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Three Books. Three Measly Books.

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I really expected to read a book a week this summer -- at least. Most summers, I work and then maybe take a week or two off for a vacation with my family. But, as you might know, this summer was 6 weeks of no work. Almost 7 weeks actually. With a lot of wait time in airports and sit time on planes. So, I figured I'd be packing in one or two books a week with all that time. But, no. Three books. Three measly books. Okay, perhaps there might … [Read more...]

My Tips for a No-hassle Selling Experience on UsedEverywhere.com #UsedHelps

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Sure, we all love to sell things and put a few dollars back into our pocket. But time is money, right? And sometimes selling something takes a lot of time. But you might recall when I took the UsedEverywhere "BIG DEAL Personality" quiz, I was the "Savvy Spender."So how about I dish out some of this so-called savvy with you? After some trial and error, I have a pretty good system down and I haven't forgotten that I promised to share it with … [Read more...]

It’s Monday. Let’s Do a Giveaway, Shall We? How about a Back-to-School Gift Certificate for Sears! #RockTheHalls

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As a kid, I loved back-to-school shopping sooo much. (Okay, I loved shopping with my Mom in general, but back-to-school meant I was guaranteed to get some goodies!) Picking out new outfits, cute shoes, and getting excited for the year ahead. Yep, I loved it all! I tried to indoctrinate Stella into this consumerism blitz, but to no avail. She really can't stand shopping and has zero interest in fashion. But, alas, fear not ... this mother … [Read more...]

Mungo National Park (aka that big sand dune place), NSW, Australia

A sample of some of the interesting sand formations along the drive tour.

In the late 1960s, a young geologist was studying the Australian landscape and climate when he happened upon one of the world's most remarkable discoveries: human remains that date back more than 40,000 years. The area where these remains and many other artefacts have been found is now designated as Mungo National Park. Outside of Africa, Mungo remains highly unique and it tells of the very long history of the Australian Aboriginal … [Read more...]

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Niagara Falls

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This weekend, I'll be working on downloading all my photos from our 6 weeks in Australia. In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy this guest post by freelance writer Lindsay Edwards. If you live in my neck of the woods (Ottawa area), then a trip to Niagara Falls might be just the perfect way to squeeze in some last minute summer time with your kids before heading back into the school season.  Top 5 Reasons to Visit Niagara Falls, by … [Read more...]

A Catalogue Launch with a Twist #IKEAtimetravel

Ikea calls their catalogue "The Most Helpful Book in the World." And I certainly can't argue with that. I love (love!) a good catalogue and IKEA always does a top-notch job. A catalogue that you want to keep as a reference in your home all year long? Yeah, that's a good catalogue! And if I'm going to keep a catalogue around my house it needs more than just a dull listing of products ... it's got to have some editorial value and some great … [Read more...]

And … We’re Back!

A pic from the University of Melbourne campus.

It's been six weeks, more than 32,000 kms in the air, and another 6,000 kms by car since I announced that we had landed in Australia. I had great plans for blogging as we travelled, since I prefer to write while it's all fresh and exciting. But alas, I ran into troubles accessing WiFi and paid outrageous amounts of $$ to my cell phone provider for service and then finally just had to give up and accept that I would not be "connected" with all … [Read more...]

What Makes Me The Savvy Spender? #UsedHelps

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Okay, so it’s not a huge secret. Everyone who knows me, knows that I like a good deal. My mama taught me how to shop! I simply cannot buy anything at full price; it goes against every fiber of my being. It needs to be on sale. And 10% off is *not* a sale! I like a good 40-60% off, thank you very much. Better yet, how about 80% off? Yes, it’s possible. If you’re willing to hunt. And everyone knows the hunt is the fun part! Where to Find the … [Read more...]

Australian Wildlife: Kangaroos in the Bush

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When we host visitors to Canada and take them out for a drive in the woods, they'll inevitably ask about bears and moose. But the chances of seeing one of these special Canadian creatures is fairly rare. Fortunately, this is not the same for kangaroos in Australia. Seeing a kangaroo in the bush while out driving is about as likely as seeing squirrels hopping about in your backyard trees. While I did live in Sydney for close to a year … [Read more...]

What’s In My Travel Makeup Bag? (Hint: It’s Safer, Cleaner, and More Enviro-friendly!)

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Before taking off on our trip, I stopped into one of my favourite stores -- terra20 -- to see what cosmetics they would recommend for my travel makeup bag. (I started on a cosmetics quest a little while back to use products that do not contain any harmful ingredients and this was another milestone on this journey.) It was a real treat to receive these products all at once. And over the past month, I've had a good chance to give them a work-out … [Read more...]

Checklist: 10 Things to Do Before Leaving Your Home for Vacation

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  Going on a long trip and wondering where to start? Here's our family's checklist for what to do before leaving for vacation. I hope you find it helpful! 1. Hire a house sitter or someone to check-in on your home regularly: It's important to keep up the regular maintenance such as grass cutting, plant watering, pet care, and mail pick-up. If you are not going to have someone living in your home, then be sure to read #2 below. 2. … [Read more...]

Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Australia

Despite the winter weather, there were some beautiful buds.

It's hard to believe that these amazing grounds in the Victoria state of Australia were once unusable swamp land outside of the city of Melbourne. Now, these beautiful and calming gardens, which are the Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne, are the perfect place to raise the spirit of the groggy, jet-lagged traveller. While the locals will tell you there's not much to see in winter (June to August in this hemisphere of the world), we … [Read more...]

Our Epic Adventure: 6 Weeks in Australia

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Wondering what's up with the radio silence around here? I've been itching to write and share .... but just haven't had a spare moment to do so between end-of-school events with the kids, packing, and then actually doing the travelling bit! And, now -- yes! -- we are here in Australia for our epic adventure. It's something we've been wanting to do for some time now. But as you can imagine, it takes a lot of planning and saving to actually pull … [Read more...]

4 Ideas for Quick, Low-Cost, Thoughtful DIY Teachers’ Gifts

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Psst! This is a heads-up that if you wanted to give your kids' teachers a gift, time is kinda running out! Join my club and check out these ideas that I've hand-picked because they are (a) not a coffee mug, (b) can be created quickly, (c) are very low-cost. Notes of Appreciation for that Special Teacher Here's a great idea from Cyn at Creative Cyncronicity: a sweetly decorated glass jar that holds paper apple cut-outs. On each cut-out is a … [Read more...]

Chefx: Cool New Ottawa Service That Will Make A Chef Outta Ya!

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A = I like shopping local. It feels good to me. Same for eating locally grown food. B = I don't enjoy cooking. Hubby does; but he knows first-hand that it gets tedious to feed a family every night. A + B = Chefx Here's how it works, according to the Chefx website: "Each week, local chefs plan creative, seasonally-inspired recipes our partner farmers and producers supply the finest locally available ingredients; our kitchen team … [Read more...]

Ottawa Giveaway: Tickets to Advance Screening of Earth to Echo Movie!

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It's Monday. Let's do a giveaway, shall we? Remember how excited and captivated you were as a kid to see the movie ET for the first time? I can remember clearly that my neighbours had seen ET at drive-in show (oh, those were sooo cool!)  and I was just bursting out of my skin for my parents to take me too. When we did go, I certainly wasn't disappointed! Now, in 2014, we'll be able to re-live that fun again ... and introduce it to our kids! … [Read more...]

Choosing a Charity, Christie Lake Kids, and the #CardelCaresOtt Event

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To catch up and find out why I had $1,000 to donate to a charity, click here. How to Choose a Charity? As I was driving back from the #CardelCaresOtt event, I was chatting with my friend Andrea: which charity should I select ... one I already support or a different one? should it be local or international? helping animals or humans? a large charity with great needs and name recognition or a smaller charity that finds it hard to secure … [Read more...]

I Won $1,000 at a Cardel Homes Event! (#CardelCaresOtt)

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Uh huh, you read that right! I won $1,000! Pretty awesome, right? Oh, it gets better ... Okay, let me back up. A week or so ago, I was invited to a luncheon that was taking place at the Cardel Homes model homes in Blackstone (Kanata South area of Ottawa). The objective of the event was to gather the local media and blogging community as well as charitable organizations, and share how Cardel Homes actively contributes to the communities … [Read more...]

The Thing About Bra Straps

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Bra straps have been on a lot of people's minds these days. One wouldn't think that most of us would have much to say about bra straps. But apparently, we do. As the weather has heated up, and high school kids have switched from their winter wear to summer gear, bra straps are all the rage. Showing them, that is. It's a style. You wear coloured bras, with coloured straps, and ensure that they show. Whether or not the high schools should … [Read more...]

Hungry

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My boy is changing. The most common thing I hear these days is: "Wow! Did he just grow another inch?" On the one hand, I'm thrilled to witness this amazing change. On the other, I have an irrational longing to kiss his now-gone chubby cheeks and to press my thumb gently into the soft pudge on the top of his hand. My boy is changing. His appetite has changed too. Over and over again, we hear: "I'm hungry!" So much so, that Stella created … [Read more...]

How to Get Your Body “Beach Ready”

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Dear Women of the World, I know, you've been told: your body is not ready for the beach. How do I know you've been told? Oh, perhaps simply by scanning the article titles of virtually every single women's magazine cover in the past month. But have you ever tried to read those articles and follow their advice? I have. Those "3 easy steps" usually involve radically changing my eating habits, my exercise habits, and a variety of painful … [Read more...]

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