Family Winter Memories 2017

Hey, Readers!

It has been a while since I have shared some of the memories my family experienced during the beautiful seasons we experience here in Canada’s capital. Now that winter is about to make way for spring in just a few days, I thought I would let your in on some of our favourite moments of winter.

 

Reese Speaks Snowball Love Photo 2

Christmas held many fun memories for our family, but there is more to winter than the holiday season. It is about getting out and enjoying what this frozen season brings.

My other half dragged my butt away from my laptop on many occasions to get out for a run. It snowed on most days we tied up our runners to hit the trails. Though the white fluffy stuff made this workout a bit challenging to pull off, we were thankful for our shades and (somewhat) cleared paths to trek along. The best part about the snow was that it made the scenery around us beautiful, allowing us to marvel at the views around us.

 

Reese Speaks Running Canal Collage Photo

 

As the snow piled up in here in Ottawa, we were able to spend some fun times in our backyard oasis. The VPs had a ball marching around (because the snow was as high as my knee at times), flopping about and playing with snowballs together.

 

Reese Speaks Kids Winter Play Collage Photo

 

While the VPs were outside, I decided to have a bit of fun, too! I began embracing being in front of the lens more often. I used a handy tool to give me an assist to make some of these shots happen.

 

Reese Speaks Reese Snow Fun Collage Photo

 

The sun decided to smile on us many times this winter, giving us some unusually warm days. We got the VPs outside to hit the neighbourhood sledding hill. They loved racing down the hill on their sleds and could have stayed there all day long.

 

Reese Speaks Maya and Cous Sleeding Day Photo 2

 

There were also times we ventured away from our neighbourhood to take in winter in downtown Ottawa. I took the VP of Cuteness ice skating for the first time at City Hall and she did not want to get off of them.

 

Reese Speaks Maya Mom Skate Photo 2

 

We also took in Winterlude and some of the other sites while we were strolling around the area. I was even able to snap a shot of my eldest on our way home. The snow covering objects and buildings gave the city a sense of beauty that only happens at this time of the year.

 

Reese Speaks Winter Out on the Town Collage Photo

I tried to capture a bit of the gorgeousness of the season. With the temperatures rising and plunging so often this winter, nature decided to show off what it could do leaving some amazing scenes to snap shots of. I have to admit, the frozen fish shot still makes me laugh whenever I see it.

 

Reese Speaks Winter Nature Collage Photo

This winter was full of fun and surprises. The thermometer dipped and soared, and with the VPs being a bit older, they got to experience winter more on their own. Though throwing, sledding, and skating make for fun times, we are all on pins and needles waiting for the ice and snow to recede, allowing for the first buds of spring to appear. I can’t wait to be able to show you what my family gets into when this season (finally) appears! Thanks for the fun times and the sweet memories, winter!

Dish with me: What is your favourite part of winter?

Until my next post, Readers!

Reese.

Favourite Family Christmas Traditions

Hey, Readers!

The patchwork of colour of fall leaves has made way for a brilliant blanket of snow. This is one of the signs that the Christmas season is in its way in my neck of the woods. It has always been one of my favourite times of the year, and it is made that much more magical with the addition of The Bosses. My Other Half and I scramble to make each Christmas special for our family with some of the traditions we incorporated from our childhood. They make the holiday season more festive and fun for all of us. Here are just a few of things we do at this time of year that gets us into the Christmas spirit.

Letters to Santa

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This activity serves three purposes for us parental units:

  1. It adds to the magic of Santa Claus for The Bosses
  2. We get a better idea of what to give them for their “fun” gifts; and
  3. Allows for more sibling bonding to happen.

Since The Bosses are still too young to write a complete letter to the Man in Red, my eldest helps them compile their lists and writes the letter on their behalf. We love hearing about some of the things our kids wants to receive for Christmas each year. My eldest has been in on “The Santa Secret” for a few years now, so we just ask her for a list of things she would like to see under the tree with her name on it. They also love placing the letter in the mailbox and receiving a letter back from Santa thanking them for their letter. My kids have a great time writing this annual letter and learning a bit more about one another.

Advent Calendars

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The Bosses LOVE the sweet surprises they find behind every door of their advent calendars! Each of my kids has their own calendar to open to discover the chocolaty Christmas shape waiting for them up until December 24th. They also love comparing their chocolates to one another and showing them to us before they pop them into their mouths. It also helps them count down the days until Santa makes his big ride.

Watching Holiday Specials

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This tradition is one I look forward to every year more than anyone else in my family. Once Thanksgiving is over, I wait on pins and needles for televisions stations to show their holiday specials to watch over and over again. I have been this way since my childhood, and my sister and I still call each other if a favourite one will be showing soon. I have shared this love with my kids, and they have their own favourites to watch, and it is a great opportunity to unplug for a while and plan a family movie night out of these television specials or holiday movies. My Other Half and I will even watch holiday films for bigger kids once the kids go to bed to unwind after a long day of Christmas prep.

Holiday Treats

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Whether it is sweet or savoury, our family loves to munch on holiday treats! We tend to wait to bake the cupcakes, brownies, and tarts until the week of Christmas, but there is always some form of holiday-themed snack to indulge in at this time of the year in our cupboards. When we do get down to baking for the holidays, everyone wants to roll up their sleeves to help. On Christmas Eve, we end up with a pile of snacks and treats we’re continually nibbling on past Boxing Day. These treats also add to our holiday special watching on Christmas Eve, making this night even more special.

Tree Trimming

The holiday season does not feel right in our home with having our tree up and decorated. The whole process is highly anticipated. Once it has been completed, lets the rest of the season fall into place for us. We have had both artificial and real trees in our home, but we prefer to get a real one in our home. The smell of a pine tree alone puts us in the Christmas spirit.

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Once the star and the lights have been placed around the tree, we all set to work putting golden horns, holiday characters and sparkly white snowflakes on our tree’s branches. The Bosses take great pride in helping with this tradition, only asking for help when they are unsure where to place an ornament.

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When this task is complete, the seat of choice in our living room is on the couch right beside the tree. We were able to bask in its awesomeness and its scent all evening long.

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Christmas is easily a fun time around our home. We are always looking for fun new ways to enjoy this time of the year together to become closer as a family. These family Christmas traditions are only a few that we enjoy, but are hands-down favourites for us to do each year. I hope that when our kids get older that they have fond memories of the activities we did together to get ready for Christmas and help us come up with new ones as they get older.

Dish with me: What are some of your some of your favourite family holiday traditions?

Until my next post, Readers,

Reese.

Feeling at Home at the Courtyard by Marriott Mississauga-Airport Corporate Centre West!

Hey, Readers!

It had been a while since I had been home to see my family in Toronto. Since my aunt who I have not seen in about a decade was visiting “Grandma” (it’s actually my mom but she does not answer to this since she no longer has kids) for a few weeks, we decided to go home for a weekend to see her and my other family members! Instead of staying with one of my relatives, we decided to stay in a hotel. After doing a bit of research of hotels close to Grandma’s home, we decided to book a room at the Marriott Mississauga-Airport Corporate Centre West.

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The Courtyard by Marriott Mississauga-Airport Corporate Centre West boasts the following amenities for its guests:

  • Free high-speed Internet
  • Fitness Centre
  • Pool
  • Airport Shuttle

They also have four different rooms available to book:

  • 2 Queen-sized beds guest room
  • 1 King-sized bed guest room with a sofa bed
  • 1 King-sized guest room with a Whirlpool bathtub
  • 1 King-sized suite with a sofa bed.

We felt that the 2 Queen-sized beds guest room would work best for our family since it had two beds that were the same size we could all sleep on and enjoy.

After our long drive, we were so happy to reach our room. My little ones made short work of making themselves right at home in our room. They made sure that their entourage was comfortable and that our clothing was put away in their proper places. There was plenty of room for our clothes and my collection of shoes.

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The next things the kids and I had to try out were our beds and I am a HUGE fan of a tall bed. Each bed was firm and comfy. I had so much fun climbing into our beds every time I wanted to sleep or wanted to sit back and relax. As you can see, my kids found our beds adequate for our stay.

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This was one of the nicer bathrooms I have had in a hotel room in a long time. I loved that there was a privacy wall between the vanity and the toilet. There is literally enough room for three people to be in the bathroom at the same time (if this was necessary) without bumping into each other. The counter had so much space. It was able to hold all of our toiletries along with those that are complementary to the room.

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After a good night’s sleep, our tummies were grumbling. Since we had a few hours before meeting up with family, we decided to grab a bite at the hotel’s eatery, The Bistro – Eat.Drink.Connect™. I loved the set-up of their seating area. There were tables for those who wanted to get a bit of work done while they ate as well as three banquettes for families or small groups of people to share their meal. Each of the banquettes housed a television set so you could catch up on the goings-on of the day while you ate.

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Since we are used to a hearty sit-down breakfast on weekend mornings, we each ordered a scrambled egg breakfast. It came with strips of bacon, home fries, toast, and a cup of fruit (juice was separate). We were not disappointed with our morning meal. It was warm, yummy and ever so filling. This meal got us fueled well for our big day of fun.

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While our food was cooking, I had time to check out the hotel’s business centre. This area of the hotel was for guests to work if more space is needed to meet and work. Boarding passes could be printed off, desks and chairs are available for guests to set up shop to work. It is a comfortable and spacious work area.

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On the other side of the wall from the business centre was the hotel’s lounge area where guests are able to meet and greet friends. It is set up like a stylish living room with a roomy den side-by-side. There was so much room in this area that several groups could be there without feeling as though they would disturb each other. The two-sided fireplace was one of my favourite features of this room. It was warm and inviting. I wish it had a roaring fire in it when I visited, but the weather was too warm for it to be on.

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Our weekend was such a whirlwind affair that we did not have the chance to check out the fitness centre or the pool area. We were sad to check out of the Courtyard by Marriott Mississauga-Airport Corporate Centre West at the end of our mini family vacation. We enjoyed our breakfast at The Bistro – Eat.Drink.Connect™, the business and lounge areas are great for meeting and working, and our room really made us feel at home. The next time we visit our family in Toronto, we will be sure to book another room here!

For more information about the Courtyard by Marriott Mississauga-Airport Corporate Centre West, you can visit them on their website!

Until my next post, Readers!

Reese.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way by the Courtyard by Marriott Mississauga-Airport Corporate Centre West to write this post. I’m just sharing my great experience with you!

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Checking Out All that Glitters at #GoldRush! – El Dorado in British Columbia!

Action. Adventure. Heartbreak. Upheaval. All of these themes are on display at GoldRush! – El Dorado in British Columbia at the Canadian Museum of History. Created by the Roya BC Museum, Gold Rush displays the transformation of a colony near the Pacific Ocean during the Gold Rush as it broke down the barriers of class and race in the pursuit of golden new beginnings. I got a chance to check o, ut all that glittered at this exhibit to share with you! Gold Rush! will be on display from April 8, 2016, until January 15, 2017.

Reese Speaks Gold Rush Plaque 2 Photo

 

Visitors can see such items as the Turnagain Nugget, the largest existing gold nugget from British Columbia, as well as more than 280 objects on display from this era! Made up of five linked galleries, Gold Rush! aims to recreate the gold rush, getting visitors up close with the real history of gold in British Columbia.

During my visit to Gold Rush!, there was so much to discover! I was able to learn about this era from the first shouts of excitement over finding gold to it has impacted the histories of many nations all over the world.

 

Reese Speaks Gold Rush Time Line Display 2 Photo

 

There are also gold pieces on display from distant lands where gold had been discovered years before that began to spur the search for golden riches in Canada.

 

Reese Speaks Gold Rush  El Dorado Origins Collage Photo

 

I then ventured to look at the tools of the trade during the gold rush. It was fun to see that an actual stagecoach that is on loan for this exhibit from the Historic O’Keefe Ranch up close, and all of the items a treasure seeker would use to try and strike it rich.

 

Reese Speaks Gold Rush Equipement Photo

I thought that Gold Rush! did an excellent job of sharing various integrating interactive methods for its visitors to learn more about this era.  There are screening areas, tablets with added information about certain aspects of the exhibit, and stations where visitors can learn hands-on about this time period and about gold. They were all interesting to take in and to try.

Reese Speaks Gold Rush Interactive Activities Collage Photo

I could not leave out the fashion of this era out this post! I know these pieces were designed over 150 years ago, but to see them in such great condition and still vibrant with colour was a sight to see! I especially loved the dress and parasol outfit. It was hard to shoot, but it was fun to have a snapshot of the time through fashion.

 

Reese Speaks Gold Rush Fashion Photo

 

A favourite part of the exhibit was seeing how much I was worth in gold. Based on the price of an ounce of gold, it converts your weight into a dollar amount. Based on my weight that day, I could go on a holiday somewhere or on a fun shopping spree!

 

Reese Speaks Gold Rush Weight in Gold 2 Photo

 

There was so much to take in at Gold Rush! Learning how this period shaped Canadian history was a great way to spend a visit at the Canadian Museum of History. Having so many artefacts from this time also brought what I learned more to life. An added bonus was seeing everything that glittered and made out of this precious metal! Gold Rush! is a fantastic exhibit for visitors to experience!

 

Reese Speaks Gold Rush Gold Items Collage 2 Photo

 

For more information about GoldRush! – El Dorado in British Columbia, you can connect with the Canadian Museum of History on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram pages!

Disclaimer: I received admission to the Canadian Museum of History to visit GoldRush! – El Dorado in British Columbia exhibit in order to write this review. The views expressed are my own.

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Sticky Sweet French Toast

Hey, Readers!

Being at home with my kids during summer vacation makes me want to loosen the reigns a bit where food is concerned. I let them eat foods with more sugar in the mornings from time to time, and it is great to see the smile on their faces when they see the extra special breakfast my other half or I had prepared for them.

My younger daughter loves to have sprinkles added to some of her breakfasts on special occasions. One morning, I wanted to make French Toast for her, but she is not crazy about eating eggs. To solve this conundrum, I decided to try putting some special touches to it so she would try to eat it. This is where I came up with this Sticky Sweet French Toast dish!

 

Reese Speaks Sticky SweetToast Complete Photo

 

Now, I know you are thinking to yourself that French Toast can already be sticky and sweet with syrup drizzeld all over it, but no syrup is used in this dish! Check out below how I put this yummy treat together.

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices of bread
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsps milk
  • A few drops of vanilla
  • 1 tsp of butter (not pictured)
  • Icing sugar (not pictured) and sprinkles

 

Reese Speaks Sticky Sweet French Toast Ingredients Photo

 

Directions

  1. Heat a pan to medium heat and use ½ tsp of butter to lightly grease the pan.
  2. In a bowl, blend the egg, milk and vanilla together until it becomes a uniform mixture.

 

Reese Speaks Princess French Toast Mixture Photo

 

  1. Lightly dip each piece of bread into the egg mixture on each side and place into the heated pan. Flip it over after about 2 mins or golden brown and cook on the other side.

 

Reese Speaks Sticky SweetToast Cook Photo

 

  1. Remove from stove and lightly butter each piece of toast with the rest of the butter.
  2. Using a strainer, dust each piece of toast with icing sugar.

 

Reese Speaks Sticky Sweet French Toast Dusting Photo

 

  1. Add sprinkles to each piece of toast.

 

Reese Speaks Sticky SweetToast Sprinkle Photo

 

And there you have it! My daughter is thrilled whenever she gets to have this dish. She loves how bright it is and how sticky and sweet it tastes.

 

Reese Speaks Sticky SweetToast Complet 3 Photo

 

The great part about this dish is that you can customize it to your liking. You can add theme-specific sprinkles to celebrate a holiday, or you can use different fun-shaped sprinkles to make each piece special.

I hope you enjoy making this Sticky Sweet French Toast for someone special!

What breakfast dish do you make special for your kids?

Until my next post, Readers!

Reese.

Getting Interactive with #UltimateDinos

Dino love. My younger kids have it bad. They are fascinated by the thought of these larger than life creatures once roaming the earth. They love how these prehistoric creatures could come in all different sizes and that they had once roamed the earth. I jumped at the invitation to visit the Canadian Museum of Nature to take in their newest exhibit Ultimate Dinosaurs. I could not wait to see their faces when they came face to face with their skeletons and fossils and were able to interact this exhibit!

 

Reese Speaks Dino Door 2 Photo

 

Ultimate Dinosaurs showcases dinosaurs from the ancient southern hemisphere supercontinent of Gondwana (a huge land mass that existed about 180 million years ago which incorporated what is now known as South America, Africa, India, Antarctica, Australia, New Guinea and the Arabian Peninsula).  16 fully-articulated skeletons are on display, including a 12-metre-long Giganotosaurus, one of the largest carnivores that ever lived. What is so exciting about this exhibit is that it displays types of dinosaurs are not found in North America. This exhibit was created by the Royal Ontario Museum and is presented by the Science Museum of Minnesota.

 

Reese Speaks Majungasaurus Photo

Reese Speaks Big Dino Collage 1 Photo

As we exited the elevator for our visit to this exhibit, we were welcomed and guided by a set of dino footprints to the exhibit.

Reese Speaks Dino Foot Print Collage Photo

Our first steps into the exhibit introduced us with a trio of dinosaurs my kids spent a good 10 minutes visiting with. They especially liked the Eoraptor because it was so small and cute. I loved how I was able to learn about these dinos from the podium in front of the display as well as the video background.

 

Reese Speaks Dino Video Display Photo

 

If there is one word I would use to describe Ultimate Dinosaurs, it would be interactive. There are so many areas and ways for visitors to learn hands-on about the dinos of Gondwana. My son got to learn about different types of fossils by actually getting to touch them! He was able to hold and touch ceratopsian horns, and his favourite, dino poop fossils!

 

Reese Speaks Dino Fossil Hold Collage Photo

 

Throughout the exhibit, there are stations visitors can learn about the different dinosaurs on display. Once each station has been completed, you can stamp an impression of the dino featured onto a card. My daughter had fun learning about each of these dinosaurs and then collecting all of the stamps. She was so proud when she had all of the impressions and was telling me about the activities she enjoyed most.

 

Reese Speaks Dino Station Collage Photo

 

I really liked how there play areas set up around the exhibit for visitors to be able to get away from the screens for a moment to just let loose and play. My kids spent a good amount of time at all of these stations, playing with some of the dinosaurs featured in this exhibit. They loved being able to touch, role play and eventually leave the dinos of Gondwana so they can nap while we looked through the rest of the exhibit. This is just a snippet of the fun they had.

 

Reese Speaks Dino Play Collage Photo

 

Another fabulous feature of Ultimate Dinosaurs is how augmented reality technology is used to wow and educate visitors. With our naked eyes, we were able to see the skeletons of dinosaurs. Looking through and manoeuvring the screen allowed us to see the skeleton come to life with flesh and skin covering the skeleton before us. We were even able to learn more about this animal when pressing the buttons on the screen. I thought this was amazing!

 

Reese Speaks Augmented Reality Screen 3 Photo

Reese Speaks Augmented Reality Screen Collage Photo

I thought the interactive tablets set into displays around Ultimate Dinosaurs was a brilliant idea! Visitors are able to learn how to pronounce names of some of the dinos in the exhibit, as well as the meaning of their names, their relative size, and other fun tidbits about these awesome creatures. Take a look at my daughter’s favourite dino!

 

 

It was hard to want to call it a day at Ultimate Dinosaurs! They loved seeing the skeletons and fossils of dinosaurs that they have not seen before, learning is accomplished in so many different formats, and it is such a fun exhibit to visit! We really did not want to leave. We can’t wait to bring my other half to see it. He would have as much fun visiting this exhibit as we did.

Reese Speaks Big Dino Collage 2 Photo

Ultimate Dinosaurs runs from June 11 – September 5, 2016.

Want more dino fun? Visitors are also able to do the follow activities while on a visit to the Canadian Museum of Nature:

  • Make replicas of a fossil tooth or claw in the Fossil Lab;
  • Take a breather in the Dino Zone;
  • Find out about 450-million-year-old local fossils in the Nature Live gallery;
  • Fossil excavation; and
  • Take in the 3D film Walking with Dinosaurs: Prehistoric Planet (a separate fee applies for this feature).

For more information about Ultimate Dinosaurs (http://nature.ca/en/plan-your-visit/what-see-do/our-exhibitions/ultimate-dinosaurs), you can connect with the Canadian Museum of Nature on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube pages!

Disclaimer: I was invited to visit this exhibit in order to write this review. The views expressed are my own.

Colourful and Sweet Chocolate Easter Bark

Hey Readers!

Easter is here! The Annual Easter egg hunt has come and gone, and the chocolate has been eaten by kids big and small at our house! To keep the sugar high alive, I threw together this Colourful and Sweet Easter Bark Recipe to add some colour and some fun to our celebration this year!

 

Reese Speaks Chilled Bark Finished Caramel Photo

 

Here are the ingredients you need to put together to make this recipe:

  1. 60 Beligan chocolate waffers
  2. 25 vanilla caramels
  3. 2 tablespoons milk
  4. 4 tablespoons festive sprinkles (2 tablespoons per type of sprinkle)
  5. a handful of Easter candy

You will need these items to help create this yummy treat:

  • Cookie sheet or bread pan
  • Spatula
  • Parchment Paper
  • Large pot of water and a large bowl (or a double boiler)
  • Medium bowl

It was really easy to put this tasty treat together!

  1. Get a large pot of water boiling with water and a large glass bowl to create a double boiler.
  2. Line a cookie sheet or a pan with parchment paper
  3. Once the water in the pot is rolling, place the chocolate wafers in a few at a time to melt them and folding them over each other constantly. Once they start to melt, continue to melt them until there are about 10 left. Once you get to this point, remove the pot from the heat and melt the remainder of the waffers while folding the cold waffers into the melted ones.

 

Reese Speaks Melted Chocolate Photo

4. Place melted chocolate into the fridge for 15-20 mins.

5. Melt the caramels in a large glass bowl over the same large pot of water with the milk and stir constantly (you may need to top the water up in the pot if it is too low and let the water boil again).

 

Reese Speaks Melting Caramel Photo

6. Once the caramel has melted, pour and spread ¾ of this mixture over the chilled chocolate and place back into the fridge for about 20 mins.

7. Remove the sheet/pan from the fridge and spread the remainder of the chocolate on the chilled chocolate /caramel sheet.

8. Drizzle the remainder of the caramel over the chocolate in your desired design.

9. Cover your chocolate/caramel sheet with the sprinkles. I would advise you use one type of sprinkles at a time and blend the other type(s) as you go.

10. Add your chocolate in the open spaces (I tried to get the darker chocolate pieces where there were lighter sprinkles and vise versa so they will stand out).

11. Place the sheet/pan back into the fridge for about 60 mins to make sure the chocolate and caramels are cold all the way through.

11. Remove from the fridge and break apart into hand-sized pieces and serve!

 

Reese Speaks Chilled Bark Close Up 3 Caramel Photo

 

(Yields about 12 pieces depending on the size you break up your bark)

I love that this recipe is super easy to make and one bark will be unique as you cannot recreate the same one twice!

Hopefully, this bark recipe will make your Easter a sweet affair!

 

Reese Speaks Chilled Bark Close Up Caramel Photo

I love having the extra layer of caramel! Next time, I will use even more caramel for a thicker layer.

 

What treats would you use to make this Colourful and Sweet Easter Bark?

Until my next post, Readers!

Reese

Winter Family Adventures in Photos

Hey Readers!

Well, March Break is almost over, and spring is all but here! It was a crazy winter in my neck of the woods. It started late, but when it decided to unleash its fury, we were really snowed in! I thought I would chronicle my family’s winter adventures through a gallery of photos we took over the season!

Christmas! One of my favourite times of the year! We had a blast putting up the tree, decorating the house and getting ready for the Man in Red to arrive!

 

Reese Speaks Christmas Eve Peanuts Tree Photo

This was the second tree we “put up” this year. I loved it!

 

Reese Speaks Christmas Eve Stockings Photo

 

Reese Speaks Christmas Eve Cookies Photo

The Big Guy has a little bit of everything!

 

Ah, Christmas morning! Our kids couldn’t wait to open their stockings before breakfast and then their gifts after we ate. Santa was good to our kids, and they were playing all day with their toys!

 

Reese Speaks Christmas Day Stockings Photo

 

Food is always a HUGE part of our holiday traditions, and my other half made sure we were fed well with his special chicken dish for Christmas Eve and a terrific turkey dinner for Christmas Day!

 

Reese Speaks Christmas Dinners Photos

 

With Murphy’s Law at play, the snow came after Christmas! My guy took advantage of our winter wonderland and build a snow fort and a snow hill for our kids to enjoy. We even got the sleds out and tried to get some air time with the little ones on them.

 

Reese Speaks Snow Play Photo

Their smiles were infectious! I t was hard to keep the camera still for these pics!

 

Reese Speaks Winter Outdoor Play Collage Photo

I think the faces of my daughters says it all!

 

My little guy LOVED the winter! He would take any chance he could to be outside and play in the snow, even if it was to help me shovel the driveway. He even learned about the hazardous life snowmen live.

 

Reese Speaks Cous Winter Fun Collage Photo

My little guy is super helpful!

 

Oh, the night of the big football game is another favourite part of winter in our home! We got out our projector and watched it on our living room wall as we ate a family favourite for Game Nights: Chicken Nachos! We even dressed up for the night in our jerseys and goofed around. It was a fun night for us all!

 

Reese Speaks Big Game Collage Photo

 

There are times during the winter that you just want to stay inside and hide from winter’s frightful fury. There were quite a few nights where we had fun indoors. From a morning sneak attack in bed to a rock out session in our basement, we had a blat without cracking the door open!

 

Reese Speaks Winter Indoor Bed Photo.jpg

 

Reese Speaks Drums Collage Photo

This was such a fun night! Maybe we’ll put a band together?

Nature is so beautiful around our home at this time of year. Even though there are no leaves on the trees, the snow and ice take over and create their own breathless magic in our backyard and front yard oasis.

Reese Speaks Winter Nature Collage Photo

These were just some of the adventures my family had during this roller coaster ride of a winter this year! Now that the snow is beginning to recede, I am REALLY looking forward to all of the awesomeness spring has to offer us this year now that the kids are old enough to really start exploring the world around them. Thank you, Winter, for helping our family to create some amazing memories. We will never forget them!

What part of winter puts a smile on your face?

Until my next post, Readers!

Reese.

Favourite Fall Memories, 2015

Reese_Speaks_Fall_Chicken_11302015Hey Readers,

I know, it’s been a  while since I’ve shared anything with you. Life got a bit crazy, and this is the first chance since my last post that I have been able to check in.

It’s the last day of November, and for me, it is the last day before the holiday season begins and it is full steam ahead with getting our family and our home ready for it all! It kicks off with Grandma’s (my mom, but she doesn’t have kids anymore,or so she says) birthday, and it snowballs from there.

So to say goodbye to fall, I thought I would share some of may favourite Fall memories from this year with you through pics I snapped.

My little guy is in love with this time of year. We learned this year that he is a huge Halloween fan. He loved every pumpkin and gourd that we passed, wanting to take them home with us. If he had his way, our home would be forever full of them!

 

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Speaking of Halloween, my guy rolled up his sleeves and dove in to getting ready for day! He carved pumpkins, made decorations and dressed up our porch, and took the kids out trick-or-treating. Once back, the kids rocked out in my past Halloween costume wigs before putting and end to the day.

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We had a mixed bag of weather this autumn. Some days were warm and gorgeous, while others were, well, blah! On those good days, we made sure to get the kids outside and to enjoy what nice days we had left this year. My other half even had the kids out with him while he raked up the leaves. The job took a bit longer than expected, but the kids had a lot of fun!

 

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The leaves were exceptionally gorgeous in our backyard this year, so I had to capture their beauty in pics! We also had a pumpkin in our backyard that did not make it to Halloween to rest for its final days, so the shutterbug in me had to get a pic of it while it still looked good.

 

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The Japanese Maple lost its leaves early, but there were still a few of them in our yard. Their leaves always alive with colour, no matter the time of year they are present on the tree, and this one just stood out from the rest of the crowd present.

 

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Then, high above the ground in our backyard, there was the golden sea of gold that still shimmered to us from below. It was so stunning. I can’t wait to frame this one!

 

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This little critter decided to visit us on our front porch before getting itself ready for its long slumber. My kids and I got a big kick out it.

 

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Oh, food! The Jack of All Trades in our home whipped together some amazing food for us this season! He loves trying to make delicious dishes from what is left in our Mother Hubbard cupboards as well as some ingredients he picks up from the grocery store. We ate really well this season!

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My family had an amazing autumn! We worked hard, played hard and ate well. It is sad to say goodbye to the vibrant colours and warm weather, but it was great to look back and see all of the fun we had!

What were some of your favourite fall memories this year?

Until my next post, Readers!

Reese

Bug Out at Bugs: Outside the Box at the Canadian Museum of Nature! #BigBugs

The Canadian Museum of Nature is crawling with excitement as it presents its newest traveling exhibit, Bugs: Outside the Box, produced by Outhouse Exhibition Services. This exhibit will be on view from October 23, 2015 until March 27, 2016.

Bugs: Outside the Box allows for visitors to get up close to the insect world. Italian sculptor Lorenzo Possenti created sixteen larger than life models of exotic insects that welcome visitors as they enter the exhibit. To add to these fabulous works of art, the Canadian Museum of Nature has also included its live insects, scientific specimens, vivid videos and even some bugs for visitors can taste!

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The world of entomology is opened up to visitors as they are able to learn more about exotic and local insects; view fantastic images of beetles from the Museum’s collection; look at numerous pinned insects; watch a “bug parade” video projection; experience certain aspects of bug life in the play area of the gallery; and even purchase edible bugs at the gallery!

My friend, Kamerine from The Life of K,  invited me to this event (thanks so much!). I brought the VP of Cuddles along with me to view this exhibit as he is just learning to appreciate the world around him, and he digs bugs! When we entered the gallery, he was a bit taken aback by the sheer size of Lorenzo Possenti’s creations. Many of these sculptures are bigger than him, and they towered over him on their displays. After a while, he became fascinated with them. He especially loved the butterflies and beetles that were on display. Since I am a huge fan of dragonflies, I was drawn to this sculpture. There were also pieces of some of these sculptures that we were able to touch so we could get a feel for what they might feel like. Possenti did an excellent job of creating these larger than life beings.

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One of the entomologists form the Canadian Museum of Nature was on hand to show visitors what a beetle looks like on the inside. She was so amazing with my little guy. She showed him the beetle’s inner workings, and he was able to assist her in putting it back together. This was really great for him to experience, as he would never get to see this with a real beetle unless he becomes an entomologist himself.

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The video projections around this exhibit were amazing! My son loved going up to each of them and gaze at them as they showed different aspects of bug life. His favourite was the Cricket that greets you at the second half of this exhibit. It stares at you and extends its wings. You could hear the sound of its wings as it starts to unfurl them. It was an awesome sight to see.

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The terraria on display were fascinating to view. We were able to see insects such as giant stick insects, jungle nymphs, monarch butterflies, and my son’s favourite, the Hercules beetles.

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Some of the entomologists were on hand to all us to see some of these beautiful creatures outside of their enclosures. They lovingly handled them so we could see them away from their habitats that they painstakingly put together to be as authentic as possible. Though we were not allowed to touch these insects, it was fun to see them interacting with the entomologists and to be able to be so close to them.

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Both of us were entertained in the play area of the gallery. We put our jumping skills to the test as we tried to jump as far as a grasshopper. I was amazed to see just how far a grasshopper could in comparison to a human. I tipped my hat to these creatures.

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We also had a ball pretending to move around “dung” like a dung beetle. My son realized pretty quickly how hard it would be for us to do this all day, but had fun moving the comfy balls around this area.

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This exhibit was a big hit for both of us! We loved seeing the sculptures alongside their regular-sized counterparts. We also enjoyed viewing all of the specimens, both live and collected, on display. Sometimes, I forget just how vast the insect world is, and this exhibit brought this fact back to me.

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Visitors can also view the other related programming near the Museum’s Animalium gallery on the 4th floor. Visitors can become a bug scientist and can learn how to pin insects, and try their hand at drawing them as well. The Museum’s popular Nature Nocturne party on Friday October 30, 2015 will also have the theme Giant bug invasion in honour of this exhibit’s opening. For this weekend, children are invited to turn themselves into their favourite buggy character and join in on the fun of a flower-finding adventure in their Bird Gallery for the “pollinator challenge.”

This exhibition is supported by Orkin Canada. A surcharge of $4 (in addition to regular admission to the museum) applies for the special Bugs: Outside the Box exhibition.

For more details about the Canadian Museum of Nature, or Bugs: Outside the Box, you can visit their website. You can also connect with the Canadian Museum of Nature on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Disclaimer: I was compensated admission to Bugs: Outside the Box in order to write this review. The views I have shared with you are my own.