Laundry 101: when the sniffing test fails

“Honey….what’s that smell?” I say to my husband. There’s a sweet and pleasant odour wafting up from the dishwasher, which is humming away happily.

“I used those new power packs you bought,” he says.

“Oh ya?” I say. “The power packs that were meant to CLEAN OUR CLOTHES!?” 

He gives me a blank look, and then goes to check the Arm & Hammer package. Sure enough, this is laundry detergent that hubby has just put in our dishwasher. For the record, there was no massive soap explosion, and a quick re-run with dishwasher soap did the trick.

In my spring quest for a better smelling home and laundry pile, I never imagined for a second that my husband would take things to such an extreme level (I have to admit though, the house smells great!)

Built in 1961, our house is on the older side, with original storm windows (we’re replacing these, slowly) and a lack of insulation. Things get damp pretty quickly, and we have a hard time keeping root vegetables, bread or baked goods on the counter without mold growing after just several days. The dampness also means that our towels smell a bit like eau-de-musky, despite regular laundering.

dog-laundry

Along with leaky house problems, we have a 5 year-old pug who is not the sweetest smelling of animals. Yes, I’ve read all the research that shows how much healthier my kids are living with a dog, but this drooling, butt-sniffing hound makes “fresh” seem like a long shot.

For some ideas on how to banish these pesky odours, I turned to cleaner and organizer Patty Searl. Patty owns and operates Clean POV Ottawa, whose goal is to help families clean and organize their homes using an eco responsible approach.

“We’ve had many clients deal with problems from smells,” says Patty. She points to culprits such as diaper pails, pet beds or litter, damp cloths or towels, and humidity. Together, Patty and I came up with five handy tips for any homeowner looking for a fresher scent.

Tackle the bacteria

Use a cleaning solution that combats mold and mildew, as this is often the source of those pesky smells. Baking soda and vinegar are your best friends for this job! Check all of your windows sills where mold likes to grow. Make sure to seal any areas where moisture might be getting into your home (replacing old windows is a must, but if you’re like me, this might take some time!) 

arm-and-hammer-laundry

Try Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean 3-in-1 Power Paks

Once we got over the dishwasher disaster, I tried Arm & Hammer’s new power paks on my laundry pile. This is the only detergent boosted with the stain-fighting power of OxiClean and the freshness of Arm & Hammer baking soda.

These little paks DEFINITELY made a difference. The towels smell fresher for a lot longer, and at just $0.19 per load, I can put more money and effort into tackling the other sources of smelliness in our home. With two youngsters in school, the added OxiClean got their dirty clothes a lot whiter and brighter than normal.

And bonus, it passed my “smell sensitivity” test – I tend to get headaches from fragrances, but this detergent works for me! 

Suck up that humidity

Patty recommends using a dehumidifier in your basement to take the moisture out of the air. All of that extra moisture is guaranteed to promote the growth of mold and mildew. 

Use essential oils

There are a number of companies out there selling pure essential oils, which are great for those of us with allergies or sensitivities. Patty suggests trying an essential oil diffuser to permeate the whole home with a lovely aroma.

Try a carpet and upholstery deodorizing spray

Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 2-3 drops of your favourite essential oil. Grab a spray bottle, and add the baking soda mixture to the bottle along with distilled water. Shake well, and go to town on those places where the smelly dogs sleep!

With just a little bit of thought and hardly any effort, my home smells much better. I can now entertain the thought of friends dropping by unannounced, and I know my house guests will appreciate the fluffy and fresh towels. 

The next step? Some new laundry room storage bins, so that my poor husband doesn’t confuse the dishwasher soap with the detergent!!

Want to learn more? Visit your local Loblaws store to try the NEW Arm & Hammer™ Plus OxiClean™ 3-in- 1 Unit Dose Paks and change your perspective on laundry forever! Like Arm & Hammer Canada on Facebook for product news and updates.

Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post from Arm & Hammer Canada, and we were compensated for our time. All opinions are our own.
 

Spend your summer at the Soloway JCC

The weather is heating up, and summer is COMING!! I know my kids are excited to spend some time poolside, and what better place to do that The Soloway JCC. 

Located just west of downtown, Soloway JCC is an amazing recreation facility that welcomes all people (young and old) from the National Capital Region.

The Pool

Enjoy hot summer days splashing in the outdoor pool with your family, lounging in the sun, relaxing in the shade or picnicking by the water. The outdoor pool is fully equipped with change rooms, a fun slide for the kids (and kids at heart) and a lap lane for more serious swimmers.

All Soloway JCC members have access to the indoor pool seven days a week from June to whenever it gets too cold to swim outside. And for those parents who have been searching high and low for a saltwater pool, you'll find one at the JCC! Saltwater is easier on the skin (and eyes,) especially for your little ones.

There are a variety of membership options and categories to suit everyone - this includes a summer membership which allows you to enjoy unlimited family fun at the  outdoor pool as well as everything inside the Soloway JCC.

Membership

University Students home for the summer are welcome at the Soloway JCC and if their parents are already members, they can be added to their family’s membership for free. If not, a Student Membership is available for $100 with a valid student ID.

SJCC Members get discounted prices on all JCC of Ottawa Summer Camps which include Day Camp, Travelling Sports Camp and 19 unique specialty camps. The SJCC has a camp for every child whatever their interest.

Soloway JCC members enjoy a modern fitness centre with friendly and professional fitness trainers and all the latest equipment, over 30 Group Fitness Classes per week which continue throughout the summer, access to our full size gymnasium with basketball hoops, squash and racquetball courts, indoor pool, after school programs, parent and baby classes plus priority registration and pricing on programs and classes.

The Soloway JCC is located at 21 Nadolny Sachs Private in Ottawa’s west end, one block south of Carling off Broadview. Everyone is welcome!

Disclaimer: The Soloway JCC is a Kids in the Capital blog sponsor

Five simple, low-cost Mother’s Day gifts moms will love

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and finding a unique way to show the moms in our lives just how much we love and appreciate them can be challenging.

The key is to remember it’s the thought, and not the pricetag, that will make the biggest impact.

Here are five simple, low-cost ideas to help get you started.

1. Frame a photo of your child’s handprint

Simply print or cut out a sheet with the correct dimensions for your frame, add in the desired wording, and have your child dip their hand in paint and press it on the paper. Once the paint is dry, insert the sheet into the frame and voilà! In no time at all, you will have a simple gift mom will cherish forever. Don’t forget to keep one or two tissues handy for when she opens it!

SOS Children’s Villages has created some adorable free eCards to send to all the moms in your life. Kids are prompted to answer some fun questions about mom in the message and for every eCard sent, a donation will be made by Intact Insurance directly to SOS Children’s Villages to help empower vulnerable mothers around the world. It’s the free gift that keeps on giving—and gets the kids involved!

3. Plan a family hike and picnic

If mom is the outdoorsy type, get the kids to help plan a special hike and set the menu for a picnic, loaded with mom’s favourite treats. Not only will it be quality time spent as a family, but the menu options are sure to make mom smile!

4. Give her a piece of art she will proudly hang on her wall

While mom undoubtedly loves showing off adorable drawings from daycare on the fridge, this canvas art piece is one she would certainly be happy to hang on the living room wall – especially if the colours match her decor. Simply purchase a blank canvas (from the dollar store!), tape off the words “love” or “mom” using painter’s tape, and have your kids paint the canvas. Once the tape is removed, a trendy, colourful masterpiece will be left behind!

5. Give her some “mommy time”

Sometimes, the best treat is just to allow mom some much-needed time to kick back and relax. Let her sleep in a few extra hours, or run her a hot bath while the family heads out to the mall for a couple hours—you’ll be amazed at how much she will appreciate the R&R.

There’s plenty of time left to plan the perfect Mother’s Day surprise for mom, and we hope these ideas help get your creative juices flowing. However you choose to celebrate mom this Mother’s Day, she will undoubtedly feel loved and appreciated!

Happy planning!

Take the stress out of food prep with Supperworks

I don't know how meal planning and dinnertime go at your house, but at my house... well, let me just put it this way - it's not my favourite time of day.

Between picky kids, a lack of inspiration for meal planning and hectic weekdays, I resort to cereal or fish sticks and fries far more than I ever would have expected of myself (and like to admit).

I tried the food delivery boxes, and while they were great because it saved me having to come up with the recipes and do the shopping (and I won't lie, throwing out all kinds of food I bought, meant to cook, and instead let go bad), it was still quite a lot of work in terms of prep each day.

I recently got to try Supperworks during a special blogger event and fell a little bit in love, so I thought I'd share a few of my favourite things about the experience.

1) No peeling and chopping

Peeling and chopping isn't hard... but it takes a long time. I loved that as I went up to each station, the only thing I needed to do was take the amount of an ingredient and put it into the containers outlined on the simple instructions.

The green onions were chopped, the garlic was minced, the protein was already portioned out exactly as it needed to be. (Bonus: much less chance of accidentally grating your hand instead of the cheese when a kid walks in shouting a loud question at you when you're not expecting it!)

2) Almost no dishes

The only dishes are the things you need to cook the food and to eat the food. There are no knives and cutting boards, and measuring cups and spoons and mixing bowls. I often feel like a tornado has hit my kitchen after I've spent a few hours cooking and by then I don't feel like CLEANING up the mess I made - I was just so productive in MAKING the food. Supperworks means I don't have to do the dishes after putting together my meals, and I wish I could give the store a big hug  just for that!

3) No thinking required

I think a lot - while I'm working, while I'm trying to make sure our family life stays on track and remember who is supposed to be at what activity when, and what forms I still need to send in to the school, and whether or not I RSVPed to those birthday party invitations.

Having every step of this figured out for me so that I can just walk in and follow simple steps to achieve success - it's just such a nice break for my brain.

4) Portion options

A family sized meal is meant for 4-6 people, and it's quite generous. My kids are pretty good eaters (since last year they all doubled and tripled how much they eat!) so the meal size was great for everyone (with a little bit left over for one extra lunch). If your kids are not big eaters then for a small extra fee you can split all the meals into two, and the stations are set up so you can switch the recipes to instructions for making smaller doubles, and all the tools and containers are readily available for splitting things. These half sized portions now just doubled how many meals you get, and feed a family with no kids or little kids who don't eat very much.

5) You don't even have to assemble it if you don't want to

Supperworks is set up so that you can come in, on your own or with friends, and assemble your meals. I'm planning to gather a group of friends to do this soon in fact, because I think it can be a fun (and so easily justified to those of us who have a hard time taking time for ourselves) night out for friends. But, let's say you don't have the time, or you don't feel like gathering a group of friends and you don't really want to devote the hour or so it would probably take to make the 6-12 meals, you can just pay $25-40 (depending on how many meals you're making) and they'll assemble them for you. And I totally plan to do that if I'm not hanging out with my friends - worth every penny. Or, go in and see what they've pre-prepared and got waiting in the freezer right now.

The food was delicious too - did I mention that? The Flat Irons MELTED in our mouths (my two meat eater kids were ready to battle it out with my husband and I on who got more of it), the coleslaw may be one of my new favourite things ever, and you can mix and match all kinds of extra sides from the freezer at front of the store.

Healthy meals with good variety (including vegetarian options) that are easy for me to prepare was pretty much the most important thing for me to figure out better systems for in our life, because it was dragging me down like nobody's business. I can't wait to stock up our freezer with all kinds of healthy meals that are easy for me to prepare - and I think some of them are even easy enough for my ten year old to prepare too!

Supperworks has a special promotion going on right now called Suppersavers (limited quantities so I wouldn't dally) for a $100 voucher for $50. They are store specific, so pick the best location for you (Kanata, Nepean or Orleans) and grab a voucher - there's no better way to try out Supperworks than with $50 off!

If you have been to Supperworks before, leave a comment below and let us know what you thought, and what your favourite not to be missed meals are!

Thanks again to Supperworks Ottawa for the opportunity to check out how everything works - I'll definitely be back!

* Supperworks provided Kids in the Capital with 2 free meals and the experience of using their service. All thoughts are our own.

 

Giver’s 150 Canada-themed playground at Mooney’s Bay

My daughter has watched playgrounds all over Ontario be built thanks to the Sinking Ship Entertainment show Giver, a program that regularly airs on TVO Kids. The show involves children ages 6 to 12 in the design and building of local neighbourhood playgrounds.

This spring TVO will start airing episodes about building one of the largest playgrounds in Canada located at Mooney’s Bay in Ottawa – and if you look at it from a bird’s eye view, it’s even shaped like Canada.

Can you guess what part of Canada this section of the playground is?

Can you guess what part of Canada this section of the playground is?

My eight year old daughter and her friends recently visited the new Canada-themed playground at Mooney’s Bay and had the time of their lives! When asked what they enjoyed the most about the playground they said it was searching for different facts on Canada (this after discovering a fact on the bottom of a saucer swing), as well as climbing the monkey bars that symbolized an igloo in Canada’s north.

Fact from the "Alberta" section of the playground

Fact from the "Alberta" section of the playground

Among many other things, Canada’s playground at Mooney's Bay features a lighthouse slide, orca shaped monkey bars, a ship that rocks back and forth as you move, a log cabin, a canoe-shaped teeter totter as well as a multitude of play structures, each symbolizing something that kids can identify with for each area of Canada. There are also swings for younger children and older children, as well as an accessible swing seat, and a raised sandbox.

Local parent Carmela wrote in to share that it was important to the builders of this park to make it accessible to all ages and all abilities: 

There are metal slides for deaf/hard of hearing children because plastic slides may cause the processor of a cochlear implant (CI) to malfunction, which then needs to be reset at CHEO with an Audiologist. If kids with CI’s take off their implants you have to have them remember to take it off and not leave it/forget it or risk it getting broken, etc. Also, means the child is in total silence and not able to hear their friends calling them, laughing or any sounds, etc. So, with metal slides there is no static, so no risk to the processor. This request came from a mom in Ottawa who has a young child with Usher’s Syndrome. 
Also, the boats are wheelchair accessible and the mulch is accessible for wheel chairs and strollers etc. Grateful for a playground for all abilities and ages! 

The Giver Canada-themed playground will not disappoint. Not only is it right next to Mooney’s Bay Beach with a big hill perfect for rolling down, but it is also a short walk away from Hog’s Back Falls. It is a great one-stop spot to spend a nice day outside with the family to swim, play and picnic!

Big hill near park - ideal for rolling down.

Big hill near park - ideal for rolling down.

There was some controversy surrounding the building of this park because nearby residents were not consulted prior to construction. But given how busy it was on the early spring day we visited, I think the finished project is being well received by residents. It's a beautiful park with lots to see and do for children of all ages.

Canada themed playground Ottawa

Although the landscaping immediately surrounding the playground is not complete, and the area is lacking benches, there are still plenty of raised areas where parents can sit or they can bring a picnic blanket and find some shade under one of the big trees nearby.

If our schedules had allowed, my daughter and her friends would have loved to help build the Canada-themed playground. But instead they now marvel in its size, its uniqueness and in the fact that is Canada-themed. She and her friends can hardly wait to return to Mooney’s Bay to give the Canada playground merry-go-round another spin and play hide and seek in the “wild, wild west.”

My daughter and her friend's favourite climbing structure at the park

My daughter and her friend's favourite climbing structure at the park

Keep your eyes out on TVO for 13 episodes about the building of Ottawa’s Canada-themed park and watch for the official opening on Canada Day, July 1, 2017!

Have you been to the Giver Canada-themed playground at Mooney’s Bay yet? What did you think? Leave a comment and let us know!