Month: March 2015

Maximize Your Tax Return By Investing In Your Child’s Future With a Registered Education Savings Plan

Heritage Eduation Funds

As we find ourselves near the end of the tax season (and if you haven’t yet filed your taxes make sure you get on it now to avoid unnecessary late penalty fees!) you may have noticed a slight increase in your return.

Why are families seeing more on their return this year?

The Canadian government has recognized the growing costs of raising a family and has implemented new changes as well as credits to assist families. These changes include:

  • New Family tax cut – families can claim a credit up to $2,000.
  • Increased children’s fitness tax credit – this is a huge bonus for many families, as the amount eligible to claim is up to $1,000! This has helped out many families that I know personally as sports fees are not cheap at all. Our soccer fees alone this year for one child were $565 without even factoring in exhibition games, rental fees and more.
  • An increase in the amount eligible to claim for child care expenses. For a child up to the age of seven, the amount has increased to $8,000. A child aged seven to sixteen can have child care expenses claimed up to the amount of $5,000.
  • Universal Child Care Benefit increases! A monthly increase to $160 for children up to the age of six. Children six to sixteen receive $60 a month. This increase won’t be seen until July but it’s definitely something to look forward to in the next couple of months.

Saving For Your Child's Future with an RESP

Talk about an exciting time for parents and families! With the rising costs of living and raising a family, these tax credits come in handy during the tax season in order to get the most out of your tax return.

While it is always exciting to receive a return perhaps instead of splurging (which I used to do all the time pre-kids not even going to lie about that one and it is still tempting now), why not instead maximize your return and invest in an RESP for your child?

What is an RESP?

A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is a savings plan account used to save money to finance a child’s higher education.

A post-secondary education in Canada is expensive, but well worth it to help our child get where they want and need to go. In my first year of university, tuition was roughly $5,000 (not including supplementary fees) and my books costs me well over $1,000. This did not even include the smaller things that I needed (computer, paper or even groceries!). My experiences at university have shaped how I have approached saving for the future education of my own children. An RESP was the first account I opened for my boys after giving birth. I do not want them to have to live with the same financial constraints I had to while away at university.

Saving in a RESP Made Simple

Your first step is to register an RESP for your child, which can be as simple as making a phone call to a reputable RESP company, such as Heritage Education Funds. After you have chosen the right account for you and your child, the next thing to do is start saving!

Look for different ways to save:

  • Contribute to the account monthly with an amount that you feel comfortable with. When we first opened up the accounts, we could only contribute $25 a month. As our finances changed, so did our contributions.
  • Consider using the Universal Child Care benefit to pay into your RESP.
  • Use your tax return to deposit into your child’s account.
  • Take advantage of the government grants that are available to you – this is extra money for your child!

Saving For Your Child's Future with an RESP

I still remember when I took this picture and time has flown by so fast since then. Soon enough, that will be a real car in the picture and perhaps they will be heading off to school! *tears* The best gift I can give them is their RESP’s to help further themselves once they leave our home.

How do you invest your tax return? How important is an RESP to your family?

Disclosure: I am a Heritage Mom. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Vaccination 101: Everything You Need to Know

Vaccination 101


This one word has a way of drawing out raw emotions, heated arguments and debates. Today I want to speak with you about my own personal experiences with vaccinations and break down the current Ontario Immunization schedule.

As many of you know, I have been blessed to work as a Clinical Team Assistant in a family medicine unit. I have been able to bring a woman in for her first prenatal appointment and prepare the visit for her family doctor. We watch the baby grow and joke near the end of their pregnancy that it feels like they have been pregnant forever. When baby comes in for the first time you feel like they are a part of the family! Getting to hold their child warms my heart. It is incredible and humbling to be able to watch families grow over time. When a member of that family becomes ill it breaks your heart.

For many parents the problem with vaccines is the abundance of conflicting information online, the information given by a well-meaning individual and the fear of the unknown. Open and honest communication with your family health care provider is essential from the start of your pregnancy right through to your delivery and your child’s first newborn visit to ensure you feel comfortable in the decisions you make and with the relationship you have with your family health care team. Your family physician has your child’s best interests at heart. They would never prescribe your child anything that would harm them or that they would not need nor would they recommend a vaccine that could potentially harm your child. A patient becomes like a member of your family and their best interests are always the main concern for a family physician. Talk to your family health care team – if you don’t understand what you saw on the news or in a magazine bring it in to your appointment and address your concerns.


Here is some information to help you understand and appreciate the vaccination process.

What is a vaccine?

Vaccines are preparations made up of a specific selection of dead or weakened bacteria or viruses which are administered orally, by injection or through inhalation. When these dead or weakened bacteria or viruses enter a person’s system the body responds by producing antibodies that attack and kill the organisms without causing the serious symptoms that occur during a real infection.

Why do children need immunizations?

Our children are born with a degree of natural, inherited immunity which they acquire during pregnancy from their mother’s blood. That immunity is reinforced during breastfeeding as breast milk is rich in antibodies. Unfortunately, this passive inherited immunity is only temporary and wears off during the first year of life. This leaves your child open to a host of diseases.

Vaccination is the only tool that we have to prevent these diseases. Vaccines allow our body to build up antibodies to prevent diseases. We ensure our child has proper nutrition and exercise to grow strong and vaccines are the only way to ensure their immune system stays strong.

Vaccines do not make your child sick. Think of your last needle – did it hurt? It may have felt like a sting or a pinch but well worth the benefit of protecting against the disease. Both of my boys received all of their immunizations without Tylenol or Advil and developed no fever or irritability after their immunizations.

Children that cannot receive vaccines due to being immune-compromised or who are too young, count on their community for protection. Herd immunity only works when the community as a whole vaccinate.

When/Why do we receive vaccines on a certain timeline?

Your child’s vaccines are scheduled at certain developmental milestones and it is important to ensure you are staying on track with this schedule. This schedule was developed to ensure your child receives these vaccines when their body is ready for them as well as to provide protection against vaccine-preventable disease as early as possible. They are combined with important well baby visits at two, four, six, twelve, fifteen and eighteen months of age.

Vaccination 101: Everything You Need to Know

Let’s break down the current immunization schedule in Ontario for children up to the age of six:

Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and Haemophilus influenza type b: The five in one protection vaccine. This vaccine given at 2, 4, 6 and 18 months protects your child from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whopping cough), polio and Haemophilius Influenza type b also known as Hib which can cause meningitis.

Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis and polio: The four in one protection vaccine. This vaccine, given at 4 to 6 years of age, protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whopping cough) and polio.

Pneumococcal: This vaccine is given at 2,4 and 12 months of age and protects your child from pneumococcal meningitis, pneumonia, ear and blood infections.

Rotavirus: This oral vaccine is given at 2 and 4 months of age to help prevent and lessen the severity of gastro (stomach) bugs.

Measles, Mumps, Rubella: This vaccine is given at 12 months. This vaccine protects children from measles, mumps and rubella.

Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Varicella: The four in one protection vaccine. This vaccine is given between 4 to 6 years of age and protects against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella.

Meningococcal: This vaccine given at 12 months of age protects against meningitis an infection that lines your child’s spinal cord and brain.

Varicella: This vaccine is given at 15 months of age and protects against chickenpox. In some children, chickenpox can cause severe skin infections, scars, pneumonia or brain damage.

Vaccination 101: Everything You Need to Know

Vaccine Safety

Vaccines are constantly tested to ensure safety for patients. Patient safety is the top priority for our health care system. Vaccines do not cause disease nor do they cause autism.

Why is this important?

For many of us we can’t imagine the suffering that comes from these diseases let alone the symptoms that accompany them. This is because of how effective vaccines have been in eliminating once common and prevalent diseases.

My children will never know the scars and itchiness from chickenpox that afflicted me twice as a child. Nor will they hopefully ever lose a loved one from meningitis as my husband did when he lost his older brother as a child.

This is why we vaccinate – to prevent the preventable. It is so very important for not only the health of our children to vaccinate but the health of our most vulnerable population in our community.

Vaccination 101: Everything You Need to Know

This post was developed in association with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. The opinions of the author are my own.

Getting immunized is an important part of creating a foundation for a healthy life. If you’re on the fence about immunizing, here is the information you need to make an informed decision for your family:

How We Can Increase Vaccination Rates and Protect Our Kids

Why It’s Essential for Kids with Allergies to Be Immunized

Erica Ehm talks with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer to Get Straight Answers about immunizations

Five Important Reasons This Pediatrician Vaccinates Her Kids – and Why You Should Too

Why Vaccination Isn’t Just About You – It’s About All of Us

Why This Mom Wouldn’t Dream of Not Immunizing Her Child

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Creating A Piece of French History: Cannelés #ActsOfSweetness

Cannelés Acts of Sweetness

Have you ever heard of Cannelés? I can honestly say I had never heard of these delicious pastries prior to working on this recipe.

Cannelés are little speciality pastry from the Bordeaux region of France. These little cakes have a crisp, caramelised coating with a slightly chewy and soft inside. They are small enough to eat out of your hand and have a divine taste that will leave you craving for more (we are the whole batch before we realized how many calories were in one but honestly felt no regret at eating so many they were that good!).

Cannelés Acts of Sweetness

Cannelés have a very rich history that spans over the last three hundred years. One of the oldest stories tells of the nuns in a convenant in the Bordeaux region who used to make these special little cakes using leftover egg yolks from the local wine makers. Another tale tells of the residents of Bordeaux using spilled flour from loading docks to make these pastries for poor children. This video from Redpath shows the wonderful history of Cannelés:

I love to bake and when I received the challenge to create these delicious pastries I could not wait to get started!

Cannelés Acts of Sweetness

For this recipe you will need:

  • two cups of milk
  • 50 gm of butter
  • one vanilla pod
  • 7/8 cup of flour
  • 1 cup and 1 tbsp of Redpath sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • two eggs and two egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup of dark rum
  • silicone cannelés mould

Cannelés Acts of Sweetness


1. Place the two cups of milk, 50 gm of butter and one vanilla pod in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it has begun to boil, remove the pan and allow to cool.

Cannelés Acts of Sweetness

2. Mix together 7/8 cup of flour, one cup and one tbsp of sugar along with one tsp of salt into a large mixing bowl.

Cannelés Acts of Sweetness

3. Place the two eggs and two egg yolks in a small bowl and beat lightly.

Cannelés Acts of Sweetness

4. Combine the warm milk (remove the vanilla pod) along with the eggs into the large mixing bowl. Whisk it together until the batter is smooth. Stir in 1/4 cup of dark rum and place the vanilla pod back into the bowl.

Cannelés Acts of Sweetness

5. Cover the mixture and leave in your fridge for 24-48 hours.

6. Pre-heat oven to 240C or 460F. Prepare your silicone moulds by placing them on a baking sheet and heating them in the oven for four to five minutes.

Cannelés Acts of Sweetness

7. Remove your mixture from the fridge and spoon in the batter into each mould. You want to leave roughly 0.5-1cm room from the top to prevent your cannelés from overflowing.

Cannelés Acts of Sweetness

8. Cook the cannelés at 240C/460F for fifteen minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 190C/375F and bake for another 50-60 minutes or until the cakes have a golden bronze colour. Remove the cakes immediately from the moulds (they shake out so well!) and let them cool on a wire rack. They are best eaten when warm so don’t be shy to eat them within an hour of baking.

Cannelés Acts of Sweetness

Have you ever tried a cannelé before? Do you have a special pastry that you just love to make?

Disclosure: I received some of the above mentioned materials in order to create this recipe. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Tomato and Sausage Slow Cooker Soup Recipe

Tomato and Sausage Soup

While I *thought* the weather was perking up we are suddenly in the midst of a flash snowstorm. As if Mother Nature hasn’t given us enough snow this year? She surprises us with just one more!

With all this cooler weather I decided to make my favourite meal – soup. I love how hearty, warm and feel good soup is and wanted to share this simple recipe with you. And when I say simple you can’t get any easier than this! Plus the slow cooker gets to do the majority of the work, a win win right?

Tomato and Sausage Soup

This super simple soup recipe can be thrown in the slow cooker and is ready to eat in four to six hours. It uses up leftover sausages as well as any vegetables you have sitting in your fridge, you can add more vegetables in to suit your preference.


  • can of diced tomatoes
  • carton of chicken broth
  • can of kidney beans (washed)
  • one cup of spinach
  • one medium onion
  • two precooked sausages cut up into 1/2 inch slices
  • one tbsp each of garlic powder, black pepper and rosemary

Tomato and Sausage Soup


Empty the carton of chicken broth, diced tomatoes and washed kidney beans into the slow cooker.

Add in onions (cut to desired size), spinach and pre-cut sausages. Mix together.

Add your spices: garlic powder, rosemary and black pepper and stir again.

Tomato and Sausage Soup

Set your slow cooker to cook on high for four to six hours. Watch the soup as it nears the five-hour mark. If it looks fully cooked and the onions are soft, turn it off.

You can store the leftovers in the fridge for up to three days or freeze unused portions.

What is your favourite soup to make in the slow cooker?

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Go Fish – Easter Style!

Go Fish Easter Style!

Do you love a fun game of Go Fish? We certainly do especially on game night!

Why not spice up your game of Go Fish and take it to a whole new level, Easter egg style!

Cathy, from Cathy Thinking Out Loud, has put together these fantastic templates to help create your own game of Go Fish – Easter Style.

To put the cards together you will need:

  • printer paper
  • scissors
  • pencil crayons/crayons


Print out the two templates below seven times each. This will give you a total of fifty-seven playing cards.

Have your child colour in the template including the card and egg. They can go with traditional Easter colours or choose to change it up a bit. Let their creativity shine through here.

Assist your child in cutting out the egg-shaped card. If they are too young you can do this for them.

Go Fish Easter Style!

Go Fish Easter Style!

After the cards are cut out, shuffle them up and get ready for an exciting new way of playing Go Fish!

As a refresher, the rules of the game are:

  • Minimum of two players
  • Five to seven (depending on how you play) cards are dealt to each player. The remainder of the cards are placed in one pile in the middle.
  • Choose a starting player (in our house it is always our youngest, hands down he wins each time!).
  • Each player should remove duplicates and place in their own pile (to keep track of how many cards they have).
  • The first player will choose another player and ask them “Do you have a <insert number>”. That player will either respond yes and give them the card or “no – go fish!” and they will have to pick up another card.
  • The game continues to the left and ends when all the cards have been used. The winner with the most amount of cards wins!
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