Tag Archives: holidays

Affordable DIY Costumes

It’s that time of year again! Time to try and figure out how your child is going to wade their way through the masses of superheroes and fairies to the magical land of sugar-high happiness. However, while your child is dreaming of lollipops and mars bars, you don’t have to stay up all night worrying about what they’re going to wear! Here are a few tips and ideas to inspire you this Halloween!

My mother wasn’t overly into Halloween costume shopping, so we tended to simply find supplies around the house and get creative! We swapped thick goopy costume makeup for Mom’s cosmetic bag and pre-made suits for some of Dad’s construction supplies! One year my parents managed to transform Christmas supplies and a big piece of plastic vapor barrier into a “dancing bug” (I LOVED it).

All of the costumes above can be created for about $10 (that’s cheaper and cuter than VV Boutique (a.k.a. Value Village) !!!! If your child is willing to sport some FREE 3D glasses, Helium balloons, and a walker made of plumbing supplies, Carl from UP is sure to win first place in any costume contest!

Another really adorable trend is dressing your kids up like household items! There is something oddly funny about an 8 year old dressed up as a box of KD or a flower pot. A lot of great costumes can be made from taking a look around the house and making a trip to the Dollarama!

Here are a few step-by-step instructions for adorable and affordable Halloween outfits!

Earthy Princess

-Natural feathers ($1/ bag Dollarama)
-Brown headband ($1 Dollarama)
-Turquoise beads ($1 Dollarama) -optional
-Brown Tulle (2$/ yard Fabricville)
-Suede ($4 Fabricville)
-Eyeliner (you likely have this already)

1.Get your daughter to wear a white long sleeve shirt and neutral leggings.
2.Wrap the tulle around her hips and secure with a strip of frayed suede/ safety pins
3.Use leftover suede as armbands (or turquoise beads)
Braid your daughters hair.
Place headband around forehead to secure the feathers.
Make a few marks on her cheeks with your eyeliner
if you’re willing to spend a few extra dollars, you can purchase a brown tutu at Walmart or VV Boutique

Carl Fredricksen from UP

This is probably the cutest costume I have ever seen.

-3 lengths of Plastic Pipe ($3 hardware store)
-2 elbow joints ($2 hardware store)
-2 Tennis balls ($1 Dollarama)
-Helium Balloons ($3 Great Canadian Dollar store)
-String ($1 anywhere)
-Kids 3D movie glasses (FREE)
-Dress Clothes
-Bow tie
(DIY Bow Tie)

1.Dress your son in formal clothes (don’t forget the iconic bow tie)
2.Assemble the pipes and elbow joints in the shape of a horse shoe (ie. 2 vertical and 1 horizontal connected by elbow joints)
3.Cut an “x” shaped slit in the tennis balls large enough to slide the pipes into.
4.Stick the tennis balls onto the open ends of the plastic pipes to finish off the walker!
5.Tie your helium balloons to the walker and have a wonderful time taking pictures of your adorable little man!

Flower Pot!

-1 large flower pot that your kid can fit inside (~$5 Walmart, scope out thrift stores for a better bargain!)
-Lots of Fake Flowers ($4 Dollarama)
-Cord ($1)

1.Cut the bottom out of the flower pot
2.Drill/ Cut holes in the sides of the pot (2 front and 2 back)
3.Cut 2 pieces of cord long enough to go over your child’s shoulders
4.Feed the cord through the holes, tying knots on each end.
5.Glue/ Tie a few fake flowers to a headband for your child to wear.
6. Fill the pot with fake flowers!

Have a blast making lots of “sweet” memories with your families this Halloween 🙂

*For more costume inspiration check out Dollar Store Costume Ideas
**KandeeJ has some sweet video tutorials for mom friendly costumes!

Colour Palette of The Month: October

“I’m so glad I live in a world with Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?” -Anne Shirley.

The month of scarves and pumpkin spice lattes has “fallen” upon us! With temperatures cooling off outside, warm interior hues are a must! October couldn’t be a better month to incorporate this spicy palette! When looking for timeless decor, it’s important to balance bright colours with trend-setting neutrals. This warm palette does just that by incorporating both grey and brown with savory cinnamon, pumpkin, and vanilla.

We think these colours work well together to make an inviting common space. A warm backdrop will make guests feel welcome, while you will love spending down time cozying up with an exotic tea and book!

An alternative space for this palette is the Master bedroom. We are loving the idea of pairing a wooden wall with grey bedding and warm accents. This look artistically combines both modern style and classic comfort. Would you choose a spicy autumn palette for your living space or would you rather keep the cozy colours in the bedroom?

10 Canadian Christmas Albums

Christmas Music  Photo credit: Chiot’s Run on Flickr

As the song goes, “Merry Christmas” has already “been said many times, many ways.”  So why not sing it in a Canadian way this year?  Here are 10 Canadian interpretations of Christmas classics old and new (in no particular order).

  • Justin Bieber, Under the Mistletoe: A brand new album from Canada’s boy wonder. The album offers seasonal mix of traditional Christmas standards and new holiday music co-written by Justin. If Biebs isn’t enough for you, he is joined by Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men and Usher.
  • Diana Krall, Christmas Songs:  Diana elegantly delivers some of our favourite carols with a festive, yet grown-up vibe. Pay special attention to her rendition of Winter Wonderland for a special Canadian ad lib.
  • John McDermott, Christmas Memories: This album will appeal to fans of Celtic carols. Scottish-Canadian balladeer John McDermott  delivers a wonderful mix of traditional and some lesser known Christmas fare.
  • Anne Murray, What a Wonderful Christmas:  Canada’s snowbird, Anne Murray has recorded several Christmas albums during here career. This two disc collection features a sample of her favourite past songs  intermixed with some new recordings of Christmas standards.
  • Michael Bublé, Christmas: This is a brand new album for Canada’s reigning crooner. It features a mix of guest appearances by the likes of Shania Twain and Thalia Jones; and a original carol that Bublé penned for this album.
  • Kim Stockwood,  I Love SantaA collection of holiday standards performed live by this unique Canadian artist. The album features a sample of seasonal favourites and fun new tracks that highlight both Kim’s rich, warm vocals and her comedic style.
  • Bruce Cockburn, Christmas:  The Canadian activist and singer deftly brings folk, rock, country, gospel, and international influences to a broad collection of seasonal standards in a powerful and poignant way.
  • Holly Cole, Baby It’s Cold Outside:  With here smoky voice, Holly Cole offers the perfect antidote to the hustle of seasonal shopping, decorating and parties. This is the perfect music to listen to with a cup of hot cocoa when you need a break from the bustle.
  • Frank Mills and Rita MacNeil, The Spirit of Christmas: Two Canadian musical legends join forces in this memorable holiday release. Singer/songwriter Rita MacNeil pulled legendary composer and pianist Frank Mills out of retirement to record 4 new songs to add to 8 of their Christmas classics.
  • Matt Dusk, Another Christmas: An EP from a Canadian crooner featuring a mix of classics and new jazzy tunes sure to delight anybody looking for a smooth Christmas track for a holiday dinner party.
Do you have a favourite Canadian Christmas album that we missed?  Please let us know in the comments.

Christmas Gifts for Your Home

Photogrpah of a gift wrapped houseImage credit: Howard Dickins on Flickr

With the beginning of December comes the beginning of Christmas Shopping season. In addition to shopping for the special people in your life this year, why not also shop for that special place as well—your house! We don’t mean the seasonal decorations that spend 11 months in a box. Rather, we are thinking of thoughtful upgrades that will make your house look better and year long.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Ho-Ho-Hardware: Replacing your cabinet pulls or even your door knobs can made a big difference. A quick visit to your local hardware store will open your eyes to the multitude of choices out there. Find something the reflects the houses’ style or, better yet-your personality and you’ll smile each time you open a door or drawer!
  • Deck the Windows: Most of us fret over finding a perfect outfit for the Christmas office party or neighbours New Years Party.  But what about you house?  Adding simple window treatments or replacing dated blinds will help ensure your house looks its best long after the holidays are over.
  • De-clutter and Deep Clean: You may be thinking of using a spa date for that somebody special on your list. Why not give your house the equivalent? Hire a home organizer to come in and help you streamline your possessions, get your carpets steam cleaned, or hire a housekeeping service to spend a day cleaning out the various nooks and crannies of you house that you’ve never had the chance to get around to doing yourself.
  • Pass the Paint:  Paint is often the simplest, yet most effective way to update your home. A few coats of paint can refresh any home. If you’re not up to repainting an entire room, start with an accent wall. A bold colour on a single wall can give the entire room a new look and help you appreciate your existing furnishings in a new light.
  • Season of Light (Fixtures):  Some of us spend a lot of time thinking of the perfect holiday lighting scheme to wow our neighbours for the next few weeks. With illumination on your mind, think about how to update the light fixtures you will be living with for the rest of the year. Consider a new bedside lamp, a new bathroom vanity light or even a dining room chandelier  to show off on Christmas dinner. After all, we all love getting a gift that  we can show off on Christmas day, even your house!

How To Book Your Christmas Vacation Online

Photograph of a laptop computer on a tropical island

Giorgio Montersino on Flickr

I know what you are thinking. Christmas already!?!  We haven’t even finished our Halloween candy!

Sure it may be a bit early to begin seriously thinking about Christmas. But if you are planning to travel for the holidays, the earlier you begin planning, the better deals you may find. The good news is that you can do most, if not all of your vacation planning and booking online. Here are some tools to help you out:


Kayak.com is a relative new comer to the web. But it is has quickly become one of the best sites for finding cheap airfares. It is especially great if you are flexible on either dates and location. You can search for dates up to three days before and after your ideal travel dates, or even search for flights that leave within a calendar month, on upcoming weekends, as well as anytime. If you’re flexible on destination you can scan a world map for all the destinations you can reach within a specified price range.


) TripAdvisor is the most popular hotel-review site, offering more than 45 million professional and amateur reviews of hotels in the U.S. and overseas. But watch out for possibly fake reviews from cronies trying to push up their own hotel’s ratings or flame their competitors (the site flags some such postings as suspicious). Ignore reviews on either extreme and focus on those with midrange ratings — they’re more likely to be the most helpful. TripAdvisor doesn’t sell rooms or offer any actual deals, but it links you to partner sites, such as Expedia, Travelocity and Hotels.com. Click on the “check rates” button and select the site or sites you’d like to try — a new window with results will open for each partner.
Read more: http://www.kiplinger.com/features/archives/best-travel-sites-to-save-you-money.html#ixzz1cxTNIx00
Become a Fan of Kiplinger’s on Facebook

TripAdvisor is our go-to site for finding great hotels and deals. Sure, like with all crowd sourced review sites, you need to be wary of fake reviews from cronies or competitors. But by reading between the lines, you can find a wealth of insights from real customers that go beyond the brochure blurbs and tell you what it’s really like to stay at a given hotel. While TripAdvisor doesn’t actually sell rooms, it directly links you to partner sites, such as Expedia, Travelocity and Hotels.com helping you find the best deals for the nights you will be travelling.

Car Rentals

While they may be better know for hotel and airfare deals, Hotwire.com often offers the best deals on cars. They do this by  comparing rates from their rental car company partners, which include Budget, Enterprise and Europcar. However, the best deals are usually found through the site’s “hot deals” service. While you won’t know the company that you’ve booked from until you have paid, unlike with hotels the risk is minimal for most people. All their partners are reputable companies and a Ford Focus is the same no matter who provides it.

Vacation Packages

If package deals are more your style, check out DealBase.com. Their “Deal Analyzer” will let you know if  promotional offers from, for example, hotels that provide continental breakfasts or other add-ons, are a good values by telling you how much you’d really save. Like TripAdvisor, once you find a deal you like, DealBase will send you to the site where you can purchase it directly from the provider.

For more great online travel resources, check out Kiplinger.com.

15 Halloween Costume Ideas for 2011

Halloween house decorations in Port Norfolk By formatted_dad on Flickr

Photograph by  formatted_dad on Flickr

Halloween is just around the corner. If you don’t already have your costume put together here are 15 ideas to inspire you (and a bonus 5 ideas for your home). If you want to be really creative, be sure to refer back to last years post on homemade Halloween costumes.


  • Alice in Wonderland: Tim Burton’s reinterpretation of this childhood classic provides several costume choice for adults. If the title character isn’t ‘your cup of tea,’ consider the Queen of Hearts.
  • Katy Perry: A great alternative to the Lady Gaga overload
  • Pan Am Flight Attendant: A fun spin on the vintage trend inspired by the hit new TV series.  Would make a great group costume.
  • Princess Beatrice or Eugeni: Creating your own wacky wedding hats is a great DIY costume option
  • Black Swan: Bring out your inner ballerina


  • Disgraced Celebrities: Lots to chose from this year, including Charlie Sheen, Arnold Schwarzenegger , Tiger Woods and Anthony Weiner
  • Lord Voldemort: A great way for adults to show their love for the Harry Potter series and scare a few people while you are at it!
  • Don Draper: The Mad Men Show fan-site has a guide to creating the perfect Don Draper—or any of your favourite characters—costume.
  • Green Man: though made popular by the Canuck’ the spandex unseat has created it’s own meme… If you want to stand out from the pack, consider a Red Man or Gold Man ensemble.
  • Superheros: Lots to chose from this yer: Captain America, Thor, Green Lantern, Iron Man
  • Steve Jobs: A easy, DIY way to pay tribute to an icon.


  • Princess Kate: What better costume than a a real life princess!
  • Angry Birds: These costumes are literally flying off the shelves. Would make a fun family or group costume idea… Here’s some handy DIY instructions to make your own.
  • Harry Potter: The movies may be over, but the magic lives on
  • Zombies: A perennial classic and great way to get one last wear out of old or ripped clothing.
  • Smurfs: There ill be a lot of little blue people out this Halloween

Bonus: Haunted Home Ideas

Being a home-builder site, we’d be remiss if we didn’t offer some ideas for dressing up your home:

  • Creepy Centrepiece: Adding some spray paint or glitter to a small pumpkin or gourd makes a great focus point for your table or entryway. Attach some plastic spiders to complete the creepy effect.
  • Black is Back: If you are bored with the traditional carved jack-o-lantern, grab some black and white paint and create a ghost-o’-lanterns.
  • Spooky Silhouettes: Cut black construction paper into bat, witch or black cat silhouettes to hide in corners or place on doors and windows.
  • Terror Tunes: Prepare a spooky soundtrack of your favourite scary sounds and songs to greet your party guests or trick-o-treaters.
  • Fearsome Fog: Dry ice available at most grocery stores and  is a cheap yet effective way to creature a ghostly atmosphere.

Get Spooked: Halloween Activities around Moncton

Photograph by Pedro J. Ferreira on Flickr

Now that you have your Halloween costume chosen, and your house decorated, it’s time to decide how you are going to celebrate the holiday (besides trick-or-treating of  course!).  Here are a few haunted Halloween events and activities for people of all ages.

Halloween Stories

Saturday October 29 at 11am

Little ghosts and goblins ages 2 and up are invited to come to the Moncton Public Library in their Halloween costumes for some spooky (but not too spooky) stories, a craft and a costume parade around the library. Families are welcome.

Registration begins October 22

Boo at the Zoo presents Scaredy Cats

Oct 22, 23, 29 & 30, 2011,  11am-5pm (the zoo is open from 9am-6pm)

The Magnetic Hill Zoo has decided to discontinue their night time Boo at the Zoo events, and instead focus on a daytime Scaredy Cats event.  There will be lots of fun activities and games for the little ones while visiting the zoo animals. For older children there will be some “moderately scary” Halloween venues. Be sure to come dressed up!

Tickets are only on sale at the door.

Halloween at the Terror Williams House

October 29, 2011,  1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The Moncton Museum is organizing a Halloween event for families at the Thomas Williams House (103 Park Street, Moncton). Come enjoy an afternoon of Halloween inspired events, including games, crafts, a costume contest and much more! Admission is free!

For more information contact Barb Muir at the Moncton Museum, 506-856-4325.

Halloween Spooktacular

Saturday, October 29 from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

For the adults, Casino New Brunswick is hosting a Halloween Spooktacular. This event is billed as “the biggest Halloween event ever in Moncton.” The party features performances by DJ Adam Analog and The Awesome Imposters. There will be a Midnight Costume Contest with over $2,000 in cash prizes. Due to security precautions faces must be free of makeup or masks to enter Casino New Brunswick.

Tickets are $20.

Tips for a Low-Stress Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving cupcakes, turkeys made of fondant  Photo credit: WishUponACupcake on Flickr

In the Maritimes, the changing of the leaves is almost synonymous with Canadian Thanksgiving. The holiday is linked to the European tradition of harvest festivals. A common image seen at this time of year is a cornucopia—or horn—representing the “Horn of Plenty,” a symbol of bounty and plenty that dates back to ancient Greece.

While few household boast an actual horn these days, many families host a large dinner for friends and family featuring the the bounty of the fall. If you are hosting a dinner this weekend and are looking for some tips to keep it low stress, here are a few tips:

  • Shop on Friday or Saturday. While it may seem like leaving things to the last minute, this is when the stores have the most stock. You’ll find the best choices, and often the best deals. Alas you won’t be the only only out so be sure budget some extra time and wear comfortable shoes!
  • Shop with a friend or neighbour and save. Shopping with a friend is a great chance to chat and catch up while you pick up your groceries and wait in the inevitable lines. Getting together with friends also allows you to buy in bulk and save some money , or even split some of the cooking and save some time.
  • Know how much turkey you need. Most people by bigger than they need and it ends up going to waste. Quantities vary depending upon your appetite, side dishes and desire for leftovers. A generous rule of thumb is 0.75 kg (1.5 lbs) per person. For 6 people, that is a 4.5 kg (9 lbs) turkey.
  • Share the cooking. If you are hosting, you can provide the turkey, but ask your guests to bring their favourite or traditional dishes. This reduces your work load, while and helps your guests feel part of the special day. Learning about the history of the dishes also provides great dinner conversation and helps you all get to know each other better.
  • Organize activities. While watching football is a Thanksgiving tradition for many families, some people may not want to spend the day in front of the TV. If the weather permits, think of organizing a touch football or street hockey game or going on a short hike to enjoy the fall foliage. Board games and puzzles are great indoor alternatives. If there will be lots of children around, plan some seasonal arts or craft activity to keep them busy.

Do you have any thoughts or ideas on how to host a low stress Thanksgiving dinner? Let us know in the comments

Feliz Navidad from the MHB Team!

Happy Holidays

Only a few more sleeps until Christmas!

We’re so excited about Christmas, we thought we’d share our enthusiasm with you … just in case you need a little pick-me-up from the holiday hustle and bustle and you’re starting to feel like Scrooge has more holiday cheer than you do. Check out the video we made just to make you smile.

Also, in case you missed them the first time around, here is a collection of our holiday-themed blog posts that are definitely worth checking out (especially if you still have Christmas shopping to do!):

Make Your Own Gift Basket: Homemade Christmas Gift Basket Ideas & TipsPutting together homemade Christmas gift baskets can be an excellent way to group together all those smaller items you found on sale that are great for someone on your shopping list who isn’t going to receive a stocking from you Santa. Gift baskets make great gifts for all ages too, you just need a plan of action. Check out these tips on how to make a gift basket to help you put together the perfect gift for everyone on your list.

Themed Gift Basket IdeasLooking for some ideas for making a themed gift basket? Here are a ton of unique gift basket ideas that are perfect for everyone on your holiday shopping list.

Top 100+ Christmas Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Everyone on Your ListEveryone needs some help getting their creative juices flowing once in a while and Santa is no exception. It’s gotta be tough on jolly ol’ Saint Nick to come up with great stocking stuffer ideas year in and year out for millions of people! Whether you’re Santa is looking for Christmas stocking stuffer ideas for men, great stocking stuffer ideas for women, or anyone else on his list, here’s a list of over 100 inexpensive stocking stuffer ideas perfect for everyone (hey, I’m sure the economic downturn has had an effect on Santa too!).

Inexpensive Christmas Decorating Ideas♫♪ O Christmas tree! O Christmas tree! Much money you have cost me!♫♪ If you’re sick and tired of forking out a large portion of your hard earned money on holiday decorating, or you simply can’t afford it in the first place, check out these inexpensive Christmas decorating ideas.

The Best Martha Stewart Christmas IdeasHere is your ultimate guide to Martha Stewart Christmas ideas. Everything from homemade gifts and crafts for kids to beautiful Christmas decorations and tasty holiday recipes, here is our favourite Martha Stewart Christmas ideas we just have to share with you.

The Best Home Décor GiftsStill need some ideas and inspiration on what to get your loved ones for Christmas? Check out these awesome home décor gifts that are totally worth giving!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!

The Martell Home Builders team wants to wish you all a safe and happy holiday season! Merry Christmas!

The Best Home Décor Gifts

Home decor gifts

Still need some ideas and inspiration on what to get your loved ones for Christmas? Check out these awesome home décor gifts that are totally worth giving!

First thing’s first

Before you rush out and buy your friends and family home décor gifts, make sure you know what their style is and what they like. Picture the colours they use in their home, as well as any theme or style each room has. Even if you think an inflatable Budweiser coin bank would look totally awesome in their living room doesn’t mean the gift recipient will feel the same way; if your friend’s living room has the whole fen shui feel goin’ on, chances are (s)he isn’t going to appreciate a gift that doesn’t match that theme.

Once you’ve established the gift recipient’s likes – and dislikes – you can start shopping. Here are some excellent home décor gifts you could consider:

1. Wall Decorations – Check out 20 Cool Wall Decorations to Impress Your Friends for a look at several great home décor gift ideas. There are ideas for every room in the house.

2. Local Art – You can support local artists by purchasing their paintings, drawings, etc. for your friends and family. 5 Talented Moncton Artists to Keep an Eye On will direct you to some amazing artists from right here in New Brunswick.

3. Bedroom Accessories – Home décor gifts for the bedroom can range from decorative lights, mirrors, candles, paintings, and everything in between. Read Impressive Ways to Enhance Your Bedroom for some excellent gift giving ideas and inspiration.

Home Decor Gifts - Ideas and Inspiration


4. Photographs – Framing photographs of local Moncton landscapes can be a unique gift idea. You can purchase a frame that matches the gift recipient’s home décor and customize its size easily. If you’re the photographer, it will also add a personal touch and, with a little creative composition and photo editing, you can create an image that really goes with their room’s colour scheme (black and white images are very popular). If you can’t find any Moncton photographs you want to use, try looking for New Brunswick photos, or images taken within Canada. Check out Must-See Photographs of Moncton, New Brunswick for some ideas.



5. Everything Martha – If you’re on a tight budget or you enjoy making homemade gifts, you gotta’ visit the Martha Stewart website! That woman has got it all! Home décor gifts are aplenty there. To start, read Home Decorating Tips by Martha Stewart – you will then be directed to the website that has every idea imaginable for every theme, colour scheme, style, and room.

Other Home Décor Gifts

Do you know of anywhere local that sells wonderful home décor gifts? Leave a comment letting us know, and don’t forget to include details on what home décor gifts you’d love to see under the Christmas tree with your name on it!