Monday, 4 December 2017

No Power - No Problem: I Download @Netflix_CA Faves to My Tablet (#Ad) #Streamteam

Power Outages (PO) ... 

Living in Canada you expect and prepare for at least a couple during the winter months. 

Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Streamteam I receive special perks
 for my participation, posts, and sharing, All opinions are my own.

But did you remember to ...
Include downloading some of your favourite Netflix shows and movies to your tablet or phone as part of your Powers Out - What Now Preparedness Kit (POP Kit)? Recently I was happily watching a series on Netflix (ummm ... no surprise there) when we lost power. I soon realized there is nothing more frustrating than losing power half way through an episode of an action drama. To make things worse this happened in the evening (aka anything past 5:00 pm this time of year) so there was no light by which to read, or write a blog post, or clean the house. Okay, the "clean the house" thing wasn't going to happen regardless of whether I had power or not. So there I sat in the dark ... feeling frustrated ... UNTIL ... I remembered! I had downloaded the very same series I was watching to my tablet before leaving on a recent road trip. I thought this feature was great for travel (which it definitely is!) but as a Life Hack and part of a POP-Kit it is brilliant! 

Be Power Outage Ready ... 
Be Scout-like, and be prepared by putting together a basket or box of essentials you'll need to stay happy and entertained during a PO. That might include snacks, bottled drinks, flashlights, portable battery chargers, and a cozy throw. And now I know to keep a few series or movies downloaded to my tablet just in case. If the forecast is calling bad weather, heavy snow, freezing rain, or thunder showers, I also add a few of Hubby's, Thing 1 and Thing 2's favourites so we can "ride out the storm" so to speak. 

If you haven't ... why not?!
If you've already used the Netflix App to download shows or movies to your tablet or phone you know just how easy it is to do. And you know how great being able to watch a couple episodes of a show, or a movie without wi-fi or the internet is. If you haven't ... first, What are you waiting for! and second, you can find more information on how to download Netflix shows and movies to your devices HERE. You can find the Netflix App for iOS in the Apple App Store or for Android in Google Play. 

Have Netflix will Travel!
"Netflix to Go" (as I call it) is a travel essential, and  warrants repeating it's a must have whether traveling by air, train, or embarking on a long road trip. Most airlines have done away with the drop down screens for movies, and now require you to use you own device, and have their App to assess in-flight entertainment. Most also charge for at least some content, and to rent a device (and the fee is not cheap). I can honestly say I do not travel without my Netflix to Go, and use it both enroute to watch some House of Cards on the plane, and once I have reached my destination to enjoy a bit of GirlBoss. 

There is no shortage of options to download, so you are sure to easily please everyone in your family.

If you're a parent ... 
You'll appreciate being able to control what the kids watch in a hotel, or while visiting family and friends over the holidays, since you decide what is appropriate to download for your kids to watch. Plus Netflix has just launched a Netflix Family Facebook page where you can find and share all sorts of information, tips, updates and stories, including family travel "experiences". 

I'll show you my list if you show me yours ... 
What do you have in your My Downloads? And if it's empty what are you going to add to that list as soon a you finish reading this post? Currently "My Downloads" include:
  • The Method (Series, 2015, TV-MA, subtitles)
  • Sadqay Tumhare (Series, 2014, TV-PG, subtitles)
  • The Many Faces of Ito (Series, 2017, TV-14, subtitles)
  • Colony (Series, 2016, TV-14)
  • Humko Deewana Kar Gaye (Movie, 2006, TV-PG, subtitles)
  • People You May Know (Movie, 2016, TV-MA)
  • Bushwick (Movie, 2017, TV-MA)
  • Wheelman (Movie, 2017, TV-MA)

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about being Power Outage Prepared. 

There's a "hot" new eatery in #Ottawa - #MoralsVillageHotPot (#Ad) #Ottawafood #OttawaEateries

More than a meal ... a dining adventure.

Disclosure: I was not compensated, nor obligated to post or share about this experience. 
However as I was an invited guest or plus-one I did receive my meal free of charge. All opinions are my own.

When Julie (Try Small Things) invited me to be her plus one for dinner at the newly opened Morals Village Hot Pot Ottawa (located at Riverside and Hunt Club), she didn't have to ask me twice. My decision to accept her invitation was a good one, because our meal turned out to be an interactive dining experience. My first impression was the warm reds and golds of the beautiful decor, and the welcoming and friendly greeting we received from the staff. 

Things I learned as a Hot Pot newbie:
  • The Morals Village name comes from their commitment to giving back and community. In keeping with that sense of community it's not surprising most of the seating is communal style with a flat top stock pot burner at each seat. 
  • Hot pot is a traditional Chinese dish using soup stock to cook a variety of ingredients. 
  • Morals Village is an all-you-can-eat restaurant with a flat fee that includes the hot pot ingredients. (Note: the stock and beverages are not included in the flat rate. Visit the website, or restaurant for pricing details). 
  • The staff is friendly, and knowledgeable, which is important for a Hot Pot newbie like myself.
  • Over the course of a meal the stock in your pot is topped up. Staff explained this was to keep the stock from getting too salty as liquid evaporates from the boiling stock.   
  • The reason there are two sets of chop sticks (one white, one black) is to avoid cross-contamination. One set is for raw meat, and the other set is for cooked items. 
  • My chop stick skills are virtually non-existent. 
  • Elastic waist pants are an excellent fashion choice when hot-potting. 
  • Sharing a hot pot meal with friends or family is a perfect choice on a cold day.
  • I really really like my hot pot experience. 

The Stock:
The experience starts with choosing from one of a dozen stock options (priced from $3 to $8) that you will use to cook your chosen ingredients. Your pot-o-stock stays piping hot by way of table elements. I opted for the Mountain Cliff Wild Mushroom soup base which was very nice. 

The Ingredients:
There are dozens of ingredient options, with everything from fried pork skin, quail eggs, and squid rolls to seaweed, lotus roots, and tofu. Each visit is a new opportunity to be adventurous in your choices, and customize your eating experience. To my mushroom soup base I added: Rib Eye Beef Slices, Japanese Crab Meat, Broccoli, Sweet Corn, Napa Cabbage, and Japanese Udon Noodles. 
Into the hot pot they went, and not to start anything but ...  yes I stirred the pot. 

Service with a smile ...

The Toppings & Sauce Bar:
I bet you're thinking there is no way to top that ... but indeed there is. There are a dozen sauces, dips, and toppings to pair with your hot pot meal. This is where you'll also find spring rolls, sesame balls, and deep fried buns. I recommend all three! 

The Ice Cream Finish:
What better way to end a hot and spicy meal than with a sweet ice cream cone filled with Morals Village made-on-site vanilla soft serve ice cream. 

From start to finish it was a wonderful night, that included a great meal, shared with a fabulous friend. It doesn't get much better than that in my opinion. So next time you're in Ottawa, looking for a new dining adventure or find yourself asking "Where should we go to eat?" you might want to give Morals Village Hot Pot, or one of these Ottawa eateries a try. 

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about Ottawa eateries, and adventures in dining. 

Friday, 3 November 2017

Spice up #MovieNight with #Bollywood movies & @TajOttawa Takeout (#Ad) #TajOttawa

Pairing your favourite Bollywood movie with the taste of India, 

is the perfect way to spice up Movie Night. 

Disclosure: Although I have worked with Taj Indian Cuisine in the past in exchange for a delicious meal, 
I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. 

In our house Friday night is Movie Night. For years it meant the whole family gathered to eat pizza and watch a movie. My kids are adults now, and more often than not it's just my Hubby and me, so I suppose now it could be called Date Night. I love our Friday Movie Night tradition, but after almost 2 decades of Friday night pizza I'm  ready to mix it up a bit, both in our cuisine and movie choices. So I'm spicing things up with Taj Indian Cuisine take-out (or delivery) and a couple Bollywood movies. 

My Taj Takeout Movie Night favourites:
Vegetable Samosas (a perfect way to start any taste of India dining and movie adventure)
North Indian Salad (a fresh salad made with tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions)
Butter Chicken (because you can never go wrong with Butter Chicken)
Chicken Korma (chicken with herbs and nuts in a delicious creamy sauce)
Alu Matar (Potatoes and peas in curry sauce)
Basmati Rice (Indu's personal recipe)
and of course lots of their #naantastic naan bread!

My top Bollywood Movie Night picks ...
As I laughed watching trailers for each of these movies I was reminded why I enjoyed them so much. (Just an FYI all of these are currently available to stream on Netflix Canada)

Finding Fanny: 2014 (NR) 
This comic and heartwarming movie tells the story of an aging man who learns the marriage proposal he sent to his girlfriend decades before was never received, and the road trip he takes to find her. 
Piku: 2015 (TV-PG)
The parent and child relationship is complicated, as seen in the interactions between an eccentric aging father, and his efficient, and opinionated daughter. Put them both in the same car for a long distance road trip and result is a comical clash of wills.    
Queen: 2014 (TV-MA)
After Queen is jilted at the alter, she decides to travel solo on what was to have been her European honeymoon. Her experiences push her out of her comfort zone, and challenge her to think about who she is, who she wants to be, and how that fits with her traditional family and life in Delhi. 
The Lunchbox: 2013 (PG) 
An error in the usually ultra-efficient and reliable, but complicated Mumbai lunchbox delivery service, unexpectedly leads to a housewife making the lunches, and the soon to be retired widower receiving them, to become become lunchbox penpals.   
Mumbai, Delhi, Mumbai: 2014 (TV-14)
This movie follows the typical Bollywood rom-com story-line of: boy and girl meet, boy and girl instantly dislike each, followed by a comedy of errors, misunderstandings, coincidences, and of course dancing, that eventually lead boy and girl to rethink how they feel about each other. The story begins with a young woman, who at her mom's insistence travels from Mumbai to Delhi to meet with a potential marriage candidate. Everything is going as planned until she loses her cell phone. 

Do you have a favourite Bollywood movie? If so what Indian dish would you pair with it to spice up movie night?  

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about spicing up movie night. 
For drool-worthy pictures of Taj's delicious dishes follow them on facebooktwitter, and instagram.  

Monday, 30 October 2017

Foodies Netflix-Google Mind Map - Inspired Learning (#Ad) #Streamteam @Netflix_CA

Inspired Learning with Netflix and Google.

Because you never know where a little inspiration will take you, or what you'll learn unless you act upon it. 

Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Streamteam I receive special perks for my participation, 
posts and sharing. All opinions are my own. 

The inspiration ...
Have you ever watched a cooking or food show, or even a movie that showed a meal, type of cuisine, restaurant or chef that that left you wanting to know more. An emotional response to food you have seen on the screen that leaves you with a craving to smell and taste it for yourself. 

The Learning Journey ...
What if you were to take those thoughts a step further, and instead of just thinking about it, what if you were to go on a Netflix-Google Mind Map journey. Each person's inspired learning journey is different because we are each inspired by different things.

It's like a Pick-Your-Own Ending Adventure ...
The adventure starts with a food themed show, movie, or documentary. Inspiration found in the show that lead to questions. Different questions lead to different discoveries, journeys and endings. 

Start your journey with a show such as Chef's Table, which will lead you to questions about recipes on the show, ingredients used, or a certain type of cuisine. Now Google for answers about those questions. The answers are likely to raise more questions to Google. You might learn about different ingredients, and how to use them, or where they are produced and their historical significance. You might learn about how to adapt recipes to fit your skill level and lifestyle, or about pairing beverages with certain dishes. The possibilities are truly endless. 

I'm sure one of the shows listed below is sure to get you started on your Foodie Netflix-Google Mind Map and your Inspired Learning Adventure.   

Chef's Table
A Cook Abroad

Theatre of Life 
Taste of the Country
Testing the Menu

Raja Rasoi Aur Anya Kahaniyan 
Restaurant Australia 
Chef & My Fridge 

Food, Cooking, and Eating are always about more than just the ingredients. What do each of these mean to you, and what inspired learning journey will they take you on?

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about Inspired Learning Journeys.   

Thursday, 19 October 2017

#TBT #ThrowbackThursday #Nintendo #MarioBros Adventure Books circa 1990s #makesmesmile

Throwback Thursday 
Nintendo Adventure Books
circa 1990's

You've gotta love these pick-your-own ending Nintendo Mario Bros Adventure Books. These three books are courtesy of Thing 1's bookshelf. You can see they've been well loved over the years.

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about #TBT adventures.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Ideas to Personalize Kid's B-Day Parties (#Ad) #Streamteam @Netflix_CA

No need to be Martha Stewart or break the bank 

to create fun and personalized birthday parties for your kids.

Disclosure: as a member of the Netflix Streamteam I receive special perks for my participation, 
posts, and sharing. All opinions are my own. 

Finding party items in the theme your child wants is not always easy. Especially if the theme they have chosen is not one of the popular themes of the day. Below are 5 ideas I used over the years to create one of a kind, personalized birthday parties for my kids. Not only do they solve the problem of finding party items in a particular theme, they cost next to nothing to make. 
Tip: Get yourself a binder and clear page protectors to organize all these items during the planning process and the actual party.

1) The invitation
Make your own fun interactive invitations by including a themed maze or word search, or both to the invitation. I cut and past onto a piece of printer paper to create the master invitation. Then just copy the number of invitations needed. 

2) Party Hats:
Themed headbands made from inexpensive Bristol board from the dollar store can easily be customized to fit any party theme from crown to Lego mini figure head.
Tip: Depending on how complex the themed image is, or for printing reasons, it may be easier to make the band, and the theme image separately, then attach, rather than make the headband in a single piece of Bristol board. 

3) Pin the ___ on the _____:
Again it is easy to adapt this party game favourite to fit any theme. Just like the donkey game, the kids are blindfolded and must pin, in this case Lego heads on the Lego mini figure. 
Tip: I use tape, and pre-tape each head and stick them to a clear page protector so they are ready to go at the party. 

4) Themed Musical Chairs
These can be adapted to any theme, and can be used on chairs or simply on the floor. As with musical chairs one is removed between each music session. 
Tip: Create 3 or 4 different images and then make enough copies to accommodate the number of kids attending the party.

5) A Ribbon Pinata:
This pinata is made from a paper bag and ribbons, and eliminates the swinging of a stick  required for a traditional pinata. This is a good thing, since in my experience the stick mostly misses the pinata, but hits everything else. The ribbons are knotted inside the bag, and when each one is pulled it creates a small rip in the bag. Ribbons continue to be pulled until the hole becomes big enough to let the candies and toys fall out the bottom. 
Tip: You may want to have 1 or 2 ribbons that feed through 2 holes to ensuring at least 1 hole large enough to empty the loot. 

And now there is something new ... 
that was not available for my kids, but is available for yours! Netflix has 14 fabulous Birthday-on-Demand videos to help make your child's birthday special. 

How fun is this!
Fourteen Birthday song videos featuring some of the most popular characters from 14 shows such as Pokemon, Lego Ninjago, Lego Friends, and Project MC2 singing Happy Birthday, and helping to celebrate your child's birthday.  

Just search Birthday Songs in Netflix to find all 14 options available.

Personally I think a special Birthday song is a great idea for kids of all ages. Which song would your kid(s) pick first? I say first because I know one would never be enough for this kid at heart. 

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about Birthday fun! 

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

DIY Family Streaming Planner = Consensus #Streamteam #Ad @Netflix_CA

Strategies for ending Streaming Selection Squabbles and Bringing 

Calm and Consensus to Family Movie Night negotiations.

Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Streamteam I receive special 
perks for my participation, posts, and sharing. All opinions are my own. 

I think most of us have had the following experience: You lovingly plan a Family Movie Night, with visions of family harmony and bliss. In reality the kids argue over what to watch, frustrated you lay down the law and make the decision, at which point the kids stomp off and refusing to participate. This is followed by you watching a movie alone, while eating the snacks you prepared in quantities large enough to serve a family of four. In my opinion the key to avoiding this type of solo-streaming is managing expectations: by putting into place mechanisms to for everyone to have input into the decision making process, and clear rules and guidelines beforehand. An easy way to do this is by using my easy to make DIY Family Streaming Planner (FSP). My DIY FSP will take you no time to make and cost almost nothing. I used recycled paper, 3 mason jars, and a notebook. 

The FSP Users Manual: 
Start by putting in writing some basic non-negotiable rules and guidelines, which should be kept in your FSP for quick and easy reference. Make sure everyone reads, understands, and signs to acknowledge the rules and guidelines. This single action will save you hours of conflict resolution, frustration, and set the expectations for participation. 

Rules and Guidelines...
1) Movie and show suggestions must be approved by FSP administrators (aka parents).
2) A different family member will randomly pick from each category. For example: if Thing 2 picks the movie, he can not pick the snack. 
3) The family member randomly picking the snack, movie or show rotates. For example: if Thing 1 picks the movie this week, next week the next person on the list picks that category. Weekday show negotiations can be resolved in the same manner, and the reason for the "Show Jar"
4) All family members agree to accept the randomly picked snack, movie or show, and may not opt out because they don't like the snack, movie, or show selected.
5) If a situation arises where a selected snack cannot be provided, administrators (aka parents) may substitute, or pull another snack selection. For example: missing ingredients, or time doesn't allow for a given snack. Idea: Select the snack the week prior so there is time to purchase snack ingredients during the weekly grocery shopping. I don't suggest doing this with the movie or show selections, since it will give the kids time to figure out how to wiggle out of participation if they don't like the selection, or argue over the selection. 

Snacks, Movies, Shows.
To start pre-select 10 snacks, movies and shows, write them on small slips of paper, fold, and place in the jars. Going forward each family member can add up to 1 new movie and show suggestion per week. Snacks stay constant to ensure availability of ingredients, and preparation is easy, but a quarterly review of snack options might make sense.

A peek at what's in our jars ...
Nine Lives (2016, PG, Family-Comedy)
Here Comes the Boom (2012, PG, Comedy)
Enchanted (2007, G, Comedy - Fantasy)
Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005, G, Comedy - Animated)
Bindi's Bootcamp (2012, TV-G, 1 season, Reality-Adventure)
Merlin (2017, TV-PG, 5 seasons, Fantasy)
Roswell (2001, PG, 3 seasons, Sci-Fi - Teen)
Drop Dead Diva (2014, PG, 6 seasons, Comedy)
1 Minute Microwave Nachos (Top nacho chips with cheese, salsa, and your other favourite toppings. Microwave on high for 1 minute)
Pizza Bites (Pizza cut into bite size pieces, served with a variety of dips)
Mini Pancakes or French Toast Fingers (Idea: Add the syrup to the batter so they are mess-free (ish) and easy to eat)
Hummus & Crackers or Nacho Chips or Sliced French Stick

Still need help avoiding Solo-Streaming?
Assuming of course you don't want to Solo-Stream, because there are definitely times when you do, then the tips below may help to reach your streaming goals, and hone your persuasion skills. And who knows, maybe Chef's Table will provide you with some inspired snack ideas for your family to nibble on while sharing a movie, or episode of your favourite show. I know I like it better when we stream together ... sometimes.  

Do tell ... how do you settle streaming selection squabbles? 

Yep,  just me Cathy thinking our loud about the power of persuasion and peaceful streaming selection negotiations. 

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