Browsing Category: Holidays & Special Events

Wear Your Story: Meaningful Jewelry

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Sometimes I think about this online world of ours and how so much of our social lives are online. I’ve made some amazing connections and I truly have friends in this online community. I look forward to seeing the latest posts of their kiddos, reading a funny story from their day, or exchanging advice mama to mama. The best connections often arise when we really get to know someone, the person behind that pretty Instagram feed.

This month I am excited to feature a collaboration that encourages us to tell our stories. Because really, what’s more fun than reppin’ your own life?! I’ve been on a journey to be me this year, and this collaboration is a perfect fit.

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Easter Baskets for the Girls

Spring is here and we’re getting ready for our next holiday festivities (of course!) I love holidays, and having the girls has taken this to a whole new level. #sorrynotsorry. I’m a sucker for holiday anything.

I put the girls’ Easter baskets together this weekend and they turned out so sweet! Yes, my kids don’t need anything, but no, I’m not willing to forgo holidays in favor of minimalism. I enjoy it too much! I am however becoming more mindful of what goes into the basket (read: not random throw away junk, but stuff that we use or need –save for the Shopkins this year– because apparently that is the thing for V). I’m also getting smarter and buying more of the same things for the girls despite their age difference, especially since lately they have to have what the other has.

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A New Chapter

2017 is here and I am so excited to be writing this post. Mostly because it’s my first post of a New Year. And you know what that means? That I’m still blogging! I started this little blog back in the Spring; it was something I had always wanted to do. But I was nervous. Scared. Intimidated. What if no one reads it? Or perhaps more accurately, what if someone reads it, LOL. What if I have nothing to write about? I’m my worst critic, and I knew I would be hard on myself if I didn’t “succeed”. It took me 4 more months after I decided to blog before I published it on social media, in particular to friends, family and people I know. 5 months later I am SO proud of myself for this accomplishment.

Putting myself out there to the world is part of a new chapter about me. One where I’m less concerned about what people think, and more focused on being my true self. And maybe no one is reading this after all (anyone? 😉 ) But that’s OK by me! That’s not why I’m here. I love writing. And like I said in the beginning, I want a memory of this time for my girls.

In starting Mamawrites I have connected with a community of people that I may not know in person, but feel like long time friends. I have received so many kind compliments and support from friends and family, and from acquaintances, too. That support and feedback isn’t the be-all and end-all, of course, but it has given me confidence and the encouragement to not care (about the wrong stuff) and to care (about the good stuff).

I am so excited for this start to a new year, which naturally brings about an opportunity to plan goals and dreams. I’m looking forward to a full year of hopefully somewhat pre-planned blog content, too!

We rang in 2017 with a couple of friends at our fave local pizza place, and then came home for an early count down with the girls before tucking them in for the night. And, just to remind us of what season of life we are in, Aria had one of her only explosive diapers ever while we were out (sorry about that, friends) and Vienna put on a fairly good display of toddler whining all the way home and refused to have her picture taken. There’s no where I’d rather be, but please pass the wine.

Here’s to another amazing year ahead! And how cute are these little princesses? xo

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Our Christmas

Well, that in-between week of hanging on to anything Christmas has come to a close (remind me again, when do I have to stop putting Salted Caramel Baileys in my coffee??) and I’m reflecting on what an amazing thing it is to have little kids at Christmas. (Truth: I started this post during said week but never finished it and now it’s January).

We I set out our Holiday Bucket List in true Type-A, Pinterest-loving fashion and we had a great month of celebrations. Here’s a quick recap of the festivities!

We started off the month with meeting our new Elf on the Shelf, despite the recommendations of some friends deeply regretting starting this madness after a few years. V has been going through a stage of naming things random words, like “Chroccoli”, which was the word of the the month in November, so there was no way I was letting that fly and having an Elf around every Christmas from now forward named “Chroccoli.” I went ahead and named the Elf Jovie, of course from one of my favourite Christmas movies! V basically rolled her eyes and said “No Mom, that’s Red Riding Hood.” So, Red Riding Hood it is. Mike even tried to swap in Jovie a few times: “Hey Vienna, where’s Jovie?” to which she replied “Red Riding Hood is on the tree, Dad” very serious and matter-of-fact toned. The Elf was pretty uneventful for the most part, but she did really go out with a bang surprising Vienna with a mini Christmas Tree in her room when she left.

We took the girls skating and out on the sleigh, looked at lights, baked cookies galore, drank hot chocolate on the daily, visited Santa and attended holiday parties. We wrapped up the festivities with a tractor ride with friends out to a bonfire where we roasted s’mores and drank hot chocolate, and then on our way back visited all the horses in the pasture. Magical! All in all, our Holiday Bucket List was a success and we loved all of it! Next year I hope to make an advent calendar, but that requires some pre-planning (before the day before) and I might not have that in me yet.

For Christmas Vienna asked Santa for a “Dress-Up Room” (“You know Mom, like at Preschool?” i.e. the entire back half of the preschool). Santa brought a trunk full of dress up clothes and, the little closet under the stairs that is joint with V’s room was turned into a dress-up space! It is SO cute. V’s still a little unsure on the Santa part in that she actually expected to see him deliver said dress-up room, which we learned when she told some of our visiting relatives “well, my Mom and Dad just brought me that.”

We spend Christmas at home now that we have kids and we host all of our family for dinner on Christmas Eve for a traditional(ish) Ukrainian twelve dish dinner, including:  wheat, borscht, cabbage rolls and perogies, among other dishes. We’ve done this is on Christmas Eve my entire life and it comes from my Gramma’s family.

Truth be told, I personally love the build up to Christmas more than Christmas morning itself. The morning seems a bit chaotic and overwhelming, and disappears SO fast. But, seeing the magic of Christmas building for them and the excitement of Christmas morning is really so amazing.

One thing I struggle with is capturing “good” photos on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning; there is too much going on and I don’t want to miss the moments trying to get a beautiful picture. So, here’s a recap of Christmas and December from what I’ve got (i.e. mostly grainy Iphone photos).

Enjoy and Happy New Year! xo

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Christmas Countdown!

It’s Christmas week! Can you believe it? Anyone else love the build up to Christmas more than Christmas itself? I am always sad Christmas afternoon when the excitement is passing and I know it will just be regular winter again soon. I truly love all the chaos and fun that comes with Christmas planning.

Both girls got pretty sick last week, which delayed a lot of our Christmas festivities. So now we are taking it ALL in and loving every minute of it! We took V for her first ice skate at the local outdoor rink; mailed our lovely Christmas cards; did some festive baking and made a gingerbread house (which is slowly, mysteriously losing all of it’s decor, as per the photo); took a few sleigh rides down the nature trail by our house; and are binge watching Christmas movies in our Christmas PJs all night, every night. On our list this week is cookie decorating, a Christmas light tour, eating too much and drinking all the Christmas coffees. 😉

Oh, and shopping. Because we still haven’t done that.

Although it’s really late (we’ve got 4 shopping days left?) I’m  hoping to wrap things up tomorrow and avoid all of my last minute errands– I literally run out every Christmas Eve to pick up something I forgot. This year Vienna asked Santa for a “Dress Up Room”. Yup, you read correctly, girlfriend wants an en-suite. Just wait ’til you see how we are trying to pull that off last minute.

If you’re local and last minute like me (ahem…. shipping deadlines have surely passed by now… sh$t), then check out this Local Last Minute Gift Guide I’ve put together with the help of some great small businesses offering promos to get those last items crossed off your list! I love supporting local, and these shops are a few of my fave!

For Her
None other than my go-to self-care place, Illuminate Skin Care and Aesthetics. If you have not treated yourself to a facial by Meredith than it’s a must-do! Treat yourself or anyone you want to spoil! The Eminence Organic Hungarian Facial is Ahhhhhmazing. And, because the owner, Meredith, is also amazing, she’s offering my readers 25% off an Eminence Organic Hungarian Facial gift certificate purchased through her online site from now until December 24th!!! These only go on sale ONE other time per year (and that time isn’t coming around again for a while). START THE CAR! 😉 Use the code GIFTOFGREATSKIN to score your deal today! You won’t regret it!

For Him
Anyone else never know what to buy their husband? I barely know anything about electronics, but recently impressed my husband with a decent pair of headphones as a gift! If you are local head over to Andres Electronic Experts and you can pick up a set of Bose SoundTrue headphones for $89 (That’s 10% better than any price online price). Or, tell them about your husband and I’m sure they will find something that fits! If he really doesn’t need anything what about a Parasail adventure with Eldorado Parasail for HALF price. Say what? Maybe buy this for anyone on your list!

For the Babes
We are in toy overload over here, and  the girls really need nothing. Of course they will still get some gifts, but Aria’s stocking will be filled with a few of my go-to baby products this year. If there is one thing we still always need, it’s baby products: diaper cream or baby lotion. And bunny crackers. Can I put those in a stocking? For amazing baby products shop online at Nu.Babee and save 15% off your purchase with code MAMAWRITES until December 24, 2016!

As for toys, my shopping go-to’s this year are local kids stores or Chapters, which has a great selection of toys too!

For Them
Ok- this is the only self-serving item on my list (in that I would indirectly profit from it) BUT I am honestly only including it because it’s a great idea for locals! If you have hard to buy for in-laws, or relatives that need nothing,  a gift certificate to Kelowna Cruises is a great local option (full disclosure, this is my husband’s company). Buy a gift card for a dinner cruise for two for the 2017 summer season before December 24, 2016 and we’ll give you $20 off (Mention code MAMAWRITESBLOG) ! We get lot’s of last minute requests for these GC’s every year and always have great feedback! (Or, if this isn’t their “thing”, I suggest local wine. Lot’s of local wine).

Merry Christmas, the countdown is officially on! Here’s some shots of our Christmas week so far! xo

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Share the Love

I am so excited to share details from my Girls’ Night In last night! Most years I try and have a fun gathering with a few girlfriends to catch up and drink wine around the holidays. I always add a fun activity, and this year I wanted to share something that I love and something that makes life easier…Chatbooks!

Does anyone else never print pictures anymore? I literally have a massive storage bin full of great scrap booking supplies that were passed on from my Mom, and I have not made a single scrap book in years and NONE since having kids, which turns out to be the time when I want photo books the MOST!

You guys, I can’t even make it to the store to pick up printed photos from the lab for our Christmas cards. It’s that bad. Add to that the fact that I have roughly 14,000 photos on my phone. I take a LOT of photos of those kiddos of mine!

Enter Chatbooks. Life saver! When V was a babe I did a 100 Happy Days Instagram challenge where I posted a photo every day for 100 days, and then had them printed in my very first Chatbook. I’ve since signed up for a series, and every time I post 60 photos on Instagram, it prints them into a little book and sends them to me. Genius, right? I’m starting to feel like I have to tell you about the second set of free books, free t-shirt, and unicorn I’m going to throw in when you buy them hahaha (totally kidding). Really, this is just MY opinion and I simply LOVE them that much!

5 Reasons why I love Chatbooks:

EASY. It’s done for me with zero participation on my part if I choose. There is a three day reminder where I can go in and make changes to the book, and even then I try to keep this to just updating the cover to my favorite picture from the book. Sometimes I don’t even do that. #momlife. This way the book is a true snap shot of our daily life, and I love it.

COST. SUPER affordable. $8 for a book and $2 for shipping! I don’t even care if the Canadian-Us exchange rate is total crap. My Starbucks (and/or kids’ matching pajama addiction) will tell you this is peanuts.

DESIGN. I love the simplicity of these books. Yes I could print a bigger, more elaborate photo book and there is a time and place for that, BUT I love that these are small and simple. And, if one of the kids tears a page I’m not going to lose my shit, I’ll just re-order it. P.S. Vienna LOVES flipping through these books. I’m starting her own series, too!

PROCESS. You can either have it sync with your Instagram or Facebook feed,  a specific #hashtag, or, if you aren’t a social media user, you can have it paired with your favorite roll on your phone. I actually love having it tied to my Instagram, because the pictures I post just so happen to be my favorite pics that I want to share, so it’s almost like a filter from my overflowing camera roll. Plus, it includes the caption. (I’ll regret the second half of this statement in 10 years when my kids can read and hashtags are sooo #2016).

PERSONAL. Chatbooks is an amazing company to work with. If I’ve ever had a question or needed support, they are there in an instant and super friendly. They stand behind their products and if anything goes wrong, they will work to make it right! They still have a small shop feel, even though they are definitely killing it as a big company now. I like supporting this company!

Want to join in on the fun? Download the app and use the code MAMAWRITES to get your first series book FREE or 10% off prints or custom books! How awesome is that? Thank you Chatbooks! Plus I have the pleasure of giving away some Chatbooks bucks to help some lucky peeps get started! I’ll do a draw for anyone who starts a new series before January 1st, 2017 🙂 (Please follow the link above if you want to be entered, that is how I will track entries). If you’ve got any questions about how Chatbooks works for our family, contact me @ mamawritesblog@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!

If you are a local friend and follower, you should probably just come over already for a festive coffee. I’d LOVE to catch up over a seasonally-flavoured, Baileys-induced coffee. ‘Tis the season to find aannnnyyy reason to get together. Fa la la la la. xo

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Oh Christmas Tree

One of the first things to check off our Holiday Bucket List was decorating the tree, of course! And I am really loving reading Christmas books with Vienna by the tree! We (Mike) decided last year’s tree was a little small for our space, so we went to look at bigger trees and ended up with what in comparison seems like a ginormous one (it’s really only 1.5 feet taller). Mike and I were laughing thinking of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation when they undo the ties and the branches go shooting through the living room window. Anyone else thinking “It’s not going in our yard, Russ?”

One of my favourite things is how personal our tree is becoming to our family. I love a beautifully coordinated window-front tree, but even I will let my OCD slide for special memories 😉 A tradition we have started is every time we travel, we pick up a new ornament from our destination! It’s the perfect souvenir and saves us from buying tourist junk. When we put them out on the tree it’s fun to reminisce about the trip we took. I started collecting ornaments on a family trip to Ireland, Scotland and Spain. And then Mike and I continued the tradition on our honeymoon– we went on a Caribbean cruise and picked one up from each of the islands we visited, which helped to quickly build our collection. Vienna is now helping pick out the ornaments, hence the zebra carousel from our recent trip to San Diego— the perfect addition to our tree! It was really sweet when we pulled that one out: with the trip still fresh in her mind she got very excited remembering the carousel ride.

My Aunt gives the girls an ornament with their name or initial each year, and one day these will be theirs for their own tree. Finally, we have a special angel we hang on the tree in memory of my Mom. The last few years before she passed she started decorating beautiful, amazing trees. My Dad said she waited years until my sister and I lost interest in the (tacky) tree decorating and then started making beautiful themed trees. I’m sure in a few years I too will be overrun with homemade Christmas ornaments from school, but right now one of my favourites is V’s little Santa hand from daycare when she was one!

It’s so funny to see how different Aria and Vienna are at this age– Vienna had zero interest in touching the ornaments on the tree when she was a baby and really just loved looking at the lights. Aria on the other hand has made ripping the silver beads off the bottom of the tree a daily occurrence. I have a feeling it might be a long month.

Christmas is such a special time of year and I love creating traditions and memories for my girls. Share below if you have any special tree traditions that you are passing on to your kids!  xo

P.S. Anyone else seriously struggling with the multi-colour light option? Miss V is obsessed with changing them from white to multi-colour, and I can barely handle it, LOL!

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‘Tis the Season

It’s no secret, Christmas is my favourite time of the year! I mean, I actually like the mall at Christmas time when most people are complaining (this is also the only time of year Mike likes the mall, too! A match made in chaotic Christmas heaven 😉 ) Vienna is showing strong signs of following my Christmas lead, and I love it! She’s been gasping and awing at any little light display we see. #agirlaftermyownheart

We are all about taking in Christmas festivities over here … I only hope that one day my children appreciate my crazy love for anything holiday-themed. I’m excited to be sharing our holiday bucket list today, since its definitely time to get in the Christmas spirit with only ONE MONTH until Christmas. How did that happen?

We love supporting local charities; one we support every year is Be a Santa to a Senior, where we purchase gifts for a senior who may not have any family at Christmas. We also love decorating cookies and gingerbread houses– it should come as no surprise that V took it upon herself to lick every gumdrop before it went on the house last year. And of course, anything that involves Christmas jammies, Christmas music, or Christmas coffee…. Ok, the whole list is our favourite.

We plan to kick things off tonight by attending an annual festival of lights, that we go to every year! What are your favourite holiday activities? Comment below to share!

Here’s to a fun, festive Christmas season! xo
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Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Following up on this weeks Double Birthday Bash post I wanted to share my go-to frosting recipe. I’ve used a couple different ones over the years, but this latest one has stuck with me. It has the right consistency for piping decorations, and it is easy enough to adjust the consistency by changing the icing sugar amount. I also like that this one doesn’t call for vegetable shortening, which I find throws the taste off a bit.

Enjoy! P.S. If you’ve got a soccer fan in the house, check out these cute soccer cupcakes!

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Double Birthday Bash

It’s a double birthday! Given the girls’ birthdays are just one day apart we took advantage of having one big family party for their first and third birthdays. Or so I thought… I say “took advantage of,” but I really didn’t think through baking and icing cakes and cupcakes for an entire evening and morning. But, it’s so nice for the girls to share their day together and to have one big gathering.

We had a great day! We ate snacks, had cake, and enjoyed visiting with so many family and friends. The kids are young enough that we didn’t do a kids party and there are enough kids in our close friends and family circle to make it pass as a kids party anyways. I did a fun activity table that was SO easy and all of the kids loved it. I’m going to recycle this idea for all future kid events! All it entailed was a roll of white craft paper, a few mason jars of markers and crayons, some stickers, a couple of easy Halloween “crafts” and a jar full of play dough containers. The kids had a blast! And it involved zero adult participation. That’s a win in my books! I didn’t do goody bags, we just sent each child home with the play dough of their choice and some stickers.

As for decor I went with pink and gold, of course, because that’s what we already have on hand. And for the record, my decorating mainly consists of baked goods– that’s my strength 😉 Each of the girls had a two-tier rose cake piped with different shades of pink frosting, and I made large and small pink frosted cupcakes too. I truly love making their birthday cakes, along with cakes for my sweet nieces and nephews. I’m no pro, and sometimes my perfectionism makes it a bit crazy in the kitchen, but I love seeing them so happy with their cakes. Vienna blew out her candles at the start of happy birthday, and quietly watched us all sing to her. And Aria had zero interest in “smashing” her cake.

Besides baking my other favourite decoration to include is a photo line, where I string up photos of the girls from the past year. I’ve done this for each of Vienna’s birthdays already, and it’s one of the few times (some) of my massive amounts of photos get printed. I take the photos and put them in a mini album and tuck them away in a box for her. One of my favourite things as I grew up was looking through old photos from my childhood. We never seem to print photos these days and I want the girls to have some to look back on down the road.

I’ve done blogs celebrating each of the girls ages here  (Vienna) and here (Aria), since catching them sitting still at their birthday party is next to impossible! Here’s a quick photo recap on the details of the day, enjoy! AND how cute is that family pic with the girls in their birthday outfits by the talented Jennifer Harwood @ Blink Photography!?

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