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Saturday, December 20, 2014

At Home: Christmas 2014

Deck the Halls!
Before I wind down posting for the holidays I wanted to share some photos of our house in all it's Christmas glory! We only get to enjoy the tree, lights, stockings, and decorations for such a short time so I wanted to make sure I take it all in before it all comes back down again in January. I tend to stock up on decor on boxing day and pick items that go with an existing theme or catch my eye (penguins have a special meaning in our house and come out year after year, no matter what). So a penguin or two tend to get added each year for the next.

I stock up on basics at favourite stores like Homesense, Superstore, etc and will buy more delicate and fancy items after the holidays from stores such as Restoration Hardware and Hudson's Bay. I also am lucky to have access to a floral wholesaler for fresh flowers, greens, and budget- friendly vases and filler.

This year I went with a traditional red & green colour scheme and chose specific elements to carry throughout the house: tartan accents, fresh Christmas greens, & clear glass vases with white 'snowy' filler. See the end of this post for Where to Buy.

The 'fancy tree' (aka Mom's tree): We've only put a few presents out to see how Ari would resist them. So far so good!

Quick & simple decor idea: 
Glass vases with filler of your choice & a branch of Christmas greens

 In addition to the 'fancy tree', we also do a family tree that's decorated with all of our sentimental ornaments- no theme here but love & memories!

For a fun DIY project make personalized stockings! Click here for the tutorial.

Some of our penguins...

...And a few more!

Favourite sentimental ornaments include some from my childhood & our family's old restaurant, DIY projects, and those commemorating life events

Sometimes simple is better: An unadorned wreath makes a statement among other festive items

My Dad is Scottish, so tartan tends to be a common trend in our house during the holidays (plus it's everywhere this year!).

Place settings don't have to be expensive & complicated to look good...

This year I used cookie cutters found at Homesense & wrapped the cutlery in doilies tied with a gift tag (Tip: use gift tags as fun alternatives to place cards)

I kept the centrepiece simple to balance all of the tartan and other accents in the room: seeded eucalyptus in a glass vase.

Where to Buy
Christmas tree 
Canadian Tire
Tree decorations: Hudson's Bay, Superstore, Costco

Garland & wreath: Superstore
Glass vases & filler: Floral supply wholesaler

Mantle (L to R)
Penguin accents: Homesense
Wreath: Superstore
Snowglobe: indigo/ Chapters
Vase & Filler: Floral supply wholesaler, Homesense
Gold metal reindeer: Gift
Penguin accent & snowglobes: Homesense, Costco
Love you more pillow: TPB Pop Up Shop

Dinning Room
Painting: DIY project
Wreath: Home Depot
Flowers: DIY project; flowers & vases purchased from wholesaler
Globe light strand: Restoration Hardware
Tartan placemats (used as table runner): Superstore
Silver chargers: Target
Plates & bowls: Denby, purchased at Homesense
Tartan napkins: Superstore
Centerpiece: Seeded eucalyptus purchased from wholesaler
Cutlery wrap: dollarstore (doilies), Target (tags)
Cookie cutters: Homesense
Garland (on chandelier): Superstore

December posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

$avvy Family Tip: Adult Gift Challenge

Today's $avvy Family is a cute suggestion to make Christmas gifts memorable vs. material. What's the most memorable gift you've received?

Christmas is a wonderful season. An opportunity to get together with friends and family, share memories and cookies, and exchange gifts. Last year how many of the packages contained gift cards? Were the gifts personal and thoughtful, or rushed and obligatory? Is anyone creating financial stress on your family, to provide gifts to your relatives? 

One of the most wonderful Christmas traditions I’ve heard about is the Adult Family Gift Challenge. It's based on the Secret Santa idea, where everyone draws one name to obtain a gift for another. The challenge is that the gift must be obtained with minimal spending. Special recognition is granted each year for the best gift at the lowest price. It’s amazing what’s available for free! You might think it's a tough challenge, or that the gifts will all be from the dollar store. That’s not necessarily the case. Think about all the free or nearly free stuff that’s available throughout the year. Promotional items offered by companies. The free list on Craigslist. Garage and estate sales. You can find a gift that's much more valuable and special if you're a little creative instead of grabbing a gift card in the grocery store checkout. 

Mix in creative wrapping and presentation, the gift exchange becomes memorable. 
My favourite was when an uncle presented a newly licensed niece with a package that looked like a massive roll of Lifesavers- it was 30 inches in diameter! 
When she ripped open the package she discovered 4 snow tires he’d found at a garage sale. Real lifesavers! 

Is your family ready to stop spending and get creative to make Christmas memorable again? 

Dan Olson is a Sun Life Financial Advisor. An experienced Dad with three children, now young adults. With everyone under one roof for the Summer, his home is feeling really, really small.

If you have some questions for Dan, or would like some help with your family's savings, here's how you can contact him: 

604 308 9502

Image Source: Comfy Ho.Me
December posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique

Monday, December 15, 2014

Yummy Mummy Monday: Salted Chocolate Covered Caramels

Looking for a holiday treat you can whip up in no time? These are a perfect no- bake item to bring to a holiday party or as a last minute hostess gift. And my favourite part (other than how addicting they are!) is that there are only 3 ingredients. They'll be gone in no time!

Yummy Mummy Recipe: Salted Chocolate Covered Caramels

Caramel cubes 
Milk & white melting chocolate (I bought the caramels and chocolate in bulk based on how much I thought I'd need)
Sea salt

1. In a double boiler bring some water to a boil and begin melting chocolate; cover a baking sheet or chopping board with a piece of parchment paper.
2. Once water has come to a boil reduce to medium heat. You can do batches of each chocolate or drizzle both chocolates over the caramels based on how much time you have/ how artsy you want to be.
3. While chocolate is melting unwrap the caramels, stirring chocolate occasionally to avoid lumps.
4. When the chocolate has melted, use a fork to spear the caramels and dip them in the chocolate, tap them against the the side to shake off excess & place on parchment paper.
5. Place baking sheet in fridge for 5 minute to help the chocolate set. 
6. After 5 minutes, remove from fridge & re- dip in chocolate, again tapping to remove excess. Drizzle with the alternate chocolate if desired & sprinkle salt before the chocolate sets.
7. Place in fridge for 5 more minutes to ensure the second layer of chocolate has set. 
8. Wrap or arrange as desired (I recommend keeping some for yourself too!).

Image Source: Weary Chef

December posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique

Friday, December 12, 2014

Affordable Holiday Fashion Ideas

Do you have some holiday parties on your calendar already? What are you going to wear? I love dressing up and finding the perfect outfit (what girl doesn't???). Even better, I love feeling like I treated myself without breaking the bank. I teamed up with local boutique Betty Be Good (located just south of the border in Birch Bay, WA) to make sure you've got something perfect for all occasions, from casual to dressy. Here's my 4 top picks:

Hello Gorgeous!

Don’t Forget to Sparkle

Everyone needs a LBD!

Keep the Red in Christmas

Don't forget to pair your favourite outfit with the right accessories (need some of those??? make sure you check out our pop up shop before it's gone!)!

To get your hands on the looks in this post, check them out on the Betty Be Good website & make sure to find the store on Facebook & Twitter.

Images & logo courtesy of Betty Be Good.

December posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday Sleep Tips for Kids

With the holidays fast approaching there's lots of festivities to enjoy. This is when families get together and memories are made. But if you have young kids, it can be tough to figure out what is best to do with them when it comes to all the merry- making. Do you let them stay up late? Put them to bed at the host's house? Hire a sitter? It can be tough to decide what to do, especially if you have a week with multiple events. To help your family get through the holidays without a ba- humbug in the sleep department, I asked Sleep Consultant Marnie from Cheeky Chops to give parents some advice. Here are her suggestions to help your kids (and you!) get through the holiday season without losing out on valuable sleep:

What do you do if you have a special occasion that requires you stay stay out late with the kids? 
If you need them to stay up really late, you can give them a short power nap so that they don't get overtired/ cranky. They will probably fall asleep on the ride home. The morning after, you can wake them up at the usual time or let them sleep in but be prepared for a late night again if you do so.

What about staying up late/ a break in the routine? 
It's ok for a few days, but if you want to get back to normal you shouldn't deviate from your routine for too long. Habits come quite easily!

What if you have plans 2 nights in a row or have multiple parties in a week?
If you choose to bring the kids along, you will probably have to deal with cranky/ overtired children at some point, but as long as you are prepared it will be ok. Try to keep the routine during the day as much as possible.

How can you help your kids settle down after a festive night out? 
Do a quick version of the bedtime routine to help them settle down, tell them it was a fun night and remind them it's time for bed.

How can you help kids settle down at someone else's house (ie when at a holiday party)?
If you must sleep somewhere else, show your kids the room as soon as you get there and let them get used to it; make it comfortable for them by bringing along a favourite stuffed animal or blanket for comfort. Talk to them about how much fun it will be to sleepover somewhere else, focus on the fun rather than the fact they're away from what they're used to. Keep in mind that you may have to give them lots of reassurance, especially if they are not sleeping in the same bedroom as you.

What if your kids don't sleep at other's houses? 
You will probably not be able to say at the party as late as you would like, as your kids will get very tired and cranky/ needy. It could be a good idea to hire a sitter if you would like to stay at the party past your kid's bedtimes and/ or and your kids don't sleep well at other people's house.

When should you choose to get a sitter? (ie if you have several parties in the same week or would like to stay up really late- aka have some 'grown up time')? 
If your kids do not fall asleep at other people's house it's definitely a good idea to get a sitter. It will also be more fun for you and for the kids, especially if they are fond of their baby sitter.

How can you avoid kids getting over tired and when do you decide no more late nights? 
You can give them a power nap (30 mins or so) a bit later during the day so that they can stay awake longer at night. Be aware that it's not because they go to bed later that they will automatically wake up later; they can wake up earlier, at the same time, or later than usual. If you feel like you child is getting out of routine, starting to wake up during the night, or overall very tired/ cranky, it might be time to say no to more late nights and parties or hire a sitter.

Thank you Marnie for the great advice- I hope it helps you enjoy the holidays with your youngsters & still get all the sleep you need!

If you are facing challenges with getting your kids to sleep, hiring a sleep consultant like Marnie can make a big difference. For more information about Marnie visit her page on the Cheeky Chops website

You can contact her via email: marnie.huard@cheekychops.ca or phone: 604 510 9922

Image Source: Chronically Vintage
December posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique