Monday, December 17, 2012

Photo Magic with #Windows 8 Phone #HolidaySwap

I was able to make edit this photo right on my phone with an app I installed for the kids called Creative Studio!

This is another photo I edited with Creative Studio

I received a Nokia Lumia 920 from Microsoft Canada to try out. I am being compensate for my posts but the opinions written here are my own. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

#HolidaySwap with the new #WindowsPhones

So the first weekend with the new Windows Phone and there were some great opportunities to take pictures. It snowed! I am talking enough snow to actually stay on the ground.  The two pictures below are some of the first pictures I was able to snap.

These pictures were taken with Microsoft New Windows phone the Nokia Lumia 920 .

I received a Nokia Lumia 920 from Microsoft Canada to try out. I am being compensate for my posts but the opinions written here are my own.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

#HolidaySwap Challenge with the new #WindowsPhone

So, when I was asked by Microsoft to try out the New Windows phone, the Nokia Lumia 920 
I was excited to give it a try.... BUT.... then they informed me that it would be a swap at the busiest time of the year, Christmas! I will be honest I was a little apprehensive. I know it is just a phone but there is a certain level of comfort that comes from having the phone that I know in my hand when I am navigating my busy life during December....BUT I was up to the #HolidaySwap Challenge

For starters it is much larger and heavier than the Samsung Galaxy S that I was using.  The Lumia 920 measures 5.12 inches tall, 2.7 inches wide, and 0.42 inches thick. At 6.5 ounces, it’s significantly heavier than the iPhone 5 (3.95 ounces) or the Galaxy S III (4.69 ounces).

I have had the phone for a few days now and already there are a few things that I really like. First, as you can see from the picture to the left, the windows/tiles on the phone constantly update. I am able to see which of my accounts have an update, for example I can see when I have a new email, or a new message on twitter. It is great to be able to stay up to date in a glance.

The beauty of the tiles is that I can customize them. I can decide which ones I pin (put on the main page of my phone), I can also decide where they go and how big or small they should be. I am able to truly customize the look of the phone just for me!

There is another great feature that I LOVE! It is the Kids Corner. It is a special, separate page just for the kids and you are in total control of what is there. I was able to put a few games that are favourites for my kids. I decide what they can play with when I decide what to put in the kids corner. Once the kids open up their own page they are not able to access the rest of my contacts or pages or accounts (unless they have my password that is!)

All it takes is a swipe of the finger and the kids can see their own spot on the phone. They can not add or delete games on their own. I am in control of what gets added...and I like that! 

Here are a few of the games and apps we have added so far. There are so many the kids like and we are working through them to see what else we should add.

I have already started to take some pictures and play around with some of the cool lenses.  The phone can take some really great pictures and the lenses let you do some really neat things with those pictures. I am still experimenting and hope to share some of those with you in my next post!

I received a Nokia Lumia 920 from Microsoft Canada to try out. I am being compensate for my posts but the opinions written here are my own.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Reminder - Be Kind To Me!

Why do I do this to myself?

Why do I load up my schedule with so many things that I am almost ready to fall over from exhaustion?

So it seems I need a little reminder about being kind to me . I am feeling exhausted by the week that just went by and tired at the thought of the work that I still have ahead of me.

What do you do to manage your stress? Do you have any tricks for not getting overwhelmed?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Share The Joy! with Kinder

I love Christmas. The entire season is great. I love the decorations and the presents ( buying them and receiving them)  but mostly I love sharing the season with my family, especially my children. Christmas is a great time to share what the holidays mean to me with my children.

As part of the season, we make sure we give to others. Sharing the joy of the season with others is one of the most important things we do during the holidays. We do a lot of small things, including donating to our local food bank. In years past we have packed shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child with Samaratian's Purse. My kids love to pack a box full of great stuff that a child on the other side of the world might need and enjoy, like toys, school supplies, socks, a new towel and soap. It makes us feel good to know a small effort on our part can mean something big to another person's life.  We also make sure to give toys and books to as many local toy drives as we can. This year we have several books and toys to donate. The kids love to know  they are sharing the joy of the season with a child who might otherwise not have a Christmas if it were not for the kindness of others.     

We also like to share the joy of the season with people we know. Every year spend a few hours in the kitchen lovingly making a number of sweet treats for our friends and neighbours.  I always carefully select several recipes that the kids can help me with, some even no bake cookies. We whip up our creations and carefully pack them up and then head out with our Santa hats and red wagon and deliver our Christmas treats to all our neighbours. The kids love it. They take so much pride in the task of delivering a little taste of Christmas to friends. It is an important lesson to teach children (and not just at Christmas). While receiving is exciting, it is really important to give to others. It is a way to show others how much you care about them and that you are thinking about them. It warms my heart to see my girls learning to share and give back to others, especially the people who make our lives special throughout the year. 

Part of being a KinderMom we get a chance to taste some great Kinder treats.  This week we received another surprise in the mail ( although it is still a surprise for the kids). 

(photo to come...having trouble taking the picture because I can only do it when the kids are out. I don't want to spoil the surprise for them)

I put away all but one of the treats for Christmas. As a family we shared the Kinder Mini Eggs and they were delicious. Sadly, they were so good we ate them before I could take a picture of the package and the kids enjoying them. 

You can have a chance to taste these sweet Kinder treats. To kick off the sharing the great people at KINDER Canada are giving away 7,500 coupons so you can enjoy their delicious Kinder mini eggs for FREE. The giveaway is underway RIGHT NOW for the next ten days. Every day there will be 750 coupons given away.  

These Kinder Mini Eggs are a sweet treat. They have a great hazelnut centre. While they are not nut free like the Kinder Surprise Egg, they are just as tasty. This is an exclusive for Kinder's facebook community. It is all part of the Kinder A Joy To Share program in support of Children's Miracle Network of Canada. Check out this link to participate!  

There is a way you too can share the joy this holiday season. Please take a moment to watch the Martin Family story. Share it with your friends and family to help encourage donations to the Children's Miracle Network. For every share of the video, Kinder will donate $1 to the Children’s Miracle Network, up to $5,000. 

“Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.”

Monday Morning Hangover

OK. It is not what you are thinking.

The hangover I am talking about is from a weekend running around with the kids and dealing with home stuff. It seems I spend more time running kids around town and shopping and cooking and cleaning and doing the laundry. Just talking about it I am feeling tired.

Every weekend it seems to get busier and busier. The kids have dance and playmates. The kids now have dance rehearsal for the holiday Nutcracker performance. Now add in all the extras from the Christmas season like holiday staff parties, family and friend parties, the Santa parade and other family functions.

Monday mornings when I get up with the kids for school I feel more tired than I did Saturday morning after a week of work. The start of every work week is a slow one for me. I tend to spend more time relaxing on the couch Monday mornings as a way to recover from the weekend.

This week I am going to seek out some solutions for this Monday Morning hangover. I think it is about managing the stress level.

What do you do to manage the weekend schedule with family, kids and the house? What do you do to relax after the weekend?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I Am Grateful

Having an attitude of gratitude is so important.


I feel like I am in a funk today.

 Man,  I feel like I need some reminders about how to see the bliss in everyday and to be grateful for everything that I have. It can be hard sometimes. Not because I don't have lots to be grateful because that certainly is not true. I have lots to be grateful for! Sometimes I feel a little tired, a little needy and in need of rest, relaxation and kindness. Do you ever feel that way?

Well, that is how I feel today. I am tired...tired of commuting, tired of working late, tired of being tired.


I am GRATEFUL for my job. I am grateful for the ability, talents and skills to do my job well. I am grateful for being able to make a great living. I am grateful to write!

What are you grateful for?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Flushing...again!!!

OK... so there are many things that we take for granted in our modern lives. I would like to say flushing a toilet is one of them. It is just something we do, and to be honest rarely even think about it. That is until you can't! That was us in our house recently. Halloween night to be exact. Let me explain.

So just before going to pick up my kids from school I ventured down into our basement. When I walked passed the furnace room I was met by a foul smell. A poopy smell to be honest. I knew what it was immediately. It has happened before. We had sewage backup. YUK! We live in a very old neighbourhood with many old trees and those trees have lots of little roots  and those roots often find their way to the pipes. Many of our neighbours have had to deal with this yukky problem as well.

I was initially irritated and then I remembered something. Many months ago I made one of the best decisions and signed up for a total home protection plan from Direct Energy. For about $33 a month we have a protection plan for our air conditioner, furnace and plumbing. And to be honest it was the best decision ever.

Total Home 3-in-1 Bundle

Our Plan Includes:

Parts & Labour Protection – Breakdown Coverage for your Furnace/Boiler with no annual claim limits
  • Unlimited number of service calls
  • 365/24/7 Support centre to take your calls
  • Access to 700 highly-trained, licensed technicians
  • Front-of-the-line service during peak periods
  • After-hours/weekend repairs at no extra cost to you
  • Heating Protection Plan Inclusions/Exclusions

Cooling Protection Plan

Enjoy the same level of protection for your air conditioner as for your furnace.

Our Plan Includes:

Parts & Labour Protection – breakdown coverage for your Air Conditioner
  • Unlimited number of service calls
  • 365/24/7 Support centre to take your calls
  • Access to 700 highly-trained, licensed technicians
  • Front-of-the-line service during peak periods
  • After-hours/weekend repairs at no extra cost to you
  • Cooling Protection Plan Inclusions/Exclusions

Plumbing & Drain Protection Plan

Protect your home from unexpected blocked toilets, interior drains, showers and sinks.

Our Plan Includes:

Parts AND Labour Protection – Breakdown Coverage for your Plumbing and Drains with no annual claim limits:

So I called and set up an appointment. A serviceman from Direct Energy came, snaked the pipe and pulled up some tree roots! And within an hour of arrival we were happily flushing again!  Yippee!!! The best part is that the service call cost nothing! Since we were paying for the protection plan every month the service call was part of the plan. Without the protection plan the service call would have cost us about $310.

**disclosure: I was not paid for this post. This is completely my opinion. We loved the service and the protection plan and wanted to share our good experience with a professional company that offered solid service when we needed it**

Getting Ready for Winter

The cooler temperatures are already upon us. As I write this the temperature outside is a chilly 1 degree. There were a few flurries flying around today. I am so not ready for the cold and snow. I had to dig through the basement bins just to find the kids some hats and mitts today. So with winter around the corner there are a few things that I need to do around the house to get ready.

Recently I was invited to a small gathering at the home of one of my online friends and managing editor of, Carrie Anne Badov . The event including a very knowledgeable representative, Dave Walton, from Direct Energy. 

Carrie Anne had recently had the folks at Direct Energy do a home audit checking on her homes efficiencies. We had a chance to see where some of the most common problem areas are in a house. In a recent study by Direct Energy results showed that 97% of Ontarians say home energy efficiency is a top priority however a large number of Ontarians are not taking the steps to achieve that goal.

Windows and doors are an area where home owners could be losing efficiency. It is also one the areas where homeowners can easily fix by sealing up leaks, cracks and gaps. According to the Direct Energy survey, 74 % of Ontario homeowners are locking out cold air by sealing windows and doors. Take a few minutes to check for drafts around windows and doors. Sealing up leaks and cracks are very easy using a caulking gun or spray/foam insulation.  Doors can be sealed with weather stripping and a new door sweep. The great thing is that all those solutions are easy to do and relatively inexpensive but offer big bang for your bucks.

The other thing that could help you save a little bit of money over the winter is getting a programmable thermostat. It will help you control your heating and program it when you are away from your home. According to the Direct Energy survey, 70% of Ontarians are conserving energy in the home by installing a programmable thermostat which can be set to lower temperatures at night or while you are at work. This can save up to 10 % on heating bills according to Direct Energy.

Those are just a few ways to save this winter and to help make your home more efficient.

Last fall we took a few of the steps outlined here. We have a programmable thermostat which we set to lower at night. We like our house cool for sleeping. We also took time to re-caulk our windows. There were many areas around the windows where the seal had peeled or cracked.  We could feel the difference immediately inside the house!

There are loads of tips and information on the Direct Energy website.  Check them out!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I Am Grateful

I think it is really important to focus on all the great things in life. I will also admit that I sometimes for get to do that... for myself. I sometimes get bogged down in life stuff ( ya, that's what I will call it, stuff!). So that is why I am starting a on going series of posts, a list really, let's call it a gratitude list or even better a bliss list because let's face it most of the things that I am grateful for in my life are also the things that give me bliss, that allow me to live a blissed life.

Today I am grateful for my family. All of my family. My parents who are super supportive, love and encouraging. I am grateful for my brothers and sisters ( even though they drive me crazy most of the time!). I am super grateful for my super talented and supportive husband ( even though he sometimes drives me crazy too!) and of course I am overly grateful for two beautiful, kind, loving and compassionate daughters!

What are you grateful for?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Argos and Old Navy

Before I write anything else, let's just say my husband is a HUGE football fan. So when Maria from reached out to me about tickets to a Toronto Argos game I naturally jumped at the tickets. The tickets were offered up by Old Navy Canada in conjunction with their Super Fan Nation campaign. Old Navy has some great team t-shirts, like Argos T-Shirts! (see below for the fantastic T's we were sporting to show our Argo Love!) 

This was the first Argos game for the girls... and their first taste of street meat! Can you feel the excitement?
We were early... just catching the teams warming up!

My little super fan.

This was a big game. Toronto hosting Montreal. Some great rivalry here!

The game was so exciting. It was a great chance for us to do something as a family. It was also great for my husband to share his love of football with our girls!

Thanks Maria and and thanks to Old Navy Canada. Thanks for giving these super fans a great family day together (even if the Argos lost)

Friday, October 26, 2012

I'm a Kinder Mom

You might have noticed from my previous post...I should really have started our by saying I have been selected to be a KinderMom for Kinder's 2013 Ambassador Program.


 I couldn't me more excited!

And this year Kinder has once again come out with some great new toys. 

Be sure to check out the Kinder Canada facebook page. They just gave away 10, 000 free Kinder eggs.

Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

ShesConnected 2012 Panel Presentation

I participated in a panel discussion on the weekend at ShesConnected 2012. I promised that the presentation would be posted...and so as promised .... the ShesConnected Presentation.

I want to say thanks to the lovely ladies who joined me to talk about how to write great posts! @SarahKelsey, Nadine Anglin @nsharona  and Mara Shapiro @ChickyMara I think it was a great collaboration. I also want to say thanks to Mara Shapiro aka @ChickyMara ... for being my new friend and for posting the presentation on slideshare!

There is nothing better than sharing ideas and that is what I love about conferences like ShesConnected 2012. Can't wait to share more tips, tricks and tools about writing and the media.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Escaping With Ford

 So we recently got a chance to test drive the new 2013 Ford Escape. In all fairness we a true Ford family. We currently drive two Ford vehicles, including a Ford Edge (which we love). When we saw the new re-designed Ford Escape we were so excited. We love the new body design.

We decided that we would load the Escape up with two adults, two kids, a dog and lots and lots of stuff and head to Muskoka and the cottage. We were a little worried that there wouldn't be enough room for all of us and our stuff BUT we were pleasantly surprised that we got it all in and everyone was comfortable.

 As you can see we packed the back pretty tight and there was still room to spare. There was more than enough room for the kids in the back seat. There was even room for the puppy to move around.

Ok, so who is coming to help me unpack? There was more stuff in this car than one person should be allowed to unpack!

We really like the interior of the car, including the front dash with all the bells and whistles like the nav and sirus radio! I will admit I didn't actually site in the back seat but the front seats were very comfortable. The driver seat was great, the seat almost felt molded just to me. The only concern I had was that the passenger seat just didn't have as much leg room as I had hoped, the glove box was large and got in the way a bit.