Fab Frugal Mama

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Family Fun At The ROM: #NikonMOMents Part 5

From the age of two and a half, my son would ask me at least twice a week if we could visit the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) to visit the bat cave and dinosaurs.  It amazed me how interested he was at such a young age, and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to foster his love of learning.

So, I'd plan a few fun adventures with him each week, which usually included going to the ROM for his bat cave 'fix'.  This planning was as much for him as it was for me; being a work-at-home Mom means that sometimes I lose track of time and, before I know it, we've stayed inside all day!

Needless to say, we have had a family membership ever since.

They still love them: my kids in the ROM bat cave :)

Going to the ROM is something the whole family enjoys and it never gets old. But, despite having had my Nikon D3300 for almost a year now, I've never taken it along on any of our visits there.  I think I was scared that I would lose my youngest while trying to capture the perfect shot! Luckily, my husband came with us when we visited the museum recently, so I was free to snap as many pictures as I wanted. Here's a glimpse into our trip...

We had so much fun learning about the new dinosaur that was just discovered.

We awaited the reveal of a new dinosaur species

Now that my daughter is old enough to read, the kids love checking out the interactive displays to find out more about the exhibits.

After many attempts at capturing images (especially of items behind glass) with my smartphone, I'm glad I had my Nikon D3300 camera with me this time. My favourite setting to shoot with is the aperture priority setting ("A" on the dial); this allows me to determine the amount of light that should be let in, and the camera determines the optimal shutter speed based on that setting. I find that the shots are brighter, and I've got greater control of shadows / highlights and depth of field, than when using Auto mode.

Butterflies in the biodiversity wing are breathtaking

Animals (sloth & macaw), dinosaur skeletons and fossils

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Getting Gorgeous with #AlmayPureBeauty {+ Giveaway}

Ask anyone who knows me well and they'll tell you I have the worst memory ever.

I can't recall the particulars of events such as my high school graduation or first kiss (I know... I'm so lame), but there are a few milestones I remember - one of them being the day I got contact lenses.

Having worn glasses much of my young life, I vividly remember the feeling of freedom I had with my new-found independence from those always-foggy, terrible-in-the-rain, ugly glasses.

I was thirteen and all was right with the world. I remember the optometrist telling me that I had to be careful what cosmetics I used on my eyes and all I could think was, "You mean I get to wear eye makeup now?" Of course, my mother clarified that statement, telling me "WHEN you're old enough to wear makeup, you need to buy the hypoallergenic kind."

A few years later, I found myself remembering those words while in my local drug store frantically searching for suitable products. That's when I bought my very first eyeliner from Almay.

The funny thing is, if you look in my makeup kit today, you'll find the same eyeliner... along with a few new favourites I've picked up over the past few years!

(L to R) Almay eyeliner, smart shade CC luminous primer, smart shade anti-aging SPF 20 skintone matching
makeup, smart shade SPF 15 concealer, oil-free makeup remove pads, butterkiss lipstick and intense i-color smoky-i™ kit

I attended a breakfast hosted by Almay a few weeks ago and got to meet their two newest Canadian brand ambassadors - Ceri Marsh and Laura Keogh, founders of The Sweet Potato Chronicles (and former FASHION Magazine editors). These two amazing Mamas were as lovely in person as I had imagined and were thrilled to share their tips for making mornings easier, including fabulous meal prep ideas and beauty tips. Both ladies love how Almay's products are made to get you out of the house in a few minutes flat - like the butterkiss lipstick that acts as a moisturizing balm and lipstick in one.

We were also treated to a preview of the new Almay Canada commercials starring Laura and Ceri; the spots focused on their relationships with their daughters and what their daughters love best about them. So touching!

Makeup artist Jacquie Hutchinson was on hand to teach attendees some easy makeup tips and tricks, too! She even taught me how to do a quick and easy smoky eye. (Thanks, Jacquie!)

(L to R) Makeup artist extraordinaire Jacquie Hutchinson, Ceri Marsh & Laura Keogh (founders of The Sweet
Potato Chronicles) and me!

If you're anything like me, you only have a few precious minutes to get ready and out of the house in the morning. My routine consists of eyeliner, concealer under my eyes, and a quick sweep of butterkiss lipstick (in light/medium pink). I save the primer, foundation (I like the anti-aging version) and smoky-i kit for occasions when I have a bit more time to spend on my beauty regimen but, that being said, I can still get out of the bathroom in under 15 minutes! (Not bad, eh?)

I'm happy that my favourite brand as a teenager is still a favourite today. With all of the amazing innovations from Almay, I'm sure to love them for many years to come!

Almay wants you to see how easy it can be to get ready with their innovative, hypoallergenic beauty products, so they're giving away a fabulous prize pack to one lucky FFM reader!

Prize includes:

Enter via the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway is open to residents of Canada only, aged 18+. See terms and conditions stated at bottom of entry form for further details. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 26, 2015

My Broken Foot #ThankfulThursday

Life has been a bit chaotic lately, so the last thing I needed was a broken foot.

But that's what I got anyway.  Sigh.

While there's never a good time to get laid up with an injury, I'm pretty sure doing it right before the start of March Break is one of the worst...and that's exactly what happened.

So, I struggled through the week with my kids. I was bummed out and feeling guilty that we were homebodies most of the time, when I'd much rather have been going on family adventures. I've never injured myself like this before; being so helpless and dependent on others kind of messed with my head. I was in a real funk.

Then I saw a post my friend Christine wrote, entitled "Thankful Thursday" which really inspired me.  I reminded myself that this was not the end of the world. It was okay to be frustrated, but I had to count my blessings. So I did.

A lovely surprise from my friend, Maya

And you know what? It helped a lot.  I vowed I would write a #ThankfulThursday post and link it up on her blog, Life on Manitoulin, so I am doing it today!

Having a broken foot has reminded me of how generous and supportive my friends and family are and how lucky I am to have them in my life. I want to send a shout-out of thanks to...
  • My husband, for being an amazing partner, but especially for being cook, chauffeur and more, without a single complaint, these past two weeks
  • My kids, for being understanding and considerate...and giving me extra hugs and kisses!
  • Maya, for the beautiful flowers that brightened my day and for always being a supportive, amazing friend
  • Janet, for the impromptu coffee dates that keep me sane and the many school drop-offs and pick-ups when I'm in a jam
  • Shannon, who so generously lent me her air cast, which is a vast improvement on the huge, clunky one I had (Yay, I can drive now - thanks!!)
  • My friend Christine, for inspiring this post
  • My fellow Moms at school who offer kind words of encouragement and commiserate with me :)
  • My friends who offered words of encouragement and concern when I ranted about my foot on Facebook ;)
I am truly thankful for so many things. I'd love to hear what you're thankful for. Happy Thursday!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Fisher-Price Little People: Timeless Classics {Giveaway}

When I was a kid, there were few toys that held my interest as long as the Fisher-Price Little People castle did. I fondly remember my sister and I playing with it for hours on end, the trap door and secret room being my favorite places to "hide" the characters.

Fast-forward 30-odd years and my kids' favourite was the Little People farm. They loved listening to the animal sounds while sending their characters down the silo. My son and daughter would race to see whose figure would make it through the silo first, just so they could get dropped again!

That was a few years ago, but I'm happy to say that I'll be passing the tradition on to my little nephew who was born last fall. I know he'll love the latest version of my kids' beloved toy - the Little People Animal Friends Farm - just as much as they did. And with eight sing-along songs, seven figures (including Farmer Eddie!) and a fold-up feature for easy storage, I think his parents will love it too.  :) 

The famous silo! ;)

Little People are truly timeless. In fact, my sister still has the castle and our kids often play with it together. And, when visiting my in-laws, my kids enjoy the vintage Little People bus their Daddy had as a kid.

Whether old or new, Little People toys continually surprise and delight. They offer the perfect opportunity for children to discover and explore the world in a way that's safe and comforting. They help kids lose themselves in play... to be transported to another world and get lost in their imaginations.

To me, that is the sign of a great toy, and I'm thrilled that Fisher-Price continues the tradition of making quality classics that can be enjoyed for generations.

Party Planning Alert!


If you love Little People as much as my family does, check out their fantastic party planning site created to help you throw a stress-free (and awesome!) party. It shows you ways to incorporate Little People sets into the party decor, which is both fab *and* frugal! (Because who wants to waste money on decorations that will just be thrown out, right?)


Win It!


Fisher-Price is giving away one Little People Animal Friends Farm to a lucky FFM reader!

Enter via the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway is open to residents of Canada only, aged 18+. See terms and conditions stated at bottom of entry form for further details. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

We've Got Frozen Fever!

Disney's Frozen is one of our family's favorites... it's in regular rotation on family movie night and the soundtrack is belted out from my 8-year-old's lips at least once a week (usually more!).

Needless to say, we are all fans of Frozen in our house, so we are thrilled to hear that the follow-up short film, Frozen Fever, can be seen exclusively in theatres with Disney’s new live-action version of Cinderella, opening on March 13. If you want a sneak peak, I've got it for you!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Taking Care of Your Skin: Winter Tips + Enter to Win!

I'm a bit of an addict when it comes to creams, lotions and potions (...and nail polish!). Having eczema means I'm always on the lookout for the best skin care products to soothe my dry, itchy skin and, more often than not, I end up at Shoppers Drug Mart to try out the latest products.

In turn, I'm super excited to be a Shoppers Drug Mart #GettheMostOutofLife Ambassador for the month of February! You may have noticed my recent social media posts, where I've shared tips and articles from their healthy living website.

One of my resolutions this year is to take better care of my skin, and there's a lot of helpful information and easy recommendations on the site to make this a no-brainer when it comes to reaching my goal.

Check out the site for yourself and, while you're there, enter for a chance to win a $50 gift card! I'm hosting a 3-day contest on the site, starting today. All you have to do is tell us what Life Brand products (or tips) you use to take care of your skin.

Enter here!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cute Valentines for Your Valentine {Free Printables!}

When it comes to Valentine's Day, what's not to love? ;)

My family will attest to the fact that I adore any reason to make stuff... crafts, party decorations, cupcakes and cookies - the list is endless. In the case of cupid's day, I heart making cute valentines.

So, if you find yourself scrambling for last-minute cards for your child's class, look no further.

I hope you enjoy these free, printable valentines - made with love from me to you! Simply click on the image below to download the PDF file. (You'll need Adobe Reader to open the file; you can download it here for free.)

Happy Valentine's Day!!