Empty Bowl Benefit for the Calgary Food Bank

We've all heard the Stats on the benefits of eating dinner together as a family.  It's a ritual that can keep the family in touch with each other.  It's a place where you come together to talk about your days events.  It's about just being a family and bonding with one another.

But what if... you didn't have a meal to put on your table.  It can and DOES happen.  And it's not just for the homeless.  It happens to people who have "life events" that can put you in a position where you just can't afford the groceries.  The cost of groceries has skyrocketed, and I often wonder how people can afford to eat.  Let alone the enormous cost of eating healthy!  Here's a GREAT website that will tell you the average cost of groceries in Canada click Living In Canada.  I know for our family of 3 adults, Mom, Dad, Childcare provider, and 2 small children ages 2 and 4, I usually budget for $250 a week x 4 = $1000 a MONTH!  However, if I play my cards right, and do meal planning, I can usually get away with $150 a week x 4 = $600 a month.  $600 is certainly better than $1000, but that doesn't always happen.

Now, imaging not having a house with double income.  AND you have children to feed too.  It happens.  And it happens all the time.  According to The Calgary Food Bank 146,947 Calgarian received food from their Emergency Food Hamper Program.  Client visits have increased by 70% since the start of the recession (2006/2007).  33% of households requesting a food hamper had at least one employed person. 42% of clients were children.  No one should go hungry, especially children.  But thankfully we have The Calgary Food Bank in our city.  It's neither a government or United Way agency.  They rely solely on the generous support of donors like you!

Growing up, I know my family could have benefited by having such an amazing organization.  I asked my mom if we ever used the food bank, she replied saying "there was nothing like that when you were growing up, but it sure would of helped", a single mother of 2.

Which is why The Brighter Side supports The Calgary Food Bank.  And one of the things The Brighter Side does every year is participate in The Empty Bowl Benefit.  6 hours later (thanks to the Colour Me Mine Studio), The Brighter Side artist Christina Rowsell came up with this, The Brighter Side plate.  Plus, a beautiful Candy Bouquet from http://www.sugarbuzzyyc.ca/ filled with an assortment of candies.  We are hoping that The Brighter Side plate would raise $1000 for this worthy cause.  With all the proceeds going to a food bank that supports so many.

Bid on Christina's Empty Bowl Benefit plate here!  Together we can help the Calgary Food Bank help other's enjoy The Brighter Side of life!

Working together to create a hunger-free community

Calgary Food Bank Empty Bowl Benefit Auction 
Calgary Food Bank Empty Bowl by The Brighter Side
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Mike's Bloggity Blog

Last week I was introduced to a fellow blogger.  Mike's Bloggity Blog.  I instantly fell in love with him (so to speak...).  Believe it or not we met painting bowls for the Empty Bowl Benefit for the Calgary Food Bank (watch for information on that this Friday April 27th).

Look no further than Mike's Bloggity Blog for your fill of Canadian Content!  FINALLY!  This adorable, bald blogger has what I've been looking for on Canadian Entertainment.  Our country is full of artistic life, and Mike will showcase it all!  He'll give you a dose of television, albums, concerts, live theatre, books and anything Canadian Entertainment (even Canadian politics... which can be entertaining!)  Plus don't miss out on his contests.

Thanks for the heads up Mike, for the info on Ben Mulroney!  Mr. Ben, will be back on the air with Kelly Ripa!  His first co-hosting duties was when Live With Kelly came to Banff and it was a rating success.  It was the best numbers of the week!  So now they want to bring him back, but this time he'll be live in studio with Kelly in New York city!  Watch for Ben in New York May 4th.  And you have to watch Mike's interview with Kelly Ripa here!  I LOVE that he got her Moosehead Beer!  Nice touch.

Mike has also expressed his opinion of the Garth Brooks mayhem.  And no, I didn't get tickets either, but looking at the Brighter Side, Mike has started a facebook group trying to convince Garth and his band to add a second show.  Join the conversation here.

Stay in the loop with Canadian Entertainment with Mike's Bloggity Blog!  I love it!  Bookmark it today!

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The Brighter Side has had the opportunity to not only share GREAT ideas, but introduce you to some AMAZING people.  Individuals or organizations who put their heart and soul into what they do.  Whether it's a small business or a non-profit charity group.  Amazing just doesn't describe the ambition and energy these people bring.  And now, another organization that knows the meaning of giving back!  Meet Katipult!

Katipult's online platform helps charities and non profits raise funds, execute projects, and build a following using their Full Cycle Fundraising framework.  They created this to help organizations demonstrate impact and engage their donors, while making the fundraising process fun and easy.  And if you've ever put something together for a fundraiser, and tried to raise money, you know that it's a lot of work.  But Katipult can help you get this going!!

Katipults start was born through the digital agency JOI Media.  The team at JOI Media felt a strong responsibility to give back, so they started JOI to the World, an initiative to provide boxes of essentials to needy people through local organizations.  They quickly went from 350 boxes in their first year to over 4,000 boxes last Christmas.  And a large part of the success was due to sharing the vision with their friends who used their social networks to spread the message and drive donations.  From there the idea for Katipult was established.

Keep in mind, there is no fee for non-profit organizations that want to post their campaigns on Katipult's community.  So if you know of a non-profit that's looking to increase their donations and better engage with their donors, send them to Katipult.com.  It's nice to know that there are other's out there helping us to see The Brighter Side!

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Elizabeth Critchley - Life Coach

We all need someone who is going to give us that extra push in the right direction.  And Elizabeth Critchley is the one to do it.  After sitting down to talk to Elizabeth, I felt rejuvenated and energized.  She has what I like to call an "infectious personality".  That is someone who I just know I want to spend more time with.

Elizabeth Critchley is a Life Coach.  So what exactly does a Life Coach do?  Coaching is described as partnering with clients in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.  Or what I like to call a positive motivator.  We've all been in that place where life seems to "snowball" in the wrong direction.  Wouldn't it be nice to have someone who can lead you back into the right and positive way.  Sure we all have family and friends, but I know for me, I don't always like to burden them with everything.  This way, with a Life Coach, you can walk away feeling refreshed and less weight on your shoulders.

Coaching is an ongoing relationship, which focuses on clients taking action toward the realization of their vision, goals and dreams.  The coaching process helps clients both define and achieve professional and personal goals faster and with more ease than would be possible otherwise.

So where did Elizabeth start out?  Her background and passion started as a teacher spanning over three decades.  She was awarded the Pan Canadian Student Choice Award for Excellence in Teaching.  And now her career has moved from impacting students in a school setting to helping individuals to have impact in their own lives.  After my conversation with Elizabeth I felt confident in my own new goals and taking them outside of my comfort zone.  She has helped me feel good about heading into a new direction.  Which is NEVER an easy task for anyone who takes on new projects.  Elizabeth coaches individuals in both their professional and personal lives, as well as facilitating workshops.  I hope to see Elizabeth again soon at a workshop!

What also impressed me about Elizabeth was her own "Big Dreams".  Elizabeth is the founder and president of the RDL Building Hope Society; a charitable organization that is presently building schools in Kenya.  This dream is to allow every child in the world the opportunity to have an education.  Please visit http://www.buildinghopesociety.com for more information.

If you are looking for someone who is willing to listen to you, understand you, and guide you, Elizabeth is not only a great teacher, she's also an amazing Life Coach.

For more on Elizabeth Critchley, visit her website at  http://www.elizabethcritchley.com.
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Chicken nuggets even your kids will love!

Not sure when it happened, but I think it was after I had children, I all of a sudden didn't really like chicken anymore.  So I had to find a way to enjoy it as it's such a great source of protein.  Then I came up with this recipe, and added some flax seed... and tada I like chicken again.  You can use this on a whole chicken breast or for nuggets.  Flax seed adds an extra crunchiness to your bite!

Organic Chicken nuggets
1 large organic chicken breast cut into bite sizes
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup Panko bread crumbs (you can get them at most grocery stores)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp dried oregano
1/4 cup flax seed
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp cooking oil

Use three separate bowls.  1 for the flour, 1 for the eggs (beat with fork) and one for the dry ingredients.
Cut the chicken breast into bite sizes.  First in the flour, tap off the excess, then in the eggs, then coat with the dry ingredients.  Heat oil in frying pan or wok.  Cook each side until cooked through.  (Watch as the flax seeds like to pop, so make sure you use a grease shield)


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    Fit And Fierce Boot Camp with Cara Fullerton

    Is it just me, or do you feel bombarded with stories and news about everything that's bad for us.  From what we eat to what we don't eat.  From how much we do, to not doing enough.  How are we supposed to feel good about ourselves if everything we hear and read and see is contradicting?  Here's how... make your own choices on how you want to live your life.   We're always hearing how we're not getting enough exercise.  People are too busy to spend 30 min to take care of your own body and what it needs.  From exercising to making the right food choices.

    Organic Chicken with Flax Seed
    Now it's not always easy to make the right food choices, considering how much things cost today.  It's rather ridiculous how much it cost to buy 1 organic chicken breast... just 1, not 2!  It'll run you anywhere from $12 to $16 FOR JUST 1 BREAST.  But if you can buy the whole chicken, you'll save more money.  And always ask if there's a coupon, or a website to sign up on to get discounts.  (You don't know if you don't ask, right).  In my next blog, I'll add a recipe of delicious chicken nuggets that can make your 1 chicken breast go further... and the kids will love them too!

    But when it comes to exercise, it doesn't always need to be expensive.  Mostly, you just need to make time for it!  I'm so GUILTY!  But really I don't have the time.  My husbands says to me, why don't you just get up earlier?  Well.... because if I don't get my sleep I'm miserable, and you don't want me to be grumpy do you!!??  So what about after work?  Well, today I have to get groceries, tomorrow I have to take my son to the dentist, and on Wednesday he has hockey, then on Thursday we're going to so and so's birthday, and on Friday I've made some plans with my girlfriends!  Sound familiar.  That's my life.  But honestly I was getting tired of not having time.  I needed to find it somewhere.  If even a walk, or short jog.  That's when I saw Cara Fullerton's Fit and Fierce Boot Camp on Facebook.

    Christina & Cara
    It was Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays.  Okay, I'm going to try to make this work!  But my first attempt wasn't successful.  The Tuesday and Thursdays wouldn't work, as it started at 6pm, and my husband has his own company, so it wasn't possible for him to be home for 5:30 to watch the kids and feed them dinner.  So I emailed Cara and she told me to "hang tight".  She was going to see if she could fit me in for just Saturdays.  On Saturday it's from 10am to 11am.  Perfect for my family, and no one would really miss me!  Done!  Cara came back to me and fit me in for the Saturday only!  Finally, I was getting somewhere.

    Working on my form!
    Now to calm my nerves of a FIT and FIERCE boot camp.  Sounded pretty scary to me.  I mean I really  haven't done a thing since before my 2 boys were born.  Other than chase them around and have them hanging off of me.  But the first class was okay.  Now, 3 days later I'm starting to get the feeling back in my legs... ow!  But a good pain.  At least I'm getting out and feeling better for doing it.  Cara paid attention to the past injuries I have and helped me do the right exercises that are right for me.  I actually really LOVED it... But don't tell Cara, she'll push me harder so I don't love it!  (Just kidding Cara).  

    It just felt good making the time to take care of myself.  After all, if I don't take care of me, who's going to do it.... no one!  I'll keep you posted on how my "exercise trial" goes.  Here's hoping I can find even more time to get in on the participACTION wagon!  

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    Easy to Make Easter Treat Baskets

    As a parent of 2 small children, you quickly learn that rice cereal is your friend.  Does it not only make for a great breakfast, but you can have all kinds of fun by adding butter and marshmellows!  Especially at Easter time.  Go to the Rice Krispies website for some easy and fun Easter treat ideas.  These Easter baskets took no time at all.  The only difference with the ones we made is, we skipped on the coconut due to allergies.  Have fun and Happy Easter!

    Recipe here http://www.ricekrispies.com/recipes/easter-basket-treats
    © The Brighter Side YYC Happy Easter


    A Night of Illusion ~ OurNextShow

    I first met this talented young man at Montana's Restaurant on 130th SE.  He was going around to the tables to do balloon animals for the kids... and he BLEW ME AWAY!  He made a frog for my 2 year old a helicopter for my 4 year old.  Gone are the days of balloon dogs and flowers.... move over for alligators and mickey mouse.  This guy was the BEST BALLOON ARTIST EVER!  His name is TriXtan.

    Since that day last year, I ended up hiring TriXtan for my sons birthday.  I found out then that he is MUCH MORE than balloon animals.  He's a magician and the founder and producer of "OurNextShow".  It's a series of magic shows and grand illusions.  The next show is A Night of Illusions.  Three great minds and one amazing show. (Show recommended for 4 and older)

    Trixtan:  Ever since he was a child, TriXtan has been fascinated with the art of magic.  Over the past 10 years, he has studied and mastered many types of entertainment, from magic to hypnosis and juggling to fire spinning, TriXtan does it all and always has lots of excitement in his show.  (And don't forget... how I met him... the most amazing balloon animal artist!)

    Chris Lovely:  Chris has been a professional magician for over 10 years.  What started out as a way to break the ice and make new friends has now become a lifelong quest.  Chris mixes his ability to fool and amaze people with his quick wit and sense of humour.

    TD Sparks:  He is a really funny magician and an amazing balloon sculptor.  Performing for over 20 years, TD Sparks dedicates his full time career to the art of magic and world class entertainment.  His peers describe him as a clown without makeup and a gifted magician.

    AND to top it all off, a portion of the ticket sales from this show will be donated to the Alberta Cancer Foundation.  Plus, all the tips from balloon making and face painting in the lobby will go towards the foundation.  There will also be a chance for you to win prizes just for making a donation!

    OurNextShow: A Night of Illusions is April 11th and 12th at Cardel Theatre ~ 180 Quarry Park Blvd., SE.  For tickets and information visit http://www.ournextshow.ca

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    Grilled Grapefruit Salmon

    Are you tired of the same old?  I know we are.  Now that Spring is in the air and we're starting to see things warm up, why not add more colour to your dinner.  This delicious salmon is light and full of flavour.  You can either grill it on your stove, bake in the oven or fire up the BBQ.  On the BBQ make sure you put it in a foil pan as it may stick to the BBQ.  Salmon doesn't take long to cook.  Once it flakes off your fork you're ready for the dressing!  I got rave reviews for this easy dinner!

    Here's what you need for your salmon and the dressing.

    2 Wild Salmon planks
    2 Cups fresh baby spinach
    1/4 Red onion sliced
    Fresh Strawberries sliced
    Fresh Cucumber slices
    1 Large Grapefruit sliced (no skin or pulp)

    Grapefruit Dressing
    1/4 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
    1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    1 Clove Garlic
    1 tsp sugar
    1 tsp Dijon Mustard
    1 Tbsp fresh Parsley


    If you have an easy tasty recipe you'd like to share, please email The Brighter Side info@thebrighterside.ca

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