October 15, 2017

Albertans – You can have FREE Energy Efficient Products Installed in your Home!

If you’re an Albertan and you would like FREE energy-efficient products installed in your home then this post is for you! Honestly…no tricks here!

I know this sounds too good to be true but, I assure you, it’s not!

In case you haven’t heard, the Alberta Government introduced a program intended to help reduce energy consumption called, Energy Efficiency Alberta. The program is ‘no charge’ (okay, I will use those words ‘loosely’) to Albertans and it is really simple to participate in.

The first step you need to take (and do it soon because I heard this particular program may be ending soon) is to complete the Energy Efficiency Alberta online application (I am including a link to it at the end of this post). It is really simple, and quick, and you will likely complete it in less than five-minutes. Someone from Ecofitt contacts you from there.

I personally completed the online application in mid-August and I received a confirmation email right away. In early October, I got my phone call from them and the very next day I had two Ecofitt technicians at my home with supplies in hand.

Here are the things they looked at in my home along with some information on what was replaced:

  • Light Bulbs

We had 16 incandescent light bulbs replaced with LED light bulbs

  • Shower heads

They did have more efficient options than what we currently have installed, but they weren’t a great replacement option for our home so I politely declined them.

  • Faucet aerators

We had low flow faucet aerators installed in all of our bathrooms and I would never know otherwise – the water pressure is still great! The technician explained to me that this particular aerator adds air bubbles to the water stream, so you still feel good pressure. They reduce the water used on those taps by 20%!

  • Power bars

We had two power bars replaced with energy saving advanced power bars. They are a really cool alternative that can turn off certain electronics if there isn’t activity on them (so, if you fall asleep in front of your TV…presto…it doesn’t stay on, wastefully, for hours while you’re snoozing!). Cool right?

  • Thermostat

They looked at our thermostat and would have done a replacement with a smart thermostat but, alas, we already use a really great (and very smart) thermostat.

That’s it! It was super simple to apply and when the representatives came, they were quick and answered all of my questions (and trust me…I’m a question-asker!). I still can’t believe they took care of changing out all of that stuff!

I’m really glad we participated in the program and I think you should check it out too! As I promised, here is a link to the application site: Energy Efficiency Alberta online application

Hopefully we aren’t the only ones having sixteen light bulbs changed out – I felt a little embarrassed! …But, the important thing is that now, we are doing our part!

Let me know how it goes for you!

August 31, 2017

My last 30-something Birthday – How I celebrated…and the really fun gifts I received!


This summer I turned 39 years old and, I’m not going to lie, I was a little sad about it.

Actually…I was a lot sad about it.

Because we all know what the next big milestone birthday is going to be, right?


In case you’re not picking up what I’m laying down right now, here is the reminder my husband gave me in card-form:

Nice, right?

The happy news is that my friends and family really did a great job of making me feel special and I hardly even thought about the fact that it’s my last 30-something birthday (despite feeling a little anxious during the weeks that led up to the day).   I got to go out for some really nice meals, I was gifted some really fun and thoughtful gifts…and…it turned into a bit of a ‘birthday week’!  I love birthday weeks!

On the Sunday before my birthday, my girlfriend (and fellow twin-mom) Liane, invited my family over for a little impromptu birthday brunch. She also was sweet enough to include another twin family we like to chum with (Hi Ange!).

I really wish I had thought to take some photos, but I will just savour in the memories of thoroughly enjoying her Hangover Breakfast Casserole, Biscuits, and Mimosas! The cinnamon buns that Ange brought were a really nice touch, too!

I must tell you that the day was made even more special because, not only is Liane a mom of twins the same age as Gray and Miss A, she also has a teenager AND a brand new baby!!! How she worked that all out, I’ll never know.

Can we all agree that Liane is a machine??


It gets better!

The evening before my birthday (see why I’m calling this a ‘birthday week’?), my girlfriends Tara and Reshma treated me to a really nice meal at one of my favourite YYC restaurants, The Bow Valley Ranche. We drank wine…sans kids…and I ate Charcuterie.

Oh, and I didn’t even have to drive!

Thanks friends!


Here’s something only my good friends know about me.  Every year, I always secretly wish Darren will treat me to my most favourite cake in the world – Strawberry Shortcake! My mom used to make me a version of this when I was a child and it really is just my favourite.

Unfortunately, strawberry shortcake doesn’t usually make the cut.  I get it, it’s not an easy to find cake and life is super busy! Hey, I’m happy Darren even works out any cake at all!  He has never-ever forgotten my special day and usually does spoil me with fancy cupcakes and a nice dinner.

Well, this year, he outdid himself.

He decided he was going to bake the cake! Can you imagine??? A strawberry shortcake!  My favourite!  Here is an important piece of information for you:  Darren grew up in a very traditional farm family and I’m pretty sure he hasn’t spent a lot of time in the kitchen baking cakes.  He has no baking experience…at all…and I know he’s really not interested in baking.  I’m shocked that baking was on his radar!

Anyway…the bad news is…the cake didn’t turn out (sad, I know!).

Honestly though, when I saw how much effort he must have put into it…it just gave me ALL of the feels!


Here is the take II version from our local fancy cupcake shop, Cake Bake Shoppe, in one of my favourite cupcake flavours – mint chocolate:


The morning of my day was pretty relaxed, yet special.  Darren and the kids were excited for me to wake up so they could eagerly watch me open the gifts that they had thoughtfully bought, while I drank my favourite morning drink – hot coffee!

On top of this, my super thoughtful, and fairly small-framed (five-year old) little girl surprised me by making our massive king-sized bed (so I wouldn’t have to)…all by herself!  I can’t imagine how much work this was for her!

Insert more ‘really big feels’!

Of course, later in the day, I went to Starbucks to redeem my free birthday drink. Since it was ‘free’, I decided I should order the largest possible drink I could get. I’m pretty sure Darren probably saved money on taking me out for supper that night, because I was as FULL as can be from that Venti Java Chip Frappuccino!

If that wasn’t enough calories for the day, we got a sitter and Darren took me to my most favourite restaurant…ever!!!  Thai Sa-On!  I just love that place, so much!  Mmm…basil beef, curried shrimp, coconut rice, thai iced-tea…DELICOUS!!!

If you love Thai, and live in YYC, you really should make a point of visiting!  It is so flavourful and worth the drive from anywhere in the city!


The day after my birthday, I had my final birthday ‘date’. My brother, Warren, snuck away over his lunch hour and we grabbed a bite at Original Joe’s for lunch. It was special to be treated by my little brother and nice to have a one on one visit. We usually are connecting as a family group, so this was nice!


And those were my ‘birthday dates’!

In case you’re interested, here’s a little showing of most of the really fun (and thoughtful) gifts I received. I loved ALL of them, so if you happen to be shopping for a 30-something’s  birthday, these all come highly recommended!  There is one really pretty necklace I received that isn’t showing here, but you can never go wrong with jewellery! Feel free to buy ANY jewellery for your favourite 30-something without ANY hesitation!  😀

So…back to the cool gifts I was lucky enough to receive!  I was pumped when I opened up these super cool Converse Chuck Taylor Sneakers – I have been longing for a pair of these and they have been perfect for my casual ‘mom wardrobe’ all season long!  I have worn them with shorts, skirts, jeans…you name it and I know I’ll continue wearing them into fall!

A word to the wise, though…if you order these online, order a 1/2 size down because I would say they fit a little on the long side.

I have historically been a big fan of Scentsy, but a while back, our family got off of the ‘fragrance train’ (due to medical reasons). I was sad to part ways with all of my favourite cubes, but now I’m really excited to build a little collection of essential oils for my new Saje Diffuser!  Now our house can smell wonderful with great health benefits, too!  Bonus!

So, truth be told, I haven’t tried this Arbonne Rejuvinating Cream yet, since I’m saving it for when the snow flies (I’m sorry to even say that out loud!).  It’s a new-to-me product though, one I haven’t tried yet. Having said that, I’m a HUGE fan of Arbonne, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to be crazy about it (plus the friend who gifted it to me always has great recommendations!)!

Just to tell you how much I love the brand, several of my girlfriends (along with myself) became distributors JUST so we could get the discount for ourselves.  When I started using Arbonne a few years ago, more than one person commented on how my skin was looking better.  Pretty much, the rest is history!

More Arbonne delights that I hadn’t tried before!  I have been enjoying this Arbonne Liquid Sunshine all summer.  I have really sensitive lips that are prone to dryness, so I appreciated having this on-hand for our hot, hot days Glamping!

Also, since I am (ahem) ‘aging’…spf is becoming a little more ‘present’ in my beauty line up – so this is on point for me!

This next gift was definitely one of my favourites!!!

Most of my close girlfriends have heard me joke about the fact that I plan to have a sister-wife in my next lifetime!  Of course I love my husband, but…my girlfriends?  Forget about it!  They always know just when and how to step in, pick up, and help where it’s needed!

As a perfect example, my friend Lindsay and her family of four came camping this summer.  Even though there were four extra people to prep food for, cook for, and clean up after…with Lindsaey there, it turned out to be less work than minding my own family of four alone.  The table was set before dinner was done and the dishes were practically hand-dried before they were washed! #LindsayIsAlsoAMachine

Anyway, back to the awesome gift!  I feel like I’m taking a bit of a risk sharing this funny mug with you, but I’m hoping everyone will see the humour here:




If you thought it was hilarious, too, you can find the mug here on Amazon!

Speaking of mugs, these Bodum Bistro Double-Wall Mugs are the cat’s meow!  A few years ago, my brother gave me two similar sets (without handles) for Christmas and they are amazing!  They keep hot drinks hot, and cold drinks cold, yet the outside of the glass feels neutral!  A huge bonus is they present really nicely AND they don’t sweat at all!

I may, or may not, have broken a couple over the years (they are dedicate), so topping up my collection is great!

He picked these up at Crate and Barrel (or maybe he just wrapped them in a C&B box to be ‘fancy’?  Nah…just kidding, Warren!).  You can also click the link above to order them online via Amazon.

When my other brother realized that I had received a Saje Diffuser already, he offered for me to return this one that he bought.  No way!  Now I have one for my main floor and this Essential Oil Diffuser for my second floor!

My main floor has my summer ‘wake up’ type scents and I have this, second diffuser, in my ensuite with a lavender essential oil in it now – but, as you can see, I have a whole Set of Art Naturals Artisan Oils to choose from!  It’s nice not having to clean one diffuser and relocate it around the house when I’m wanting a new aroma for the house (or my mood)!

One of my good girlfriends has been raving about her FabFitFun Box Subscription for months!  It sounded awesome, but maybe like an indulgence my stay at home mom budget should do without.  Anyhow, she gifted me my own box for my birthday and I have to tell you…it was like Christmas morning opening it up!

Basically, it is a subscription box that is semi-personalized and sends you full-sized products (based on your preferences) each season.

Anyway, if you have been thinking about trying it, you probably won’t be disappointed.  Here are the goods I got in my box! I have tried at least half of the items and they were great!  I have had compliments on the water bottle and the scarf (which I wore as a swim suit cover up).

So, really…my birthday (week) was really great!  I’m still a little sad to think about the fact that the days (well, months, really) are counting down to that next BIG milestone…but in the mean time, I have some great memories (and fun stuff) to enjoy!


May 22, 2017

Hello, again, Instagram!



Here’s a funny story – Not that many weeks ago, I was on the verge of closing my Instagram account. I literally had a conversation with my BFF telling her that I have been thinking about shutting it down for a while.

The problem was that I just hadn’t been active on it for several years and thought I would focus on my social media faves…Facebook and Pinterest.

Fast forward to one-week later…I was at a dinner-party at my cousin, Meagan’s, house. I asked her opinion on what she thought I could do to improve this little blog of mine (she is my ‘go-to’ for all things social-media. She deals with it on a daily basis and she was actually the person who encouraged me to start Refined Imperfection).

Guess what she told me?

You got it – “Get on Instagram”.

See how in active I was on it? She didn’t even think I had it! Sheesh!

And so…here I am. Telling you that I am re-connecting with my Instagram and giving it some life. Now that I have spent some time getting re-acquainted with it…I kind of like it!

So, the moral of the story is that you can now follow me on Instagram and actually see what’s happening in my life these days…@RefinedImperfection

I really hope to see you there!

April 25, 2017

My Favourite YYC Used Kids’ Clothing, Toys and Gear Sale (plus tips for successful shopping!)

Living and raising a family in Calgary is expensive…especially if you have kids. Most of the parents I know are conscious about wanting to save money – and that’s why I want to tell you about my favourite used kid’s clothing, toys, and equipment sale here in the city.

Some of you may have heard me talk about my favourite local organization, TTMAC (the Twins, Triplets, and More Association of Calgary) before.  If not, you can check it out here. Not only are they a wonderful organizing supporting YYC families with mulitples, they also put on a really great consignment sale twice a year which is open to the general public.

Now, if you don’t have twins, triplets, etc., please don’t feel like this sale isn’t for you. Most items for sale there are not sold in pairs (although some are and that is super for those looking for coordinating outfits, toys, etc).

Here is what I love about the sale:


It is extremely well organized

Everything is sorted in the room based on category…clothes are organized by size, toys are all together, strollers are all together, bikes are all together, etc.

Everything in season

The timing is perfect for trying to update everyone’s spring/summer or fall/winter wardrobe in new sizes (depending on which sale you are attending).  Typically there is a sale in the spring and one, again, in the fall.

The variety is awesome!

This sale isn’t specific to just ‘clothes’ or ‘toys’.  Some of the items you will find here include: toys, strollers, high chairs, clothes sized newborn to size 12, gymnastics and dancewear, shoes, equipment, baby gear, bikes, books, and even maternity-wear.

Photo credits: Twins, Triplets, and More Association of Calgary

Coordinating items are available for those with multiples

This is awesome for those parents of twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc. who might like to coordinate their littles.  Where else can you easily find gently-loved items that match??

The organizer, and the sellers, are near and dear to my heart

TTMAC has been a great resource that I have been supported by since I was pregnant with Gray and Miss A.  I’m always really happy when I can try to ‘give back’.  The sale is run by TTMAC volunteers to sell consigned items from members.


Tips for Successfully Shopping the TTMAC Sale


Okay – so let’s talk strategy here! Before I attended my first sale, I got some good tips from other fellow parents. I have since added to this list and here it is:

Arrive as close to opening as possible

Of course the early bird gets the worm. If you want the best selection, you definitely should consider starting your shop early, when the sale begins.  If you do arrive early, you should expect a short line up.

Take advantage of special early access shopping privileges

If you are a TTMAC member, you can usually gain early access to shop ahead of the general public. If you are not a TTMAC member, make friends with someone who is and ask them if you can be their ‘token guest’.

Bring cash

Cash the only form of payment they accept…unless you are a TTMAC member, in which case, you can also pay by cheque if you present your membership card (if you have misplaced your membership card, you can email TTMAC to arrange to have a new one picked up right at the sale).

Bring bags

This is a BYOB situation (bring your own bag). You might be more comfortable shopping if you have a large-type bag that you can carry over your shoulder…I would pack something over-sized myself.

Consider leaving your strollers and children at home

Why? Well…you know. And if you don’t know…trust me, you don’t want to.

If you think you might be shopping for larger items, bring an ally (non-shopping partner)

One year I brought my girlfriend and she found a great sandbox she wanted to buy, but she was worried to leave it alone to keep shopping. If you think this could happen to you, you may want to bring a spouse or buddy that you can leave your items with to keep an eye on.

Once you arrive…if you are considering an item, throw in your bag and keep shopping

If you are anything like me, you might get indecisive about purchases. That’s fine…but don’t waste time standing around thinking about it – you have valuable goods to get your hands on! Toss anything you are considering into your bag and keep going. Once you have been through the sale, review all of your items and then put back what you have decided against. But listen…don’t be that person who dumps it where it doesn’t belong.  If you can’t get it to where it should go, find a volunteer to give it to and just let them know you changed your mind (they are usually well-marked by the shirts they are wearing).

Enjoy your goods and revel in your savings!

That’s it! I won’t post the details of this year’s sale in this blog post since it can change from year to year…but you can always get current information (map, floor plan, etc) from the TTMAC Sales page.

Happy shopping!

This haul was from my first TTMAC sale in 2014 – I bought all of these goods for a grand total of $37.50!

April 4, 2017

Conversations with the Twins: My Body, Conception and Delivery

Now that the twins are five years old, they are more curious than ever. They are forever asking us in-depth questions about ‘ANYTHING’ and ‘EVERYTHING’.

Lately, I have been fielding a tonne of questions from them about my body, their conception, delivery and even about death. It has been a confusing, funny, and scary journey trying to navigate what information is age appropriate for them yet will still satisfy their curiosity.

Here is a recent question I got from Miss A:

Miss A: “Mommy, did I hatch out of an egg in your tummy?”

Me: “Ummm….can we talk about this later?”

Miss A: “Okay.”

Insert panic! Wow. I was not really prepared for that and I was totally unsure about how to answer it. So, I didn’t. I basically just put it off hoping she would forget about it.

Of course, she did not.

When she asked me again, a few days later, I told her I would like to talk about it in a few days after a special book arrived that would help me explain it. She agreed this would be okay and I hurriedly ordered a book that a psychologist at the Calgary Regional Fertility Program had recommended to us at one of our appointments. I remember she had suggested that when time came, we should be honest with the twins about their conception to avoid mis-trust in the future. So, I hopped online and ordered up her recommendation, a book called, ‘I loVe my Family‘.  See the ‘IVF’ in there?  This is a book about assisted conception for young children.

The book arrived and we read it…it very ‘lightly’ touched on the subject but I think it was still a bit confusing for the kids. Well, obviously Miss A was still confused because a couple of days after that…

Miss A: “Mommy, I know I hatched out of an egg in your tummy, but you didn’t tell me how I got out.”


Okay, so now there were two problems. First of all, she thinks she hatched out of an egg in my tummy. Second of all, she wants to know how she got out.

Why me??  I’m not ready for this!

But wait, it got better…

Miss A: “…Oh! I know! I must have come out of your mouth!”

Pretty much I was totally dying at this point. Panicked, confused, my heart was literally racing. …but, I just couldn’t let it continue so, I semi-blurted out to her, “You came out of my vagina!”.

(Insert a very long pause)

Miss A: “Did I come out of your bum?”

Me: “No, you did not come out of my bum. You came out of my vagina.”

Miss A: “Oh.” (insert another long pause) “I would like to see that sometime.”

…and thank the heavens above, the conversation ended there.  For now.

Now Gray, on the other hand, has been very curious about my body.

Right or wrong, I set the kids up with something to play with in the bathroom with me when I’m having a shower, so they do still see me getting ready for my day. Is five-years-old too old for that? I feel like we are on the cusp of needing to be more mindful of not being clothes-less in front of our opposite gendered kids…but I still feel like they should be supervised while I’m in the shower so, you can see the dilemma.

The other day I had just gotten out of the shower…

Gray: “Mommy, why do you have lines on your bum?”

Me: “Because my bum grew to fast at one time.”

Gray: “Is that what happened to your tummy, too?”

Me: “Yes.”

Gray: “Is that what happened to your breast?”

Me: (chuckling) “No, that definitely didn’t happen to my breast.”

Gray: (reaches up and ‘pokes’ my breast with one finger) “Then why is it falling down?”


…And there you have it! I’m not saying that these are the ‘right’ conversations; they are just the ‘real’ conversations.

If you happen to have come across a book you think would be perfect for us, please let me know! I’m obviously in need of some help here!

February 12, 2017

Birthday Party Loot Bags – It’s Okay to Say ‘No’!

Can we talk about birthday party loot bags for a moment? I really want to know if you ‘love them’ or ‘hate them’? Do you think it’s ‘taboo’ not to give them out?

The twins have a birthday party coming up and, to be honest, I’m not going to be providing loot bags this year. I’m kinda feeling guilty about it…but isn’t that kind of ridiculous?

The truth is that, since I went back to work (if you missed the post about this, you can find it here), I hardly have time to get out birthday party invitations in a timely fashion – let alone organizing appropriate, affordable, thoughtful loot bags. For me, affordable and thoughtful are the key points…if you have 10 kids and spend $5, or more, each…that’s $50! $50, people!!! If you are spending that kind of money on loot bags, you want them to be appreciated and enjoyed, right?

I remember one of the first years I did loot bags, I was discussing them with my friend Kim. She challenged me and asked me why I was doing them – was it to ‘keep up with the Jones’’? It was a different perspective…it made me think about the purpose of why we do give out goody bags.

Was it about keeping up with the Jones’? Honestly, the truth was that it wasn’t about that at all. I didn’t feel like I ‘had’ to provide them to ‘keep up’…I think it was really more of a cultural thing. The same way we eat cake at a birthday…there is often a loot bag given out. It felt a little more like tradition. I do remember being so excited to receive them at birthday parties when I was a child; it was fun to create the same kind of experience for the twins’ little friends!

But, here is the thing. This year, after planning an ‘off-site’ birthday party, extending invitations, and organizing the other food and details, I just don’t feel like I have the time or energy to do any more this year. On top of that, we have already spent a great deal of money on this party since it is off-site and since we have the twins (which makes our guest list a little longer). Shouldn’t that be enough?

On top of this, if I’m being totally honest, I have heard various parents comment on what is an acceptable loot bag standard and I feel like this does complicate how I approach planning loot bags. I mean, now I’m trying to find something perfect…for a reasonable price…for 14 kids…but not include what I have heard to be unacceptable loot-bag fare. Gah. In case you don’t know, here is a list of potentially unacceptable items:

…Dollar store ‘trinkets’ that break easily.

…Treats that other kids might not be permitted to eat.

…Items you may find age-appropriate but another parent doesn’t

So, now take that list and try to find something everyone will enjoy. Sounds so fun, right?

(Insert my head shaking ‘no’ here.

Isn’t a loot bag a gift? Should we really have to be so conflicted about what kind of items we ‘gift’ out?

Here is another point to consider…on the heels of talking about the fact that a loot bag is a ‘gift’…is it ‘necessary’ to be gifting children for coming to a birthday party in the first place? I mean, really…please come to our party where we have entertained you, fed you cake (and maybe snacks) and now let me give you a present for coming. Are we setting the right expectation for our kids by providing these every single year?

One thing that is really important to me as a parent is to raise my kids to be gracious and thoughtful and to not act or feel entitled. A part of me worries that my kids are going to expect that they need to receive a loot bag every time they go to a birthday party. I remember a friend of mind telling me a story about how, as a single parent, she put on a birthday party for her son. At the end of the party, a child basically chastised her since she hadn’t offered him a take-away. What??? Kind of horrible, right?

So…I’m not saying that I won’t ever do loot bags again but I do just want to say that, once in a while, we should just give them a break. I think that should be okay.

To my mom and dad friends who take the time and effort to send these home with my child…they are definitely appreciated! …BUT…I want you to know that having my child (or children for that matter) to your party is also ‘enough’.

In my opinion, it is totally okay to say ‘no’ to the loot bag. This year, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

#SayNoToTheLootBag     #NoBirthdayLoot     #NoLootForYou

November 27, 2016

What to do with the Arts, Crafts and Colouring that your Kids Create


I’m sure many parents can relate to the ‘problem’ of having a major surplus of arts, crafts, and colouring pages around the house. Especially if you have kids in school or children who especially love to craft and colour!

In our house, the twins bring home a minimum of four crafts from preschool per week, but sometimes it’s more. They are usually really well-done, and totally display-worthy pieces, but because we have the twins we happen to have double…and on top of that, Miss A is usually crafting and colouring at home almost daily.

We have A LOT of children’s ‘art’ to display!

Don’t get me wrong, it really is wonderful when our children ‘create’ but, honestly, what is a parent to do with all of it?

After 2-years of my husband and I ‘thinking’ and ‘talking’ about creating an Art/Gallery Wall, we finally got one together – hooray! This is a major accomplishment for us since:

  1. I don’t have a creative bone in my body (true story…I don’t even have ‘one’).
  2. Darren literally hates hanging pictures. I know ‘hate’ is a strong word, but it’s the truth.  He is not an overly detailed person and the thought of putting holes in walls seems to give him some sort of ‘picture-hanging-anxiety’.

So, because of those reasons, there is often procrastination in our house around stuff like this…but…somehow…we did work it out!  And here’s how…

I started by searching the wonderful World Wide Web to get ideas. Of course, this led to me creating a Pinterest Board for my Art Wall Inspiration.

After I had an idea of what my vision was I started picking up miscellaneous picture frames, here and there, that would fit some of my favourite drawings and pictures that the kids had done.

My favourites included little creations such as:

  • The first time the twins created finger-paint pictures
  • A little drawing that Miss A put together while writing her name for the first time
  • Some cute, little ‘handprint’ art pictures the kids did at their day home (thanks Ange!)
  • A drawing of our family, by Miss A – the first time one a picture had been done by either of the kids (this fine piece of art is on the reverse-side of a restaurant paper place mat)

Once I had collected those, I ordered a couple of Westcott clipboards from Amazon.ca.

I actually order loads of stuff from Amazon simply because:

  1. I am always able to get free shipping since they often offer it when you spend a relatively low minimum.
  2. Their prices are in Canadian dollars.
  3. I can do it while the twins are napping.
  4. I can do it while drinking coffee.

The actual clipboards that you see in the art wall photo, in the beginning of this blog post, are these ones.  

They were only a few dollars each and I did get the free shipping since I also had some other stuff that I ‘needed’:

  1. A book called, ‘On Becoming Preschool Wise’ by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam – from my all time favourite series of parenting books
  2. Printer Ink

In a stroke of luck, my very creative and design-savy friend, Helen, suggested I also use a couple of small floating shelves that I had received from my girlfriend, Kim, when she was cleaning out and renovating her basement.

So smart, right??

So, Darren and I planned it out and put it up on a central hallway wall on our main floor and we LOVE it!!! It makes our home feel way more ‘homey’ and now I don’t have ‘art’ taped all over my fridge – because that’s sometimes what you have to do when you have a stainless steel fridge and magnets just don’t work on it.

(As a side note, I have discovered a great alternative to tape for stainless steel fridges – you will use these up fast on your fridge, cupboards, doors and walls so you may still revert to tape, but check out these amazing Scotch Re-usable Tabs – they are 2-sided, removable, re-usable, and they are truly my favourite!!)

The clipboards add a little bit of interest and make it super easy to switch out paper crafts and the shelves house all of their 3-D crafts and lego creations. It’s perfect because now these items are nicely displayed and aren’t taking over my counter tops and mantle!


Of course, there is still a bit of an excess of stuff being produced here, so I rotate the art and colouring often and I keep a large 11”x14” sketch pad for each child. I picked a couple of these up from our local Dollar Store for literally $2/each.  Once their time is done on the gallery wall, I mount them in the sketch books and they will be saved in their keepsake boxes once they are full.


A few items here and there might get sent to grandma and grandpa, but even they have commented about how much ‘art’ there is.  So, alas, the rest gets ‘filed away’ in the bottom of the recycling bin.

Don’t tell the kids!

PS If you are interested in saving either of these ideas to your own Pinterest board, there is a handy-Pinterest social media button just below this post!   Hopefully you’re better at tackling this stuff than we are.

October 31, 2016

Simple Savoury Roasted Pumpkin Seed Recipe


This is definitely not a food blog. However, it ‘IS’ a mommy blog and that means I need fast and simple tricks that make my life easier but still present nicely (because who has time for ‘fuss’ anymore?). So, here we are.

Every year I roast the pumpkin seeds out of our carved pumpkins but I had never found quite the perfect recipe. Last year I even split my seeds and tried two different recipes…a sweet one and a savoury one. They were ‘okay’ but not good enough for me to even bother pinning…the search continued.

Last night, after jumping on the AllRecipes.com website, I found one that was rated high and sounded good. After reading some of the comments, I decided how I would modify it and I gave it go.

They turned out great!

As a bonus, I somehow found a crowd-pleaser that hit every palette in our household: Whoot! This is a total win for our family…no rejection? Impossible, right?

So, these aren’t gourmet, but you likely have all of the ingredients on-hand and they are very easy to make. As I mentioned, the fact that our whole family enjoyed them, means the recipe is worthy of remembering and keeping – you can bet they will be catalogued on my Pinterest board of ‘Recipes – Tried and True’!


Simple Savoury Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups raw, whole (cleaned) pumpkin seeds 

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon garlic powder

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C)
  2. Combine all of the ingredients, except the pumpkin seeds, in a bowl
  3. Add pumpkin seeds and stir
  4. Place on a parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet
  5. Bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally


That’s it!

If you want to save this for later, there is a handy-dandy Pinterest social media icon conveniently placed at the end of this post.

In case you’re also interested in the original recipe, I should give credit where credit is due…voila…Spiced Pumpkin Seeds.

If you happen to make these with a modification you feel improves the recipe, I would love to hear from you!

September 21, 2016

Superstore’s Click and Collect – My Review and Helpful Tips

onlineshoppingPhoto Credit: William Iven

Online Grocery Shopping? Yes please!!!

Because, let’s face it – grocery shopping with kids is never (EVER) a good time.

Call me lazy, but the thought of taking my duo to any grocery store (even if they have 2 child seats to accommodate the twins) almost makes me break into a sweat. The fighting, the poking, the grabbing, and the cookie requests…it’s all too much for me to take sometimes!

But alas! There are other options available in YYC!

Superstore recently introduced their ‘Click & Collect’ program here in Calgary (amongst other places) and I had to try it out! I think it is just the service I have been waiting for.

Here is how it works

  1. You place an order for your groceries online.
  2. You pick them up, at a prescheduled day and time, from a participating Superstore location.

Sounds good, right?

What I love about the Click & Collect experience


  1. I can order online.

This is so convenient! I actually added my order, while I was still in my pyjamas and the kids were playing.

  1. I can pick up over a 2-hour time period.

If I’m running around tackling errands and not wanting to commit to a specific pick up time (or even if I’m running late) it’s okay!

  1. I don’t have to leave my car when I pick my groceries up since they are delivered straight to my vehicle.

I don’t care what anyone says, it can be a bit of a hassle unbuckling the kids and lugging them into the store – especially if the parking spots are tight, the weather is bad, or the kids are sleeping (or grumpy, tired, hyper, awake, or basically alive.).

  1. I can still pay by debit or cash at pick up.

A credit card is used to secure the order at placement, but the payment method can be changed at pick up…if you do switch to another form of payment at pick up, know that your pre-authorization charge may sit on your credit card for several days.

  1. I can still bring my bins and bags and not have to purchase plastic.

The staff member brings your groceries out in large bins (on a cart) and you transfer them into your vehicle – my girl even helped me move everything over into my green bins! She was even mindful about how she placed the items.

  1. I actually found price-comparing items easier!

Prices are listed on a ‘per 100grams’ or ‘per unit’–type basis along with the price. I quite liked this feature and really did find it simpler to price-compare.

  1. I still collect my PC Plus points.

You can link your account during check out – the website also says you collect PC Points at pick up.

  1. The $3 fee is so reasonable!

This seems like a good place to also note they currently have a $30 shopping minimum to use the service.

  1. The ‘My Shop’ feature

This is a category that lists your often-purchased items which makes it quick to select your favourites! After only 1 shop, I can even see my often-purchased items that I have bought outside of my one Click & Collect experience (this must be based on them tracking through my PC Plus Card). Regardless, it’s convenient!

My tips for using Superstore’s Click & Collect Program:


1. Make sure your desired pick up day and time is available before you begin.

When you first visit the Superstore website, select your location first followed by selecting your timeslot. Doing this will let you know right away if the day and time you want to pick up is available.

A friend of mine told me her lead-time was 5 hours or so, so I started an order in the morning thinking I would pick it up after the kids got out of preschool.   Well, my friend obviously shopped at a slower time than me because once I finished entering all of my groceries, I discovered I couldn’t pick up at my preferred location for 2-days. I ended up having to travel to a further location to get the day/time I wanted. Lesson learned!

2. Use the ‘search’ function.

I found it much easier and faster to use the search function rather than browsing by category – this is probably because I was shopping off of a pre-planned menu list. If you do like ‘browsing’, you are able to browse by category or brand.

3. Leave your shopper very specific notes.

When you check out, some editable notes will auto populate beside certain items like produce, milk, etc. They will indicate to the shopper, what I’m assuming are, qualities most people look for in those items (‘select latest expiry possible’, ‘no mould or running juices’, etc.). You should read these and edit them to be as very specific as you can – the more specific, the better.

4. Review your substitution preferences.

After you have added all of your groceries to your cart, view your grocery list. Make sure to select the ‘Substitution Preference’ if you would like the shopper to select a substitution in the event your particular item isn’t available (there is a button beside each and every grocery item, you just swipe it ‘on’ or ‘off’).

**NOTE: if you are purchasing any organic items, and you select that you are okay to receive substitutions, they will not substitute for you if they can’t find another organic item…so…you will need to mention in your check out notes if a non-organic substitution is okay.

5. Review your order once it has been filled.

You will receive an email notification once your order has been filled (mine came about an hour before my pick up start time). You should review it because it will show if there are any items that are out of stock or unavailable.

In my case, there was an item the shopper just missed finding and also some organic items they couldn’t find organic substitutions for – this was easily resolved by me calling the store right away. My items and satisfactory substitutions were found (on time even) for any items I needed.

6. Give yourself a little bit of time for pick up.

I arrived to the Click & Collect parking spot at 3:00pm and called as soon as I arrived. My groceries were loaded and I started driving away at 3:14pm…so it was relatively quick but not instant. Because this was my first time using the service, I can’t say what an average wait time might be, but this is what it was on a Monday afternoon.

7. Double check your order once you get it home.

It turned out I was missing a few items – 3 bags of coffee and 1 loaf of bread. If these were major ingredients I needed for a specific recipe, I might have been irked but I was just stocking up on my favourite coffee while it was on sale and I did get one loaf of bread…so it was a non-issue for me. I do think that human error is going to happen occasionally based on the volume of groceries they are dealing with and I’m okay with that in order to have the convenience.

In Summary


There were a couple of little glitchy things that came up on my first order as I learned the system but overall I really appreciate having this program (especially for the price!). I will for sure use it again! Here is a link to the Superstore Click & Collect FAQs in case you want to browse around there.

I did receive an email the same day, from Superstore, looking for feedback. I think it’s great they are obviously looking to improve the program. I’m sure it will only get better!


September 3, 2016

Journaling their Special Moments



I am a very sentimental person and I love preserving memories! I always have.

I photograph often, I keep special items (even if they are in a box in my basement), and I did buy and (mostly) fill out baby books for the twins. I’m just that kind of a person.

But, as the twins moved away from their first year, there were so many moments that brought us joy and I didn’t want to forget them. So, I decided to buy them each journals. I just found some nice, good quality ones that I thought would stand the test of time from our local Chapters/Indigo bookstore. In them, I record anything at all that I don’t want to forget or that I think the kids will enjoy learning about themselves later.

Here are some examples of things that I have recorded for them:

  • The first time the twins gave each other a kiss
  • The funny ways they used to put sentences together and the sweet ways they said certain words (for example, Miss A used to call Gray ‘Gay-Gay’)
  • The day they scored their first soccer goal in Timbits Soccer
  • That time I found Gray plunging his own face with a plunger (Yes, that happened…for real!)
  • The time Miss A put her own self in a time out after doing something naughty

I also staple in small paper memories that don’t take up much room in their journals. Little things like my favourite day home reports that we received or Gray’s gymnastics report card where he was praised for having such good listening and being a role model for classmates. Pretty much anything that makes us smile!

I know being a parent is extremely busy and little things like this can get lost in the shuffle. The one thing that really helps me stay on top of keeping the journals current is simply keeping them on my bedside table, along with a pen, so I can add a few quick notes before bed. I also store little notes in my phone if something comes up while we are away from the house that I want to remember – those get added at bedtime also.

After sharing that I do this with one of my friends, another mom of twins, I could tell she really liked the idea. So, we actually gifted her twins with their own journals on their birthday, so they could have their own collection of memories started. I know that at 5-years old they might have not put that at the top of their ‘favourite gifts’ list, but hopefully down the road they will be happy to have those keepsakes.

I know their mama will anyway!