What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up? …….. Great Question!

So, as you all know, I have recently starting writing again, after many years.

I had an exciting day yesterday. I recently approached the Snap Newmarket paper about working for them.  I did not ask for a paid poisition, in fact, I asked for it to be non-paid.  I thought it would be fantastic to get back into writing, and to have as a great learning experience.  They have asked me to call them next week after the kids go back to school and they will schedule me to come out with them to an event to work.

I was telling my husband last night about this and he asked me ” What I am trying to use this writing for, do you want to be a writer or a fundraiser”?  This is a valid question as I am beginning an online certificate program next week for “Fundraising Management”.

I believe that as a Fundraiser or organizer of special events that writing goes hand in hand. You will need to write about your fundraisers, do advertising.  Also, if the writing was to lead to a paid freelance writing position, I would embrace that also.  I am thinking that if I have the opportunity, maybe I can be both a writer and a fundraiser. 

My children are all growing up and I will be looking for a full time position next September so if I can add some experience and marketable skills for myself in the mean time, I say “Go for it”!

Growing A Vegetable Garden

At the end of June this year, I decided I wanted to grow a vegetable garden.  Although I did not have a lot of space, I dug up a patch of grass in between my deck and my fence.  Compared to most gardens, I had a very small space but as a first time vegetable gardener, I thought would give me a first hand experience as to proper spacing and what vegetables would grow.

I actually bought the majority of my plants and seeds at the Metro Garden Centre close to my house. I also picked up a few things at Home Depot and made sure I had the right soil for the garden to grow.

The lady who worked in the garden centre at Metro seemed to know a lot about gardening and the one thing she told me is that it was hard work to do all of the digging and get it ready but it was well worth it in the end.

She was correct. I have watched my vegetables grow and weed my garden and it has been very rewarding.

In the beginning, I had planted cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, purple peppers, tomatoes and in pots, more tomatoes, beans and peas and also bought herbs and put in baskets on my deck off my kitchen.

The peas and beans died when I was away on vacation (had been a dry week and was not home to water) so I did not bother to replant them.

I have had two tomatoes so far ready out of garden and two cucmbers that we have been able to eat. It has all been very good.

Next year, I am hoping to make the garden bigger and add a few more vegetables to the mix.

I just wanted to tell everyone that it is a fun process to watch vegetables and food growing in your own back yard and to know that the food you are growing is free of chemicals and healthy for your family.

Back to School Routine and Shopping with 4 Kids

Well, it’s that time of year again!  School is starting and the hustle and bustle of school shopping has to be done to get the kiddies organized for another productive year of school.

Shopping for four children is a little more trying and expensive also.  I try to be a bargain hunter but also one of those parents who may spend a little more on shoes if I don’t like the cheap ones offered. 

Sunday was that day for me!

I had to take my four kids to their annunal eye appointment before school starts, always do to ensure their eye sight is doing well and there are no issues before they return to school.  As always, four for four have perfect vision and no issues at this time. 

After the eye appointment, the kids and I went to Zellers. With Zellers closing, I was hoping that I could find some deals. My two oldest children found a pair of indoor and outdoor shoes each but there was NOTHING in the sizes of my four year old twin girls. So 4 pairs of shoes purchased.

We went to Old Navy and bought a dress for my eight year old daughter  I can never get out of Old Navy without my little girls posing with the mannequins and dog in front of store.

After window shopping for a bit, we left the mall and headed over to Walmart.  Denim was on sale for $5, tops and pants on for $4-$8 depending on what you had wanted to buy.  Each kid picked two outfits as well as a pair of jeans.  Then we headed to the shoe section.  This took a while going through different shoes and picking out the perfect ones for my “Senior Kindergarten” stars.  4 more pairs of shoes bought.

So, end of day, we had purchased 8 pairs of shoes, 8 tops, 8 skirts and/or pants and 3 pairs of jeans all for the price of approximately $150.  Not too shabby for four children!

I had already purchased the school supplies earlier at Walmart previously and for the two oldest who needed pen, pencils, protractor and all necessary supplies, I spent $58.

So, shopping can be done at a frugal price if you make sure you hit the stores at the time when the sales are on!

I have started early bedtimes now also to get my children in the routine of going to bed at a decent time (after extended summer hours) so that when school does begin, it is easier for me to get them out of bed.  I have also started getting myself up at my pre-summer time and look forward to getting back to a regular routine. 

We have all had a fabulous summer but routine is good and looking forward to it!

Can you live without your Blackberry or I-phone?

Are you able to go for a day without looking at your blackberry or Iphone constantly? Or do you miss it when you may accidentally have left it at home before you went out? Or worse, have you ever really ended to contact someone and couldn’t when you needed to?

This is what happened to my husband and I at the CNE in Toronto this weekend. 

We had separated and went different ways. My daughter and I went to shop while my husband and children were meeting up with my sister and her family to watch the dog show.  The last message I had received from my husband was that they were on their way back towards me and that they couldn’t get into the dog show because it had been full. 

I was about to text him to tell him where I was and my blackberry died.  Darn.  He had had an idea of where I was so he found me. His Iphone had lost battery at the exact same time as mine had.

He told me he was going to the phone charging station outside Exhibit Hall “B” beside the water fountain and took my blackerry with him, although that wasn’t what I had heard.  I was to meet him after I was done shopping.

I spent some time in a few different outlets checking out clothing for myself and for my children.  After spending alot of time looking for me, I decided to forget it to go look for the kids instead.  I spent some time in the only kids clothing outlet I had found looking through racks and planning out first day of school outfits.  As it turned out, I calculated the prices per head in my head and realized that the deal wasn’t as fabulous as I had thought so I put it all back.  (Except for 3 pairs of Justin Bieber pyjamas for my girls, my 8 year old daughter would not have left otherwise.)

After the pyjama purchase, my daughter and I went off to find the rest of our family.  My daughter had left the building and started walking up to the midway area looking for the water fill station that had had a charging station beside it. Of course, we could not find this!  What I had actually heard was that my husband was going to the phone charging station outside of Building B near the water fill up station.  This was so wrong.  I had thought “outside” being out of the actual building but as it turned out, they were in the same building as us, just outside the hallway of Exhibit B.  Well, an hour and a half later of being lost et cetera, I called my sister who was also at the CNE hoping she had been in contact with them as he had been and they found us.

Nonetheless, the hour and half was quite frustrating. Normally, we could call or text each other to find each other and find a mutual place to meet but we were pretty much in the darkness, in the CNE with millions of people and the possibility of not finding each other.

This was when my husband and I realized just how dependent we are on our devices.  

Has something like this happened to you before?


My family and I went to the CNE together this weekend.  We had a twleve hour day but was the best CNE Day we have ever had!  We go every year as a family, as our last main event before school begins.

We parked at my nephew’s underground parking at his condo.  ( Thanks for that Paul, was very appreciated!)  He lives about two blocks from the Exhibition grounds so we walked to the gates from there.  As we entered into the gates, there were food trucks set up this year, the first time ever at the CNE.  The smells were amazing and they all looked pretty cool.  (From cupcakes to french fries to burgers, there was a little bit of something for everyone)

We had arrived just before noon so after we all went to the washroom and washed up, we had lunch.  My pick for lunch was from a truck called ” Urban Smoke Fusion BBQ”.  I picked it based on the smell but also advertised was something called “Dirty Bob”.  It was described as beef brisket with mushrooms, onions and swiss cheese.  Not only did it sound yummy but I knew based on the ingredients, I would absolutely love it.

Even though the line was fairly long, the service was very quick and the wait was not too long, always a fabulous thing when you are hungry.
So, I ordered the “Dirty Bob” for my husband and I.  It was absolutely amazing!  The beef was so good and with the melted cheese curds, it was like I had died and gone to heaven.  Mmmmmm Mmmmm Mmmmmm!  Here is a picture below of the sandwich I received:

If I had have lived close enough to the CNE, I would have went back today and bought another one for today’s lunch.  I can honestly say I was not happy when I had devoured my sandwich, I wasn’t quite ready for it to be done.  Nonetheless, if you are visiting the CNE and have the opportunity to eat there, please check out Urban Smoke Fusion BBQ, you will not be disappointed!
So after my husband and I had eaten our sandwiches and the kids had shared a plate of fries, we went to the food court to get the kids some lunch.  But as we were enroute, my four year old twin girls had to stop at the Dance Mom’s stage for some dress up and dancing.  It was very cute!



After the dancing stage, we head over to the food court and not often can you order any of these neat foods that are offered. And of course, you would not want to eat these foods on a regular basis.  My eleven year old son really wanted to try the ” Donut Burger” or “Krispy Kreme Burger” so we found it being made and sold at Epic Burger.  Although it is something that I would not eat in a million years myself and would probably gain weight just by looking at it, for an eleven year old, my husband and I figured he may as well be able to try it one time.  


It was pretty much a cheeseburger with lettuce inside two krispy creme donuts.  Great for my son but I just couldn’t think to eat that!
We bought tickets for the rides and had the twin girls pick their rides in the kids zone before our older ones had their rides on the midway.  The kids had a fabulous time at the Ken Jen Petting Zoo, as we all do every year, feeding the animals and making new friends.
Melissa with her new friend
Samantha with her new friend
We looked at the exhibits in the many buildings, even picked up some pyjamas for the kids. It was a good day. 
Well, until we lost each other for an hour and a half but that is another blog post I will write about entirely. ( hint: has to do with phones losing battery)
When we finally met back up and found each other, it was 8:30 pm and we had completely missed dinner and even missed meeting up with my sister and her family as well.  At that point, we had been at the CNE for appromimately nine and a half hours so we thought we would call it a day and go out for dinner.  We left Toronto and headed towards home up the Don Valley Parkway.  We enjoyed a very good dinner at Swiss Chalet on York Mills Road and then headed home.  We arrived home at 11 pm and all six of us went straight to bed.
The whole day was about a fourteen hour day.   We all had sore legs and feet but in the end, it was the best day we have every had together at the Canadian National Exhibition. I look forward to making more memories again next year.



My Power Struggle With Running and Exercise

Over the past few years, I have been happy to now that I was exercising regularly.  I had gotten bored with lifting weights at the gym and decided to go back to running after all of these years since grade nine in high school.

I set myself up a goal to go the 5k Easter Seal Run in Newmarket and began running on my own.  My first real run in years, I did a 38 minute run and even though it wasn’t extremely fast, I was proud of myself.  I then signed up for a clinic at the Running Room for the 10k distance and had a goal race to run in July on the beaches in Toronto.  I got up to training at about the 8k mark and my knee was aching.  I bought more supportive saucony running shoes and tried to continue.  The knee pain would not go away. I saw the doctor, he referred me to the Markham |Stouffville Hospital for an MRI appointment.  I also started going once or twice every couple of weeks for pyhysiotherapy to help strenghten my muscles.

I was quite disappointed when I was told that I could no longer run anymore and that it was best to wait until the MRI appointment came, which was about four months away.

I had always wanted to run a half marathon and because I was unaware of what was wrong with my knee, I figured that if I couldn’t run it, I would walk it then.  So I signed myself up for a half marathon walk in Burlington for March of 2012.  I had my MRI appointment in November 2011 and was given the news that nothing was needed surgically to fix my knee. My doctor didn’t really have any suggestions other than maybe I shouldn’t run anymore or do pyshio.

I decided to sell my eliptical trainer and bought myself a used but fairly new treadmill.  I had signed up for a web clinic for the half marathon distance but instead of the running, I was doing the walking instead.  I was even alternating running with the walking.  I did the half marathon walk in March and was very happy with myself, I walked it in 3 hours and 17 minutes. Yay!

At this point, I had already signed myself up for a half marathon run for the Toronto Waterfront Scotiabank Marathon in October 2012.  I had a brilliant idea and thought ” you know what, why not sign up for the Goodlife Half Marathon run in Toronto in May” .  So I did the half marathon run in May, finished but wasn’t very happy with my performance. I didn’t train fully and had lost a bit of interest along the way.

Based on my training efforst, I decided to sign up for a running clinic through the Running Room in hopes that running with other people could motivate me to keep going when it got hard.  That was another bust but on my end and more of a stubbourness than anything else. I went to the first session and the instructor was a 23 year old kid.  My thought was that if I am paying money for a running instructor, I wanted someone more experience who has actually done alot of runs.  During our first run, I stopped and took a break, was running too fast et cetera.  Even though he said, that between him and his mother who was also instructing the clinic that they wouldn’t leave anyone behind, no one noticed I had stopped and continued on. So immediately, that turned me off and still to this day, I haven’t gone back.  I know that it was a dumb decision on my part but I was being pigheaded.

I have a half marathon run scheduled in just over a month and have done no training whatsoever.  Recently after cottaging and no running for a while, I am gaining weight. I did not realize just how much running kept my weight in check so needless to say, I NEED to get off my butt and get moving again.  I planned our meals for the next two weeks and not as eating clean ( I realized that all the running I had been doing was compensating for my bad food choices) so I am also going to start on a meal plan for my next grocery shopping trip to ensure we are back to eating clean and making better food choices.

Oh, and I will be getting off my butt!  Wish me luck!

Cooking With New Recipes and Children

As a mother of four, I enjoy trying new recipes all of the time. 

Recently I have tried squash chips (not a hit with my kids) and kale chips which was definitely not a very accepted snack either.  Nonetheless I try different things all the time because you just never know what the kids will like and what they will not.

In the last while, my 11 year old son Justin has shown interest in learning how to cook.  He has learned to make cheese buns ( a family fav) as well as homemade pancakes, bacon and eggs, cookies and a few other things. 

Tonight, Justin has asked to learn how to make meatballs and for us to have a spaghetti and meatball meal for dinner.  I have found the following recipe shown below that he will be making tonight by himself.  The recipe below is from the website www.busycooks.about.com 


Easy Meatballs

User Rating 4.5 Star Rating (41 Reviews) Write a review
By , About.com Guide
Easy Meatballs

Easy Meatballs

Linda Larsen

This simple recipe for delicious homemade meatballs can be flavored any way you like, or just make it plain.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl combine egg, water, bread crumbs, onion, salt and pepper and combine. Add ground beef, broken into chunks, and mush with your hands to combine. Form into meatballs about 1″ in diameter and place on a broiler pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until meatballs are no longer pink in center. Cool and freeze, or when baked, use in your favorite recipe.  In the picture, these meatballs were recooked in the crockpot in Sweet and Sour Meatballs.
Nutrition info:
Calories: 328.1
Fat: 17.5 g
Sodium: 341.3 mg
Carbohydrate: 11.1 g
Protein: 23.8 g
Vitamin B-12: 46.3% DV
Vitamin B-6: 17.0% DV
Niacin: 30.3% DV
Zinc: 31.7% DV


Justin did a great job making meatballs for the first time and they tasted very good.

MMMMMMM Spaghetti and meatballs!!

Back to School, Ahhhhhh!

Well, you would think I am talking about the kids going back to school in less than a couple of weeks but this time, I am talking about ME!

After being off for eight years as a stay at home raising four children, I have decided to FINALLY take an online certificate course through Algonquin College in Ottawa.  The name of the course is Fundraising Management.

Over the years, I have done a variety of volunteer work in the areas of fundraising, special event planning, and public relations.  I have sat on the Board of Directors for the Red Cross Society in Barrie as a Fundraising Chair, Special Events Chair and a Public Relations Chair. I also helped at the Heart and Stroke Foundation in Barrie planning special events and in the office but specifically with the Big Bike Fundraiser.  There have been other volunteer opportunities but those have been the major two. 

Through highschool, I had always planned on taking Journalism in college and had written articles over the years in the Orillia Packet and Times Newspaper in a column called Teen Talk, that was geared towards the teens in town. They were usually about events happening in and around the Orillia area.  I am actually going to call the Orillia Public Library to see if they still have the micro feche files so that I can make a date and get all of the articles I wrote printed off.

After highschool, I worked at Bayview Wildwood Resort and thought that maybe Journalism was not what I had really wanted so I second guessed myself and decided to take Hotel and Resort Management at Georgian College in Barrie instead.  Well, that was a bust.  I did not like the course, let alone finish it and the one regret I have had my entire life was not taking Journalism afterall. 

Every job I have had in the past had some element of marketing, sales support, and where I really love to work and excel.  I have helped at my childrens school councils as a Co Chair, Secretary, with special events fundraising and planning a winter carnival on my own from scratch which turned out pretty successful.  This is what I love to do so finally after all of these years, I am going to get the education to go with the job I have always wanted!

My online course begins on September 7 and ends on December 14.   The first course I have signed up for is Intro to Fundraising.  This is a 45 hour program course that will be followed up by an exam on December 15 or 16, 2012.  Because I am over 100 km from Ottawa, I will be trying to arrange the exam to take place in the Newmarket Public Library, in the city I live in.  (Reminds me, I better call about setting that up)

The beautiful thing about an online course is that even though my twin girls are still on alternate days for school, I can continue to stay home with them when needed and get this program done all at the same time.  I will start course number two in January and have three years to finish six courses.

After all of these years, I am a bit nervous and excited at the same time.

Wish me luck!

My Vacation Week Away

I just recently returned back home after a week away with my family.  We rented a cottage in Minden like we do every year, always try a different place.  This cottage was not however as they had described it to me. 

The cottage was on Lake Kushog…. took us a while to finally find it.  It had been advertised as Minden but in fact, it was not very close to Minden at all.  It was about ten minutes south of Dorset which really was not that close to Minden, I think it was considered Algonquin Highlands.

Nonetheless, the cottage advertisement had said we had our very own private and secluded beach. Even with the picture they sent me of the beach, you could see a road in the background, which ended up being Highway 35.  Our cottage was on top of a hill and in order to get to the beach and water, we had to walk down a rocky terrain back and forth to the beach. Mind you, I was hoping that would maybe make me lose some weight before the end of the week but that did not happen. 🙁 

So, anyway, the beach we had was in the open, and beside the boat launch.  We were beside the shop for the lodge there that was closed for renovations.  Our beach was down below a hill and a main road that hosted some cabins and Lake Kushog Road.  Our beach area was private in the sense that it was not shared with anyone else but definitely not secluded.  The dogs that live on the property came to visit us often, which is normally not an issue, but the one dog peed on our lifejackets and in the bag of sand toys that we had brought for my children and niece and nephew to play with.  When we saw the dog coming after the first day, we made sure we had our bags and lifejackets put up on a chair.

The cottage rental came with a canoe, paddleboat, and two kayaks.  We had never used a kayak before but my 11 year old son got in there and it was like it was meant for him.  He was such a natural.  There was also a swimming raft that everyone swam to and did some jumping tricks off and into the water, this was quite a bit part of the cottage week itself. 

The day we arrived, my dad and his girlfriend, as well as my sister and her two children came as well and stayed for two nights.  All of the kids had a fantastic time playing in the water.  Oh and I cannot leave out my dog Chase, he was in heaven.  In and out of the water, barking at the kids because he wanted to go in the water, it was quite funny to see.

The cottage itself had 3 bedrooms, one with a double bed, single bed, and a bunkbed that had a single and a double as well and we had a pull out couch in the livingroom.  It also came with a bunkie that had a queen bed and a separate portapottie was was not quite that nice at all.  The washroom in the main cottage was a full washroom so this is what we all used.  The cottage was cozy and had everything we could need. There was Bell Expressvu satellite which was nice for the children and adults to be able to watch on a rainy day or in the evenings. 

So overall, I would say the cottage was alright. We paid a cheap amount for it and for the price, we could not have gone wrong.  Other cottages we had rented before had washer and dryers and other amenities that this did not have but we had no complaints.  You never realize just how lucky you are to have a dry towel, our towels were soaked all week.  We will rent another cottage again next year or go on a trip farther away next time but I can say that we created a lot of family memories.

About Me

My name is Darlene and I am a mother of four.  I am a mother, wife, sister, aunt, daughter, sister in law, a try-to-be-runner lately it seems and very busy.   I like adventure although with four children, it is usually centered around them.

 I love hanging with friends and famly and my kids of course. I have a loving husband and family and wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. 🙂  I like to talk and post photos on facebook, dabble with twitter.  I like to think I am internet savvy but I know I have many things to learn. 

I enjoy reading my kobo, trying out new food recipes quite often and always experimenting and trying new things.  I like to be fit and eat well although I am not always the best following through.

I know alot of people who blog and I thought, “hey, why not give it a try? Worse case I have nothing interesting to say and best case, I surprise myself”.

Welcome to my blog and I look forward to writing more soon!   🙂