Fab Frugal Mama

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Disney's Planes: Fire and Rescue Is A Fun Family Adventure

My family are big fans of the Cars franchise and really liked the first installment of the Planes series, so we were excited to go see the sequel, Planes: Fire and Rescue last week.

It was a fun-filled, action-packed adventure right from the start, with a good story and lots of life lessons built in.

Once again we meet up with Dusty Crophopper, the star of the first Planes movie. He's on a roll and winning lots of races when he experiences a setback that makes him rethink his future.

On his journey, he meets a diverse cast of characters including Dipper, a feisty female firefighter who is sweet on him; Maru, the mechanic who can just about fix anyone; Windlifter, the wise 2nd in command; Cad Spinner, the antagonist; and Blade Ranger, the leader.

There are lots of other characters who round out the cast, making for a cute movie that teaches an important life lesson...that when one door closes, another opens. Life may hand you disappointment, but there's always a new adventure right around the corner...you just have to have the courage to find it.

While this isn't my kids' favourite movie of all time (which, if you must know, is Frozen...still singing the soundtrack everyday!), they certainly hooted and hollered, laughed and (almost) cried along with Dusty and the gang. I think their exact words when the credits rolled were, "That was awesome, Mom!"

That's good enough for me.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Canada Day at The Cottage: #NikonMOMents Part 1

As part of the #NikonMOMents team, I'll be sharing 5 posts with you over the next twelve months, each highlighting a different event. Since I'm new to the world of DSLR cameras, this has been an amazing learning experience so far. See, I'm 'that Mom' who pulls out her smartphone at *every* occasion. And, while smartphone pictures are fine for quick impromptu shots, I can honestly say that nothing compares to the beautiful images I capture with my Nikon camera.  I am looking forward to sharing what I learn along the way, including tips for taking fab photos of everything - and everyone - you love!

There are few things I look forward to more than the Canada Day long weekend. It signifies the start of cottage season and means an extra day to swim, enjoy the sun and hang out my family.

This year was very much like past celebrations, with the exception of one thing -  I had a fantastic camera to capture all of the shots I usually never even try to get!

One such picture is the ever-elusive "kids with sparklers". It was impossible to get a good shot with my point-and-shoot camera because I didn't have much control over the settings; I was always using "Auto" mode.  Because I'm very interested in taking artistic photographs, the idea of slowing down the shutter speed to achieve cool affects intrigued me. Considering it was dusk when the sparkler fun began, my first few images weren't as dramatic as I'd hoped. But, once I modified the light compensation, the change was immediate and drastic; I achieved a darker background, which allowed the foreground - the sparkler - to shine.

Sparklers! (Aperature: 4.5; ISO 100; shutter speed 1/25; EV/light compensation -1)

Sparklers! (Aperature: 16; ISO 100; shutter speed 1.6; EV/light compensation -1)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why I Won't Win Mother of the Year

Reason #28: my kids ate breakfast at 12:30pm today.

I've never claimed to be perfect - far from it, in fact. But some days are just bigger screw-ups than others.

Like today, for example. I had the best intentions... get up, eat breakfast, do a bit of work for a client, then take the kids to the museum. Sounds easy enough, right?

The morning started off just fine. The kids (bless their hearts) slept in, so I got a bit of work done before they awoke. Then they got dressed and my oldest played in her room while my youngest watched morning cartoons.

The next thing I knew, my littlest one was calling up to me, asking for a glass of juice. I casually glanced at the time on the computer… 12:26pm.

Wait… what?

I am a bad mother was the first thing that popped into my head.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Taking Control of Your Financial Future #YourStoryYourFuture

When I was growing up, my Mom always stressed to me the importance of being self-sufficient. Being a single mother, she knew that life often throws you a curve ball and that, with some planning, any negative financial impact can be minimized.  No matter what, it's important to have a plan to save for the future.

Before kids, my husband and I saved for our future through contributions to our RRSPs as well as through stock incentive plans at work. Fast-forward seven years and two kids later, and my life looks very different than it did back then. After our youngest child was born, I made the decision that I would stay home and start my own business. It made sense for our family - I wanted to have the flexibility to be there for them during the day, volunteer at their school, etc - and it afforded me the opportunity to work from home. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Taking Care Of My Skin With Clinique

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

When I was a little girl, I'd watch my mom cleanse her face, swipe on toner and moisturize almost every night. Times were lean, but that was the one thing she splurged on - good skincare products from Clinique. While she was never one to wear a lot of makeup, she never really needed it... she knew the importance of taking care of her skin so that there were fewer imperfections to cover up.

As I grew older, I hoped for flawless, glowing skin - the kind you see in tv commercials. But, as fate would have it, my skin has been anything but perfect. Between fighting dryness from eczema and redness from rosacea, I pretty much stopped doing everything except basic face-washing, for fear it would exacerbate my problems.

That is, until I realized I needed to take action.

I think turning the big 4-0 this year was a wake up call that I can't be cavalier with my skin. When I revealed to a friend that I don't apply a daily facial sunscreen, she was practically mortified! I mean, I *own* sunscreen, but it can tend to make my skin look ghostly (I usually choose physical sunscreens over chemical ones, for fear I'll break out), so I'm not consistent about applying it daily. And, I'll be honest - weeks can go by without me using it. Needless to say, I was happy when #CollectiveBias asked me to write about my experience choosing a Clinique product that would positively impact my beauty routine.

I visited my local Hudson's Bay to check out the Clinique area and speak with an advisor to help me choose the right product for my skin.

The area was comprised of many different "stations" or pods, with different products in each, allowing me to try out items from each of their lines.

It soon became clear that daily sun protection was severely lacking in my regimen, and that it was a good place to start. When I mentioned my skin problems, the advisor immediately showed me the line of "Redness Solutions", which are formulated to combat issues such as rosacea. I was immediately drawn to the SPF 15 Daily Protective Base.

First off, I love that it doesn't contain any chemical sunscreens to irritate my skin - Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are the active ingredients. I also appreciate its green tint, to combat the outward appearance of redness. Add the fact that it's oil-free, fragrance-free and ophthalmologist tested (because I wear contacts), and I was almost sold! The last remaining test was to try it out. I was pleased to see it went on smoothly and didn't add a ghostly pallor to my skin; in fact, the green tint did what it claimed - it evened out my skin tone by subduing the redness.

I'm very happy with my purchase of Clinique's Redness Solutions Daily Protective Base SPF 15. And, while I would have preferred that the SPF was higher, this is a step in the right direction. I'm glad to have found a product that fits in well with my lifestyle and can accommodate my skin issues at the same time.

Now if only my face could magically wash itself every night... ;)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Don't Be Afraid To #PayInAFlash

As a busy Mama on the go, there are a few things I always have with me – my cell phone, debit card and lip balm.

My cell phone is my personal and work lifeline, connecting me to family and clients via email and shared calendars, as well as a myriad of to-do lists. And when it comes to daily purchases and responsible budgeting, my debit card is my financial lifeline. (It’s quite embarrassing how rarely I carry cash!)

I’ve always been an early adopter of technology – I'm all for anything that can make my life easier, including my beloved debit card. My very first one was actually called a “convenience card” – how apropos! Surprisingly, though, I seemed to hit a mental roadblock when debit card tapping, for small purchases, was introduced. I just couldn’t bring myself to use it… it somehow seemed less safe than using my PIN.

That is, until I learned the facts about Interac Flash.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Foxy Originals for Teacher {Review & #Giveaway}

It's almost the end of the school year and I'll bet you're wondering what to get your child's teacher. Yes, I'm with you... it can be tough to figure out *just* what they'd like.


A word of advice: banish all thoughts of mugs and apple paraphernalia.

Trust me, I've asked my teacher friends.

Instead, get her something she'll love - a limited-edition "Live Love Teach" necklace from Foxy Originals. (If I were a teacher, I know I'd want one... seriously... how fab is this?)