Martha Stewart Home Office photo 9994277b-030d-4c79-ba55-c501ddee31f1_zpse42192e4.jpg

Martha Stewart Home Office by Avery @Staples Product Review…

“I want to get organized”…. this is what I often hear at this time of year. I wanted to share with you a fantastic organizing product for your home office.. STAPLES Canada sent an assortment of items from the fabulous Martha Stewart Home Office with Avery available exclusively at STAPLES Canada. >>> read more

Oprah's Life Class

Get the lessons we can all use to lead our best possible lives. My journey discovering myself and learning what Oprah has to teach me while visiting Chicago. >>> read more

Small Space, Home Office, Big Impact

A client called me in to discuss ideas for organizing her basement and storage area. She showed me her back storage room. It had a variety of items. >>> read more

Good Food, Great Wine, Fun Friends

I told you a few weeks ago that I had the opportunity to host three of my blogger friends for dinner. So last Friday we got together at my house, chilled some wine, made a meal and had a wonderful time. Our #winewithchicken evening was hosted by these three great sponsors: Chicken Farmers of Canada, Chateau des Charmes Wines and Emily Henry. >>> read more

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#GMFamily Fun, New York City, Life Lesson 9/11

We relived the stories of that horrific morning with our children so that they could understand what we saw, how we felt, where we where. It was 11 years ago... We were incredulous about what was unfolding before our eyes..his would be our ‘Kennedy’ moment – the defining moment of our generation. >>> read more

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Creating Curtains–#MyBenjaminMooreHome–#DIY Projects with beautiful Fabrics

MyBenjamin Moore Home Bed DownshiftingPRO blogAs I slowly reveal  the beautiful room that belongs to my second daughter, I  wanted to share with you a project that my mother and I did together.  I love working on a project with my mom because she is so very talented.  We have collaborated on necklaces before and I love how talented she is. 

First and foremost lets get a couple of things straight:  I am the assistant in most projects.  I have a eye for colour combinations and working with patterns.  I usually pick those two things and she runs with it.

My mom is the creative genius in most of these endeavours.  In this project, my mother did all the sewing.  

She has sewn my entire life (literally and figuratively, you could say).  All those domestic lessons that she learned in the private nun’s school in Colombia have paid off tenfold.  My mom is a very skilled seamstress and I love everything that she has ever made for me. She also made the curtains that were in H.’s room before that are not residing in the bathroom (that is for another #MyBenjaminMooreHome reveal yet to come). 

In this #MBMH project, I knew I would need her talents to make the perfect curtains.  We had a lovely patter to start our quest for the complementary pattern.  She had given H. this bedding for her birthday a few years ago.  I knew that would be our starting point.  It has big beautiful hot pink and vibrant orange Chrysanthemums or Peonies and a mint green lattice pattern in the background. 

IMG_0030   IMG_0030

So we made our way to our local fabric store and started to scout out the large variety of fabrics.  There was drapery, furniture, heavy cotton and outdoor fabric. (I have some lovely pictures but I guess that will be for another post Smile) There was every imaginable pattern and colour but I knew exactly what I wanted: a bold graphic pattern that would compliment her bedding.

We finally found it in the outdoor material section.  These are the materials that you use to create seat cushions for your outdoor furniture.  This material is usually very vibrant and durable.  The other thing it is is durable.  This fabric is meant to survive the elements so they make it pretty thick. This could present a problem when sewing these curtains.  It definitely did when we were installing the last grommet.  Make sure not to make that mistake.

You will need the follow materials to complete the project:

  • curtain fabric
  • thread
  • sewing machine
  • scissors
  • reinforced backing for the topper
  • grommets
  • black out liner (to line the curtains)

Once we had chosen the material it was on to figuring out how to affix the white grommets.  This step is fairly easy (in principal) but a bit harder in implementation. 

You need to figure out the length and width of the curtains. If you have a pattern be sure to line up the pattern so it is consistent when you close the curtains.  This is very important or else the curtains will look, well, homemade.  God is in the details...



  • Follow the pattern and make sure to like it up
  • Cut out grommet holes 5-6 inches apart

  • Use a stiffener to ensure that the header is re-enforced
  • You will be cutting through many layers so make sure your scissors are sharp and that your calculations are correct
  • start measuring from the center out


    • use a cloth to cover the grommet and then gently tap it together with a hammer
    • make sure that all the layers are aligned together when you assemble it
    • Hang the curtains, then, figure out the hem

    When you are ready to hang, make sure to add a black out liner.  My daughter specifically requested that we add this because she wanted the room to be completely dark in the morning.  I also like it because her room faces east and the sun in the summer is stifling.  The heavy curtains will keep the sun and the heat out in the summer.  Although the fabric store had a variety of black out liners (pre-made) and material of varying weights, we opted for one from BouClair Home.  They also had a wonderful selection of rods and drapery hardware but we opted to stay with the rod she already had to save some money as the fabric was pretty expensive.

    MyBenjamin Moore Home (4)

    Overall material:

    Bedding from Homesense

    Fabric, thread and grommets from our local fabric store.

    Black out liner from Bouclair Home

    This is part of #MyBenjaminMooreHome room makeover.  I did not receive compensation for this particular post.  All material were bought.  Please follow the series as I continue to show you how I made over my daughter’s room and the kids’ bathroom.

    Tuesday, 15 April 2014

    Easter... Bunny.... Easter, Easter Bunny–Join us for #LinkedMoms Chat Wed. Apr. 16 for all things Easter


    I love Easter, I always have and I always will.  I don’t know if it is the spring flowers or the beauty that is a church with the beginning of Palm Sunday and the glory of Easter Sunday.  Besides all the pomp and circumstance, there is nothing I like better then eating chocolate and reading great inspirational blog posts.  So this Wednesday, April 16 LinkedMoms invites you to share all of your Easter blog posts, recipes, crafts, DIY projects and family stories on all things


    Here are some great posts from my fellow Canadian Bloggers that we would love to share with you:

    Make some easy Easter treat pops from Merry About Town...

    Easter Pop Bouquet

    Maybe you just want to keep decorating simple.  What better way then to use traditional eggs in untraditional decor?  Drop by and see Daniela at Lifeovereasy.

    You can also see how Amanda got creative over at Multi-testing Mommy and created this napkin fold with a special surprise in the middle: a Ferrero Roche (nifty instructions are included for other fancy napkin tricks).

    Easter Table Decoration

    If you  need a cute, fun and easy craft, head over to Raising my Boys and see how Deborah put together these paper plate Easter baskets.  There are a great craft for little kids.

    I simply ADORE this Simple Rag Wreath that Heather teaches you how to make on mmm is for mommy!  How cute is this and once again, keeping it simple.  My kind of craft!



    Not to be out done... You can find a recycled paper wreath with flowers from Jenn over at 1 Family 1 Heart.  Isn’t it lovely?  Also pretty easy.

    Easter wreath

    I don’t think that you have enough sweets in your life so I will temp you with a delicious Lemon Coconut Easter cupcakes made by Elizabeth over at Life, Love, Liz... Yummmy!

    Lemon Coconut Easter Cupcakes

    There will be more and more recipes, sweets, treats and crafts to share with you tomorrow night on #LinkedMoms Chat.

    Join us...


    HASHTAG:  #LinkedMoms #EASTER


    8:00 – 9:00pm (EST)

    7:00 – 8:00pm (CST)

    6:00 – 7:00pm (MST)

    5:00 – 6:00pm (PST)



    LinkedMoms website


    @DownshiftingPRO and @4LinkedLearning – Margarita Ibbott

    @DownshiftingPRO on Facebook

    @DownshiftingPRO Blog

    @inkscrblr – Paula Schuck

    @inkscrblr on Facebook

    @inkscrblr on YouTube

    @inkscrblr Blog

    Friday, 11 April 2014

    OVA - Provincial Volleyball Championships – Recalling the 2013 OVAs...Here we go again...

    Montreal 2013-04-21 010Last year we were here in Kitchener-Waterloo watching my daughter compete in her first Ontario Volleyball Association provincial tournament.  It was an exciting weekend for us as we were attending our very first provincials in volleyball.  We were a first year team with London Volleyball Club (a brand new competitive volleyball team in London).

    It was a building year and a growing year for all the girls and their parents as many of us had only see the girls play in school. 

    I wanted to share with you how happy and proud we are of these girls and the road that they have travelled.  I wanted to share with you the pictures of last years tournament as it was so much fun and it was a great success that went unnoticed until today.



    Its a good time to remember what lessons you want to teach your kids:

    • HAVE FUN.
    • Be a good sportsmen. Don’t let anger or frustration get the better of you.
      Montreal 2013-04-21 011
    • You are a team. You win together, you lose together.
    • Respect the officials.  No one is perfect but they have taken the time to become officials, respect the call.
    • Support your teammates.  They may be having a bad day or aren’t feeling well.  Know that everyone comes to the party to play.  Support and encouragement will will the day.
    • Congratulate the other team when the beat you and congratulate them when they lose to you.  Complimenting their play shows true sportsmanship.
    • Thank your coaches and trainers.  Some are paid and some are not.  They do this because the love the sport and they are there to make you better players. 
    • Thank your parents.  They’ve made sacrifices to make sure you can play, play well and be happy.  Thank them for the drives to the practices, the food that they brought to the tournaments and the ice that they brought you when your body ached.
    • Lastly, KEEP HAVING FUN... because if you aren’t having fun, you won’t enjoy the sport... no matter what sport it is.

      Montreal 2013-04-21 018

    2013 Tier 2 Silver Medalist

    So this weekend the girls have gone up a division and hope to get some sort of hardware.  Let’s hope their dreams come true.

    Montreal 2013-04-21 015

    Monday, 7 April 2014

    @WHO–World Health Organization - #Just1Bite - World Health Day–Apr. 7, 2014 –Small Bite: Big Threat

    All Rights Reserved JM nephew of @DownshiftingPRO

    Somewhere in South America: Photo Credit. JM (my nephew)

    I have very adventurous nephews and nieces.  My one nephew (whose pictures you see in this post) has travelled through South East Asia, South America and is currently in India.  His older brother finally caught the travelling buy and went with him to India for two months.  My nieces, not ones to be left behind,  are on their way to South East Asia and Australia in May. 

    All Rights Reserved JM nephew of @DownshiftingPRO

    Somewhere in India: Photo Credit. JM (my nephew)

    All this sound like a lot of fun but one of the most important steps for them to get ready for their trips is to get inoculated for Yellow Fever, Dengue, Japanese encephalitis and get prescription medicine for Malaria.   Getting inoculated and other preventative measure, including sleeping under a bed-net, wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pants and applying insect repellent on a regular basis, will help make the trip more memorable.

    I wanted to write this post on World Health Day because this year’s focus is on is vector-borne diseases. Vectors are small organisms such as mosquitoes, bugs, ticks, flies and freshwater snails, that carry disease from person to person and place to place.  On World Health Day, celebrated on 7 April every year, the World Health Organization draws attention to a public health problem of global proportions and what needs to be done to address it. The date of 7 April marks the anniversary of the founding of WHO in 1948.

    WHO_2_Small Bite_Big Threat

    More than half the world’s population is at risk of vector-borne diseases, which include malaria, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, Lyme disease, leishmaniasis and yellow fever. The poorest people in the world (living in Africa, India, Asia and Latin America) are the most affected. However, environmental change and the rapid and increased movement of people and goods around the world means that the risks are now much more widespread.

    • 40% of the world's population is at risk from dengue
    • An estimated 1.3 million new cases of leishmaniasis occur annually
    • Malaria still kills an estimated 627 000 people every year, mainly children under 5 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa
    • There are an estimated 200 000 cases of yellow fever, causing 30 000 deaths, worldwide each year, with 90% occurring in Africa

    Although we live in an area that is not susceptible to these diseases, we should still be aware of how they effect the rest of the world.  Awareness creates a dialogue of support, action and hopefully, prevention.

    Make sure that when you are travelling (and even when you are home – think ticks and Lyme disease) you use precautions to make your trip safe, memorable and healthy.  For more information about 2014 World Health Day, you can visit them on these social media platforms.


    Website, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook:, Google +:

    This is an opinion and PSA post.  No compensation was received for this post.  All opinions are my own.  Information was used from the WHO website for educational purposes only.  All photos are the exclusive property of my nephew JM.

    Thursday, 3 April 2014

    2014 Ultimate Blog Party.

    What Is The Ultimate Blog Party?

    The Ultimate Blog Party is an annual blogging event, hosted here at 5 Minutes for Mom, where several hundred bloggers join together in a huge week-long, blog-hopping, commenting and tweeting extravaganza to meet others, grow their networks, have fun and win prizes!

    The official party lasts one week – this year April 4th through 11th. But the action starts now and continues throughout the event and afterward. Within that one week we will essentially generate a jam-packed directory of awesome, active bloggers across several different categories.

    I am participating in the 2014 ultimate BLOG PARTY. I have donate a prize (a 'virtual' organizing consultation). Anyone can win as long as you have a computer or smartphone.  If you can take photos or short videos, I can help you!  Here is my donation:
    Make sure to join the 2014 Ultimate Blog Party to discover other outstanding blogs.
    Here’s more about my blog:
    I'm a mother to three teens, a wife, a professional organizer, blogger, speaker and Social Media (SoMe) Trainer.  I blog about many topics including: organizing, travel, family, book club, product reviews and giveaways and of course, social media.
    I have been a  professional organizer since 2006.  I people get ORGANIZED. 

    I live in London, Ontario Canada but also like to hang out in Port Huron, Michigan. 
    Below are two of my most popular boards on Pinterest.  If you are looking for interesting Canadian Bloggers to follow, here is the perfect resource (click on the picture to take you to my pinterest board):
    Organizing Blogs to Follow on Pinterest
    Canadian Blogs to Follow
    Please connect up with me on:

    I work with brands including General Motors (Chevrolet) Canada, Staples, Sears, Walmart, Best Buy, Old Navy, Loblaws, Kisko Freezies, CAA, Quo Vadis Int'l), to get their message across.

    I work with blogger networks: Social Fabric/Collective Bias, Mom Central (US & Canada), PTPA (Blogoholic), WOLFBloggers, She's Connected.

    I also run a weekly Twitter Party / Chat on Wednesdays at 8 pm EST under the #LINKEDMOMS hashtag.  We have a large community of bloggers that participate in our chats and parties.  For more information about hosting a twitter party please email me

    LinkedMoms Logo4


    Enter to win $300 US via Paypal Enter the #CleanSweepCash Giveaway

    Welcome to the Clean Sweep Cash Giveaway

    Organized by: DownshiftingPRO


    Winter is finally winding down and its time to do some Spring Cleaning and Sweeping.  We are feeling very energized and want to motivate you.  DownshiftingPRO and a group of Canadian Bloggers want to help you celebrate


    We have come together to give away

    $300 USD

    Cash via Paypal

    Enter below

    There are some awesome Canadian Bloggers that you can Like on Facebook, Follow on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest

    They have some great blogs about everything from fashion, social media, parenting, homeschooling, travel, cooking, lifestyle, organizing and so much more.  Make sure and follow the #CleanSweepCash hashtag.

    Remember: You can’t Win if You don’t Enter


    Contest Rules: To enter, just use the Giveaway Tools form above.  In order to win, you must have a Paypal account (no other form of payment will be issued).  If it doesn’t load after a minute or so, refresh your browser.  Contest is void where prohibited (Quebec is excluded).  Only one IP address per household is eligible to win. This giveaway is open to World Wide to Paypal account holders, aged 13 and older.  Giveaway ends April 30, 2014 at 11:59pm ET.  Winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize otherwise a new winner will be chosen.  No exceptions to this rule. .  Good luck!

    Wednesday, 2 April 2014

    #BackYardFun Giveaway–Win a Water Station & Play House -Apr. 1–30, 2014 enter @DownshiftingPRO

    Fill Your Backyard with Fun

    I don’t know about you but I am happy to see some warming signs of spring.  The weather has improved, the snow has melted and it is looking like its going to be outside play time very, very soon.

    When my girls were young we had a great big PINK dollhouse in the back yard.  They loved playing with it when they were young.  As the summer grew warmer, I have to say that out dog would take full advantage of the shade it provided.  It was pretty simple to just walk in an lay down for a nice nap.

    I think its time to start thinking about the spring and summer and a little outdoor play.  What better way to keep your kids entertained then to have a house and water station to keep them occupied.  I’ve teamed up with a great group of Canadian bloggers to bring you this giveaway. If you are on Twitter, you can follow along with the #BackyardFun hashtag. 

    If you Don’t Enter You Can’t Win a #backyardfun Package

    Winner: will be chosen April 30 (CANADA + USA ELIGIBILITY)

    As you Go through the entries, make sure to Follow @DownshiftingPRO

    on Twitter and Instagram

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Tuesday, 1 April 2014

    The Power of the Pixie Dust– Pirate Fairy Blue-Ray DVD Giveaway

    Pirate Fairy Box Art

    Released:  April 1, 2014

    Studio:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

    Running Time:  90 minutes

    How fun to see an animated film where the the girls are all swashbuckling fairies?  From the world of “Peter Pan” comes “The Pirate Fairy,” a swashbuckling new adventure about Zarina (voice of Christina Hendricks), a smart and ambitious dust-keeper fairy who’s captivated by Blue Pixie Dust and its endless possibilities.


    When Zarina’s wild ideas get her into trouble, she flees Pixie Hollow and joins forces with the scheming pirates of Skull Rock, who make her captain of their ship. Tinker Bell (voice of Mae Whitman) and her friends must embark on an epic adventure to find Zarina, and together they go sword-to-sword with the band of pirates led by a cabin boy named James (voice of Tom Hiddleston), who’ll soon be known as Captain Hook himself. With laughter, heart, magic and thrills, “The Pirate Fairy” sets sail April 1, 2014.


    L-R: Vidia, Iridessa, Fawn, Zarina, Tinkerbell, Silvermist and Rosetta

    Win a Blue-Ray DVD copy of Pirate Fairy

    Open to Canadian Residents Only

    Giveaway Runs Apr. 1 – Apr. 30, 2014

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    #LinkedMoms Chat celebrating #WorldAutismAwarenessDay #WAAD2014 - Wed. Apr.2 at 8 pm ET–Join Us

    April 2nd is a vey special day.  The United Nation has designated every April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day #WAAD2014.  It is a day to create awareness, educate, donate and celebrate.  I recently wrote a post on The Canadian Mother Resource blog about how it came about that we found out about our son being on the Autism Spectrum. We have been working successfully to ensure that he has a positive school experience and with the help ‘of many’ he is happy in his grade 7 class at a French-as-a-first language school. 

    We know that as many as 1:68 children are on the Autism Spectrum.  In order to bring light to and education to ASD many organizations are celebrating #WAAD2014.  Here are just a few that you might want to know about. 

    In Canada Autism Society Canada creates awareness by just wearing BLUE on April 2, 2014: 


    Another fantastic world initiative is Light It Up Blue where national landmarks are lit up in blue to commemorate World Autism Awareness Day #WAAD2014.  Here are just a few examples show on the AutismSpeaksCA website.  Follow the #LIUB hashtag and #WAAD2014 tomorrow

    In the US April is National Autism Awareness Month:  National Autism Awareness Month 2014 Badge Web Ready

    Both Paula and I have children with special needs but more importantly we have VERY SPECIAL CHILDREN.  We love them to bits and we know that although we have challenging days, we also have very memorable days with them.

    Please join us on #LinkedMoms Chat as we discuss some of the trials and joys of having an ASD Child (in my case).  We welcome any blog posts, FB posts etc. that you would like to share with our #LinkedMoms Community.

    WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2, 2014

    HASHTAG:  #LinkedMoms #WAAD2014

    8:00 – 9:00pm (EST)
    7:00 – 8:00pm (CST)
    6:00 – 7:00pm (MST)
    5:00 – 6:00pm (PST)


    LinkedMoms website


    @DownshiftingPRO and @4LinkedLearning – Margarita Ibbott
    @DownshiftingPRO on Facebook
    @DownshiftingPRO Blog

    @inkscrblr – Paula Schuck
    @inkscrblr on Facebook
    @inkscrblr on YouTube
    @inkscrblr Blog

    Wednesday, 26 March 2014

    #WordlessWednesday -what Wednesday mornings look like

    Every Wednesday my daughter has a 6:15 am volleyball clinic and that means up at 5:30 am an out the door by 6:50. I know  there are hockey moms and swimming moms but I am neither of those.  I am a volleyball and soccer mom so these very early starts are few and far between.
    No make-up, dressed in jeans and a hoodie with a coffee waiting for me at Tim's, McD's or Starbucks. Today it's Starbucks that called my name.
    What do you have that gets you out the door early? 
    This is a #WordlessWednesday linky.  Please link up below and hop on over to the other WW participants.
    Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Easy-Linky widget will appear right here!
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    Tuesday, 25 March 2014

    Join us on @LinkedMoms Chat - Wed. March 26 at 8 pm ET for #LinkedInForBloggers–You need to be there!


    I have a passion for LinkedIn®.  Long before others understood the importance of networking on-line, I was preaching to the doubters.  LinkedIn® is a powerful networking platform.  So much so that every second two more people join LinkedIn®. With that kind of growing professional network it is no wonder that we find many brands and brand managers listed there.  Remember LinkedIn® has over 277 million global members.

    Here is the thing, many bloggers have yet to discover the benefits of being on LinkedIn® feeling that it is not ‘social’ enough or that the platform does not welcome  mom or dad bloggers.  That is not true.  LinkedIn® helps expose you to potential clients (brands, PR firms/agencies or digital marketing types) that are looking for professionals.  So if you are a professional blogger that is always looking for opportunities, then you need to be on LinkedIn. 

    If you are looking to connect and work with a particular brand, then you need to be on LinkedIn® just to be able to see if you are connected to someone that works in that company.  Working on the principal of six degrees of separation, you will be able to find someone that knows someone that works with someone that may be able to help you out.

    Remember, as bloggers, we live in a very social world, but that does not mean that brand and marketing people are there.  They may be in a boardroom or office with little to connection to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  It also means that some owner and decision makers are to busy running their business and they just need to find you in a directory.  That is what LinkedIn® is: a worldwide professional directory.

    If you want to know more about why blogger need to be on LinkedIn®, you can read my 5 Reasons Bloggers Need to be on LinkedIn post that I wrote for Type A Parent.  Please leave me a comment and let me know how you use LinkedIn®.


    Once again in an effort to help our Blogger Community grow, we will be hosting a #LinkedIn4Blogger Chat.  Join me as I give you tips on working with LinkedIn® on #LinkedMoms Chat

    WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26, 2014

    8:00 – 9:00pm (EST)
    7:00 – 8:00pm (CST)
    6:00 – 7:00pm (MST)
    5:00 – 6:00pm (PST)


    LinkedMoms website


    @DownshiftingPRO and @4LinkedLearning – Margarita Ibbott
    @DownshiftingPRO on Facebook
    @DownshiftingPRO Blog

    @inkscrblr – Paula Schuck
    @inkscrblr on Facebook
    @inkscrblr on YouTube
    @inkscrblr Blog

    Get Ready for PROM - Sign the Pledge = Parent-Driver Contract from -

    When I was 16 years old, I was in a car with my girlfriend Leslie. We were on our way to see another friend of ours at an outdoor pool.  She was finishing up for the night and we were all going to go out for ice cream afterwards.  It was a warm summer night in Montreal and we were having the time of our lives chatting and driving around in her dad’s big caddy.

    We came to a stop and we were turning left when all of a sudden my friend shouted: “oh, my God, he’s not going to stop... he’s not going to stop”.  In an instant I went from laughing to me being knocked out as the other car ploughed into the passenger side, where I was sitting. I can still see those headlights coming towards us.

    I came too later on and all could see where these thousands of diamonds shinning up at me.  Since I had blacked out, I hadn’t realized that my glasses had fallen off.  Everything around me just looked liked shinning diamonds.  As you can imagine, it was shattered glass that was reflecting the police car’s flashing lights. As I was lead away by another school mate, I started to understand that we had been in a pretty serious car accident.

    “They were very lucky” the policeman told our parents the next day as we sat in my living room.  I was very bruised and still slightly shaken up.  “Leslie’s quick thinking and that seatbelt saved your daughter’s life... its just that simple.”  We found out that the man driving the other car was drunk and had run all the stop signs on that long stretch of road.  If Leslie hadn’t swerved at the last minute he probably would have killed me instantly.  The car was a right-off.

    As the time comes for my daughter to start driving, I often reflect on that fateful night over 30 years ago.  From that day forward,  I made a pledge to never drive without a seatbelt on, never let my passengers neglect to put their seatbelt on and never drive with someone that is under the influence.

    Making sure that we teach our kids the rules of the road will make it better for everyone.  I know I want her to study for her G1 test and like everyone says: practice makes perfect.  Being able to take the G1 test on-line, for FREE is a great way for her to gain confidence and help her learn. 

    This website is beneficial because you can take 9 different practice tests to prepare for the Ontario Driver’s License G1 test. 

    BUT the best part about is a great document that helps you enter into a serious conversation with your children about what it means to be a responsible driver.  The Pledge spells out in plain English, in black and white, on paper what the rules of responsible driving are all about.  It is more then just maintaining the speed limit and following road signs.

    Click on the Image to Download your copy of The Pledge

    I am going to ask my 17 year old daughter to take a pledge, from  They have prepared a parent-driver contract that asks young drivers to drive responsibly.  That means:

    • NO texting or calling
    • NO getting behind the wheel while under the influence (of alcohol or drugs)
    • NO drag racing or stunt driving to show off
    • NO disregarding seatbelts
    • NO distracted driving caused by eating, loud music or horsing around

    This pledge is available as a PDF printable and it is something that all parents should commit to with their young drivers.  It clearly sets out the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of driving.  The best thing is that if there are infractions and defined consequences.  You customize it to what ‘speaks’ to your teen but it is all set out for you.  So no excuses... review the consequences with your young driver... right. from. the. get. go.

    An excerpt of the pledge:


    Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.  I am happy to write this blog post to get more young drivers and parents to have a conversation about safe driving practices.

    Monday, 24 March 2014

    Blog Tour for #EmpressOfTheNight by @EvaStachniak – Enjoy the Book Reviews - Week of March 24, 2014

    Last year I was introduced to The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak by my good friend Wanda Lynne Young (twitter book club leader & @BookaliciousCA on twitter).  I loved The Winter Palace.  I loved it so much that I convinced my book club to read it.  They loved this book.  We had a great book club because Ms. Stachniak was gracious enough to join us on Skype and answer some of our most pressing questions:  How did you research the book?  Did Varvara really exist?  Is there going to be a sequel (actually, many, many sequels... we loved it THAT much).  We had so many questions and she answered them all.  What a great author!


    We did find out that there would be a sequel to The Winter Palace and the focus of the book would be the Empress Catherine the Great.  We were so excited to hear and we have been anxiously awaiting the second book.

    I am happy to let you know that day has arrived and Empress of the Night is being released this month!  Whoo hoo...  I was happy to be asked by Random House Canada to participate in the #EmpressofTheNight blog tour.  I am the first to publish today but I encourage you to visit the other blogs throughout the week for their reviews of Empress of the Night.

    Synopsis: Empress of the Night begins with Empress Catherine suffering a stroke. As she this occurs, we are brought back to the beginning, as she reflects on her life.  Russia in 1796 is a world that has many players with many conflicting ambitions and an even greater number of ‘moving parts’.  Her arrival as Princess Sophia of Prussia and her troublesome mother, the marriage to Grand Duke Peter, the barren years, the seduction by powerful men and her ascent to the throne are all expertly describe by the author.  The Russian court is full of spies, innuendos and treacherous friends and servants.  All reasons to keep you turning the page just to find out what happens next. 

    Empress of the Night takes us through the years and helps us understand the driving force how Catherine reigned Russia in the 18th century.  In The Winter Palace we find out more about how she came to court and became the Grand Duchess and wife to Peter III.  In this book, the Empress rules alone (after her lover’s brother kills the Grand Duke Peter).  We see how different people want to advise and control Catherine... she is after all...only  a woman.  None of them could possibly understand the strength and moral fortitude that she possesses. 

    Empress Catherine has many lovers and favourites that play important roles in her life.  The story revolves around these relationships and those of her grandchildren.  The Empress is in her golden years of a 34 year reign.  She has conquered Poland and stands strong against the Prussians.  She is working hard to modernize Russia and continue to build its empire.  Eva Stachniak explains in this short video about how modern Catherine was for her time.

    Empress of the Night can at time seem disjointed.  I had trouble keeping her lovers and favourites straight in my head. I am not sure if it is because I read the first book and forgotten too many of the details or I was familiar with those intricate details and knew that there were things missing that glued the story together.  If I had not read the first novel, I wondered whether I would get confused.   Maybe not.   I have to assume that the author had to condense the details in order to keep ‘new’ readers interested without boring those that were familiar with the story.  After all this was the story of Catherine not her maid Varvara Nikolayeva.  Once all the ‘preliminary’ cast of characters, and how they got to be part of Catherine’s life, were established, the story flowed much better.

    The relationship between the Empress and her grandchildren was so interesting.  I have to say, I did want to know more about why her relationship with her son and heir apparent deteriorated.  Was it because of how Empress Elizabeth (her predecessor) had brought him up? Or was the bond with her first born never to be mended.  You really have to read The Winter Palace to understand that a bit more...

    I loved the delicately composed dialogue between the characters.  Empress of the Night is more about how the Empress dealt with people and situations on a day-to-day basis in the 18th century Russian court.  It is about relationships, the royal court and the all the behind the scene players.  This is not a book about political manoeuvring and military strategy.

    Following Catherine throughout a small part of her reign is both interesting and entertaining.  This book is a great read and easy to enjoy.  You can pick it up and get through it on a vacation trip or over a couple of weeks if you read leisurely.  I would recommend giving it a read.

    Empress of the Night
    by Eva Stachniak
    Published 2014
    Random House Canada
    Rating: 4 out of 5

    Available in Trade Paper back and e-book.

    If you want more reviews on Empress of the Night be sure and follow the blog tour this week. 


    March 25 – Retreat by Random House –>Guest Post by Eva Stachniak:

    Guest Post: Eva Stachniak – What do the memoirs of Catherine the Great reveal?

    March 26 – Literary Treats

    March 27 – Literary Hoarders

    March 28 – Lost in a Great Book

    Social Note:  First and foremost, I need to let you know that I love that Eva Stachniak is active on Twitter (@EvaStachniak) and she certainly interacts with her readers.  If you are around on WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16 and on twitter between 9 – 10 pm, you can join Wanda Lynne Young for the @BookaliciousCA twitter party with EVA!  You and find out more info here.

    Follow the conversation on Twitter by searching #EmpressOfTheNight hashtag. 

    Disclosure:  I received a copy of  EMPRESS OF THE NIGHT   by Eva Stachniak for review purposes only from  No other compensation was received.  You can follow them on Twitter at  @RandomHouseCA

    Saturday, 22 March 2014

    My 3 popular boards–@DownshiftingPRO - Pinterest Blast: Enter to win a $100 Amazon GC (US & CAN) ends. March 29, 2014


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