Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer Fun!

Looking for something fun to do with the kids? It's beginning to feel a lot like Summer, and that means spending tons of time outdoors!   

Gordon's Park Eco Resort on Manitoulin Island is offering a Moms and Tots swim every Saturday and Sunday morning for the month of June. Parents have the option of choosing which day they would like to come.

 The four week program is a "free swim", which means moms (or dads!) can go hang out in the water and help their kids get used to being in the water and having fun.  They are not offering swimming "lessons", but giving parents the opportunity to get toddlers comfortable in the water.
The "Moms and Tots" swim is intended for babies and toddlers (and their parent/s).

Each session is one hour and begins at 11AM. Swim pants/swim diapers are required for all babies/toddlers.

The cost for the four week program for one mom and one tot is $28 + tax or pay as you go for $7.50 + tax. $5 for each additional child.

Come on out and enjoy some time outdoors with the kids...and support your local businesses :)

For more information or to book your spot, contact info@gordonspark.com or call 705-859-2470.

Gordon's Park is located at 18777 Hwy 6 Tehkummah, Ontario, P0P 2C0, Manitoulin Island.

Photo of pool at Gordon's Park taken by: Jeffery Widen
Location photo found: flickr

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Taste of Manitoulin

 Being a city gal, transplanted in the rural North (on an island in the middle of Lake Huron), finding things to do here has been much easier than I had imagined!  Friends in the city said I would never last even three months on the Island, but I'm going on seven years this June!
I am incredibly blessed to be living on a beautiful island with lots to do all the time. There's never a dull moment for me here. With all the community events, groups, local activities, and even just living on a farm (plus teaching ESL and raising a two year old!), there's always a lot to keep me occupied.  Nature, the outdoors, the beaches, lakes, and scenery make the Island a veritable playground for the young and old! Growing your own produce, going fishing (like my Dad and students do), or just going for walks in the woods to look for edible wilds, is great for the body, mind, and soul.

What I am most excited about is this wonderful event coming up in June. The Island is home to many local growers and restaurants. Come and enjoy some fresh local fare and experience Manitoulin Island!
"A Taste of Manitoulin is a 10 Day festival based on local food. There are so many amazing restaurants on the island, and local growers and by June, there is already foodstuffs available - local honey, maple syrup, canned goods, jams, fresh fish, local beef and lamb, wild edibles like leeks and fiddleheads etc, not to mention some of the great restaurants resorts that prepare signature meals and all the amazing Anishnabek cuisine and great coffee shops, tea shops and chocolate shops. We hope to showcase these great foods with local businesses preparing local recipes from local foods for all our visitors. Our food producers will be working with local businesses, art groups, theatre groups, musical groups, museums, restaurants, resorts, and hotels to create different events for everyone to enjoy - from a light house tour of the island to a bluegrass festival. From a moonlight star gazing party to a dinner theatre. From a farm tour to a walk to learn edible wilds or healing plants. From cooking classes to local celebrities. There are so many events being planned! Something different every day for visitors to experience the island in new ways that they have not done before. We look forward to seeing you here for our first annual Taste of Manitoulin Festival." (from A Taste of Manitoulin's Facebook page)

Date: Friday, June 3 at 12:00pm - June 13 at 6:00pm
Place: All over Manitoulin Island 

For more information, check out their website!

My Facelift

My husband always comments on how impatient, restless, antsy, busy and on-the-go I am all the time.  Quite often, he'll come home to see our house completely upturned different. In between teaching, toddler, the farm, freelance gigs, writing reviews, attending meetings, and other things that keep me busy, I try to make our house a homey and comfortable place to live.  This is a difficult feat when you live in an old farm house. There is always tons of work to get done. Always.

Plus, with a two and a half year old, the house never seems to stay tidy for long. Seriously. It's like shoveling snow in a snow storm!

Just like how I get tired of the way things look in our home and need some uplifting and a fresh look/new perspective, I get this way with "the blog" too. This blog has undergone many facelifts over the course of a few years.

I've played around with various templates, have changed them umpteen times, and I've even learned how to HTML almost a decade ago. I've taught myself how to create banners and buttons. I've even taught myself how to number comments in the comments section. After hours (in some cases, days!) of working on template, design, and codes, I have come across a few sites that make things a lot easier for bloggers to do their own blog facelifts!

Yes. All you have to do for some of these new sites is copy, paste, insert, and save in your edit HTML section in your dashboard!

I am excited to say that I think I've found one that I'm going to stick with!

The Pixelista
I am happy to introduce The Pixelista - Custom Blog Design! Say goodbye to generic blog templates and ask The Pixelista to custom design your website! You can now have your own professional yet creative and fun blog/website!

Check out her portfolio to see some of her handiwork! "Like" Pixelista on Facebook and follow Pixelista on Twitter !

* I used one of Pixelista's free templates for Blogger. The thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are my own. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

"Fresh" and The Taste of Manitoulin

 The Auberge Inn is having a movie night during the Taste of Manitoulin Festival. Watch the movie Fresh and enjoy local desserts.
Synopsis: Fresh celebrates farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inviting our food system. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of our food and our planet.

Wednesday, June 8 · 7:00pm - 9:00pm

5252 Hwy 551 (Mutchmor Street) Providence Bay, ON

Admission: $12 for movie, desserts and discussion.
Don't miss this premiere event!
For more info: 705.377.4392 or email: info@aubergeinn.ca

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mommies Unite...Or Stab Each Other in the Back?

In my two and a half years as a mom (yes, I'm still a newbie!), I have enjoyed the company and mom advice from fellow moms.  Mom friends that I've known from pre-wedding and pre-baby, moms from my community, family members, and moms from the online world have all been a great resource to draw from.

I'm sure many of us have experienced the wonderful side of having the support from other moms. With this, there is also the not so supportive side at times. You know what I'm talking about. Chastising moms for not breastfeeding, telling parents that they are bad parents for co-sleeping, warning that attachment parenting and baby wearing is doing your child a tremendous disservice and will ruin them for life...These are some of the criticisms a few of my mom friends have been on the receiving end of.

People have very strong opinions about parenting. For the most part, I believe opinions are well-intentioned. I don't agree with certain parenting styles, beliefs, or methods. At the same time, I believe that each parent knows what's best for their own baby and parents know their babies better than anyone else does. What works for some may not work for others.

Fortunately, I haven't experienced too much of this. I am curious though. What do you think? Are fellow moms generally supportive or have you experienced any insensitive comments or remarks? Read this latest blog post on  BornFreeMom.ca and leave a comment there! You can win a BornFree formula dispenser! Even if you don't use formula, some moms have said that the dispenser makes a great snack container too! :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bobs and Lolo Connecting the Dots Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway! We are happy to announce that a winner has been chosen via Random.org. Luck #27 is the proud new owner of the Bobs & Lolo prize pack!

Janet said... 27
I follow you on Networked Blogs

Friday, May 20, 2011

Applause TOYS!

I remember the feeling of excitement that rushed through my veins whenever I set foot inside Toys 'R Us when I was a kid. I know. Pretty sad. All the colours, tactile sensations, visual stimulation...guaranteed to grab a kid's attention!

Now that I'm a mom, I have been doing my research on items for Little One. If she does have toys, I want them to be safe (non-toxic paints, high quality, etc), environmentally friendly, and educational. I don't know when I began researching  pregnancy, baby, and toddler products, but now that I'm a mom, I know I am more conscious about my purchases and I like to make informed decisions when choosing products. 

I don't know when or how I found out about ApplauseTOYS, but I am so glad to have found them! I actually have a feeling our paths crossed somehow on Twitter. It might have been at a Melissa & Doug Twitter Party, now that I think of it!

ApplauseTOYS is a Canadian store that carries a very impressive variety of educational toys that kids and parents alike enjoy and love. They carry many of the leading brands like Melissa & Doug, Alex, Boon, etc. ApplauseTOYS also carries a variety of shades of  Piggy Paint natural, eco-friendly nail polish for girls!

I've had the pleasure of communicating with ApplauseTOYS and must say that they are amazing to Tweet with. Also, their customer service is unparalleled!  They are super friendly, helpful, and efficient! We love ApplauseTOYS!

I am taking Little One for her first big trip at the end of this year. In preparation of her big trip, she is the proud new owner of...

Trunki Trixie!

Trunki is the one and only riding luggage for kids made by Melissa & Doug. It's sturdy, child-friendly, fun, and you can pull your tot around the airport on their Trunki if they get tired! How fun is that?

Little One has already been putting her favourite outfits and toys in her Trunki Trixie and she loves being pulled around on it! We've even customized/personalized Trixie by making her into a cat! Little One loves cats and specifically asked for "whikkerzzz"!
Yes, she also has the saddle bag that converts from comfy saddle for tot to sit on (along with a horn to make one's presence known!) to an over the shoulder bag that conveniently stores necessities like crayons, gadgets, and doodads! Little One keeps her flashlight in there at all times! Goofy kid! :)

Stop by ApplauseTOYS and check out all of the amazing products they carry.  I guarantee you'll have fun shopping (be it via their online store or their Muskoka store). If you're in Muskoka/Cottage Country, why not pop in and say hello? Tell them I sent you! Spread the ApplauseTOYS luv!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Connecting the Dots: Bobs and Lolo CD Review and Giveaway!

There's nothing that makes my heart melt more than seeing my two year old sing and dance along to catchy tunes and really enjoy being a kid!  Ever notice how toddlers can just rock it out to a tune and not feel self-conscious or worry about looking silly? They just start dancing whenever they hear music. It's beautiful! I often wonder at what point in our lives do we lose that part of us and become aware of what others think?

I secretly hope my daughter never loses that freedom of being able to dance like no one is watching or even cares. I know that she may one day become self-conscious and not want to dance in front of anyone, but for now I just want her to enjoy it.

What Little One does enjoy tremendously is Bobs & Lolo's music.  The fun, peppy, talented singing duo had my daughter hooked upon hearing "Raindrop Pop" for the first time.

Who are Bobs & Lolo?

They're 2010 Juno nominees, Robyn Hardy (Bobs) and Lorraine Pond (Lolo). The musical pair are dedicated to helping children connect the natural world with music, movement, fun, and make-believe. Their songs are fun and at the same time, they teach children how to care about themselves, others, and the planet they live on.

When Little One listens to Bobs & Lolo, she learns about nature, animals, family, friends, and the world around her. In essence, she really is learning how to "connect the dots". She's only two years old, but is starting to make connections.

Each song on their newest CD shows that "connections exist between different things".  Little One's  favourite song on Bobs & Lolo's newest CD is "Family Tree".  She immediately made the connection that her family consists of parents, grandparents, etc. She was naming off members of our family. It was so cute.

I just think it's adorable seeing her react to the music. The wide-eyed expressions, the smiles, giggles, and squeals...There's something so special about seeing how kids react to music. Priceless.

Little One loves dancing to "Tick Tock" and grabs our hands so we can dance with her. I cannot tell you how many times we've listened to Connecting the Dots! The moment I opened our package from Bobs & Lolo, Little One wanted to tear the CD open!

Connecting the Dots  will be released into retail stores on May 17, 2011. Make sure to buy your copy of the CD!

Having said this, we do have something special for one lucky blog reader!  Bobs & Lolo have given us a copy of their new CD (it hasn't even hit the stores yet!) along with some cool Bobs & Lolo stickers and an autographed Bobs & Lolo photograph!

Just tell us why you would like to win a copy of Bobs & Lolo's newest CD! (1 entry)

Additional entries:
* "Like" Bobs & Lolo on Facebook, and tell them I sent you! (1 entry)

* Follow Bobs & Lolo and chancesmommy (that's me!) on Twitter and tweet the contest! (5 entries)
"I want to win @BobsandLolo's newest CD on @chancesmommy's blog!
* "Like" Random Thoughts and Musings from the Island REVIEWS on Facebook.  
(1 entry)

* Follow Random Thoughts and Musings from the Island REVIEWS on GFC. 
(1 entry)

* Follow Random Thoughts and Musings from the Island REVIEWS on Networked Blogs.  
(1 entry)

* Grab my blog button and send me the link so I know where you posted it.
(1 entry)

Make sure to leave me your e-mail address so I can contact you if you are the winner. Also, please leave a SEPARATE comment for EACH entry.  Ends May 20, 2011.
Disclosure - I received a Bobs & Lolo package (Bobs & Lolo literature, stickers, Connecting the Dots CD, and autographed photo of Bobs & Lolo) to facilitate this review. All the thoughts and opinions on this blog are my own. Bobs & Lolo have also included a Bobs & Lolo package for the winner of this giveaway.


Thank you to everyone who entered some of this month's giveaways. Winners have been chosen for our StyleKid.ca giveaway and our MomCentral/Bank of Montreal RONA gift card giveaway.

Random.org chose lucky #55 and #7! Congratulations to...
Snow said... 55
twitter follower of Style kid and chancesmommy Tweet (1) http://twitter.com/spdls0215/status/64199219312996353


freeshopper said... 7
We already have some energy efficient appliances, but would like to eventually have an energy efficient furnace.
Winners, please check your e-mail! You will be contacted about your prizes this week! 

Snow, you have won a $50 gift certificate for StyleKid.ca and Freeshopper, you have won a $50 RONA gift card!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Divine.ca Home Bakery Bundle Giveaway

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Dr. Oetker for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

The first time I heard of Dr. Oetker products was over a decade ago, when a friend of mine was on a diet.  She looked fabulous.  She was working out at the gym every day, eating healthy and delicious meals, and since she was a chocoholic, she always had a delectable dessert to finish off her meals.  When she told me of her "guilt-free" pleasures (aka Dr. Oetker's chocolate mousse or lava cakes!), I was intrigued.

I decided to look into this Dr. Oetker and his "amazing" products.

I was shocked to discover that the always-a-party-pleaser Lemon Meringue Pie that one of my aunts had been making ever since I was a kid was made with Dr. Oetker's Shirriff Lemon Pie Filling!  The decadent Creme Brulee my friend's mother made on special occasions? Also from Dr. Oetker!

What surprised me the most was that before Hubby and I were wed, his "go to" meal was none other than Dr. Oetker's pizza!  To this day, if I'm ever out of town, guess what Hubby has for supper 9 times out of 10? That's right. Pizza.

When I checked out the Dr.Oetker website, I was surprised to see the variety of products they have out. We were also given a coupon for a FREE Panebello Pizza or any variety.  I chose the Vegetables and Goat Cheese. I love how the crust was just like artisan bread from my favourite bakery. I'm not a big fan of pizza dough/crust (unlike my husband, who just loves bread of any kind!).  This pizza crust was just the right thickness and texture. It was not too heavy or dense, and the toppings were delicious.  Bright cherry tomatoes, red peppers, onions, pesto, and goat cheese! What's not to love? It was a hit with even our 2 year old!

  Do you purchase Dr. Oetker products? If so, tell me why you love them!

Want another reason to love Dr. Oetker?

WIN 1 of 5 $500 Home Bakery Bundles!

Just enter online at  Divine.ca Home Bakery Bundle Giveaway.

Each prize pack is valued at $500 and includes:

* 8 coupons (for 2 of each of the new Dr. Oetker Panebello Pizza varieties): Vegetables & Goat Cheese, Country Pepperoni, Classic Canadian and Bruschetta

* 1 Breville Toaster Oven

* 1 Pair of Dr. Oetker Oven Mitts

* 1 Dr. Oetker Pizza Cutter

* 1 Williams-Sonoma Pizza Peel

**Contest open only to Canadian Residents. Contest ends on June 13, 2011.**

Visit Sponsor's Site

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Posterjack.ca Review and Something Special for my Readers!

Photographs capture our special moments, our everyday moments, and everything in between. Photos help demonstrate snippets of our lives and share them with those we love. In essence, photos give us something we can keep for posterity.

 It seems that these days, almost everyone has got a digital camera. Uploading photos has become so easy that even my mom is a pro at it! In fact, she's now even better than I am when it comes to all things computer related!

With the birth of Little One, I've been just a little trigger happy when it comes to snapping photos of her. I just don't want to miss anything! I don't want to miss a single moment and want to capture everything! It was perfect timing when I was approached to write a review for Posterjack.ca! I usually just upload my pics onto the [insert name of large membership store  here] website and they're printed in 24 hours. I just pick them up when I go to [insert large membership store here] since I usually need a few "bulk" items from there anyway. The quality and convenience are satisfactory at the place I usually go to.
This said, I was extremely excited when Posterjack.ca offered me a product to review.  Posterjack is an online photo printing company that turns your photos into beautiful artwork!

Here are just some of the wonderful home decor ideas Posterjack has for decorating the rooms in your house:

How about these neat ideas?

Peel N’ Stick poster - You can take the most adorable photo of your child and turn it into something you can stick anywhere. This special peel n' stick poster can be used on flat wall surfaces in your house and it won't damage your walls or lose its adhesiveness. What a really neat idea! I was debating for a long time whether this should be the product that I choose to review. I like the idea of being able to peel and stick a photo. You can move the photo to a different wall or room and not ruin your paint job or leave nail holes in walls!

 Frame it - I was also contemplating this option. I love the idea of  an enlarged, framed family photo. Posterjack.ca has a selection of sizes for framed photos that starts from 8 x 12 inches to 24 x 32 inches. They arrive ready to hang! I think that I'll be getting these for Little One's grandparents next Christmas! Who doesn't love an enlarged, framed family photo?

Scan and Canvas your kids and/or their Art Work -Posterjack.ca offers a wide variety of sizes such as double-width, panorama, square, and poster size. You can even put your children’s artwork on canvas! Simply scan their masterpiece and upload the jpeg. Yet another tempting idea! Can you see why it took me almost two days to decide which product I'd like to review?! I love them all!

I ended up selecting Frameless Mounting. Sturdy hardboard, brilliant finish, UV-resistant and ready to hang, makes this option very attractive to me. It was a toss up between this and the Gallery Wrapped Canvas.

I am really pleased with how the photo turned out. The quality is really great! I uploaded one of my favourite photos of Little One (taken at her 1st Birthday/Cake Smash Session by the wonderful and talented duo at PhotoCaptiva). I selected which product I wanted and which size I wanted. Presto! So easy!

Not only was it easy to upload and order online with Posterjack.ca, but the service I received was incredible. I goofed on my order and e-mailed Posterjack. They promptly replied to my e-mail and made the appropriate corrections, and my order arrived sooner than I had anticipated.

What I am the most pleased with (apart from the quality of the product) is that Posterjack.ca is a CANADIAN company!  In the past, I've ordered photo prints online but my sources were all U.S. based companies. It is so great to have a Canadian photo printing company to order through! No currency exchange, no customs issues with shipping across the border...It really is simple.

I know I will definitely use Posterjack.ca for my future photo printing needs. It's a great way to liven up a kid's room. What kid wouldn't love a great big poster of himself/herself? How fun is that? Or how about giving Grandma and Grandpa an enlarged family pic? The options are endless.

Posterjack.ca has generously offered to give my readers 20% off on their photo printing orders! Just enter the code: "Manitoulin" upon checkout!  Offer valid until May 22, 2011.


Disclosure - I was given a $50 voucher by Posterjack.ca to facilitate this review. All the thoughts and opinions on this blog are my own.  

*Photos used for this post are property of Posterjack.ca, except for the photo of Little One.

BornFree Wishes You a Happy Mother's Day!

With all the craziness of the past few days (our student for the past 8 months has left, two new students have joined us, Little One has been exceptionally busy, calving season is upon us, we have a broken vein in our water system...), I totally forgot that this weekend is Mother's Day!

For the past few years, I've been hosting Mother's Day dinner at our farm. We invite my parents, my in-laws, my aunt and uncle (who are on the Island every Mother's Day for fishing), and we usually have students and friends over. I cook up a big meal, bake a cake, and go all out. It is EXHAUSTING!

Need a break? I know I do! Good news for you guys. BornFree Canada is offering one of their very lucky Facebook fans an incredible Mother's Day prize! In celebration of Mother's Day, how would you like to be crowned Queen for a Day?

The lucky winner will receive:

-Housekeeping Services for one day (local cleaner will be contacted)
- BornFree Prize pack with products from our Eco Friendly line

Total Value: $150
Just share your favorite photo featuring you and your child. You can post this photo on the BornFree Facebook Fan page or email it to moms@newbornfree.com. Be sure to include text as to why this photo is so special.
Share this contest with your friends – when you tag “BornFree Canada” in your status update sharing this link, you’ll receive a bonus entry.