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Blue Velvet Cake- Bettey Crocker

Baby Cakes: Hosting A Gender Reveal Party

Here’s a fun and memorable way expectant parents are revealing the gender of their baby.

alexis+dave+wedding

SNEAK PEEK  | Our daughter Alexis got married last spring, and now she and her husband Dave (pictured here on their wedding day) are expecting a baby. Last week, they went for their 20-week ultrasound. This imaging technique is used five months into a pregnancy to determine whether a fetus is developing normally. At 20 weeks, it can also detect whether the baby is a boy or a girl—if the gender is visible, of course.

Lexi and Dave wanted to know the sex of their baby. And they wanted to share the experience of finding out what it is with members of their immediate family, so this past weekend we had what’s called a gender reveal party at our house.

Here’s what Lexi and Dave did to ensure the baby’s gender was kept under wraps (and unknown even to them) until the appropriate moment.

Read more

Work-Back List

Use A Work-Back Sheet To Get Stuff Done

Take the stress out of planning any event with this tool used by event planning pros. (WORKSHEET)

Work-Back List

FREE WORKSHEET | The holiday season will never be as carefree for adults as it is for kids—we have too much work to do behind the scenes—but this year why not make things easier on yourself by using a simplified version of a “work-back schedule,” a tool employed by event-planning pros, to get everything done in a less hurried, more orderly and enjoyable manner. Read more

Rodney Graham

Get Better Photos With Your Digital Camera

This surprisingly inexpensive introductory class will teach you how to take much better pictures with your digital camera.

Rodney Graham

 

SUPER VALUE  | There’s no way my snaps will ever match the cinematographic style of Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham (featured above) or Ian Wallace, three stellar members of the internationally acclaimed “Vancouver School” of photography, but recently I learned how to get a better than average shot with my compact digital camera. For the surprisingly low price of just $25, I received two hours of solid instruction in alternatives to Automatic Mode, the most commonly used setting (and my former personal fave) on the mode dial of digital cameras. Read more

Notebooks- iStock

Two Ways To Have Books Shipped For Free

Wow! Finally a website where some third party sellers offer free shipping for their used books online—plus, how to get free shipping on new book orders under $25.

Old Books—Shutterstock

 

FREE IS GOOD | While both Indigo.ca and Amazon.ca offer free shipping on the books you purchase through their companies when you spend a minimum $25, the same is not true for used books they list that are offered by third party sellers. These books always come with an added shipping cost, making what might look like a steal of a deal anything but once these extra charges are tacked on. Read more

1 10-11

The Coolest Way To Tour Vancouver

Many of the West Coast’s most spectacular homes are on the water. To see them, you should be too.

West Vancouver Waterfront Homes

 

TRAVEL ADVISORY | West Vancouver is hardly Amalfi, but like this picturesque stretch of Mediterranean waterfront in Italy, it does have interesting houses terraced into the rocky coastline, some with cascading, tropical gardens of Babylonian intent. And when the days are sunny and calm like they they will be shortly, we like to rent a (reasonably priced) runabout from Sewell’s Marina in Horseshoe Bay and treat our out-of-town guests to a tour of this gorgeous shoreline in one of Canada’s poshest postal codes. Read more

Plastic Eggs - iStock

How to Organize An Easter Egg Hunt

This clever spin on the traditional Easter egg hunt is participant specific.

Easter Egg Hunting-shutterstock

 

CREATIVE SOLUTION | At first it felt unnatural to hide plastic eggs instead of real ones because we didn’t grow up hunting for plastic on Easter so having our kids do so felt not only anti-Martha but like some kind of cheesy cop-out. But at some point it stopped being okay to sacrifice three dozen perfectly good hard-boiled eggs to the springtime muck in our backyard just so our kids and their friends could charge around Easter morning and ideally find them—yet never eat them.

So we have changed our tune and completely switched over to plastic, keeping the hand-decorated chicken eggs in the fridge for snacks or sandwiches. The plastic eggs have proved fantastic because we can hunt for them outdoors in all weather conditions and recycle them year after year.

Here’s how our hunt works: Read more

Orchid - iStock

Consider The Orchid

The long-lasting orchid, in myriad colours, is gaining ground on the traditional Easter lily.

Orchids

 

SHOPPING AROUND | Since it was first introduced in North America in the early 1900s, the stick-straight Easter lily, with its scraggly leaves and showy flowers that look like trumpets growing sideways out of its stalk, has been a mainstay on Easter morn altars across this continent and a top hostess gift for Easter dinner. But now orchids of all types and sizes challenge Easter lilies for pride of place—on the home front, at least—because they have qualities lilies can’t match. Read more

Detour on MUBI

Watch Art House Films For $2.99 A Month

For as little as $2.99 a month, you can enjoy a steady stream of smart art house films from everywhere in the world.

Detour on MUBI

 

NEW IN CANADA | Film lovers who think the movie selection on Netflix sucks and the content from on-demand providers like iTunes, Shaw and Blockbuster skews way too whitebread American are going to love that Mubi is now “officially” available in Canada. Read more

Valentine Cookie

We’re All Heart: Find Free Valentines Here

This year, make it personal with downloadable and DIY valentine cards to give—and eat. (FREE, PRINTABLE VALENTINES + RECIPE)

Heart breaker Candy filled Valentine's Cards

 

FREE & EASY | Lucky in location, I live in one of several provinces in Canada that celebrates Family Day, a statutory holiday dedicated to promoting family life, on the second Monday in February rather than the third as some other provinces do. Having an extra day off just before Valentine’s Day means my kids and I have more time to make valentine cards to hand out at school and the heart-shaped cookie notes we share with one another. Read more

Stack of Old Letters

Why A Christmas Letter Is The Perfect Gift

All I want for Christmas is one simple thing no amount of money can buy.

Stack of Old Letters

 

HOLIDAY 2012 | Somewhere around the first of December every year my kids ask me what I want for Christmas. This year I threw them a curve ball. I don’t need a lot of new stuff, and the few new things I might want (a Vitamix down the road, maybe) are insanely out of their price range anyway. Read more