Having a baby? Going to a baby shower? We’ve got the latest in baby gear!

It’s safe to say that the three mothers are past the stage of babies, diapers and midnight feedings but we know that not all of our readers are. We’ve relied on our own experiences and we’ve tapped some 4th mothers to weigh-in and give us their opinion on some of the newest baby gear to hit the stores. If you boxed up the binkies a long time ago, you will still want to bookmark this round-up of baby gear, because we never outgrow attending baby showers!

BABYBJÖRN Bouncer Mini

Bouncers are a must for new moms. In fact, when asked for my advice about bouncers, I say with enthusiasm “get one for each floor!” This new, mini version of the classic BABYBJÖRN bouncer is ergonomically designed for newborns to 6 months and adjusts into two positions – one for play and one for rest. The baby’s natural movement rocks the seat, gently stimulating and soothing the infant without the need for batteries or remote controls. The sleek, simple design is a welcome addition to any living room and the detachable legs score points for easy storage. While the suggested price tag of $159.95 may seem on higher end, you’ll save on batteries and the timeless design ensures Baby #2 will enjoy its comforts in the years to come. Worth the splurge!

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My nephew was the official tester and this is what his mom had to say:

“The BABYBJÖRN Bouncer Mini is one of our most used baby items. I love the fact that Henry can bounce it himself, it’s easy to clean and you can’t beat the way it looks.”

Shaidee and Shaidee Bug

Have you ever put a blanket over your baby while toting them in a carrier to keep the sun off their bare arms, legs and tiny head? Guilty! Shaidee and Shaidee Bug is a cooler and more comfortable way to shade your baby from the sun and wind. Its lightweight design is compatible with most carriers and is easy to clean. Priced less than most blankets (including free shipping!), the Shaidee is an ideal gift for outdoor-loving parents-to-be.

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Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Smart Connect Cradle ‘n Swing

For the tech-savvy parents this swing is the crème de la crème of baby gear. Fisher-Price, a heavy weight in the baby game for generations, has launched the 21st century version of their much-loved swing. Two rocking motions, six swing speeds and 19 sounds that sooth baby all with the touch of a button from your smartphone or tablet! How genius is that?

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Anita Nursing Bras

We recently got to check out a great line of Canadian lingerie, and the variety for nursing mothers means that they can get great bras, too!  Anita lingerie is a 100% family-owned company dedicated to bring high-quality, well-made undergarments and swimwear to women. Each line, from sport to maternity, is available in a wide-range of sizes (larger bust sizes rejoice!) but it’s the design detail that’s truly standout. New moms need a supportive nursing bra, but the fourth trimester is synonymous with feeling less than your best. Anita’s line of maternity and nursing bras are available in every combination imaginable from seamless and wireless (great for under a t-shirt) to ultra-feminine lace. 

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Never Grow Up

There’s a new babywear shop on the block, and it’s as cute as a button!  Never Grow Up is an established babywear store in Oakville, and it has just opened up a new store at 1725 Bayview Avenue in Toronto.  It’s full of adorable, fun and funky clothes from newborn to 10.  There is a variety of designers, from both near and far, and the styles range from cutsie cute to cutting edge.  The staff are super friendly and helpful, and who can resist all that tiny fashion?!

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How smart is this?! A pacifier clip, built right in.

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For your little sleeping bear cub, a sleeping sack that ties at the bottom to keep him safe and snug.

*Full disclosure: My little nephew benefitted from the BABYBJÖRN Bouncer Mini and he loves it! We received no financial compensation from any of the other companies/products mentioned above. Not that we’re opposed to making a few dollars ;) Be assured that all opinions expressed are our own.

It’s in the Bag!

Here are some things that are going along with us on our travels this summer.  Things to keep us happy, safe, and sane!

You guys, I get so many compliments on these shoes.  I love them.  They are not only fun and funky, they are really comfortable and practical.  I have walked all over the city in them, and the support and comfort cannot be beaten.  They are also light, making it a no-brainer to throw them in the suitcase.  I was sent this orange pair, but now I am tempted to buy them in every colour of the rainbow.  Check them out for yourself at Uneek by Keen.

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I find it tricky to pack for kids when we are travelling: how to combine comfort, fun and respectability?!  I found an answer at The Children’s Place, where I stocked up on some new threads for summer.  Your money goes a long way at The Children’s Place, and with clothes so reasonably priced, it’s easy to find the kids something new and special for a trip.  I bought Youngest this Skylanders shirt, which he wore non-stop in the last weeks of school.  The shirts I bought have held up well through many washes, and he got so many compliments, I even picked up extras as gifts for his friends.

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Keeping kids occupied on flights and drives is one of the hardest parts of travel, and this deck of cards has been doing the trick.  Personalogy is a situation card game that encourages discussion and imaginative thinking.  It comes in two editions: one for adults and one for the whole family.  I got a sample pack of the family edition, and I used it on a subway ride with seven ten-year-old boys heading to a movie.  They loved it, and it kept them busy while we got from A-B.  If anything, they were so eager that they rushed to get through the questions, eager to get to the next question rather than answer the “why” part of the question fully.  Next time, we’ll have to reinforce the why component.

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Staying sun safe has never been so important, but what do you do if you are super-sensitive to sunscreens?  I have had the hardest time finding a sun screen for Middlest, who reacts with a rash to every single one.  I think I have finally found an answer for my kid’s unhappy reactions to sunscreen with Aveeno’s Sensitive Skin line.  We’ve tried it several times, and so far, so good!  Peace of mind, finally, under the hot sun.

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And speaking of hot, I am seriously in love with Consonant’s brand new dealkalizing deodorant.  I was given a free trial with the purchase of their skincare products.  As a lifetime user of anti-perspirant, I was really, really skeptical about switching to deodorant, but I tell you, this stuff works.  I’m amazed at its odor-busting abilities, and I really haven’t felt like I’ve given up on anything with the switch.  Seriously–magic in a stick.

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Throw it all into a bag from Tom’s, and you will be doing good while looking good.  Tom’s has an extensive charitable aspect to the business, and you can give the gift of maternal health and safe births with every bag purchased.

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Fun for the Whole Family: Interactive Theatre with 6th Man Collective’s Monday Nights

Monday Nights is an interactive theatre experience that is one part choose-your-own-adventure, one part private detective role play, one part choreography, one part gym class and many parts fun.  TC15021_Monday_Nights_slider_FA

The first thing that you need to know about Monday Nights is that it’s not just on Monday nights.  The play is a production by 6th Man Collective at The Theatre Centre, 1115 Queen Street West.  It runs nightly (excluding Tuesday) until Sunday, July 26th.  Click here to find tickets.

Members of the audience begin the night by going into the theatre and rifling through the players’ gym bags.  The bags contain clues about the personalities of the four players, and you choose your team for the evening based on what resonates with you among the things you find.  You then sit in the section that corresponds to the team you choose, and put on headphones that hang on the back of each chair.  The play begins with the audience observing choreographed basketball drills and skills while listening to information about their player from the three other players.  Then the four actors lead their teams in games and challenges, and the teams compete for points.  You do not have to participate at all, if you don’t want to, or you can participate by helping to keep score or by competing in a variety of basketball drills.  (Tip: if you are a good player, wait until the end to volunteer, as the skill level required for each drill gradually increases.) The actor who leads the team with the lowest number of points has to do the costume laundry that night!

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My kids (boys, 10 and 7) had a blast.  They both play basketball, so I knew that the premise would interest them, but I wasn’t prepared for how much they loved being involved.  Even my more reserved child put his hand up to be a “volunteammate” several times.  They chose different sections to sit in, which was easy to facilitate because the theatre is small enough that I could see the child I was not sitting with easily.  I sat with Youngest, who wanted to volunteer for every single possible opportunity to hold the ball.  (Your team gets an extra point for getting new volunteers for each drill, so when he got to go up a second time, it cost the team a point!  Luckily he’s really good at sinking baskets and made up for it with points scored!)  Youngest got lots of cheers and support from our section, and he basked in the applause and high fives.  I was certainly not the loudest one cheering him on.

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This play has been a highlight of our summer entertainment so far, and I can recommend it highly for a night out with kids.  For an added dimension of fun, go with a group and sit in separate sections and compete against each other.  It was a novel experience, and I had a smile on my face the whole night.  I had fun observing my kids’ enjoyment, and cheering my kids on when they went up to play, but I also really enjoyed taking in all the aspects of character development, props, script and choreography.

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I love that the city has such a great range of arts experiences to take in during the Pan Am Games.  Monday Nights fits right in with the offerings at Panamania, and it harnesses all of that cheering, sports fan energy.

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PC Home for the Summer

A favourite go-to for affordable home accents is PC Home.  The line of products is conveniently located at Superstores (usually alongside another fave, Joe Fresh) and this bodes well for my propensity to bury the cost of such goodies among my regular grocery shop.  Somehow it doesn’t count as a home splurge if I buy it at the grocery store.

PC Home is known for their quality products and beautiful design.  And it’s no wonder when you meet their incredibly talented design team – all of whom are living busy lives juggling family and work, so they are always tweaking products to add value to our lives not just make them pretty.

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Set of 6 Melamine Mixing Bowls – $25   For food prep and display (available in warm colour set also)

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Bamboo Fiber Dinnerware – Starting at $4   Landfill friendly, goregeous patterns, heaviness to them, will last for several seasons if well-cared for (variety of patterns and colours available)

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I’m crazy for this floral collection of traditional outdoor dinnerware, pop of colour, tie-in with  complimentary pillows and placemats.  If it’s too much for you, the print is also available in paper napkins adding a nice punch of playful design to a more conservative table setting.

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This Embossed set of dinnerware and serving ware is my favourite.  I have this large bowl and it’s the go-to for potluck salads.  It won’t break and if I leave it behind, at $9, it’s not worth the hassle of trying to arrange a time to pick it up.  (Also available non-embossed in orange, teal and clear.)

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Luxurious oversized beach towels, ideal for picnicking or pool-side.  Several colours and patterns to choose from only $16.

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Everyday Essentials Water Bottle with Freezer Stick – $5  Genius!

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Keep the light burning brightly with these lanterns ($17-$24).  If real candles make you nervous, try the LED battery-operated ones for the same look but without the responsibility.

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PC Metal Rectangular Pitcher – $12 – I love the clean white look with the rope detailing.  This pitcher could easily do double duty as a decorative vessel to hold those summer blooms.

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If you spend many hours over the summer on the sidelines of soccer fields and baseball diamonds, you need to get this Tera Gear Papa Lux Chair ($49).  It’s the most comfortable folding chair you’ll ever sit in!

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PC Home has BBQs too!  Everything from this Tera Gear 72K BTU Pro 5 plus 1 burner, all stainless steel grill for $499 to this portable option, ideal for campers and picnickers for $199!

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I was really impressed with this Tera Gear French Bistro Set for $179.  It’s the perfect size for a small balcony or creating a cozy al fresco dining area in your backyard.  The detail on the chairs is a testament to the high standards the PC Home team continue to achieve.

 

It’s almost hard to believe but in a few months, we will be posting some of our favourite PC Home items for fall and back–to-school.  We were at the media preview and I am almost (almost) looking forward to September.

 

Please note we receive no compensation from PC Home.

Barilla’s Share the Table

In May, in about the second week of baseball season, with her three boys all up to their eyeballs in their summer activities, Beth-Anne emailed me to say, “I knew that you were busy with three boys in hockey during hockey season.  I knew it, and I heard you when you said how busy it was, but I didn’t really hear you.”

Sometimes you just have to live it to get it, and when “it” is three boys in sports almost every night of the week, one thing we don’t always get is time around the dinner table.

Whether it’s summer sports, winter sports or just plain year-round busy-ness, one of the biggest challenges for families is to find time to sit and share a meal together.  That time to connect and to share details about the day is so important, and Beth-Anne and I both felt the same regret that we miss out on that time when the schedule is so full.  That is why we did not hesitate to help spread the word about Barilla Pasta and their Share the Table initiative.  Check out the link for lots of great advice about how to maximize quality family time around the dinner table, even on the busiest of nights.

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classici_rotini_thumbI rely heavily on pasta on hockey nights.  It’s quick, the boys love the leftovers after the game, and it gives them the energy they need.  I love Barilla’s line of PLUS pastas that pack roughly 25% more protein and fibre into each serving than traditional pasta.  I like foods that work hard so the kids can work harder.  It’s a staple in our cupboard, and the kids can’t tell it apart from their favourite classical pasta.  (Whole grain pasta, which I love, is sometimes a tougher sell to the kids.)  Barilla also has a line of gluten-free pastas, so even those with gluten allergies can enjoy the convenience of a quickly-cooked meal.

And here is one of the fastest pasta recipes you will ever make.  Ready in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta, this recipe will minimize prep time and will leave you with more time to sit and eat and share the table before you have to run off!

Pasta with Salmon in Cream Sauce

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OK, so this “recipe” happened one night when I invited my in-laws for dinner and I had no food in the house and no time to shop for it.  What I did have was a package of smoked salmon in the freezer and cream in the fridge.  Bada-boom bada-bing, smoked salmon in cream sauce over pasta.  It was delicious, easy, and fast.

Ingredients

1 package of frozen smoked salmon, sliced into ribbons

1 cup of cream (whip what’s left over and serve with berries for dessert or after the game)

1 teaspoon of chopped fresh dill (optional; not all kidlets are fond of herbs, so if your kids are not dill fans, omit this or just sprinkle the dill on your own pasta)

freshly ground pepper (you should not need salt because the salmon is really flavourful)

one package of pasta, whatever shape takes your fancy

Method

Boil the water for pasta and cook pasta according to package instructions.

Take the frozen salmon out of the package, and with a large carving knife, just slice that frozen fish into ribbons of equal width (about 1-2 cm).  Put the cream and salmon slices into a frying pan over medium high heat and stir.  The salmon will defrost quickly because it’s so thin.  Warm them through gently until the salmon slices separate and the cream begins to thicken.  Stir, stir, stir.  Increase heat if it’s not thickening, but don’t let the cream boil.  Once the sauce has thickened and reduced, remove it from the heat.  If it reduces too much, just add another splash of cream.

Serve over pasta with freshly ground pepper and a side of your favourite greens.  Done and delicious.

Enjoy!

OK Friday Barn Fair: Top 6 Reasons to Visit!

OK Friday Barn Fair_Betty's(4)_Image by Daniel Williams-Dowling PicturesWe all revel in a good farmer’s market, and OK Friday Barn Fair, launched by Burl’s Creek Event Grounds, has just taken things up a notch (or four). This weekly arts and market space, located in Oro-Medonte and conveniently en route to cottage country, showcases a wide range of goods from local farmers and vendors, selected Toronto imports, and live musical performances.  I recently had a chance to visit OK Friday Barn Fair and loved it, and am here to report to you my top six reasons for visiting.

1. There’s an amazing and thoughtful array of local goods.  You’ll find wonderful local produce, cheese, meats, maple syrup, honey, as well as jewelry and other crafted goodness at OK Friday Barn Fair. When you meet the farmers and craftspeople doing the growing and the making, you’ll also know that they’ve been selected with care and in collaboration with The Karma Project, a non-profit cooperative dedicated to promoting sustainable and accessible local food.

2. Cottage-goers never had it so good. So it’s Friday and you’re desperate to leave the city and you didn’t quite find the time to buy what you need to make your weekend the culinary delight you were hoping for.  Never fear! You now have delicious local options that are moons away from the jaded produce from Foodland in Barrie or the IGA in Wherever. Stretch your legs, score some great food, and support local farmers and businesses while you’re at it.

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Or, if cooking after the commute feels too much, grab dinner from the eateries at OK Friday. Rodney’s Oyster House offers up its famous oysters, mussels, and lobster rolls. Fans of Toronto’s restaurant trinity Fat Pasha, Rose and Sons, and Big Crow will be pleased to know that Anthony Rose also presents a range of his wares for sale.  Enjoy tastings of award-winning VQA Norman Hardie wines, and take a bottle home with you.  And for those of us lucky enough to be guests for a weekend away, it goes without saying that OK Friday Barn Fair is a treasure trove of lovely gifts for host or hostess.

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3.  The locals never had it so good.  One of the magical things about OK Friday Barn Fair and Burl’s Creek Event Grounds generally is the boost its giving to its community of Oro-Medonte. The market and grounds provide business development, cultural programming, and visibility to a beautiful region of Ontario. Restoration work on a 1930’s landmark barn with soaring 40 foot ceilings has been undertaken with assistance from the Mennonite community, and will serve as a destination event space, including weddings. During my visit to OK Friday Barn Fair, we enjoyed not just performances by Reuben and the Dark, but also by a local school who treated us to singing and their ukeleles, which were received through a musical grant. The presence of the local community of Oro-Medonte is infused throughout the market and the grounds.

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4.  Drop by or spend the day.  If you only have time for a quick stop, the amazing vendors will help you make the most of every minute.  But if you have the luxury of a day to spend, it’s worth the trip to go. Time moves easily as you check out the grounds, browse the stalls, or just take in the glorious natural setting.  The eating is great (of course), and the music is an ever-changing series of local Canadian talent – this week is Dan Mangan. You can even heighten your peace of mind with an outdoor mid-day yoga practice at 3pm with Shanti Vira Yoga Studio and Green River Yoga Company.

5.  The music festivals!  OK Friday Barn Fair runs every Friday from 2 to 8 pm except for July 24, when Burl’s Creek hosts WayHome Music and Arts Festival (Neil Young headlines days of jam-packed talent) and August 7, when the huge Boots and Hearts Music Festival comes to town.  With over 700 acres of pristine land, Burl’s Creek is Canada’s largest outdoor event venue, with space for 60,000 people and 45,000 campers.

6.  It’s a labour of love. During my visit to OK Friday Barn Fair, I had the unexpected pleasure of sitting next to Burl’s Creek owner Stan Dunford during lunch (by Anthony Rose!). His goal was unwavering and simple from its inception: to create a world class facility. When asked what motivated Stan to take on this project, he points to his nephew, a fellow lover of music and the person who helped inspire the expansive vision behind Burl’s Creek. Stan talked about how the heart of an endeavour like this was never clearer to him than when a music festival was cancelled, but 40,000 people showed up anyway. They weren’t there for the music (there was none), he explained, but the chance to be together.  The core of Burl’s Creek is not just food and fun, but family and friendship.  It’s a good place to be.

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The OK Friday Barn Fair operates every Friday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. until October 9, excluding July 24 and August 7 when Burl’s Creek has planned festival events.

Photo credits: Daniel Williams/Dowling Pictures

Family History into Art and Business: Jack & Marjorie Bags

il_570xN_696680531_lx39I met Meghan, of Jack & Marjorie, at the One of A Kind Show in December.  I fell head over heels in love with her line of bags that are made from military surplus materials such as wool blankets, tents, rifle straps and duffle bags.  Looking at the bags made me think of a well-cropped photograph: each piece seemed to have captured perfectly the precise corner of blanket or length of waxed canvas that was used for the piece.

When I asked her about the history of her company, Meghan shared that it was named for her grandparents.  Her grandfather had been a soldier, so the military surplus materials was in honour of him.  She remembered the range of her grandmother’s handbags, so the femininity of the line honours her.  The perfect marriage of feminine and masculine, form and function.

I think what I most liked was seeing military surplus materials given a second life as not only an accessory but the end result of art and craft.  A beautiful beating of swords into ploughshares.  Check out her Etsy store here.

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It’s Shower Season! Top Baby Gifts You Need To Give.

Last week I wrote about my nephew’s impending arrival. Thank you to everyone who gave their two cents on which print to buy for his nursery. I am close to deciding, so if you haven’t had the chance to weigh-in, click here. The print I decide on will be posted to our Instagram page in about 10 days.

Having a baby in the springtime seems poetic. Birth and renewal of life are everywhere in nature and evident among us humans too, as mothers and young children reclaim the parks and sidewalks. I had my middle son on April 1, and fully appreciated the warmer weather and the longer days.

In anticipation of the newest addition to our family, I am co-hosting a baby shower for my sister-in-law. In just a few short years the number of products for baby has exploded exponentially! I know that there are many gimmicky products promising mothers everything from easy diaper changes to silent nights and as a seasoned mom, I tend to roll my eyes at many of them. There are products that all moms claim they couldn’t have survived the baby years without. For me, it was the bouncy chair. I wish that I had the foresight to put one on every floor of the house. I always thought that I would carry my babies in slings and carriers but alas, my dream was shattered when not one of them liked being carried in such a way. Go figure, they had distinct likes and dislikes from the very beginning!

Moms, what would you add to the “must-have” list for baby’s arrival?  Leave a comment.

I have rounded up a few of my favourite baby gifts from the tried and tested to the shiny and new.

When I buy a baby gift, I often stick to the registry for the basics: things everyone needs and everyone has a strong opinion about. Glass bottles vs. plastic? Sippy cups? Pacifiers? Better stick to what mom-to-be wants. No new mama wants to be returning anything in the days after baby is born.

I also like to splurge on fun things that parents aren’t necessarily going to buy for themselves. This “bear skin” rug from Pottery Barn Kids is a perfect example of a play mat that can be plopped down anywhere in the house for little one’s tummy time, and it’s just really cute, right?

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I was shocked by the amount of laundry baby produced when I was a new mom. In particular, it was the mountainous number of receiving blankets covered in throw-up and spilled milk. I like these Aden & Anais classic swaddle blankets that are 100% natural cotton muslin.

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Sophie the Giraffe. Need I say more? Worth every cent of her $30.00.

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Hooded towels are undeniably cute, but I prefer classic monogrammed towels that can be used for many years. These towels from Pottery Barn Kids, were gifted to me at my baby shower more than 8 years ago, and they are still in rotation.

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Speaking of gifts that grow, Skip Hop makes diaper bags that are stylish, functional and will be used long after baby is out of diapers.   The Duet 2-in-1 Diaper Tote and the Out & About are perfect examples of bags that work for storing diapers, quick changes and extra bottles, but their sleek design and sophisticated colours will transition nicely to a carry-on, an overnight bag or a gym tote. In celebration of baby shower season and Skip Hop’s new must-have diaper bags, from April 6-13, buy any Skip Hop item from Indigo and get a Skip Hop accessory at 25% off.

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It seems impossible that baby, who is so tiny, will soon be eating foods at the table. Also by Skip Hop is a collection of colourful melamine plates, utensils and food storage containers.

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Books. Books. Books. I love giving books. Recently as a baptismal gift, I bought 20 of my favourite childhood books. Inside each book I wrote a note. For example, I bought Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and inside the book I wrote, My Dearest Katherine: Because we all have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Just remember that you are so very loved!

I also bought Fancy Nancy and wrote: My Dearest Katherine: Because sometimes being fancy is fun!

It’s my favourite gift that I have ever given and I hope to give it again very soon.

There are also gifts to be treasured. Among my most precious are handmade blankets and clothing. I wish that I had the skill to craft something for my nephew because it’s these gifts that I am most moved by. Somethings can’t be bought; if you have the skill, use it!

Be sure to follow us on Instagram for snaps from the baby shower. You’re not going to want to miss it!

For Your Calendar: The Baby Time Show Prenatal to Preschool comes to Mississauga’s International Centre, Hall 5 from April 24-26. For more information, including ticket prices, visit their website.

Children’s Artwork from Minted: Help Me Choose!

I love stationery and pretty paper products. In fact, one time I was in an elevator and met a stationery buyer for Indigo and it was akin to my son meeting the garbage collector. I peppered her with questions and basked in envy the entire 8 flights down. A stationery buyer, I thought that was a job of lore.

I spend hours searching out the perfect invitation, be it for a baby shower or a birthday party, and I love every minute of it. If I am in a store, I handle each card with care, weighing the paper in my hand, my fingers taking in the texture of embossed letters or fine linen grids. But I can’t always make it to a store, and the boys don’t seem to share my passion for loitering among note cards so, on-line must suffice.

My newest obsession is Minted. Minted is an on-line stationery and paper art store that allows artists to share their designs, all of which can be customized, to fellow paperphiles. The site is a visual delight tempting me to throw a party, get in touch with long lost friends and update my wall décor. It’s a beautiful rabbit hole to fall down and I recommend that you get lost!

My first order from Minted was my Christmas card for 2014. I was able to play around with various colours and tweaks to the design before settling on my favourite. An easy to use spreadsheet allowed for me to upload all of the addresses and when the cards arrived, all I had to do was stuff and seal.

My brother and his wife are expecting their first baby early next month and needless to say the entire family is very excited. My sister-in-law has spent the past few months agonizing over every detail of his nursery. She chose a gender-neutral palate of grey and white and the walls are decked out with these adorable animal prints. All that remains to do is find the perfect print to add to one remaining wall.

Aly has agreed to let me choose the final piece of art, and Minted is where I intend to find it. Perhaps you can help me to narrow it down?  The pictures that I pulled are a bit small, so I have include the links if you want to look at the artwork in closer detail just click on the title, or click here for the entire art collection.

An alphabet print is always a safe and classic option that can work for many years.

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Paper Cut ABCs by Ampersand Design Studio

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Animals Alphabet by Alethea and Ruth

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Another colourful print, is Colour Your World by Ann Gardner. The grey background would work well with the rest of the room.

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These hearts by InkDot are precious and will serve as a reminder of how much he’s loved.

I completed an extensive family tree and the idea of incorporating his ancestry into his room décor tugs at my heartstrings. A few of my favourites:

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Family of Oranges by Heritage and Joy

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Folk Family Tree by Heather Francisco

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The baby will be the second addition to their family. Molly, a yellow lab, was their first and this print It’s a dog’s world by Sheila Sunaryo would probably be her pick.

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Dogs may not be the best choice since the other animals featured are decidedly more exotic than domestic. This map of the animal world by Jessie Steury would tie everything together nicely.

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If only this was goodnight Toronto instead of goodnight New York.

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Since he remains to be named, this one may have to wait for his first birthday. The other prints allow for customization with his name that I have to forgo.

The selection of frames is swoon-worthy and the preview option allows for a complete once-over before committing. The turnaround time is 5-7 days, enough time for it to arrive before the baby shower.

Help me decide! Sound off in the comments and let me know your vote. Follow us on Instagram for the big reveal.

Easy DIY Hand-Painted Glasses

 

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I am not much of a DIYer.  Instead I prefer to think of myself as a COOPTer.  Celebrator Of Other People’s Talents.  I am under no delusions that I can do everything well enough to meet my exceedingly high expectations, so I graciously turn to experts and pay them for their talents.  I only try what I know I can execute but retile my bathroom floor? Sew Halloween costumes? Hook my own rug?  No.  Not for me.

Since the theme of this week is DIY activities with kids, I have quite craftily I think, repurposed a previous post.  Here’s one attempt at a DIY that turned out nicely.  And fetched $140 for the boys’ school at silent auction.

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My boys’ school hosts a silent auction every two years to raise funds for the school’s various programs.  This year they asked that each class contribute a collaborative piece of art to be auctioned off.

I like this idea because it involves the children in working towards a common goal, which ultimately benefits them.

I volunteered to head up the project in my eldest’s grade 2 class.  I scoured Pinterest for age appropriate ideas and finally decided on these hand-painted tumblers and I followed the instructions outlined by Savvy Sugar.

It was a good choice.  The project was easy to manage, required few supplies and was completely child-driven.  I didn’t want the project to require adult participation.  I wanted the students to feel a sense of accomplishment working together, creating something beautiful, and contributing to the school’s silent auction without the micro-managing help from an adult.

Gathering the materials was easy:

The hardware store for quality, sturdy glass tumblers ($10.00 for a package of 4)

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The craft store for enamel acrylic paint in the primary colours plus white ($20.00 for four bottles of paint)

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A Styrofoam plate for mixing colours (recycled from my veggie drawer)

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Two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper

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Cotton swabs (1 package from the dollar store)

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Before we got started, I reviewed with the students all of the instructions, outlining why it’s a good idea to read through the step-by-steps before starting any project.

Since we would be mixing the colours to create unique blends, I had the students refresh my memory of what colours are created by mixing the primary colours.

After breaking into groups of two (and two groups of three), the students discussed with their partner what colours they planned to dot their tumbler.  It’s recommended not to use more than 4 colours, or else the colours start to muddle together and lose their vibrancy.

Step 1:

Mix your colours.  It’s a nice idea to decide on a palate but not necessary.  What I enjoyed was listening to the partners decide what colours they wanted to paint the tumblers and the reason for it.  The best answer I overheard was, “let’s make it look like a sunrise!”

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Step 2:

Lightly dab a cotton swab into the paint and then dab the glass tumbler.  One dab goes a long way – about 5-7 dots.  It’s important that the dots are not too goopy or else the texture of the glass feels funny, not to mention caring for the glass is more challenging when the surface is raised.

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Step 3:

Continue dabbing until satisfied, about halfway to 2/3 way up the glass.  There’s a fraction lesson here!

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Step 4:

Allow the glasses to dry upside down on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  After about 1 hour the glasses are ready for the oven.

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Step 5:

Yes, I said oven.  I know, I was worried too!  Place the glasses into a cold oven.  Turn the oven on to 350 degrees.  After 30 minutes turn off the heat and allow the glasses to stay in the heated oven for 1 hour.

Step 6:

Once the hour is up, your glasses are ready for use.  Be careful when washing – use warm water and soap, hand-wash and air dry.

The finished product turned out pretty fantastic!  Bookmark this idea if you’re looking for an easy to do homemade gift.  I think grandparents would love these!

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* Take it a step further: try hand-dotting a glass platter or glass plates.  The possibilities are endless!