Wednesday, September 23, 2015

When Guineapigs Attend A Tween Girl Party....#WordlessWednesday (LINKY)

They join in the fun! (whether they want to or not! lol)

Isn't he so cute?!

Your turn! Link up!

AND while you're here, enter to win a $10 Starbucks coffee-date on my friendship post!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I Get By With a Little Help from My Friend - *bonus giveaway*

You may have noticed that my blog and social media have been pretty quiet this week. There was a storm of chaos and emotion that came with the first week of school here. Actually it started before school even began.

"I don't want to go to school"...that line you just push aside because really every kid says that. Then the first day came and Orangie said that she spent last recess alone just sitting on the playground. Then the second day came and this time she tried to just read out on the playground and attention was called to her, etc. Stories came out that night, and it was heartbreaking.

* I tried to start her day with a smile *

So on the third day, my ex-h and I parked ourselves in the office till we could talk about it with staff. That meeting went well and it sounded like they would try to remedy the situation. I was thankful for the school being pretty awesome and tightknit for our 5 years we've been there and was praying that they would really put that zero-tolerance in effect. On the fourth day, she was rather ill in my car and refusing to get out. I made the call to attendance, explained the situation and requested that I be called back asap. Because I knew that it was stress and that she wasn't virally sick etc we managed to get her into school as first recess ended. In that meeting, we really had a good chat with Orangie and it came to light that the other kids were not fully to blame in this crazy situation. Orangie had indeed brought some of it on herself by taking the 'just walk away' rule a little too seriously and actually alienating her friends near the end of the last school year...and then it all just got out of hand from there with a serious lack of communication all around :(

So this is all a seriously shorthand recap of what went on last week...there was certainly a ripple effect into my own life too from my ex-h wanting to pull her and switch schools (which was really not something I wanted to do), to my BF questioning whether trying to buy a home in this neighbourhood was even the right choice. Then there was dealing with my work, which is understaffed, and me suddenly having to leave/be late/or not make it at all! This was the first time where severe stress actually made me break out in a VERY itchy rash!! (WHAT?!)

This whole situation made me really think about friendships and how important they are whether it be grade 6 or when you're 36. It was heartbreaking to have her so excited to throw a birthday when school was back in, to a few days later saying 'Mom, I have no one to invite". (we have since invited 12 kids for this Friday's bash..where I hope that I can help reconnect some old friendships and foster some new ones!)

In all this, I was so thankful that I had a few good friends that I knew that I could count on. They listened, they offered advice, one work friend actually had Orangies teacher when she was young and assured me that she was very warm, caring and would definitely make things better! On the very worst of days, I knew that if my bestie was home I could just pop in for a quick vent session. Sitting on her porch that day just letting it all out was just what I needed. And I hope that our coffee and jigsaw puzzle date yesterday was just what she needed. And tonight is once again Wednesday...the night that I put aside every week to have girlfriends over and just relax. Where we can sip some coffee, or share some wine, watch a movie, and cry or laugh over the weeks events in our lives.

Good friends are just so very important.
They keep us going.

So I want you to find some time, even just half an hour, and get together with a friend.
Have a coffee and just listen, share, and enjoy.

And if you're lucky, that coffee will be on us!
One lucky reader will win a $10 (CDN) Starbucks GC!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Yet Another First Day of School Pic! #wordlesswednesday (LINKY)

So is this like the 500th back to school pic you've looked at lately? They over-run all our feeds, but it's just so neat to see what the kids are wearing, or how they've grown! After I shared my girls pic on facebook, I found out a friends daughter wore the same "Smart Cookie" shirt that my youngest wore for the first day too! Totally made me smile!

I can't believe that I have a Gr 6 and a Gr 10!! How are they that old?! Wait, how am I that old?! 

I swear that time just keeps speeding up faster and faster!! *sniffle*

Now it's your turn, link up!

Madam Secretary: Season 1 #giveaway

Looking for a new show to binge-watch? Madam Secretary: Season 1, is available now on DVD!

In the first season of the gripping political thriller Madam Secretary, Dr. Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni) navigates the maze of politics to protect America and affect global issues. When the current Secretary of State is killed in a mysterious airplane accident, the White House turns to Elizabeth to take over the job. As a former CIA analyst, she understands the risks of the world. However, she’s far less prepared for the treachery of politics.

Actors: Téa Leoni, Tim Daly, Bebe Neuwirth

When offered the chance to review and giveaway Madam Secretary, I honestly had to look it up. Then I realized that it was a political-drama-thriller and wasn't too keen..admittedly I have zero interest in politics. I clicked on the 5-minute promo trailer..and was HOOKED. There is just something about Tea Leoni's demeanor that just reels you in! And Tim Daly..well I am very happy to see him back in action after all those wonderful years in Private Practise! Catch up now before Season 2 begins!

Watch the promo trailer that got me hooked!


Madam Secretary: Season 1 is available now on DVD, or enter the giveaway!
One lucky CANADIAN reader will win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: I received a copy of Madam Secretary: Season 1 in exchange for my post. As always, any opinions stated are 100% my own!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Winemaking - A New Way to do Girls Night!

It's so important that you have a few friends that you can count on no matter what. I'm lucky that I have two close friends who pencil time in their busy schedules so that we can get together every Wednesday night! Mainly, we get together to relax and unwind by watching a movie together with copious amounts of popcorn, maybe some dark chocolate, and a big ol' pot of coffee. But it's no secret that we've been known to enjoy our special night with a nice glass of wine too!
So when I got the invite to check out a local RJS craft winemaking academy here in London, I knew that it would make a great experience to share with my friends. 

A date was made and we were off to Luscious Wines - Fruit of the Vine to make our very own batch of Pinot Grigio!

* So very welcoming, from your very first step inside the door! *

Owners, Alison and Paul, opened the wonderful award-winning winery back in '99...and it really is no surprise that they were voted Best Beer/Wine Making Store in London for 2015,  as our visit was beyond anything we were expecting! They really made it a personalized winemaking experience!

After introductions, a bit of paperwork, and some quick wine talk it's time to get our pinot grigio started! From pouring your juice into your pail, adding in the water/bentonite/yeast/etc, testing with a hydrometer. We did it all(!) while learning in an easy, conversational manner, the how's and why's from Paul. (Do you know how heavy 18L of grape juice is?! He had to get it started for us! lol)

Next, it was time to hammer the lid on and put our wine down for a rest...

There were rows upon rows of wine in various stages of the process. Many repeat names and repeat customers. Many starting early for the upcoming holiday season. I can't wait to share my wine over Thanksgiving dinner! I say Thanksgiving because to be honest I don't see my share making it to Christmas! lol.
When we started our wine it was in a large white pail, as seen on the top shelf, for its fermenting process. Approximately 3 weeks ago it got switched out to one of the large carboys, by a staff member, for its clearing process. So, now it's just waiting for us to go in next week for the bottling process!

So now I'm sure you're wondering ok, but really, how much does it cost? Making wine from a kit at Luscious ranges from $118-$210, and makes 30 bottles. Our premium 6 week Italian Pinot Grigio would have been $192, or $65 per person for 10 bottles. Certainly not bad for 2 fun girls night outs and a nice stock of wine for the cellar! (Note: bottles are extra, bring your own, or buy for $1.10 ea)

And what about timing? Our initial winemaking session took a full half hour but keep in mind we wanted to learn and get a full experience. If you're in a rush, Paul said that you could be in and out in about 10 minutes! But I gotta say that I recommend a nice relaxed session for maximum enjoyment and experience! Especially for a first time! (the bottling session is also approx 30 mins)

So now I hope you'll stay approx 3 weeks we'll finally pop open one of our bottles and toast to our girls night fun, and then let you in on our final opinion!

In the London area and thinking of checking out Luscious Wines?
Be sure to explore the website, and give them a call!

Not in London? Find an RJS Craft Winemaking Academy near you!

*Disclosure - We received our winemaking experience, for free, in exchange for our review and posting.

Smithsonian Books from @DKCanada's BTS Boutique - #giveaway

September is here, and it's time to hit the books again! Ok, so my girls continued to read and learn throughout the summer..but you get the point :) When checking out DK Canada's Back to School Boutique the Smithsonian books caught my eye in a big way. Little did I know just how literally big they were. I nearly dropped the box when courier handed it to me. Seriously. They are filled with THAT much info, images and awesomeness!

History Year by Year presents the world through a detailed timeline, letting children follow the influences, patterns, and connections between historical events.
Produced in association with the Smithsonian Institution and featuring more than 1,500 images, this illustrated book brings the story of the past to life. Beginning with prehistory and running up to the Arab Spring, budding historians will learn about the history of humans across the world. Spreads highlight major historical eras including the Renaissance and the French Revolution, while quotations from primary and secondary sources alongside insight from experts give proper historical context. Children will love the "child of the time" feature, telling the experience of children at important historical periods including Ancient Egypt, Viking England, the Industrial Revolution, and World War II.
History Year by Year is a visual journey throughout time and an invaluable reference for kids looking to connect the dots of history across the world.
*List price $25.99

Knowledge Encyclopedia - Created in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution and with the latest CGI technology, the Knowledge Encyclopedia is a bold new approach to family reference using 3-D rendered images to explore the wonders of the world in unprecedented detail.
Divided into six chapters — Space, Earth, Nature, Human Body, Science & Technology, and History & Culture, plus a reference section — a wide range of topics come to life. Illustrated with fascinating facts, maps, timelines, and graphics, the Knowledge Encyclopedia makes complex subjects easy to understand and is the perfect resource for kids, whether to help with homework or to pique their curiosity.
*List price $29.99

These books are not just for kids either! They would be great left out on a side table for inquisitive guests to take a peek at! Or perfect for someone who wants to learn a little something new! Stop in and check out the great educational books in the DK Canada BTS boutique today!

Thanks to DK Canada, I have both History Year by Year, and Knowledge Encyclopedia, up for grabs to one lucky Canadian reader! (arv $55)
(ends Sept 15th at 11:59pm EST)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: I received a copy of each book as a sample to facilitate this post.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sunset and Surfers in Tofino BC #wordlesswednesday (LINKY)

Sharing 2 more pics from amazing trip to BC. One of my favourite evenings was watching the sunset in Tofino BC.

Your turn! Link up!