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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Our 2 Week Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean Challenge #SonicareSmile

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With two teenagers in the house, we seem to go through a lot of toothpaste as both of my kids like to head off to school in the morning to see their friends with sparkling smiles and fresh breath. And  I am finding as we get older, both my husband and I have noticed that plaque seems to build up easier on our teeth than it used to, even when we change our toothbrushes often. And getting those back molars clean has always been a challenge because they are so hard to reach with a regular toothbrush. Either way, there is a lot of brushing going on in this house
Recently, my family asked to take the Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean Challenge for two weeks to try the Sonicare technology for all our oral care by using Philips power toothbrushes in place of our regular toothbrushes. {I have been wanting this system since forever because I have heard so many great things about it!} We are excited about this challenge because Philips Sonicare power toothbrushes have a range of five cleaning modes, including a whitening mode than can whiten teeth in just one week. My self-conscious teens are excited about whitening their smiles with this new technology.  Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean has also been proven to remove up to 7x more plaque than a manual toothbrush and I am sure that our teeth could definitely use some help in removing plaque.
So this challenge is on! I have just brushed my teeth for the very first time this morning with our new power toothbrush, and already my back molars are feeling cleaner than they usually do after brushing. My son tried out the new power toothbrushes and he thought that his teeth felt cleaner than usual as well.

We will be checking back in two weeks with a full report on our Philips Sonicare Diamond Challenge and to share with you how our smiles are looking!

Disclosure: We have been provided with two Philips Sonicare Diamond Cleaning toothbrushes for the purposes of this challenge. However, all opinions are my own honest opinions.
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Monday, September 15, 2014

Be Awesome Party #13! Come Link Up Your Projects and Last Week's Features

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Hello dear readers!
I hope you had a great week! I think it is safe to say that Fall is here with cooler temperatures and leaves starting to drop. You might remember that last Monday, my city got a little snow and I am happy to report that it did not stay around!
I cannot wait to see what you have been up to this week!
I love seeing all of the incredible crafts, recipes, decor and more that you link up each week!
Angie of Echoes of Laughter, Virginia of Fynes Designs, Julie of Sober Julie,  Crystal of Sew Creative, Jo-Anna of A Pretty Life in the Suburbs, Tara of Suburble, Stacey of This Lil Piglet and Shauna of Satori Design for Living are the hostesses of this awesome party! 
This week's features were chosen by Angie from Echoes of Laughter. Here are some projects that caught her eye this week:
And our hostesses have also been creating some lovely projects this week:

Now let's party:

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Homemade Sweet & Crunchy Pickles & 4 Other Canning Recipes

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With the end of August and the healthy abundance of fresh vegetables brings pickle time in our house! I can homemade pickles once a year and these are my family's favorite pickles. I come from the Maritimes, and in those parts, these pickles are known as 'mustard pickles' which is such a misnomer because I will let you in on a little secret...these pickles don't taste like mustard! Like at all! They taste sweet and crunchy and make a delicious side dish to any meal where you might lick your lips for the taste of pickles. And part of the ritual is that you must save a bottle of pickles for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner!
I first tasted these homemade gems years ago while at a family friend's house for dinner. They had been served to me at many meals for years, but I had never tried them because, well, they had the word mustard in them and I though they tasted like mustard. Boy! Was I wrong!
They are sweet and crunchy and very addictive! 
And when that family friend shared the recipe with me in a homemade recipe book given as a wedding gift, I had no reason not to make them for us to enjoy! 
And making these pickles each fall has been part of my canning repertoire for years now.
So here is the recipe for mustard pickles, or as I like to call them...
Sweet & Crunchy Pickles
{makes approx. 8-500 ml jars.}

2 quarts of pickling cucumber, not peeled
1 red pepper, diced
2-3 onions, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup pickling salt
3 teaspoons mustard seed
1 3/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 teaspoon turmeric
2/3 cup flour
4 teaspoons dry mustard
5 cups sugar

To make:
1. Dice and seed cucumbers. {leave peel on.) {If you have never seeded cucumbers before, it's easy...just run a pairing knife underneath the ridge of seeds to remove.}
2. To large bowl, add diced cucumbers, red pepper, onion and celery. Cover with pickling salt and cover bowl with a layer of ice cubes. Cover and set in fridge overnight.
3. In the morning, prepare sterilized jars, lids and rings. Remove the cucumber mixture from fridge and drain. Set aside.
4. In large bowl, mix together turmeric, flour, dry mustard and sugar. Set aside.
5. In large pot, add mustard seed, water and white vinegar. Whisk in dry ingredients and bring mixture to a boil...stirring constantly.
6. Add vegetables to boiling vinegar mixture. Cook until thick, but vegetables still firm. Approx. 6-8 minutes.
7. Ladle into hot jars. Cover with seals and rings. Process in hot water canner for 10 minutes. Remove and set in a cool dry place on a tea towel for 24 hours. Check seals. If any jars remain unsealed, place in fridge. Store sealed jars in a cool, dry place. Let pickles mellow for a few weeks before using.
They should be ready to serve for Thanksgiving dinner in October for us Canadians, or early October for those outside Canada.
These pickles also make a wonderful gift for any pickle lovers you might know!
And trust me, these pickles taste SOOO much better than anything you could buy in a grocery store!
Intimidated by canning and preserving? I've teamed up with 4 other bloggers to show you that it's easier than you think.
 No matter how much experience you've had, there's a sweet or savoury recipe for you! 5 Delicious Canning & Preserving Recipes
Check them out!
Honey & Rosemary Blackberry Jam by Shauna from Satori Design for Living
Homemade Sweet Crunchy Pickles by Angie from Echoes of Laughter
Refrigerator Pickles by Lucy from Craftberry Bush
Blueberry Baked Brie Topping by Heather from Home to Heather

And you may also want to try my family's favorite salsa recipe too!
Do you can or preserve? What do you make? I would love to hear!
Happy Canning!

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fall Front Porch & Win 1 of 2 Home Depot Canada Gift Cards Worth $50

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Thank you to The Home Depot for sponsoring today’s post and helping me create our  beautiful fall front porch. As always, opinions are 100% my own. Stay tuned for a giveaway below!

I am so excited to share this latest little project with you! If you have been following my blog over time, you know how I love decorating my front porch for the seasons. Creating a seasonal vignette by our front door is something that I enjoy so much, and this year I have an absolute crush on all of the beautiful fall mums and planters that I found at Home Depot Canada. Fall colours make me so happy and give our porch both a warm and welcoming appearance to visitors.
The main feature of this decor are the pretty fall mums in two sizes and 3 colours. 
I love the vibrant pops of colour!
And I mixed in some elements that I already owned such as the ceramic and grapevine pumpkins.
And I also found some lovely new ceramic pots just the right size for the small mums.
And with a little help from glossy black spray paint, I was able to freshen up a watering can and vase.
The watering can made a great container to hold sunflowers.
I filled the black vase with leaves and Chinese lanterns. My husband and I also added a brand new black mailbox and doorbell cover to give our front porch some new life.
We also found this terrific black outdoor fixture that has a motion sensor so that it shines brighter when it detects motion, which is perfect for the  dark winter days that are just around the corner.
We also added this outdoor mat in a fun trellis pattern.
The stairs got their own potted mums in brand new chocolate brown pots to complete the fall porch decor.
Now, if only the snow would stay away for another 3 months so we can enjoy our fall porch for as long as possible!
{In case you didn't know, my city got some snow yesterday...September 8!}
And my friend Shauna over at Satori Design For Living has also decorated the most amazing porch for fall as well, which you can see HERE.
The lovely folks at Home Depot Canada have given Shauna and I two gift cards worth $50 each so that two lucky readers can treat themselves to a fabulous shopping spree at Home Depot Canada so you can decorate for fall too!

GIVEAWAY for 2 Home Depot Canada Gift Cards Valued at $50 Each.
Open to Canadian residents only. {Except void where prohibited.}

Thank you so much for visiting and have a wonderful day!

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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

3 Ways To Enjoy Fall Festivals And Enter the "Energy For 7 Billion" Contest For A Chance to Win $25,000 #E47B

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One of my favourite things about Fall is experiencing the joy of the cooler weather and fall festivals!
 There are SO many amazing fall festivals across Canada to enjoy such as Wine Fests, Oktoberfests, Pumpkin Fests and a whole array of food and wine festivals. I love spending Saturdays roaming around a festival and taking in all the wonderful sights, sounds and tastes. There is nothing better than enjoying a fun family outing and inviting friends to join in for some apple picking, hay rides, apple cider tasting or pumpkin carving.
Enjoying festivals of all types is a rite of passage for many Canadians across the country. Summer music festivals are popular in both rural communities and city areas, where thousands of people gather to enjoy summer weather and the talents of musicians. And fall festivals can be just as busy with beer gardens and food/wine events being a favorite activity.

Since my family loves attending festivals, here are 3 ways that we recommend getting the most out of festivals:

1. Arrive early and allow extra time for parking and walking to the venue.
2. Check out the schedule or website ahead of time and have a plan of action. Decide which parts of the Festival are the most important to your family and visit those things first.
3. Pack a light day-pack with water, sunscreen and hats. And if the Festival allows, pack a picnic lunch to enjoy in the Fall sunshine!

But most of all, get out there and get jammin' to all the fall fun!

While we are talking about festivals, have you ever thought about the amount of energy needed to power all of these multi-day festivals and events? From food concessions, beer gardens, stage lights, giant sound systems, portable trailers, and transporting artists, food, water, equipment and festival go-ers, power is needed to in every facet to host an outdoor event.
In Canada, we tend to think of the energy and power we use to heat our homes or drive our cars, or to manufacture goods.  But we, in fact, depend on energy for so many things that we festivals.

Did you know that Shell Canada's operations produces enough energy each day to meet the world's oil demand for more than 4 minutes? That's energy for 7 billions people for 4 minutes. Meeting the growing global energy demands is no simple task, and we are so fortunate in Canada to have abundant resources to produce the energy we need to not only enjoy our daily lives, but to enjoy things like travel, festivals and holidays.
Shell Canada and it's employees are committed to a future where Canada can lead in energy production while reducing our environmental footprint.Meeting the increasing energy needs of a growing population while managing the environmental effects of energy takes technology, innovation and leadership.Shell Canada is encouraging Canadians to share in their goal of innovation and leadership through the Energy 4 Seven Billion Contest.
Shell Canada is challenging Canadians to share their dream energy experience for a chance to win $25,000 towards making it a reality. To enter, think of a dream experience, initiative or project and the ways in which energy can be used to help power it, and go to and describe it in 500 words or less. Then share your idea on your Facebook page and invite family and friends to "like" your dream energy plan.  Do you have a energy dream to share?

For me, I would love to see 100% of Canadian homes have solar panels included as part of the construction blueprint so we could harness the energy of the sun to live off the grid for at least a part of the day.And maybe even one day, have cars where the glass are solar panels to that the car can partially run on solar energy.

The Energy 4 Seven Billion runs from June 23, 2014 to September 30, 2014 and winners will be announced by November 2014.To share your energy dream and to check out the dream energy experiences other people are wishing for, along with more info and complete contest rules, visit

Disclosure: This post is generously sponsored by Shell Canada. However, all opinions are my own.
 Photography credits: (sunny daytime festival image) Photo courtesy of Winnipeg Folk Fest/Travis Ross.(night festival image) Photo courtesy of FrancoFolies de Montreal/Victor Diaz Lamich. And Nancy Schofield {fall and Christmas photos} Used with permission.

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