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Go Ask Dad

Stop Searching Online: Go Ask Dad

beauty, GEAR By June 13, 2016 Tags: , , , , No Comments

In a world where screen-time often outweighs actual face time, the internet has become the go-to source of information – and as we all know, websites don’t always give you the most unbiased and truthful advice… It’s quick and easy to search the internet for videos and how-to articles in seconds, but do the results truly give the answers teens really need? This Father’s Day, Gillette is reminding people everywhere to “Go Ask Dad” for answers to their everyday questions.  While your Dad will certainly appreciate a card (or a new razor) for Father’s Day, taking a moment to ask his advice will mean more to him than you might guess.

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Tooth Fairy Receipt

Tooth Fairy Traditions

FAM, kids By March 19, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , , No Comments

The tooth fairy is a magical character who swoops in and leaves some funds under your child’s pillow on the night they lose their teeth. If Mom and Dad remember. (And hasn’t every parent awakened in a cold sweat trying to remember if the tooth fairy made her visit?)

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Jill Amery Covergirl

The Winter Beauty Rut

beauty, GEAR By March 3, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Many of our readers know that I have struggled with depression in the past, and somehow this winter has been harder than most. Today I gave myself gentle permission for some self care and set out to fix the winter beauty rut.

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Jason Priestly Drinking Water

Children’s Safe Drinking Water: An Interview with Jason Priestley

charity, FAM By February 25, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

How important is water? Very. A lemonade stand to raise funds for water wells is fabulous, but there are still 1800 kids who die EVERY DAY due to the lack of clean water in their communities. A billion people around the world don’t have access to safe water. Even with access to medications, people often take their pills with toxic water – it’s the only option.

A  lack of education means that some wells are dug only feet away from the spots where latrines are situated, causing even more harmful bacteria.

P&G Clean Water - Jason Priestley 1UrbanMommies had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Jason Priestley – actor, director and activist who travelled to the Dominican Republic and is working to promote the Children’s Safe Drinking Water program (CSDW). Since the program launched, it has succeeded in donating over 20 million days of clean drinking water to those in need, and we hope to reach our goal of 25 million days of clean drinking water by March 31, 2015.

It doesn’t take a lot to make a big difference. Just 10 cents provides one P&G water purification packet that creates 10 liters of clean water. The packets are stirred into 10 litres of water and after ten minutes, the water can be strained through cloth (even a t-shirt works) and is safe to drink.

Just $1 gives a child clean water for 50 days.
$7.50 gives a child clean water for a year.
$30 gives a family clean water for a year.

Procter & Gamble and Walmart have partnered in a simple program to provide water to people in need. Every P&G product sold at Walmart Canada will provide 1 day of clean drinking water for a family. And these are the products you are buying anyway like Tide, Gillette, Bounce, Pantene and Tampax.

Here’s our exclusive interview with talented and kind Dad, Jason Priestley.

P&G Clean Water - Jason Priestley 3UM: There are so many charities and people in need – why water?

JP: I am a dad. 1600 children die every day. Its shocking to us who live in Canada where there in such an abundance of drinking water. This is a simple program that makes huge difference in people’s lives.

UM: I read your piece on your trip to the Dominican. When I travelled to Liberia with Right to Play I saw the need for clean water and also health education. How does Children’s Safe Drinking Water choose where to help? What about education?

JP: Kids can’t go to school half the time because they’re sick. There’s not enough education. We need to do something to break that cycle – water is one of the basic building blocks of society. Clean water makes people healthy and strong so they can get to school.

UM: You have 2 children – how to you teach them to be socially conscious?

JP: That’s one of the big challenges we all face. It’s difficult but I try to look at everything as a potential teachable moment. Scarcity and the importance of water is all around us – in California too. Water is a precious commodity. We talk a lot about the importance of helping others, not just giving people money but the tools they need to improve their lives. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Water is a tool. It restores people’s health and also their dignity, improving their lives and the strength of the community.

UM: How can Canadians help?

JP: This is such a simple program. Go to a Walmart store or walmart.ca and buy the household products you use every day. P & G takes care of donating. It’s a 1 for 1 swap. 1 product = 1 day of drinking water for a family.

So far they’ve given 21 Million days of safe drinking water to families in developing countries.

UM: How do they determine where to distribute the water purification packets?

JP: They work with not for profit agencies across the globe to determine need. Unsafe drinking water kills more kids every year than HIV, aids and malaria combined.

UM: I know I went through many life changes after visiting Liberia. What was your big take-away, as a dad, after travelling to the Dominican?

JP: I loved the children. Children are the same everywhere you go: happy, joyous, playful and beautiful. There kids playing in the dirt with a ball and stick are no different than my children. I felt the need to help them. They are innocent, joyous and pure and they deserve better. We can see what the future hold for these kids even when they can’t.

A billion people don’t have access to safe water. 1600 kids die every day.

You can learn more at Walmart.ca/cleanwater

Disclosure: I am a P&G Mom and was give then chance to interview Jason Priestley. I was not compensated for this article and all opinions are my own.

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organize-your-life

Tips For Living Simply

beauty, GEAR By January 27, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

I don’t like new year’s resolutions because they usually amount to more pressure and disappointment. I try to look at life as progress – are every few years getting better than the last? Are we happy? Over the past two months I’ve been focusing on living simply, eliminating stress and organizing life. Along with drinking lemon water, buying a juicer, there are 10 things the family has undertaken to ensure we are living simply with as little stress as possible.

Mabels Scan and Store Labels

1. Unsubscribe from as many email lists as possible. Keep the ones that you covet, but recognize that your time – even that 5 second glance to your phone when it dings – is worth gold.

2. Do a closet overhaul. (It doesn’t have to be a What Not to Wear episode where you feel guilty and depressed.) Put anything that doesn’t quite fit in a suitcase labelled with the size and date. Check for stained items, holes, pills and shoes beyond repair. Invest in new, thin felt hangers (Homesense is a great place for these) and take metal hangers back to the drycleaner.

Statement Necklace Organization3. Place all of your jewelry on the bed. Separate any broken pieces that need repair, and start a collection of unwanted or broken costume pieces for a little girl in your life. When I was a little girl, a friend’s grandmother did this for me and I was thrilled by my treasures. Polish the silver and clean gold, pearls and gems with a soft cloth. I hung chunky necklaces on scarf hangars and places bangles in shoeboxes.

4. Pull out your makeup and toss anything that is too old. Wash brushes with Dawn and water and dry flat on a cloth. 97.9 % of us, according to a study on the use of cosmetics, are guilty of  using make-up after the expiration date, with mascara being the most frequently mentioned product. Products with a higher water content have a shorter lifespan after opening due to the ability for bacteria and microbes to breed in moisture.

Cover Girl and Olay Makeup

Expiration Dates for Makeup:

Mascara (regular or waterproof), liquid, pencil or gel eyeliners: 4 to 6 months
Cream, Liquid or Stick Foundations or Concealers: 6 months to 1 year
Powder-based products (including mineral makeup): 2-3 years
Lipsticks, Lip Gloss, & Lip Pencils: 2-3 years

Skincare:

Cleansers: 1 year
Toners: 6 months to 1 year
BHA or AHA Exfoliants: 1 year
Facial or Body Moisturizers and Serums: 6 months to 1 year
Lip Balms: 1 year

Foreign Currency Travel Packs5. Eliminate undue travel stress. Note passport expiry dates in your calendar and apply for a Nexus/Global Entry pass to skip long airport security lines. Keep travel chargers and ziplocks sorted with different currencies from past trips in your go-to suitcase, and have a few key seasonal clothing items at the ready in case you take a trip to a different climate. Check balances on hotel points cards and ensure you are using them to your advantage.

6. Be ready for sick days. Check first aid kits for expiration dates on medicines. Have homemade chicken soup in the freezer. We use the homemade chicken stock recipe from Kitchen Stewardship, which provides incredible healing benefits, including boosting the immune system, aiding digestion, increasing efficiency of protein use and providing easily digestible minerals, including calcium. You also get none of the ‘fake’ foods and preservatives when you make it yourself. Get rid of the dust. Give your kids an extendible duster once a week and give them a quarter if they can cover it with dust from the tops of frames and chandeliers.

Closet Overhaul7.  Grab all of your gift cards and see if some can be amalgamated. If you have a stack of cards you will never use, use Cardswap.ca to exchange them for cards you will use.

8. Are your computer and mobile phone systems working well? I hadn’t backed up files, and my phone and computer contacts were duplicated or not being saved properly. Not being able to find a number for a mom during a playdate or losing precious photos to power surges can be devastating or just stressful. Calling Geek Squad or heading to the nearest Apple or Microsoft store could sort out all of your tech woes. Oh, and write your printer toner numbers in your wallet along with your license plate number. (Or am I the only one who always forgets these?) You can also photograph it all, along with membership cards and parking passes and store the photos in a special account in the cloud.

9. Evaluate the entertainment options. Our family is a bit over the top. We have a huge cable package, a Netflix subscription, Next Issue, and regularly make purchases on iTunes and Google Play. I sat down with the family and we discussed our needs. There isn’t enough time in the week to watch, play and read everything. We decided what is most important (English football and Netflix) and eliminated a few unnecessary distractions from there. It can be worth a call to your providers to check the options. Amazon Prime can cut down on entertainment costs. For film buffs in the US, Fandango is your best friend.

Personal Bags10. Do you and your kids do a weekly activity? We were always searching for shin guards, cleats and ski helmets, so we now have a system. Monogrammed bags for each activity (ours are from Land’s End) are packed and in the mudroom. We take them to the activity and then right to the laundry room afterwards. When the clothes are clean and dry they go right back into the bag and to their permanent home. Ditto for library book bags.

We’d love to hear your tips and tricks for living simply! Write them below and we will choose our favourite at random for a special gift card!

10 Ways to Simplify Life

 

organize-simplify-your-life

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Do Ya Wanna Build a House?

charity, FAM By May 15, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

Women Build with Habitat For HumanityThere have been many times over the years when I’ve wanted Elsa’s powers. Wouldn’t it be incredible if you could build a whole mansion with the flick of a hand like Disney’s Frozen star? Or maybe master a project that’s a tad less extensive – like tiling a floor, using a jigsaw or hanging a light fixture. There are thousands of people across the country who need housing, live in poverty and feel isolated. The power of community and charity can not only transform not only the individuals in need, but also empower the people who want to help others.  There are problem-solving women across Canada who can help while working as a team and developing construction skills in the process. The women build with Habitat for Humanity does just this. Perfection!

Habitat for Humanity Women BuildWhat family doesn’t want simple, decent and affordable housing? As an ambassador and fan of Procter & Gamble, I have been asked to represent UrbanMommies and put together a team of women in the Vancouver area to build a home!  The program is part of a three year partnership totalling $900,000, that will see P&G support Habitat’s family home builds throughout the county, on behalf of its Household Needs brands such as Tide, Swiffer and Mr. Clean. This year there are builds happening in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal and approximately 350 new builds are expected across Canada in 2014.

After a group of ten women (and any UrbanDaddies who wish to help) participate in a build in Richmond in September,  P&G will offer cleaning kits to Habitat for Humanity affiliates to help ready the newly built homes for move-in once construction is complete, and will provide welcome baskets packed full of household products to each family moving into their new Habitat home. I am going to try to slip in a few Rainbow Loom treasures from my kids in as well. Because every new home needs some of those.

Habitat Women BuildHabitat for Humanity is a special charity, and I love that one hundred percent of all administrative and fundraising costs are paid for by the operation of nine ReStores in the lower mainland. It’s great when not a dime is wasted.

So… Do ya wanna build a house? Join our team in September for a one-day build! Learn new skills, bond, help others, and be a community. Because love is an open door. (You didn’t think I’d let the Frozen theme go that easily did you?) All Women Build photos provided by Habitat for Humanity.

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February Financial Challenge

FAM, self By February 6, 2014 Tags: , , , , No Comments

Savings Made SimpleI am horrible with money. I don’t like talking about it, negotiating or thinking about it. I come from a family who was fixated on saving and gifting money. Fights over who pays the bill at brunch and then the expectation of endless thank yous made me tempted to skip the meal in the first place. I know I’m an ostrich and want savings made simple, but really, I shouldn’t blame anyone but myself. I’m certainly not setting a good example for the kids with my avoidance.

I’ve decided to take part in the Family Financial Challenge and would love to encourage you to join me by sharing your own tips to save money throughout the month of February.

Here are what I’ll be focusing on each week:

• Week 1 – Cash, Cash, Cash
• Week 2 – Food
• Week 3 – Family
• Week 4 – Clothes
Financial guru Gail Vaz-Oxlade. will be participating in a Chatelaine Twitter Party on Thursday, February 6 from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m EST. We’d love for you to join the conversation by tweeting to @GailVazOxlade and @Chatelaine using the hashtag #SavingMadeSimple with all of your questions. Learn more on Chatelaine!

So my goals? For this first week I’m focused on CASH to see where my money actually goes. (bites nails).

First I signed up on mymoneymychoices.com to begin the 23 step guide. By following the process I will examine your financial habits, understand where mymoney goes and set up financial goals. The tasks below are going to be painful but worth it!!

• I will set up my personal profile on mymoneymychoices.com
• I completed the first activity which includes a six month personal spending analysis, debt repayment plan, net worth statement and personal budget.
• After setting up my family budget, I will be living on CASH for the remainder of the month divided into jars.
• I will complete a spending journal and document every purchase, payment and credit coming into and out of your account for the next month.
I think I’d rather get a root canal. That is all.

Depending on how this all unfolds I may just be able to share some cool tips with you. Or at least share what I TRY to accomplish. Wish me luck!!!

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Swiffer Bissell SteamBoost

LIVE, wash By October 15, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Look out dust pans, watch out bristles, brooms, and mops, you’d better be scared.  There is a new Swiffer in town and it is coming after your jobs.  UrbanMommies tried the new Swiffer BISSELL SteamBoost and you’d think we’d done a full fall clean.  A-hem.  It’s a deeply penetrating steam mop that powers through dog footprints, coffee spills and mystery spots whose origins you no longer recall.  It even cleans all the stuff your old mop leaves behind (and has left behind since the last time you were washing the floor on your hands and knees).  For me that was when I was trying to induce labour contractions a while back….

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My Dishcloth’s Ugly Secrets

FAM, health, LIVE, wash By July 29, 2013 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

As I mentioned in our Kitchen Tips article, I was part of a paper towel scientific experiment.  I used a brand new dishcloth in my kitchen over three days and sent it to a lab for testing.  I will never use a dishcloth again.  I can hardly even bear to keep the results email in my inbox.  Typically hard on myself as a Mom and woman, the results make me feel like quite the ogre.

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germ free kitchen

6 Tips for a Germ-Free Kitchen

LIVE, wash By May 30, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , 4 Comments

As Moms, we desperately try to keep the kitchen clean.  It’s almost as if we feel like a bad mommy otherwise.  The kids can be dirty, laundry unfolded and homework not done (who me?) but as long as the counters are clean we’re good, right?  Bad news. When it comes to cleaning the kitchen, the majority of Canadians (60 per cent) use a dishcloth, which can harbour and redeposit millions of germs on surfaces and puts families at risk of cross-contamination*.

I’ve just done a dishcloth vs. Bounty DuraTowel challenge and was thrilled with the research that the paper towel that is clinically proven to leave surfaces three times cleaner than a germy dishcloth**.  If you are wiping your countertops with a used dishcloth or sponge, you could be spreading around germs in the home.  I’ll get my dishcloth test results soon and will add the scientific findings as soon as they’re in!  But we also have 6 tips for a germ-free kitchen that you’ll want to take a peek at.

Dr. Elizabeth Scott, Co-director, Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community, recommends the following tips for a happy and healthy kitchen and home:

1.  Wash your hands – Prior to any meal preparation, wash your hands often with warm, soapy water and dry them using Bounty DuraTowel

2.  Wash and sanitize surfaces and utensils – Reduce the risk of contamination in the kitchen by washing and sanitizing all countertops, cutting boards and utensils that come into contact with food. Do this before and after preparing food and use Bounty DuraTowel to help clean up larger messes and wipe down surfaces

3.  Separate your food – Make sure to always separate your raw foods, such as meat and eggs, from cooked foods and vegetables to avoid cross-contamination which is one of the leading causes of food borne illness**. Use separate cutting boards for meats and for vegetables etc.

4.  Wash produce thoroughly – Immediately before prepping, wash all whole fruits and vegetables and dry using Bounty DuraTowel. This reduces the risk of transferring pathogens from the rind or skin to the inside of the fruit or vegetable when it is cut***

5.  Keep your fridge clean – One way to reduce the risk of cross-contamination is to keep the fridge clean and to keep foods covered since many bacteria and molds are able to grow at refrigerator temperatures. Clean your fridge using a kitchen sanitizer and Bounty DuraTowel

6.  Wash reusable grocery bags – Wash and thoroughly dry your reusable grocery bags frequently, especially if you are carrying raw meat, fish, poultry, seafood or vegetables.

*Findings from Proctor and Gamble Bounty Survey 2013, a national sample of Canadian consumers were randomly selected from TNS Canada’s Internet research panel from March 7 to March 11, 2013

**1tsp. spaghetti sauce, 10 mls. coffee, 1/8 tsp creamer on laminate countertop

***The Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health

I am a P&Gmom. The views, opinions and photographs expressed on this blog and in my social networks are my own. 

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