JJ the Jumping Pug and Torch My Blazin Dragon @hasbro {giveaway link} #HolidayGiftGuide2016

I need to start by saying this post is not sponsored or endorsed by anyone.  My family genuinely loves FurReal Friends by Hasbro.com and we have a few in our toy closet. My daughter has a grey kitten that walks (don't remember the name as it's from two or three years ago) and JJ the Jumping Pug from last Christmas. I have ordered Pax the Poopin Pup for my 6 year old niece and Torch My Blazin Dragon as my 7 year olds Santa present.

Image from hasbro.com

JJ is cute. She got it from granny in NL last Christmas and was thrilled with it. His fur is super soft and he is interactive depending on whether you pat his nose or back. JJ jumps up on his back legs, sits, and makes a variety of sounds. He is soft enough to hug and carry but teaches my girl to be gentle as he has moving parts that she knows won't work properly if crushed or dropped. Even though she knows JJ is breakable, she's a kid and drops happen. JJ is still working and in good shape a year later. He retails for an average of $34- $40 and we have replaced his 4 AA demo batteries once.

I wasn't going to get her Torch this year but found her letter to Santa and realized she only asked for two things, one of them was Torch.

YouTube promo for Torch and Bootsie by Hasbro

I finished our Christmas shopping weeks ago, but chatted with my husband about getting Blaze after finding a lead on a great sale at amazon.ca over the weekend (it seems to be in the flyer this week too). I have priced Blaze from $79 to $110 since August and the best deal right now is $59 at toysrus you may be able to price match with the flyer, or using the flip app. I do know that he requires 4 C batteries, that aren't included.

So I can't do a full review on Torch My Blazin Dragon without having it in my hands yet, but wanted to post it in my gift guide because so many are looking for the alternative to the elusive hatchimal toys and classic nes console we cannot get our paws on.

For full product specifications and age recommendations please visit Hasbro.com.

If you would like to enter a giveaway for Torch, visit Tales of a Ranting Ginger

*prices were correct at time of posting, no guarantee given for availability by individual store.


Seal It Glitter Tape Craft and Decorating Ideas @sealit_brand #sealitwithglitter #ad

I have been accused of being Christmas crazy. My boxes have come out of storage and the decorating has begun.  I was contacted to try out Seal-It Glitter Tape, it promised to keep the glitter sealed in place and can be torn by hand. I decided to use it for the latest Christmas craft projects around the house.
Disclosure: I received product to aid my review. All opinions remain genuinely my own.

Decorate Plant Pots:
I opted for a potted Norfolk Pine this year instead of unboxing my 7 foot artificial tree that has to be assembled branch by branch, 100 individual pieces.  The new cat is not to be trusted with electrical cords and garland since she is still kittenish.  I put my new plant in an old black ceramic pot from my gardening shed, its okay on its own, but glitter tape has added a sparkle to the pot without messy glue.

I know the center line isn't straight, but it peels off easy and can be repositioned.
Picture Frame Art:
We have cardboard frames in our craft box and decided to give them a Seal-It makeover, it was easy for my seven year old to place where she wanted and to rip by hand. We used the green with silver dots for most of our projects this week, but my daughter also liked the roll with silver and black zebra pattern.

Gift Wrapping:
Seal-It would sparkle up some gift wrap too.  I like to use neutral gift wrap, because it is cheaper and can be used for any occasion. Adding some Seal-It glitter tape would also transform teacher gifts into something special.

Verdict: With its fun colours and patterns, I would buy Seal-It in the future, and use it for crafts and gift wrapping.  It really was easy to tear by hand and can be placed on paper and more. Having instant glitter without the mess or drying time is a bonus.

Shop Online: sealitglitterstore.ca 
Canada Pricing: $5.50 CAD

Seal-It Social Handles: Facebook - @SealItBrand
Instagram – @seal_itbrand
Twitter - @sealit_brand


Charitable Gift Ideas #HolidayGiftGuide2016 #GivingTuesday #meaningfulgifts

This is not a sponsored post, all opinions are genuinely my own.

It has been my goal to find real ways to promote kindness and philanthropy in our family.  I couldn't do a gift list without including gifts that give to people in need. I haven't told many people, but I have a close connection with receiving charity after a tragedy in my childhood. For the full story visit the post about a house fire 30 years ago and how community support was meaningful to me.  Here are a few ways we promote kindness and the spirit of giving.

We have a sponsor child in Thailand through Child Care Plus ERDO. Over 17 years, we have sponsored two children (our first sponsor son graduated out of the program and we requested another). We received our new child two years ago and give a set amount of money monthly to support his school fees and since he still lives with family, the money also helps provide family provisions.

We also have a sponsor teen in Malawi through Watoto Villiage Sponsorship. We were inspired by seeing the Watoto Children's Choir perform live, and encouraged by their joyful message. It is a sacrifice to sponsor a second child, but it was the right decision for us. We send a set amount of money every month to help pay for school fees and costs of living.  The Villiage is set up with homes and house mothers who care for a mixed age group of children who have been abandoned.

World Vision Gifts of Hope has been on my gift list over the years. In the past, I have gifted chickens in a family members name.  There are many people locally and around the world who need help with the basic life sustaining elements that we often take for granted. The gift of farm animals, fresh water systems, and education are just a few ways you can donate. You don't need to commit to a monthly sponsorship, a one time gift will help.

I can't forget how important it is to us to reach out locally. This year we are doing an Advent box, a new family tradition that will start this week. Basically you get a box and add non-perishable food items every day until Christmas. The full box will be delivered to a local food bank or church kitchen. We will end our Advent box on December 15 so the items can be distributed before Christmas.

I didn't write this post to pat myself on the back. I am a recovering shopaholic and have had a life changing experience with generosity as a child. After having my daughter I realized that Christmas couldn't continue to be about the obsession to have the nicest, most expensive presents under the tree.  I am conscious of the need to generate Kindness, it is a value I wish to promote in my daily life and hope to pass on this spirit of giving cheerfully to my children.


Kids Love Y Fliker #HolidayGiftGuide2016 #ProductReview

My girl had been begging for a scooter for a few years. I kept saying NO, thinking she wasn't ready. Really, I wasn't ready. So, one of her grandmas decided to fulfil a little girls wish and gave her a Y Fliker on her last birthday. It came in a long slender box, and took a minute or two to set up.

                               This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own.

I thought it was too big for my girl, since the handle bars were nearly up to her arm pits. We went on to yvolution.com to see what they recommended in terms of age and size for the Y Fliker AIR A3. We even called the customer service line, we discovered it was an international number so it was after hours. We were surprised when Yvolution staff called us back within minutes. They chatted with us, hearing our concerns, then assured us that the A3 was a good fit for our girl and she would get years of riding out of it.
I captured her first ride on my phone.

AIR A3 model is recommended for ages 7+ and purchased for approximately $190. It is a 3 wheeled scooter that folds flat with a twist of the two knobs at the front wheel. The specifications say the weight limit is 175 pounds so I expect my girl will get years of fun out of this pricey gift.

I have added the Y Fliker to my gift guide because they have gliders, scooters and ride on bikes for many ages and stages, from preschool models to teen/adult performance models. They can be pricey and hard to get in our area, but for the amount of enjoyment children will get from the Y Fliker, it is worth getting kids outside and wiggling their way to fun.


Losing Everything to Learn I Need Nothing #Christmas #Life

True confession: I’ve survived three house fires in the same house. First, someone fell asleep smoking and caused a fire in our living room in 1977. Second, a babysitter left a pot of oil unattended and burned our kitchen in 1982, and the BIG fire of 1986…

My parents worked hard and did their best to give us good Christmases. Hard work doesn't garantee wealth, so we had very little in terms of possessions. There was no way we were going to get everything we wanted, and I don't believe that would have made my childhood happier, but it's hard to think that way as a kid. We had a large extended family and most of my holiday memories center around merry gatherings with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Everyone chipped in and made the celebrations grand. There was one particular year, 1985, that stands out. The SEARS Wishbook came to our house, same as always, I sat and circled all my favourite things. I remember getting almost everything on my wish list that Christmas. Either Santa spoiled us because he knew that 1986 was going to be a tough year or my Dad discovered Sears Credit Cards and splurged.

Fast forward one month to January 25, 1986. It will forever be the dividing line for my life in terms of growing up fast and changing my perspective on charity.

Picture a lazy Saturday morning, my parents have left for work. My ten year old self is eating cereal and watching cartoons (Gummie Bears and Smurfs), my 14 year old brother is out doing his paper route. I bundled up to go outside to play in the snow, that's what we did in those days. Eventually I ended up in a neighbours yard to join their children in sledding. We were called inside before 11 am, which was strange, normally we played outside ALL day. The neighbour mom was asking me if my brother was home, and if mom and dad are at work. I told her that everyone was out unless my brother got home early without me seeing him. She was relaying information to someone on the phone, while I itched to get back outside. I was invited in for early lunch, but didn't want to accept the offer and couldn’t think of a polite way to refuse. I was a kid who dressed herself for a day of playing outside - I was wearing fleece pajamas with thermal underwear over top. Not good dress code for lunch in someone’s house. Before I could figure out a way to explain why I didn’t want to stay, I heard sirens and moved to look out the window in time to see the windows of my family home explode outwards with flame and thick black smoke. I was frozen in shock and don’t remember how long I stood there. Eventually I went outside when I saw my dad’s station wagon pull up as close as he could get with the fire trucks blocking the street. We numbly stood and watch our house burn to stud. I wanted to laugh and make a joke to ease the tension because we were a silly sight. Dad in his business suit and dress shoes, Mom in her formal hotel uniform and work shoes, Big Bro in his too cool for winter clothes, clothes (runners, jeans, and flannel coat), me in full winter gear hiding pj's underneath. The clothes we were wearing were the only possessions we had left in the world.

The proceeding days and weeks are a blur- staying with family-wearing other peoples clothes (either too big or awkwardly tight or short pants and shirts.) Walking through my school gymnasium on a Sunday evening to “shop” for clothes and household items donated by our community. My adult self recognizes the depth of that generosity. People had little to give, but gave it anyway. My ten year old self was embarrassed to turn up at school wearing other peoples clothes and shoes. Stuffing myself into a puffy neon yellow ski jacket that was a size too small. It took years to get over the fear of fire, and the shame of being a charity case. Taking a house full of hand me downs was a blow to our pride. Some people were kind, some were not.

Eventually our house was rebuilt and things got better financially. The old house ended up being better than before the fire, repairs that couldn’t be done over the years, were corrected with the rebuild. I shake my head as I read these 1985/86 memories out loud. The embarrassed attitude seems so silly now. Thirty years later, I choose to wear thrift store clothes to stretch money and because people discard some really good items.

It took a long time for my attitude to change, though. When I first started working, I bought clothes and shoes obsessively hoarding them, tags on. I bought 3 of the same shirt and would stuff it away.  I vowed that I would never go back to having two changes of clothes. And the fear of losing everything was real.  Years of debt finally broke my attitude.  It took having my daughter to finally break me of my obsessive shopping habits and hoarding, now I purge our closets twice a year and give it to those in need.

It took losing everything to teach me that I needed nothing to be happy. Nothing but being near the people I love.


Creating Tasty Treats With Kellogg Canada #TreatsForToys #FamilyActivities #Giveaway (CAN 12/01/16)

This is a sponsored post, all opinions are genuinely my own.

This is the fourth year I have participated in this fun campaign! After some thought, and looking at the inspiration on treatsfortoys.ca, we decided to make a bunny.

We prepared the original recipe for Rice Krispies treats and sprinkled chocolate flavoured sprinkles on the mixture after it was flattened into a 9x9 pan. After it cooled for two hours, cut four 1×3 rectangles for arms and legs. A 3x3 square for the body, two triangles for ears, and a circle for the head. Decorate with candy using icing as the glue and snap a photo before the treat disappears.

You are invited to visit www.TreatsforToys.ca for more information on this festive campaign and to upload your own creation to help a child in need.
"To ensure no child goes without the magic of the holidays, the Kellogg’s Rice Krispies #TreatsForToys program has once again partnered with The Salvation Army to encourage Canadians across the country to create a toy-shaped Rice Krispies treat and share a photo on TreatsforToys.ca, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #TreatsforToys.

For every photo uploaded or shared on social, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies will donate $20 to The Salvation Army for the purchase of an actual toy for a child in need during the festive season. Make. Share. Give. These three simple steps will help create magical memories for children to cherish for a lifetime." 

Press Release November 2016


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