Joanna Anastasia

Lifestyle

Valentines day tablescape

Every year we do something fun with my girls for Valentine’s day- because why for many this is another made-up holiday, for me it’s a great opportunity to celebrate love and family in the midst of our cold canadian winter!

Now, if you prefer making gifts for your loved ones, or simply watch romantic movies and eat heart shaped cookies – you do you boo! I think all that really matters is to take this day as an opportunity to talk about why we love each other, what we appreciate about each other and how we should be grateful and appreciative of all the little things all year round.

However setting up a cute Valentines day table for breakfast or an afternoon tea is definitely something fun to do for/with kids! And for me, seeing my girls eyes getting big out of excitement when they see what I have prepared for them is what makes my heart full!

It doesn’t need to be expensive to be fun- here are my simple ideas for a Valentine’s day tablescape:

  • hand written paper table runner
  • paper heart hearts layered on the table
  • felt heart hearts spread around the table
  • heart shaped chocolates and cookies layered in a colorful mess
  • hot milk with marshmallow hearts
  • cake with marshmallow “cake toppers” ( store bought or baked- whatever works!)
  • valentines balloons
  • heart garland
  • ceramic lanterns
  • some fruits

And I found most of this set up in my local Dollar Store- it took me around 10 minutes to set it all up. And I had so much fun! Because celebrating doesn’t need to be over the top difficult to set up nor expensive!

Now I hope I inspired you to throw a simple Valentine’s day celebration in your home too! Happy Valentine’s day everyone!

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Printable Christmas gift tags & wrapping paper set

Christmas is only a month away and in my books it means that it’s about time to start the preparations! I know there’s still time for the cooking and baking, but when you’re an usually busy adult then during the holiday season ( full of activities, obligations, parties and extra magic- and much more parenting effort then usually!) then you’re basically on the edge of a breakdown! Unless of course your start early, get your gifts ahead of time, wrap them and tag them right away and hide away before the real holiday rush starts!

So this year I decided to make my own printable Christmas gift tags- and some wrapping paper that goes with it, in an effort to :

  • always be ready to wrap a gift ( just press print and voila)
  • be more eco friendly ( I already have lots of paper at home, and I don’t need to buy any new wrapping paper or tags!)

I couldn’t be happier with this little printable set I created- it’s cheerful, joyful and perfect to mix an match! I made two shapes of tags for you, 9 different designs of tags, and 4 different wrapping paper sheets!

I printed everything on regular paper, and I just love how it turned out! My girls where helping me cut out the gift tags, we have put on some holiday music and with the snow outside it felt like christmas is only days away!

Clearly I’m obsessed with red, white and blue this season- also, everything hand lettered and cute! I hope you’ll like my little wrapping set as much as me and my girls we love it!


You can get the PDF file HERE – simply download it, print at home, cut out the tags and get wrapping with the wrapping paper sheets!

And make sure to share with me how you wrapped your gifts with my set – just tag me on your Instagram photos ( @joanna.anastasia_ ) I can’t wait to see how you’ll be using them!


Easy crostini recipes with Olives from Spain

It’s a no brainer why we all love end of summer so much – the days spent together adventuring outside in the fresh crisp air, the evenings of laughs and entertaining, and the easy on the go lifestyle – it all makes the end summer a season of memory making and endless fun!

And I think the quintessence of it all are easy and simple summer picnics! And by easy, I mean delicious no fuss bites that you can throw together in less than 10 minutes but that everyone will enjoy- including the kids!

So when we have meet my sister- in-law and her family on our annual family camping by the lake, it was the best end of summer picnic ever! Because if there’s one thing that says laidback days it’s camping by the lake! With kids playing and running around, gorgeous weather and all the catching up to be done. there’s no time for long and fussy food prep!

That’s when in hand comes Crostinis & Olives! I first discovered Crostinis on our honeymoon trip to Europe and I remember thinking how those mediterranean cultures know how to elevate a simple sandwich situation! And when you serve Olives From Spain on the side you have basically covered the healthy and yummy snacking in a breeze!

So here are my all time favourite summer Crostinis that you too can make in 10 minutes or less!

Ricotta, sundried tomatoes & Olives from Spain

  • Hojiblanca Olives From Spain
  • Fresh baguette 
  • Ricotta cheese 
  • Sun Dried tomatoes cut in stripes 

Simply spread the cheese on the baguette, top with sundried tomatoes and Olives From Spain and voila! 

Garlic crostini with fresh tomatoes, Olives from Spain & fig balsamic vinegar

  • Manzanilla Olives From Spain
  • Fresh baguette
  • Garlic olive oil
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Fig Balsamic Vinegar 

Top the baguette with a drop of garlic olive oil, add thick slices of heirloom tomatoes, and top with the Manzanilla Olives From Spain and a drop of the fig balsamic vinegar ! 

Goat cheese, pomegranate and Olives from Spain

  • Hojiblanca Olives From Spain
  • Fresh baguette
  • Goat cheese
  • Fresh pomegranate

Spread the goat cheese on the baguette, top with fresh pomegranate seeds and the Hojiblanca Olives from spain cut in rounds, and enjoy! 

And if you wonder why I add Olives from spain to my Crostinis recipes, it’s because they are delicious, healthy – full of minerals, amino-acids antioxidants and fiber – and they help to digest better and improve one’s cardiovascular system! Also, my kids are obsessed with olives – so I add them everywhere I can! 

I hope you’ll enjoy these Crostinis on your next picnic with family just as we did! And remember- family picnics don’t need to be complicated- they just need to be fun!

Disclosure- this post was brought to you by Olives from Spain, all opinions remain exclusively my own. 

Dream & Create studio launch

Last week we have finally thrown a launch party of our new studio- with balloons, pretzels, sparkling rose and all the confetti! If you haven’t heard about this project of mine yet, then let me introduce you to the Dream and Create Studio!

Welcome to our blogging dream coming true!

Ever since we have set up the space with my blogging bestie Maca we realized we don’t want to be the only one working there- we actually crave community!

Not to mention the fact that I have three little kids and I don’t wish to work out of home full time just yet- and my blogging bestie is traveling a lot! So why won’t share the space when we are not around?

And we also realized that we would love to see this space evolving in to a creative hub of sorts – where other bloggers could come and shoot their content, where fun workshops could take place and where creative ladies could work side by side.

So our launch party was a colorful way of saying welcome and hello!

The yummiest bites

I need to say a huge thank you to our catering partners, Brezel and Companie and Little Leah’s kitchen! Because an event with the best pretzels and the sweetest, loveliest cupcakes is instantly fabulous, am I right?

Also, my bestie Jordan from Korkscrewed has supplied us with the best local Sparkling Rose – that you must admit looked absolutely perfect in our studio sink!

Dream and Create Studio – next steps

My heart is so full – seeing all of our blogging friends and introducing the creative labor of love to them was definitely a day I won’t forget- now I just hope we will be able to work here among friends as we dreamed!

Stay tuned for the fall workshops , and to learn more about how we can work together there , follow us at the Dream and Create official Instagram account!

This will improve your kids health now

You know you’re a mom when you worry about kids health more than you worry about your own wellbeing, am I right? Because let’s be honest, a kid that feels bad, doesn’t eat well and is in a bad mood will influence everyone at home- and make your mom heart ache. . So I think one of my biggest role as a mom is to prevent their health issues.

Now we all know that gut health is important- and how it affects our mood, skin, metabolism and immune system , right? 

But it’s not always easy to convince our kids to eat food that can help with gut health. Then there are the oh so important omega-3, that are essential to cognitive health and the maintenance of bones and teeth.

That’s why I was really excited when I discovered the Genuine Health-y Kids line made especially with the little ones in mind! From the amazing supplements to gut superfoods, they have our kids needs covered!

Disclosure; this post is brought to you by Genuine Health, all opinions remain exclusively my own.

I had the pleasure to try with my girls three new products, and I’m happy to say that they are easy to implement in our daily diet!

First up, the omega3 kids + D3- is our easy go to health fix- I keep it on hand, and my girls just see the bottle and ask me to have some (it’s so yummy!) It was made to deliver nutrients that are critical to your child’s development: the intake of EPA & DHA, Lutein and Vitamin D- all sustainable, pure and safe!

Then, the fermented organic gut superfoods+ kids in form of a powder, that you can mix with water for a super healthy shake that will boost your child’s nutritional intake, or add to your morning smoothie!

And lastly, we tried the advanced gut health probiotic kids with 5 billion CFU from 7 balanced strains specifically chosen to support their overall and gastrointestinal health. I was so happy to try this with my girls, as the tablets are chewable and finally it was a gut health product that they really liked! 

Taking care of our kids’ health is a huge responsibility, and I often feel overwhelmed, it’s good to know that these products are all natural so our kids can thrive and feel great!

Disclosure- this post was brought to you by Genuine Health, all opinions remain entirely my own.D

All you wanted to know about being an influencer on Instagram.

Before I begin let me say that I really hate the term – Influencer. Every time I sign a contract that says I am one, I cringe. Why?

Well, “influencer” as a term says nothing about the job of being a writer/a photographer/ sometimes a videographer/a stylist/an editor/ a social media coordinator. It only indicates that anyone who is active on Instagram is there only to influence other people choices – to make other people buy things.

Well, I am not an Influencer. I do not wish to make my work about manipulating you into buying things. Nor are many other big Canadian bloggers that have grown to be my friends. What are we then and why do we “expose our lives” on instagram?

  1. We know Instagram is a tool– and we all use this tool differently. You can’t assume it’s the same tool for everyone. For some people it is a way to propagate their work – whether it’s their blog content, the photography work, the creative work, the small shop they might have, or a full on business – Instagram is a great place to show to others what we are doing on our blogs or websites, what we create, sell and make. It can be used to gain money and sell products. It can also be a tool to connect with people and feel less alone. To share our story. Or to jurnal the everyday life. And many of us will be using it for all of the above all at once.
  2. We are not our Instagram profile. We share only what we want to and you can’t assume you know everything only because we share 5 stories a day. Nobody has a perfectly clean house all the time – nor perfectly behaving kids. Nobody does yoga all day or drinks coffee in bed 24/7. What you see is a moment of someones day. Sometimes a styled moment. Our profiles are a representation of how we want to be seen- or how we would like to see our lives. Or what we like seeing. And there’s no right or wrong here. Some of us will want to be seen as imperfect and messy: blurry-photos-and-no-makeup, and some will choose to show the put-together-and-nicely-dressed version. But we are all human with large spectrum of behaviors and we chose which side we want to show you.
  3. We have a love-hate relationship with Instagram. We love it for the opportunity to use it as a tool for whatever reason ( see point 1) but we hate it for it lack of transparency within how it works. The algorithms are always changing, and the longer we’re on it, the more it feels like Instagram wants us to pay more and more it in order to show our content to our own followers.
  4. We use different tools to manage our Instagram. From giveways to help us grow, to group pods, to comment pods to help each other with the algorithm, most of us use different tools. We don’t like talking about it, as it’s seen as somehow shameful, but the unpredictable ways algorithms work mixed with the lack of transparency on algorithm changes make us want to try everything just to be able to show our own content to our own followers. We make mistakes and we try new things. Some people have assistants to help them engage, some of us have agents to help with the sponsored content, and some use paid apps. It’s always changing and everyone has a different opinion on what’s good and what’s bad, what works and what doesn’t.
  5. We compare each other a lot. It’s a public space so we are very aware of what others are doing, how many likes they are getting and who they work with. And we constantly compare ourselves. It’s a mental exercise not to do so, and it requires a lot of effort to just do your own thing without comparison, remembering the mission and values we have put on ourselves.
  6. We suffer from anxieties. Almost every Instagrammer I talked to admits they live with anxieties -some only from time to time (me) , others all the time. Why? Well, I think the point 3, 4 and 5 are to blame.
  7. We work much more than you think. You might think it’s only snapping photos with a phone, and getting things for free, but a typical “Influencer” creates content for 4-5 posts a week ( if not more), which means: planning photos ( some photos will be very spontaneous but for most part they are planned- so where what, how and with who) executing photoshoots ( styling, setting things up,) editing ( most of us use digital cameras and then we spend hours editing in lightroom or photoshop), writing captions ( this may include researching topics, editing text) posting ( a lot of times it means working in the evening every day), responding to comments, engaging with other people content ( this alone can take 2 hours a day), planning the editorial calendar, responding to emails, reporting statistics after sponsored content. And if like me an “Influencer” has a blog, then there’s also; writing articles ( often this includes more prep work, and many more photos) managing a website, managing more social media channels ( Pinterest, Facebook) and more emails.
  8. We make money through sponsored content. Yes we do promote products- some of us only the products that we used for years, some of us promote things that we wanted to try, some of us make pretty photos of things and see the sponsored collaborations as an exercise in creativity (me). Some of us use our private lives as an inspiration, and some of us will style and pretend for the photo. And yes, we are paid for posting photos and stories with products to our Instagram. Now, you may think we are payed for nothing, but let me just say that we do a job of a photographer, model, stylist, editor, and copy writer. And in between sponsored content we usually create all the content for free for our followers to use- since most of us do have a mission- which means that in our free from sponsored content time we will either develop recipes for free for your use, or DIY projects, or styling ideas, or write inspiring text, or share pretty inspirations for life with kids, travel, beauty etc.
  9. We question ourselves a lot. Everyone I ever talked to questions their worth – from the content we create, to the positive impact we may or not have, to the role of our kids in our posts, to our mission. Even after years online we still ask ourselves questions about what and why are we doing. And we know everyone will judge us for whatever we do.
  10. We are on Instagram because we love creating and connecting with others, and it has nothing to do with being an exhibisonist. Most of us are “Influencers’ because we truly love the creative aspect of it – making photos, creating things and images, writing and connecting with others. Yes, our instagrams are rooted in our lives, but remember point 1 & 2 – we all have different motives and we are not our profiles- so if we share things with you it’s not because we are exhibitionists, It’s simply our way of creating and connecting.

Now, of course there are plenty of Influencers that are not my cup of tea- and my instagram may not be your cup of tea either.

And if ever I find a better way to share my blog content, connect with other moms and be payed for my creativity- while I raise my kids – I may abandon it all together – but for now, it’s a big part of my life- with all the fun, the difficult and the ugly..

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