Monday, 29 December 2014

9 Tips to Save Money and Curb Impulse Shopping



I just got my credit card bill. Le eigh. You know that saying "shopping is my cardio"? Can online shopping be cardio? Well, that's my weakness. But I'm resolving to save a little more, so that means spending less. Here are the tips I'm going to try and follow to help grow our savings and pay for an upcoming trip.

1. Unsubscribe from retailer emails and unlike their FB and Instagram pages. Bye bye J. Crew. Au revoir Anthro. No more will I allow you to assault my Facebook news feed with free advertising because once upon a time I clicked 'like'. And my inbox? It already feels lighter. I picked my favourite (Chapters Indigo), and that one got to stay. But otherwise outta sight, outta mind.

2. Tell a friend about the item. This trick I do often with my friends or on the blog. Sometimes I find something that I think is so great, but I probably don't really need it, so I feel better when I tell others about it.

3. Don't buy for "sometime." I often find gifts and think, "Oh this would be a great baby shower gift, or this would be a great gift for so and so." But the problem is, I just end up buy more things and don't always gift them when I thought I would. My new mantra is this - If it's not something I need right now, or I don't know exactly when and for whom I need a gift, I won't buy it.

4. Use up what you have.  Stationery, food, cosmetics. These are all things that I have multiples of at home. I resolve to use up the things I have at home before I buy anymore. Seriously, there is almost half a cow in my freezer.

5. Brown bag it. I'm usually pretty good about bringing my own lunch, mostly because at work I really don't often have time to run out and grab something. But, I can be better at making Rob's lunch for him, so that he buys it less often. At least that's what I tell myself. Rob tells me that whenever I make him lunch, he eats it at 9:30am and then still gets "second lunch". Ugh. So maybe this one doesn't really work.....

6. Use the library. Buying a Kobo has got to be one of the best investments I've ever made. Ebooks are usually only slightly less expensive when buying a hard copy, but I can download books from the Toronto Public Library right onto my Kobo for free. Free books. On my Kobo. Plus the waitlists for ebooks are often shorter at the library. I also don't have to go pickup or return my books because they just disappear off my Kobo when my lending period is over.

7.  Make a universal wish list. I have a Pinterest board that serves a bit as a running wish list. I can pin things here that I'm coveting and come back when I'm ready to make a purchase or forward the list to my husband when he's asking for gift ideas.

8. 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Purchase.  Check out this article. The idea is to ask yourself, how will you feel about this purchase in 10 minutes? in 10 months? in 10 years? Focus on short and long-term profit/loss. I've been trying to use this one more and more lately. In 10 months I'll likely be annoyed that I spent X number of dollars on another sweater, but I'll probably be ok with splurging for a glass of wine when I'm out for dinner and a movie with a friend.

 9. Sell your stuff. I'm a purger. I'm constantly going through our house and getting rid of stuff we never use. Sometimes I just give things away, mostly stuff like books and such, to friends. Other times I'll send a big pile of stuff off for donation. But if something is still in great shape, I find local buy and sell groups on Facebook and sell items there. I belong to a couple, and it's a super easy way to make a few extra dollars if you've got extra stuff around the house.

Bonus tip! Scope out where kids can eat for free.  When you're out for dinner with your family, try finding a restaurant where kids eat free, usually with the purchase of an adult entree. Here's a list of 9 family-friendly restaurants where kids eat free.

So those are my money-saving tips. Do you have any to add? I'm sure we'd all love to read them too!
xo
Jenn

Friday, 26 December 2014

10 Most Popular Posts of 2014

I hope everyone had a great week! I've been planning lots of fun things for the blog for 2015 and while I do that, I've rounded up the 10 most popular posts from this year. Thank you so much for continuing to read my little blog. Whether you're a quiet follower or someone who enjoys sharing in the comments, I sincerely appreciate all of your love and support.

Here we go!

xo
Jenn

10. Toronto Urban Strolls for Girlfriends


9. Planning a First Birthday Party


8. Books I've been reading lately


7. Instagram vs. Real Life


6. Why I Pulled My Son Out of Montessori



5. Non-Cheesy Anniversary Gift Ideas for the First Five Years


4. Where to Buy Maternity Clothes Online (Canadian Edition)


3. The Master List of What to Buy for Baby


2. Chemo Angels


1. Breastfeeding, Bottle-feeding, and Balance



Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Days Are Long, But The Years Are Short

It's been one of those weeks where I feel like 90% of my time with Sebastian has been spent arguing with him about sleeping, eating, the iPad, or the potty. Not how I wanted to start the holidays. Like I read here, I can't tell if it's killing me or making me stronger.

Then, as I was cleaning out my emails, I came across this post called Thank You for Your Childhood. Written by the good people over at Growing Child, the main idea in the post is how we can be grateful for our children's childhoods. How are our lives enriched? What ridiculously fun things do we get to do all over again? Even Taylor Swift is onside with the lyric, "Wasn't it beautiful when you believed in everything?" So, given that I'm feeling a bit frustrated with the recent onset of the terrible twos, I thought it would be a good time to make my own list of why I'm grateful to Sebastian for his childhood. It's not exhaustive or anything, but it's what's on my mind right now....

* For the moments in the quiet (past, present and future) where you are asleep on me. I love this.
* For your belly laughs and smiles.
* For being able to reread all of my favourite childhood books
* And being able play again with my favourite childhood toys.
* For being the reason to make sure we all eat a little bit healthier.
* For how excited you get when you finish something you've been working on.
* For how hard you love your favourite books or games or people. (But not the iPad. I'd really rather you didn't love the iPad so much.)
* For being able to visit fun children's places again like the zoo, farms, the aquarium, the Santa Train, etc etc etc and the bonus of seeing it all through your eyes.
* For being the inspiration behind learning about blogging.
* For your unsolicited but delicious hugs and kisses.

xo
J

(image via Pinterest)

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Pennie Post Stationery Subscription Review

A few months ago, I won a subscription to Pennie Post. My friends and family know I love beautiful stationery (exhibit A, exhibit B, exhibit C), so I was so super excited to win this prize. Basically you sign up and then will receive a minimum of 3 beautiful cards and envelopes each month in the mail.

"Everyone loves receiving cards in the mail. Thank you notes, birthday cards or even notes just to say, "hello". Even in an age with emails and text messages, nothing can replace a physical, handwritten card. Nobody enjoys the last minute scramble at the drugstore to find the perfect, personalized card for your friends or loved ones. Pennie Post subscribers will receive three new stationery items each month so all that's left is your thoughtful message. "

Cost/month: $11 for US orders, $13.50 for International orders (includes shipping)

Below are some photos of the really beautiful and creative cards I received. I have already started using them with friends. The collections each month are thoughtfully put together and come with a small page describing how they are connected as a theme.


September Pennie Post Collection


October Pennie Post Collection

November Pennie Post Collection

December Pennie Post Collection
So, if you need a last-minute gift idea, Pennie Post would make a really fun present. I think the value is quite reasonable for luxury, handmade cards on quality paper. It's really fun to receive the cards and see what goodies arrived in the mail, and then it's even more fun to actually use them!

xo
J

All photos courtesy of Pennie Post on Facebook. I did take a few of my own pictures but, if you remember last month, my phone was recently stolen....

Monday, 15 December 2014

Best Toys for 1-2 Year Olds

A little while ago I posted about perfect books for 1-2 year olds, so next up are toys! If you're shopping for a toddler, here are the toys that got played with the most in our house (well...apart from the iPad that is) over the past year and a half or so.


1.  Shape Sorter 2. & 3. Plush Buzz and Woody
4.  Window Gel Clings  5. Play kitchen  6. My Own Leaptop (read about how we play with the Leaptop here)
 7.  Melissa & Doug Chunky Puzzles (OMG puzzles. These puzzles. S was/still is obsessed!) 
8.  Foam puzzles tiles (Make a big box, make little boxes, make a box and put things in it and shake it around, lay them all out in a line on the floor and walk on them, count the numbers, repeat a thousand times).


The I Spy Blanket


I first talked about just how cool this blanket is here, but I really feel it's worth mentioning again. Fun toddler blankets are always cute, but this one really is a toy and a blanket in one. He's enjoyed it ever since he could recognize any of the animals or characters. Even more now because he LOVES any book or game that involves "finding" something you tell him.

Similar I Spy Blanket
Similar I Spy Blanket (less expensive)


Block sets are also a ton of fun. Stay tuned for a post in the new year highlighting some the coolest block sets out there.

xo
J

Related:
Best Toys for Babies
Best Books for Babies

Monday, 8 December 2014

Stocking Stuffers for Babies and Toddlers (Guest Post)

Welcome to the blog my friend Sara! She's a former blogger herself, and was delighted to put together a guest post for us this week. Enjoy!!


There are plenty of amazing stocking stuffer blog posts out there­. Believe me; I've scoured them. This post is different because I'm going to let you know what I actually bought here in Canada for my son Felix who will be 3 1/2 years old, and my daughter Madeleine who will be just shy of 6 months. I've tried to include prices as much as possible. Most of the items are gender neutral (in my opinion) or you could easily swap out a different theme/character in the same item.

In our family, stocking stuffers are from Mom and Dad, not Santa, ­and I include the cost of the stocking stuffers in our overall Christmas gift “budget”. At this point I don't have a set dollar amount of how much we'll spend on the kids­, but I like to keep track. With our newest addition to the family, I decided we needed new sotckings. I brought home 4 different (but “matching”) stockings and let Felix pick out who gets which one­. He picked the snowman for himself, the reindeer for Madeleine, Santa for Dave (my husbnad), and I got the owl (Dave and I actually both wanted this one and we also both thought Felix would pick this one for himself). I'll also add that my husband and I do not exchange gifts with each other so we save some $$$ that way.




For Felix (3 1/2 year old boy)

1. Make your own power balls kit -  I purchased at Target $3.00. Basically make your own bouncy balls. ­Felix is obssessed with bouncy balls and has been really into crafting lately so this should be a big hit!

2. Mr. Potato Head as Optimus Prime Mixable, Mashable Heroes - from Target.

3. I Spy Little Christmas - I purchased this at Winners for $5.99. (Jenn's note - OMG Sara... I Spy Little books are THE BEST!)

4. Road washi tape from Willow Washi -  $2.80 This is a Canadian site that I regularly purchase washi tape from. The road tape has been a huge hit with Felix for over a year and a half. I almsot always have a roll in the diaper bag­or my purse­ along with a toy car or two!

5. Jingle bell rattle­ - From Target for $1.

6. Crayola Toothbrush - ­Superstore Felix loves the light up timer on his current toothbrush but it's almost time for a new one!

7. Toy Story Band­aids - From Target

8. Froggy shower pouf – From Target. Felix saw some smaller shower poufs at a store the other day and decided that since they were smaller than the one I have, they MUST be for kids! I hope he likes this character one.

9. Sesame Street Fizzy Tub Colours - From Target­. We've never tried anything like this before but I know Felix will love it­I just hope they clean up easily! (Jenn's note - They sure do! We've had them before, and more are coming in Seb's stocking as well.)

10. Snowman Gel Clings – Target $1 WE LOVE GEL CLINGS!!! Whenever they appear in the target “one spot” I grab a whole bunch. I think I actually bought 10 sets this time around: snowflakes, lights, santa, pengiuns, and this snowman. We'll play with the others throughout Decemer, but this one will be in his stocking.

11. Play­Doh Makeables - ­ Winners $3.99. I almost fell over when I saw these. Felix has been VERY into play doh lately ­we have a bunch of different sets­, one of which is a kitchen with recipe cards. He LOVES following the “constructions” (he means instructions) to make “supper”, so I think he'll love that these sets also have picture instructions (I mean constructions!) to make a few different sea creatures (which he is obsessed with­, thank you Octonauts). The set includes all the colours you need too which is always a bonus!

 

For Madeleine (6 month girl)

1. Flower wall decals – Target on sale for $3.50, regular around $20? I purchased some awesome wall decals for Felix's bedroom last year from Wall Dressed Up on Etsy, and I've been trying to decide how to decorate Madeleine's room. I'm not ready to pay that much for her room yet so when I saw these at Target ­ON SALE­, I grabbed them!

2. Bright Starts Teething Rings

3. I Love You (soft book) – Winners $8.00 based on the board book I Love You Through and Through. We have the board book in French and thought this was a cute version for Madeleine

4. Turtle Wheelie Pal - $4.00 We have a bunch of other animal wheelie pals from Felix's first Christmas and Madeleine loves them, so ... added to the collection.

5. Jingle bell rattle - ­ Target $1 While Madeleine is a bit too small to handle this one alone (I'm pretty sure the bells will come off easily), it'll be good to have two of these in the future!

6. Oral ­B stages toothbrush – Superstore $4.00ish There will always be a new toothbrush in our stockings!!

7. Hair clips – Target $3.00. I am not a fan of headbands on babies (sorry!), but I do think that hair clips and barrettes are super cute! This set is actually for 3yrs+ and since Madeleine doesn't have much hair anyways, we'll hold onto these for the future!

8. Munchkin silicone spoons – Superstore. This is the same set that Felix used, and she already loves chewing on the empty spoon.

9. Nuby Sippy Cup (rated 4 months+) - ­ Superstore. While Madeleine has refused to take a bottle, she has been desperately trying to grab our cups and food. She'll be 6 months just after Christmas, so we'll be starting solids then and offering some water too. Actually maybe I'll try pumping and putting milk in there there and see if she'll take it that way!

10. Hyland's teething tablets – We LOVED these with Felix.­ We found that when his teething was at it's worst, he wouldn't let us give him Tylenol or Advil, UNLESS we gave him these tablets first­ and sometimes that's all he needed. We buy ours at Save­On Grocery store. ­I can't remember how much they were.

11. Suck/teething pads for our baby carrier – These are actually from when Felix was a baby. We barely used the carrier, ­but I use it all the time with Madeleine,  and she's almost big enough to get her mouth on the straps so these will come in handy. I bought them from a shop on Etsy (I LOVE ETSY!) but I can't remember who. There are quite a few Canadian shops that sell them for roughly $15.00 plus shipping.


I had some other great ideas, but unfortunately while saving the original copy of this post I managed to delete them. While this is unfortunate for the purposes of this blog post, and incredibly frustrating because it took waaaaaay too long to write in the first place (two kids who are not having great sleeps these days), I DID HAVE GREAT IDEAS THAT I DON'T REMEMBER. Sigh.

I hope this gave you some ideas­. I really enjoyed putting this together (well the first time at least!)­. I'm also happy to have "stocking stuffers" crossed off my Christmas to­ do list!


Thanks so much, Sara! I love these ideas!! So so so helpful!
xo
Jenn

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Men's Gift Guide #1


Rob rarely asks for anything when gift giving occasions are upon us. Conversations can often go something like this:

Me: Hey sweetie, what would you like for Christmas (Father's Day, birthday, etc etc etc)?

Rob: Nothing. I don't need anything.

Me: Ugh. (rolls eyes)

I rack my brain forever and then go buy something I think he'll love.

Rob: Actually, can you get me this (insert some random electrical circut thing I've never heard of)?

So if your husband or significant other doesn't happen to be wishing for an FPGA or a 3D Printer, here are a few other ideas that have worked with Rob in the past.


Kobo or Kindle - I'm a Kobo girl myself, but I prefer the Kobo only because I can get books from our library on the Kobo. Rob enjoys his Kindle. He really wasn't much of a reader when we first started dating, but he really reads so much more with his Kindle. If you want to pre-load a good book to go with it, Rob recommends Chris Hadfield's An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth.

Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects by Mark Frauenfelder - I nearly bought this book for Rob for Christmas before I saw that it is for father-daughter projects. Maker-ism (is that a word?) is big in our house, or at least it's big with my husband and we both hope Seb loves it too. I haven't yet gotten my hands on a copy of this book, but it looks freaking awesome. I really would like to see if the projects could be gender-neutral.

Popular Mechanics Subscription - This has been my mom's go to gift for Rob for the past few years. She's actually gotten him a subscription to the cleverly-named Nuts and Volts, but Popular Mechanics also comes highly recommended by many of the men I know.

DNA Canvas Portraits by DNA 11- By far and away the coolest art piece in our house. I gifted Rob this as my wedding gift to him, and now our DNA hangs in our living room.

Eco Friendly Shaving Kit by Orange Fuzz - Rob LOVES this shaving kit. It's full of all-natural products and comes in an upcycled wood cigar box. I've also gifted it to my brother-in-law and his partner. My brother-in-law told me his partner downed both kits quickly. Trust me, the Guinness Cedarwood Beer Soap smells amazing.

Train Play Mat T-shirt - So I actually haven't gifted this to Rob yet, but this shirt makes me laugh...and question my parenting....and want one so so bad.

xo
Jenn

Monday, 1 December 2014

Homemade and Personalized Gift Ideas #1 (plus places to just buy them online for the not so crafty like me)

Seb has some pretty crafty grandparents. My dad is a magician when you give him a piece of wood to work with. My mom is very skilled at sewing and quilting. Rob's mom crochets, and before he passed away, Rob's dad was also quite a skilled craftsman.

I thought I would show off some of the wonderful goodies we've been gifted from them. And just in case you don't quite have the time to make these items yourself, I've found links on Etsy of places you can buy them.

Jewelery box


This is a jewelery box my dad made for me ages ago. I love its simplicity. The top tray slides to either side and is easily removed. Also, it's becoming more and more evident that I clearly have a Stella & Dot problem ;) lol

Check out this similar Cherry and Redwood Jewelery Box on Etsy.


Button Christmas Ornament


Inspired by a very similar ornament my mom and I saw in a copy of a magazine awhile back, my mom crafted this ornament by gluing buttons onto white felt. I love that she added a little J button just for me :)

I couldn't find anything quite the same on Etsy, but here are a few that have a similar vibe.
Similar 1 - Hand stitched red felt heart ornaments
Similar 2 - Handmade singular white ball with ivory and white vintage buttons


Personalized Name 


This was actually a wedding gift from my late grandmother. My parents loved it so much, I gifted them their own copy a few years ago. Here's where you can get your own personalized wall decor via Etsy. My mom had the crafty idea (no pun intended) to get the first letter of her name and of my dad's name from these zinc letters at Anthro and hang them above their last name photo on the wall. They look so good together.


Wine Cork Trivet



My dad made this wine cork trivet a few years ago as well. It is used often in our home, and I love pulling it out and showing it off when we have guests. It's so unique! Also, the blue denim trivets underneath were made from my very own jeans by my mom.

Here's a similar cork trivet - Handmade Walnut Stained Wooden Recycled Cork Trivet


Baby Quilts


My mom made Sebastian not one, but two beautiful quilts when he was born. The rocking horse quilt is a hanging quilt because it has a few buttons and extra material pieces on it. The Noah's ark quilt is his everyday quilt. He sleeps with that one every night.

Similar Noah's Ark Quilt and Pillowcase set
Somewhat similar Rocking Horse Quilt


I Spy Quilt


This quilt I actually bought from one of my sorority sisters when I was pregnant with Seb. She was selling them at a sorority event, and I immediately ordered one. It was so great to order it from someone I knew because she personalized many of the squares just for us (a cat for lily, computers to represent Rob and his work, a Canadian flag, etc). This blanket gets lots of use in our house. In addition to sleeping with it, Seb really enjoys searching for the squares when we name them. I would  encourage anyone with a baby or toddler, or anyone who needs a gift idea for a baby or toddler to consider an I Spy Quilt. It's one of his favourite toys.

Similar I Spy Quilt
Similar (less expensive)

PS - If you'd like $5 off your first Etsy order, use this link.

xo
J

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Guest Post! Things You Discover When You Have a Second Child

I'm so excited to feature my first guest post! It's written by my friend, Fiona. Her first son and Seb are the same age, just a few days apart, and she recently had her second baby in October. She wanted to write about things she she didn't think to expect after having a second baby, so here it is! I hope you enjoy it!
P.S. Aren't her boys so super cute??


When my husband and I found out we were going to have a second child back in January, we figured we were ready for the challenge, having already gone through it with our first, who's now 2.  Six weeks into our family of 4, there are some things we've noticed that surprised us, or we didn't expect.

Here are some things we discovered about having a second child:

1.    We could tell right away they had different personalities. 
2.    Oh the sleep deprivation!  We cannot sleep during the day with a toddler, or at night with an infant.  I don't know why I didn't anticipate this.
3.    We didn't think that our toddler would be so protective over “his baby”.  This is an amazing thing to watch.  He always has to know where the baby is, and if we are getting ready to go somewhere he tells us to “get baby”.  It's very cute.
4.    Our toddler immediately recognized the potential playmate in his infant brother. 
5.    At the same time, I can NOT leave our toddler alone in a room with his brother for a second, he will literally crush him.  (Jenn's note - see crushing photo above)
6.    Getting out of the house takes twice as much stuff and 5x longer! Warn your friends, you will never be on time again!
7.    Our toddler did not have significant potty training regression, but will always need to pee/poop the minute I sit down to breastfeed!
8.    I haven't peed with the door closed in over two years.
9.    Lastly, my husband and I feel more relaxed; with the experience of the first child came a certain confidence the second time around.

Having our second child has been truly wonderful all over again, but with is own unique challenges. 
If you have a new second baby in the house or even a first, give yourself a break from time to time, this is hard work and we're all doing splendidly!

Thanks, Fiona!
xo
J

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Joy of Missing Out


Last Sunday I had 2 separate commitments with friends. Earlier the week before I ended up cancelling each of them. It had been a busy week, and I felt I needed to stay home and get some work done, and really, just spend time with my family. Then Sunday morning Seb woke up with a fever and that plan was also thrown out the window.

Such is my life these days. I feel like I've been saying "I can't right now" to my friends so much lately.

And for the most part, I'm ok with it. It's called the joy of missing out.

This article  describes the joy of missing out as, "a rebellion against saying yes to everything... about giving yourself the space to think and experience things without freaking out about what you 'should' be doing instead." Oh, how this speaks to me.

I wasn't really feeling the 'fear of missing out' before. But if someone asked me to do something, and there was nothing planned in my agenda, I would usually say "Yes." and just make it work. What I've been learning this fall is that just because my Google calendar is free, doesn't mean my brain is. It makes me a better mom, wife, friend, and employee to make sure I'm not constantly running from one thing to another every minute of every day.

I don't like saying no to my friends, and I feel even worse saying yes and then cancelling. But I'm not saying 'no' to do something I don't love. Sometimes I do really need to sit down and work for the job that pays me. But more often than not, I'm saying 'no' so I can spend some time with Rob and Seb. I know I joke about how batshit bananas parenting can be, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. The moments that are crazy are worth the moments full of joy, love, and laughter.

We haven't made any permanent decisions, but it's quite possible that we may not have any more children, so I plan on enjoying the crap out of this one. Soccer on Saturday mornings, gingerbread cookie decorating on Sunday afternoons, a glass of wine and Netflix with my husband after a long week of work, these are the things I need more of in my life.

As someone who loves lists and organizing, I found this quotation from Dr. James Dobson really resonated with me, "Children just don't fit into 'to do' lists very well. It takes time to be an effective parent when children are small. It takes time to introduce them to good books. It takes times to fly kites and play punch ball and put together jigsaw puzzles. It takes time to listen."

So, when I have to RSVP no to something, it's not that I don't think it's going to be super fun or that I don't want to spend time with my friends. But I don't necessarily feel bad about saying no anymore. I both need and want to also spend time with my family, or even alone to recharge. I've realized that saying no to one thing allows me to say yes to another.

Joy takes many forms. It can be a fun ladies' night out, a crazy vacation, a date night with my husband, or watching Seb make the puzzle pieces talk like animals. I feel blessed to be able to choose between so many paths to happiness and joy in my life. Even when it means choosing the ones that are closer to home.

xo
J

Image via Pinterest

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Toddler Hack - Stickers

I'm probably the one out there who didn't even think of this, but I love that my friend Sara told me the best way to give toddlers stickers to play with....take the backing off!  Seb sometimes finds it tricky to get the stickers off by himself, but once I take the backing off, it's independent play time!



Stickers before I took the backing off.....sticker madness in process afterwards

However, now I find stickers everywhere! ;)

xo
J

Do you have any other simple toddler hacks that make play-time that much easier? Share them in the comments below.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Links I Love

It's the nearly the weekend! Last Sunday Seb came down with roseola, so we've all been a bit out of sorts this week. However, now his fever's gone and the rash is starting to get a bit better, so we're on the road to recovery!

It's been awhile since I've done a post like this, so I have quite the collection of links to share with you! I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. Have you started your Christmas shopping yet??

Laugh
This is the newest Christmas song out there featuring Kristen Bell (aka Anna from Frozen). It's pretty hilarious, and I'm going to think of it every time I get a "Merry Christmas" text this year!



More than one person sent me the link to Unhappy Mothers in Western Art. Motherhood isn't always easy, but I feel like I'm handling it better than some of these mamas!

Porn for Moms of Toddlers is another link I found awhile ago but wanted to share again. I won't ever tire of hearing Don Draper say, "Did you step on a LEGO barefoot? Good thing I give an excellent foot massage."

Read
I've just started reading Yes Please by Amy Poehler, and my book club is reading Boy Snow Bird by Helen Oyeyemi for our next meeting in January, so that's what you'll find on my nightstand over the holidays.

My cousin sent me this post called "To the mom wondering if it matters." I made the mistake of reading it at work, and it brought me to tears. Spoiler alert - It totally f*^@ing matters.

Wear


I have been LIVING in this sweatshirt lately. Paris-inspired yet super cozy. Bestillmyheart.

These booties by Sam Edleman were on sale at The Bay recently, and I really needed a new pair of black booties this winter (my last ones are 8, 9, 10 years old?? Something like that...and they haven't aged well...). Anyways, these ones are so comfortable. I also love them in the saddle colour. I found they ran slightly big if you order online.

I do as much of my Christmas shopping as possible online, so I have started placing a few orders for friends and family. However, I added the limited edition Kiss & Belle Lipsurgence Lip Set by Tarte into my shopping basket for myself. I call it elf tax. Plus Tarte Cosmetics is both eco-friendly and cruelty-free. Total guilt-free glamour.

And to make room for any other style finds you get over the holidays, Refinery 29 has a pretty good list what you can toss from your closet.

Do
I don't normally like people telling me how to start my day, because they're usually telling me to go workout or some other nonsense like that, but this is a list I can get behind. It's from Apartment Therapy and it's 10 Things to do the First 10 Minutes of the Day. #5 is the one I need to work on.

It's no secret that I love the Rookie Mom's 52 Weekly Baby Challenges, and now I'm super pumped that they've come up with a matching list of Things to Do with your Toddler before they turn 2. Seb's 2 and a half, but I'd still do pretty much everything on this list with him.

And can someone with a baby please please please do this??? I'd love to see the picture!

Happy weekend!
xo
J.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Things I Learned After My iPhone was Stolen


My phone was stolen last week. Right off my desk at work. I share an office with 3 people, all of whom I've worked with for nearly 10 years. One of them was away for the day, another is the brother I never had, and the third person is a friend so close to me she was in my wedding. These people are not responsible. Find My Phone located my phone at an industrial park north of the city later that evening. My best guess is that someone who isn't normally part of our work community was in doing some kind of work for us, saw my phone on my desk and took it. Frustration and tears followed. Let's just say that last Monday was much more 'messy' than it was 'splendid'.

My phone isn't even particularly new. I've had it for 2 years, it is only 8G, and I know there are scratches hiding under the case. But what made me so angry and sad was not losing the physical phone, although a new phone was not an expense I had planned for this month, but the loss of my photos and videos. It's a sickening thought to lose those memories, but to think about someone else looking at them just feels so violating. I share a lot of photos, but on social media I choose what I want to share. And I choose what is just for us. There is nothing celebrity-phone-scandal worthy on my phone, but the sick feeling is still there nonetheless.

By the grace of God, I discovered (after many tears were shed, unfortunately) that my phone had backed up to my laptop at some point near the end of the summer. I swear I don't remember doing this intentionally. I must have been charging my phone or something on my computer and it synched. Does that happen? Anyways, I found so many of the pictures and videos I thought I had lost. The video of Sebastian's first steps. The pictures from our first flight together as a family. They're all sitting safely in iPhoto right now. I did lose any pictures I've taken in the past 3 months or so, but it feels like nothing compared to what I thought was gone.

Since having my phone stolen, I've learned a few things...

1. Store your phone safely. The reason my phone was stolen was that it was on my desk at work. To be clear, there are other phones on other desks at my work all. of. the. time. It's a culture of bad habits I suppose. If my phone wasn't on my desk, but perhaps stored somewhere else, it may not have been stolen. #lessonlearned

Also, now I'm so paranoid about leaving my phone by my desk that I've turned into one of those people that carries their phone with them around at work. Ugh. I hate that. But I keep it on silent, and I can't fathom going through this again anytime soon.

2. Activate Find My Phone - This feature is built into your iPhone. It allows you to locate, lock or erase your iPhone and prevents it from being erased or reactivated without your password. The first thing I did when I noticed my phone was missing was meet with my tech dept and have them activate this feature. Once my phone was turned back on later that day by whoever stole it, Find My Phone sent me an email with a map of the location of my phone. Crazy!

3. Cancel your service - The next thing I did was login to my Rogers account online and suspend my service. Then later that night I called them to confirm that it was disactivated and to list my phone on the IMEI Blacklist. Because I still had the IMEI number from the original box, I could list my phone on the IMEI Blacklist. This ensures that my phone is unable to be activated on any phone network in Canada ever.

4. Back up your photos - I need to get better at this. I mentioned I did have a lot of my pictures somehow backed up onto my laptop, but this was not planned. And I did lose any pictures from the last three months that I haven't shared via Instagram. Now I'm investigating options for backing my pictures up regularly. I've used Picassa in the past, but I really don't love it. I'm looking into using iCloud storage or Google Drive. Hopefully they're easier to use. I think I'll also back them up on an external hard drive. Finally, this is a good reminder that it's time to make another family photo book.

5. Prey App - Rob thinks we should now add the Prey Anti-Theft app to our phones. Basically it allows you to remotely control your phone by taking a picture or sounding an alarm. I'm a little on the fence though. I have a little uneasy/creepy/stalker feeling about this app...

So, that was what my week was like last week. Beaucoup stressful.

But now I have a new phone, am starting to load up my favourite apps again, and have picked out a new phone case (in indigo and gold).

xo
Jenn

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Family Photo Shoot - Fall Edition!

Our family pictures tell a story. They're our family autobiography. They tell the story of who we were, who we are, and if we look really close, we can maybe see glimpses of who we will become.  One picture can instantly remind me of what it felt like to hold S as a newborn. Another can take me back to the memories of his first Christmas, his first steps, or a favourite onesie (I always loved the ivory one with the mama and baby giraffes...).

With cameras built into our phones, we have the capacity to build an even stronger bank of memories, to share with others forever if we choose. Pictures can be powerful. They can make us laugh, or bring us to tears. I know I have photos that do both. Maybe that's why I've become more interested in photography recently. Lately, I feel more aware than ever that these moments in life are fleeting. And I want them to last so bad. Part of me wants S. to be little forever. I wish that our pictures could somehow capture the smell of his hair when he was a baby, the way his little 2-year old arms feel when the hug me, the way he mis-pronounces tomorrow as tomano, or the sound of his laugh. But I can't stop him from growing up, so the next best thing is to have a collection of memory-laden photos to keep close to my heart.

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still. Dorothea Lange


Last year I didn't get around to taking many family pictures before the holidays. This year, I wanted to be sure we got some great photos of our family. Just as fast as he grew beyond babyhood right before my eyes, I feel that the toddler stage will pass just as quickly.

After a little bit of searching online, I found the photographer Joanna Galant. Joanna specializes in baby, children, and family photography. I absolutely loved the photos from her gallery, so I contacted her to book her for a fall photography session.

I sent Joanna the pinterest board I'd been compiling of toddler family photos, and she also made her own board just for me with further inspiration based on the ideas I had shared with her.

We met in High Park at the end of September for our photo shoot. At first Seb was pretty shy, but after a few pictures he warmed up and really enjoyed just playing in the park with all of us.










 Toddler Tips


Clothing: Sebastian is in a phase where he is very particular about what he wears. I introduced the sweater he'd be wearing a few weeks before and encouraged him to wear it so it wasn't a brand new item to fight him into on photo day. His favourite old beat up white runners also "disappeared" the week before photo day, so he'd wear the more neutral navy ones. They were much nicer for our pictures, and then I brought the white sneakers back out the next day.

Bring books: Joanna suggested we bring Seb's favourite toy to the photo shoot. And I'm pretty sure she didn't mean the iPad. So, we brought a few of his favourite books. Rob even sneakily put a few leaves between the pages to encourage him to look like he was reading in the park. I know, I know...A couple of these photos belong right up there with my other Instagram photo lies. Ya ya...Seb's totally reading by himself in the park on a sunny fall day. We do this kind of stuff all the time. #nobigdeal





Bring a Grandma!

It just worked out that Rob's mom was visiting the weekend of our photo session, so we for sure wanted to get some shots of Seb and his avó together. And seriously, the pictures with Rob's mom in them are some of the best ones from the whole session in my opinion. Her love for Sebastian just radiates from her. And he just loves her right back.






One of these pictures will make it onto the holiday photo card I was talking about earlier this week. I think I've picked my favourite, but my friends and family will have to wait until they get their cards to see the final selections ;)

Thanks so much again to Joanna Galant Photography. We are so so so happy with the results of our photo session!

xo
J

Sunday, 2 November 2014

A Few Thoughts on Holiday Cards



It's November. Apart from being national Jennifer Lawerence month, November means a few things: mustaches get longer, the lattes change from pumpkin to gingerbread, and Christmas will soon be everywhere we look.

I was told last year that I should have included a picture with my Christmas cards that wasn't just the back of Sebastian's head. I thought it was cute and very pinterest-esque, but nonetheless, I set out to have proper family photos taken this fall.

Now that I have some great pictures of us (stay tuned later this week for more details on that!), I need to pick a Christmas card. I wasn't sure if I was just going to use regular cards and print copies of one of our favourite family pictures to include, or actually order photo holiday cards, but when I was asked if I could look at Minted's Christmas Cards, I started to get really excited about all of the amazing options for photo cards out there. I've never done photo holiday cards before, so I'm looking forward to trying something new.

Below are my favourites. I still haven't picked a final one yet. Do you have any suggestions? I know for sure I'll choose the folded card option instead of flat cards. And I'm leaning towards using one image on the front instead of a collage. I do love some of the templates they have with more than one photo, but I think just one main image is more my style.


Middle Row: Complete Tree (A creative collage of family photos), Merry and Bright Hand LetteredAglow
Bottom Row: Joynormous, Picture Perfect (I love the washi tape style on this one), Covered in Joy


What I loved about playing with the Minted website is that I could upload my own photo, and all of the photo card templates would change to my picture. This made the process of narrowing down my choices much faster because I could see right away what would work and what wouldn't.

Once I have that all figured out, the next conundrum I have is the holiday letter. Do people still do this? I know my mom does, and so I have been for the past few years, but I wonder...do people care? Do I really need to write a whole paragraph about each person in our family? Or is the age of technology such that pretty much everyone I'd send a card to knows what I've been doing all year via Facebook, Instagram, etc etc etc? It's no secret that I even blog about the big stuff going on with our family!

I don't want to drop the letter entirely, so I've been toying with different ways to share some highlights of our year. I like this style of letter that I found on Etsy, but I'd make my own. Minted also has some pretty great interior options that I think I could make work. The format below is one of the interior card options available. I'd take the 4 boxes and write about highlights from each season.


I'd really love to hear your thoughts on this. I enjoy thinking about our year growing as a family and having one document that highlights the amazing things we did that year, and even the challenges we conquered. I'm just wondering if the letter format is still the best for us. I'm also not sure I'm totally sold on the infographic format that I see on a lot of cards as well. I have no idea how many books we read this year, or how many date nights Rob and I had. Ugh!! Decisions, decisions!

The last cool thing about Minted's holiday cards is that for a limited time, their recipient address printing is FREE! I can't wait to take advantage of this. I'm not sure what they mean by "limited time" though so check their website.


I know for a fact I'm not the first of my friends to start planning their Christmas cards. I have one friend who was home from work with a small injury and couldn't really do much, so she already started writing her cards out! And that was a few weeks ago! lol

I hope you found some inspiration in a few of the unique cards I found on Minted. I still feel like I haven't really recovered from the Polar Vortex or last year's major ice storm, but winter is coming!

xo
J

A big thanks to Minted for sponsoring this post. All thoughts, opinions, card selections, and conflicted feelings about Christmas newsletters are entirely my own.

Winter is coming image via Pinterest. Other images via Minted.

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