W3Schools

bedface sheets #honeymonth

bedface

The fine people at bedface sent me a set (duvet cover, fitted sheet, pillow cases) for our bed a while ago – before we moved. So I’ve had a long time to use these sheets and see how they wear etc. This is casual bedding that will wash well and last forever. If you’re a toss the duvet over the whole mess and get on with your day sort of person, as I am, then this prize is for you.

bedface sheets are 100% cotton with a thicker, looser weave meaning that it breathes well, lasts long, and feels more textured. To me, it feels more like a good quality cotton table cloth and I appreciate the durability and structure that lends over traditional bedding that will pill and wear thin. These will last a long, long time.

I love that this is a Canadian company with a 100 night guarantee. The set available to win is just like mine – it will fit a Queen sized bed and is light grey/blue and white in colour. Enter to win below and good luck!

 

Bedface

More Prizes!

Make sure you visit the index page and enter the other Honey Month giveaways!

Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Chips

sabra-dips

Fall is here and it’s time to embrace oven cooked comfort foods and entertaining indoors instead of out. Now that it’s no longer too hot to turn on the oven I wanted to try making some sweet potato chips. I’ve loved root veggie chips for ages now but it’s so expensive to buy them. I’d heard of people making them in the oven but I’d never tried it on my own.

I brought out my much beloved food processor which has a handy adjustable slicing blade for this and set it to a 1.5 but you could use a mandoline slicer just as easily.

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All it takes is three ingredients to have healthy, oven baked sweet potato chips on the table and they make a great appetizer to serve guests or like us, a fantastic after school snack! My kids came home and saw this on the table and they went nuts for it. I was satisfied that they were getting a healthy snack and it wasn’t too much to ruin their dinner. They used these chips to scoop up some roasted red pepper Sabra hummusroot-veggie-chips-with-hummus

I also made some beet root chips the same way and it worked pretty well except that my beets were quite little and I really underestimated the amount that they would shrink! I’d do it again with beets but I’d just buy some larger ones. This technique should work well for any root veggie. Try parsnips or turnips too!

Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Chips
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
You can have oven roasted sweet potato chips on the table in no time. What a perfect after school snack!
Ingredients
  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375. If you have convection, now is a great time to use it. The circulating air helps evenly cook the chips.
  2. Prepare two sheet pans with parchment paper.
  3. Peel and slice your sweet potatoes and add slices to a bowl. Drizzle them with olive oil and toss.
  4. Lay slices in one single layer with a bit of space between them - you don't want any over lapping or touching each other.
  5. Bake 15-30 min or until slightly browned. You want your chips to curl up at the edges and be evenly toasted. Removing the chips, sprinkle with salt then allow to cool before serving. They should crisp up more as they cool. If they have cooled and still aren't crisp - return them to the oven for a few more minutes.

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These were pretty easy to make and the biggest tip I can give you is to watch them pretty closely near the end. If they’re starting to turn very dark then they are a bit over done. You want to catch them before they get to that point but it happens quickly. I would love to give you a more precise baking time but it will depend on the thickness of your chips and your oven.

We’re always looking for new ways to eat more veggies at home, especially to accompany one of our go-to snacks, Sabra Hummus. We love the smooth, creamy taste – perfect for a dip – and it’s loaded with delicious toppings. Our household favourite flavour? Roasted Red Pepper.

I loved how tasty and wholesome this snack is and I think this is one recipe that will get easier and easier the more you make it. I know there are many, many batches in my future!

Bouncing Off The Walls decor #honeymonth

Yay! It’s time for another Honey Month giveaway! This prize is near and dear to my heart as we have one with our family name on it and it’s one of my most favourite pieces of home decor. We will love it always and it will be something that we keep on the walls forever. I can’t imagine that a day could come where we want to take it down.

This prize is a hand made, hand painted, custom, barn board look sign from Bouncing Off The Walls decor. You will get to choose the colours and font and it will be made to the best size to fit your word or name.

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These barnboard look name signs are great for a family name, wedding decor or a child’s nursery or bedroom! The backdrop is one solid piece of wood that is designed to look like rustic barnboard. The name is cut separately in the font of your choice and attached on top. Three sizes to choose from depending on the name length.

Small: 1 – 3 Letters – 22×13.5″
Medium: 4 – 8 Letters – 30×18.5″
Large: 9 – 13 Letters – 42×26″
Price range is $160 – $225 depending on size.

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These custom signs made amazing wedding or anniversary gifts and you should check out her facebook page because Kristina posts things there as she works on them and you’ll have so many ideas you’ll want it all. Kristina hand paints all her items, she’s an extremely talented and creative artist!

Enter to win through the widget below and good luck!

 

Bouncing off the Walls decor

More Prizes!

Don’t forget to visit the index and enter all of the other Honey Month Giveaways!

LG G5 Smartphone from TELUS #honeymonth

Next up for Honey Month is the LG G5 smartphone from TELUS.

I’ve been a die hard Samsung fan as far as phones go for a long, long time and this G5 from LG makes me consider switching. This is an outstanding phone and one of the biggest features is that it has a removable battery. YES. Removable, so you can pop in a second one if you find that you’ve snap chatted just a bit much that day. It also has a wide angle lens on the camera which means you can get pretty creative with your photos. If’ you love to take pics of mountains or beaches this might be something you’d love.

lg-phone-telus

Get more out of your device and services. Even if you’re an Android wiz, the TELUS Learning Centre Experts might still have a tip or two to show you. You can even book a free appointment at the store nearest you online at telus.com. TELUS is offering this phone in silver with 32GB of storage. It’s a fantastic prize and I want to thank TELUS for all their support over the years!  Good luck guys, this is a sweet, SWEET prize.

LG G5 Smartphone TELUS
 

More Prizes!

Don’t forget to check the index and enter all the other great Honey Month giveaways!

Hippo Hug #honeymonth

I’m really excited about this prize you guys, I know I am really excited about all of them, but THIS one is hand made by my friend’s company Hippo Hug. You may have read about Leslie Brooks in MacLean’s or The Globe and Mail lately because she has been making quite the stir with her incredible products.

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Hippo Hug makes weighted comfort items like blankets and lap pads that can make a big difference in how people with sleep disorders get a good night’s rest. They aren’t just for people with big issues getting to sleep either, if you are like me and carry stress around in your shoulders then this beautiful weighted shoulder wrap is for you. Wear it when you’re working at your desk and it will keep you warm and relaxed. People with ADHD may also find that this gentle pressure helps them to focus.

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This shoulder wrap is beautifully hand made in blues with a batik print on one side and a marbled flannel on the other. It weighs 10 lbs and measures 20″x 50″ This wrap is designed for older children or adults (or someone weighing at least 50lbs.) I want it, look how gorgeous it is! But it’s not for me, it’s for one of you. Enter through the widget below and good luck!

 

Hippo Hug Honey Month
 

See what else is up for grabs during Honey Month by visiting the index page!

Breville Tea Maker #honeymonth

Next in our honey month line-up is this beautiful tea maker from Breville! I can tell you from experience, after using the waffle maker and the coffee pot and the food processor, Breville products are very high quality. Yes, they are a little more money but they are WORTH it because they are built to last. If you’re the sort of person who starts your day, every day, with a cup of tea then you are going to want this prize!

Breville Tea Maker

This tea maker can be programmed so you can wake up to the perfect cup and it knows just the right temperature and brew times for your favourite tea be it black, green, white or herbal.  And bonus – look how beautiful this machine is! You’ll be happy to have it sitting out on your countertop for every day use. Gorgeous.

I’m so pleased to be able to offer a prize from Breville once again this year. This is a company that believes in quality and as a consumer who is tired of filling the dump with appliances that are built to break, I can truly appreciate the workmanship and pride that Breville puts into making it’s products. These items are built to withstand years of service in your kitchen and I think that’s a standard we should hold more manufacturers to when we pay good dollars for an item. Breville delivers every time.

Use the widget below to enter and be sure to share this with your tea loving friends!

Breville Tea Maker

Netflix Love – #honeymonth

I’m really, REALLY excited to say that I’m on the Netflix Stream Team this year. Netflix has been near and dear to my heart since we first signed up and binge watching became the only way to really enjoy tv. Last year my husband was away and I was home with the kids with nowhere to go after 8pm. Netflix kept me sane that year.

Over the summer we watched a little less but what we did watch was AMAZING! if you haven’t already gorged on it, Stranger Things needs to go on your must watch list. Immediately. I understand that it’s coming back for a second season.

We also watched Happy Valley and I really enjoyed that. While it was sort of strange to see Harry Potter actors outside of Hogwarts, Moaning Murtle and Neville Longbottom played incredibly interesting characters. Also Mr. Mosley from Downton showed us his dark side (and his rear end! Oh, Mr. Mosley, how far you’ve fallen!). This is a dark crime drama with deep characters and I can’t wait to see another season. There are two to binge on and they had better bring it back for a third!

Hmmm. What else. I know there’s more. The kids have had a blast watching the new animated series based on the movie Home. Oh the alien and his shenanigans make them laugh and laugh and they’ve spent a few rainy days watching as much as they could of this cute kids show.

I’m looking forward to talking about what we’re watching with you and I’m kicking off Honey Month a little early to offer you this sweet prize pack from Netflix! It includes 3 months of free Netflix and some fun Beat Bugs Tees and Toys. Enter through the widget below and see what else is going to be up for grabs as Honey Month goes on!

 

Netflix Prize Pack

Free or Foul? Is it one or the other when it comes to Egg Farming?

As a consumer and lover of eggs I felt that I was fairly educated on the different types of eggs available at the grocery store. I typically buy organic eggs and feel the extra price is worth paying for a high quality product – that’s a philosophy I stick to. You get what you pay for, right? I will almost always pay a bit extra if I get something that is better, will last longer, will retain resale value etc. I felt organic eggs are better because the shells are usually harder and more robust. That has to indicate a better quality egg…right?

Last week I went to a commercial egg farm.

Farming is no longer of red barns and crowing roosters, in fact, there wasn’t a rooster in sight at Burnbrae farms where we toured. Instead, here’s what I saw.

Types of Chicken housing in Today’s Farming

Conventional: Conventional (also called battery caged) farmed eggs have 5 or so chickens in a cage, side by side along the barn in rows and stacked several rows high. Chickens have free access to food and water. Manure falls down to a belt that carries it away from the birds-it does not fall onto the birds below. Eggs fall to a different belt and are carried to the grading facility. Not much else to say. These birds looked to be in good condition from what I could see. I was looking into the barn from a viewing window in all instances. Conventional housing will be phased out over the next 20 years.

conventional housed chicken farm

Conventional Chicken Farming

Furnished: Eggs from this type of housing are sold under the “Nestlaid” label by Burnbrae. Other brands may not differentiate between conventional and furnished housing. In these cages, chickens have access to nest boxes for laying eggs in (the yellow area,) as well as perches. There are typically more chickens in these cages than in conventional housing but the cages are also twice as big, about 8-10 birds will live in each.  As with conventional housing, chickens are held in stacked rows in the barn with manure belts to keep them separated from their refuse. These birds also looked to be in good condition from what I could see.

furnished chicken housing

Furnished ‘Nestlaid’ Chicken Farming

Free Run: This type of housing allows the birds to run the space of the barn – there are no cages. Chickens have access to nest boxes and perches as well as access to the floor for dust bathing (or rather, manure bathing!) There were several levels for the birds with ramps for them to walk up and down. Birds in this system need to be trained to use the levels and nests And the farmers need to be more vigilant at protecting them from feather picking. These birds seemed to like scratching around on the floor but from what I could see, some were missing feathers.

free run hen

free run chicken barn

Organic and Free Range: I did not see birds housed in these systems as I believe they did not have these sorts of facilities at the location I was visiting. Free range birds have access to the outdoors weather permitting. Organic eggs come from chickens that are both free range AND are fed an organic diet.

Chicken Facts: 

Chickens operate in a system of dominance where higher order chickens can peck at lower order birds. This means that if there are many birds in a flock there will be many hens vying for the top spots. They can be aggressive and will pluck the feathers out of birds they see as weaker to show them ‘who is boss.’

Chickens in the wild are usually found in flocks of about 5.

Chickens really love to have a nesting box and perch as it makes them feel safe.

Chickens will flock together and leave empty space in the barn. They don’t spread out even if they have the space to. You can see this in the second photo of the free run barn above. They may even pile on top of each other to get close to a farm worker or doorway out of curiosity.

Chickens are tropical birds and should not go outside in poor weather.

Chickens are omnivores and should not be fed a vegetarian diet no matter what A&W tells you. In the wild chickens will eat bugs, worms and even dead animals they come across.

Chickens in Canada are vaccinated but are not given steroids nor hormones. Antibiotics are used as necessary but methods are in place to reduce usage.

Sustainability:

Margaret Hudson, President of Burnbrae spoke a lot about sustainability. She was passionate about the welfare of the chickens but revealed that much about the industry is ruled by marketing in response to consumer wants. For instance, consumers will not buy free run eggs with white shells. Consumers generally believe that brown shell eggs are ‘better’ than white ones and the reality is that it’s just a different breed of hen who lays a brown egg vs a white egg. There is no difference in nutritional value. Still, free run eggs are usually brown because that’s what consumers expect to see.

Margaret shared that when it comes to a sustainability standpoint, conventional and furnished housings are more efficient and have a much lower carbon footprint than free run housing.  Conventional and furnished housings also have lower bird mortality rates because birds are caged in more natural flock sizes. Farmers, however, are trying to please consumers by providing free run, free range and organic eggs, despite the higher costs and larger demands on resources such as land.

Will I change my buying habits?

Yeah, you know, I was firmly in the organic camp prior to visiting Burnbrae. I believed the chickens had a better life and that organic eggs were better for the planet. Now I am not so sure that I was right. Sustainability is about finding the best way to feed our people by balancing out the welfare of the animals with the impact on the planet. By those standards, furnished housing is by far the winner. The birds were in great condition, they had nest boxes and perches to make them happy but were protected from disease and each other. Carbon footprints were lower and conditions for workers were better.

Along with buying eggs at the grocery store, I’ll also be mindful of the marketing that comes by way of restaurants and fast food industries trying to get my business. So many chains are advertising that they now only provide eggs that are cage free. What they are doing is driving the industry in the wrong direction not because they believe in sustainability but because they believe consumers want cage free eggs. Consumers like you and I, who just don’t want to pay for animals to suffer. It turns out that chickens are better off in a cage than in a large herd of thousands of birds. I didn’t know that and I’m sure I’m not alone in my misdirected thinking. I’d like to call on marketers to be more responsible with their communications. The education of consumers falls partially on their shoulders – not every consumer has the ability to visit a farm and see for themselves like I did.

If it were a perfect world and we could raise our egg laying hens in a chicken paradise we would have organic birds in free range flocks of 5 or 6 that would never be stricken with disease. Right now, we can’t have that. We have millions to feed and it seems folly to subscribe to a free run system that’s less efficient, worse for the environment, and results in a higher cost product for the sake of a perceived chicken happiness value that as far as I could see, just isn’t there.

Resources:

Humane Society – Understanding Mortality Rates of Laying Hens in Cage-Free Egg Production Systems (although this is biased, there is still some good information here. Just know that at the end, they basically say that a shorter, better life is more desirable than a longer, not as good life. Like, sure, I’ll choose to live 5 years less if I could just have a chair to sit in. Come on. Still, it’s worth the read)

BCSPCA – The Future of Confinement Housing for Egg-Laying Hens This was a good article that goes into greater detail regarding conventional housing systems and their alternatives.

The Globe and Mail – The cage free egg trend; is it just a shell game? This details more about the marketing aspect of why the industry is moving towards cage free.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency – Avian Bio-security This is information on avian flu and bio-security – a huge risk for organic and free range birds.  Avian flu greatly impacts the sustainability factor.

Chicken Farmers of Canada – On antibiotic use

The Egg Farmers of Canada – The Journey of the Egg

Burnbrae Farms – Animal Care

Kids, Money, and Regrets

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When I had my first baby I wanted to set up a savings account for her and we did. We deposited money she was given at birthdays and holidays. I squirreled away every cheque that ever fluttered out of a greeting card. It lasted two years and then I got pregnant with the next and he never did get a bank account as I just started spending the money on clothing or karate lessons – they both had all the toys they ever needed.

Now my daughter is 9 and when we moved out of town I closed down her account. She had $200 in there.

We moved and she really needed a new bed. The old one was a hunk of junk and so we bought a new mattress and put it on the floor temporarily until we could get a new bed for it. I sourced a few used ones on the classifieds sites and Facebook groups for great prices – none of which she liked.

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I asked her what she wanted and what she wanted was pretty specific. Dark wood – not cherry. No footboard, but not a metal frame.  Okay then. I hunted and hunted because I really wanted her to like this new bed and treat it well and look after her room better. The state of her room has been a huge point of contention and I thought that if she had some pride in it, maybe she would look after it a bit better.

I found it. I found the perfect bed and she loved it but the catch? It was $500. That’s a good amount of money to spend on a kid who has routinely destroyed every piece of furniture in her room with markers, stickers, bashing into it etc. I made her a deal. “You spend the $200 from your bank account and I’ll pay the rest. If you want an expensive bed, you need to pitch in too. Otherwise you’re just going to get a $75 used one.”

She agreed. We bought the bed. I’m happy to say that it seems to be working. She has never before made such an effort at keeping her room in good order.

resp piggy bank

I hope she learned to save her money for things she wants, to invest and treat your property well. That good and important things aren’t cheap. $200 is a lot of money, especially to a 9 year old. Now we need to get on to the education savings because we are WAY behind on that and I am kicking myself that we didn’t do a better job of setting RESPs up when the kids were babies. RESPs (Registered Education Savings Plan) are a lot like RRSPs in that like an RRSP, money you deposit into an RESP grows tax free until it’s withdrawn, and when your child starts using the money for school, only the accumulated interest is taxable as income. If you’re  expecting or have a young child, sign up for the Alberta Baby Bundle at atb.com/babybundle so you don’t have the regrets I do. ATB Financial knows saving for your child’s education isn’t easy, especially if your income is lower in those first few years and ours absolutely was. If you sign up for the Alberta Baby Bundle and open an ATB RESP for your child, ATB will deposit a $150 savings booster into that RESP. (This offer is only eligible for children under 2.) Because of government savings grants, $150 is more like $180!

When my kids were born everything seemed so complicated. RESPs seemed complicated. I was focused on nursing and getting them to sleep and had no brain power left for thinking about things 18 years in the future. I wish there had been a resource to walk me through it all.

Sign up for  the ATB baby bundle and you’ll get access to current discounts and savings. You’ll also receive new savings in your email every 4-6 weeks. You can unsubscribe at any time. Emails also include helpful tips for parents on budgeting, saving and smart spending from ATB and Baby Bundle partners, many of whom are local Alberta  businesses you already love to support.

When you invest in an RESP for your child, that RESP may be eligible for education savings grants. To learn more about RESPs, visit atb.com/resp, call 1-888-330-9713 or stop by any ATB branch. By offering discounts, freebies and a $150 RESP booster, the Alberta Baby Bundle is a great email resource for new Alberta parents that I wish I’d had 9 years ago.

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*This post has been generously sponsored by ATB. All opinions remain my own, as always.

I made a giant mistake

Oh, you guys! I made a stupid rookie mistake just now. I know better than this. We are working on painting this house. Every wall needs to be touched by a paint brush. Every wall has been covered in sticky chipboard butterflies, knickknack shelves held up by 100 drywall anchors, dents and scratches and even food. I did the master ensuite (which you may have seen a bit of on Snapchat) and some accent walls in the kids rooms and I’ll do the basement too. But the main areas of the house have high ceilings so we opted to hire painters.

Last night (NIGHT!) my husband and I sat down to confirm our paint colour. I had picked out a grey with a blue ish undertone. Did he like it too? We hemmed and hawed and I flipped through the CIL Colourdeck I had on hand and then we thought…maybe it should be a bit more blue than grey. Just a bit. We found a colour we liked and gave it to the painters in the morning and they bought the paint and started putting it on the walls just like that.

With the very first brush stroke, I knew. I knew but I wanted to see more on the wall before I decided. I wanted to see it in different light. I wanted to see part of the wall in a second coat, even if it was just around the edges where they had cut in. They did most of one wall and by then I had this sick feeling in my stomach. They did a wall in the basement and I loved how it looked down there where there is much less natural light. But in the foyer, where there are some pretty big windows, it was so very wrong.

I called my husband, “you need to come home and look at it.”

He came home and agreed with me right away. It was wrong. It was SO blue. The sort of pastel blue that one might choose for a baby boy’s nursery should that someone want to dive straight into the stereotypical gender identity for a baby boy’s room. We were going to have to suck up the extra expense to change the colour. We had to buy all new paint and also cover the three hours of time the painters have spent already putting the blue up. An expensive lesson and one I will never forget because I’ll kick myself for ages over it. I KNOW BETTER. I know better than to choose a paint colour at night because we second guessed our first instinct.  Than to go by the swatch alone. Than to not paint a test patch. Than to not review said test patch during all the different shades of daylight over the course of day and evening. GAH. I know better and yet, here we are. Sucking up our mistake and paying to correct it. I wish I could show you what it looks like but I couldn’t even capture the immensity of the suckage with my camera. It looks pretty good through the camera actually.

You don’t make this mistake okay? Heed my warning!
paint

1) Always buy a test pot and do a patch.

2) Always look at the colour on your wall at different times of the day.

3) Give yourselves lots of time to see how you feel about the colour.

4) If you are going to use the same colour in different rooms do two test patches because the light will be different in each room.

In the end, I’m glad we put the brakes on and corrected our error. This isn’t the sort of paint job that I could just easily paint over again if I hated it it a few months down the road – the ceilings in the foyer are close to 15 feet high. We have this one chance to get it right and when it’s done, we’re living with it.

The accent colour that we painted a test patch for and have lived with for a week looks amazing,however, so there’s that saving grace. It’s up now on two walls in the kitchen and I’m so smitten. I can’t wait to show it all to you when we’re finished.