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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Ombre Photo Backdrop DIY

There are some pretty amazing photo prop/ backdrop ideas out there. For my recent Valentine's Day photo collab with Creative Wife & Joyful Worker and The Cheerio Diaries, we each pitched in to create a pretty & delicate party for 3 very cute little ladies and I offered to create a backdrop we would use for some of the photos (check out these sugar cookies by The Cheerio Diaries and this tassel garland cake topper by Creative Wife & Joyful Worker that they made for the shoot). After scrolling through trusty old Pinterest for inspiration, I decided on one made with dip- dyed coffee filters & streamers. Since this was a girly Valentine's photo shoot, the obvious choice was pink, but I've seen other versions in different colours that are equally beautiful. This backdrop would be great for weddings, parties- pretty much any excuse you have to take photos. It costs only a few dollars to make and you can make it as full or spread- out as you like. All you have to do is run out to the dollar store for a few supplies and you're good to go. My only tip is to give yourself a little bit of time when it comes to stringing this together- maybe pop in your favourite movie or Netflix so the process doesn't get too repetitive. See the how- to (and some of the cute photos from our shoot!) below. 

Coffee filters (I just used a pack of 100, use more for a fuller look)
Food colouring
Fishing twine
Cool glue gun
Shower curtain
Wooden dowel or wrapping paper tube

1. Start by separating your coffee filters into four groups; keep one pile aside that will stay white

2. Fill 3 separate bowls with approx. 2 cups of water. Add increasing amounts of food colouring to each bowl to achieve the vibrancy of colour you'd like (I used 15 drops, 10 drops, and 5 drops)

3. Take the coffee filters in groups of 3- 5 and fold them into a fan shape

4. Dip the coffee filters into the dyed water about half way, holding them in the water for a few seconds so they can absorb the colour. Set aside as you dye the others. Repeat the process with the other two batches of coffee filters and allow to dry overnight

6. When dry, begin making the coffee filters into cones. First fold them in half...

7. ... Then fold in each side to create a cone

8. Staple to hold in place (you could also use a dot of glue or use double- sided tape so you don't see the seam as easily)

9. Continue this process until all of the coffee filters have been shaped into cones (see why I suggested the movie/ Netflix? ;) ). Then measure out pieces of fishing twine approx. 10 feet long and string on the cones from lightest to darkest to create an ombre effect; secure them on the twine by pinching the top of the cones with a dot of glue (this is why it's best to use a cool glue gun, so you don't burn your fingers). Vary the spacing, grouping some closer together and spreading others farther apart

10. At this point, you could simply use the strings of cones and hang them in front of a wall to create your backdrop. But if you'd like a solid backdrop where you can't see what's behind it (such as in front of a door, or to cover a non- photogenic wall), see the following steps

11. Attach a plain shower curtain to a cardboard tube or wooden dowel and then tape varying lengths of streamers to create a pretty layered effect (start with longer pieces, then add shorter pieces on top)

12. Once you're happy with the streamers, layer on the strings of coffee filters, spacing them out based on how full you'd like it

12. Secure your backdrop where you want to use it (make sure the lighting is good/ away from shadows), find some cute models to pose & snap away! 

It was so much fun getting to work with two of my blogger friends for this shoot- we all had a blast and so did our little models. Make sure to check out The Cheerio Diaries and Creative Wife & Joyful Worker for more great blog reading.

Thanks to these great shops for helping us style this shoot (some aren't shown in these photos):
Dresses- Over The Loom
Bracelets- Rachel Rainbow
Noisemakers, Fiesta Balloon & Tassel Garland- Fun Fiestas By Ili
Party Straws- Dixie + Twine
Glitter glassware & gold- dipped wood cutlery- Grace Miller & Co

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Friday, January 29, 2016

House Box Review {+ Giveaway}

There are some great products for the home out there, but one thing I'm finding is that the products I love and use the most aren't usually the ones you find in big box stores. They're from smaller companies, many of them only available through small shops and online. Products such as cleaners (when I don't make them myself), personal products like lotions, and even things like tea and coffee are all examples of products that I prefer to buy from smaller brands instead of the big multi- national ones. The quality alone sets them apart, and I like trying out options that are unique- especially if it also means supporting a small business while doing so.

For the past month I've been testing out a variety of items from House Box, a subscription company that delivers an assortment of products for the home every two months. It's a great way to try out brands that are harder to find or unavailable at big retailers, and if you find a product (or a few) that you love, you can order full- size products through the House Box website. I'm sharing below about the products included in the House Box I received, plus see the end of the post to learn how you can enter to win a 6- month subscription (3 boxes every 2 months). 

Here's what was in the House Box I received:

Lunatec Odour Free Dishcloth- Scrubbing dishcloths that are odour- free and hold less bacteria than sponges or cotton dishcloths. Simply rinse to remove food debris.
loved this dishcloth- it's really a combo between a cloth and a scouring pad. It worked great to scrub clean a variety of surfaces (including a very messy counter after baking!) and because it's thin and flexible it could fit into tight spaces to scrub off caked- on messes. I've popped it into the dishwasher after particularly messy clean ups and it came out good as new. Rinsing under warm water works well after regular wipe- downs. 

Essential 8 All Purpose Cleaner- Organic nontoxic all- purpose cleaner made with pure citrus essential oils. Safe and gentle to use on surfaces where kids will eat, play etc and is safe for cleaning wood, countertops, leather, upholstery, tile, and plastic. It can also be used as a car wash and pre- treatment for laundry stains.
This got use a lot and I loved that I could use it anywhere and everywhere without worrying about the kids touching or eating off of the surfaces I cleaned with it. Added bonus: it has a lovely fresh citrusy- scent thanks to the essential oils.

Tupperware Citrus Peeler- A classic tool to help peel citrus easily.
This is a neat little gadget that doesn't take up much drawer space and is great when you need zest for recipes.

Great Canadian Soap Co Healing Butter- Made with Lavender and Tea Tree essential oils, which are known to have healing properties for a variety of things from cuts and burns to insect bites and more. Perfect to have on hand in the kitchen, a first aid kit, or in the diaper bag.
I love that this is a natural option to sooth skin. I used it on a cut I got from a kitchen knife and it worked well; then I tried in on the kids. Because they have more delicate skin I wanted to try it on myself first and once I knew it was good to go I put some on a scrape Ari had and even used it to help clear up some diaper rash! Each time it did a great job and I've now got it tucked in the diaper bag for on- the- go needs (yay for multi- purpose products!).

Tea Pigs Tea- Made with high- quality ingredients, there were two varieties included in my House Box: Every Day Brew, a blend of  3 black teas, Assam, Ceylon, and Rwandan, for a tasty caffeine boost, and Peppermint Leaves, made with whole peppermint leaves for a strong and refreshing herbal option. 
I'm a tea lover, and I enjoyed trying these. I was even kind enough to share some of the mint tea with Ari (peppermint is great for soothing soar tummies and promoting healthy digestive systems) and she loved it as much as I did. This is s nice way to try different varieties of tea without committing to a whole box; it was lovely enjoying them while I worked and kicked up my feet during nap time.

And now about that giveaway!
Like I mentioned at the beginning of the post, House Box is giving away a 6- month/ 3 box subscription to one lovely reader. See all the ways you can enter below, good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About House Box 
House Box is a subscription company that delivers a selection of products for the home right to your door. Boxes are delivered every two months with a variety of subscription options available. Gifting options are also available.
To learn more about House Box & to start a subscription visit their website. You can also find them on social media: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

January posts sponsored by

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Healthy Family Expo 2016 {+ GIVEAWAY for $1,000+ in prizes!}

I'm always on the lookout for new ideas to help our family lead a healthy lifestyle, and one of my favourite events is returning for it's third year on March 6th, The Healthy Family Expo. Loaded with a variety of exhibitors to showcase ways families can lead healthy, active, and eco- friendly lives through small steps and simple solutions, the HFE organizers work hard to ensure there is something for everyone, including for kids between 0- 12. I love meeting and speaking with the passionate exhibitors who specialize in a variety of areas and it's a great time to ask questions and learn more about products, etc you've been curious about. It's a good idea to go through the exhibitor list on the HFE website before the event and note the ones you'd like to check out, especially if you have a specific reason for attending, such as allergy- friendly snack ideas for your kids. I always come home loaded with new ideas and products to try, some of which have become staples in our family. See below for more details plus enter to win a pair.

Event Info
Date: Sunday March 6th 
Time: 10am- 5pm
Location: Vancouver Convention Centre
You also have the chance to win thousands in prizes before the event- simply RSVP that you’re GOING in the Expo Facebook Event for your chance to win. 

·       100+ Exhibitors, Shopping & Food Sampling
·       Biggest Active Kid Zone in the Lower Mainland, with climbing wall, giant hamster ball track, fire truck bouncer, run bike & sportball areas, animal safari, DANCEPL3Y classes & more!
·       Bobs & LoLo concerts at 11 am and 12:30 pm  
·       Jessie Farrell concert at 3 pm presented by Bolthouse Farms
·       $15,000 Grand Prize Showcase, including a 1-year lease on a Toyota Prius c
·       On-site hybrid vehicle test-driving with Toyota Canada
·       Seventh Generation Baby Feeding & Changing Lounge & Active Baby Stroller Parking
·       First 200 attendees receive child day ticket to the Sea to Sky Gondola
·       Advance tickets are entered to win a $200 shopping spree at the Expo!
·       $1 from each ticket sale supports the Canucks Autism Network.

$12 in advance- visit www.healthyfamilyexpo.com/tickets and use code TPB241 to receive 2 tickets for the price of 1. You can also purchase  tickets at Whole Foods Market or London Drugs locations.
$15 cash at the door, kids under 12 are FREE!

To kick off pre-Expo celebrations, Healthy Family Expo partners have teamed up to give one lucky Lower Mainland winner a healthy family prize package valued at over $1,000, including:
·      Family Summer Season’s Pass to Sea to Sky Gondola ($274+ value)
·      $50 gift card to Whole Foods Market from Toyota Canada
·      $50 photo book gift card from London Drugs
·      Family tubing or sliding pass for Cypress Mountain ($75 value)
·      Grass fed goodness prize pack from Rolling Meadow Dairy, Life Choices & Nudge ($150 value)
·      $50 gift card from Active Baby
·      Climbing date-night for two at Climb Base5 ($50 value)
·      All Natural Whole House Cleaning Kit from AspenClean ($70 value)
·      Gift basket of yummy cereals & rice bars from Envirokidz ($50 value)
·      Child Sonicare electric toothbrush from PDG Pediatric Dental Group ($69)
·      Foster Naturals shampoo & conditioner set from Modern Mama ($52 value)
·      WaterBox prize pack from Happy Water ($50 value)
·      Gift box full of healthy, delicious products from Love Child Organics ($50 value)
·      REAL meat pet food gift basket from Holistic Choice ($50 value)

To enter see the Rafflecopter entry form below! 
Open to Vancouver Lower Mainland and Sea to Sky Corridor residents.
Winner will be announced at the Healthy Family Expo Facebook Party on March 3rd, 2016, and must collect prizes at the Expo at the Vancouver Convention Centre on March 6th, 2016.

January posts sponsored by

Glitter & Spice

Thursday, January 21, 2016

New Years Inspirations Part 2: Slow Down & Enjoy the Little Things

How often do you slow down? Put yourself first? Really savour that cup of coffee (while it's still hot!)? No matter what your life mix is, there's always plenty to keep us busy and one thing I've found is how much better I feel when I make the choice to slow down and 'turn off', even if it's only for a few minutes each day. I love checking things off my to- do list, but I'm guilty of burning myself out trying to get everything done and then not being such a pleasant person as a result. When I set goals, I want to reach them and I have to remind myself to be patient, not be too hard on myself. To savour the moment and enjoy the journey. One person who I admire for her ability to reflect within and always find a way to stay positive is Jamie from Styling the Inside. I love her openness and honesty about her own personal journeys and how genuine she is. Jaimie is a busy lady and she admits there is plenty of crazy thrown into her days, but she has taught herself the importance of taking time for herself, to 'style the inside'. In Part 2 of my New Years Inspirations posts (see Part 1 with the ladies of Pacific North Photography here), Jamie has shared how she shapes her daily habits to live with intention throughout the year. 

What do you think the difference is between setting goals and setting resolutions for the new year? Do you think one is better than the other?
I personally believe the two go hand- in- hand. Having a goal is something  we want to achieve that's attainable while having a resolution really helps us reinforce these changes we want to make. 

How do you like to plan for the year ahead? Do you set goals/ make resolutions?
Right before the new year a few girlfriends/ fellow bloggers/entrepreneurs and I met up at the local library to "plan" for the new year. I found this to be very helpful because we helped one another brainstorm ways to achieve our goals. Verbalizing our goals and plans has  also helped us keep one another accountable. 
I'm also not a huge fan of the word resolution, and this year I'm setting intentions instead. 
At the end of the day, goals, resolutions, and intentions all boil down to our daily habits. 

How do you try and make each day the best you can?
Not everyday is rainbows and unicorns but I always remind myself at the end of each day (especially the not-so-great days) that I'm doing the best I can. The not-so-great days are usually the ones when I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get everything done. 

I've come to realize that the best days for me are the ones where I've taken some time out for self-care. It doesn't have to be a full day at the spa, but the little everyday things like enjoying my coffee in the morning before the rest of the house wakes up makes all the difference. 

How do you face challenges that have you re- thinking your plans? Do you have an experience you can share?
Challenges are inevitable and in times of challenge its easy to want to throw in the towel. It's also easy to keep these challenges bottled up, because we don't want people to know we may perhaps be struggling or want to burden anyone with our struggles. However, keeping our challenges within only makes it harder to get through them. This is why during challenging times I usually confide in friends and family. Often times I know the answer within but sometimes just venting to a friend gives me the reassurance I need and helps me get back on track with my plans. For example, I was having a difficult time with a business decision recently and after talking it through with a friend, I felt much more confident about my decision. 

How do you keep yourself positive/ 'style the inside' in your daily life?
I'm a very positive person, and when I catch myself in negative thoughts I usually get over them pretty fast. However, I wasn't always this way. For years I struggled with negativity, worry, self-doubt, insecurities and anger. I tried to obtain happiness from outside sources like having a hot body and expensive clothing, but this only resulted in feelings of not enough. Once I began doing the inner work to feel good on the inside, my mindset drastically changed. 

Styling the Inside of my life is a daily practice. Self-care, exercise, spending time with friends and family, giving back, writing, and expressing gratitude are all ways in which I style the inside of my life. 

What tips/ advice would you offer to ladies heading into the new year to help them live with purpose/ work towards goals?
My advice is simple: begin within. Ask yourself 'is what I working towards aligned with top core values?'. If it does, then it's probably worth working towards, and if not then it's time to re-evaluate. 

A big thank you to Jamie for taking the time to share! Learn more about her and how she's "creating a life that feels good on the inside" on her blog, Styling the Inside. You can also find her on social media:  Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

January posts sponsored by

Friday, January 15, 2016

DIY Flower Monogram

I've been having fun adding some finishing touches to Ari's room now that her big girl bed is set up and I couldn't resist looking for some fun and easy DIY projects on Pinterest that I could pull off. This flower monogram was super easy and cost peanuts to make (I think I maybe spent $5 on materials at the dollar store- everything else I had on hand). To personalize, you just pick out fake flowers & colours you like (how pretty would this be to make with fresh flowers for a party or shower???). See below for instructions. 


Cardboard tube* (I used a wrapping paper tube, but for tricky letters like 'G' a store- bought paper mache letter will work)
Scissors/ exacto knife
Fake flowers
Glue gun

*In one of the projects I saw, they used a paper- mache letter and cut off the top, which would be good for letters that are harder to shape out of cardboard


1. Flatten the tube in half to create a crease, then do the same in the other direction so the creases from your first fold line up- when you hold up the tube it should be square- shaped instead of round. 

2. Using the exacto knife/ scissors, cut the tube into the pieces to make your letter. It may help to draw a letter on a piece of paper so you can lay out the pieces as you go. Tape together to hold shape.

3. With your glue gun, glue the pieces together and allow to cool. Then use your exacto knife or scissors to cut down the middle of the cardboard. Fold the edges in/ down and secure in place with more hot glue.

4. Now for the fun part! Trim the stems of the fake flowers so you can fit them into the letter (the tops of the flowers should sit a little above the cardboard). Place the flowers in the letter to check for spacing, then use the glue gun to secure them in place. Allow to cool. If you prefer a fuller look, add some smaller flowers to fill in the gaps. To hang, you can simply cut a notch in the back of the cardboard to go on a hook, or glue a loop of ribbon/ twine. These are also pretty displayed on vanities/ dressers. 

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