Sunday, August 18, 2013

My Memories Digital Scrapbook Software GIVEAWAY!




GIVEAWAY CONTEST DETAILS:

First of all I just want to thank the My Memories team for their generous offer to let me host this giveaway for all of my awesome readers out there!

Alright, here's everything you need to know:

The Giveaway will start at 7 am today and closes on Sunday September 1st. at 5 pm

Visit the MyMemories webpage and choose your favorite digital paper kit or layout, and comment back here at the bottom of this blog post telling me which one you chose,

Enter the GIVEAWAY contest in the widget below.

One winner will be selected at random and I will email them the promo code for the FREE My Memories Scrapbooking Software download.

Each entries will count for a total of 3, and you can enter once a day, for the entire duration of the contest.

AND NOW FOR THE BEST PART!

This is the part you ALL get to be in on.  I will posting a promo code for ALL OF YOU to use  to get $10 off the software download and a $10 coupon for the MyMemories.com store :

USE THIS CODE FOR A $10 DISCOUNT PLUS A $10 COUPON AT THE MyMemories online Store. That's a $20 savings overall.  Here's the code to use at the checkout:
STMMMS98222

So, while only ONE of you will win the My Memories Digital Scrapbooking Software for FREE,  the rest of you will have the opportunity to get a discount if you use the promo code  Remember that you can enter the GIVEAWAY every day once a day until next sunday!

Good luck! ;)

Share the Memories Digital Scrapbooking Giveaway

Saturday, August 17, 2013

"My Memories Suite" digital Scrapbooking Software and a GIFT FOR YOU!

Hey everyone, I KNOW, It's been nearly forever since I wrote my last blog post but THIS TIME I have a really really good excuse!  AND my excuse leads to a really really good deal for one of YOU lucky readers!
The reason I've been MIA is because I've been distracted by this new digital scrapbooking software called  My Memories Suite from www.mymemories.com .  Now to be completely honest , I am NOT a scrapbooker by any stretch of the imagination, it;s just not my "thing", HOWEVER,  as a photographer, I am always eager to see what;s out there when it comes to the editing/finishing process.. I thought I would try out this digital scrapbooking software from the My Memories site and see how it checked out in terms of editing/scrapbooking/album  programs out there.

MY OFFICIAL REVIEW
Here I go on this honesty kick again, but as a longtime Adobe fan, and I love my Photoshop CS but I have to tell you, professional editing software is expensive, and can be quite technical  - it can be overwhelming to a beginner. Whether you are a scrapbooker who just wants to make her photos look more polished, or a blogger extraordinaire who is looking to take the blog world by storm, it's good news to hear that there is a program out there that is easy to use, affordable and still gives you good results for your photo albums.
I had a hoot playing around with this program! Everything was user-friendly - even a hassle free and simple download process which impressed me,  It DID take a bit of time to download  ( about 90 minutes actually - but maybe my well-used laptop is slowing down in it's old age, haha)  and mind you, it was a BIG file. However it is quite a powerful program and I was fascinated to see just how many creative possibilities it held.
As far as simple editing processes went, again it was easy to use, simple and efficient. There were at least a dozen different "effects" you could use, that were all simple actions that took place with just a single click the mouse. Nice!   The background patterns, colors and texture had tons of possibilities in their creative combinations. You can also look online for even more of their themed scrapbooking kits for inspiration.

As far as photo albums go, once you open the program, you have the option of selecting one of their many creative templates, or designing your own from scratch.
I used a photo of my newest furry addition to our family (our 8 week old puppy, Turk) to design my own layout and try some of the photo editing/finishing options and add some text. I'm kind of a minimalist at heart, so I kept the design simple and keep the focus on his cute little face. haha.

Before:


After using My Memories Suite



I have to admit that for a quasi-prejudiced Photoshop geek, I was super impressed with the professionalism the scrapbooking software had to offer.  Mind you, I  reviewed this from a photographer's angle, not a scrapbooker's, so I can guarantee an experienced "scrapper" could probably use this program to scrap circles around me in in terms of how much more it could handle, haha,  That;s one area where I admit I am totally out of my league.

But ya know what? THAT'S OK,  Because from my viewpoint, if you're an amateur photographer just starting out, or an avid blogger this could be just what you're looking for to get you on the right track. And it's actually fun to use too. Especially if you are a wannabe 'foodie" blogger, like me. If you hadn't noticed, my love affair with food has gone on for YEARS, haha.

My next project was influenced by my foodie fetish - A couple years ago I decided to start a family recipe cookbook that would encompass not only all of our secret family recipes passed down from generations,  include  photos of the prepared dishes, but also photos of our family ( kids included)  preparing and enjoying the food as well.  I plan to give printed, hardcover  copies to each one of my kids as a personalized 'housewarming" gift for the day they each move into their own homes. While that is a long way off yet, I've begun to collect recipes, and make sure my camera is nearby when we make them, so that I can begin my photo collection to go with the recipes.
I used one of the ready-made creative templates to create a 'ccokbook" album to see what said family heirloom recipe album could look like. Here's a page from my album:





Ya I know what you're thinking What's in it for you???


Here it is......  One of you, my dear precious readers, is going to get to WIN this software download for FREE!   How?  By entering the My Memories Digital Scrapbooking GIVEAWAY right here on my blog!  I will post the contest details right here on my blog TOMORROW.  So make sure you pop on over here tomorrow to check out how you can enter for a chance to win!
I'm super excited that My Memories asked me to host this giveaway for all my readers, and super pumped to give this away to one of you!
 AND! AND! AND!
There's more good news about the giveaway for ALL my readers but you'll have to wait until tomorrow's post to see what that is!
There, is THAT a good enough excuse as to why I haven't been around?

I'm off to go find something to eat since staring at those food pics made my tummy rumble....
See you back here tomorrow!
~J   Xo.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Life: In Focus


 I live in the desert. And no, I DON"T have air-conditioning (I'm just crazy  kinda used to it now) and after weeks of arid, scorching hot weather, it's always a welcome relief to see the rain clouds gathering on the horizon. Let's be clear - I DON"T like rain, generally speaking, but sometimes that change in the weather is EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED to make it through the week. Being that it is a desert, our rain "storms" generally blow through in a nasty 20-minute mess of lightning and thunder, drenching us in flood-like downpours and then leave us just as quickly, a lot of times with a gorgeous rainbow in it's wake..

For those of you who know my husband, he is a minimalist at heart - yet one of the most accomplished, hard-working, motivated people I've ever met in my life. Because of his active lifestyle and hectic schedule, he has always kept a tightly minimalistic home life - when we got married, all he had was a few boxes containing clothes, personal belongings and  books,   and his only furniture  was his mattress ( no bed frame) a recliner chair and an office desk (and chair). THAT WAS IT.   However, he had a vehicle that was fully paid off and absolutely NO DEBT.  I am thankful to have learned so much from him in the past few years.

 So often I feel like I'm falling behind in  my own life, and when I stop to look around at others who accomplish so much while I'm struggling to just stay afloat, I find myself wondering in admiration how they are so successful at so many things?  If you have ever felt like this, let me assure you, you are not alone!

Streamline.  Yes that seems to be a common denominator through these success stories and I'm beginning to see why. Work smarter, not harder. You should still put 100% effort in, just do it efficiently instead of the hard way.

Minimize. Seriously - get rid of the junk in your trunk in your home, vehicle, workspace - wherever it tends to gather.  Ask yourself - you can't take any of that stuff with you when you're dead, so how much of it do you REALLY NEED to live?  Honestly, most of our "stuff" just bogs us down, slows  us down and/or takes us down ( literally, as in, it trips you up in the middle of the night when you're stumbling around in the dark trying to find the bathroom!).

Focus - do one thing at a time. I used to pride myself on being a multi-tasker - as a single mother for a long time, I worked full time juggling a patchwork of employment through 3 jobs while also running a home-based photography business. I felt I had earned the equivalent of a Master's degree in Multitasking. What I found however that while I managed to get a lot done ( more or less)  , nothing was done WELL. Or at least not as well as I could have done it if I had truly given it the proper attention. Learning to narrow down my focus to the things I did WELL, while delegating the less important things that I suck at didn't do as well, proved to be far more effective in my overall success.

 So without further adieu, I'm announcing that I'm going to continue changing and Simplifying My Life - starting with this blog here. The plan is to  STREAMLINE, focusing my efforts in a more efficient way, so that I can bring you all MORE PHOTOGRAPHY, and less BLAH BLAH BLAH. (did I just hear cheering??) You will notice that the top tabs have changed,  as I am focusing purely on photos, not writing.  and hopefully it will feel better ORGANIZED with smoother transitions.
I'm looking forward to this change and I hope you will too!  I also hope it will inspire you to begin simplifying and organizing areas of your own life that have begun to stress you out and cause frustration and wear you down.
What areas of your life can you think of right now that would benefit from some streamlining?

Friday, May 31, 2013

Idea # 31 - Take Me Out To The Ball Game ....

                                                          (photo from Google images)
Major league baseball games have a lot of hype behind them, and don't get me wrong, even though I'm not a huge baseball fan, seeing a major league game is still somewhere on my bucket list. The sights, sounds, aromas ( I'm referring to food here - hot dogs, popcorn, french-fries, nachos, hot roasted peanuts...mmmm!)  are enough to get you into the spirit of the summer season.
If you're like me and don't live near a city center with a stadium, I have a BETTER IDEA.  Go watch a little league game. Seriously, I find them MUCH more entertaining to watch! Kids playing baseball is AWESOME and you can still hit the concession stand on game day for a hot dog or two. Not only that, when you cheer for them, kids actually APPRECIATE their fans in the stands ;)


AND THERE YOU HAVE IT.
31 days of Awesome
I hope you enjoyed reading these and I hope at the very least it has inspired you to make your days fun and enjoy the little things that can make the season special, instead of staying in the same ol' rut day in and day out.  My son already pointed out that I didn't post anything about ice cream. Whoops. my bad!
What are some things you like to do in the summer that you didn't see in my list?

Idea #30 Play in the Rain



It's warm enough now that you probably won't catch pneumonia, and how much FUN is it to splash around in the puddles??? I myself am notorious for going out of my way to drive through large puddles. I can't resist!  Don't judge me.  But since my husband shakes his head and warns me that I'm not doing my poor car ( aka "Thumper" )  any favors when I do that, I reluctantly agreed. I hate it when he's right!  So now I simply don't dash for cover when the skies open up during a freak summer rainstorm. I close my eyes, let the rain pour down my face , and splash around in a puddle or two. What's cute is that we have a few neighborly ducks that hang around our place that come join me sometimes!

Idea # 29 Take a (Wine) Tour


If you don't drink that's okay, go for a different kind of tour - bike tour, museum tour, farm tour, city tour, whatever "floats your boat" so to speak. Speaking of which, there's also boat tours....  You get the idea. Get out and learn something new while you're having fun!
This picture makes me laugh cause I can't stop staring at the ridiculous umbrella we borrowed from the winery that day - it was like the remnants of Mary Poppins last wipeout!

Idea #28 - Go for a Swim


As long as the water isn't still like an iceberg where you live. Since we live in the desert, weather tends to warm up from February so by the time it gets into May we have close to 25 degree weather!
Otherwise, get into the mood of the season by hitting an indoor pool,. or if you are like my friends and family out east in Ontario who are STILL shovelling snow this time of year, go soak your tired muscles in a hot tub ;)

Idea #27 Go Kayaking or Canoeing



This is me and my brave friend Kendall ( yes, anyone willing to get into a boat with me is crazy brave!)  kayaking out near her place.
So much fun. You can rent them for a fairly low cost of a few hours. It's a great exercise, but so much fun that you'll forget you're getting a workout. Until the next morning when you wake up and find you can barely hold a toothbrush, hahaha

Idea # 26 - ROAD TRIP !!!!!

 
Be spontaneous.
Pack light.
Bring music. (or if you're vehicle's stereo doesn't work, belt out your favorite tunes yourself!)
Don't forget your camera.


You ain;t lived till you've done it.
'Nuff said....
 

Idea #25 Celebrate with Fireworks



In this case, it might be more cost effective to celebrate with someone else's fireworks - as in your local community's fireworks. In Canada our nation's birthday falls on July 1st, and our town usually lights up with sky with an impressive fireworks display.
More than 18,000 people gather along the beach and roadside ( or watch from their waterfront balconies or boats)  to relax and be entertained.  Tuning into the local radio station allows you to watch with the accompanied music, since it is all choreographed.
Happy celebrating!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Idea # 24 Picnic In the Park


This one was just in our own backyard, and if that's all your schedule will allow for, then do it! Pack up a cooler of your favorite picnic foods (my favorites are fried chicken, potato salad, some homemade lemonade and double-fudge chocolate brownies!) grab  a big blanket to lounge on and head out to the park! 
This idea can be timed nicely with Idea #25 .....

Idea # 23 Collect Seashells At the Beach

                                              ( photo from Google Images)

While you're at it, collect some sand as well ( as if you could avoid it - that stuff gets EVERYWHERE!) and when you get home, display it in a clear vase on a mantle or tabletop to summer-ize the room! 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

IDEA #22 Save A Dryer: Hang A Clothesline




Warning: Seasonal allergy sufferers may want to skip this one, due to all the pollen floating around this time of year.
But for those of you lucky enough to be born with a lazy without an over-protective immune system, hee hee you can enjoy the simple pleasures of sun drenched freshness when you crawl into bed at night. Both my grnadma's and my great-grandma all hung their laundry outside to dry from spring to fall and I tell you -  nothing compared to the smell of those sheets when I would visit overnight - I'm pretty sure it's what Heaven smells like!
Yet another idea that your planet will thank you for ;) 

Idea #21 Go for a Bike Ride


I personally prefer a ride on a motorbike. If my husband ever gets one I think I might nearly die of excitement. Here's the kicker - I would rather ride sitting behind him on the same bike, than ride my own. I think it's because I enjoy the physical closeness and the shared experience of riding together.

But for those of you who get squeamish by that idea, take your bicycle out of the garage, pump up that flat tire, give the gears some grease and you're good to go! Feel the wind in your hair and warm sun on your back - you might get so addicted to the feeling that you'll consider using it as your primary mode of transportation for the season.  Your planet will thank you ;)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Idea #20 Go Fishing "Old School" Style

                                                          (photo from Google images)

Everyone has to try this - at least once!   Sit yourself on the dock and dangle your legs off the side, Grandpa did it, you can too. It's only the BEST way to enjoy the quiet of a calm summer morning.  

Idea #19 Take a Nap in a Hammock

This picture of my sons in a hammock when they were so little cracks me up every time - I actually have a large print hanging in my house of this, dirty faces and all. It's how I remember them being at that time, no matter how many baths I gave them a day, the second I turned away they were back playing in the dirt again!  LOVE IT!

Last year we acquired a double hammock from some friends of ours and I can hardly wait to hang it on our deck. I'm not a "napper", no matter how hard I try, I usually wind up feeling worse when I wake from a nap so I generally avoid them. I have to be terribly sick to nap.
 My father and my husband both share first -prize in the napping department, haha. My dad used to work shift work before he retired and so he had to train himself to sleep during the day. But working graveyards does a number on one's body, and to this day, he can't sit down for more than five minutes without nodding off. I find it quite comical actually.
 My husband has been napping regularly since he was a teenager. He has mastered the Art of The Power Nap. Seriously, the guy shuts his eyes for 10 minutes and he's fully recharged for another good 12 hours. I admire and covet this talent greatly - especially days when I'm nearly falling asleep at my desk at 4;05 p.m.
My resources are sound then when I quote them as saying that nothing beats napping outdoors, especially when cradled gently in a hammock.( Be smart about it though - be sure to wear sunscreen, and I would suggest napping in the shade.)
 Pure. Bliss.  For at least 10 minutes, haha!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Idea # 18 Pick Your Own Fruit


Preferably from a tree, bush orchard, or vineyard. As a kid, my best friend and I would pick blackberries along the side of the road and take them home to her mother, who would use them in her awesome pancakes she would make for us. To this day, I have never had better pancakes than hers, and Mrs. Dickson, if you're reading this, could you please send me the recipe??
IF you have no access to nature at all, sneak into you neighbor's yard raid a local farmers market for some sweet deals on whatever fruits are in season. Berries are a favorite summertime treat, and they freeze well so you can go ahead and splurge on that 5 gallon flat of strawberries without any guilt!

Idea # 17 Play a Round of Golf


In my case, that would be miniature golf, since my friends have banned me from ever setting foot on a golf course EVER again. It's more of a Public Saftey Hazard Precaution, they tell me.
ANYHOW,  I find miniature golf more rewarding anyways, and far more fun!   Leave the overly-competitive friends at home, unless you want to relive a scenario from Happy Gilmore.
Grab your clubs and it's game on!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Idea # 16 Blow Bubbles


Grab the kids (your own or a niece or nephew)  the dog, the cat, whatever ya got, and get ready for some YouTube-quality entertainment!  Speaking of which, it's not actually a bad idea to take a video clip - if something funny happens you're and instant YouTube star!
Be sure to post any links to your video post below here if you get something good, I always enjoy a good laugh!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Idea #15 Throw a [Tea] Party!


This idea was inspired by fellow blogger Kandee Johnson, who recently blogged about attending a tea party in Beverly Hills.  Most of us don't live in Beverly Hills, but that doesn't mean we have to miss out on a fun summer tea party! My suggestion is to throw your own!
Summertime is a great time for this, because you can set everything out on the deck, or patio, even poolside, which means little to no seasonal decorations are needed because the outdoors already provides a summery ambience. Now you're free to relax and catch up with your friends without all the fuss.
Love the idea of using your fancy heirloom china but the idea of hot drinks on a hot day repels you?Consider serving chilled iced tea in champagne glasses - to keep things fancy ;)
And what better way to celebrate a summertime tea party than with sunshine inspired cupcakes?  Yeah, you knew I was gonna mention cupcakes sooner or later, didn't you!

Idea #14 Build -Your-Own-Castle


Out of sand, that is Make it as big and fancy as you can - a real masterpiece. Then, before the surf washes all your hard work away (or neighborhood kids run through the sandbox, hahaha)  take a photo of it. If you have any photo editing software  ( and the skills to go with it)  then you can edit it however you like into a work of art to be framed and hung on your wall. This way you can enjoy a sun-inspired summery "beach-house" type feeling in your home all year long!

Friday, May 24, 2013

IDEA # 13 Plant a garden

If all you can do is grow a few flowers or herbs in a pot near your window, DO IT.  This photo here was my basil plant I had growing in the corner of my kitchen years ago. Well, till I accidently killed it. haha Whether or not you have a natural "green thumb" or not , step up to the challenge and grow something yourself. For those of you like me who can't even keep even a cactus alive ( my 'green thumb"  admittedly is more like "gangrene thumb" )  start with something easy - Mint is a good choice for beginners because it doesn't require a lot of direct sunlight ( it grows best in shade) and for those of you who are notorious for over watering, it actually thrives in damp soil.  And the extra bonus is that if ya kill it, well,, you salvage a few leaves and make yourself a tasty Mojito ;) 

IDEA #12 Watch the sun rise/set

Sunrise.....


Sunset .....




I would recommend doing  both - If you can't possibly swing it in one day, split it up and watch the sun rise one day , and set another day.  There's something to be said about the "magic hour", it's like God using nature to give your soul a hug - reminding you that no matter what is going on, He is still in control, and He can create beauty from anything - even a raging storm. Remember: It's the rain clouds that sometimes make the most glorious and stunning sunsets ;)  






Thursday, May 23, 2013

IDEA #11 Read a book

hee hee - this photo of my sons when they were younger makes me laugh every time I see it.  They had just climbed out of the pool and stole my chair and my magazine I had been reading!

Back to my point - a relaxing read is the idea. a full book cover to cover.
Here are the rules:  Nothing work-related, or if you're a student, nothing academic. No, this time you are going to read for the PURE ENJOYMENT of just a good read. I heard all you intellectuals and workaholics groan. What IS allowed for this challenge is the following: anything INSPIRING and or Humorous. If you prefer fiction, go for classic literature. Maybe a summer theme. ( Moby Dick, perhaps? haha)   Or if you're into non-fiction try something new to inspire you.  This is meant to take your mind on a mental vacation from stress. Refreshment for the mind and soul ;)  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

IDEA #10 Start a [water] fight




Choose your target carefully, wait patiently and then BAM!  ya smoke some poor unsuspecting fool  person with a fully loaded water gun, or a hailstorm of water-balloons,.   Hopefully your victim  target has a good sense of humor.  Since this is all just in good fun anyways, in all fairness it would be good sportsmanship to give the poor soggy soul a chance to collect their wits about them before you continue. Now is your chance to run away while they dash for the garden hose..... 
  Happy splashing! 
 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

IDEA #9 Sleep Under the Stars


Air out the tent and set it up in the yard.  Choose a clear night and leave the fly off the top so you can watch the stars as you drift off into dreamland under a diamond sky.  For the truly brave, skip the tent altogether and just lay there in your sleeping bag under the open sky.  As kids we used to sleep outside on my friends' large trampoline.  One had to be careful how one moved about in order to avoid mid-air collisions with other sleepers due to both bounce and slippery nylon-covered sleeping bags! 
It's an awesome experience you shouldn't miss. I would also recommend it whenever a predicted meteor shower is going to happen - try to see how many shooting stars you can wish on!   
Just don't forget to turn off the timer on your irrigation sprinklers or you'll have a rather unforgettable experience when they come on at some ungodly hour in the wee hours of the morning!   ;) 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Idea #8 - Play With Fire ....






SING IWTH ME ..."Hot Dogs .... Roasting ..... On An Open Fire ...."
 
The season is upon us! Whether it's holding roasting sticks over a  simple campfire on the beach with the kids, or a BBQ in the backyard with all your friends and neighbors, throw a smokie or two over the flames and enjoy the simplicity of easy summertime mealtime entertaining! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Idea #7 Run Through the Sprinkler

(photo credit: from google images) 

Remember what it was like to be six years old and the irresistible urge to run through a sprinkler was just too much to bear?  You'd take off across the lawn, hardly slowing down at all to remove shoes, socks, etc as you raced to be the first one through to the other side - sometimes clothes and all. It was like a free waterpark.  Welcome to Your Friendly Neighborhood Geyser - perfectly timed streams of water shooting upward and outward - ,just minus the scalding hot water of course  ;)  You and your friends and siblings ran through until your legs ached and your lips turned purple and your shivering reached the uncontrollable stage. Or once the neighbors came out and told everyone to stop running around on their lawn! hahaha
It's one of those memories that reminds you that childhood was both fun and flleeting. One of those things that you just HAVE to do again. Relive your childhood, remember what it was like to have simple clean summer FUN and the only thing you were responsible for was to make sure you didnt track all that water into the house.  
So here's the challenge,(this coming from someone who can;t even resist driving through a good sized puddle in the road.): throw caution to the wind, and allow yourself this one tiny adventure back into childhood.  
You're older and (hopefully) wiser now,  so just don't let the neighbors catch you in their yard this time!    
( my little dudes - at an actual waterpark)


   

Idea #6 CONQUER A MOUNTAIN

(photo credit - from Google images)
I firmly believe that EVERYONE at some point in their life should experience the thrill of climbing a mountain. whether it be by lengthy painstaking hike, or the heart-pounding adrenaline rush of scaling the face of sheer drop cliffs in a harness.  Whatever your stomach can handle.  When you reach the top, sweating and gasping to catch your breath,  it immediately gets taken away again as you realize in awe the significance of your accomplishment.

 You LITEALLY just conquered the mountain in your path. The pure undiluted exhileration shoots your emotions to cloud nine and you feel like a million bucks. And why shouldn't you?   After all, you just pushed your body beyond the limits of what you thought you were capable of. When your mind wanted to quit, your indomitable spirit wouldn't let it. When your muscles ached and threatened to give up, you rebelled and pushed them harder. When you feared you just might not be able make it, you did anyways. You conquered your fears and your own prejudiced limitations and proved to yourself that you are stronger than you ever thought, both physically AND mentally.

(yep, that's my incredible husband right there folks! He makes it look easy - the sign of a pro climber!)
Sorry, I got a little distracted there ( but hey, can you blame me? Look at him!)
Back to my original point, Climbing. Conquering your limitations and fears. Accomplishing something so tangible, so simply REAL is like a jumpstart for your very  soul.
You will find yourself "standing on top of the world",  with the newfound confidence that you really can accomplish anything you set your mind to.
Gather your courage, and go get 'er done!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Idea #4 - DeClutter For a Cause



 
Admit it.
You KNOW you have to clean out your closet at some point. It's the nagging thought at the back of your mind, the permanent point on your To Do list that never seems to get crossed off,  the culprit behind the mad dash around the bedroom every morning because you can't seem to find anything suitable to wear to work. Again.
Now's the time. Those of you who fancy yourselves to be the Kings and Queens of Efficient Multitasking, listen up: on   On Saturday, May 11thth 2013, Royal LePage offices across Canada will be transformed into an oasis for bargain hunters as we join together to host the 5th Annual National Garage Sale for Shelter in support of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation.
 
This annual event brings local residents together with Royal LePage Realtors® to raise much-needed funds and awareness to help break the cycle of family violence. One hundred percent of all funds raised at every Royal LePage National Garage Sale for Shelter goes to support local women’s shelter, and fund long-term solutions to end family violence.  
Take a look at these startling statistics:
 ·         Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.
·         On average, every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.
·         360,000 children are exposed to domestic violence each year.
Since 2009, the Royal LePage National Garage Sale for Shelter has raised more than $850,000, one quarter and loonie at a time. The community is encouraged to take part by donating gently used items to our office located at your nearest Royal LePage location (call ahead for larger items) , helping us spread the word, and joining us on May 11th. With the support of local residents and the generous sponsorship of TD Canada Trust Mobile Mortgage Specialists, Atlas Van Lines Canada and Advance Commission Company of Canada, this year we’ll raise more money than ever before to help 30,000 women and children across Canada.  
 
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE ROYAL LEPAGE SHELTER FOUNDATION:
The Royal LePage Shelter Foundation is Canada’s largest public foundation dedicated exclusively to supporting women’s shelters and ending violence against women and children. Through agent commission donations and the fundraising activities of the Royal LePage network, we have raised over $12 million to help provide a safe haven and new beginnings to more than 30,000 women and children each year. To break the cycle of violence, the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation also supports long-term violence prevention and education programs. All funds raised by Royal LePage offices remain in their local community and because Royal LePage pays any administrative costs, 100 percent of all money and
effort goes toward this important cause. For more information on the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, visit www.royallepage.ca/shelter

 Alright! So now you have a worthy incentive.
You' can clean out your closets, storage areas and garages and donate all that good stuff that you've been hoarding away to the garage sale ( Just contact your closest Royal LePage office for drop off locations) and help a REALLY GOOD CAUSE. 
The tie has come, Procrastinators!  Roll up your sleeves, grab a box or a bag, slip into a Haz-Mat suit if need be and get cleaning. Who knew that cleaning out a closet can actually help save lives?  It can, and YOU can be part of it.
Make sure you stop by the garage sale site eon May 11th to show your support.  A lot of the events feature raffles, hot dog BBQ's and various other fundraising offers. Check it out!
 
We had an awesome sale last year, here's a few pics some of the local volunteer realtors took of the day  ;)
 






 
Hope this year is even bigger and better!

Off to go rent a Haz-Mat Suit,
-J

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Idea #3 Write Someone a REAL Letter


NOT an email. A REAL LETTER. With a real pen and paper and everything. True your hand may cramp up at first when it doesn't recognize a foreign writing tool with no keyboard or buttons or touchpad, but give it half a chance, will ya?

It's been said that letter writing has become a lost art. I totally believe it. Remember when you were a kid and you got a letter in the mail, maybe from your grandma, and you could hardly contain your excitement while you ripped open the envelope to see what she had sent you or what goodies were sent in a care  package and a sweetly handwritten card telling you how proud of you she was?  Remember receiving letters from pen pals from camp, or checking your teeny tiny cramped mailbox at college for a letter from home? (Admittedly usually with the hopes of finding some extra cash in there from mom and dad LOL)  When's the last time you checked your mailbox ( or post office box) and you found more than just bills and store flyers?
I don't know about you, but the only thing I got in the mail addressed to me that's not a bill was my monthly bank statement. Until I switched to the paperless online statements, Sigh.

SO HERE'S THE CHALLENGE. Take the initiative and send out the love to someone you care about and by letting them know you thought of them enough to take the time and effort to pen a letter and buy an envelope and a stamp and everything., Hey, it's the littlest things that can have the biggest impact sometimes, trust me on this. It doesn't even have to be someone who lives out of town, and it doesn't have to be fancy (But I'm not stopping you if you want to make it fancy - by all means, break out the calligraphy pen and fly at 'er!) But really, the whole point is just a note to say hey, I want you to know I'm thinking of you and you're awesome.

You have no idea how deeply you can touch someone's heart when you show them you care. None of us is perfect, we all make mistakes and we all have bad days. On one of those not-so-great days it's nothing short of a small happy miracle to dig through the incessant flood of bills to find an envelope addressed to you personally from a loved one - JUST BECAUSE.

Are you inspired yet? Go write your real, live, almost-to-the-point-of-extinction letter, and mail it.  You'll feel your heart smile when you realize you may have just been someone's small happy miracle today ;)


Well, I'm off to go throw a whole bunch of bills , um, flyers in the recycle bin,
-J



Friday, May 3, 2013

Idea #2 - Wear Your Swimsuit To Work



GASP! 
Yeah that's right, I said it.  Wear your swimsuit to work. Under your clothes.  Keep your beach towel waiting anxiously in the car for you and your picnic-worthy lunch hiding in the breakroom fridge.  A soon as the clock strikes noon (or whenever your lunch break is) 
HIT THE BEACH.  (or an outdoor pool if you're landlocked, heck even a waterpark if that's all that's available, I won't judge ya!)  

 That's right, score some rays on your lunch hour and live up the beach life, Baby, 'cause sadly it's  probably the only chance you'll get to absorb the sun all summer. 
 Seriously. DO IT.  You'll thank me. 

Just don't forget your lunch, that's a huge bummer. 
Also, it's unfortunate that I feel that I have to mention this:
Ladies, this works best when you chose swimming attire without lots of ties and beads and bulky ruffles and  buckles and stuff. Otherwise you run the risk of rumpled, lumpy-looking work clothing appearing to cover up a bad case of cellulite that you don't actually have.  And gentlemen PLEASE, even if that Speedo you've owned since 1983 still fits and can be concealed easily under your uniform or suit,  it is NOT RECOMMENDED.  
That is all.
Now, go buy yourself a stylish brand-new pair of sunglasses so you don't come back from the beach sporting a brand new pair of cataracts ;)


May = 31 Days of Awesome



So, this is my new project for the month, adding sparkling drops of sunshine to your day, no matter what life throws at ya!  Keep coming on back to get your daily dose of inspiration and ideas to make every single day of this month ah-MAY-zing!  Or at least add a few special moments to your day!




Idea #1 - Bring the Outdoors In!


One of my coworkers surprised me with a vase of fresh flowers for my desk, which in my opinion is one of the quickest yet most effective ways to enjoy spring - even from your desk. Changing your desktop photo to a field of sunflowers and yrou screen saver crashing waves on a beach is also imaginative, if not slightly tormenting.  Life is too darn short to not pause, stretch and sniff the flowers on your desk. (After all, your workload isn't going anywhere, it will be right there waiting for you - ) 

Friday, January 18, 2013

How "Frosty" Keeps Warm

These adorable Frosty mugs were a thoughtful, anonymously given Christmas gift to my children this past year (thank you to whoever gave them, we LOVE them!)  and we have already made good use out of them.



 We especially love that Frosty comes with a lid to keep our yummy homemade Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate piping hot until we're ready to drink it. ( or if you had younger children, for when little hands are trying to carry their drink without spilling!)

Last night we were really feeling winter's chill, so we pulled out Frosty and filled him up with my own secret recipe of homemade hot cocoa. As a mama there is nothing I enjoy more than filling my little mini-me's hearts up with love - and in this case it was through their stomach's haha.

I wanted to share my recipe with all of you as well so you could beat the chill with this super tasty treat!



Homemade Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate 
(makes approx. 2 regular mugs full)

 1/2   cups whole milk or cream ( I used half & half because we love rich, creamy cocoa!)
4 tablespoons "Fry's" cocoa powder (or to taste)
4 tablespoons light-brown or brown sugar (or to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt (we don't like ours too salty, but some people do!)

In a small saucepan, heat cream or milk on high until just beginning to boil,, reduce heat to medium. Mix together cocoa powder and brown sugar, add slowly to milk, stirring constantly to mix.  Add salt and vanilla and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into mugs. Enjoy!

We reserve this as a special treat to have on occasion, but not too often given the high fat content of the cream (we don't want to encourage any cardiac arrests due to clogged arteries!)  We stick to the Everything In Moderation rule on this one.

Now, if anyone needs me, I'll be at the gym ;)

Frosty mugs full of hugs,
-J








Thursday, January 17, 2013

"A Day In the Life of a Blogger" or , "It's 10 a.m. and I'm Still In My Jammies . ."

Alright, truthfully it's actually only 8:09 a.m. as I type this  but I AM still in my jammies, haha ;)

 I'm laying here on the carpet in front of my fireplace in my living room,  laptop in front of me and a steaming cup of coffee next to it (not TOO close to it though - learned that lesson already!)

For someone like me who has spent years working in an office, the closest I've ever come to living the seemingly glamourous "carefree" lifestyle uf all those free-spirited, creative genius bloggers out there was at best a coveted daydream.   They always seemed to live such interesting lives, and usually seemingly spur-of-the-moment - or at the very least, made all the little spontaneous adventures of their day SEEM more interesting than data entry for 8 long hours. ( not hard, I know!)

I am married to a notorious Planner, and I being the Compulsive List-Maker, shamefully admit that our idea of a spontaneous adventure means hitting 7-Eleven just after midnight for a slurpee on aThursday night.(no judging!)

Idiosyncracies aside,  I thought that since I have been temporarily awarded a limited time off from my regylar office job ( in the form of a layoff haha) that I would use one of the days to try out the so-called "blogger lifestyle" so I will take all your readers along with me on this alleged adventure,

So! 


the other day after a hot shower to warm me up, and my 47th cup of coffee at my side in  my beloved Starbucks travel mug, I headed out the door .... into a  blizzard winter wonderland.,








I admit if: I'm a huge fan of monochromatic black&white images: photos, paintings, movies etc. BUT I almost NEVER edit "foodie" photos in black and white. Food is just too beautiful in all its glorious rich color and texture.
Yes, that cupcake was dessert.
 #don'tjudgeme

I ended the day with my BEST FRIEND, snuggling him on the couch for a few minutes before we turned in for the night. No I didn't get a pic of that. For those of you who know my husband, he is more elusive to get a photo of than Bigfoot.  (Hats off to our wedding photographer, who got more photos of him in one day  than I ever will again in my lifetime, haha)

It was a lovely day.
Sweet [day]dreams everyone!

Off to clean out and finally organize the kitchen cabinets and possibly find one last cupcake (hey, just being honest)
-J