Monday, November 23, 2015

Keepsake Kids My First Tree #Giveaway @Hallmark_Canada #LoveHallmarkCA (CAN 12/08)

I received the Keepsake Kids My First Tree in my Holiday box and brought it to work to decorate my classroom. It has a prominent place on my shelf and has welcomed many comments and compliments. I love how easy it is for little hands to hang decorations from the large buttons and will be donating one like this to Sick Kids Hospital in December along with other items our childcare center is collecting for Christmas. 

The Season of giving has just begun and you have a chance to win one of these plush trees. 
Felt Tree MSRP $29.95
Felt Ornaments $7.95 each
Disclosure: I receive occasional perks in exchange for participation in the Hallmark Canada #LoveHallmarkCA social media community. Please read and follow all manufacturer advice regarding product use and care.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Novice Gardener: Holiday Garden Centerpiece

Updated post: After a recent wind storm the centerpiece took a tumble so had to be rearranged. I also added the red glitter eucalyptus stalks.

Holiday Garden Centerpiece
It's not perfect but it was basically free.
It is always a little sad for me when my garden goes to sleep for winter. Looking at black mulch where my lovely yellow flowers once were can be a bit of a downer.  This year I decided to try my hand at creating a bold garden focal point. I took a tired looking bench that was sitting in storage and spray painted it candy apple red. Once dry the next day, I plopped it in my empty garden. My husband thought I was crazy until I completed the next phase of the project. Why is there a bright red bench in our front yard?
This old bench was too worn to be used for seating,
but got a new purpose in becoming a plant stand.
We have access to a few types of trees and greenery on our property(cedars and pines), so I decided to make my own Holiday planter. With help from my six year old, we put on garden gloves and started pruning trees to gather materials. To start the construction, a plastic window box planter was filled with soil and became the base for our project. I also found a ream of plastic mesh bought on $2 discount after Christmas last year. I like the kind infused with wire because it holds it's shape a bit better.
The project was nearly done.
It just needed something shiny.
I put the two largest branches in the back row in a fan shape (higher in back). We took turns inserting branches and were somewhat pleased with our creation. My junior designer said it was missing something "shiny". So I went to the dollar store and bought two large silver ball ornaments and a jumbo silver pine cone to finish. I total I spent less than $5 making the planter and the spray paint for the bench was $6. 

It makes me happy to take something worn out and make it new, or useful in a new way. I may repaint the bench a new colour in the Spring, but for now, my candy apple red bench is adding some holiday cheer to our empty garden.

Have fun and play nice!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Win With Hallmark Holiday Contest #LoveHallmarkCA #Sponsor #Review

"With the holidays just around the corner, Hallmark is looking to give its customers a chance to treat themselves with another amazing Disney contest.  From November 12th until December 13th, consumers can enter for a chance to WIN 1 of 4 prizes. The grand prize is a $2,000 Disney gift card, plus a $500 Disney prize pack! The gift card can be used at almost anything Disney, including Disney resort stays! Consumers also have the chance to win 1 of 3 $250 Disney prize packs." Press Release November 2015
Entering is simple, visit, enter your personal information, and hit "Enter". Daily entry will increase your chances of winning. Contest winners will be contacted on December 17, 2015. While you are waiting to see if you have won the Disney Dream Package, Hallmark Canada has many happy items to help you get ready for the Holidays.  They have given me images and samples of some of their Holiday Season 2015 products.
My top three picks for decorating are:
1. Together Across the Miles ceramic card holder- I am using it to hold holiday cards I need to send out December 1, but will then use it to hold cards I receive.
Together Across The Miles
ceramic card holder MSRP $29.99
2. PEACE Banner- Strung with red grosgrain ribbon, these pretty and the pure white letters will match any home decor.
Embossed Paper Banner
MSRP $12.99
3. Wooden Wreath- This carved wooden wreath is ready to hang or can be painted/decorated any way you like. I am going to let my six year old add sparkly glitter glue to enhance the natural wood carving.
Carved Wooden Wreath
MSRP $19.99
If you like these items or want to see more products, visit to locate a store near you and find out more about their current promotions and offers.

Disclosure: This is not a paid post. As a member of the #LoveHallmarkCA blog community I receive occasional perks.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Capture Memories Courtesy of @PosterJack #Sponsor

I like artwork in many different forms- large paper posters, candid photos, formal portraits, custom artwork and number prints in rustic or abstract mediums. In my informal home, there is room for all of these things and more.  I also like to re-arrange some of my art pieces every year to change up colour schemes or to rotate images from rooms I don't spend much time in.  Custom artwork doesn't have to bust your wallet, and you can get it done the way YOU like.

My favourite artwork has been inspired by places we have travelled or simple moments spent together as a family. We don't vacation often, but when we do, our camera gets a work out. Trying to capture the memories we create in our time together, is always in the back of my mind. There was at least one image that was captured on vacation two years ago, and I was looking for a perfect way to display it other than a computer screen saver. Posterjack invited me order a product in exchange for a review post, and this is the image I kept coming back to in my favourites folder.
This is the original image I uploaded to Posterjack.
After a few different uploads and playing around with different product and photo choices, I settled on a 12x16 Wood Print with my own image. It was $49.99 plus shipping. Posterjack custom editing tools are VERY user friendly. You can upload your own image or choose an image from their Art Shop for a reasonable price. The hardest part of the whole order process was deciding which image to use out of the 1000+ on my computer. I think the next product I order will have to be a collage. Posterjack let me know via email, when my order was being processed, and sent another message when my order was being shipped. My custom Wood Print arrived at my door, well packaged and ready to hang.  Once again I was impressed by the quality in materials used to create my photo artwork and the attention to detail in mount accessories.
Quality mounting hardware is a must- especially when using
a heavy material like wood.
Here is a better description of the way colour and texture can transform your home...
image credit: Posterjack

"Cold Fall weather means more nights at home. Posterjack has come up with 3 photo-art decor tips to create a cozy space that’s perfect for cuddling on the couch during netflix-binge sessions.

  1. Play with texture and colour - rich textures and saturated hues of deep colours help create a warm and luxurious space. Canvas Prints hold the colours of the season - eggplant, olive, navy and ruby, like a classic oil painting you’d find in a museum.
  2. Mixed materials - just like fashion, the layering and incorporation of different materials is used to add interest. A photo-art display that includes Metal Prints, Acrylic Prints and Photoboards means you’ll never have a boring home.  
  3. Rustic mantels - shelves and mantels are one of the easiest ways to change up your decor for the season. Embrace nature and add a rustic elegance to yours with Wood Prints, Barnwood Frames and Woodstand Prints of your favourite Fall scenes."

You too can order a custom print to capture your favourite memory of 2015- order one for yourself and one to give away! Don't miss this limited time promotion for framed photos 
Enter promo code FRAME20 for 20% off framed prints until midnight November 9th!

Follow social media updates for exclusive offers and promotions:

Final thoughts: Choosing the Wood Print product option may change your final image a little because the lovely wood grain shows through the photo.  I wish I had not chosen to add a black border and also wish I had used a more vibrant image to counter the matte quality of the final product, but that comes from an error in my own choice of image and is not a judgement on Posterjack craftsmanship or quality.

Disclosure: I received a Posterjack voucher to order a free product to aid my review. All opinions remain honest and my own.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Caramel Apple Crisp With All Bran Buds #Kelloggs

Caramel Apple Crisp

Recently Kelloggs sent me a box of All Bran products along with some recipe ideas. The challenge sent out to the Kellogg Blog Community was to add All Bran to recipes to boost our comfort food in a healthy way. My go-to dessert is fruit crisp because they are quick to throw together and you can use many different fruits. I wouldn't consider this recipe an unhealthy one, but adding the All Bran Buds was a good way to add fibre and texture. I was short on oats and wouldn't have thought to add All Bran without the nudge.

The Kellogg's* All-Bran* product line provides between 4g and 12g fibre per serving, which is up to 48% of the daily value (the daily value of fibre is 25g per day). In the entire All-Bran* family, the primary source of fibre is natural wheat bran. In addition to the benefits of natural wheat bran fibre, Kellogg's* All-Bran* cereals provide essential nutrients like iron, B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc.
     (Kelloggs All Bran Facts)

Combine: 2 cups large flake oats, 1/4 cup brown sugar,
1/4 cup salted butter, 2 teaspoons cinnamon,
1/4 All Bran Buds

Layer in a greased 8x8 dish: 6-8 apples chopped/peeled,
1/2 soft caramels, unwrapped, 1/4 cup water, or apple juice.

Top the apples with the crumble mixture, bake for 35 minutes
in a 325 degree oven. Serve hot or cold with vanilla yogurt. Makes
4-5 servings

Disclosure: As part of my involvement in the Kelloggers community I receive occasional perks. All opinions remain my own.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Family Favourites: Smart Caramel Apple Recipe #KidsCanCook

We don't do much for Halloween but we do love the treats that this season can bring. We have gone apple picking twice in October and have made Caramel Apples after both visits. I usually use the pre-made caramel wraps from the grocery store but decided to make them using the recipe on the back of the caramel candy bag. The first attempt came out terrible and I didn't capture the photo evidence. I will say that using a non-stick spray is essential for getting the apples off the plate. On the last attempt, we crushed Smarties and sprinkled them on the plate so the apples would have a tasty place to set, and it helped in getting them off the plate too. My caramel apples look like they were made by a six year, I wouldn't redo for the sake of a pretty picture. She was pleased with the final product and they were very tasty.

What I Used:

350 grams of wrapped KRAFT caramel candies
1 tablespoon of condensed milk
1 tablespoon butter
4 small apples
4 plastic forks
Non-stick canola spray
1 8x8 dish or flat plate
1/2 package of Smarties crushed in a resealable plastic bag (need 4-6 tablespoons)
What I Did:

  1. Peel the caramels and place in a shallow glass dish that is microwavable. Add the milk and butter, then set inside the microwave-without turning it on yet.
  2. Smash the Smarties using a bowl, plate, or rolling pin.
  3. Wash and dry your apples very well. Stick a plastic fork in the center of each apple. 
  4. Spray your plate or dish with non-stick canola spray. Add 1 tablespoon of crushed candy, in four separate mounds on the plate. 
  5. Clear a space in your fridge for the apples to cool when dipped.
  6. Microwave the caramel and butter mixture for approximately 2 minutes on medium power. Stop every 30 seconds to stir with a silicon spatula and check for scorching.
  7. Use the fork to handle the apples and dip/roll them in the caramel. Use the spatula to scrape off the excess caramel on the bottom of the apple, more will puddle.
  8. Place each apple on their mound of Smarties, and sprinkle remaining candies on the top of the caramel apples.
  9. Place in fridge for about an hour to set.
  10. Lick the spoon and clean up the candy crumbs...
Use toasted coconut, crushed nuts, or crumbled cookies for the base.

Disclosure: This is an inspired recipe which I made my own through trial and error. This post is not sponsored nor endorsed by any brands mentioned within.