Monthly Archives: July 2012

Be a Smart Shopper…Think Before You Buy & Save!

Standard

OK I had an Ah Hahh Moment while grocery shopping yesterday for fresh fruit that I want to share with you all.

The store was featuring a special on nectarines for $5.97 for a decent sized clambshell pack — it contained 9 nectarines. I threw it in my cart because it seemed like a great deal…but then my bargain genes kicked in and I wondered.. hmmmnnn … is this really the best deal?  I then noticed the loose nectarines on for $1.47 lb beside me so I went to work.

ImageImage

I walked to the scale and weighed the prepacked nectarines to discover that it  weighed only 2 1/2 lbs!  So buying them loose, I could get 4 lbs– an extra 1 1/2 lbs of fruit –  for the same price. WOW — I was pretty surprised!

My message is this.. it really does pay to think before you buy and be a smart shopper! You can save lots of money and you will feel good doing it!

Adventures with my New Food Dehydrator… What NOT To Do….

Standard
What NOT To Do — Food Dehydrating with Jenn
 
So I bought a food dehydrator yesterday at a yard sale and was so excited to get started! I had wanted one for a few years now but it was a WANT not a NEED and since I wasn`t willing to pay $50 new for a new one, I had to be patient and I was very quite pleased to finally find one in excellent condition for only $5! Yippee!!
 
I was first interested in getting a dehydrator after hearing good things from my sister-in-law and friends. The process retains almost 100% of the nutritional content of the food.  It seems like a nutritous and cost effective and convenient way to offer snacks to my family.
 
How Dehydrating Works 
Modern dehydrators produces basically the same food with about 75 percent of its moisture removed but with most of its vitamins and minerals still present. You basically cut the fruit, vegetables or meat and place them on the layered trays, plug it in and leave it for an extended period of time. Fruit leather is another popular recipe for Mom`s to use. 
 
Nutritious, Cost Effective & Convenient
Dried foods can be rather pricey in a store so this seemed like a preserve fresh, nutritious foods in my own home at a fraction of the cost. I was mostly interested to offer healthy snacks to my children including apples, pineapples, grapes, or cranberries banana chips. I have even toyed with making genuine beef jerky!
 
My Experience
The unit didn’t come with a user guide but there are tons of guides on-line so I did my homework, read the instructions from a few different ones and got straight to work making some fruit leather (aka healthy version of Fruit Roll Ups). I mixed up a simple variation on a recipe I found  using 4 cups of apple sauce, and then pureed 4 cups of canned pears with some pureed canned mango & strawberry applesauce for flavour. 
 
This is where it all went wrong… Fruit leather takes from 6 to 12 hours to ‘cook’ so I went to bed anticipating yummy treats in the morning.  I did notice an odd smell (not fruity or leathery) before I went to bed but foolish rookie me didn’t look to see what it was.. my mistake. Looking back, I think it was burning plastic.Image
 
 
 
The next morning, when I finally peeked in this morning, the bottom level of my hydrator was not only burnt, but melted! (see pic) I was shocked and also happy that it didn’t cause a fire. Close one. 
 
ImageImage
 
The other 3 layers were not burnt — level 2 from the bottom was actually perfectly done and the top top levels were still needed more time. I was feeling disappointed — not how I pictured this MarthaStewart-esque moment working out… 
ImageImage
 
So my inaugural attempt at fruit leather was a failure…. I salvaged one layer and put the other 2 in the over on low and managed to recover some more leather but am not happy with how it all turned out.  My daughter took one look at it and said `ewwww!` but my son did eat some so whether this is all worth it is still up for debate. This is what I want to share… 
 
 
Learn from my mistakes!  
 
Buy a good quality hydrator — it is not acceptable to me that a plastic tray built to be on a low heat for extended periods of time would melt but it did after about 15 hours of running. Bad quality and when I Googled this I found many others complaining of melting trays. 
 
You must rotate the trays!  
Apparentty, this is very important. Some models come with fans to keep heat and temperatures even and will prevent this I learned. 
 
I need your help! 
What are your experiences with hydrators? Do you find this a useful appliance and worth the effort? 
I still have 3 trays left and am undecided on whether to get rid of it or try again.. please share your knowledge with me so I can decide. 

Family Fun Weekend Happenings Across Waterloo Region July 14-15, 2012

Standard

 
Get out there and enjoy the summer my friends!  The Waterloo Region and outlying areas are offering so many great events this weekend… have fun whatever you choose to do!  Many of these events are FREE while some have cost but all are family friendly.
I count 11 FREE Tim Horton Swims all weekend long plus all this great stuff….. Visit the Family Fun Listing my blog for all the details.

FRIDAY July 13th
Cruisin’ on King – Downtown Kitchener
BBQ, Carnival & Concert Under the Stars  – Kitchener’s New Song Church
Shades Mills Park Movies Under the Stars (Cars 2) – Cambridge
SATURDAY JULY 14th
Kitchener Woolwich Rodeo – Calhoun Stables – Sat & Sun (north of Merry Hill)
 Mustang Drive In Guelph – all weekend – Spiderman/ That’s My Boy – Guelph
Port Elgin Beach Party Saturday
Bingeman’s Big Splash Much Music Video Dance Party – Kitchener
Brique Fete  Annual Lego Enthusiast Hobby Show – Mississauga
SUNDAY JULY 15th
World’s Longest Picnic Guiness World Record Attempt – Downtown Kitchener – Sunday July 15th
========================================
Tim Horton FREE Swim Schedule this weekend! 
————————————————————————
FRIDAY JULY 11th

Lyle Hallman Pool 0 Kitchener
July 13 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
CAMBRIDGE
 Ed Newland Pool July 13 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm

George Hancock Pool – July 13 2:15 pm – 5:00 pm

John Dolson Pool – July 13 1:45 pm – 4:00 pm

 Kinsmen Soper Park Pool – July 13 1:45 pm – 4:00 pm

W.G. Johnson Pool – July 13 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

ELMIRA
Woolwich Memorial Centre – July 13 1:15 pm – 3:15 pm
GUELPH
West End Community Centre – Aquafit
July 13 5:30 pm – 6:15 pm
BRANTFORD
Woodman Park Pool – July 13 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
==============================
WEEKEND SWIMS
—————————————————–
Kitchener – Lyle Hallman Pool  Aquafit class
Sat. July 14 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

GUELPH

Lyon Leisure Pool – Public Swim

Sunday July 15 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Visit my Family Fun Listing regularly for a list of what’s going on the area…I am always adding great new finds!

Shopping Showdown — Precut VS Cut Your Own Fruit

Standard

I found this great article in Rachel Ray’s EveryDay magazine July/August 2012 issue. This is a great magazine and I highly recommend it!

CHECK IT OUT HERE…. http://www.rachaelraymag.com/

In the Shopping Showdown feature they compare the cost of pre-cut fruit to whole fruits and doing it yourself.

I was surprised by the results and think you will be too! Pre cut was the better value!

This just goes to show you should always be a smart shopper and do your homework. I usually avoid pre-cut assuming it more money but in this case, not so.

I would like to hear from YOU — what have you found is the best value for other fruits and vegetables? Do you buy PRE CUT or do it yourself. Share what you know!

Image

Is Integrity Dead? Doing the Right Thing When No One is Watching

Standard
Doing the right thing when no one is watching shows integrity and character.  Most people do but some don’t and today, my yesterday was ruined by someone who does not…
While enjoying a rare shopping trip with my Mom while my kids were at camp, my van was the victim of a parking lot hit and run. Someone apparently backed into my new mini van and drove off without a note. I actually felt sick to my stomach when I saw the damage done to my front bumper and realized that the culprit was long gone. My mini van is my oasis-on-wheels and while it may not be a sexy sports car, this luxurious Mom Mobile is a fabulous people moving machine that keeps our family on the move and I adore it. So to see it all smashed really stung.
My front right bumper was seriously crunched in and my first thought was “how much it will cost to fix?” My lovely morning was ruined and I didn’t know whether to cry or scream. My second thought  was “What is wrong with people?” I felt upset, frustrated, disappointed and angry all at once. Some of you may have experienced this too and it’s such a bad feeling.
I find it quite amazing that someone would do this and feel no need to take responsibility. Why not leave a little note on my windshield? Or wait until I came out of the store? That’s would I would have done. That would have been the right thing to do, and especially when no one is watching. Jerk!
Some bad driver’s choice to take off left me to cough up a $500 deductible to get it fixed instead of their insurance covering it which is what is supposed to happen. Their decision to NOT do the right thing when no one was watching says a lot about their character, or lack thereof, and inspired me to write this post about integrity.
Is integrity dead? I was raised to take responsibility for my mistakes and while it might be tempting to run away, a good person knows that you must step up and face the music. I am determined to teach these values to my children too and I work hard to make them understand this every day.  This continues to upset me since I feel like to many people, it has become easier and more acceptable to run away from mistakes. This is not the kind of world I want to live in and it saddens me. I really don’t know how some people can sleep at night behaving this way. I certainly could not.
I won’t let this incident ruin my faith in humanity, although it was temporarily rattled. I know that there are still lots of nice, decent people around who would go out of their way to do the right thing and make things right. Thankfully, I am privileged to know many of them and they make our world a better place.
To add to the story, this is the third time in two years that my once perfect mini van has been nailed in a parking lot hit and run and  I’m starting to think that it’s a magnet for bad drivers giving out strange “Hit Me” vibes. Only once has the other driver stuck around which I find discouraging. But let’s not dwell on that..
Let me leave you with an example of the kind of person we should all aspire to be….
When my van was just a few months old, the front bumper of my van was gouged by the woman pulling out of the parking lot beside me. It happened in a parking lot beside the Air Canada Centre in Toronto following the Justin Bieber concert. When we returned to our spot, still humming “Baby Baby Baby”, we were greeted by a lovely woman waiting with her engine on in a big SUV right beside us.
She quickly introduced herself, explained what happened and apologized very sincerely. I was amazed since it was after 11pm on a winter weeknight and by now, we were the only two cars left in the parking lot. It would have been so easy for her to leave but this kind woman had waited for 40 minutes with her girls for us to return and had already been on the phone with her insurance company when I arrived. Strange as it sounds,  I felt lucky that she was the one who hit me and it took the sting out of the incident. Her insurance paid for all the repairs and it was as good as new.
This woman displayed strong integrity and totally gets ‘doing the right thing when no one is watching.’ What a wonderful message she taught her girls.
I do believe in karma and someday, somewhere when they least expect it, these horrible, inconsiderate parking lot hit and run drivers will be paid back for their bad behaviour. Naughty as it may sound, I envision rogue shopping carts flying at their doors, new teenage drivers backing into them, and stray rocks flying up from truck tires as The Traffic Gods make it right.
And while I’m certainly not perfect, I do try my best to live with integrity and do the right the thing because it’s the right thing to do. As a Mom of three, I know that my actions and reactions in these situations deliver a powerful and revealing message to my kids who are taking it all in. Plus it just feels good.
I don’t think that integrity is dead but I would love to hear your stories to restore my faith!
What do you think? Do you have a story to tell?
Do you do the right thing when no one is watching?
Image

Kids Show Report Card & Get FREE Movie Rental at Steve’s TV

Standard

Image =   Image

Here are two awesome deals from Steve’s TV guaranteed to bring a smile to your face &  help beat the summer boredom.  Kids will love the movie & Mom and Dad will get a little down time so everybody wins.

Deal #1 – Report Card Movie Reward

For anyone living in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, Steve’s TV Movie World is offering a wonderful reward for kids. Bring in a copy of their report card and they will receive a FREE movie rental of their choice! No strings attached — grades don’t matter. Just a nice little perk and great way to start the summer There are no restrictions — new releases included. How great is that?

Deal #2.  FREE Movie reward for former Blockbuster & Rogers Rental Customers

Trade in your old movie rental card from Rogers or Blockbuster and receive a FREE 7 day movie rental – no exclusions! Steve’s has over 11,000 movies in it’s rental library so come check it out! Local movie lovers already know this is THE place to come. Come check it out!

 

 

 
So a big THANK YOU to the staff at Steve’s TV for these two great offers. The store is located in the Frederick Mall Plaza at the corner of Frederick Street and Edna in the Stanley Park area of the city. They offer a huge selection of movie rentals and is totally worth checking out. The plaza is located just one block down from Victoria Street and right near the Victoria Street exit off the Expressway/Hwy 85.

Image

FREE Beach Party & Fireworks THIS Sat July 14th in Gorgeous Port Elgin!

Standard
If you are a beach lover, you simply must take a visit to the gorgeous shores of Lake Huron this summer. My children can entertain themselves all day building sand castles, playing in the water and soaking up the sun and it’s my favourite way to spend a family day.  
We are blessed in Ontario to have many beautiful beaches to enjoy but my family have really enjoyed the lovely beach at Port Elgin, Ontario. Port Elgin is a lovely vacation town of 7500 located about 2 hours west of Kitchener on the shores of Lake Huron. Long a tourist destination within the Saugeen Shores area, Port Elgin is a destination for cottagers, beach lovers and campers. There is so much to see and do with miles of beaches and stunning sunsets. 
The beach features a long, shallow, sandy bottom and is ideal for tots and young children. There is lots of play equipment and swings along the main beach and at Northshore Park. The beach offers lots of great amenities including public washrooms, showers, change rooms and lots of free parking. There is also a boat launch, a marina and a breakwall. 
If you get hungry, there are several beach shacks offering reasonably priced french fries, food and ice cream. You can walk the breakwall, cruise the marina and watch the sunsets along the beautiful Lake Huron shoreline. It’s a wonderful spot!  
The beach offers other great options too… there is a flea market on Wednesdays, beach carnivals on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and free bandshell concerts with local talent on Sunday nights. Beach-goers can play mini-golf, join games of volleyball, walk the docks of the harbour. One of our favourite attractions has been the miniature 24-gauge steam train which offers a mile-long chug along the harbour to Northshore Park. The train runs five times a day, Tuesday through Sunday. 
As if this isn’t all enough to make you visit, this Saturday, July 14th, Bruce Power, a major employer in the area, is hosting it’s annual FREE Beach Party and fireworks at the beach in Port Elgin.  From 4pm – 10:30, everyone is invited to enjoy FREE beef on a bun and a drink for dinner.  There will be tons of family activities happening including dancing, kite flying, live performers, sand castle making, robots, drumming, games and more!  Best of all, this amazing event is topped off with a fantastic fireworks display with the lake as it’s stunning backdrop.  Thanks the generosity of Bruce Power, this entire event is put on for FREE of charge so please take advantage of it my friends! Get yourself to Port Elgin this Saturday and enjoy! 
Photo by Sara Onyschuk, So Studios. http://sostudio.ca/home