Tuesday, 29 July 2014

5 Rules for Camping With Kids

Sorry I disappeared for a few days, we just returned from our very first camping trip with the kids and dogs.  And yes, we're all still alive. I haven't camped in about 5 years and this was our first time sleeping under the stars with the kiddos. So I thought I might share with you some important lessons I learned this past weekend.

5 Rules for Camping With Kids

  1. The 1st Rule of Camping with Kids....there are no rules! Forget everything you think you knew about camping.  When you add your little munchkins to the mix everything changes!
  2. Embrace the Dirt- yes, I'm sure we all know this, but camping is dirty.  And adding kids only multiplies the mud-effect.  So don't fight the filth; you will lose your mind and besides, dirt is good for kids, right?
  3. Forget Schedules - it's like a whole other world at the campground. Ditch the watch and timelines and sit back and enjoy the ride.  Bedtimes get extended and meals happen when ever and that's OK.
  4. Keep it Simple - don't pack the whole house and every toy. Nature makes for a fabulous playground and letting kids just be kids and enjoy the outdoors is a great way to let them appreciate and love their world.
  5. Take Care of Yourself - guarding the little ones from open fires, poisonous plants and vicious wildlife is necessary and exhausting.  But remember to take care of yourself!  The only injuries sustained on our trip were 2 first degree burns on us grown ups.  We will not discuss the exploding coffee pot any further.

There you you have it.  Keep these 5 simple rules in mind when camping with the family and you're bound to have a little fun and some great memories and you might even want to try it again!

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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Am I Raising a Wild Child or Confident Kid?

As first glance you may think I'm an awful mom with crazy kids who should head back to high school for more parenting classes.  And trust me, there are days where I completely feel the same.  But upon closer inspection I discovered that my Wild Child may not be wild at all.  In fact, she might just be a super awesome, well-adjusted, confident kid.

Let me explain...

At 4.5 yrs old, Stella is a force to be reckoned with.  Tall and lean and full of smiles and questions she is strong, intelligent and hilarious.  But she doesn't fit that image of that perfect little kid.  We all know someone with that lovely doll of a child....quiet, spotless, well-dressed with perfect pig-tails.  Well, this ain't my kid.  And I've come to realize, I'm OK with that.

Her hair usually looks like a birds nest and she's insistent she likes it that way.  We're lucky to get a chance to brush it, let alone put it in a pony tail.  She has no care for fashion or the latest trends and insists on dressing herself in her own eclectic style.  A stained shirt with patterned leggings and fluorescent socks and a Christmas sweater make her look complete.  And it's perfect.  I see other parents staring at us, wondering how I could let my daughter leave the house like that, but I love that she is so completely comfortable in her own skin that she couldn't care less about what others think.  It breaks my heart hearing some of her friends the same age gossipping about her wardrobe while they wear their coordinating outfits.

Aside from being able to rock any look that's thrown at her, Stella possesses this amazing self-confidence that I'm completely jealous of.  She has no fear of what others think and never feels embarrassed or self-conscious. 

Case in point....Stella is in Dance Camp this week and her instructor shared a great story about Stella's Improv skills.  They had turned on some dance music and were encouraged to do some Improv and dance however they wanted to the music.  "You know how they say 'Dance like no one is watching?' well Stella did and it was AMAZING. The other girls danced but were a bit hesitant or felt a bit embarrassed." her instructor said.   But Stella was completely wrapped up in the musice and danced her ass off, no matter how it looked and who was watching...she didn't care and enjoyed every beat.

Wild child or confident kid?

Well, I think us as adults could take a few pointers from Miss Stella.  Who cares if you aren't wearing make up or if your hair isn't perfect or if you don't have the latest fashions? Self-confidence develops early on and comes from the inside.  We should stop trying to make our kids into these perfect little dolls and just let them be kids.  The more we try to mould them into these little adults, the more we take away their innate confidence; loud, dirty, crazy and completely happy with who they are.  I don't want Stella to lose that carefree love of being herself as she gets older.  So yes, she might look like a clown some days or a weirdo running in circles singing at the top of her lungs, but she's more than just a wild child...she's pure self-confidence and my inspiration!

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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Camping Made (More) Awesome!

In honour of our first family camping trip coming up I was inspired to check out some camping gear online.  Hello Polyvore!  To be honest, I haven't looked at camping stuff in years.  I just have fabulous memories of those musty canvas tents and cold sleeping bags we used to camp out in as kids.  I don't know how my parent's did it....sleeping on the ground in the same leaky tent as us 3 grubby kids. So I thought it would be fun to scope out some totally cool gear that I will probably never own, but can daydream about every once in a while.

Camping Made Awesome

Camping Made Awesome by myhippiehome featuring an outdoor day bed

What's your must have camping item? Any suggestions for our inaugural family camp out? 


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Monday, 21 July 2014

All-Natural Bug Repellent #DIY

In just a few days we'll be packing up the kids and dogs and heading off the to great wilderness (read: campground 1hr away from home) to enjoy a little outdoor camping adventure.

Among many other things, we will need a good amount of bug spray.  I can't stand the thought of putting DEET on my kiddos or dogs so I've come up with my own concoction that works and is completely natural!

All-Natural Bug Repellent

What You'll Need:

1 spray bottle
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Witch Hazel
Citronella Essential Oil
Rosemary Essential Oil
Lavender Essential Oil
Clove Essential Oil


This couldn't be easier.  Pour your water and Witch Hazel into your spray bottle.  Next it's time for the essential oils.  The best part is you can tweak the recipe depending on your preference.  Here's what I used: 25 drops of Citronella, 20 drops Lavender, 7 drops of Rosemary and 7 drops of Clove essential oils.  Add to your bottle and shake well.  And PRESTO!  All-Natural Bug Repellent!

Both my husband and I tried this spray out over the weekend with great success.  It was easy to make and goes on great; nice and light and refreshing.  I sat out on the deck last night to test it and see if it did indeed repel the bugs.  I had been cleaning up the back yard and as the sun went down the mosquitoes came out.  After applying it to my arms and legs I was surprised how well it worked.  The mosquitoes came over to for a little nibble, but when they landed or got close they didn't seem to care for my scent anymore and left.

There will be more testing this weekend at the campground so stay tuned for an update. Remember, what works for me may not work for you, so mix up the recipe to suit your needs.  And don't forget to let me know if it worked for you or if you discovered an even better bug spray recipe!

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Friday, 18 July 2014

How I Survived My First Photo Shoot

I'm happy to report that after my photo shoot last night with Lainie Hird Photography that I'm still alive and well.  Yes, there was some concern on my part that I might spontaneously combust while having my picture taken.  Or maybe a giant asteroid would come down screaming from the sky and land on top of me while I was saying cheese.

OK, let me explain.  I DO NOT enjoy having my picture taken.  I'm a super shy, self-conscious introvert who's always the one behind the camera.  So needless to say, willing going to have my picture taken on my own was WAY out of my comfort zone.  I had no family or kids or pets as a buffer....just me & Lainie and her camera.  AHHHH!

After meeting Lainie, I immediately felt more relaxed.  She has this sweet & calming vibe that definitely helped ease my nerves.  I've always had this weird photo issue for as long as I can remember.  The moment someone says SMILE I get this stupid look on my face; a weird eye  thing and a crooked smile.  So I've always just stayed behind the camera to avoid those terrible pictures.

Luckily for me....and you, Lainie was able to keep me relaxed and distracted enough to get some fabulous photos.  From walking through farmer's fields to wading through a river, we explored some pretty amazing backdrops.  And yes there may have been some tiny furniture & kittens involved!

I have to say, waking up this morning and seeing a couple of Lainie's shots made me feel happy and empowered.  Working with her was a delight and I can't wait to get the opportunity again.  I know it's just a picture, but I highly recommend doing a little shoot just for you.  Whether it's just a portrait or head shot or maybe even a boudoir session; having a few moments of piece and beauty captured on film can really do wonders for your spirit.
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Disclaimer: A huge thanks to Lainie Hird Photography for my photo shoot.  I did not receive compensation for this post, I just really enjoyed my experience and wanted to share.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Awesome #Frugal #Garden Haul

So I just had to share this little story as I still can't believe my amazing gardening score! Last week I had stopped by the local garden centre at Strathroy's Great Canadian Superstore.   To my surprise practically everything was marked down by 40% - 60%!!  Woohoo!  I quickly grabbed a bunch of plants for my new garden I was putting in and headed home to tell my husband the awesome deal I had just got.

A few days later I was in the city doing some grocery shopping and stopped at a different Superstore location.  I decided to hit their Garden Centre to see if they had anything else that might be of interest.  There was this Hardy Fig Tree I had debated on purchasing that I was hoping might be there.  And to my surprise, there was a huge table of them!! On sale for $11!  Perfect.

I grabbed the Fig Tree and a couple other plants and headed to the cash register.  When the lady rang me through she said "That will be $4.40 please."

Huh? So silly me asked if that was right.  She then coldly replied "I can charge you more if you want."

That's when I saw the tiny sign and those people with huge carts full of plants finally made sense.  The garden centre had been put on notice that it was to close THAT day for the season and all the plants were being sold for $.50, $1.00 & $2.00!  I couldn't believe it!  I put my 4 little plants in the car and grabbed a cart and started to stock up!

Bushes, trees, perennials and annuals....you name it, I got it! The selection wasn't the best but it was more than enough for what I needed.  By the time I was done there was barely enough room in my car for me, let alone any groceries.  My husband was gonna kill me!  Luckily, when I showed him my huge flora haul and told him what I paid, he was AMAZED!

I had purchased over $250.00 worth of plants for......

wait for it....


 No seriously! $16.50!  21 plants for less than $20!  

I'm still kind of in shock!  Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is if you looking for a bargain it pays to wait for sales or the end of season.  They may not have the selection, but the price can't be beat!  Now to plant all these lovelies!

What's been your best summer sale score?
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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

It's My 1 Year #Blogiversary

Happy Blogiversary to Me! 

 I can't believe it's been an entire year since I started this little page.  And what a year it's been!

I don't want to bore you with a synopsis of the past year on my blog (you can read it for yourself) but I would like to share a few things that I learned in the past 365 days.

5 Things I've Learned in my First Blog Year

1.  Blogging is Hard - for real. It takes time, dedication and drive to keep a blog going.  And I certainly didn't realize how much work it takes until just recently.

2. Sometimes You Need to Say No - this is something I have a hard time with, but it's completely necessary in the blogging world.  You need to say no to things that don't mesh with who you are and what your blog is about.  Yes, money and products are tempting, but some things are too much of a headache than what they are worth.  And besides, no one likes a sell out.

3.  Be You - for me, I need to stay me. And that means keeping control of my blog and my content.  I like being able to pick and choose what, how and when I write.

4.  Write and Then Write More - I have learned the hard way that consistent, quality writing is essential.  And the moment you slack off, so do your fans.  There have been a few times where I've lost my way, my will and the time to type and I've paid the price.

5. Enjoy & Embrace - this last one is something I try to remind myself of regularly.  If you don't enjoy what you're doing and embrace the process, you won't get anywhere.  You need to love your blog, show it some love, write with love and share your love.  Everything else will fall into place.

Thanks for a wonderful year! I'm grateful for all the wonderful people I've met and awesome experiences I've had and I look forward to sharing many more with you.

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