year, as we were hampered by severe weather last year, we ended up with 24 little bums and it would be great to get at least a smidge more. The good news is we now have a more established community so I hope the information will be able to spread a little further.

Other organizers, or attendees anywhere, do you have any other suggestions or ideas?

Friday, January 17, 2014


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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Liebster Award

I just got nominated for my first Liebster Award so exciting!

The lovely Sam from nominated me!

 How it works: You give 11 random facts about yourself and answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you. You then nominate 11 other bloggers (with less than 200 followers) and give them 11 questions to answer!

11 random facts about me:

1. I am a cat person, I may be allergic to them, but I can't live without them. I am not a fan of dogs, especially ones who are pushy.

2. I am an only child and may have a serious case of only child syndrome

3. We love being really involved in our church. Evie is there so often (3+ days a week) that she thinks it is her second home and is completely comfortable running the place

4. My favourite Princess has always been Sleeping Beauty, I don't know if I identify with her look, or am just jealous of the nap!

5. I have become a bit of an instagram addict! I am checking constantly and love seeing those babies (if you want to see mine follow me, @ekesmom)

6. I have a minor chocolate addiction, there was several months when I NEEDED it every night, fortunately I got that under control

7. I don't think I have picked up my camera since I upgraded my iPhone.

8. Somehow I became very strict in what I let my little girl wear. Already there are toddler clothes that I find way too trashy or grown-up for her. We absolutely do not wear baby bikinis, and I am so not a fan of animal print on kids, but to be fair I follow most of the same rules myself.

9. I am a bit of a Disney geek, I love reading about everything new coming out, and dream of our next trip to Florida

10. I have an absolutely fabulous shoes collection that I never get to wear anymore. My feet have gotten lazy, I used to wear heels all day, and now even a few hours is tough

11. I love party planning, some part of me has always wanted to do it professionally. Bonus points if you can get it done inexpensively, that is why I try to DIY everything including the decorations, food and the cake.

Questions for me:
1.What was you're first car?
My first car was a white Chevy cavalier names Princess.

2. Favourite childhood stuffed animal's name?
I have a beat-up tiny teddy bear named Tedo who has been with me since I was 3 hours old. He looks terrible because he got washed every week.

3. Tea or Coffee?
Tea, Steeped tea specifically! Check out my site at Erin's Steeped Tea

4. Where did you last walk to?
 There is very little within walking distance of our home, there is the playground across the street, or the playground on the next block. So it was probably one of them, but that was before the snow.

5. What is your all time favourite movie and why?
Oh my, this is a very hard one, I honestly don't have a single favourite. My favourite genre is definitely historical action though, just like in books.

6. Worst recipe fail while cooking also was it for dinner, a birthday etc what did you do instead?
 I tried to make a quiche to put away for dinner when we were stocking the freezer before Evie. Somehow the egg and pastry sort of fused in the freezer and the whole thing got a dry and bleh.

7. Did you play any sports as a child?
Depends how you define sport, I was a big dancer (mostly Ballet) but I hate organized competitive sports. I once got kicked off the tea-ball team for picking dandelions in the outfield.

8. What TV series are you watching right now?
We are just about to finish Call the Midwife. Good news, it starts again on Sunday!

9. Favourite baby names?
We always have huge issues with this one, it took us years to name Evelyn. Current leaders are: Rowen, Liam, Audrey, Aubrey but nothing has really clicked yet.

10. Who did you call last?
DH at work, he chats with me when I am bored.

11. If you could move anywhere in the world and bring all your friends and family, where would you move and why?
I am pretty happy here honestly, I would love to take some long vacations though, England, Italy, Orlando.

Questions for my nominees:

1. Is your family complete?
2.What is your go-to weeknight dinner?
3.What was your favourite stage of your child's/children's development?
4.What is your favourite candy?
5.How did you first meet your SO
6.What is you average daily outfit?
7.What is your guilty pleasure TV show?
8.You are childless for half an hour, what do you do?
9.Which of your children's toys do you like to play with the most?
10.What is your favourite new life-hack?
11.What is your favourite kind of muffin and why?

Rules are here ladies :
This award is for bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It works like this: you start by being nominated by a fellow blogger who likes what you have been posting, then you tell 11 random facts about yourself, and answer 11 questions. You then get to nominate 11 fellow bloggers and give them 11 questions to answer. Have fun and comment below when you have re posted I cannot wait to see who you all nominate!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Toddler apps

We have recently added a few toddler learning apps to our learning lessons. My goals are: animals, animal sounds, number and letters, and I am trying to find a good an entertaining mix which teaches each of theses.

Our newest and greatest success is Endless Alphabet by Originator (Endless Alphabet on iTunes).The basic gameplay is pretty simple: A word is presented correctly and then all the letters are scrambled. The child drags each letter back into place as it repeats the letter sound, and once it is placed it says the letter name. I was a little sceptical as I thought that it might be too advanced for her (22 months) but boy was I wrong! Within days she had mastered the game, dragging letters like a pro and matching most on the first try. On the second day of using this as a learning aid, she pointed at a "Happy Birthday" banner and proudly proclaimed "C".  Well obviously there is no "C" in  "Happy Birthday", but just the idea that she knew what a letter looked like and that C was a letter blew me over. Hopefully we see some interesting progress from here on.

We also purchased Pocket Zoo by tiny hearts (Pocket Zoo on iTunes). It was a little pricy as apps go, but I think it was worth it, plus it is Canadian! At her age it  is definitely a Mommy guided app, but I could see an even a much older child enjoying it solo. The primary mode is a zoo full of animals who, when clicked, fill the page with a real life picture and "says" a real recording of their noise. This is great for learning noises, though the animals are pretty advanced! But thankfully there is a penguin area, which has just fed her love of "ging-guins". Other modes allow you to watch live feeds of animals and videos, and I admit playing with these all by myself! I really like this app, but I really wish there was such a thing as pocket zoo, as it would be nice to reinforce a few more basic animals at her age, I think a tapir is a little beyond her  ;)

We also like Plain old Fisher-Price Let's count. Its simple, but it is free. It basically plays a touch responsive video while you count 1 series. Each screen features an animal which is highlighted and counted. At the end it animal makes its noise so that is nice to reinforce some of the other things we are working one elsewhere.

Do you have any other learning apps that you love for your toddler? I would love some suggestions!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My secret obsession...

…and no, it is not AppleCheeks! That is no secret. Our secret indulgence around here is British TV. Seriously, if you haven't tried it you don't know what you are missing! There are very few American shows which I find are worth watching anymore (my husband feels very differently however!) but there is a secret treasure trove across the pond.

Our favourite is certainly the currently best known; Downton Abby. Our love has been reinvigorated as we recently watched the 4th season in 3 days. However this shouldn't be any surprise as we watched the first 3 seasons last year over the Christmas break one after another. I think the initial appeal for me was simply that it is a period piece. I loved the first couple seasons which were set in the golden age of the early nineteen hundreds. It lost a little shine for me during the war years (but I find all war movies/shows completely unappealing, but we have now happily settled into the 1920's. I find it amassing how you can feel so engaged with both the "upstairs" and the "downstairs" groups without competing for attention. This show is definitely addictive and totally a gateway drug.

When we finished our Downton binge several friends recommended Call the Midwife to us. I was a little sceptical in the beginning because the time period, nor setting would have normally interested me. However I was very very quickly won over and indeed hooked! The medical stories are cleverly woven with the lives of the spunky nurses and nuns, not to mention there are babies!

My addiction however is surpassed by my husband. He has the luxury of background TV at certain times at work so he has so far plowed through the current series of Dr. Who since December. He also is  waiting with bated breath for the return of Sherlock.

So tell me do you watch British TV? Can you recommend a new series for us?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Our Vow Renewal

This summer, I am privileged to say, marked my 5th anniversary to my wonderful husband. In celebration we decided to renew our vows. Some may say our marriage is young, but I say that is no less reason to celebrate. Hopefully this is a tradition we can continue on each consecutive 5th anniversary. Now for what you really came here to see, pictures!

We thought it was important to keep our outfits co-ordinated. This was not like a  wedding where two people were coming together, we were celebrating a family which was already one.

Similarly we chose to all walk down the aisle together, but apparently we didn't give Evie the memo and she decided to boogie down instead. Both our dresses were handmade by me, but his outfit was purchased, I am not that ambitious!
my two loves, with a closer look at Evie's dress and DIY decorated shoes

Our cake, made for us by a beloved church friend

I DIY'ed her shoes to look more like mine

Pretty Eco Intimates review and Giveaway

Earlier this week I was given the opportunity through Canada Cloth Diapers to review some Mama cloth from Pretty Eco Intimates. They are a new mama run eco-friendly business from right here in the Maritimes! Go East Coast! I love Canadian made products, but maritime products will always have a special place in my heart.

She sent me 2 different sizes and absorbencies to try. I got an 8 inch liner and a 9 inch pad. I liked the 8 inch in particular for any back-up from my cup, and the 9 inch could definitely hold its own by itself.  Not to mention they are super cute. I also like the adjustable snaps, it gives you a custom fit. Until now I have only used PUL backed mama cloth, but I must say I really like the microfleece backing. They are so comfortable, you can't feel them even in yoga or pyjama pants, it is easy to forget they are even there! I may be converted!

When I checked out her site, I found a really cool list of facts some of which surprised even me, and some great advice and info about her pads.

Did you know:
  • Most women use approximately 11-13K disposable menstrual pads or tampons each during their menstrual years.  This is devastating for both our planet and our pockets!
  • There is a lot of awareness of the environmental disaster created by disposable diapers yet the problem with menstrual products is far greater and still needs to be addressed.
  • Many women report allergic reactions to disposable pads, most likely caused by chemicals, bleaching residues and the plastic sheeting inside the pads.
  • Tampon use can increase your potential for recurring yeast infections.
  • Pretty Eco Intimates are washable, reusable menstrual pads, great for light to heavy menstrual flow, postpartum recovery, and bladder protection.
  • Our pads come in two absorbencies and can be purchased individually, in multi-packs, or in starter kits.
  • Pretty Eco Intimates have wrap around wings that snap together underneath your underwear, holding them in place.
  • Each pad is sewn from 100% cotton or flannel topping with antibacterial, organic bamboo or zorb core, and a micro fleece backing.
  • It you have a very heavy flow we also offer a hidden layer of PUL (the type of waterproof fabric that is used on many cloth diaper shells). Products containing PUL should not be repetitively ironed, as it will reduce their water resistance.
  • After use…. just rinse or soak your pads in cold water, pop them in your laundry pail, and then machine wash and dry along with a regular load of laundry (just as you might treat underwear that had been leaked upon).  Avoid high temperatures and avoid the use of softeners, whiteners or any other unnecessary additives.

Not only has Natalia given me a chance to try her great product, she wants to get one of you hooked as well! She is offering one pad from her shop to a lucky winner! Good luck all!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 6, 2014

Rapunzel gets a makeover

For Christmas Evie got a couple new "pretty dollies" for her (cough cough my) collection. They often are packaged with their hair stiffened into the desired shape, so it is sometimes a bit of a chore to get them into shape. fortunately Merida needed little attention as her curly hair would probably be ruined if I fiddled with it, but Rapunzel was a different story! I should have expected that with hair as her defining feature, I would be in for quite a bit of work. So this afternoon at nap time I rolled up my sleeves and dove in.

This was her hair when we began. It wasn't  really tangled (ba dum cha) mostly just messy. I didn't take a picture of the front, but it was solid with gunk and caused me the most frustration and time to get out. You have to sort of massage it to break it down before you can even attempt to brush it.

Here it is all nicely brushed out, i swear it got longer. The bottom of my hand is where her feet end, it is longer than she is tall!

Halfway done. I did a short roll on the larger side then a dutch braid, which I then wrapped in a smaller braid made from the hair just above her ear.

Almost done! I gathered it all into one large braid and then wrapped the two loose small braids from the previous picture around that.

Now she is all decorated. I know the flowers aren't perfectly accurate, but they are what I had lying around the house.                                                 What do you think did I get the look right?

A couple more quick shots of the final product.

Evie got in on it too, and got a Rapunzel inspired do!

And the Rapunzel went home to join all her other Disney Animators Collection Dolls. (All original series as I think the dresses are way cuter, like they had big ball gowns as toddlers!)

Princess culture: harmless beauty or brain melting subservience

Yes, I have dared to touch on this highly contested subject. Are we ruining the dreams of our children while polluting their minds with role models of subservient male dominated bimbos or are they a harmless brand realizing a perpetual childhood fantasy.

What is the essence of Princess culture that appeals to little girls? Certainly the glamour is appealing. Little girls are naturally drawn to sparkle and beauty and seek adoration. Princess culture simply focuses these consistent desires into a marketed brand. I do not think we can blame Disney, as do the generic imitations hold the same sway over them? Little Girls love to pretend and they love to emulate adults, so why is it surprising that they are so drawn to these beautiful women?  They sing, they dance and they get a "happy" ending, the appeal is obvious.

We have princesses in our house and they are some of Evie's favourite toys. We also have books and movies (which were ours long before she came along) but she has only had moderate exposure to them.   She enjoys her Princess toys no doubt because of their playability and not the brand. However I can freely admit we may have a Sofia problem and I am ok with it. Compared with some of the other options offered to the under five set (do NOT get me started on Tinkerbell) she is rather inoffensive and pretty cute. I would buy her 50 princess items before I would even consider a Bratz or Monster High dolls. I have purposely never watched or read any of their social media, but when i see a doll marketed to children with only a few spare inches of clothing on them, I stay far far away!

I am inclined to a pro-princess opinion, but there is a measure of truth in the negative argument as well. It is true that I would not like my daughter to directly emulate some of the choices demonstrated in these stories. But it is pretty obvious that they are simply products of their era. Yes, they make choices which are less than feminist, but that is a  concept would have been completely foreign to the storytellers, and indeed counter-cultural even to the movie makers. I think we can offer some historical consideration to these traditional stories. Certainly because they are new stories, It is pleasing to think that Disney has recently added some stronger Princesses to their brand. Merida, Anna, and even little Sophia.

So obviously, as in all things, Princess culture is best in moderation. I think it as a sole example it might be harmful, but it is our job to moderate the influences of our children. If you demonstrate for them, in your own actions, the role of a strong confident woman,that will have far more effect on them than a simple princess fantasy.

I admit that I have always liked the princess brand, long before it became a Disney powerhouse, but it is not a Disney exclusive love. Bring me a novel about a queen or a period movie about a princess and I am in my element. I think this appeals to something missing from the modern mom's life. Bring on the beauty, bring on the glamour, bring on that moment of being special and adored. I mean, when you are toiling away at your daily mom chores or can't seem to find a shirt without dried breast milk on it, wouldn't it be great to have a laundress and handmaiden at your beck and call? I think that that what started in our childhoods, has now continued and change in adulthood to an escapist dream.  One could argue it is no different than our obsession with the Kardashians or any other similar vice celebrities. We admire the lifestyle without necessarily wanting to emulate those who currently live it.

Oh, and most of those Princes, they are damn hot!