Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How I get my Disney movies for almost free!

For the last couple years I have been a member of both Disney Movie Club and Disney Movie Rewards, but lately I have been raking in the great deals!  I received all the movies below for about $32, that is the price of 1 regular priced blu-ray title.

Group 1: My Dad generously joined DMC as well so he can gift Disney Movies to his favourite granddaughter. This package cost $8.

Group 2 and 3: As a member of DMC I referred 2 of my friends to the program and received a thank you package for both registrations. These packages were also free for shipping at $8 each.

Group 4: These were points redemptions with Disney Movie rewards so they were absolutely free (yes I photoshopped TS3 it is in the mail, and I am too impatient to wait for it to tell you all to wait!)

Group 5: These were special deals from Disney Movie rewards. I entered 3 codes (which still went towards my total), and they were FFS

Ok I used a lot of technical jargon in there, so hopefully I can clarify it. DMR or Disney Movie Rewards is my favourite program! You know this long codes you get on a piece of paper in every Disney Movie, those are like free money! You simply enter them into your account and they really add up, a normal DVD has about 100 points, and a blu-ray combo pack 150 points. We redeemed our points for two beautiful dolls for Evie and two movies this year alone. The best part is when I redeem for a movie, that movie comes with more points, so I am even further ahead. Seriously people, don't let your points sit there on the shelf, use them (or y'know throw them my way ;) )

We also joined DMC or Disney Movie Club a couple years ago, and quickly fulfilled our membership. It is a pretty standard monthly subscription plan. I always get asked if it is a good deal, and I definitely think it works out in the end. If you choose the most basic subscription you can get 4 (or 5 with a code) blurays for $2 each. After that you are committed for 5 buy 5 more blu-rays over 2 years for full price, so essentially they work out to half price. So as long as you would be buying Disney anyway, you might as well save! If I have peeked your interest (and you are Canadian), please use my link so I can earn some more referral packs!

I know you ladies may have had an inkling that I am a bit of a Disney nut, but now you know my secrets for fuelling my collection with a minimal outlay. These bring together a couple of my favourite things, Disney and saving money!

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Cloth Buttique review and sale

I'm mixing it up a little bit, and instead of a post here today, you can check me out on The Cloth Buttique blog instead. I am reviewing, surprise surprise, AppleCheeks!
The best part is that are throwing in a sale to go with the post: buy 6 covers and get the 7th free! So head on over and give me a read, and then when (we know there is no "if") take advantage of the sale.

AppleCheeks Review

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Toddler clothes

Are you guys ready for this? It is going to be a bit of a rant. I don't know what a lot of the people designing clothes for toddlers lately, could possibly be thinking! So often I see clothes which are too mature, too gaudy, or down right tacky marketed to children and lapped up by the parents.

  I admit that I maybe a bit more inclined to child modesty than many, but so some of the swimwear is just crazy! My pet peeve is the toddler bikini. I will be the first to admit that I find babies and toddlers to be absolutely adorable when they are in just a diaper, but that is for home and closed situations. My question is, why do we have to throw on a bikini and sexualize them. Why do toddlers need little triangles to cover their "boobies", it is just foolish. Even many of the one pieces feature cut-outs and foolishness inspired by adult style that just do not translate. We stand firmly in the rash guard camp. I am so pleased that lately many retailers seem to be of freeing a much greater selection. I love them 50% for the modesty and 50% for the sun protection.

But bikinis are really just the tip of the iceberg, with summer coming all of the skimpy revealing things are going to filter down from the teen section right to the toddlers. Toddlers don't need to show skin, if anything they need the coverage from the sun! I am pleased that there are still lots of conventional kids styles available, but seeing those alternative ones on the shelf makes me pretty sick. How long before we start seeing 'juicy" written on the bottoms of toddlers, because the trend has already filtered down to the little girl section. I think it is completely inappropriate, of course children are going to want to emulate those older than them, but it is our responsibility to not allow this. Children are not aware of the ramifications of what they wear and we need to moderate their choices for them.

My second pet peeve is animal print on toddlers, there seems to be a great trend to zebra and neon and
black gross polyester in kids clothes. I can't imagine putting any of those on her separately, the combination just makes me itch. If it would be gaudy and over the top on an adult, guess what, it still is on toddlers. My daughter does't need black and bling, she is not channeling '80's Madonna, thanks. I admit I have seen a few tastefully done animal print styles (usually by Carters), but I think it is combination of all those factors together with really looks gross.

Why do clothing companies feel the need to use polyester for toddler clothing at all? Is it because it is inexpensive? Because if you squint it might look like satin? There is nothing that disappoints me more than getting a nice piece of clouting home and discovering it is that cheap faux-cotton polyester blend which melts together in the dryer and  just feels icky. The amount of energy toddlers burn inevitably causes them to sweat, why would we not put them in a nice breakable cotton for playtime? In fact I make a point to put her in natural fabrics as often as I possibly can. Gross polyester is not required for dressy clothes. I have found beautiful dresses in eyelet cotton or just simple crisp cotton can give a dress a beautiful vintage-y feel.

I know that I may be a bit oversensitive to theses issues, but the trend is legitimately concerning to me. Some are a measure of taste, but some are a measure of decency. Remember when you dress your toddler that they only have a few years to dress as a child, and an entire lifetime ahead of them to dress like an adult.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Entertainment centre kitchen DIY

I wish you guys could understand how much I have wanted to blog this, and for so long! But this was one of those marathon projects that took months and months longer than expected. When I picked up this entertainment centre in July I figured I could have it done in a couple weekends, ha! The first step was the hardest and longest, I spent more than 6 hours just trying to sand the dark wood finish off. Once I got that off it the painting and mack-tacking weren't too intensive. Finally in late august it was finished enough to come inside (because it was taking up some serious space in our garage), but was nowhere near done! Well I kept fiddling and then ignoring it all winter. We went through three different fridge doors (here's hoping this one stays on!) and I got tired of staring at the hardware. Finally this week my FIL cam over and installed the oven door, which prompted my to finally finish it off, I am so glad to have it done!

Why bother to go through this trouble? Well firstly I really prefer wooden toys for her whenever possible, plastic is so junky and wood and metal are much more realistic for imitation play. Also as our play area is adjacent to our living area, everything in there needs to match as well as look good in the space. I was just not going to find that in the conventional plastic kitchen.

I was inspired by the host of awesome ideas and tutorials that can be found on pintrest. Please head over there and check it out to see how you can arrange your unique entertainment centre.

 So here is where we began, this is the centre with all the drawers etc removed. It had no back and was a terribly dark colour. Yes that little bitty sander on the top was my tool for the project, no wonder it took so long!

 Yay it is all finished! My favourite short cut tip was the duck tape. Yes, all those pretty polka-dotted edges are tape! It really saved me a lot of detailing and is more resilient than paint.

I was planning to just use a stainless steel bowl for the sink, but my Dad brought me one which he had recently removed from his boat, and it was the perfect size! Her "shove" is duck tape once again, this time the sheets. I created the burners with metallic sharpie and stencil. Her window is just a picture frame without the glass. The plan is to let her eventually draw her own interchangeable outdoor scenes, but for now, mine will have to do.

I mack-tacked the inside of the fridge to give it a more authentic look, and hated every minute of it! It was soooooo fussy, seriously if you have the option to paint without a ton of sanding, just to it.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and that maybe I have inspired you to create a kitchen for your own little.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Dad's true maritime seafood chowder

   I have been meaning to get a recipe up on the blog for you guys for awhile. But I usually forget to take a picture of a critical step or something goes wrong! Well for once I got myself all organized and have a little treat for you guys. I am sorry it is not a very specific recipe but my Dad cooks by eye most of the time and I have inherited his habits. Remember that cooking is an art, not a science, have fun with it! Tweek it to your taste and you might invent something amazing.


-potatoes, about 2 cups finally chopped. Use more or less according to taste
-an assortment of white fish, clams, scallops, shrimp, lobster, crab, mussels, oysters or anything you choose ( I use a can of clams with water, about a cup of scallops, a cup of shrimp and a cup of chowder mix.
-a can of evaporated milk
-butter (optional)
-a cup of mushrooms
-Corn starch slurry (optional)

1. Chop up your potatoes and boil until soft

2. Prep all your seafood
3. Drain the majority of the water from the potatoes providing you have some clam juice going in. I drain a lot because I like my chowder thick.

4. Add everything else! (my Dad would shudder at mushrooms in chowder, but I can't imagine a meal without any kind of vegetable!)

5. If you like it really thick you can add some slurry to preference.

6. Here is the delicate part, you need to bring it just to a boil to activate the thickener, but not so hot as to curdle the broth.

Serve with fresh rolls and butter.

Thanks for reading and let me know how you mixed it up!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Help us win!

I know this is totally atypical for me but I really need our help. Evie is entered in a photo contest to win a gift certificate to a local AppleCheeks carrying shop. We keep leapfrogging with two other entries for first.  It ends on the 16th of March. If you have a moment I would be so grateful if you could:

1. "like" her picture : Picture
2. "like" the host page : Paddington Station

Thank you so much to anyone who helps, you guys are the best readers ever!

A letter to myself a new mom of a strong little woman

A letter to myself about 18m ago:

Dear self,

    I know you are just discovering how to be a Mommy and it is not going exactly as you pictured it. I know you look around enviously at the contented and easy babies. She will eventually learn to sleep, she will eventually detach herself from you, she will stop crying. Just keep reminding yourself that "God never gives you more than you can handle", these words will carry you though the next year and remind you that she was indeed given to you, she is a gift. You will figure it out, the two of you will find a status quo. I know she is a challenge beyond what you ever expected, but remember you will both come through it stronger and closer. Give her what she needs even now even when you feel like you have nothing to give. Hold her close all the time, because amazingly one day she will understand that you are always going to be there when she needs you, and you will barely be able to get catch her!

   However she will always be the same strong willed little woman, refusing to sleep will turn into refusing to clean-up but hopefully some day in the distant future it will turn into a refusal to settle. Embrace your tiny strong woman and teach her to channel her opinions and will into something greater. Teach her it is ok to be frustrated and how she needs to perceiver through it, that way she can create wonderful things.  Teach her how to channel her passions and how to express it in constructive ways. Show her how we behave even when we have a storm inside, teach her to talk about it, and resolve constructively.

Most of all know that you are doing great, I know it is beyond hard. I know that not everyone understands, it is a life you cannot understand until you have done it. But take heart! She is not the first strong-willed baby there are other Moms who understand, they see a baby who cannot settle and do not  wonder what you are doing wrong, they just see what you are doing right and wishing with you both could be having an easier time. Lean on them, let them understand and support you. Don't listen to those who say she should be doing this or that, or something is wrong. Nothing is wrong, everything will sort itself out, you will both make it. It will be a bumpy road, but you will make it round that corner and continue on on your long journey together as Mother and Daughter.

This too shall pass. Love and hindsight,

-By Erin Smith

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Times they are a changin'! (Toddler bed, weaning, and potty learning)

I know I mentioned yesterday that things have been a little crazy around here lately and  I know it is mean to dangle things in front of you guys, so here we go!

A few weeks back she forced us to convert her crib to a toddler bed. Before this she had spent little to no time awake in her crib so she had no opportunity to learn. We would rock her to sleep and then set her down. She was going through a no nap phase where she would not tolerate being transferred, so we decided to try a camp it out method for awhile instead. At nap one day she discovered how to climb out of her crib, I put her back in and she was back out in about 5 seconds. That night we lowered the crib down again, but like a flash the next morning she was out.

This is when we decided that it was unsafe to leave things as it was and fully converted her bed. When we purchased her crib, one of our priorities was to get a 4-way convertible crib so she would have a nice wooden bed for the foreseeable future all in one purchase. This mean it was very easy to change her bed over to a toddler bed, we simply dropped the mattress all the way and removed the front panel. I am sure this helped her with the transition as it was a marginal change.

Before the change she was sleeping through the night, but has unfortunately regressed. She is now waking 1-2 time per night, though I think she is starting to sleep through the middle of the night waking again.

When we moved her to her new bed we decided to mix up her sleep routine. We decided to no longer rock her, but instead sit beside her bed until she sleeps. This means we lost the only times she was nursing. Before it had to be me rocking her down both for nap and nighttime because she insisted on nursing, though the session lasted only abut 2 minutes. Because she was going through a sleep regression phase this was leaving me isolated in a dark room up to 4 hours a day and it was becoming a burden. So with her only nursing perhaps 2 ounces a day, and fast approaching her second birthday, we seized the opportunity and weaned.

I have decided that I am very much ok to be done breastfeeding her. I am so pleased that my husband is able to help in the nighttime routine again. She doesn't seem to miss it either, during the first week she asked maybe 3 times before her nap, but gave up almost immediately. She hasn't asked again since then.

Lastly we have chosen another transition. The week after her second birthday party we purchased a potty seat for her and began cold turkey potty training. Certainly because it was a completely foreign concept, she took some time to adjust and learn. She first "made it" on her third day of learning. We have had good and bad days since then, but yesterday on her 8th day of learning she was accident free until just before bed. She is still diapered at nap and at night (thank goodness or I might have gone into AppleCheeks withdrawal!) but I feel like she is really getting the hang of it.

So I hope that long winded post has given you some insight into our life right now. We are definitely in a time of transition and with a bittersweet perspective are watching our baby girl grow into a little girl. I know there are some other very large changes approaching in our future, so I doubt that our life will be slowing down any time in the future!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Maple Hills Dryer Balls review

 Maple Hill Naturals were nice enough to send me a set of dryer balls to review for you lovely people. They are a sweet little company who works with all local materials and have a labour force of WAHMs employed (which is always a major plus in my book!)

 Their dryer balls are made exclusively with locally (to their headquarters in IN) sourced wool with no irritating chemicals or dyes. You can choose to have them scented with all natural essential oils for just a little more punch. Mine is scented with lemon EO and I love it! It is not cough drop-y or lemon cleaner-y just a really really nice light scent.

 What is the idea behind Dryer balls anyway? Dryer balls help agitate the load around your dryer so they do not clump up and thereby dry more quickly. I was sent the 4 pack which I think is great because they say you need at least 3 to balance the load, and I inevitably find one one in my basket of to-be folded laundry, but I know that I am still covered as that still leaves 3 in the dryer

I see the greatest improvement when I dry the inserts of my cloth diapers. Because they are so fabulously  thirsty they get seriously wet in the wash process and take some time to dry. I really do think these speed up the process

Overall I really like these dryer balls and would recommend them to anyone who is on the fence about purchasing them.

Because Maple Hill Naturals are so awesome, they are offering all of you 25% off your entire purchase with the code EKESMOM! I think that is pretty great.