Happy Valentine’s Day!

Husky Happy Valentine's Day

Last year, you might remember that I made the kids a fun photo collage (you can see it here) using Pixlr.com and they absolutely loved it.  I decided do it again this year …of course it’s always difficult since Kaya absolutely HATES the camera.

kayahuskyfrontstoopdon'ttakemypic

I scored some unique large white heart shaped ceramic plates at the dollar store of all places!  I bought the last 7 they had in stock …so cute! I will use them all year long!

heart shaped bowl

This year I whipped up some red velvet cupcakes which I topped with little chocolates – they look so professional! The pretty paper cupcake liners and little chocolates are also from the dollar store (triple score!).

red velvet cupcakes

Hope you’re Valentine’s day is better than Kaya’s!!  LOL!

Kaya: Siberian Husky with red bow tie

Julie

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HAVE YOU TOLD YOUR DAUGHTER SHE’S FAT LATELY?

teentweenonbathroomscale

Last week my daughter came home from school and told me about a friend of hers who asked her dad if he could take her to the hairdresser’s to get a new hairstyle. Dad agreed but only on the condition that she lose 10 to 15 pounds. Now, I should tell you that I know this little girl and she is 10 years old, beautiful, artistic, caring, shorter than my own daughter, weighs 87 pounds and is NOT FAT. But what if she was? What kind of parent puts that on their kid anyways? What is she supposed to do with this information? What does any child know about calories, diets and working out? She’s not supposed to know anything. This is (borderline?) child abuse. How about actually parenting?! Educate your child about health, food, the nutrients a growing body needs and why physical activity is important. How about making an appointment with the pediatrician to address your concerns or questions about your daughter’s well being and physical appearance rather than assuming she needs to cut back on food?

My daughter (as well as other friends) told her that she is not fat and that she should tell her mother, but she won’t because she is afraid her dad will get mad at her. Instead she went and spoke to her dad again the following day, asking him if he was serious about her needing to lose weight. He said yes. My daughter asked her what she planned on doing. She shrugged her shoulders and said she would do “sit-ups and stuff every day”.

I would be lying if my daughter never brought up the word ‘fat’ about herself. It started about a year ago. The nine- to 12-year-old range is when a young girl’s body starts changing (for those who don’t know it’s called puberty–duh!). They have to deal with a bunch of new stuff like their hips growing wider, wearing deodorant, bras and being taller than most boys their age. It’s an embarrassing and confusing time. Our daughters need confirmation that there is nothing wrong with them. “…you will find out that these changes are important for your health and they are a normal part of growing up. You will also gain weight during this time. This is normal…” – ChildrensHealthNetwork.org.

So, congratulations, dad! The first man in your daughter’s life. You are supposed to be a hero. To make your daughter feel beautiful and smart, worthy of anything and anyone so that she has those high standards when choosing people in her life, like boyfriends. Now the message is: “What’s the point of even having pretty hair if the rest of me doesn’t measure up? And I don’t… and it must be true because daddy said so.” PIG.

This is the kind of hurt that can never be undone. How does a 10-year-old lose weight with no help or guidance? Will this lead to her googling ‘weight loss’ on her ipod at bedtime? Will she learn to skip meals or become full-on bulimic? This summer, will she still get excited about putting on her bathing suit and giggle through the sprinkler or will she be too self-conscious to wear anything other than a baggy T-shirt? Ladies, let’s make sure we have this talk with our daughters, nieces, girlfriends and sisters…and of course let’s educate our men so that they don’t make the same mistake as this moron-dad!

Email me your thoughts: JulieLovesHome@gmail.com

haveyoutoldyourdaughtershe'sfatlately?

Published January 22nd, 2014 / Vaudreuil Soulange Gazette

Published February 17th, 2014 / Chelsea Foundation

Interested on finding out more about tween girls and puberty?  Here are some really helpful links:

Dr. OZ answers question: As a teen how can I tell if I’m gaining too much weight? / Mehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answeredThroughout your teen years, you’re likely to gain both height and weight rapidly. Sometimes that may be just fine. For example, girls will gain body fat in puberty, particularly in the hips. The best way to start figuring out if you’re gaining too much weight is to check the BMI Percentile Calculator for Child and Teen. This index, calculated from height and weight, takes into account what is normal for younger boys and girls. It’s not definitive, though, since everyone changes at different rates. If your BMI tells you that you may be overweight, a visit to your doctor can confirm it, and he or she may suggest a healthy weight loss program.

Dr. Phil: How to raise your daughters’ self esteem

Children’s Physician Network: Puberty For Girls

The Daily Mail: Is it right to tell a child she’s fat?

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Budget friendly (and fun!) solution for covering up an unwanted window!

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I wear many hats.  Aside from being a wife, mom, freelance writer and interior designer I’m also a volunteer librarian!

I won’t go into all the details …but basically our library is shaped like an octagon with lots of windows all around (even skylights above).  Because of how the library is used now, compared to when it was first constructed (several decades ago) there are a couple of windows that we no longer want or need.  But what to do when we librarians have a very limited budget? The goal is to spend on books for the kids, not on decor, staffing or construction materials, if we can help it.  Then it hit me:  Chalkboard paint!

Not only could I paint it myself but the supplies are affordable enough that I could contribute them.   Plus it would also be visually fun for the kids and a great way for the staff to advertise the library’s theme of the month or upcoming events like our book fair.

To be honest I was a little worried about how the paint would adhere to the windows.  So I made sure to prep them by thoroughly washing them, then using (high grit) sandpaper to slightly scuff up the window followed by another cleaning to make sure they were free of dust.  It took three coats to properly cover.  I let it cure and the next day I wiped the entire dry painted surface with chalk and used a clean dry rag to both rub in and wipe the chalk all over the surface.

I just completed the project yesterday – I apologize for the two bad photos which I quickly snapped using my phone (I will try and get better ones next week), but I think you get the idea.  In our story-time area where we read to the children I drew two popular book characters -yes, I drew The Cat In The Hat and Clifford, not too shabby for someone who is NOT AT ALL an artist!.  The other side of the window is also painted with chalkboard paint, and that’s where the staff can write announcement, events or messages.

chalkboardunusedwindowinlibrary

chalkboardwindow

Thanks for checking in,

Julie

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From ladies skirt to tree skirt!

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Whether artificial or natural, most people tend to use an actual store bought Christmas tree skirt to cover the bottom of their trees.  There are of course alternatives like using a wool throw blanket, table cloth, sheepskin rug and even ‘planting’ the tree in a large container (for more inspirational tree skirt ideas head over to The Pink Chalkboard).  But here is another pretty simple idea I came up with just last week:

fromladiesskirttochristmastreeskirt

It all started with not wanting to use my old tree skirt (from when I was a kid) or the newer Martha Stewart one I purchased at the same time as my artificial white Martha Christmas tree (more on the white tree here).  This year we got a natural 10 foot Christmas tree -over the years I had used the sheepskin rug, throw blanket, planter and even leftover burlap fabric from my DIY curtains.  Then I thought about how cute my plaid wool skirt (which I bought at a local thrift shop and modernized/modified last December: more on that here) would look but I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice it for my tree (at least not this year!).  So I popped back into that same thrift shop and was psyched to find that they had a few plaid skirts to choose from  -AND one with an actual purple stripe running through it! (I’m trying to work hints of purple in the living room).  Not really a typical color found in most plaid skirts (SCORE!) and although I wasn’t in love with that blue color, I figured I really couldn’t afford to be that picky.  I mean it is a tree skirt after-all!  It’ll only be on display for a couple of weeks -and even then, mostly covered up by gifts.

purpleredgreenplaid

I took it home and with a good pair of scissors cut it open along the side from waist to hem (see photo) and that’s it. DONE : cheap, cheerful, original and new (to me) Christmas tree skirt in an instant!

cutplaidskirttomakexmastreeskirt

naturalchristmastreewithplaidskirt

What do you think?  Are you doing something unconventional to your Christmas tree this year?  Please share your comments below!

Happy Holidays,

Julie

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5 tips on how to decorate for the holidays for FREE!

aqua coffee mug plaid blanket adirondack chair outdoor
While some people have the same tried and true plan for decorating every holiday, I prefer driving myself crazy by trying to come up with new ideas every year.  Basically I get bored easy and to be honest, I like the challenge.  Which means, if last year the garland was draped on the banister this year it might get tucked into window boxes and you can bet that the Christmas tree will look different and may even be in a new room.  It’s my way of mixing things up without having access to a Martha Stewart budget.  It’s actually easier than you think to work with what you have -most of us have accumulated lots of decorations we no longer use or even have boxes of old stuff we inherited from relatives who downsized or passed away.  This year why not challenge yourself to open up every box of holiday decorations?  -And don’t hesitate to use a pair of scissors, some tape or even glue to transform them into what you really want!

Front door Christmas Wreath 2013
EXAMPLE: Last year you might remember I went with a red and aqua theme for outside (for more on that click here)  and since I am still really in love with this color combo, I decided to keep it but tweak it a little and best of all I didn’t spend a dime.  Here are some of my tips:

outdoor Christmas planters

1. NATURE:  Grab your gardening sheers and take your dog along for a walk in a forest or field.  Scan the ground for pine cones, unusual rocks, interesting bushes, moss and fallen or dead birch trees/branches (they make great accents and I saw bundles of 4 thick branches sell for $12.99 at a local shop) and use your sheers to snip evergreen branches to make your own wreaths or planters (make sure to only cut one or two branches per tree and only cut branches off trees that are 20 feet or taller, this way you will be sure not to harm or weaken the tree and it will be there next year to provide you with more free branches ;-).  Aside from making evergreen planters again this year I also attached evergreen branches to to the top of the entry posts (using painters tape -it’s not so sticky that it will damage the posts but works much better than rope, especially if you are working alone! ).

evergreen branches and ribbon attach to top of supportingpost
evergreen branches and mesh ribbons
2. WRAPPING.  Ribbons and bows… rummage through your wrapping station, you might be surprised what you can re-purpose.

Outdoor Christmas Decor 2013
3. GARDEN DECOR.  Bird houses, gnomes and even the 3 foot squirrel statue your grandma gave you can look whimsical tucked into an outdoor planter with a dusting of (real) snow (or the fake stuff!).  Also, bring garden decor indoors (give them a good washing first) and try sitting them on shelf or the base of your Christmas tree.

outdoor Christmas planters
4. THE CHRISTMAS BIN.  Because tinsel is cheep and cheerful it seems everyone has some lurking around -even if it’s in the form of an inexpensive tinsel Christmas tree you picked up on clearance a few years back:  I had two small red ones.  I snipped the branches off and twisted the ends together to form a wire garland which I wrapped around the base of my outdoor planters and also gave a little ‘beard’ to the bottom of my outdoor light fixtures!  And instead of using floppy tinsel garland in your tree this year, why not use it in a new way?  I cut one up into 4 small garlands and made little ‘halos’ for the tops of my outdoor light fixtures!  No longer in love with your store bought Christmas wreath? – Add colourful ornaments you already have!  I added aqua Christmas balls and the pair of skates to the wreath on my front door.

Tinsel scissors tapeoutdoor lights decorated for Christmas
 cutting off branches on tinsel Christmad treeHoliday Christmas Evergreen outdoor planter
5. LIGHTS.  For a real feeling of change and something brand new, try re-using old Christmas lights in new places.  Last year I hung aqua Christmas lights around the white support posts on my front stoop.  I liked it but they really never popped because they were located so close to my outdoor light fixtures.  This year those same lights are nestled in my outdoor planters which is not only a fun change, but the lights are much more noticeable at night.

outdoor Christmas decor

outdoor christmas decor 2013

Get rummaging and re-imagine some new decor for your home (for FREE) this year!

Thanks for checking in,

Julie

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Frozen outdoor planters? No problem!

whynotwednesday6

PROBLEM: You are finally ready to put together some outdoor holiday decorations and fill those planters with greenery and lights but “OH $#@!”.  You realize that you left your outdoor planters filled with soil outside and now they are frozen solid.

Frozen outdoor planter thaw with hot water

SOLUTION: You could haul them indoors and let them thaw overnight or… better yet, just bring a kettle (or pot) of water to a boil and pour over the soil for instant thawing!!  YES!!

Holiday Christmas Evergreen outdoor planter

I just did this last week and it worked great, I needed about 2 kettles of boiling water per planter since mine are pretty large.  * I would advise those with terracotta or ceramic pots not to try this method since it could likely result in shattering or cracking of your planter/pot.

Happy Decorating!

Julie

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Lunch Box Wars

Are school’s and parents taking allergy precautions too far?

peanut butter & jelly muffins

Columns, Julie Cadieux » Lunch box wars
// editor@hudsongazette.com // Dec 4th, 2013

Most of us know people with allergies. In fact, two very close friends of mine have children with deadly food allergies. When preparing to have them visit my home, it’s something I take very seriously. I research and read food labels. I wipe down things like door handles and light switches and I make sure I cook meals as safely as possible. I do my part so that my guests leave in the car they came in -and not in an ambulance!

Food allergies may not run in my family but food intolerance, seasonal and pet allergies do — and perhaps some of you with food allergies snub your nose at those of us with the itchy, watery eyes or sneezing but did you know that these kinds of allergies can be pretty scary too? My mom is deadly allergic to horses (discovered during a close call on a calèche ride at Disney World when I was nine). My daughter has seasonal allergies where, aside from the obvious symptoms, she also breaks out in burning, itchy red hives on her face and torso.

I hear you, allergy parents, I do. I get how hard you have to work to keep your kids safe but well fed. I know a woman who has to make everything from scratch, even bread, to be sure her child doesn’t die from eating the wrong thing. That’s a lot of stress.

And yes, I too thought it was really careless and just plain stupid when, a few weeks ago, one high school cafeteria staff decided to make a huge vat of peanut sauce to accompany one of their dishes and told students with nut allergies to stay away from the cafeteria and not eat lunch that day. It was no surprise when a student who hadn’t heard to stay clear went in anaphylactic shock (that student is perfectly fine now btw). If the school and/or school board is going to have a policy on food restrictions then they and whoever is hired to cook food on the premises should follow it with no exceptions.

However, long gone are the days where schools only ban peanuts. In many schools today the list of the forbidden keeps growing: all nuts, all seeds, eggs, milk products and candy. If a teacher or lunch monitor just THINKS that there might be a banned substance in your child’s lunch bag, it’s not gonna see the light of day. Period.

Reese's Pieces Peanut Butter Chipits

I’m not trying to say that we shouldn’t be cautious or care about children who have food allergies, but is it starting to go too far? I read about a teacher who explained how her school implemented a new rule where the staff can’t put milk in their coffee or honey in their tea. Last year a mom in York, Ontario made headlines for fighting with her child’s school to cut down oak trees located nearby (not on the school property) because the falling acorns posed a threat to her child who had a severe nut allergy.

Plus what about the cost? I often think about how pricey lunches have become. Peanut butter and jelly, egg salad or even a simple cheese sandwich are not just old fashioned boxed lunch staples — they are economical. While parents who have children with food restrictions get attention and a pat on the back for demanding change. parents with low incomes are too embarrassed to write angry letters to their school board or call up the local newspaper to complain about how they can’t afford genoa salami, slices of lean turkey breast and bread that is certified to be milk-less, egg-less, seed-less and nut-less (and at this point why not throw in gluten-free since that seems to be a thing now too!).

And now on top of everything schools demand that kids eat a healthy snack at recess -and I absolutely agree, except forget the yogurt, slice of cheese or even milk (remember when we were in elementary school and had milk delivered to us at recess? GASP!). And if you thought the all mighty granola bar would be the no-brainer, go-to, save the day snack solution you are dead wrong. I proudly found and purchased nut-free granola bars but my daughter was told to keep it in her lunch box and take it home because it had ‘quinoa’ in it (pronounced “keen-wah,” it is a protein packed grain). I guess it is considered a seed? To be honest, I can’t keep up.

I know what you’re thinking food allergy parents “get over it and pack your kid an apple!”. Absolutely, I love fruit and so do my kids, except my daughter gets an itchy tongue when she eats apples or any fruits with edible skin and I can’t cut it up because she doesn’t like it unless its cut up fresh and my middle child has braces so he needs most hard fruit cut up also, but hey, I am not whining; I buy single-serve apple sauce and fruit cups and of course we always have bananas in the house.

Pantry: large bin with easy accessible snacks for the kids

And yes allergen parents, I am lucky enough to have a fridge full of cold cuts, lunch meats and a variety of breads for my kids’ sandwiches. Except, recently I heard a doctor explain how we should not eat lunch meats more than twice a week because of all the preservatives and salt and apparently some studies now show that eating lunch meats more than three times a week can cause cancer. SIGH. I had a great idea of making tuna salad sandwiches once a week but then I remembered I can’t because mayonnaise has egg in it. So now, I try and break up the week with a thermos of soup. Unfortunately my kids just won’t eat dinner leftovers for lunch and the whole point is to try and get them to like their lunch enough to eat it since I’m not there to make sure they do. I credit myself with being pretty creative in the kitchen, and you can find some great lunch box ideas in books like Beating The Lunch Box Blues by J.M. Hirsh, but creativity just doesn’t happen to me at 6:20 a.m. (the time when I’m putting together the kids’ school lunches).

Allergies are no joke but there it is anyway: my annoyance with it all. I know I am not the only one. What do you think? Is the line between cautious and crazy becoming a little blurry?

Email me at JulieLovesHome@gmail.com

Julie Cadieux 2012