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Monday
May052014

All Mothers Deserve a Day - Happy Mothers Day!

 

 Pack a Picnic, Pick some Flowers, Give a Garden

This year, give your Mom the things Moms want most.  Give her the gift of your time.  A perfect picnic takes very little planning and is a cinch for Dad and kids to put together. 

 

Plan a simple menu that the kids can participate in preparing.

My husband and kids are planning to pack Rhubarb and Granola Muffins along with Greek Orzo Salad.  The kids are taking care of the fresh snacks of Fruit Kebobs, Cheese and Apples and Peppers with Hummus.  My kids are always so happy to be part of the planning and preparation. 

Put together some fun and games.

Make sure that Mom has some time to put her feet up.  A little relaxation and pampering should also be on the menu.  This is not her day to run after the kids or have to keep them entertained.  Pack a few balls, a Frisbee, shovels and pails, toy cars and butterfly nets.  Extra points for bringing along a copy of Mom’s favourite book or magazine! 

Pick your destination.

Looking for a shady forest area, a beach or a park? There are so many great spots so close at hand.  My favourites are:

 

  • Watson’s Mill in Manotick
  • Rideau Falls
  • Pink Lake in Gatineau Park
  • The NCC Arboretum
  • Jock River Landing in Barrhaven
  • Long Island Locks in Riverside South
  • Rockcliffe Park
  • Petrie Island in Orleans

 

 

 Pick some Flowers

It would not be Mother’s Day without the perfect bouquet of flowers or a plant for Mom.  We always choseOntario-grown cut flowers and potted plants. So much agriculture is done here in Ontario and flowers are just one product of many that we can be proud to say are grown locally.  This Mother’s Day and for any other special occasion, pick Ontario grown. 

 

Give her a Planting Box

With the May long weekend just around the corner, many Moms are anxious to get out into their gardens.  I think that a beautiful box of seeds and plants make a wonderful gift.  Find a pretty box, something recycled works for me, and have the kids decorate it.  Stop in at your local nursery and pick up all of the supplies Mom will need to get her garden growing.  I always like to put in a new pair of gloves, the latest little gadget, a few tomatoes plants and a new hat.  

 

Happy Mother's Day.  

Monday
Apr212014

10 Ways you can make a difference on EARTH DAY!

Clean the Capital

In hounour of Earth month, the kids and I have donned plastic gloves and are carrying plastic bags on our walks to and from school lately.  We are joining the team to keep Ottawa Clean.   This year, Clean the Capitalcelebrates its 20th year of their annual city wide spring cleanup campaign.

I encourage you to join your friends, coworkers and neighbours this year to help clean up public property where we live, work or play. Together, we can keep Ottawa clean, green, graffiti and litter-free.

Build Fairy Houses

Inspired by some of her favourite movies and books, Meghan had the idea to build Fairy Houses in our backyard.  We have collected many items on our walks and while cleaning up our own yard.  So far we have sticks, bark, dry grass, pebbles, feathers and pine cones.  We will also use some papers and treasures from our recycle bin.   I have posted some ideas over on Pinterest

Legend has it that if you place a fairy house in your garden a fairy might come and live in it, bringing luck and magic to the garden and its owner.

 

To attract the fairies to your structure you can leave enticing gifts, such as crystals, silver, or gold. Fairies love natural things with a shimmer and a sparkle, but they do not like magnets or iron. Timing is important when connecting with the fairies. They are most active around a full moon, solstices, and equinoxes, so this would be a good time to leave them a small treat like fruit or sweets, especially chocolate. They love chocolate

Backyard Wildlife

With the fairies settled into their habitats, we have begun to think about the wildlife in our backyard that could also use some love and attention.

Water and/ or birdbaths

All wildlife need water and this is one of the easiest things for us to provide.  From simple dripping water to a container or an elaborate bird bath, outdoor enthusiasts big and small can attract birds, amphibians and small animals to their yards with this simple provision. 

 

Just pick a container and make sure it is kept full of fresh water.  It is also important to change the water and clean your dish or bath on a weekly basis.  This can be done using a scouring brush or a cloth.  If your container gets really dirty, a mild dish detergent will do the trick.  Be sure to rinse well. 

 

The best bird baths at our house are made using the three Rs.  Recycled plastic or metal containers hung over a branch make awesome bird baths.

 

Feed the Birds

We also love to feed the birds.  Here is a link to some fun feeders we have made in the past. 

 

Another great way to be kind to birds it to keep them from flying into our windows.  Suncatchers work well for this.   The easiest sun catcher ever can be made from old cds. 

 

Play in the Mud

Do you know what mudpuddling is?  We just found out that butterflies enjoy hanging around mud puddles, who doesn’t really?   The male butterflies look to mud puddles for salts and minerals to enhance breeding.  To attract these mudpuddlers bury a bucket to the rim, fill it with gravel or sand and keep it moist at all times. 

 

Get into the Garden

Now that it actually starting to feel more like spring it is not too early to turn your attention to your garden itself.  Gardening is one of our favourite warm weather passtimes and we start early getting prepared. 

 

It’s time to get out the planters and decorations.  For Earth Day, you can create some beautiful planters using recycled items.  Here are some great videos and ideas. 

 

Decorate your Driveway

Spread the word.  It’s Earth Day and we are taking it to the streets.  It’s so much fun to decorate our driveway using sidewalk chalk.  Now you can make your own and get the message out. 

 

Homemade Sidewalk Chalk

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 30 minutes

Here's How:

You will Need

 

  • A Mold
  • 1 cup Plaster of Paris
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • Medium Sized Bowl
  • Powedered Tempera Paint

 

 

Find a mold for your sidewalk chalk. Anything from a toilet tissue roll or small paper cup to fancy candy molds will work.

Mix together 1 cup of Plaster of Paris with 3/4 cup of water.

Add color to your mixture using powdered tempera paint.

Blend well and let stand for a few minutes.

Pour your mixture into the molds you chose.

Set aside and let dry completely.

Once dry you can remove your chalk from the mold.

Set it aside to dry for approximately 24 hours more.

Take your chalk outside and create fun masterpieces!

Tips:

Powdered tempera paint is available at most large craft stores.

Experiment with making swirled colors by adding the paint and stirring very little.

Drying time can take from several hours to a few days depending on the size of the mold you chose.

 

Reuse and Recyle around Town

General Junk

Capital Junk provides Full service junk removal for residential and commercial customers in Ottawa and Hull regions.  They  remove junk, from single items to multiple truckloads.   They say that up to 70% of their loads are recycled.

Books

Pack up your old books and head out to the book fairs.  Look for listings in your local paper.  Or consider one of donating your books to the Ottawa Public Library, Goodwill or Value Village .  Here is a list of places that accept used books in Ottawa. 

Toys

I can’t think of anything more recyclable than toys.  Gently used toys have the opportunity to bring joy to some of our littles earthlings.  I love to bring my toys to the children’s schools, local women’s shelters and the Goodwill. 

Women’s Clothing

Our first thought when deciding to recycle or donate used clothing is to take items to the Goodwill or Salvations army.  I have found a wonderful organization that accepts donations of clothing appropriate for business.  These items are then given to women who are  looking for jobs and can use the new outfits for interviews.  Dress for Success.  

Need more resources.  Visit Ottawa Start for a full list of recycling outlets. 

 

However you spend it and whatever you do, have a happy Earth Day. 

 

Julie

 

 

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Saturday
Apr052014

Spring into Running

Could it be that spring is finally here in the Nation’s Capital?  It has been a very long winter.  For those of us who run, it has been doubly long as we wait for more daylight hours, milder weather and less of the hazardous slippery stuff before we dig out our shoes an hit the streets. 

Today is the day, I have been itching to get outside and I am ready to go, but I feel that I am going to start slowly since I did take a bit of a break through the winter and I don’t expect to be running at the same pace I was last fall. 

As much as I love the warmth and sunshine on my face, I am going to pace myself this month and make slow increases to get back on track.  To avoid injury:

 

  • Take short easy runs to start.
  • Don’t run every day.  Take a day of in-between.
  • Keep your increases in distance to no more than 10 percent each week.
  • Be patient.  It will take a while to re-build a running base.  Give yourself time.
  • Concentrate on this year’s running season.  You will quickly become frustrated and discouraged if you focus last year’s fitness level. 

 

Set a goal

The best way to remain motivated as you get back to running this spring is to register for  an upcoming race.  This will give you a goal to work toward. 

 For those of you who may have started early, the EY Run for Reach is a great run to choose.  I love this run and try to participate every year because it is such a great cause.  Reach is a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to educating and informing persons with disabilities, their families, lawyers, health/social service providers and the general public about the rights and interests of persons with disabilities. The proceeds from the EY Run for Reach to ensure that people with all disabilities are provided with quality legal and social representation through our lawyer referral and educational programs.

Stay Safe

If you didn't run or trained on the treadmill during the winter, you may need a refresher on running safety

 

  • Tell someone that you are going and where you are going.
  • Make sure you're visible. 
  • Don't run alone at night. 
  • Always have identification with you. .
  • Limit your distractions from iPods and devices as much as possible.
  • Don't make assumptions about drivers, they are more distracted than ever.
  • Watch out for cyclists and other runners. 
  • Carry cash or bank card

 


Run safe and enjoy the much overdue warmer weather.  Don’t forget to leave me a note here to let me know about the races you plan to run and any great tips you have to share.

 

 

 

Saturday
Mar292014

EARTH HOUR 2014

Earth Hour has become a celebrated holiday for families across Canada and around the World. For many families it is a chance to spend some fun and educational time together and to find a renewed commitment to the planet. 

Visit Mom in the Know Facebook Page, and you can watch as millions of people in more than 150 countries & 7000 cities across all 7 continents come together and use thier power to PROTECT THE PLANET.

 I love Earth Hour and you can make a day of it spending time reading, crafting and preparing for lights out at 8:30.  Early in the afternoon, I like to take a walk with the kids and have them find the following:

 

·        Two pieces of bark
·        Two round rocks
·        Three pieces of trash
·        Two signs of spring
·        Something red
·        A twig that looks like a tree

 

Returning home, we begin to decorate for our evening celebration.  Last year, we made this banner from old paper bags and materials from our recycle bin. 

 

 

You will need:

·        Paper bags
·        Your recycle bin (full)
·        White glue
·        Jute rope or yarn
·        Stapler
·        Scissors
·        Paint or markers

Pick a message and lay out your bags “Earth Hour, Save our Planet, We Love Earth.”   Sketch out full block letters as a template.  Have kids use safety scissors to cut, crumple and tear recycled items to fill in the letters.

Staple banner points to jute or yarn. 

Hang and admire. 

 

This year, I am planning to create a picture of the world using our thumb prints.  It is going to make a beautiful keepsake.

 

 One ink pad for each family member participating

·        Canvas
·        Frame and poster paper
·        Light pencil
·        Sharpie

Sketch a circle to represent the earth and lightly draw in the continents leaving room for signatures at the bottom.

Taking turns, have each person make a print to fill in the areas with appropriate colour. 

Have each family member make one last print on the bottom and sign their name under it.

 

After a little down time for reading our favourite earth and recycling books, it is time to decorate our dinner table.

 

Last year, I found a world map beach ball and hung it from the ceiling.  We used a big world map for our table cloth and filled jars with some twigs and branches we had picked up on our nature walk.

 

Don’t forget the candles.  In the past I have purchased big pillar candles and had the kids paint and decorate them.   We have also used simple tea lights and votives to make the evening special. 

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Mar202014

Time to 'Spring' Into Action

Pump up the music! Nothing makes the time pass more quickly and puts people in a cheerier mood than some upbeat tunes. Your kids will dance and sing their way to a tidier place. With younger children, you can play “wax museum,” where kids must freeze in place like a wax statue every time the music stops. This simple test of balance, coordination and reflexes can turn any task, whether it's picking up toys or tidying up the dinner table, into a giggle-filled game.

 

Go “skating” for dust bunnies: Let your kids slip and slide their way to cleaner hardwood floors. Have your children wear old pairs of socks and “skate” around the house collecting dust bunnies with their feet. See who can accumulate the largest dust bunny. Just make sure there are no sharp edges or breakable items close by with which kids can hurt themselves if they take a tumble. And be sure to collect all of your dust bunnies in a trash bag as you go along so they don't hop back onto the floor! Kids love this silly and energizing game that gets their hearts pumping and promotes agility and muscle fitness. 

 

 “Wax on, wax off.” Show your young grasshopper how to clean windows, mirrors, and even the family car by employing Mr. Miyagi’s (from "The Karate Kid" movies) simple technique of moving the right hand in a circular, clockwise motion and the left hand in a circular, counterclockwise motion. It will test your child’s ability to follow directions, as well as improve coordination, stamina and upper body strength. It's important to use non-toxic and preferably “green” cleansers, especially when kids are helping out.

 

Play expiration-date detective. Have your older child sleuth out old, unwanted items in your refrigerator and cupboard by showing him how to read expiration dates. Have him make a pile of all of the discarded items, then show him how to properly dispose of them by sorting them into three categories: Recycling, composting or trash. If you don’t already have separate containers for each of these, let your child create labels and laminate them for long-lasting use. 

 

Shake, shake, shake! Unplug the toaster and lay paper grocery bags or an old cloth over the kitchen counter. Then let your child turn that toaster upside down and do a shake and shimmy dance to get all the crumbs out. Disposable wooden chopsticks are great for loosening stuck pieces, but be sure your child doesn’t use any metal utensils. It’s a safe practice to follow even when the toaster is not plugged in.

 

Alphabetize the spice drawer. Your younger child will get a little reading and sorting practice while your spices get organized, making it quicker and easier to find what you need in a pinch. Encourage your child to familiarize herself with the spices by reading labels, smelling the spices and even tasting them. Explain how you commonly use them for cooking or baking.

 

Play “Follow the Leader.” Give each child an apron and tuck an old rag or towel and a squirt bottle filled with a non-toxic cleaning fluid into the pockets. The designated leader must walk through the house and make multiple stops to clean or put away an object and the rest of the group must follow suit. Switch leaders every five minutes.

 

Have a sock-matching race. Put an end to “sock widows” and lost socks once and for all. Toss all of the family’s clean socks onto your bed in a big pile and then race to see who can match the most pairs the fastest. Once you have all of the mates together, show your child how to roll them up into neat little balls. First, laying the socks flat in profile, one on top of the other, roll both toe ends up towards the open ends about 2/3 of the length of the entire sock. Take the open end of one of the socks and fold it down around the rolled portion. Voila! Now you've got pairs of socks that won’t get separated in your child’s drawers. Any socks left over without mates you can either donate or keep in a bin to use for arts and crafts projects or even as rag to do for some Spring cleaning!

 

Put on a family fashion show. This silly activity is good for a few laughs and doubles as a way for everyone to purge outdated or ill-fitting clothes from the depths of their closet. No matter how you look, make sure to flaunt each outfit with modelesque attitude befitting of the catwalk. Ahead of time, agree that the majority vote determines whether the outfit (or certain parts of it) stays or goes. When you're all done, bring the discarded clothing to a consignment store or donate it to charity.

 

Play a sorting game. Organize toys, books and electronic games. When kids’ belongings have clearly designated storage spaces, children are more likely to put them away when they're done playing. Transparent, covered storage bins are great because they keep the dust out, they're stackable (and save space), they're portable – some even come with wheels! – and they allow your kids to see what’s inside without having to read labels. Ask your child to sort like toys with like toys – cars and trucks in one, dolls or action figures in another, etc.  Books can be organized any number of ways, including by size, author, or subject matter. Ask your child to go through her personal library and select five books that she is willing to get rid of. But first, let your child play the role of a storyteller and have her read one or two of her favorite books to you. Set one or two more aside for bedtime reading that night. Once she is reminded of how many great stories she has, she should be amenable to letting go of some ones she may have outgrown or become tired of. DVDs, CDs, and computer games can be tackled next. Unwanted items can be donated to charity or sold to second-hand retailers.

 

Turn trash into art. The possibilities are endless! Transform all of those wire hangers you’ve collected from the dry cleaner into forms for decorative wreaths, turn old t-shirts into throw pillows, bottle caps into magnets, greeting cards into ornaments, and maps into wrapping paper. Let your family’s collective creative juices flow and see what sorts of new-fangled inventions and recycled gems you can conjure up.

 

Collect loose change. Send your child on a hunt to collect the loose change lying around the house! Have her search everywhere: on dressers, in pockets, between the sofa cushions, even underneath the seats in your car. Ask her to practice counting all of the different denominations of money and adding up the total. Take the money to a free coin counting machine (we use the one at St. Laurent Shopping Centre) and let your child buy a small treat with her new-found funds, or simply put the money in a jar and save it for a future family outing.  If there's a big enough amount, consider opening a savings account for your child if she doesn’t already have one, and encourage her to make deposits on a regular basis. One way for your child to build up her savings is to save at least half of all monetary gifts she receives. Incidentally, the bank will probably ask you to put the change into coin roll wrappers before you deposit them — this is an added bonus for developing your child’s fine motor and counting skills!