Thursday, December 1

Kate's Favourite Things - December 2016

Here's a list of my latest recos!


The Girl on the Train - I know not everyone agrees, but I thought the movie really did justice to the book, and Emily Blunt was fantastic.

Love Actually - I realize this isn't a new one, but it was new to me! (Don't ask me how I missed a romantic comedy in the last 20 years - this one's from 2003 - but somehow it happened.) Just days after Lainey Lui mentioned on The Social how this movie always gets her into the Christmas spirit, I was thrilled to see it pop up on TV...and I loved it.

Allied - Starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, this is an excellent WWII love story/drama with a twist: is Cotillard's character really a German spy? If you're anything like me, you'll also appreciate the smattering of Canadian references - Pitt's character is from Canada, and when he attempts a Parisian accent he is nicknamed "Quebecois"; Medicine Hat also plays a role. I recommend it even if you haven't saved up M and M bags for free movie tickets!


The Wonder by Emma Donoghue - This book (from the author of Room) is about a nurse who comes to Ireland to supervise a supposed miracle: a young girl who is surviving without eating. It's a fascinating read, though I always have to remember not to take offense on behalf of the Catholic Church to every fictional (or perhaps semi-fictional) insult.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult -  Picoult's latest is about a black maternity nurse faced with a dilemma: does she take action to save a white baby after being ordered not to touch him?

I am so saddened when I read about racism (even fictional) as well as shocked, while I know I shouldn't be. I keep up with the news and I like to think I'm pretty well-read, but I don't want to believe that there are still parents raising their children to hate like this. Even though I grew up in possibly one of the whitest places ever (and moved to another one - I'm guessing a diverse population hasn't yet been drawn to our Irish-Catholic farming communities) I never heard a racist word from one of my parents.

Years ago when walking our girls to the Centre Island ferry, one asked, "Mommy, are a lot of these people not from here?" which certainly sparked a conversation, but I'd like to think that my children see past colour when looking for the beauty and value in the people around them.

I don't have a thick enough skin (sorry, best expression I could come up with) to take on any further racial commentary right now, but I was also not surprised to learn that Picoult (who is white) has been criticized for attempting to take on the first-person story of a black character, something she actually addresses in a separate section of the book.

Babushka: A Christmas Tale by Dawn Casey - If you're looking to add a new title to your Christmas collection, this lovely traditional Russian tale helps us all remember the meaning of the season. We've been working on "favourite parts" in the kindergarten class, and here were a few of their responses to this book:

"The picture with the cat because it was so detailed"
"The dream because Mary and Jesus were in it"
"The part where the boy didn't catch any fish because then he got food"
"The part where it said 'KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK' because it was exciting"

Bridget Jones's Baby by Helen Fielding - A companion to the movie (written after Fielding worked on the script to the third film), this book is as light and fun as you would expect - a worthwhile visit with an old friend. Be forewarned though - there is a one huge plot difference (which I won't spoil for you right now).

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena - this is incredible work for Lapena's suspense debut. I could hardly put it down, and the twists kept on coming right to the end.

Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind and Soul by Ruth Soukup - if you look up the definition of "preaching to the choir", you will see a picture of me reading this book. Basically, it affirmed much of what I already know and believe...but if you're looking for a decluttering jumpstart, this one's for you!

If my Christmas wishes come true, I'll have lots of time over the holidays for some more great books and movies, and I'll have a full update next month!

Saturday, November 26

Christmas Spirit Roundup: Decorating, Crafts, Gifts and More

It's pretty fair to say I get into the Christmas spirit why not share all that joy with my dear readers?

Today I offer you the post of Christmas past (see what I did there?) - and whether you're in the mood to decorate, shop, craft with kids or bask in cheesy sentiments, I've got you covered!

Christmas Idea # 1: The Festive Lantern

Christmas Idea # 2: Displaying Christmas Memories

Christmas Idea # 3: The Holiday Book Basket

Christmas Idea # 4: The Throw Pillow

Christmas Idea # 5: Printables

Christmas Idea # 6: DIY Decorative Pots

How things are shaping up this year Chez Winn

Primary Christmas Crafts Morning

My Mom's Christmas Decor: A Photo Tour

My Christmas Decor: A Photo Tour (2014)

Christmas Gifts For Teachers

A Thank You Letter to my Mom at Christmastime

There you have it - a dose of Christmas spirit!

(Note: one month from today it's all over...and my house will be de-Christmased by lunchtime.)

Thursday, November 24

This Mom's Blogger/Brand Wish List For 2017

Forget a Christmas wish list filled with lots of "stuff"...the sugarplums dancing in my head are actually the great brands that I am dreaming of working with next year.  Maybe St. Nick would be good enough to bring this list to their attention and make some of my Christmas wishes come true in 2017!

Since This Mom Loves launched in 2010, I've worked with dozens of brands - international, national and local - to promote their products and services. Often companies will find me and reach out, though I actually turn down far more offers than I accept, because my time is precious but also because I am very conscious about what is and isn't a fit for my own personal brand. While it's nice to be "found", I also love when I can reach out to companies that I am already familiar with and fond of, because I feel it offers an authentic viewpoint to my readers, and everyone wins in that sort of partnership.

Knowing my audience as well as I do, I'm certain they'd like to read about the following:

Ooma: We recently signed up for this VoIP telephone system, and are very happy customers. Did I mention it's less than 5 bucks a month?

Texture: I have been magazine-obsessed since I learned to read, and for one low price I get unlimited titles right on my iPad. Wouldn't you love to hear more?

Cineplex/SCENE: Regular readers know what I movie buff I am, and I'm constantly at Cineplex with my husband, kids or friends. Plus, my SCENE card helps with concession discounts and free movies.

Kensington Palace: Okay, so this isn't exactly a "brand"...

Let's just say that someone (who is writing this post right now) has a milestone birthday coming up this summer and her BFFs have agreed to travel with her to London, England for a whirlwind tour, which will culminate in a series of blog posts for potential tourists and all Duchess of Cambridge watchers.

I'm hoping the Kensington Palace communications team will keep me up-to-date on Kate's schedule, so I can maximize my chances of being in her vicinity during the trip, when we also plan to follow in the Duchess's footsteps, checking out her current homes (as closely as legally possible) as well as restaurants and shops she's been known to visit.

At the same time, I hope to be able to draw some attention to many of Kate's patronages. As a kindergarten teacher and mom of two young girls, I admire the work she's doing to spread awareness about a range of important topics, including youth and mental health.

In all, this should be a fun series for Kate lovers, especially the Canadian royal fans back home.

PLUS: I'm also planning to work with more of the great fashion, beauty, home and entertainment brands that you know and love in 2017...lots of exciting things to come!


If you're a blogger, why don't you take a few minutes right now and make your brand wish list for 2017? Leave a link in the comments so I can check it out (maybe I have some contacts who can help?), and if you tag me on social media I can share as well. I'm using #bloggerbrand2017 as a never know, this could be the beginning of a dream partnership for you!

Tuesday, November 15

When Your Mom Is a Blogger {by my 10 year old daughter}

I am Olivia Winn, and my mother created This Mom Loves. I can’t remember a time when she was not a blogger- writing on the weekends, going on trips and taking photos for others to see. And it definitely has pros.

First, free stuff! People send things to mom, or let her go on trips and take us along, so she will write about it. My sister and I love to sort through big boxes, deciding who gets what… though in the end we don’t actually get to keep all of it! (For some reason, mom thinks we already have enough stuff and she likes to donate it or share it at school. Which we actually do understand.) I especially love the Hallmark ‘itty bittys’- I currently have fifteen!

I have also had great experiences with my family because of the blog. For example, last summer we visited the Corus building. I was shown where parts of my favorite TV shows are recorded, I went down a two-floor slide, I stood in front of a plant wall, and I still sleep with the Disney Channel blanket they gave me every night! Over the years we have been to cool places like Santa's Village, Centreville, Casa Loma, Disney on Ice, Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons, a boat cruise, different hotels and movies and way more, all for This Mom Loves.

Mom gets to interview cool people...and when she was talking to Kortney Wilson from Masters of Flip on the phone my sister even got to say hi to her!

My mom always asks us before she shows pictures of us...and sometimes I say no, or that I want her to take a different shot! But it can be fun to be a model too and to show cool new things to the readers...who might get them for their kids!

There aren’t really many cons to having a blogger mother, but I can think of one. After a trip, she needs our opinions. What was our favorite part, what was our least favorite, do you recommend it, and why? Seriously, is she the blogger, or am I? But at least we get to share our point of view!

I am thankful to be a blogger’s daughter, and as I have inherited her love for writing, I think I will be a blogger someday, too.

Saturday, November 12

The Perfect Guide For Women's Health and Happiness - From a Woman Whose Wake-Up Call Changed It All

I'm all about women helping other women. (Or, really, people helping other people...but sometimes women need it more.) Paying it forward is essential: I love to answer questions from new bloggers or or aspiring TV guests, I support teacher candidates from faculties of education every year, and I'm happy to offer some words of wisdom or just a listening ear to new moms.

Sometimes, though, it's also important to pay it back.

The author of today's guest post - and a brand-new, possibly life-saving book for women - once helped pull me up. Years ago, as the Executive Editor of Today's Parent magazine, Kerrie Lee Brown was one of the very first big-magazine editors to give me a personal reply to a pitch (not a generic 'no thanks'), and words of encouragement. The first post I sent her wasn't a fit (and she told me why; they had covered something similar in the recent past), the second one almost made it but was eventually passed over due to space restrictions...but the third time was a charm, and she forwarded my query to a colleague who ended up accepting and then editing my first of many pieces for the magazine.

For that, I will always be grateful to Kerrie Lee Brown. Here is her story.


What happens when your life seems perfect—a loving family, healthy kids, and an impressive career—and all of a sudden something stops you in your tracks?

This is exactly what happened to me when I ignored some serious warning signs and ended up having a heart attack at age 39. I was not your typical cardiac patient either—physically fit, non-smoker, and no immediate family known to have heart disease.

My unexpected wake-up call changed everything including my perspective on what I was doing and how I was doing it. As a working mom, in the media no less, I never thought something like this would happen to me. But it did. And now I share my story with other women, moms in particular, about what can happen if you don’t take time for yourself once in a while.

In my new book “My Heart, My Self – A Guide For Women Who Do Too Much” I dig deep and reveal my vulnerabilities—which is something a lot of us women shy away from because we are supposed to “have it all together.” I didn’t listen to my body and felt I needed to do everything for everyone, all the time, forgetting about my needs—until my body finally told me it needed to slow down, or it would shut down for good.

But who had time for a heart attack? I have two active boys who needed to get to hockey practice… so needless to say I didn’t go to the hospital. And that was my first mistake. I was lucky, and ended up having surgery to fix my electrical heart problem, but I learned a valuable lesson.

I learned the harsh reality that keeping all balls in the air is not always what it’s cracked up to be. My goal now is to educate women and help them realize that no one is exempt from health issues. I am living proof that life can catch up with you if you don’t take time for yourself.

My book also includes “10 Signs You Need To Slow Down” which I feel is essential to leading a stress-free life—and enjoy unique Brain Break exercises to help you reflect on your own daily stressors, and practical tips to help real women, just like you, take time from your busy schedule to focus on your health needs. Even when they may not be so obvious…

After all, kids need a healthy mom. Bosses need healthy employees. Partners need healthy partners. You get the picture.

My Heart, My Self will help you:

·         Learn to slow down (what all women need—especially moms!)
·         Tackle the guilt factor and never-ending desire to appear okay
·         Recognize daily stressors that hinder achieving optimal health
·         Accept the things you cannot control
·         Listen to your body and change your lifestyle
·         Realize you don't have to do it all...all of the time!


Kerrie Lee Brown has a passion for health and wellness that spans over two decades. Her unique experience and perspective on the demands women put on themselves has positioned Kerrie as an expert on maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Besides writing for various mainstream publications including Chatelaine, Glow, Best Health, Women’s Running etc. she has appeared on numerous television and radio shows as a health expert. Kerrie is best known for her roles as editor-in-chief of Oxygen Women’s Fitness, founding editor of American Health and Fitness, and executive editor at Today’s Parent magazine. For more, visit


The much-anticipated book, My Heart, My Self, is available on Amazon in eight countries and For more information visit

Editor’s Note: With incredible insight and real-life testimony from international journalist, motivational speaker and women’s health advocate, Kerrie Lee Brown—My Heart, My Self will help any woman realize that she too may be at risk if she doesn’t slow down. Go out and buy your copy today!

Tuesday, November 8

Boost Your Immunity During Flu Season - Plus a Giveaway!

It's true: flu season is upon us. Coughs, chills, aches, fever, fatigue, and runny or stuffy noses...who says it's the most wonderful time of the year? It's hard to say what's worse as a mom: getting sick yourself, taking care of a sick child, or taking care of a sick husband.

But never fear! Getting the flu this year is not a foregone conclusion. The obvious preventative measure, of course, is getting a flu shot (we’ll be heading to Shoppers Drug Mart very soon) since 70 – 90% of flu cases can be averted through vaccinations.

In addition, there are several ways we can try to boost our immunity to stay healthy, contract fewer illnesses and bounce back faster when we do.

Not smoking, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight (check, check, and check) and eating a healthy diet (hey, no one's perfect!) are all lifestyle choices that can improve immunity.

Today, however, I'd like to wax lyrical about my favourite healthy habit: getting enough sleep!

Sleep is so important for adults, and experts say that sleep deprivation can actually suppress immune system function. Obviously when there are special circumstances (e.g., feeding a baby during the night) moms can't all get the recommended eight hours. However I'm always surprised by how many women say that they just don't have time for sleep - not realizing that they would be so much more productive (not to mention healthier) during the day if they had adequate rest.

In a recent issue of Redbook magazine, Dr. Helen Koenig, an instructor of medicine and infectious disease, is quoted as saying, "Sleep allows your immune system to regenerate overnight. While you sleep, your body releases chemicals called cytokines that help you better fight infection...It isn't glamorous or sexy, but it works!"

Speaking of glamorous and sexy, I'm not the only one who believes in the incredible value of sleep. A couple of super-productive and energetic celebrity moms feel the same way as I do. "Sleep is my weapon,” says Jennifer Lopez,  “I try to get eight hours a night." Beyonce agrees: "Having peace, happiness and healthiness is my definition of beauty. And you can't have any of that without sleep." If these power women find time for shut-eye, what's our excuse?

I know it's not always easy, but common recommendations like limiting caffeine and screen time before bed and sleeping in a cool, dark room can really help. (I even tuck my alarm clock under my bed every night so the glow of the screen doesn't disrupt my sleep. For real.)

It's not just parents who need to get enough z's. According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, school-aged children (Kindergarten through Grade 5) should be getting 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night. Do some quick math: start at the time you usually wake your children up in the morning, and count back ten hours. Are they out cold every night by that time? As a teacher, I can't even begin to tell you how important it is that kids come to school well-rested...and not just because of the impact on their immunity.

My girls are both great sleepers (we can have the whole sleep-training discussion later), but my 10-year-old mini-me requires lots of downtime: reading before bed, and then some thinking time in the dark before she actually drifts off and I can officially start counting her sleep time. That means I have to make sure she's in bed well before that invisible 10 hour timer starts ticking.

See? We take sleep very seriously!

I can promise you, much to the amusement of my book club ("It's ten o'clock! Past Kate's bedtime!") I will remain passionate about getting at least eight hours of sleep a night throughout this flu season and beyond. And of course I will be heading to Shoppers Drug Mart as soon as possible to get my flu shot.

Now for a great giveaway! One lucky This Mom Loves winner will receive an awesome Flu Fighters pack from Shoppers Drug Mart valued at $150 containing the following:
  • Life Brand Hand Sanitizer
  • Cough Drops
  • Vaporizing Cold Rub
  • Electrolyte Maintenance Powder
  • Disinfectant Wipes
  • Vaporizer
  • PC chicken noodle soup
  • PC facial tissues
  • PC Feeling Soothed Tea
  • $100 gift card

All you have to do to enter to win is post a tweet or Facebook update that contains all three of the following:

1. A link to this post (the one you're reading right now!)
2. A tag for @thismomloves
3. The hashtag #SDMflufighters

For example:

How to boost your immunity with sleep and win a $150 prize pack from @thismomloves

Feel free to use that exact tweet, but be careful with Facebook: if you copy and paste, you still need to type @thismomloves manually or the tag won't pop up and I won't be notified in order to count your entry!

The giveaway runs until Sunday, November 13th at midnight Eastern, after which time the entries will be totalled and a winner will be chosen through random number generation. Good luck...and happy flu-fighting!

Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Saturday, November 5

Introducing Thumper - Our New Pet Bunny (yes, you read that right)

Today I was hit with a realization: unless you follow me on social media, you have no idea that there is a new member of the Winn household!

Let's start at the beginning, shall we? In the middle of September, Olivia and I went to pick Eva up from a playdate at a friend's home...where we were introduced to their litter of baby bunnies.

During this meeting, I was asked to take photographs to "send to Daddy to convince him!" (Little did they know that Daddy needed less convincing than Mommy.)

After a lot of research (the Facebook kind and the expert kind, of varying weights in my mind) and lots of patient advice from my friend and happy indoor-bunny-owner Jen, we actually made the monumental decision to allow the girls their first pet. (Liv has no memory of our beautiful yellow lab, Belle.) There are so many benefits of pet ownership for kids, which I won't list here, and at this point we realized they are actually old enough to do most of the caretaking associated with owning a they've been begging for years, and they really are wonderful, responsible young girls (if I do say so myself).

We called dibs on a grey male (if there was one in the litter; it was too early to tell the sex of the bunnies at the time) and waited for our potential pet to be ready to leave its mother.

In the meantime, we spent over $300 preparing for our free bunny: starter kit including cage, food dish, water bottle, food pellets, hay, wood pellets (recommended by a friend as a litter), litter box, chew toys, brush...I'm sure I'm leaving something out.

Finally the day arrived when we could bring our bunny home. Compared to a new puppy, Thumper (creative, I know) transitioned quite easily. He didn't want to eat or drink the first day, but then decided it was safe and hasn't stopped since. He's the quietest pet you could imagine - another plus in my mind.

I was worried about having a pet smell in the house and - while perhaps I have just become desensitized to it - the only time I notice a scent is when urine-soaked litter goes too long without being emptied. The bunny himself has no smell, nor do I notice anything from his "droppings".

After only a few weeks, Thumper is actually doing quite well with litter training too - yes, you can litter train a bunny! Strategic placement within the cage is crucial: bunnies like to, um, eliminate while they munch on their food, so we arranged things so that his butt is in the litter tray whenever he's eating from his food dish or hay manger, and it really seems to help, as we hardly ever find droppings elsewhere in the cage now.

He's a super cuddly bunny and loves to be held, which is exactly what the girls were hoping for in a pet. While I've read that caged bunnies should have at least three hours of play outside of the cage each day, I have to admit we haven't worked up to that time yet...though now Thumper does come out to play for frequent short periods on the kitchen floor, where I know we can act quickly if he forgets to wait for the litter box (though so far, so good).

Recently Thumper celebrated his first Halloween with us...and the girls insisted that he needed his own costume!

While I swore that we would not be spending ridiculous money on a pet, we do plan to have him neutered in the new year when he's old enough, as we've heard that can have really positive effects.

So, is anyone else out there as shocked as I am that I just devoted an entire post to a pet? What's next, cooking posts?

Wednesday, October 26

10 Halloween Etiquette Tips and Tricks

With the spooky occasion almost upon us, I'm sharing these helpful holiday tips from Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert, author and founder of Protocol and Etiquette Worldwide. (And just for the visual appeal, I'm also sharing some of my girls' best Halloween moments!)

-        Select Appropriate Costumes: Costumes that represent a culture, race, ethnic or religious group or someone with a serious illness, poverty or other hardship, are inappropriate.  Sexually explicit costumes and those mocking LGBT or gender identity encourage negativity. During this election year, American public political figures are certainly on the table; expect to see Clinton and Trump. 

-        Age Appropriateness: While many adults enjoy Halloween dress up, remember this is mostly a children’s holiday.  What your teenager might wear, is not a good fit for a first-grade Halloween party.  Gage the costume based on your child’s age, and the age of his or her peers. Even if you think your young child might be able to handle dressing up as Freddy Krueger, it might be too much for his or her friends. 

-         Candy Alternatives: Traditional chocolate or sugar-laced candies are always a hit. With more health conscious parents, consider sealed mini bottled water, pre-packaged popcorn, coloring books, pre-packaged healthy snacks, small inexpensive toys, or pens/pencils.

-        If You Don’t Want Anyone To Ring Doorbell or Knock: By simply turning off the outside lights, you will alert trick or treaters to skip your house and go on to the next.  As an option, consider leaving a bowl of candy by the front door.  Putting the car in the garage may also remove the question of whether someone is home. 

-        Knock One Time and One Time Only: If no one answers, move on to the next house.  There’s no need to be excessive and knock 10 times. The homeowner might be on an important call or trying to help a baby to sleep. On a related note: know when it’s appropriate to knock. Trick or treating generally starts just before sunset and ends by 9 p.m. 

-        No Homemade Treats: While it’s a nice thought to want to bake homemade Halloween treats, don’t do it.  Parents have heightened safety concerns for good reason, and will discard these items.  Buy pre-packaged candy from trusted brands like Hershey, M and M, Skittles, Dove and Reese’s. 

-        Teach Your Kids Manners: Halloween is a great opportunity to teach your kids manners, such as greeting and thanking each homeowner who gives them candy. Explain to older kids and teenagers that bullying and pushing smaller kids out of the way won’t be tolerated. When they encounter a bowl of candy at the door, make sure they are considerate and only take one or two pieces.  Be sure they respect private property, including homeowner decorations, and don’t leave unwanted candy or wrappers on lawns.

-        Never Arrive Empty-Handed: Anyone invited to a Halloween party does not arrive empty handed.  Bring a small hostess gift such as tea towels, diffuser, candle, coasters, fresh fruit, wine, packaged sweets, or children’s game.

-        Office and School Policies: Office culture varies, so be sure to research your workplace policy. Ask a trusted colleague about the ‘unwritten rules’. Some offices encourage tasteful costumes, while others frown upon the practice.  Education policies vary, so don’t assume children may wear their costumes to school.  In many school districts, costumes are prohibited for safety reasons. Double check and don’t assume. 

-         Stay Safe: Younger children should always be accompanied by parents or a designated chaperone. Older children and teens should trick or treat as part of a group.  Never enter someone’s home you don’t know, no matter how nice they seem.  Carry a flashlight and mobile phone.  Follow your intuition and if you have a bad feeling about something, avoid it.

Thanks, Sharon!