Welcome to one of my favourite holiday traditions: the annual round-up of Christmas, Holiday and Santa Claus parades for Ottawa and Eastern Ontario! Can you believe I’ve been doing this for NINE YEARS?

I feel a little bit like Costco selling its Christmas trees in July by putting up a blog post about Christmas when Halloween has barely slipped from our consciousness, but the first parades are a mere two weeks away. One breath and we’re all golden leaves and pumpkins, and then you blink and it’s ho-ho-ho and shovel the driveway! Here’s all the info I could scare up about 2014 Santa Claus parade line-up, in chronological order:

Photo of Santa Claus at the Christmas parade 2013

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One of my leitmotifs for this year has been learning how to cook. I continue to be surprised at my capacity to cook healthy and tasty food for my family – real food from scratch ingredients, instead of assembled meals from prepared foods. This has had all sorts of benefits. There’s the ones I expected, like the fact that I know what’s in the food and I can control the ingredients and I can cut out huge amounts of additives and preservatives. And the fact that food is actually tastier, and the kids are more willing to eat it without argument. That much I could see coming.

But there are other benefits, too. One is that even foods that I used to cook as part of the regular rotation now taste better. Chili seasoned with adobo peppers and onions and chili powder tastes so incredibly much better than chili seasoned with one of those flavour packs of sodium and dehydrated spices. Who knew?
Another unexpected benefit is that (and this is really big) I actually like leftovers now. If you know me, you know how truly shocking this is. Me, eating leftovers. Go figure!

Which brings me to the point of this rambly post. The nice folks at Rubbermaid were looking for bloggers to talk about their food storage boxes with Easy Find Lids (TM), and I was all over that. I love these things and waved my hand in the air to be selected for this campaign.

I know, I know, the bloggy peeps are sure that I’ve finally lost it. (It being my mind, not the lids to my plastic containers.) Maybe, but with our busy life I am all about the short-cuts, the streamlining, and the simplifying. If my sanity is so tenuous that it rests in the balance between a teetering pile of tupperware that crashes out of the cupboard every time I open the door versus a neat pile of of carefully organized Easy Find containers and lids snapped together into a solid little tower, I’m okay with that.

I really do prefer the Rubbermaid containers to all others, which is why I was fine with the idea of blogging about them. We’ve bought other brands through the years, and they’re the ones that crack after running them through the dishwasher a few times or leak strawberry yogurt all over the inside of a lunch bag. (And when you forget to empty the lunches on a Friday of a long weekend and discover that congealed mass of ick on a Monday evening? In the summer? Not pretty. Take my word for it.)

This is a not-staged, legitimate photo of the cupboard where we store plastic food containers. On the top shelf, growing collection of Rubbermaid containers with Easy Find Lids, and some semi-disposable Rubbermaid sandwich containers that have proved to be incredibly durable. Overflowing the basket that is supposed to contain them on the lower shelf is my rag-tag assortment of bits and pieces of non-Rubbermaid food storage devices I’ve tried through the years. I’m afraid to dig in the pile because it will take me forever to sort and restack the lot of them.

photo of cupboard showing storage containers

If I wasn’t such an inveterate packrat and container collector, I’d have pitched the lot of the precariously piled mismatched containers ages ago.

So, TL;DR: Rubbermaid Easy Find Lids (TM) snap together and attach to bottoms of containers. No teetering piles of mismatched pieces! They have graduated sizes so you only need to use a container as big as you need. No need to take up extra room in the fridge or cupboard. Multiple sizes of containers can share one lid size. And they’re microwave, fridge, and – be still my heart – dishwasher safe. Because ain’t nobody got time for handwashing anything!

You know I’m not going to hawk every product that comes through my inbox, but I have no trouble rambling about the ones I really like, and this one definitely qualifies. :)

Disclosure: I am part of the Rubbermaid Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are always my own.


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While I don’t often regret our decision to opt out of hockey, there is something fundamentally Canadian about hanging out in a damp, chill arena on a Saturday morning with a hot cup of coffee watching a practice or a game.

Saturday at the arena

Thanks to my awesome niece, I get to experience it just often enough to enjoy it and remember that it’s only fun for about the first 40 minutes or so. It was a lot of fun cheering her on, though.

hockey girl

Isn’t she awesome? I love that the only girl grandchild turned out to be the hockey player in the family. :)


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Photo of the day: Team Donder

by DaniGirl on November 21, 2014 · 2 comments

in Photo of the Day

I love it when a plan comes together.

This was a half-baked idea that came to fruition thanks to Photoshop, family pride, and a friend who does small-run custom screen printing. Oh yes I did make matching Christmas sweaters for all the cousins. And my brother.

team donder posse

I love how they came out, and the hoodies are wonderfully soft and warm!

Team Donder for the win!


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In the past year, the Youth of Manotick Association (YOMA) has been offering regular activities for local youth, primarily through Friday night drop-ins. YOMA’s activities provide a safe, inclusive and socially accepting environment that helps support local and area youth in building positive relationships, experiencing new opportunities and connecting them to their community. They focus particularly on kids aged 12 to 17, an awkward age where they’d like to get out of the house and socialize, but don’t always have the means to get to Barrhaven for a movie or hang out the way older teens might.

I think this is a fantastic initiative, one that is very much needed in the community. I had the pleasure of attending a recent drop-in to take some publicity photos on a night where the activity du jour was tie-dying t-shirts. I think the photos speak for themselves!

YOMA-4

YOMA-3

YOMA

I would have loved to be a part of something like this when I was young, and I’m happy to support it in my community. YOMA is really still in its launch phase. They’ve had organized some terrific activities for participants, from expeditions to Saunders Farm and ski nights to movie nights and concerts.

Of course, running an awesome program like YOMA costs money. There are two paid youth worker on site at each event, so that parents are not required to volunteer nor cramp the style of their teenaged youth. The youth workers are also available to answer questions and chat with the teenagers. The drop-in program doesn’t have a permanent home, so rental costs are also incurred and drop-ins take place where space is available: the Legion, the community arena, even the local seniors’ residence. The ultimate goal is to build a youth centre, which would offer youth social programs, preventative programs, intervention services, life skills development and leadership opportunities.

Which brings me to my point. You knew I’d get here eventually, right? I mean, YOMA is awesome, but this kind of awesomeness needs a little community support.

Next Friday, November 28 from 6 to 8 pm, YOMA is hosting a fundraising spaghetti dinner at the Manotick Legion. The goal is to both to raise funds for existing programming and to move forward with new initiatives. Gluten-free options will be available. There will also be a raffle and silent auction with some amazing prizes including One Direction tickets, Sens Tickets, NAC gift cards, restaurant gift cards, golf packages and more! And did I mention the celebrity attendees? Our local MP Pierre Poilievre will drop by, and the dinner will be attended by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.

You want to go, right? Tickets for the spaghetti dinner are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and children under 11. For tickets or more information call 613-296-1202 or e-mail at youth.of.manotick@gmail.com.

Thanks to the generosity of the organizers, I have two tickets to give away. BUT! This is a fundraiser, remember? So I would be happy to separate the tickets, so any family can have one free admission so long as they pay for the rest of the tickets. That seems fair, right?

If you’d like one of the two free tickets, just leave a comment below telling me some mischief YOU got into as a youth. I’ll do a random draw from all entrants, and we’ll work out how to get your ticket to you. Winner will be selected and contacted on Wednesday November 26. Want to know more about YOMA? Like their Facebook page for updates about the weekly activities.

I’ll be there – see you there!


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Band Aid 30

by DaniGirl on November 17, 2014 · 7 comments

in Happy holidays,My inner geek

The original Band Aid song Do They Know It’s Christmas came out in December 1984. I was fifteen years old, and I adored that song and video. I bought it as a 45 rpm single (kids, go ask your parents what that is) and years later I bought it as digital file. It’s on every Christmas mix I’ve ever made, from mixed tapes on cassette to iTunes playlists.

So it’s little surprise that I would love this: Band Aid 30, a remix organized by orginal Band Aid founders Bob Geldolf and Midge Ure to raise funds toward the Ebola crisis in Africa.

I knew every single participant back in the original Band Aid, back in 1984. It made me feel more than a little old to watch the new one and scratch my head while peering at the unfamiliar faces. Oh wait! There’s Seal, I know him! And Sinead O’Connor. And holy crap, Bono is showing his age, isn’t he? Ooo and, um, that guy from Coldplay. If you’re peering at the screen and puzzling about who all these babies with microphones are, here is the line-by-line list of who sings what, along with the updated lyrics:

‘It’s Christmas time, and there’s no need to be afraid’ – One Direction
‘At Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade’ – Ed Sheeran
‘And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy’ – Rita Ora
‘Throw your arms around the world, at Christmas time’ -Sam Smith
‘But say a prayer; Pray for the other ones’ -Paloma Faith
‘At Christmas time it’s hard, but when you’re having fun’ -Emeli Sande
‘There’s a world outside your window, and it’s a world of dread and fear’ -Guy Garvey (Elbow)
‘Where a kiss of love can kill you’ – Dan Smith (Bastille)
‘And there’s death in every tear’ – Angélique Kidjo
‘And the Christmas bells that ring there, are the clanging chimes of doom’ – Chris Martin (Coldplay)
‘Well tonight we’re reaching out and touching you’ – Bono (U2)
‘Bring peace and joy this Christmas to West Africa’ – Seal
‘A song of hope, when there’s no hope tonight’ – Ellie Goulding
‘Why is to comfort to be feared’ – Sinead O’Connor
‘Why is to touch to be scared’ – Sinead O’Connor
‘How can they know it’s Christmas time at all?’ Bono (U2)
‘Here’s to you’ – All
‘Raise a glass for everyone’ – Olly Murs
‘And Here’s to them’ – All
‘And all their years to come’ - Sam Smith
‘Can they know it’s Christmas time at all?’ – Rita Ora
Feed the world, let them know it’s Christmas time again – All
Feel the world, let them know it’s Christmas time again – All
Heal the world, let them know it’s Christmas time again – All
(source)

Regardless, I will definitely buy this single and add it to my Christmas 2014 mixed tape playlist.

What do you think of the remix? And more importantly, what other songs do I need to add to the Christmas 2014 playlist?


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Anticipating holiday fun with new KINDER advent calendars – and a giveaway!

14 November 2014 Reviews, promotions and giveaways

We love advent calendars. We have so many of them! The boys always get a Lego advent calendar to share, and they take turns opening each day’s treat. We usually get each boy one of those inexpensive cardboard advent calendars with the chocolate that always seems to taste vaguely of soap. And we have a [...]

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Photo of the day: Throwback Thursday! Revisiting PEI

13 November 2014 Ottawa to PEI 2014

I‘ve been sorting and culling old photos this week. I need to organize them for a couple of annual projects (a calendar for my parents for Christmas, and an annual family photo book) and my hard drive is also more than 80%, almost 90% full. So I’ve had my nose in folder upon folder of [...]

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Photo of the day: Rich autumn tones before and after

11 November 2014 Photo of the Day

I‘ve seen a lot of photographers using an edit that darkens the background and makes for warm, rich tones. I had my handsome model pose for a portrait so I could have a play. Here’s the final edit: Here’s the image straight out of the camera: I think his face might still be a little [...]

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Ingredient of the week: Sprout-yer-own lentils!

5 November 2014 Feed me, Seymour!

Did you know that if you take the regular old lentils that you find in the grocery store (the dried ones in the bag, not the canned ones) and a mason jar, you can grow them on the kitchen counter into crunchy, earthy deliciously green and crazy-good-for-you sprouts in just a couple of days? Lentils [...]

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Ottawa giveaway: Win tickets to the 32nd Annual Signatures Show!

4 November 2014 Life in Ottawa

One of my favourite places to browse pretty things is Ottawa’s annual Signatures Show. We rarely skip a year, and some years I go twice – once with my mom and once with Beloved. It’s a great source of Christmas gifts and I almost always find a few treasures, but it’s also fun just to [...]

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