Wednesday 31 October 2018

Tips and Tricks for Hosting a Successful Holiday Dinner & Continental Drift Link-Up

Hosting during the holidays can be very stressful but there are certain things that I've learned to do to elevate the stress.  My youngest daughter was born on Dec. 21st  and I hosted Christmas brunch on Dec. 25th.  Sounds crazy but really it felt easier to do that than to have to bundle up a new baby and a toddler, to venture outside in -40C.   Since then, we have hosted a family birthday celebration, a kids birthday party and a friends holiday party over the holiday season (end of November- prior to Christmas).   I will say that I generally just enjoy hosting and planning to have people over, but that doesn't mean I don't feel overwhelmed.    Here are a few tips and tricks that I follow for our large family dinners.  

1.  Save the date.  Because everyone is super busy in December with their own stuff, I usually set the date in late October.  I text everyone, find out their availability and try my best to accommodate.  I always aim to have big family/friend events on Saturdays because I work full-time outside of our home and  this gives me Friday evening and Sunday as buffer days.

2.  Keep the menu simple and shop on-line I've done order-in pizza and paper plates in the past, especially when the kids were little.  More often then not,  I do a full dinner, or sometimes brunch depending on everyone's schedule.  Some simple dinners are:
  • Turkey
  • Ham (Costco spiral ham is my favorite)
  • Pulled Pork (Slow Cooker)
I try to think as simply as I can and prep as many salads or side dishes ahead of time.  At a minimum I have the menu set the weekend before, if not a couple of weeks ahead.  I write it ALL down and shop online a few days before.  I love Click & Collect and if anything isn't available, I still have a few days to stop by to pick up in time for the weekend.    

3.  Drinks.  Don't forget to think about what you will be serving for drinks.  For brunch I usually keep it to juice and pre-made smoothies.  In the evening we usually have beer, red wine, white wine, and something hard like Jack Daniels.  We also have some canned pop on hand as an non-alcoholic option.  This really depends on your crowd, but make sure you plan and do inventory at least a week or two in advance so you don't have to make a trip to the liquor store the week of the event.

4.  Cleaning.  Argh.  My advice is clean minimally before hand, bathrooms, vacuum, and decorate if it's a special time of the year.  Get a cleaner to do a deep clean after the event rather than before.  Basically do as I say, not as I do. I am kind of crazy about cleaning, I start cleaning the weekend before and throughout the week and then clean afterwards too.  Don't do this!!!! It's stupid.  No one really even notices your walls, floors, baseboards, except you.

5.  Ask for help.  I don't ask for people to bring food, though I am not  opposed to potlucks, it's just not our way for birthday celebrations.  My grandma usually likes to make the birthday cake for each one of us and it's something my children have grown to love and appreciate.  It's special.  Where I do ask for help is from my husband.  He takes the kids out of the house between 1-4 p.m.!  This allows me to tidy up the house, get everything set up, cook, and get myself ready as much as possible.

6.  Dishes & Decorations.   Get all of your serving dishes, good cutlery, etc.,  all ready the night before and labeled so that you now you have everything you need and it's clean.  (Tip: If you label everything it helps people who wish to "help" in the kitchen know where you want what)  If you are going to use paper/plastic, make sure to take inventory before you order your groceries.  Also decorate ahead of time and get your table extensions, table cloths, dinner table trays, all ready to go the night before or first thing in the morning.  

7.  Hair, Make-up & Outfit.  I always know in advance, like the weekend before, what I am going to wear, what jewelry I need, and how I want to do my hair, etc.  TIP, do this for your children and husband as well.  You don't have time to do laundry the day before.
 I do my make-up and hair mid-morning or early afternoon. I always shower the night before because I don't have time to deal with blow drying or air drying my hair, etc.    My hair and make-up can usually be quickly touched up and   I can quickly just throw on my clothes before everyone arrives and use an apron to finish up in the kitchen.

8.  Husband & wife  duties for hosting.  You need to decide these ahead of time!!!!!  Seriously, you'll just end up snapping at each other or annoyed with one another if you don't.  (I've learned this obviously the hard way) I am in the kitchen.  THE ONLY PERSON IN THE KITCHEN, chatting away with guests, who for the most part stay on the other side of the island (yep, control freak).  Logan is in charge of putting away people's coats and getting them drinks.  I usually have finger snacks out on the table for people to enjoy with their drinks. 

9 Kids and Parties.  Now that the girls are older, they mostly are asked to sit and visit with family members or entertain their younger cousins.  When they were younger, I would have a special toy (puzzle, simple coloring, small tub of legos,  playdough,etc.)  set up on the floor or little side table for them to play with on their own.   Having a special  or new activity for them to do, think independent play, is a great way to keep them entertained and out of the kitchen as you are preparing the last minute things for dinner.  I am  also pretty frank with my girls about how I want them to behave when we have company and have been since they were little.  

 10.  Dishes.  Don't do dishes while company is over, just be with them and enjoy the evening.  Choose plates that can go into the dishwasher at the end of the evening.  Leave other dishes until the next day if you don't have the energy to deal with them.  

11.  ENJOY.  Most importantly enjoy the people that are in your life and embrace the chaos.  If this means you do take-out, potluck, or coffee and cake, that's perfectly fine.  . Remember the most important thing is to be present with friends and family.  

Now please follow each of your hosts Bojana of  BodaciousblogSydney Shop Girl and Mutton Style  on at least one platform (Instagram, Twitter or blog) and comment on their blogs.  It would be great if you could read and comment on the blog above yours in the link up.  You might make a new friend. Please also do add a link back to our blogs on your posts to help the linkup grow.  Thanks for stopping by, we look forward to learning more about everyone!

Join us for the Continental Drift link-up below.

Friday 26 October 2018

Give Me All the Fall Colors: White Jeans #3

When I see a pile of leaves I  instantly get that childhood urge to throw them up in the air, run and jump into them, or simply just play with them, don't you?  It goes without saying that one of my favorite things about fall are the natural  colors that surround us.  Even if you live in a city, like me, you can find pockets of that natural beauty without traveling too far.  Check out a local park, a hiking trail nearby, or just take the time to stop and notice the leaves, the fallen pine cones, the change in perennial plants and bushes, pumpkins that line peoples lawns, right in your neighborhood. 

Taking outfit photos indoors is always so difficult for me, especially as daylight is hard to come by after work, so taking advantage of the outdoor setting before it gets too cold has been my goal this year.  I've also been trying to shoot three outfits at a time in order to minimize the time I spend on the blog and away from my family. This is my last white jean outfit, see #1 and #2, and it's one that I think perfectly transitions me from fall into early winter.  Cooler temps are referred to as 'sweater weather' and I love me some sweaters.  What's great about this one, is that it's not over-sized, chunky and let's just cuddle up on the couch and hibernate through the winter (those are my favorite types), but it's a sweater/dress/tunic.  It's totally acceptable to wear to the office with jeans/ leggings and paired up with short booties, OTKB, pearls or funky jewelry. Because of the simple cut and neutral color, you can really use it as a basic piece and dress it up, down, funky, add color, basically you can style it whatever way you want!  I decided wanted the natural environment to stand out, so I kept everything else super simple and neutral.  I love how this outfit turned out.  Playing with the different shades of gray and adding the wine-deep-purple purse gives it just enough dimension without taking over.  The pearls are a simple and classy touch without making the outfit too formal. 

 Have a beautiful weekend friends.   Please join the  Continental Drift Link-Up on November 1st with any post of your choice (family, DIY, travel, books, fashion, etc.)  right here.  We will be sharing our tips for successful hosting through the holiday season.  Thanks for helping us grow and share.

 ON White Jeans
Aritzia Tunic (old; similar)
H & M Purse (sold out; black available)

Friday 19 October 2018

Styling My Way Through a Corn Maze: White Jeans Outfit #2

One of my favorite family traditions that we have as a family is going to Youth Bible Corn Maze in Rosthern.  Years ago we stumbled upon it somehow and just kept returning to it time and time again, until it became a fall tradition for our family, read about last years adventures here.  Over the years have watched the business grow and include more and more things to do and explore.  There are the two corn mazes, kids and adults, petting zoo, climbing wall, pumpkin patch picture area, train rides, etc.  We've done it all over the many years we've gone but the last two years the exciting thongs for the girls have been conquering both mazes and finding all four secret stamps.  This year we started in the adult maze because it took us forever last year, like a solid hour, but this year we found the three stamps within the first 15 minutes.  We just got really lucky but then we ventured into the kids maze feeling pretty cocky and it took us at least a half-hour to find the one stamp.  I guess you just never know when you'll get lucky and choose all the right turns and when you wont.  Hahaha.  Either way we got all four stamps and the kids were thrilled!  What a wonderful way to spend a glorious Sunday afternoon as a family.

Halie at age 5 1/2, September 2012.

Anya 2 1/2 and Halie 5 1/2 at the corn maze.

Now on to the outfit.  If you stopped by last Friday you know that I have three ways to wear white jeans in the fall, see outfit #1 HERE.  For the corn maze I used country style for inspiration.  It was the white jeans that I started with when picking out this outfit, it was that I really wanted to wear my cowboy boots that don't get a lot of love in the city.  That was my starting point and then my plaid shirt complements the colors on the cowboy boots so well, plus is PLAID (enough said).  Because I layered a black tank underneath so I could knot tie my shirt without belly showing, I figured the white jeans were the perfect contrast and pop of color for this outfit.  I absolutely love how easy, relaxed, natural and perfectly this outfit came together for this particular event.  Honestly I really wanted to just go all causal and natural, minimal make-up (foundation, mascara and lip chap ) and blow-dried my hair, that's it.   This look would work for any country outing, pumpkin patch, apple patch, zoo trip or a stroll through the woods.  

I hope you all enjoy your weekend.  We are off to spend time with our friends in Regina and big news coming from the Krienke family next week on IG.  

Shop This Post:
Old Navy Rockstar JeansAmerican Eagle Plaid (old; similar )
Ariat Cowboy Boots (old; similar)

Thursday 11 October 2018

White Jeans For Fall: Outfit #1

 Lately I’ve been grabbing for my white jeans a whole lot.  All spring and summer they were hardly in rotation, maybe twice,  and all of a sudden they are having their moment in my day-to-day life, so I decided that I wanted to show you three ways to wear your white jeans through fall and winter over the next three Fridays.
Here in Saskatchewan we often just skip over the ‘fall’ season and jump right into winter.  We have already had a couple of visits from the white fluffy stuff but thankfully it melts away rather quickly .  That being said the rest of the world is easing into fall and this outfit would totally be acceptable to wear as a transitional outfit.  The lovely Larrisa of Lovely Roots Photography did these pictures in late summer/early fall for me on the riverbank.  Looking back on these photos makes me long for longer and warmer days.  We have so much natural beauty around our city and getting out to shoot some outfits before the cold settles in has been one of my goals.   My favorite picture is the carefree one below.  I wish I could go back to that moment.

Okay, outfit.  Let’s talk about this chambray shirt.  What isn’t there to absolutely love?  What’s the best feature?  Well the giant bow is an instant show stopper!  I love the delicate white trim, the balloon sleeves, the tassel on the sleeves, and  the wrap style which really accentuates a ladies natural curves.  IF I were brave, and not wearing it to work, I wouldn’t layer the white camisole underneath, but I would embrace my curves much like Melissa did last week on Mom With Style.  Another favorite piece of mine are these peep toe booties.  They have such a short season here in Saskatchewan that they don’t get worn out and thus they are on their 3rd or maybe even 4th season in my closet.  Confession, after summer I get lazy about keeping up with pedicures so that’s another reason I often don’t wear them because I just feel like I need pretty nails to wear open-toe shoes.  

Hope you all had a great weekend and come back on next Friday for a casual white jean outfit for fall and a family recap of the corn maze outing we had to celebrate fall.  

Shop This Post:

Zara Cross Over Blouse (sold out); Zara similar

ON Rockstar Jeans

Peep-toe booties (old)  Similar: Old Navy  JustFab

Monday 8 October 2018

Giving Thanks: The Importance of Extended Family

My family, both immediate and extended, is a blessing in my life.  This past weekend we celebrated our Canadian Thanksgiving and we are reminded to take a moment to reflect on the blessings in our lives.  What can I say, I have an endless list of things to be  grateful for.  Two daughters that are healthy and bring me joy like I’ve never known before.  A husband that has loved and supported me for 17+ years.  Parents that taught me to be strong, confident, self-assured, kind, forgiving, loving and open-minded.  Three nephews to love, adore and watch grow.  A sister that always has my back.  Two grandmas continue to give me the gift of multi-generational learning, living and culture.  Aunts, uncles, cousins, that all wrap us with endless love and support.   Friends that I choose to be my family because they lift me and challenge me in the same breath. 

Thanksgiving 2018 with my in-laws. 

Today I am choosing to focus on a specific topic, extended family and their role in helping me raise generous, confident, nonjudgmental, loving children.  I was raised with plenty of family around, and family friends, around to keep me safe and protected.  I look back on the first 10 years of my life and feel that there was a village that was guiding who I would eventually become.  Obviously my parents were my primary caregivers and the ones that made decisions about our upbringing, but I had the opportunity to develop strong, healthy and life-lasting relationships with my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, cousins and community members.  This upbringing has impacted how I’ve taken on my role as mother, a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, a friend, an aunt, a teacher and a community member.


This year my girls were fortunate to kick off their summer vacation by spending a week with my sister and her family on the coast without us.  I felt absolutely no hesitation to send them.  Why?  Well even though my sister lives two provinces away and we don’t get to see them often, she has been an integral part of the girls life thus far.  They know her as family, but more importantly they trust her, feel safe with her, feel her love as that of someone who has a great investment in them.  Even though they live far from us they've made choices that have allowed them to forge these relationships of equal part love and trust.  They have flown home to welcome the girls into the world, they have snuggled them, gone to the park with them, taken them to ice cream, swam in the pool with them, had family vacations, talked to them on the phone, Skyped, Facetimed, etc.  My sister has put the work into building a relationship with the girls and I feel like that relationship can never now be undone.  To end summer 2018 off the girls were invited to join my sisters family and my parents, who are a part of the girls day-to-day life, in Washington for a family wedding.  Logan and I had no way to attend the wedding but my girls were once again surrounded by family.  Not just the family they know intimately but family that helped raise and shape me.  They made new bonds, they forged new relationships, they know that their family circle extends beyond the people int heir day-to-day lives.  


These are the people we have chosen to leave in charge of our children if anything should happen.  Hmmm.
Dressing fancy with tetka Tiki.

The three marketeers.


My girls know there is a large circle of people in their corner.  They have family in Saskatoon, Regina, Big River, Victoria, Seattle, Bosnia, Serbia, etc.  Some of these people they have close daiily interactions  with and others they know from stories.  Either way they know that other people are rooting for them.  They also developing their own definitions of what it means to be a significant member of  a family, how to support each other, how to make time with family a priority, how to have responsibility to more than just yourself, how you can never run out of love.  Should anything happen to Logan and I, we know that they will be with people who love them and would care for them.  We know that our story would be shared with them.  We know without a shadow of a doubt that they would have every opportunity to be loved, cared for and develop into the best versions of themselves.

Aunty Jenna, uncle Jason and baby Anya.

Baka, deda, great-grandma and the girls.

Missing a few Dautbegovic/Fazlagic clan but we keep them close to our heart.

Goofing around with striko & strina.

Aunties can give us sugar anytime!

Nana, papa and the girls with their birthday gifts.

Cousins sharing with Cooper.

We are fortunate to have family both near and far.  We have family to support us in our day-to-day child rearing and ones that have to work harder to sustain their relationships.  But some people don’t have family near by, or close ties, but they create family with their friends.  That’s another post but friends are family you choose.  Rely on them.  Have your kids learn to relay on them.  Allow them to step into shoes of an aunt, uncle, grandmother, grandfather, cousins.  All of us need a tribe of some sort.  Life is better with a tribe.  So I give thanks to the fact that we are fortunate enough to have a large tribe to help us raise two wonderful kids. 


Further reading:

How Important is Extended Family to Kids?

The Importance of Extended Family to Your Child's Confidence & Growth