Kepler Academy Early Learning & Child Care is a one-of-a-kind facility that boasts innovative child care and an exploratory education approach that is refreshingly atypical. The name “Kepler” being synonymous with discovery, “All elements of [their] process are purposefully designed to provide children with the skills needed for a head start in life.” Incorporating Montessori, Reggio, and Waldorf philosophies, children learn through a scientifically-backed education involving interaction, discovery, and play.

The range of ages covers: Infant Child Care, Toddler Child Care, Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and Out-of-School care. Staff undergo a substantial training and on-boarding program before starting at Kepler Academy, and are also provided with ongoing professional and personal development opportunities. See their website for more information. Kepler Academy is truly unique and is game-changing in the childcare realm. Book a visit and see for yourself just how incredible their facilities are! I was thoroughly impressed upon my visitation to their downtown Edmonton location. The staff were so welcoming and kind, the rooms were bright and open, and the children were so involved and energetic. I felt I was in the midst of a completely different structure of childcare: something incredibly conducive to learning in a fun and exciting way, and a place I’d be honoured to have my children be a part of.

So it goes without saying that I was incredibly honoured to be a part of the making of Kepler Academy’s very own book, “You’ll Do Big Things!”. This book covers the day-to-day activities that a child may partake in at Kepler Academy. A short and sweet description of the excitement to be had through a child’s point of view. A story that demonstrates how Kepler balances learning with play.

Working with Kepler’s staff on this creative project was absolutely a thrill. Not only did they provide me with everything I needed in terms of information and guidelines, but they were integral in their support and enthusiasm – every step of the way. It was a project I’ll not soon forget. Writing and illustrating the book took me on an exciting journey that allowed me to peek into the brilliant minds behind the Kepler Academy approach.

Excited for my very first book reading of “You’ll Do Big Things!” at Kepler Academy

If you’re curious about this unprecedented childcare program, please feel free to book a tour of a Kepler Academy facility today! When you do so, you’ll get a free copy of “You’ll Do Big Things!” to enjoy with your little one.

Signing copies for the kids!

If you’re interested in collaborating with Heather Dubé for a creative project, please feel free to contact her here.

We see them everyday. On the way to work, through the windows at our office, while we head out for lunch and then back home again. Whenever we’re out and about, they’re there, displaying proudly to all who pass by. By any standard, a digital billboard is noticeable by its bright display and colours. But does the actual ad stand out? And if not, how can we make it so?

1. White Space Real Estate

We, as spectators, need to see some empty space to help draw our eyes to the important items that are intended to be seen in a billboard design. Don’t fill up all the space. It’s a balance.

2. Be Bold with Contrast and Colour

Get out your colour wheel – the eye is attracted to bright colours and big contrast. This doesn’t mean your entire sign has to be one big giant rainbow. Just make sure you’ve got a nice, bold balance between colours, images and text, and don’t choose drab colours that don’t pronounce your message well.

3. Elemental Flow

When you look at your ad, does your eye flow easily from one component to another? Place your text and images in a way that’s not going to be work for your intended audience.

4. What’s Essential

Too much information and too many design elements can confound passerby – and that’s not going to get your principle message across in the limited time hurried folks have. Just place the important items and the key elements into your design.

5. Size it for Scale

Too often we glance at a billboard design and can’t read the tiny text if sizing hasn’t been considered. But when your viewers are a great distance away, you’ll need to make sure that you are scaling your text so that it’s simple, bold and visible. Don’t lose their interest. Increase the chances of a double-take!

And when all is said and done, have another pair of eyes (or two, or three) look over your design to be sure there isn’t something you can improve upon. It’s a big deal to display your ad up and out there, so make sure you’ve done all you can to perfect it!

If you could be part of a rainbow, what colour would you be?

As a family, one of the best times of the day to gather and share and converse is during a meal. We can spend our entire day apart, doing our own thing, learning and growing and nurturing our creativity, but if we don’t stop to share our stories and appreciate one another, things won’t always solidify as they should. Talking about something that’s bothering us or exciting us is so important to our growth and emotional/mental balance.

Something more or less exploding in the digital realm that really brings a family together and helps to cultivate that important conversation are conversation starter cards. What are these cards? Just as the name implies, they’re printable conversational boosters that give us the power to question ourselves and dig deep. They can be fun, they can be simple little things, but they help us to gather around and pay attention to one another, which is such a special thing in today’s fast-paced, busy and very technical world.

I’ve created the first set in my Regale Me! series of conversational starters and am offering up a sheet for FREE to try! If you like them, there’s an entire set of 48 cards to download for just $5.99 CAD over at my little printables shop!

If you could heal just one problem in the world, what would it be and why?

So try out a page of these fun conversation starters at your next family meal, and see what happens! Just save and print! And enjoy!

Mark it on your calendar, every day: Something WONDERFUL is about to happen!

If you’re used to the round-and-round-like-a-merry-go-round cycle of negative thinking (that I had been so used to, for most of my life), it is a HARD challenge and a BIG deal to get out of that deep rut. Why? Because our brains are already wired through those ruts. If we focus on the negative, it’s just an easier place to go to when something goes wrong or we’re in an uncomfortable mood. When we start to focus on thinking more positive thoughts, new connections are made in the brain, like new little train tracks. The more you take that train, the easier it will be for you to stay on that track when the going starts to get a little tough. So, is it all in our perspective? Just letting go and knowing that we are doing the best that we can every day, grappling lemons and squeezing them into tasty drinks, is a powerful thing.

“Wake up with the thought that something WONDERFUL is about to happen.” Words I see every day. And oh my goodness, do I LOVE this little plaque (and did I ever need it), sitting so prettily on the dresser in the bedroom. It was a gift from my sweet sister-in-law. Little did she know how impactful that little gift would be to me! Words like this, that greet you every morning, will water those little seeds inside of you if you take the time to read it and say it and meditate on it (like just letting the words ooze into your soul and closing your eyes for a minute and imagining what the word “wonderful” means to you).

Years ago, I was in the depths of my own negativity. It was an awful cyclic thing, in my head, so much of the time. I would call myself names and berate myself, not just in my thoughts but very much out loud a lot of the time. “You’re such an idiot!” was a common phrase of mine. I would also focus on the things about my body that I wished I could change, like the size of my belly and the contours of my face, the wrinkles forming and the imperfections in my skin. I’d take it to the next level in relationships, where my pessimistic thinking would actually lead to the demise of a relationship because I never believed I was good enough. It was a real self-fulfilling prophecy for me, time and time again.

However, most people would not see this side of me. At least, people who weren’t too close to me. I’d mask it quite well.

Something changed in me over the years, and I was tired of the same old, same old negative thinking which was producing the same old, same old negative results. I made a conscious effort to educate myself on how I could be more optimistic, positive and balanced. Mind you, I’ve always had a level of anxiety, but with my high energy (of which I’m never lacking in), it became easier and easier to replace those old, dull negative thoughts with powerful and potent positive ones. I literally saw the differences in my life from the very start.

When did I make this change? You could say it was after the year or two where so many things purged themselves from my life. In no particular order, my boyfriend, my computer, my car, my job, my dog, my condo. Needless to say, I had to move back in with my parents. But this IS when things started to change for me. Something told me it was time to make a change. I made a concerted effort to get things changing in my life, and I did it with positive thinking! Of course it wasn’t all “yellow-brick-road” (thank goodness, how would I learn things in life if it was?), but I took those rather dark moments and flipped them into something I was grateful for. I was grateful that I made the decision to walk out of a job (I wasn’t being treated fairly or being paid well) because it led me down the path to a better career and one that I could be in control of! By taking control, I feel I’ve changed so much for the better. I did this for me and for all of the people who mean so much to me in my life. But mostly for me – because I’m with me 100% of the time. And listening to berating banter inside my head is NOT something I want to hear all the time.

10 Simple Ways to Live a More Positive Life

  1. If you start with just one thought, just ONE, and focus on it every day and make a genuine effort to change it for the better – you will be on your way. I find a really wonderful approach and one that worked for me, is seeing a positive and inspiring message upon waking every day. Put it somewhere you’re sure to see it every day, and keep it as a mantra inside your head throughout the day.
  2. Set reminders on your phone at certain times – and repeat a mantra or affirmation of your choice or focus on one positive thought.
  3. Make a list of all of the things you are grateful for. I’ve found that by just thinking about the things I’m grateful for has changed my life for the better. It has brought me even more things to be grateful for. Writing it down solidifies it that much more. And you can go back to it anytime you need a reminder of all of the wonderful things in your life.
  4. Close your eyes and smile and think about a great love – God, the Universe, whatever it is you might believe in. Sometimes when I meditate like this and I breathe in and I just let happiness seep in, I feel a great and wondrous chill running along my spine and throughout my whole body. I know without a doubt that it’s the universe telling me that I’m exactly where I need to be and I’m loved for everything I am and that so many wonderful things are just waiting to happen.
  5. Reach out more. Join groups that consist of people like yourself – personality groups, meditation groups, even board gaming groups. I’ve found that my happiness levels increase when I’m sharing and connecting with others – because I don’t feel alone. I feel like we are all in this together.
  6. Go online and find all sorts of positive and optimistic quotes and phrases. Print them off, cut them out and place them in opportunistic areas in your home. Seeing these happy words throughout the day will uplift you and guide you.
  7. Watch or do something that makes you laugh. REALLY laugh! I feel like there can never be too much humour in one’s life. This could mean following a funny blog, watching a comedian in a show, watching a funny movie or even spending time with someone in your life who makes you laugh often. Laughter really can be a wonderful (and natural) medicine!
  8. Do something different. Learn an instrument. Go exploring. Book a karaoke room with friends. Something out of the ordinary. You’ll learn new things about yourself AND you’ll likely become more resourceful and confident when you try something you’ve never done before.
  9. Be present. Maybe you’ve heard this one a lot. I know I have. But it really, really works. Take a moment, any moment, and savour it. It could be eating your dinner – pay attention to the colours on your plate, relish the tastes, feel how good it is to be full and satisfied. There are SO many ways to savour the moments in your day.
  10. Take difficult situations and turn them into learning experiences or opportunities to grow, expand and evolve – mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. Ask yourself, “Okay, what can I take from this?” Happy people know that it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. Everyone goes through difficulties. Think about how you can face these difficulties and how you can move on and grow from them.

I’ve always been disorganized when it comes to wrapping gifts. I enjoy it, but I’m disorganized. I wrap at the last minute. I don’t measure. I don’t go slow with the scissors (can you say, choppy?). And I’m certainly not a pro with the tape. So anything to make my life easier, I’ll take! Especially if it means I don’t have to give a gift to someone with my messy pen-scrawl in permanent marker all over the pretty wrap. Enter THESE cute little scrumptious holiday gift tags!

I designed these little cuties a couple years back, and actually used them on my presents – I was excited to! But I revamped them this year, and decided to post ’em so that everyone can print and use them! Because gift tags aren’t always free.

What’s better than printing a coupon? Printing some adorable, FREE gift tags – without the headache of leaving your home. (Unless, of course, you’ve run out of paper…or ink. Then yes, a coupon would definitely help.)

Come and visit my shop anytime of the year for printable party sets in various cute themes and personalized invitations!

Gone are the days when I used to go out on a whim, often, and shop for new clothing. It was kind of addictive. I loved the look and feeling of fresh fabric and something new to wear. I would go on my own and spend hours, just brilliant alone time, amidst the hangers and racks and change rooms.

A New Wardrobe or Social Contact?

But today, as a stay-at-home and work-from-home mother, what I crave more than a continuously updated wardrobe is adult companionship and socialization. Something that’s tough to come by when you’re on your own with the kids most of the time. I love my time with my children, but it’s easy to forget about remedying your own isolation that can often come about from spending the majority of our time without adult contact. We need our moments, our dates with friends, and we need evenings to catch up with the people that are a part of our lives. I know my time spent with friends outside the home is limited, so I relish any and all times where I can connect in a nice long gab session of catch-up.

Tomato sauce and grease often find home on my clothing. Laundry will more times than not remain in the basket, waiting to be folded, for a couple of days. So I find it tricky to keep my wardrobe unstained and unwrinkled, and before long, keeping up with a new wardrobe without spending a ton of cash and time becomes impossibly difficult.

Swap Not Shop

But a couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a “Swap Not Shop” clothing exchange at a friend’s house. She had set out sangria and wine glasses and we’d all brought an appetizer to share. I remember this lovely friend mentioning to me previously that she’d love to host a clothing swap party and include games. So as I prepped some homemade hummus and bagged some clothes from pre-pregnancy status that I knew I just wouldn’t wear again, I excitedly anticipated how the night would go.

All the girls brought a garbage bag or two of chosen clothing to swap. We each took turns, starting with the host, sitting in a circle, to show one item of clothing at a time to the group until our bag was empty and it was time to move onto the next person. If we wanted a specific item, we’d put our hand up. If there were no competitors, the piece of clothing belonged to whoever had their hand up. If there was more than one who desired the item, we’d play a quick game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors”. You’d never guess how much fun this was! The night went so quickly and our new wardrobes grew and grew. We couldn’t believe how quickly 11:30pm rolled around. We all went home with “new-to-us” clothing that we were all excited to wear, and made plans to do this again soon.

There are a LOT of Clothes to go through – take Breaks and have Fun!

Halfway through, we broke for munchies. There was cheese, hot finger food, cake, fruit and veggies with dip to try. And believe me, it’s quite the spread when you’ve got about ten ladies over for a gathering!

Overall, it was a fantastic evening and a great time to spend catching up and meeting new people, eating good food, drinking wine and “shopping” from home – all in a few hours’ time!

Try a Swap not Shop the next time you’re looking for an excuse for a fun get-together and a closet purge AND renewal all at once! You won’t regret it! As I write, I’m wearing a cute little striped sweater dress with pockets I scored at the party!

Donate the Rest

We kept a space on the floor open during the party to toss clothing that no one vied for – to be donated to the Salvation Army or a Goodwill location. Everything was accounted for!

Doing Good for the Earth

And you can feel proud that you’re not purchasing new clothing that’s questionably or unethically made. The fact that you’re reusing and recycling each other’s wardrobe keeps them from adding to our landfills. So call it an Eco-Conscious Swap Not Shop Party, an Earth-Friendly Closet Purge or whatever creative name you can come up with for your event and make sure to invite a crowd so that everyone can go home with something they love!

I’ve never been a coffee drinker because it gives me a bad case of the jitters. I always have to limit myself to one cup – if at all. Although I do love a good cup of decaf, and people often look at me, puzzled, and wonder why. Yes, there are people out there who enjoy a nice warm and soothing cup of decaf!

But honestly, on those days where I just can’t seem to wake up even as I’m going about my day, I consider a tall one with whipped cream (Yes, coffee with whipped cream! Yes, decaf with whipped cream! It’s just who I am). If I can’t in the morning, which is an extremely rare occurrence, then I need some sort of wake-up fix.
For those days that you just need an extra boost, perhaps paired with a strong cup of coffee, try these handy suggestions:

  1. Place your alarm out of reach, maybe on a dresser or at the far end of your night table. This has worked for me many a time. It’s a good way to ensure that you will get up on time, especially if you have an important appointment set for a specific time. I’ve even gone as far as setting a couple alarms, or at least one alarm clock and one on my phone, and placing them away from the bed.
  2. Set your alarm for a certain amount of time before you have to get up. Get out a book or your phone and slowly feel your body adjusting before pulling off those covers.
  3. Splash your face with a generous amount of cold water. Brrr! Nothing quite wakes you up physically like a dose of chill.
  4. Shower in the morning. It’s a fantastic way to gently wake your body up. Cold water not required.
  5. Rub some essential oil onto your skin (not directly – use a carrier oil such as coconut or olive oil) or try using a diffuser (check for the safety essential oils before diffusing any oils around babies or children or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding). Try citrus oils such as orange, lemon, grapefruit. Peppermint and spearmint are also good choices.
  6. Put on some music. But not just any music. Something that inspires you – music that makes you want to dance. Music that puts you in a good mood.
  7. Drink a full glass of water. Your body will thank you – it needs hydration after a night of sleep.
  8. If you have time, practice some yoga. There are all sorts of programs – look for something that will rejuvenate you.
  9. Have a bowl of oatmeal. It’ll fill you up and provide you with a good source of energy to get you started for the day.
  10. Take a brisk walk around the block before getting into your car or taking other transportation.

And if you’re still having trouble, try going to sleep without any computer or phone usage at least an hour prior to bed, make sure you’ve exercised during the day, and look up apps that can help with sleep. There are some meditation ones that work wonders! You can place your phone by your bed so the screen does not distract you.

If you’re like me, you are overwhelmed by too many things.

Clutter frustrates me. I become anxious if I haven’t cleaned up after dinner within the following hour. I cannot call upon any sort of creative energy if I’m surrounded by too much stuff. My focus is definitely out of alignment when there is mess. But I think a lot of people are like me. I think it’s important to have a clean space for eating in, sleeping in, playing in, living in. I think that when we take away the things that don’t serve a convenient purpose in our everyday lives, we thrive more.

The minimalistic approach to life inspires a world driven by intention and ease. Things flow well in an emptier space – because more space is utilized for living and movement. Minimalism provides more time, more space and a clearer head to think with since there is less material stuff to focus on and contend with (and ultimately, get in the way of the aforementioned).

If you’re new to minimalism, or looking to start with small steps, try it this upcoming holiday season and set the tone for the New Year and beyond. Whether you celebrate Christmas, another important date or not, you’re bound to receive gifts from other well-meaning people in your world, be it through the workplace, your family, friends, even your neighbours throughout the year.

The minimalistic approach to life inspires a world driven by intention and ease.

Here are some simple steps to making this holiday season less focused on stuff and more focused on the people and the experience that the season can provide.

  1. Make your expectations known – ahead of time. Let your family and friends know that you are freshly embarking on the attempt to minimize your material world and would appreciate their support.
  2. Compromise, if required. There may always be those that are going to feel rejected and hurt by your new proclamation of minimalism (read: your movement towards a simpler, more focused lifestyle!). They’re possibly going to name you a “Scrooge”! When this happens, there’s never any harm in compromise. If someone really and truly is hurt by the fact that you’re not accepting gifts for, say, Christmas, try something in between. Try a Secret Santa method – everyone in the family or group of friends picks one name and are responsible for gifting to that one person. In this way, you’re more likely to receive something pretty thoughtful since your gifter’s mind was on you and you alone!
  3. Instead of the impersonal last-minute shopping for gifts, let yourself be inspired all-year-round by things that you recognize as something that a family member or a friend would love. This a wonderfully unique method to try if gifts are in fact expected from you. By gifting this way, you’ll be guaranteed to not only complete your list, but fulfill it with meaningful ones.
  4. Gift an experience. Mention it to family and friends, and try to arrive at an agreement to try gifting something to do rather than something to have. The best part about gifting an experience is making and keeping memories – and that won’t take up any space! Ideas for gifting experiences can include passes to facilities or parks, gift certificates to a favourite restaurant, a spa package, vacation, plane or concert tickets, vouchers to an event, even sailing or music lessons.
  5. Agree on gifting something perishable or digital. For example, a tray of cookies or a digital portrait. A tray of cookies won’t last forever on your counter, and a digital picture can be displayed on an iPad or printed and hung on the wall or refrigerater, taking up minimal space.
  6. Get personal. Compile everyone’s favourite recipes onto a file. Write a poem. Draw or paint. Create a personalized story. Get creative!
  7. Gift Away. If you do receive too many gifts, decide which ones you can give away. Think of the people in your lives who may be able to use what you’ve received.
  8. Regift. If all else fails, empty a space in a closet or storage area for the gifts that you do not wish to keep but that could be welcomed by someone else. Throughout the year, you’re bound to head to the “gift shelf” or “gift box” and pick something out for someone.

The best part about gifting an experience is making and keeping memories – and that won’t take up any space! Ideas for gifting experiences can include passes to facilities or parks, gift certificates to a favourite restaurant, a spa package, vacation, plane or concert tickets, vouchers to an event, even sailing or music lessons.

Chances are, people are going understand your minimalistic approach to gift-giving and receiving. If some are opposed to it initially, they may come to like the idea with time. And don’t be surprised if you even have a few following suit. Minimalism can be quite contagious!