Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Tips for Dealing with Tough Laundry Stains

I don't know about anyone else, but laundry is one of my least favourite chores. Maybe if I had a beautiful laundry room, it might be a different story. But I have a laundry area in our unfinished basement and I like to spend as little time as possible there. You may recall that I shared my laundry routine a few years ago in this very popular post. In it, I shared how I cut the time spent doing laundry routine in half by not doing laundry in the traditional sort-the-colours manner. I am totally a rule-breaker when it comes to doing laundry!

When it comes to treating my family's laundry stains, I want to use something that is tough and gets stains out the first time! Like most families, our family has our fair share of stains on clothing...most often food stains. We are a very dribble-prone, slopping-prone, miss-the-mouth-target kind of family! All 4 of us have food stains on the front of our shirts at least a few times a week. It can be anything from coffee, mustard, ketchup or tomato fact I think you can see what the week's menu was at our house from examining the front of our shirts. Can you relate? One of the yuckiest stains that I have had to deal with is dog poop in my son's jeans pocket. True story. Don't ask.

Over the years, I have learned a few tips for fighting stains on our clothing. Here are my tips:

1. Treat Fast.
If it is possible, treat the stain as soon as possible! If you are home, remove clothing right away to treat. The sooner the stain is treated, the better the chances of the stain being removed completely.

2. Use Cold Water.
I learned this trick when I was taking Home Economics in junior high. Cold water  works on most food stains. Put cold water on a stain immediately if you can. It stops the stain from 'setting' into the fabric. Hot water makes clothing fibers swell so that the stain can set deeper into the fabric. A cold water pre-soak is also great for blood, ketchup and tomato sauce stains. Recently my daughter was wearing new white jeans while eating chocolate ice cream that was dripping because of the hot weather. You can guess what happened. I told her to put cold water from her water bottle right on it and rub the water in. The cold water did a great job of removing the stain to only a very faint colour right then and there.Yay!

3. Use A Stain Treatment.
Usually tough stains like grass, oil or grease need a stain fighting treatment before going into the washer. I have used a spray product for years...sometimes without much success. Enter Resolve®. This product is new to me and I wanted to try it to see how it works. I have to say that I am impressed so far. Here is a white shirt that I 'christened' with some salsa.  I didn't get a chance to put cold water on it as I was out with friends when it happened.  When I arrived home,  it was late and I was too tired to do anything with the shirt. I just threw it on the floor. Here it is the next morning with the stain.
I threw it in the wash with a scoop of Resolve®. Here is the shirt after it washing and drying....with no trace of the salsa stain whatsoever. I had to say that I was shocked! It worked the first time! Yay! No second treatment or second time in the washer.

My teen daughter recently had her wisdom teeth out. After the procedure was over, I took her home and put her to bed to sleep for the rest of the day. When she woke up later in the day, there was a blood stain on her pillow. Since it was a fairly new pillow, I wanted to try to treat the stain first before throwing it away. Here is the pillow before Resolve® treatment. {Please remember that this stain is over a month old now.I had tried another stain treatment product and without success.}
And here is the pillow now...after a pre-soak in warm water with a scoop of Resolve®  for an hour and then washing on a regular cycle with a scoop of Resolve® . The stain is barely visible!
By following the stain removal treatment steps provided by Resolve® totally worked!

4. Don't Dry Or Heat The Stain.
Make sure the stain is checked as soon as it comes out of the washer. If the stain is still visible, try a second stain treatment and wash before drying or ironing the garment.  If heat is used, the stain will 'set' and be even more difficult to remove.

Now, here's the fun part for you! Resolve® is launching their new site called Resolve® Tip Exchange
where you can share your favorite stain removing tips to be entered for a chance to win 12 weekly prizes of $250 and one grand prize of $5000. I have shared my tips over at the new site and I really encourage you to share as well! You can also follow the conversation on Twitter at #ResolveTip to see other stain-fighting tips!

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

This post has been linked to:
Under The Table & Dreaming, Block Party Linky Party, Craft-O-Maniac, A Pretty Life, Uncommon Designs, Aalderberry Hill, Homestories A to Z, Time To Sparkle, Gingersnap Crafts, The DIY Dreamer,  Savvy Southern Style, The 36th Avenue, Inspire Me Please, Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons,  Tidy Mom, Inspiration Gallery, The Frugal Girls, Whipperberry,

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

3 Tips For Getting Out of A Dinner Rut

With a new school year starting, it's the time of year when families are looking to get organized for the academic year with new schedules and routines. After a summer filled with fun activities, making dinner is something that may have fallen by the wayside or you may even find the family is in a huge 'dinner rut' where the same boring meals are made over and over again. It has happened to us, and I know it happens to every family at times. I want to share with you my 3 top tips for climbing out of the 'dinner rut' and back into a schedule of tasty meals that has everyone leaving the table with happy tummies!
1. Meal Plan.
I cannot stress how important this first step is!  A sure way of getting out of a dinner rut is to plan meals for the week. And by planning, I don't mean choosing elaborate meals and new recipes. I mean choosing simple meals that are not only tasty but easy to make after a busy day. Meal planning is simply a food plan for the week so you don't have to think about dinner at 4 or 5 pm when energy is low, or you are busy shuffling kids to afternoon activities. I use a very simple notepad to write down at least 5 meals for the week and this one simple strategy is such a life-saver for me! A great place to start meal-planning is to simply check the fridge, freezer and pantry to see what items already purchased can be used to create meals. This will save time and money by using ingredients you already have!
2. Keep It Simple.
As I mentioned above, busy weekdays are not the time to try new that fun for the weekends or when there is more time. I like to keep meals simple by choosing easy salads, using a slow cooker, serving cut-up veggies or fruit for side dishes, and even making 'breakfast for dinner' to help us keep on track.
A favourite 'breakfast for dinner' in our house is Bacon & Egg Cups served with Mini-Pancakes. Did you know that it only takes a few minutes to make homemade pancakes that are filling & delicious?
In cooler weather, Taco Soup is a favourite crock pot recipe that everyone loves!
Another easy dinner are these Sloppy Joes! Serve with Cole Slaw, cut up raw veggies or a green salad for a super fast dinner.
3. Make It Mexican.
I honestly think that Mexican cuisine is one of the fastest and most delicious things that can be made for dinner. I know whenever I serve Mexican at our house, I can count on a winning meal  that everyone loves and enjoys! I was thrilled to learn recently that I had been chosen as an Ambassador for Old El Paso, and I will be sharing some delicious Mexican recipes in upcoming posts. Did you know that the Life Made Delicious website  has a ton of great Old El Paso/Mexican meal ideas for busy families? Since grilling season is far from being over, I have chosen these 3 recipes to add into our meal plan to help us escape our dinner rut. And here they are:
Grilled Picnic Taco Nachos
Grilled Shrimp Fajitas
Grilled Chicken Soft Tacos
 For more great ideas, you can also visit the Old El Paso Facebook Page where you will find several ideas for keeping the dinner rut at bay! You can also join the conversation on Twitter for more delicious dinner ideas at #YouMexiCan. 

I hope with meal planning, simple ideas and some Mexican dishes, that your family will enjoy dinner time again as we begin a new school year!

Disclosure-I am participating in the Old El Paso Blogger Campaign by Mom Central Canada on behalf of General Mills, and received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.

This post is linked to:
The DIY Dreamer, Gingersnap Crafts, The Inspiration Exchange, Under The Table & Dreaming,
Block Party Linky Party, Craft-O-Maniac, A Pretty Life, Uncommon Designs, Aalderberry Hill, Homestories A to Z, Time To Sparkle, Gingersnap Crafts, The DIY Dreamer, Savvy Southern Style, The 36th Avenue, Inspire Me Please, Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons, Tidy Mom, Inspiration Gallery, The Frugal Girls, Whipperberry,

Monday, 26 August 2013

A Deck Makeover

I am so excited to share this newly finished project with you...a deck makeover that is finally complete! And although this lovely space was finished on July 31 and I am just sharing it with you now, we have been enjoying every second out here soaking up the last of the dog days of summer.
Before I give you the full tour, you may remember that I shared Part 1 of this deck makeover last summer when I purchased new cushions and pillows for the patio set to give it new life.
And here is the sad state of the deck which I shared last summer! The deck had not been painted in many years and was really showing it's age. It had reached the point where it really needed to be painted or we would be in danger of losing the whole thing because of wood rot. Paint or stain not only helps keep things looking pretty, but also assists in protecting lumber from the many weather elements.
Here is the same deck floor after 2 coats of a paint application. It looks fantastic and brand new!
I chose to go with the original colour of the deck, minus the white balusters. By having everything painted a uniform colour, the deck lines look much cleaner and up-to-date.
Since this was such a large job and required lots of preparation and taping off the house, we decided to hire this one out.
And the results were more than what we had hoped for and we can rest easy knowing that this deck will give us many more years of life now that it is protected properly.
After the new paint had a chance to harden for a week, the outdoor furniture was put back into place.
I love creating small seating areas around our deck  and this sitting area is by the BBQ so that the chef can rest while watching the grill.
This bench is the perfect nook for reading or taking a nap.
The bistro set is great for a having a glass of wine or appetizers.
Flowers make everything look so much more attractive.
I cannot resist adding flowers to tables.
Sunflowers added to a deck are so pretty in August.
And here is the whole dining area.
We love our 'new' outdoor space and this area has very much become a second living room for us in the summer.
We love to have dinner out here, as well as entertain family & friends.
It's spacious, shady and now with the new paint job....beautiful as well.
I couldn't resist taking so many pictures because I am so happy with the new look.
 How about you? Have you tackled any large outdoor projects this summer?

{And if you are in the Edmonton, Alberta area, this paint job done by Matthew Rudy of College Pro Painters. We were extremely pleased with our deck job and think our deck looks fantastic! To reach Matt for a quote on your painting needs, please call him at 403-809-2990. I received no compensation for this recommendation and all opinions are my own.}

This post is linked to:
Metaphorsis MondayA Cozy Little House, Homestories A to Z, Time To Sparkle, Chef-In-Training, Sugarbee Crafts, The DIY Dreamer,  Gingersnap Crafts, The Inspiration Exchange, Savvy Southern Style, Link Palooza, Under The Table & Dreaming, Block Party Linky Party, Craft-O-Maniac, A Pretty Life, Uncommon Designs, Aalderberry Hill, I Heart Organizing, The 36th Avenue, Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons,  Tidy Mom, Inspiration Gallery, The Frugal Girls, Whipperberry, Made By You Monday,  Metamorphosis Monday,

Monday, 19 August 2013

3 Peanut Free School Lunch Ideas

{To celebrate Back To School  as part of a sponsored post for Collective Bias, I made these peanut free lunches featuring peanut free products from Presidents Choice.  #cbias}

With Back to School season upon us, and the first day of school not far away, it's time to stock up on all those lunch-making items for creating school lunches which are both nutritious and appetizing for kids.
For years, my kids attended an elementary school that was 'peanut free' and although my kids don't have food allergies, I was always very aware that the child eating lunch next to my child might have a peanut allergy, so I made sure that our lunches were 'peanut free' for the safety of every child. 
Packing 'peanut free' lunches is not hard at all. The job can be easy if you are armed with some knowledge, use lots of fresh fruit & vegetables and find peanut free snack choices.
A line of products that I have come to rely on is the President's Choice  peanut free line of snacks, which are easy to find with a peanut free logo right on the package.They are so many delicious choices that I could pack a lunch every day of the week with a different, tasty snack item each time.
If you are new to packing lunches for school, here are some ideas meant to inspire you, and since both of my children are not fond of sandwiches...these lunches contain a variety of things minus sandwiches.
Let's have a look at some lunch ideas that I pack for my children which are both delicious and peanut free.
Lunch #1.
The Pickles, Ham and Cheese Lover's Lunch.
 It contains:
Pickle, ham and cheese mini-kabobs, baby carrots and snap peas, a cheese round, President's Choice White Cheddar & Rosemary Flavoured Mini-Crackers {Peanut Free}and a President's Choice Dipped & Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola bar {Peanut Free} for dessert.
Lunch #2
The Strawberry Lover's Lunch.
I have a child who loves strawberries and would eat them every day of the week if they were in the house. This is one of her favourite lunches!
It contains:
Sliced Strawberries. President's Choice Cheddar Little Penguin Snack Crackers {Peanut Free} and cheese, carrots, and a President's Choice Little Penguin Brownie {Peanut Free}
Lunch #3
Little Bit of Everything Lunch.
It contains: Ham, Cheese & Pickle Mini-Kabobs, President's Choice White Cheddar & Rosemary Flavoured Mini Crackers{Peanut Free}, fresh cherries, carrots sticks, cucumber rounds and President's Choice 'Eat The Middle First' Cookies {Peanut Free}.
And when packing lunches, don't forget to include single servings of juice, milk or water. Here are two of my kids' favourite drinks for their son loves juice boxes, while my daughter loves coconut water to take to school.
 Packing school lunches every day can tend to be a bit of a challenge for busy moms sometimes, but with a bit of planning, and some delicious peanut free snacks on hand, the job becomes much easier for both moms to make and kids to eat!

For more school lunch ideas, don't visit this my School Lunch Board on Pinterest and  my posts on packing lunches for school HERE and HERE.

Wishing you a wonderful week! 

This post is linked to:
It's Overflowing, What's Cooking With Ruthie, Under The Table & Dreaming, Craft-O-Maniac, Uncommon, Aalderberry Hill, A Pretty Life, Skip To My Lou, Homestories A to Z, Time To Sparkle,Chef-In-Training, Sugarbee Crafts, The DIY Dreamer, Frugal Mom Eh, Gingersnap Crafts, The Inspiration Exchange,  Link Palooza, Under The Table & Dreaming, Block Party Linky Party, I Heart Organizing, The 36th Avenue, Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons, Tidy Mom, Inspiration Gallery, The Frugal Girls, Whipperberry, Made By You Monday,

Friday, 16 August 2013

30 Days of Beauty with Shoppers Drug Mart

One of my favourite weekly shopping destinations  is a trip to Shoppers Drug Mart.Whether I am looking to pick up milk, a gift card or the latest in a  new lipstick colour, I can always count on finding everything I need and more.  My teen daughter *loves* to go there too for all of her cosmetic needs and all of the sales associates at the Cosmetic Counter know her and which products she loves. She has some favourite products that she picks up only at Shoppers Drug Mart.

Shoppers Drug Mart will soon kick off their 3rd Annual National '30 Days of Beauty' Promotion'  from August 17 to September 15, and if you haven't heard of this program before, it's the Biggest Beauty Event of the Year. During this program, Shoppers Drug Mart will be offering 1 day only coupons as well as month long offers on many favourite  beauty brands such as Lancome, Lise Watier, Clinique, Benefit, Elizabeth Arden, Clarins, Covergirl, Quo and Gosh! It's a great time to stop by and visit because there will also be lots of 'how-to's in-store with over 30 different highlighted looks to inspire you! You may also book a  free 5-minute session for an in-store makeover to try out one of the '30 Days of Beauty' looks like a 'Wedding Look' or  'High School Reunion Look'.  In addition to in-store makeovers, daily and monthly specials, you can visit to find valuable print-to-redeem coupons, instruction videos and "How To's" for achieving the '30 Days of Beauty Looks'.

And if the makeovers and specials offers aren't enough already, Shoppers Drug Mart will also be offering one lucky winner a  grand prize of $1MM Shoppers Optimum Points through the "Submit Your Look' Contest. Visit the 30 Days of Beauty website to learn more details on how you could win HERE.

Shoppers Drug Mart will also be offering an exclusive Gift With Purchase in-store from August 24-August 30. If you spend $75 or more on Cosmetics, Skin Care or Fragrance, you will receive a stunning silver Cosmetic Pouch filled with over 25 beauty and fragrance samples.{while quantities last.} I love these types of offers and I get giddy with excitement whenever I have a chance to score a cosmetic bag filled with new things!

I am pretty excited about the '30 Days of Beauty' program because as a busy mom,  I am always looking to update my 'look' and this is the perfect opportunity for me to take 5 minutes to play, have fun and take advantage of some fabulous offers. My daughter is very excited as well  because she is looking to update her look as she begins Grade 12, as well as the chance to take advantage of the many special offers. So please don't forget to treat yourself by visiting Shoppers Drug Mart during this fabulous event to book your free 5 minute makeover,  take advantage of special offers and receive your special gift with purchase! And if the rush of 'back-to-school' keeps you from visiting Shoppers Drug Mart directly, you can also visit the '30 Days of Beauty' website daily to check out the amazing tips and videos and check out the 1 day only coupons that you print to redeem in-store.

Now I'm off to book my '5 Minute Makeover' and to check out the specials with my daughter at our local Shoppers Drug Mart!

Disclosure: The products/program mentioned above are  part of a sponsored post through my ad network, SheBlogs Media, for Shoppers Drug Mart. However, all opinions expressed are my own.}

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Back To School Breakfast Bash

Even though we are celebrating the start of school with a special 'Breakfast Bash', I have to admit that I am feeling a little sad for the start of school this year. Just like mommies feel sad when they have a little one start school for the first time, I am feeling sad because my oldest is starting school for the last's her senior year.
The years have flown by faster than I could have ever imagined and I cannot believe we are here already.
But I guess it's all the more reason to have some fun...because we made it!
And fun we will have with some cute owls, take home cookies in paper bags, pancakes, bacon, fruit salad and mini cinnamon buns.
I just could not resist these adorable little owls on mini-clothespins I found. So perfect for a back to bash, don't you think?
Inside these paper bags are cookies to take to school, along with 2 new pencils.
I created a centerpiece with my favourite fall flower...sunflowers.
And I made super-duper fluffy mini-pancakes with bacon.
Mini-cinnamon buns from the local grocery store round out the menu for baked treats.
And a deliciously festive fruit salad completes the meal.
A special day like the first day of your last year of school deserves a wonderful breakfast!
And even if you don't have time to make anything special, some store-bought muffins with a fruit tray would be just as special! It's all really just about marking the occasion with people you love.
Do you have any special traditions to celebrate the beginning of a new school year?
Please share in the comments...I would love to hear about them!

And if need some help in packing school lunches, I have some helpful posts on packing school lunches here and here.

And for more back to school ideas, don't forget to have a peek at these boards on Pinterest:

Wishing you a wonderful day! 

This post is linked to:
The 36th Avenue, I Gotta Create, The Frugal Girls, Tidy Mom, Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons, Liz Marie Blog, Inspiration Gallery, Link Party Palooza, It's Overflowing, What's Cooking With Ruthie, Under The Table & Dreaming,  Craft-O-Maniac, Uncommon, Aalderberry Hill, A Pretty Life, Skip To My Lou,  Homestories A to Z, Time To Sparkle, Chef-In-Training, Sugarbee Crafts, The DIY Dreamer, Gingersnap Crafts, Inspiration Exchange, Savvy Southern Style, Link Palooza, Block Party Linky Party,  Tidy Mom, The Frugal Girls,Whipperberry,
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