Friday, February 25, 2011

Ddrops Bliss Contest | YOUR votes are needed

When I started the Momma Stuff Blog, I barely knew what a blogging conference was.  In fact I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted, nay needed, the Momma Stuff Blog to be.  A year later, although I still don't have any concrete answers, I've learned so much.
  • I've learned about myself; finding my voice, finding my community and finding my style.
  • I've learned about interactions; being a friend, being a reader and engaging discussion.
  • I've learned about the web; custom domain's, Twitter and Facebook pages.
But there's still so much more to learn, I've barely skimmed the surface of these lessons, garnering what I can from tweets, blog posts and the amazing blogging community at large.

I want to attend Blissdom Canada and spend three days immersed in blogging culture; learning to develop the Momma Stuff Blog, effectively engage readers and increase traffic.  The amazing opportunity that Blissdom Canada provides to network, meet and learn from amazing Canadian Bloggers in person, is absolutley drool-worthy.  I crave knowledge and would absolutley love to attend Blissdom Canada, which is why I have entered the Ddrops Bliss Contest.

Ddrops is graciously giving away four tickets to Blissdom Canada 2011; entrants were asked to write about how Canadian Mom Bloggers Influence the Health of Canadians and the winners will be determined by readers like YOU.  My post was all about why Mom Blogging Matters.

It only takes a moment to vote, you simply need to go to the  
and leave a comment there, indicating your vote for the Momma Stuff Blog 
...or any of the other amazing and deserving entrants, if that's your preference.
voting is open until Friday March 11th, 11:59 pm E.S.T.
thank for your votes
I am up against some big Canadian Bloggers with followings far surpassing the Momma Stuff Blog, so every vote matters and every vote is appreciated.  Thank you all so much for reading, commenting and stopping by!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Degraaf Designs | Handmade Diaper Bags

There are a lot of items geared towards momma's and babies out there, and in truth the practicality of some of them is marginal at best.  Other items however, are must-have's no matter who you ask.  A stroller, a car seat, a diaper bag; all essentials to parenthood as far as I'm concerned.

If its your first time shopping for any of these items, prepare to be overwhelmed.  With the boy, my mind reeled with the oodles of options available.  In the end all three items I chose were based primarily on a recommendation by a trusted friend, followed up by internet research.  If you peruse (or compulsively check) deal sites like I do, then you'll know that diaper bags come in a plethora of shapes, sizes and styles.

I urge you to consider your diaper bag choice carefully before purchasing.  My first diaper bag, however cute the Classic Pooh that adorned it was, totally sucked.  It was big and bulky before I even placed a single cloth diaper inside it.  After only a few short weeks, I just knew it wasn't going to work and I shelled out another fifty bucks for a new one.

If like so many mom's out there, you are in favour of supporting hardworking momma's, I urge you to check out Degraaf Designs on Etsy.  Leanne's diaper bags are handcrafted with care; each one is sturdy, strong and carefully put together with precise stitching.  One of the major bonuses of these diaper bags is that they are fully machine washable, which means spilled milk, cereal, juice or worse diaper blowouts will never leave lingering stickiness or smelliness in your diaper bag again.

In terms of storage space, this bag has no shortage; in addition to a large central opening, each bag has four elasticized storage areas on the inside, each of which is totally useable and large enough for diapers and wipes.  There are also pockets at each end of the bag that would be great for a water bottle for momma or a milk bottle for baby.  Finally, the backside of a Degraaf Designs Diaper Bag is a pocket, which houses the included, matching changing pad.

Leanne of Degraaf Designs is a family friend with both a passion and a skill for sewing.  She has been successfully selling her diaper bags in local shops and has recently started up her Etsy shop to try and reach a larger audience.  She is a wife to a loving husband, mother to an adorable little girl (born one week after the boy) and expecting her newest family member in July 2011.  Please take a moment to check out Degraaf Designs on Etsy and if you're in the market for a new diaper bag, consider purchasing one of her handmade, unique and super adorable diaper bags.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mom Blogging Matters

When I was pregnant with the boy, despite all my reading, I knew that I was going to need more.  I knew that book learning wouldn't be enough and that I needed to expand my circle of friends and family to include other new moms.  I knew that I couldn't go at it alone and that I was going to need all the love, support and advice that I could get.  Little did I know however, that without even taking off my pyjamas there was an entire world of momma's baring their souls and sharing their lives, their experiences and their families through their blogs.

I am proud to say that I am a blogging momma’s and although I love that I now have readers, the truth is, I blog for myself.  I blog as a creative outlet, to ensure that I never lose my metaphorical voice, to remind myself of the little moments that whiz by in the blink of an eye and to document the things that make motherhood amazing, manageable and sometimes nerve wracking.  I hope those intentions are reflected in the posts I write and the products I review, because when I read blogs, it’s the honesty and purity of the writer that touches me and makes me want to come back for more. 

It's the personal connection that Canadian Mom Bloggers offer to their readers, often raw with reality, that reaches out and touches our hearts.  It's the advice we glean from their experiences, the tears we cry for their pain and the reassurance that we are not alone in the struggles and challenges we face each and every day, that positively affect Canadian women across the country.

Many women aren't lucky enough to live in an urban setting where there are mommas on every corner and opportunities to make face to face momma connections every day.  Thanks to Canadian Mom Bloggers, wisdom, support and friends are only a mouse click away and with that connection comes a sense of community, belonging and camaraderie that every momma needs to maintain a happy healthy lifestyle.

Mom blogging is about the collective us; the millions of women who are coming together to provide common ground, mutual respect and support to improve not only the quality of our own lives and health, but of all the women who come together via blogging to read, tweet and interact on a regular basis.  Mom blogs intrinsically have a positive effect on the health of Canadians via the establishment of a much needed, adhoc support system that could otherwise never exist.

This post was written for entry to the Ddrops contest to win tickets to Blissdom Canada 2011. 

Follow the Momma Stuff Blog on Twitter or Facebook and be sure to check out @BabyDdrops on Twitter #Ddropsbliss and Facebook.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Who doesn't love a good wedding?

A dear friend of mine got married last weekend and I was honoured to be a member of her wedding party.  Unfortunately, that meant that I didn't get the chance to snap a bunch of pictures during the wedding as I was standing up there beside her.  Even worse, my camera battery died shortly after the ceremony, so I couldn't piggy back on the photographers pictures either!

That of course isn't to say I didn't get ANY pictures, I do have a few that I love, but I'm very cautious about how much I'm willing to share on the blog.  For now, I hope you enjoy this picture of her lovely wedding dress; my friend looked SO Greek Goddess on her special day!
Wedding Dress

And this delicious looking wedding cake was full-on gluten-free, dairy-free deliciousness and I happen to know it didn't cost an arm and a leg.  It is possible my friends to have allergen-friendly treats without totally blowing the bank.  The cake was made by High Crow Gluten Free Foods, whom I had met at a local farmers market.
Wedding Cake

During the post wedding festivities, I was lucky enough to get a great picture of my lovely new haircut.  If you follow me on twitter than you likely already know that I chopped all my hair off about a month ago, and I'm loving it.  The truth is, I've had my hair short, more or less, since I was in grade 8 and I just feel more comfortable without a ton of hair.
amberamber and courtney

Unfortunately, every couple years I seem to forget how much I prefer my hair short, but I'm lucky enough to have Courtney around to remind me.  Seriously, short just looks better, remember this picture from about early January?  Courtney's available to help you with your hair woes and questions too, send her your questions at

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The BEST gluten-free Pizza also happens to be Dairy-Free and Soy-Free

I've met a lot of people with dietary restrictions and without doubt, one of the first foods that everyone craves is pizza.  There's just something about that ooey, gooey goodness, that is oh so bad for anyone with a gluten or dairy intolerance, that's so hard to resist.  In fact, just based on casual conversation, I would go so far as to say it is one of the most common foods that people with restricted diets eat, despite the consequences they'll have to endure.

For a long time, this was my go-to gluten-free pizza recipe.  It's quick, easy and pretty darn delicious.  Plus, since its made with bean flour, I'd almost go so far as to call it nutritious.  I'd still make it in a pinch or if I wanted pizza quick, but its no longer my favourite.

After three and a half gluten-free years, I have quite possibly found the best gluten-free pizza recipe.  One of the amazing features of this recipe is that you can keep the dough in your fridge for a week, so with minimal effort, its possible to have gluten-free pizza two times in a single week.  This recipe is adapted from the fantastic book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois, take a moment and check out their website for more recipes and cooking deliciousness.

To make the boy's pizza dairy-free, I use Daiya Vegan Cheese, however before I found that, I used to make a small amount of white sauce (using Earth Balance soy free margarine, rice flour and rice milk) and I would drizzle it on top of the pizza before baking, to give it some 'bubbliness' and help hold the toppings on the pizza.  Daiya's better, but the white sauce drizzle is a reasonable solution if you can't find any vegan cheese to meet your dietary restrictions.
gluten-free dairy-free soy-free pepperoni pizza
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free Pizza Dough
Dry Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp yeast (fast-acting or traditional is fine)
  • 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp xantham gum
Wet Ingredients:
  • 3/4 - 1 cup warm water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
 Directions to make the Dough:
  1. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer. 
    Using a whisk will blend the flours well and add a little extra air.
  2. Combine all of the wet ingredients.
    I like to use a 'shaker cup' intended for protein shakes or marinades.
  3. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer.
    This step can apparently be done by hand, but it would definitley take some elbow grease.  The dough should be soft and slightly sticky, but not goopy.
  4. Loosely cover the dough and allow to rest at room temperature for approximately 2 hours.
    I often turn my oven to warm for 5 minutes while preparing the dough, then place the bowl in the 'warmed' oven to rise as my home is quite cool.
  5. The dough can now be used fresh to make your pizza or you can refrigerate it in a lidded (not airtight) container for up to 7 days.
 Directions to Make the Pizza:
  1. Preheat your oven to 425F
    If you are using a pizza stone, let it preheat in the hot oven for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Remove a ball of dough roughly the size of a grapefruit (orange if making a toddler pizza) and place on a piece of parchment paper and cover with two pieces of saran wrap so that when you roll out the dough, the entire area will be covered by saran.
    You can use a Silpat mat, but parchment works better especially if you want a crispy crust and are going to follow (optional) step 8.
  3. Roll the dough out until it is about 1/4 of an inch thick and will fit on your pan.
  4. Slowly and carefully remove the saran wrap from the dough.
  5. Place your pizza sauce, toppings and Daiya Vegan Cheese on the dough.
    Make sure you read your topping ingredients to make sure they meet your dietary restrictions.  If using vegetables, I recommend pre-sauteeing them to prevent your crust from becoming soggy.
  6. Slide your pizza, and parchment paper, onto your pizza stone or place on a cookie sheet and slide it into the oven.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes.
  8. OPTIONAL: Carefully slide your pizza off of the parchment and onto the pizza stone or cookie sheet.
    This will prevent a soggy crust!
  9. Bake another 3-5 minutes until your toppings are bubbly and golden and your crust is crispy and slightly browned.
  10. Allow to cool slightly before cutting.
  11. Stuff your face and enjoy your pizza without any guilt.
Yield: two full size pizza's and one toddler (or personal) size pizza
Recipe can be doubled

Monday, February 7, 2011

whirl wind

When I was a little girl, I remember time passing so slowly.  Each day was so full and the time between birthdays and holidays seemed almost insurmountable.  Now, life feels more like a whirl wind and I have to be cautious not to let it pass me by without stopping to savour the moments. I'm learning that keeping my camera at the ready at all times is both enjoyable in the moment and in embracing the memories.
amber - 24 weeks
I took this photo about 3 weeks ago in an attempt to document both my growing belly and my new haircut, but was disappointed with all of the shots I took, but after a little fun using Pretty Presets freebies, this enjoyable little gem emerged.

cool dude in the parkwalking stick
And look at this independent little man; seriously are little boys ingrained to find walking sticks? The boy carried that stick around for almost our entire walk and he doesn't even know anyone that walks with a cane!
duck watching
I love capturing innocent father-son moments like this one, there's something so beautiful about catching my boys in the crisp, cool air absorbed by each other and the family of ducks swimming below them.
And of course, I love when the hubs manages to catch a photo of me and our exhausted little boy. It just makes my heart melt.

Unspoken Grief

Although I am one of the 'lucky ones' *knock on wood*, and have not experienced the misfortune of a miscarriage, I have been touched by the experiences of others.  I know women who have had to endure the pain of losing their unborn child, including family members, coworkers and fellow bloggers.  Each woman's pain is unique, raw and real.

When I was pregnant with the boy I spent a lot of time on the 'What To Expect' (WTE) Message boards and soon after our March 2009 children were born, our WTE sisterhood began a boycott from the site because moderators were deleting posts containing pictures or discussions regarding, 'angel babies'.  It was sad to realize that a place that had been so welcoming to all of us, was suddenly the home to such hostility.

From what I understand, the call for silence regarding miscarriage, loss and angel babies, is suprisingly common.  That there are many women suffering alone, without support and without community is disappointing to say the least, which is why I am so proud to share with you a new project being launched TODAY, called Unspoken Grief.

The Mission: to create a safe space for individuals & families touched directly or indirectly by miscarriage, stillbirth & neonatal loss to share their stories, feelings and thoughts about grief, loss, hope or society. Our society has a lack of understanding and a level of discomfort with the grieving process surrounding the loss of a pregnancy and it is our hope that we bring these topics out into the open and create a community where families are supported, understood and honor our children who left too soon.
The site is designed as a group blog so that everyone can contribute and share their story, they support and their experiences.  If you have suffered from a loss, you no longer have to do it alone.  Many kudos to Devan from Accustomed Chaos,for embracing her grief to create something that is clearly needed in our society.