Category: Lifestyle

Bring the Magic of Halloween to Life with Pumpkins After Dark

Halloween and the fall season in general are by far my most favourite times of the year. I love the change in the weather, setting up seasonal décor (love my pumpkins and scarecrows!) and watching movies with the family under a warm blanket. Over the last year, COVID has (like for so many other families) disrupted our normal routines, took a loved one from us and changed the way we go out and participate in activities. Not only does this event have everything that I love about the fall season but it is COVID friendly for families like ours, who are just not quite ready to get back to packed events or who perhaps have a family member too young to be vaccinated.

Pumpkins After Dark is located in Milton, Ontario and was a short roughly 35 minute drive from our home in the GTHA area. Our youngest thought it was the perfect setting as we passed by some very interestingly shaped trees that looked like they came straight out of a horror movie (my youngest’s words exactly). They were older trees that looked misshapen and broken over time but fit the backdrop perfectly. The drive was nice as we travelled down several older roads and the traffic was light at that time of day. The entrance was a bit harder to spot but they had employees outside directing patrons into the site.

I had heard of Pumpkins After Dark a few times in the past but was not entirely familiar with the event. The site is a 2.5km (roughly forty-five minutes to one hour) pumpkin display exhibits. The art that was created from these pumpkins was incredible. The exhibits use a combination of craft and real pumpkins and each one is hand carved in 2D and 3D to fit their specific exhibit. Throughout the event, you are taken on a journey through movies, fairytales, cars, anime and so much more. I loved that the exhibits had a touch of scary but they were also appropriate for all age groups .

You enter into the exhibit by queueing in the parking lot just inside the entrance. Guests are expected to remain inside the vehicle at all times so I would strongly recommend bringing some snacks for the kids (and the adults!). We rolled down each of the windows (and even the sun roof so our youngest could sit on the arm rest and watch at times from there especially in the tunnels – the speed was incredibly slow so there was not much movement as he sat there) and had so much fun at each exhibit. I learned that my children were very much lacking in their nursery rhymes education (they did not get Humpty Dumpty!) and I was so excited to see their faces light up when they saw Kong and their favourite anime characters from Naruto (this was a huge surprise for all of us and I think was the icing on their cake for them that night). My personal favourites were the animals and the Greek mythology exhibits.

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Tips for the Event:

  • Order your tickets online in advance as tickets are not sold on site due to COVID (you can purchase tickets here and use the code September15 which will give you 15% off for the month of September dates)
  • Arrive no more than 15 minutes early as entry is based on the time of your ticket
  • Pack your snacks and warm drinks
  • Turn your radio to the assigned station and turn the volume up high
  • Roll down those windows, open your sun roof and get ready for some fun!

Pumpkins After Dark is a fun, family geared art exhibit that will meet the likes of every member in your family. There was a little bit for everyone and we loved that we were able to get out and participate in something fun despite our reservations due to COVID.

Have you been to Pumpkins After Dark? What was your favourite exhibit?

Make sure to follow Pumpkins After Dark on Facebook, and Instagram.

Disclosure: We received tickets to the event, all opinions expressed are my own.

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Snatch the Treats from Granny in Greedy Granny from Goliath Games

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Can you steal the sweets from Granny without waking her up? Try your skills out in the new Greedy Granny game from Goliath Games.

About Greedy Granny

Grab the treats as quickly and quietly as you can with Greedy Granny! Granny loves her sweets, but she’s not so great at sharing (oh no!). While Granny snoozes, spin the treat wheel to see which sweet to swipe. But be quiet…one wrong move will wake Granny up and send her teeth flying.

In order to win, you must collect each one of her treats.

Game Contents:

  • 1 Greedy Granny in an Armchair (2 Pieces)
  • 1 Set of Granny’s Teeth (1 Piece)
  • 1 Treat Wheel
  • 12 Treats

Our Thoughts

Greedy Granny made a great new addition to our pandemic game nights. While our lockdown rules may have lifted quite recently, we are still spending the majority of our time at home. To keep the nights fun and everyone in bright moods, we turn to games that entertain and bring out our competitive nature.

Greedy Granny was a new concept to me, the game requires no batteries to use (my favourite part) and was easy to set up. The set up consisted of attaching Granny’s upper body and the top of the recliner to the base and you are ready to play. To be fair – I was awful at this part (for some reason I could not get the top to recline and Granny’s arms to go down) but my husband figured it out quite quickly.

The game concept is fun and easy to follow as you spin the the wheel to determine the treat you need to steal and the amount of times that you must press the button (this will eventually trigger Granny to wake up). In order to win the game, a player must collect one of each of her favourite treats without waking her up (which causes quite the scene as she moves forward and sends her teeth flying). The game can be played with two to four players and is suited for players aged four and up. It was easy to play together and follow the rules (the game design makes it hard to cheat – a must have in our competitive family). The set up and clean up is simple as it is one unit with a few smaller pieces (treats).

Greedy Granny is a fun and easy game to play that the whole family will fall in love with.

Greedy Granny Video

You can purchase Greedy Granny from Walmart, Amazon and Target.

Make sure to stay up to date with new game releases and more from Goliath Games by connecting with them on their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Disclosure: I received this product in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Beat the Winter Blues with Rummikub Premium Edition

It has been almost one month since we have been in lockdown in Ontario and the weather is cold, grey and miserable. We have been spending a lot of time indoors and are constantly looking for something new and fun to play. The catch? It has to be something that we all can play and would enjoy playing together.

Rummikub Premium Edition

Rummikub Premium Edition is a new spin on a fun game that you may or may not have heard of before. For me, this was a brand new game and it took me a few tries to understand the rules. I had to read the instructions over several times and walk through it slowly with my kids.

The game is designed to be played with 2 to 4 players. The game starts by dumping all of the tiles out and players choose fourteen tiles. Each player then takes turns to create a ‘group’ or ‘run’, with the main objective to get rid of all of your tiles onto the table. This person becomes the winner of the game.

This game was a lot of fun and I loved the sleek design and attention to details (the tiles are gorgeous!). I did have to have the instructions out the first two times we played (and we likely played incorrectly) but we still had a lot of fun.

The game is designed for children eight years of age and older, and I think this is appropriate as it did take a bit longer to learn (although if you have played similar games in the past this one will be easy). We really enjoyed that this game kept you on your toes and made you think. You never quite know who is going to win, as it is a surprise right up to the end. I also appreciated that it includes some great educational concepts for younger learners, including patterns.

I found this helpful tutorial on the Pressman website, which I would definitely recommend watching before playing if you are new to the game:

Rummikub Premium Edition will make family game night fun and exciting. The game can be purchased online on Amazon and Walmart.

Disclosure: I received this game in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Take a Bite Out of the Holidays with Dino Crunch!

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Looking for something exciting, different and fun to do this holiday (especially with the looming lockdown)? Check out Dino Crunch – featuring a hungry T-Rex that is ready to attack.

About Dino Crunch

Dino Crunch features one hungry T-Rex and a nest full of stolen eggs. Players have to roll the dice and try to rescue as many eggs as possible. But be careful – you never quite know when the T-Rex will attack! The game is suited for two to four players, aged 4 and up.

The game comes with one T-Rex, one dinosaur nest, twenty dinosaurs eggs and a pair of tweezers. The game requires 2AA batteries that are not included.

Our Thoughts

We were not quite sure what to expect with this game when we opened it up but we ended up loving it. The game literally comes to life with dinosaur themed sounds that come from the nest which really puts you on the edge of your seat (it also gave our Yorkie quite the scare when she decided to get close up to check out where those sounds were coming from). We would each take a turn rolling the dice to rescue the corresponding egg from the nest. My years of tweezing paid off for this game – I was the pro at getting an egg out quickly! Our youngest found it a bit harder but it definitely helped encourage those fine motor skills that are so important.

We loved the suspense of the game, you could never tell when the T-Rex was about to pounce. You could accidentally knock the nest a bit and he wouldn’t attack or as my youngest loved to do, give him a pat on the back in the hopes that he would attack his brother. It really was the luck (or unlucky) of the draw when it came to when he attacked, which ensured no fighting among the kids because no one could cheat to win.

Dino Crunch is a fun, interactive game for the whole family. Each one of us loved the excitement and suspense of the game, and it made for the perfect addition to game night for all members of our family (young and old).

You can purchase the game at Walmart and Amazon.

Disclosure: We received this game in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Nutrition Hacks to Get Back on Track #HamiltonBeach

I have a strong suspicion that I am not alone with getting off track when COVID-19 hit back in March. All of our routine, normalcy and good habits went flying out the window when we originally thought we would be home for only a few short weeks. It has now been almost six months since we left the office and have not been back, and many of those bad habits have caught up with me.

I let the majority of my fitness and nutrition goals go these last few months and it has taken a toll on my body. I was becoming a workaholic, constantly at my laptop working without getting up and moving around for breaks. My final wake up call was not fitting into my favourite pants, which prompted me to go old school and take my body measurements with a measuring tape. Needless to say, this sprung me into action – I needed to get back to the gym and fighting my weight gain in the kitchen.

Having faced the struggles of losing weight in the past, being both successful and unsuccessful over the years, I knew that half (or even more) of the battle is done in the kitchen. Eating proper balanced meals, enough protein and increasing vegetables is key to losing weight and gaining muscle mass. But I was struggling to balance work at home with my actual home life with two kids. I was (and still am at times) losing this struggle – I am not ashamed to admit that many times I caved and gave in to snacks that were not healthy for me and my kids to try to save my sanity (not to mention to ensure I joined Zoom meetings on time). I needed something to help me prepare easy, healthy snacks that would support my goals but that did not make my life harder and more complex.

Being prepared with ready made (or easy to make) snacks and meals was key for me when I lost just over one hundred pounds. This time around I am missing the actual time and energy to put into preparing meals (odd to say when I am at home all the time!). I love eggs – they are the perfect protein to me. Easy on the stomach, healthy, filling and you can add veggies to make it the perfect snack.

Hamilton Beach has developed the perfect portion sized Egg Bites maker! It is compact, easy to use and clean. I was able to easily prepare the ingredients for the egg bites, set the machine up to cook while I continued to work, teach my kids or just take a break with my coffee. I prepared several different variations of the egg bites – plain ones with just cheese, egg bites with peppers and mushrooms (I don’t use milk and found that these took on the colour of the mushrooms so my kids refused to eat them) and my personal favourite egg bites with collared greens and cheese (see below for this recipe). I would make bulk egg bites so that I could keep them in the fridge to munch on in the afternoon instead of the Oreos and sweets that I was turning to.

As a side note – I prepared the egg mixture in a large measuring cup as I just found that it was easier to mix up the ingredients and to pour into the egg bites maker.

Here is my recipe for the egg bites with collared greens which ended up being my favourite way to have them. I use water in my egg bites to save some calories but if you prefer milk in your eggs go for it. The only difference I noticed was that when I made the egg bites with water they were smaller in size.

Egg Bite Recipes

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 large eggs
  • 1 slice of cheese (or shredded cheese)
  • 2 to 3 leaves of collard greens, chopped finely
  • half of a small onion

Directions

  1. Crack the eggs into a large measuring cup. Beat the eggs and add in a little bit of water (I used water for less calories but you can add milk if you prefer).
  2. Add the collared greens and onions into the measuring cup and mix.
  3. Pour the mixture into the Egg Bites Maker to just below the max line.
  4. Rip apart pieces of the slice of cheese and add into the mixture (it was just easier for me to use the sliced cheese that I always have on hand but if you shred cheese, add this too).
  5. Turn on the machine and allow them to cook.
  6. Enjoy!

Interested in learning more about this Hamilton Beach product? Check them out here. Make sure to follow Hamilton Beach on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for recipes, products and more.

What is your favourite way to have eggs?

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned product in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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