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Moms and Dads

10 Dates That Don't Cost a Thing

The average person will spend over $130 on Valentine's Day this year, according to a report from the National Retail Federation. This amounts to a pretty pricey mid-February evening for those of short on cash.

Happily, there are lots of free things to do this Valentine's Day that will leave you wondering why you ever paid a premium for fun. Check out the following ideas and be sure to hit up for a complete list of 60 dates that don't cost a thing.

1. Create a Game Night
Avoid yet another evening spent on the couch and host a game night this Valentine's Day. Whether it's a mellow game of Scrabble or a high-intensity round of Texas Hold 'Em, you'll enjoy a little friendly competition with your date.

2. Head to the Playground
Skip the pricey restaurant and head to the playground for some kid-like fun. Compete on the swing set or see who can hold out the longest on the merry-go-round.

3. Volunteer Together
Valentine's Day seems to be all about what you're doing for your special someone. Why not collaborate and do something for others instead? Soup kitchens and nursery homes are always looking for a few good volunteers, so spend your Feb. 14 brightening someone else's day.

4. Make S'Mores
Forget chocolate-covered strawberries; s'mores are where it's at this Valentine's Day! Roast marshmallows over your kitchen stove, expertly melt chocolate in the microwave and create a multi-layered, gooey treat for your lover.

5. Bring the Spa Home
Spas and salons will be brimming with lovey-dovey couples this Valentine's Day, but you can skip the crowds and create a better experience at home. Gather your candles, towels and favorite CDs and prepare a steamy bath. Complete the experience with a couples massage.

6. Get Touristy
Despite how long you've lived in your current city, there are likely several hidden gems you haven't yet experienced. Stop by the local visitor's center with your date and inquire about free things to do in your community, then hit the road toward discovery.

7. Host a Movie Night
Host a movie night and ask friends to bring their favorite snack to share. Peruse your DVD collection for a funny or thought-provoking flick and leave the tear-jerkers for just the two of you.

8. Relive Story time
Open a bottle of wine or pop the top on your favourite brew and settle in for an evening of storytelling. Share passages from your favorite books or pick up your favourite childhood classics from the local library.

9. Cook Dinner Together
Cooking a meal for your loved one has long been a Valentine's Day tradition, but why not prepare something together? Challenge each other to create a tasty meal out of items you already have in your pantry and toast to your resourcefulness.

10. Host a Wine Tasting
Tasting flights will cost you a pretty penny at fancy restaurants, but you can bring the experience home for less. Ask friends to bring a bottle of wine and their favourite snack pairing and enjoy an intellectual discussion about tannins and undercurrents.

Date Night at Home: What’s on the Menu?

By:  Barbara McIntosh

Once you have children, finding time for you and your significant other can be difficult. It is important, though, to set aside time for reconnecting. Date Nights are a great way to spend time with each other without the interruptions of children, work or other things in life that have a way of taking priority.  A strong and nurturing relationship with your partner is vital not only for the marriage, but for the family as a whole. Planning in advance what to eat and do will allow for a great evening for two.

Planning and preparation is essential - it will allow you to enjoy more romance in your relationship. Planning the date in advance, maybe even having the date on the same day each week, will make for a hassle free night. Arranging a sitter or having the children already fed and in bed is a great way to start your night.

A good time and stress-saver is a prepared meal from a local meal assembly company. These meals are a quick, healthy and tasty, making prepared meals an exciting, stress free way to begin your date. Now it’s time to eat! Remember to set the mood; you can light a few candles, dim the lights and turn on some soft music, or you can have a party with loud music and a lot of activity. The main idea is to do things together.

If you are planning on having an active date consider activities such as video sports like the Nintendo Wii and challenge your partner to a round of tennis or bowling. You could also do a couples yoga session by simply renting a yoga video or book from your local library to help you connect with each other physically while rejuvenating the body.

If you are looking to spend a little less energy and relax in a more intimate way, renting a movie is a classic date idea.  It allows you to snuggle in close and enjoy the other person’s presence. A nice romantic massage is a great way to ensure your partner is relaxed to their fullest after a long day with the kids or at work. Try adding your own twist to classic board games to make things more interesting and enjoyable.

Using your date night to have a worry free time to strengthen your relationship will help to ensure a tighter knit family and allow you to continue working on that ever growing bond that brought you together in the first place. This will make for happier children and a happier you. Taking this time to reconnect with your partner may be the best thing you could do for your marriage and your happiness.

Barbara McIntosh is the owner/operator of Dashing Dishes Edmonton.

Self-Care for Moms

By: Christine Naidu

Welcome tomotherhood. As a fellow mom with three children ages 19, 15&13 years of age,my best piece of advice to all mothers is to take care of yourself. Whether this is your first baby or third, always remember to carve out some time for YOU. This puts you in a better position to deal with the demands of being a parent 24/7! There are four areas that need your attention:


  1. Eat Healthy!

  2. Stay Fit - weight bearing exercise to strengthen bones, abdominal, back & arm muscles. Try walking, running, Yoga, or take a fitness class for moms and babies.
  3. Maintain a Positive Mental & Emotional Outlook - meet with friends & family; have your partner, friend or family give you some respite time. If you have the baby blues or feel overwhelmed …ask for help!

  4. Sleep - grab a quick nap when baby is resting! It is tempting to start working on projects at night when the kids are asleep but do not short change yourself on sleep.

10 Nutrition Tips for Mothers


  1. Hydration - drink water and other healthy beverages. Staying well hydrated ensures all body functions run at optimum levels. It also supports breastfeeding.
  2. Whole Foods Diet - eat whole foods, lots of fruits & veggies, preferably organic. Avoid skipping meals. If your day is busy and you do not have time for a proper meal, try a smoothie or a high quality natural plantbased meal replacement.
  3. Quality Protein - high quality animal and/or plant protein provides energy and supports various body functions. Your iron levels may be depleted after labour and delivery; stick to organic and/or antibiotic free meats. Some good sources of plant protein are hemp seeds, organic nuts and lentils.
  4. Whole Oats - add whole oat products to your diet for the additional iron to support breastfeeding. Ie) Steel cut oats, whole oats; not the instant stuff! If you are gluten intolerant try pure oat products.
  5. Stay Regular - Constipation is uncomfortable and painful. Have enough fibre and water to ensure you have regular and non-straining bowel movements. This is especially important if you are healing up from stitches after labour and delivery. Consume fibre rich foods, including veggies, oats, etc. If you take a fibresupplement, choose something gentle such as magnesium or a chicory-based fibre supplement.
  6. Calcium - your body’s calcium store may be depleted from pregnancy. Ensure you have sufficient calcium in your diet for your own needs and for the breast milk your body is producing for your baby. Calcium keeps teeth and bones strong and supports heart and muscular activity. Some excellent sources are: organic dairy products, calcium enriched dairy free products, quality calcium supplements, collard greens, spinach, rhubarb, kale, legumes, seeds and nuts.
  7. Vitamin C - will help with healing of your skin after delivery and support strong immunity. Some sources include: Vitamin C rich fruits and veggies such as citrus fruits, strawberries, green leafy veggies, guava, peppers, Vitamin C supplements; Camu Camu, Amlaki fruit, etc.
  8. Omega 3 - Omega 3s support healthy skin, hair, joints and cardiovascular health. If you are breastfeeding ensure that you include sufficient Omega 3s because your breast milk will contain Omega 3s to support your baby’s cognitive brain development. Some sources are: fatty fish such as wild salmon, herring, sardines; a molecularly distilled fish oil supplement removes PCB’s, dioxins and heavy metals. Plant sources include: chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds.
  9. Vitamin D - is needed to support immunity, calcium absorption/bone health, cardiovascular and mental health. 10-15 minutes outdoors in sunshine allows your body to make its own Vitamin D. Since we live in northern climates, it may be a challenge to get enough sunshine, so Vitamin D supplementation is recommended. Some sources include: Vitamin D supplements, Vitamin D enriched foods, mushrooms.
  10. Fenugreek - a herb, often used in Indian cooking, has been used since Biblical times to enhance breast milk production. You can consume it in tea form or higher potency fenugreek capsules.

*Please consult with your health professional regarding proper dosage and any precautions.The writer gratefully acknowledges the contribution & expertise of Gus Nathanail & Kathleen Ryan from the Amaranth Whole Foods Market Wellness Team at the Enjoy Centre.

Christine Naidu is the Community Relations Coordinator for Amaranth Whole Foods Market at the Enjoy Centre.

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