A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words: OOKPIX Giveaway

Our oldest daughter took a big leap of faith this year and started over at a new school.

Grade seven is not an easy year to be starting anything over. 

And leaving good friends was the hardest part. She is not the kind of kid who favours big groups of friends. She has always preferred to find her tribe and remain loyal to them. Over the years, she has surrounded herself with a beautiful and diverse group of girls that lift her up (we've always told her it's the most important trait in a friend) and make her happy. 

We reassured her that out of sight does not mean out of mind. And that as long as she keeps putting her heart into those relationships, they will continue to grow. 

And so far, so good.

 

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Every year I put photos and prints on my list of gifts to give, and last year I started ordering them from a Canadian company, Ookpix.

This year, I knew my daughter would be one of the recipients.

Shortly after starting at her new school, she took some professional photos with one of her oldest friends. It was such a fun morning, and the photographer captured them perfectly.

This was one of my favourite shots, because they look like a reflection of one another. This friendship is so special, because they always see the best in one another. It's a picture worth a thousand words, that can also be described with one: friend.

SN1

{Photo by Katherine McIntosh of Natural Attraction Photography}

I decided to try something different this time, because of the beautiful and bright colours in this photo. I chose an acrylic finish with rounded corners, and I was not disappointed. It looks stunning and will be the perfect addition to her room. The finish was flawless, and it's much lighter weight than I was expecting.

Ookpix

I loved it so much that I'm already hard at work on my next project for our family photo.

If you love gifting photos at the holidays, my friends at Ookpix are generously helping me give away a 20x30 canvas (because, yes, I did ask for you guys!). AMAZING!!!

Because Ookpix is 100% Canadian, shipping is completely free. And if you are shopping for the holidays, they are offering an "under the tree guarantee", as long as you order by Dec 12th. 

Psssst, there's also a great deal on the site right now for first time visitors. 

So hurry, hurry. Go take a peek. They offer photo canvas and photo acrylic in a range of sizes, as well as freestanding acrylic photo blocks, calendars, and photo books.

And don't fret if you don't win...Ookie the owl is giving ALL my readers 55% off any order with the code: LATENIGHTPLAYS (valid until Dec 3rd). 

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post, but Ookie did gift me the beautiful acrylic print. 

You can find Ookie on Facebook and Twitter, too.

 

 
 
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MAKE A SPLASH: {AVOCADO AND BEAN DIP}

We live in the suburbs. And in the suburbs, there are backyard pools.

Not in our backyard, unfortunately, but in the backyards of our friends and neighbours.

And now that the sun is shining and it's no more teachers, no more books (wait, no, there will always be books), we are trying to spend as much time as we can outside (to prevent too much time in close proximity-itis).

Over the past two weeks, the kids have been in four different pools. Please let it be known that we are happily accepting invitations for the coming weeks.

We don't come empty-handed. We come bearing OHMYGOODNESS delicious Avocado and Bean dip, and if you're really lucky, I'll bring Frito's corn chips for scooping it up. 

Avocadosalad

This recipe was given to me after I tried it a summer party. It was a symphony in my mouth (oh the cilantro and lime) and I hardly mingled that night—unless the fellow guests came close to this dip and I had to convince them they wouldn't like it. 

Since I've already had several requests for the recipe, I'm sharing it here. 

But please...don't bother spending your time making it (especially if you have a backyard pool), I'll just bring it over with our swim suits. 

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Ingredients

1 small red onion (diced)

1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)

1 cup frozen corn

1 avocado (diced)

1 tomato (seeded and diced)

1/3 cup red pepper (diced)

1/3 cup cilantro (fresh and chopped)

Dressing

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp jalapeno (minced - you can buy this jarred)

1/2 tsp salt

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Mix ingredients for dressing separately, and pour over assembled ingredients. Make ahead to allow flavours to soak in and store in refrigerator before serving. Leftovers are great in eggs the next day.

I wish I could credit the original source for their brilliance, but it remains a mystery.

 

 

 

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{GIVEAWAY}: I'M TAKING YOU TO THE SHOW!

It's highly probable that I'm sleep-writing this post. Because waking hours are very hard to come by this time of year. I am a shiny, silver ball that's lost inside a 24-hour pinball machine. If you're looking for me, I'm just out chasing my head. 

It sneaks up every single year, doesn't it? The well-intentioned pile of thank you cards that I've been meaning to get the kids started on—they mock me. But the kids aren't home either—recitals, play dates, bike riding, end-of-year parties, backyard pools, and playgrounds. And the feeding, laundry and sunscreen slatering that comes with it...well, you know what I'm talking about. You're doing it too!

So let's call a time out together. Put it all down and come with me to the movies. Take your mom, your sister, a friend. Heck, be a pal and grab a harried mom off the blacktop at your kids' school.  

Wordsandpictures

I have several pairs of tickets to give away for a new romantic drama starring Academy Award nominee Clive Owen and Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche, called Words and Pictures. It opens in theatres July 4th, and it looks like the perfect way to spend two hours in the dark, hovering over a buttery bag of popcorn.

If you think you can sneak away and turn off your smart phone (so they can't find you) on June 25th, leave me a comment below and you'll be entered to have a pair of tickets emailed to you.

This is a national contest, so I'm looking at you: Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Halifax. 

Toronto - The Varsity
Vancouver - Fifth Avenue
Victoria - Cineplex Odeon Victoria
Calgary - Cineplex Eau Claire 
Edmonton - Cineplex North Edmonton
Winnipeg - Cineplex SilverCity Polo Park 
Ottawa - Cineplex Odeon South Keys 
Halifax - Cineplex Bayers Lake

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 Thank you for the generous gift District PR

 

 

 

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Friendship Is Magic: A My Little Pony Birthday Party

You know how it is when you're three. 

Every pint-sized person you cross paths with is your friend. The kids at preschool, the ones you swim beside at lessons and twirl beside in ballet class. All of them, true friends. 

Our youngest daughter—the least shy of our lot—takes this to the extreme. 

She would move every friend into our house if she could. The more the merrier, as far as she's concerned. 

So planning her fourth birthday, and her first more-than-just-family party, put us in a bit of a situation—namely that we don't live in a stadium. 

School friends, dance friends, family friends?

I kept tossing around the logistics, until JB finally said Why don't you just invite your friends? 

Thanks to some beautiful fate, a handful of my womenfolk had daughters around the same time as me. We get together often, and we rely heavily on one another for support (and humour) over coffee cups and smartphones (hello, texting!).

Every one of them, and their daughters, have spent time in our home. 

Friendshipquote

The party was a success because of the people who came, yes, but it couldn't have happened without the talent and enthusiasm of women in my community (and greater parenting village).

I want to take some time, and space here, to thank them.

Leahfour

{Thank you Jennifer for finding this custom t-shirt from XandersWorld on Etsy}

We had already settled on a My Little Pony themed party. The franschise's motto that friendship is magic made a lot of sense to me, when it came to pulling this day together.

Several months ago, I saw my friend Alexandria's post about her daughter's pony-inspired party. When the planning finally got underway, I emailed her to ask some questions and she offered to help me with some games. Just like that I had beautiful posters and wonderful ideas sitting in my inbox. 

Ponygame

Then my creative friend, Dana, posted about her daugther's Doodlez Alive pony party and happily shared their information and her recommendation. Dana has an eye for beautiful things (really, go visit her blog) and I knew it would be a great group activity. I had hoped to capture a photo of all the kids and their pony creations, but they wouldn't stop galloping all over the place. Thankfullly, Doodlez Alive owners, Angela and Daniella, sent me this collage.

Doodlez

Next came the sweets for my sweetie. A friend of mine recommended local mom and baker, Lisa, from Little Cakes Bakery. She made these adorable (VEGAN) cupcakes, including a special Rainbow Dash for the birthday girl. 

Ponycake

And while we're talking sweets, how was I supposed to resist these homemade cookies by The Sugar Gals, Leanne and Kerri - yet another duo of wonder moms from our community. They were custom-designed and smelled and tasted like buttery heaven. Watching the partygoers' faces when they saw them was priceless. 

Ponycookies

Long after the end-time on the invitation had passed, we sat laughing and drinking coffee, while the kids chased balloons and worked off their cupcakes. Two of my sisters and their kids were here, too. I was surrounded by my friends, whose children have become my daughter's friends.

I'm glad our kids saw us there together—they don't know how much we've carried each other through the sweet and sad moments, but they did see that we share a friendship, and I hope they will know the same unconditional acceptance in their lives.

As each of them headed to the door to say their good byes, we gave them a memento of appreciation.

Ponybags

Handmade by Joanne from Litterless Lunch Lady, these gorgeous snack bags with a Chapter's gift card and delicious pony cookie were well-received. In fact, one of the moms has since decided to use it for herself. 

Birthdaycollage
It hasn't been easy getting myself to this day. And JB had it right when he said I should surround myself with the friends who have been there with me and this little girl for the past four years.

Friendship really is magic.

 

 

 

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