Bedroom Makeover… Small Cost, BIG Improvement!!

School house room renoWhat’s to do when the whole month is filled day after day with record breaking temperature lows?  This is for sure the coldest winter that I can remember in a LONG time, and my new year’s urge to reorganize and redecorate has been ramped up by my desire to remain toasty warm indoors.

The result:  My 6 year old daughter’s bedroom got a major reorg … and at virtually no cost !!

It seems like I never know it until it’s upon me… that day when I will suddenly become aware that my baby has really outgrown the baby room that we so lovingly created years ago.  Eventually the crib is dismantled for a new, big kid bed, but in our home all the toys that were once paramount parts of a day’s play are mighty hard to let go of.  In fact, we often don’t even realize how much space all that old stuff is taking up… sitting around just in case the urge to play with it on a cold or rainy day comes up again.

One day this past week as I climbed the stairs to our 2nd story, I was struck by what a crazy and overflowing collection of stuff had accumulated in my youngest daughter’s bedroom.  The urge to purge hit me by force, and I gave myself 3 hours to clear the room down to the bare bones. [Read more...]

So… What’s Going On Here?

Well, that was an unexpectedly lengthy break from Simply Fun Families!!
Read below to get the whole scoop…

Confession #1

As December 2014 approached, I promised myself that this year would be different from last.  I was committed to putting down my endless blog & biz “to-do’s” and push pause on my business aspirations in favour of really taking the time to focus on family and reconnect with friends through the month approaching Christmas.  The previous holiday season I had been so caught up in my launch of Simply Fun Families and my online sales of Countdown to Christmas, that December 2013 had been a pure frenzy of exhaustion as I tried to keep up with our family traditions and still navigate through launching an online business in which every new step was foreign territory to me. As fun and exhilerating as each step had been, it took a tole  on my availability for all the rest of life… motherhood, family time, and even sheer wakefulness!!  I was actually still shopping for Christmas gifts on December 23rd, and I vowed that I would not allow myself to fall into that trap in the future.

After writing a few festive blog posts this past November in anticipation of all the holiday fun to be had, I allowed myself the luxury of taking a holiday… a complete pause on even thinking about Simply Fun Families so that I could focus on enjoying the season with my husband, children, extended family & friends.  It was bliss.  I found myself relishing a slower pace, hosting more spontaneous small group gatherings, and enjoying many unrushed visits with family and friends.  My Christmas shopping was thoughtful, and I was so excited to watch people open gifts that I had created or ordered or found that suited them perfectly.  Believe it or not, I actually noticed myself enjoying routine grocery shopping in which I was no longer literally running through the store.  It had apparently become my habit to run through errands and groceries in a race against time because I had an overriding feeling that I was wasting valuable blogging and website update minutes while I conducted these routine errands and chores.

That’s when it started to strike me that perhaps things had swung a bit more out of balance than I had realized… [Read more...]

Gift Ideas for Grandparents

gift image V3Grandparents play such a special role in many families, and this is certainly the case in my experience.  I grew up living in the same home with my grandparents…. 3 generations sharing time day in and day out.  Now that I have children of my own, I can see that my parents have become my children’s greatest fans, and that their greatest delight is to spend time with my 3 kids.

As I sat down today to give some thought to my Christmas list for the coming season, I actually felt a bit stumped for gift ideas that I could give to my children’s 4 grandparents this year.  Some grandparents have everything that they need, others are not much interested in “things”.  Some of my happiest personal gift giving experiences have been watching my children’s grandparents open gifts that I knew would fill their hearts with joy and help them know how grateful we are to have them in our lives.

So today I wanted to ask YOU this question:  ”What is the most memorable gift you have ever given to your children’s grandparents?”

Here is a list of my best gift ideas for grandparents…

  1. A set of personalized Christmas ornaments.  Each ornament featured a photo of one of the grandchildren… my children as well as each of their cousins.
  2. A framed collage of each grandchild containing photos of that child through the years from baby through toddler and all the way up to present day photos. [Read more...]

An Easy Potato Soup Recipe

Before last week, I had never made or even thought about making homemade potato soup, but am I ever glad I gave it a try!

potato soupSince the end of October, the weather has turned quite cold around here, and it seems to be staying that way.  Through the early fall I had been thinking about trying some easy soups to use for the kids lunches and as a little warm up to go alongside weeknight dinners. Then, as I waited in line to order lunch with a friend at a little coffee shop in town, it happened…. for some reason I overheard the ladies standing behind me talking about an Irish Potato soup.  And since that moment I could not seem to stop thinking about giving it a try.

My family is a bunch of soup lovers, especially my son, my youngest daughter, and me. The funniest thing happened when I made my first potato, leek, and ham soup. My husband of 17 years told me with great enthusiasm after his first bowl of soup, “I LOVE potato soup!”  Imaging being married to someone for 17 years AND having dated him for 7 years before that yet having absolutely no clue that this was one of his favourite things to eat!  It’s positively nutty!! My husband is very easy going when it comes to food, eating whatever I decide to cook (or making himself a BPJ quietly afterward if it is not something he cares for!!) but I was so startled to hear his pronouncement!

Needless to say, the potato soup only lasted 2 days before it was all gone.  My husband and son loved it and raved about it so much that one week later I am making another pot of it.  I made a few updates to the original recipe, so here’s the one I made today…. [Read more...]

Celebrate American Thanksgiving With This FREE Printable

Thanksgiving Printable Sample V2I thought of this little idea during my cottage getaway weekend for Canadian Thankgiving this year.

Although it was too late to offer it up in celebration of that holiday, I figured why not share it with our American friends and neighbours in preparation for their Thanksgiving celebrations…

Have you ever noticed what a BIG impact it makes when you take a moment to WRITE DOWN why someone means so much to you?  Of courses families know that those sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner together are grateful for one another, but there is something very special that happens when each person around the table reads the special qualities unique to themselves which loved ones especially cherish.

Here is a simple way to help each person at your Thanksgiving celebration pause to reflect on just what makes them so very special… In addition to a wonderful meal, offer each guest this FREE PRINTABLE (you can even use them as giant place cards around your table if you like!)

Here’s the big idea…

Thanksgiving Printable V2

 

  • Label each printable with one guest’s name.
  • When guests arrive, let them know that while you finish off dinner preparations, their job is to think about at least one thing they especially love about each of the other guests and write that special quality on one of the colorful leaves in that person’s printable.
  • Remind guests to sign their name on the leaf where they wrote their comment.
  • Collect the completed pages (and place them at your dining table if you are using them as place cards)

As you begin your Thanksgiving dinner, go around the table allowing each person read aloud the comments written on their printout.

Hope you enjoy this warm and fuzzy start to your Thanksgiving Celebrations!!!

Ideas for Christmas Fun With The Kids

We are well into November, and I am starting to plot some family fun adventures on my calendar for the festive season.  Here are a few great ideas that my family has loved taking part in over the years.  Have you tried them too?

No matter how big or small the town you live in, you are sure to find an easily accessible Santa Claus Parade nearby.

Santa Claus Parade v2

We live in a small town on the outskirts of Toronto, and each year this little town goes to a lot of work preparing a wonderful parade for the town to take part in.  If you are from Uxbridge or the surrounding area, you can learn more about the Uxbridge Santa Claus Parade scheduled for Saturday November 22, 2014 by clicking here.  And for those of you in the big city, consider visiting a small town Santa Claus Parade for some great old fashioned fun after enjoying the 110th Annual Toronto Santa Clause Parade on Sunday November 16, 2014. Several years ago we carted our gang downtown to enjoy this larger than life parade, and it was a wonderful family adventure that the kids still remember fondly.  Not only was the parade itself spectacular, but my small town country kids had a BIG experience with the crowds and excitement they encountered as part of our adventure.

Santa Claus Parades offer a big day of FREE family fun, so why not try both a big city and a small town parade this year? Can the kids ever get too many parades?

fireworks 1Here’s an unusual idea… If you can find it close to home, check it out for a special little something to kick off the Christmas festivities….. My town offers a Tree Lighting Event on the first Wednesday of December each year, and this FREE event includes a spectacular FIREWORK show!!  How often do you actually find yourself sipping hot chocolate in full winter gear, enjoying some fun in the snow (and the odd snowball fight!) while watching the skies light up with fireworks?  Typically this sort of fun is found in the summer months, but if you are not too far from Uxbridge, Ontario this 7pm firework show on Wednesday December 3, 2014 offers an easy way to fit in some festive family fun in the middle of the week… and because it gets dark so early, you can still get the kids home to bed by a reasonable time!

Finally, if you are looking for a bigger adventure to thrill the kids this holiday season, consider the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights running from November 15, 2014 to January 12, 2015.

Festival-of-Lights-1024x682This is a hidden treasure that is so worth the drive! It’s a great reason to get away for a couple of  days as a family and explore something new away from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives. Several years ago, we went to Niagara Falls with the kids for our anniversary in early November and we stumbled upon this amazing light show. It was the thrill of the mini-vacation to take a horse drawn carriage ride through the park glistening with lit-up scenes for as far as the eye could see. Six years later, my kids still remember this as a wonderful family getaway!  For more details and a very enthusiastic review of this wonderful Winter Festival, visit Maple Mouse Mama’s blog post by clicking here.

And you guessed it…. lovely, little Uxbridge Ontario also offers its own Festival of Lights in Elgin Park.  This small scale version of  Niagara’s Winter Festival of Lights is another local, FREE family event and a great reason to break out of the usual weeknight routine for some family fun with friends.  We always go for a run through the trail of lights with the kids dressed in all their warm winter gear and then head back to one of the families’ homes for a glass of wine, hot chocolate, and some tasty munchies…. a great way to reconnect with families that we haven’t seen as often as we’d like through since the return to school and sports this past fall.

Check out whether your town or a town nearby offers a similar local light show to add a mid-week burst of Christmas cheer to the weeks leading up to Christmas.

I love your comments!!!
What ideas can you share for festive fun?
Can you share any experiences of your family taking part in some of the events described in this post?

Merry Christmas!!