Wednesday, May 30

Cuddle Covers Giveaway

Giveaway open to US and Canada.

What's not to love about Cuddle Covers?
  • like a pillowcase, but with animal features (head, limbs, tail, etc.)
  • ultra-soft
  • hypoallergenic
  • machine washable
  • can be used with your own pillow, or an Official Cuddle Covers Pillow  ($14.99)
  • reasonably priced at $19.99

I was sent Izzy the Unicorn for review, and held on to it until Maggie's fourth birthday this week. It was her present from her big sister, and she absolutely adores it. I can see it being a nice transition from her security blanket, since she now has a soft and unique pillow to keep on her bed or take with her for overnight travel.

Of course, the wonderful people at Cuddle Covers want to give one a Cuddle Cover (and official Cuddle Cover pillow)to a lucky This Mom Loves reader...and the winner will even get to choose the design!
 
Would you pick...

Berry the Bear

 Louie the Lion

Kit the Cat

Max the Dog

Don the Dinosaur


Izzy the Unicorn


I'm trying out a Rafflecopter form for the first time here...so pardon any hiccups!

If the Rafflecopter widget does not appear below, please click on the link and it will take you right there:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This contest will be open until Thursday, June 14th at midnight Eastern, after which time a winner will be chosen through Rafflectoper.

Good luck, and get cuddling!

Monday, May 28

As Seen on Pinterest: Family Hands Artwork

Pardon the broken record, but I just keep finding so many great ideas on Pinterest! This time around I was looking for a piece of meaningful artwork for my newly redecorated master bathroom (read all about it, with before and after shots, here). When the work was done in February, I got the bright idea to take a winter landscape photo on our property and have it mounted on canvas. (I think I got this idea all by myself, even without the aid of Pinterest!)



Once the weather finally changed, I no longer wished to look at a snowy scene every day, and I wanted something else. However, I'm not really into buying random pieces of art that don't have any meaning. So I decided to use an as-seen-on-Pinterest idea.

All I needed was a Dollarama frame and some scrapbooking paper (total cost of $3, and yes these were the same supplies I needed for my last Pinterest project). I even found a brushed-nickel (looking) frame with beading on it to match the new mirror and towel bar perfectly.

I traced the hand of all of the members of our household (doing hubby's and Frannie's on white, mine and Maggie's on the printed paper) and overlapped them. I had intended to use another sheet of the patterned scrapbook paper underneath but it looked way too busy with the hands. Instead I flipped it over to its solid-coloured back and used that.

It sits a little low compared to the towel bar, but I wanted to use the same nail as the winter scene (I just can't bear to put another hole in my freshly repaired and painted wall) and it's not like anyone else really sees it in my master bath. (Which of course leads my husband to question why the artwork in there even matters, but I'm in there every day and I want it to be pretty, darn it!)




Original inspiration (not sure whether it's a bigger frame or those people have
smaller hands, but I had no room for a label on mine!):

Source: i.imgur.com via Kate on Pinterest



Wednesday, May 23

Wednesday Words

As my students begin writing EQAO today (provincial standardized testing; one of the most anxious times of the year for me) I was looking for some spiritual inspiration.

Although I don't know exactly how these words apply to today's situation (unless the Lord is arriving with the calculators and dictionaries) it's still one of my favourite quotations from scripture:

"Be strong, take heart and wait for the Lord."

Psalm 27: 14

What does that mean to you today?



Thursday, May 17

As Seen On Pinterest: Framing Grandma's Recipe

I added a new piece of decor to my kitchen recently, inspired by Pinterest, of course!

I started with a frame and scrapbook paper from Dollarama (total cost $3) and one of my late Grandma Leahy's handwritten recipes (which just happened to be for Christmas Pudding). It's even wrinkled and smudged...just perfect for this project!



I used the scrapbook paper as a matte and then a tiny bit of tape to keep the recipe in place. (I photocopied the sheet in advance, just in case.)


Et voilà:






Here is the original pin, which I found on Pinterest and added to my "Decorating/Home" Board weeks ago:

Source: homegoods.com via Kate on Pinterest


What a lovely way to preserve the memory of lost family members. I've already looked to the frame to draw strength from my Grandma, in sort of a "You raised eight kids on a farm while living with your mother-, father- and brother-in-law so I'm sure I can get through whatever is troubling me today" kind of way.

Stay tuned for other great Pinterest finds!

Monday, May 14

This Mom Loves...Facebook?

You guys! I just signed up for this cool new site I found called "Facebook"! You have to check it out!

Yes, it's 2012.

And yes, I swore I wouldn't do it...and I still sort of haven't.

While "Kate Winn" is not (and has no plans to be) active on Facebook, This Mom Loves' page is now up and running!

My reasons for holding out (being a teacher, the whole oxymoronic "private blogger" thing, my fear of frittering away even more hours in front of the computer) are still keeping me from being a personal Facebook user, which is why I have not responded to the friend requests I've received since first setting up an account. (You have to have a personal page in order to create a fan page. And I think I have explained that to most of those people, so they wouldn't be offended. If I missed you, now you know it was nothing personal!)

However, it has become increasingly clear to me that in order to continue growing and fostering This Mom Loves, I must stop ignoring one of the most prevalent forms of social media. I love communicating with my readers, and I am learning that the majority of them go to Facebook first to communicate.

So...please pop on over and take a look. At the risk of slipping into a bad Sally Field misquote, I really hope you'll like me!

Right here:

Links to my posts will be published there, as well as other news and tidbits that I think my readers would be interested in. As well, future giveaways here on the blog will offer a bonus entry for "liking" This Mom Loves' Facebook page.

If any bloggers have tips for how to effectively partner Facebook pages with blogs, I would absolutely love to hear them. I'd also be interested in learning (from any Facebook users) what not to do as a "Fan Page" in order to maintain and grow a following (rather than spamming/annoying/scaring everybody away!) This is all new to me and feedback would be very much appreciated.

See you on Facebook!

Friday, May 11

Younger Skin Tomorrow With Avon's Resurfacing Expert Smoothing Fluid ~Giveaway~

Giveaway open to Canadians.

Please allow me to preface everything else here by saying that I realize looking younger should not be the ultimate beauty goal. I did a Beauty and Self Esteem Workshop with students this year, and painfully admitted to them that I had actually purchased (and used) a product with "Age Rewind" in the title. This led to a lot of discussion about whether I would really want to rewind ten years of my life: before kids, house and the job that I love. No thanks.

But is it okay to want my skin to look its best? Of course it is. As my regular readers know, my skin has always been "my thing" to struggle with. The acne woes of my youth are now replaced by the onset of fine lines and little age spots, and I've tried all sorts of products looking for improvement.

When I was sent a bottle of Avon's new Anew Clinical Resurfacing Expert Smoothing Fluid (try saying that one three times fast) I thought it wouldn't hurt to give it a shot, and I've been exceptionally pleased with it.

C4Clinical Resurfacer

Some of the product's claims:
  • retexturizes skin overnight, exfoliating and replenishing skin to leave it younger, smoother and revitalized
  • in a clinical study vs. three professional microdermabrasion treatments over 12 weeks, the product was found to be 79% as effective as a professional microdermabrasion, without the same irritation (or cost. I've done microderm, and while I didn't notice much irritation with it, the cost was significant).
I've found that my skin feels more taut and pores look tighter when I wake up (here I am talking about large pores; see how I've opened up to my readers this year?)  I can even tell if I forgot to apply it the night before. (It's definitely a 'night' product: it gives the skin a shiny look and leaves a bit of a film that washes off in the morning.)

With a price tag of $39.00, it doesn't even break the bank. The dropper gives you the perfect pre-portioned amount of fluid each night so there's no guessing or waste, and my first bottle has lasted me more than two months of almost nightly application. (I requested a second bottle, fearing that the first one would run out before I could get through a six week trial, but have been pleasantly surprised by how long it has lasted.)

You can order this product through your Avon representative or http://www.avon.ca/... or you can enter below to win a free bottle! All you need to do is leave your e-mail address, with extra entries if you follow me on e-mail, GFC, Twitter or Pinterest (links in my sidebar). The contest will run until Friday, May 25th at 11:59 p.m. Eastern, after which time a winner will be chosen through random number generation. Good luck!



Disclosure: I was provided with a free bottle of the product for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own!

Tuesday, May 8

Anastasia's Picks: Her Latest Book Reviews For Tweens


My ten year old niece Anastasia shares her most recent book recommendations.

THE SHADOW COLLECTOR'S APPRENTICE BY AMY GORDON



Cully is an ordinary boy. He lives on a apple tree farm, goes to the soda shop in the summer, and hangs out with his friends. He is normal except for one thing: Cully has no father. Then, things get even worse. The rest of the family (his three aunties) run out of money! Cully finds a summer job at a pawn shop, but strange things begin to happen there too. Cully's boss has a hobby of collecting shadows. Soon, Cully has a sneaking suspicion. Did the owner of the pawn shop collect his father's shadow too? Cully and his new friend, Isabelle, set out to find if shadow collecting is right or wrong, save his farm, and bring back his father.

What I liked about this book is the climax. The tension gets really high when Cully discovers something new!

What I disliked about this book was the length of the chapters. they could be a little bit longer.

This book is for 9 to 12 year olds.

All in all, I am going to give this book 3 stars!

THE EXCEPTIONALS BY ERIN CASHMAN


Claire is a fifteen year old girl who is caught with a friend who has alcohol in a dance party. She is kicked out of her old school and sent to one for people with special powers. There, she makes new friends and starts fresh. But people have gone missing from the school, and as her parents go looking for them, they go missing as well. With the help of friends, she sets out to save her parents and develop HER special power.

What I liked about this book was the magical powers. I LOVE ANYTHING about magic!

What I disliked about this book was the beginning. At first I didn't know what was going on.

I will give this book 4 stars!
TEMPLE GRANDIN BY SY MONTGOMOMERY


This is a book about a marvellous lady, Temple Grandin, who has autism. But still, despite her differences, she went on to become a successful woman who works on building, making, discovering, and bringing back machines that will make cattle's lives easier. This also talks about Temple's life, past to present. This is an awesome book, and I hope to read it again and again.

What I liked about this book is that Temple has a foreword at the beginning, so I can hear her opinion as well.

There was nothing to dislike about this book. I'll give it 5 stars!

Thursday, May 3

Kids and Money: My Girls' New Bank Accounts

I will never forget the day that my parents handed me the passbook for my own bank account. They had been depositing "baby bonuses" over the years, and if I recall correctly there was close to a thousand bucks in the account. And it was all mine!! Did I rush right out and start spending? On the contrary. I immediately started stashing more money away, taking pleasure in watching the numbers rise. Gradually I began to find the joy in the "spending" side of things, however I would like to think that in general, I've been a pretty good money-manager since a young age. What went right? I've been reflecting on that, as I want my daughters to have the skills they need to be money-savvy even in tough economic times. (While I hope that the country will be more prosperous than ever in their adulthood, it never hurts to be prepared.)

We've been making deposits into RESP's for each of them, although I'm not sure we'll even tell them that until they make their own decision on post-secondary education, based on the premise that they will primarily be funding their own. (Someone remind me to take this post down when they are old enough to find and read my blog on their own. Which will be disturbingly soon.)

A couple of years ago we gave Frannie a Moonjar Moneybox, with three different sections marked "Save", "Spend" and "Share". My intention was to start giving her an allowance to distribute amongst the sections, but I haven't been at all consistent about it, and any money she received was randomly slotted for one spot or another.


Poor Maggie has been dealing with a two-inch high dollar store Dora piggybank, which was almost overflowing. (Not that she's rich. But don't try to explain to her that dozens of pennies are worth...well, 48 cents.)

On Easter Monday, I decided it was time for the two of them (yes, at the ripe old ages of six and four) to open their first bank accounts.

We headed for CIBC, where we do our banking. This is not a sponsored post in any way, and we certainly have had glitches with our CIBC products over the years (in university, two branches merged, and I unfortunately shared an account number with someone else, who continued to make withdrawals from my account. It took a while for a twenty year old student to convince a big bank that it really was their mistake and I did indeed keep track of my money!) but generally speaking they've been good enough to keep our business.

It's also a very true marketing fact that brand loyalty is instilled at an early age. Why are my daughters banking with CIBC? Because that's where my parents banked.

Heather was excellent with the girls, chatting with them, counting their cash, and putting stickers on their very first statements. They got their own bank cards (unfortunately there's now a monthly fee for passbooks, but in this age I guess checking one's own balance online should be just as exciting as the passbook update) and saw the grand total of their first piggybank deposits:

Frannie: $78.52

Maggie: $33.55

I went back to the store where we had purchased Frannie's Moonjar Moneybox, but they no longer carry them. Thankfully the company was kind enough to send one for Maggie. The new plan is that each girl gets four quarters per week, two for "Spend" and one each for "Save" and "Share".

When the Savings section gets full, we'll deposit it in the account. "Share" has been perfect for when charity or fundraising events come up at school or church. It doesn't seem as painful to give up the money when they know it's already been earmarked for good deeds.

Frannie just took money from her "Spend" jar, transferred it to her wallet, and proudly marched into Zellers to buy a Queen Amidala figurine (yes, my daughter loves Star Wars). It was a proud moment for me as well. I was also impressed that Maggie didn't even peep when I said that she wouldn't be getting a toy that day, as she didn't have "Spend" money to use. (Her birthday hasn't arrived yet.)

Another quick tip about teaching money: we've started playing a game with coins while waiting for our meals at restaurants (not exactly sanitary; wash hands again before eating!) If the girls name the penny, nickel, dime and quarter correctly they get to keep them (Frannie also needs to name the value). We eat out too often for me to start throwing loonies and toonies around for free, though! Once they've mastered that, we'll move on to the relationships (four quarters in a dollar, etc.) There is a money focus in every year of the curriculum, but without constant exposure I've seen firsthand that kids can easily forget from one year to the next.

Visit the Moonjar website to order products or for more valuable tips!