Thursday, July 16, 2015

Treats to the Rescue! No-Campfire Goodies

It’s no secret that every child in summer looks forward to the timeless and traditional act of roasting marshmallows around a campfire. Let’s not forget about nestling that perfectly golden-brown goodie into a graham cracker sandwich, complete with a hunk of milk chocolate, making a delicious and gooey s’more.

But what happens when it’s a hot summer like this one, and the mere mention of an outdoor fire sends Smokey the Bear barrelling your way, ready to oust you and your ideas of a fire with a watery blast? This summer in British Columbia has seen a province-wide fire ban – which is a good thing for the tinder-dry forests, but very sad for the happy campers (especially the children). Any hopes of poking a stick into some hot coals, igniting a marshmallow into flames, or playfully licking strings of marshmallow goo from your fingers are dashed this year….leaving behind sad kids and shelves of s’more kits, unbought on the store shelves.

Thankfully, the fire ban doesn’t include propane BBQs and fire pits! So don’t fret, moms and dads – here are some ingenious ideas for campout treats that your kids can enjoy, thanks to a propane flame!


Tasty Roasted Banana 
What you’ll need:
- One banana per kid
- Chocolate chips, M&M’s, smarties, or any      other small chocolate candy of your choice
- Mini-marshmallows
- Tinfoil

This is a simple, easy and delicious treat that can be done on the BBQ. You simply slice an opening in the peel of your banana, ensuring you slice the banana lengthwise so it folds open and creates a boat of sorts. Sprinkle the middle with the chocolate bits and marshmallows and wrap that puppy back up in tinfoil, and roast on a medium-heat BBQ for 5 to 7 minutes. The result? Gooey, chocolatey banana goodness. But be careful before giving to the kids, because it gets very hot!

Ice Cream Cone S’more
This one is super easy and just about as good as the s’mores.
What you’ll need:
- Ice cream cones (preferably sugar or waffle cones)
- Chocolate chips, or other chocolate bits such as - M&M’s or smarties
- Mini-marshmallows
- Add other fruit, sprinkles, caramels, or any other treats that you desire

This one is easy and fun to assemble. Get the kids to fill their cones with all the goodies that they can fit, and then wrap the cone fully in tinfoil and roast on the BBQ for 5 to 7 minutes. The result? Viola! A s’more that doubles as an ice cream cone!

Hope these yummy campfire treats help you and your families enjoy those traditional activities this summer, regardless of the fire ban! Stay tuned for one more treat on our blog next weekend!

Melissa Collins is a coffee loving, lip gloss collecting, mommy blogging mother of 2 little ladies. When she's not busy cleaning up Cheerios and writing about the honest humor in parenting, she can most likely be found curled up in her hammock with a good book. Check out her adventures at www.mellysmommymanual.com

Friday, July 10, 2015

Off to the Beach: 13 Items to Pack

One of our absolute favourite things to do is visit the beach! It has become a weekly tradition that we head out to the beach for some sun and fun....and gelato of course. Below I have listed some must have beach bag essentials for a toddler!

A mat to sit on - We recently bought the Monkey Mat. This super lightweight water resistant 5x5 mat with weighted corners makes beaching super easy. The mats come in bright colors so it makes it easy for others to find you if they run off to get snacks or refreshments.

Sunscreen -
this is a crucial necessity, especially for little ones. Be sure to reapply as directed on the bottle (most wear off within a few hours and after being in the water for a length of time).

Sunglasses - I always have two on hand at all times for when we are in direct sunlight.

Sun hat - This is so important as the head is the first thing the sun comes into contact with so protecting it is important.

Band-Aids - You never know when you or your little one may need one so keep a few with you at all times. Let your little ones pick out their own fun ones, we recently picked up some StarWar themed band aids.

Hand wipes - Kid's hands are bound to get dirty while playing out and about, have these packed along for snack time.

Kids after bite - Insect bites are bound to happen during the summer months, make sure to have this packed with you at all times for when it happens.

Swimwear - Whether it's a swim diaper, swim trunk or bathing suit, let your little ones help choose one for themselves to sport at the beach.

Water shoes - We love to run around in the water and sand bare feet but when we get to areas where there are more rocks or broken shells we swap in our water shoes to avoid injuries.

Blanket & towel - First we dry off then we cuddle up in a blanket (on cooler days).

Snacks & refreshments - I pack my son's treats and drinks in brightly colored containers the night before our beach excursion.

Beach toys - I always bring along some beach toys in case my son feels like playing with them, most of the time he's too busy splashing in the water and investigating the seaweed.

A change of clothes - Or two, you can never be too sure with toddlers!

Angel Fisher is a mother to a rambunctious toddler by the name of Valentino, a Canadian & United States scenic photographer and local lifestyle photographer. www.angelfisherphotography.com

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Game Review: Spot-It Frozen Edition

Today my girls and I were lucky enough to review the game SPOT-IT! – Frozen edition! Since this game is super educational, and it incorporates our love for everything Frozen, we were stoked!

Spot It! is a matching game of sorts. The deck contains 55 cards that feature photos of all things Frozen – Anna, Elsa and the gang, as well as sleds, carrots, snowflakes etc., and also the alphabet. The object is to find two matching symbols on two separate cards. The cards are round, compact, and fit into a cute little tin that is totally perfect for stashing in the diaper bag or backpack.

My eldest daughter loved the competitive nature that the game offers. She eagerly wanted to be the first person to SPOT the one and only matching symbol that each card featured. Let’s not forget my two year old daughter, whose language is really blossoming lately! Although she wasn’t quite ready to match items, she eagerly pointed to letters and symbols that she recognized. This game is excellent for their developing visual perceptions, processing, speech and language skills. This game was a hit!

Melissa Collins is a coffee loving, lipgloss collecting, mommy blogging mother of 2 little ladies. When she's not busy cleaning up Cheerios and writing about the honest humor in parenting, she can most likely be found curled up in her hammock with a good book. Check out her adventures at www.mellysmommymanual.com

Monday, July 6, 2015

Come and Get It! Food Trucks Are Here


Every Sunday from 12 to 5, an army of Food Trucks line Olympic Village in hopes to bring you great food, good music, an amazing atmosphere and introduce you to new companies.
We attended last year and they made a few welcome changes. This year there were beer gardens with craft beer, live music, ping pong,  an extended Kid Zone and so much more.  Also a new addition to the Food Truck Festive was East Side Flea Market, which showcased several local companies.


Unfortunately, they didn't expect all the flying ants, which made it really hard to enjoy the atmosphere, the food and music. Every 3rd or 4th, step we were swatting away these ants and picking them out of our food, out of my clothing and from off of the baby! I'm actually thankful my oldest wasn't with us for this as we would have left a lot sooner than we did! Not that that is their fault but, I'm not sure if there is a certain time of the day when they are my prevalent then others but if you're taking children this might be something to watch for.

The Beer Gardens is an absolute no go with kids, so you won't be able to enjoy a cold one if you have the little ones with you, unless someone's staying out! The Food seems to cater more to an unpicky pallet or older children, though there are options, don't have high expectations of the kids eating something other than the Cotton Candy from Cloud 9 or Johnny Pops, but hey, at least they are a healthier version.

Bruce had a Fish Taco from Tacofino. which was delicious as always, says the fish was a bit too big but better than the opposite. I got the Poutine with a mushroom based gravy, the gravy was a bit too thick for my liking, and I likes me a gravy! There was a bit of miscommunication about the media passes for food, so dishing out a few extra bucks for a poutine that wasn't amazing was a bit disappointing, I made a hasty decision because the ants were getting to be too much!

At the end of day, it's a fun afternoon for mom and pop or the single peoples, but I'm not sure if I'd take the kids next time.  A lot of fun to be had if the ants would settle a bit and with the right group of friends the beer garden, food and beach volleyball promise to be full of laughter and good times.


Janette Shearer is  a Mommy Blogger  for Vancity Mommy D, wife and mother to two little girls 6 year old Ava and 7 month old Zoe. All Photos courtesy of Janette Shearer.   www.vancitymommyd.com

Monday, June 29, 2015

Happy Canada Day Celebrations


July 1: Canada Day Celebrations
Canada Place
10:00 AM – 10:30 PM
Van stage performance, workshops, circus performers, giant board games, face painting, water park and fireworks.







July 1: Canada Day at Granville Island
Granville Island
9:00 AM – 10:30 PM
Take in some live jazz, watch the parade pass by, or indulge in some delicious food. 

July 1: Canada Day at Sunset
Sunset Community Centre, Vancouver
12:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Come to Sunset for an afternoon of family fun. There will be a petting zoo, a bouncy castle, face painting, food trucks, live music, and cupcakes for everyone.

July 1: North Shore Canada Day Parade 
10:00 AM
East 13th Street, Lonsdale Avenue and West 17th Street, North Vancouver
There will be bands, community organizations, dancers, members of the RCMP and the Legion, and many others.

July 1: Canada Day Celebrations
Willoughby Community Park, Langley
11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Family activities, rides, main-stage entertainment, a car show, an assortment of ethnic foods, dog show, fireworks, pony rides and much more are all on the menu for this fun-filled and exciting event.

July 1: Surrey Canada Day
Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre, Surrey
10:00 AM – 10:30 PM
Celebrate Canada Day with multi-platinum award-winning Canadian musician Matthew Good.

July 1: Canada Day Celebrations
Burnaby Village Museum
11:00 AM – 4:30 PM
A 1920 backdrop for multi-cultural family entertainment including a musician, displays, and demonstrations.

July 1: Pitt Meadows Canada Day
Spirit Square, Pitt Meadows
8:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Get up early, and head over for a pancake breakfast. Join the 8K charity run (or the shorter Kids Run), then continue the festivities at the square.

July 1: Another All Day Canada Day
Queens Park, New Westminster
11:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Come to Queen’s Park for a fun day of celebrations. There will be family entertainment and fun activities for everyone.

July 1: Coquitlam Celebrates Canada Day
Town Centre Park, Coquitlam
11:30 AM – 11:00 PM
A fun-filled day of festival favourites including entertainment, food, cultural village, artisans and a spectacular fireworks display.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

UBT Top 10 Toys for the Summer

At UBT we’ve teamed up with The Granville Island Toy Company and picked our top 10 summer toys. Keep your kids happy, active and engaged all summer long. Happy Summer! 





























  1. Mini Ogo Disc ($28.99) – For kids 3 and up the
    Mini Ogo Disc is an intuitive, fun game of “keep up” that uses rubberized pads where players are expected keep a ball in the air.

  2. Jump Rockets ($21.99) – Blast off with the GeoSpace Jump Rocket! Down at Mission Control we prep the Foam Rockets for their Airborne voyage and then JUMP on the launch pad, sending our rockets soaring as high as 300ft in the air!

  3. Waboba Ball  ($9.99) – Are you Beach bound? Well you better pack your Waboba Ball because this hot little number is going to turn heads as it bounces along the waves.

  4. Frog Game ($8.99) – Is capturing Amphibians in a bucket your idea of a great summer? This Italian-made game, reminiscent of Tiddlywinks, is captivating the imagination of kids worldwide.  How far can you flick your frog?

  5. Super Soaker Freeze Fire ($14.99) – Make sure you and your friends chill out this summer with this twist on the classic Super Soaker water pistol. A compartment for ice cubes guarantees this water will be as cool as you look as you blast away the summer heat!
  6. Kikbo ($9.99) – This re-imagining of a hacky sack uses feathers and small weighted plates to achieve better balance and stability than the traditional footbag. Perfect for the park or for prepping your foot/eye co-ordination for soccer season.

  7. Squap ($27.99) – It’s like playing a game of catch, but throwing the ball is as easy as opening your hand. Just place the little orange ball inside the launching mitt and push out with your arm as you open your hand to launch the ball towards your friends. The Squap is easy to use and a great addition to any summertime park going adventure.

  8. Pocket Disc ($15.99) – These fair-trade, hand-knitted Frisbees fly nearly as good as regular Frisbees and boast the added convenience of being comfortably folded into your pocket! Plus, they’re soft enough that they won’t cause any damage -- even to little fingers learning how to play.  It’s great for indoors too on a rainy day.

  9. Turbo Bubble Blower ($9.99) – Automate your bubbles with the Turbo Bubble Blower! This simple hand-held bubble blower makes bubble blowing easier than ever. Dual-wield for double the bubbles and double the fun!

  10. Dino Mundi ($59.99) – Need some respite from the summer heat?  Well welcome to the world of DINO MUNDI.  Set up the track, download the app and watch as Dinosaurs come to life and attempt to destroy you.  Can your battery-powered vehicle outrun these savage Jurassic beasts? 
The Granville Island Toy Company is the best and most loved independent toy store in Vancouver and all of Western Canada! LIKE us to enter fun competitions and prize draws to win AWESOME toys!
Find these and more toys at www.
toycompany.com


Monday, June 22, 2015

Movie Review: Inside Out

Do you ever wonder where those voices inside your head come from?

Well, Pixar wondered the same thing – and decided to make a movie about it. Following in the footsteps of critically acclaimed successes such as “Up”, “Finding Nemo” and “Toy Story”, you’d think it would be hard to recreate such success….? Apparently not.

Once again, the creative minds behind this animation giant have outdone themselves with a wonderful, hilarious and incredibly imaginative personification of the emotions that live inside our heads!

Meet Joy: a blue haired, yellow dressed bundle of spunk and positivity that is responsible for all those happy emotions.

There’s Anger: appropriately, a red, stout character that blows fire from the top of his head when he gets mad!

Don’t forget Fear: a wiry, jumpy guy of light purple that has paranoia and fright written all over his face!

And we’ve got Disgust: a green gal that loves to roll her eyes and pronounce her repulsion of anything yucky, icky or stinky

And last of all, Sadness: a small blue gal whose sad little eyes and slumped shoulders show she’s had better days.

All of these emotions live inside of 11 year old Riley’s head, or “Headquarters” where the emotions control, via a large star-trek like computer, all of Riley’s feelings and reactions in life. Through these experiences, memories are formed – ingeniously represented as small colored marbles called “memory orbs”, each colored in correspondence to the emotion that is associated with it (for example, a joyful memory would be yellow, like Joy).

Riley also has “core memories” which are the main events in her life that form her personality and main values in life. These personality traits are inventively represented in the movie as Islands that are extensions of the headquarters! There’s Family Island, Hockey Island, Goofball Island, Friendship Island, and Honesty Island. Whenever an aspect of Riley’s personality comes to life, that Island, too, comes to life.

Unfortunately, things start to go awry when Riley’s parents uproot her from her home of Minnesota to move to San Francisco. Suddenly, Riley is not feeling as much happiness as she used to, and Joy is scrambling to correct things by prompting Riley to remember some good core memories. Sadness wants to help, but instead, she ends up damaging the core memories by touching them and turning them blue. A kafuffle ensues, and Joy and Sadness end up knocking the core memories out of their storage, resulting in all the memoires, as well as Joy and Sadness, being sucked up a memory tube and end up in the far away reaches of Riley’s mind.

Thus a journey ensues to return to Headquarters to restore Riley’s joy and her core memories. Along the way Pixar doesn’t fail to disappoint with amazing renditions of her dreams, her train of thought (yes – it’s an actual train!) and even her subconscious mind, a deep, dark cavernous space where all her deepest fears reside!

Overall, the stunning animation, bright characters and warmth of the story will appeal to all ages. However, it’s the underlying message that really got me while I was laughing along to this movie: to experience Joy, you must also experience sadness in life. All our emotions work together to shape who we are. My four year old daughter loved this movie, but really, it was me that walked away with an overwhelming sense of the warm and fuzzies. So much so that I would have walked right back in and watched it all over again.

Move over, “Frozen”….there’s a new kid in town. I predict “Inside Out” will go down in history as one of Pixar’s best movies ever.

Melissa Collins is a coffee loving, lipgloss collecting, mommy blogging mother of 2 little ladies. When she's not busy cleaning up Cheerios and writing about the honest humor in parenting, she can most likely be found curled up in her hammock with a good book. Check out her adventures at www.mellysmommymanual.com