Saturday, March 31, 2012

Nonuttin' Natural Foods | gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free

Nothing is more important than keeping your child safe and when your child has an anaphylactic allergy doing so becomes a little more complicated.  Nonuttin' Natural Foods was created by a  Vancouver Island mom who wanted her daughter (who is allergic to peanuts, almonds, kiwi and chickpeas) to be able to share natural, healthy snacks with her friends.  I met both Alana and her daughter Megan, who carries an epi-pen, at the Vancouver Gluten-Free Expo.
nonuttin granola and trailmix
I applaud Alana, not only does Nonuttin' Foods cater to her daughter's allergies, their products cater to most common allergens; they are gluten-free, peanut-free, tree nut free, dairy free egg free,  kosher and in the process of becoming soy-free.  Their products are made in a dedicated facility, they use certified gluten-free oats and they only source non-gmo ingredients.

Go Momma, thanks for looking out for all of us.
granola bowl
Nonuttin' granola has sweet, crunchy, clusters and gluten-free oats that are vaguely reminiscent of honey bunches of oats cereal.  Regardless, paired with some vanilla coconut milk or lactose free yogurt and a cup of coffee, it makes a perfect breakfast, though I must confess it makes an equally good evening snack.  I had the chance to try out the Blueberry maple granola and enjoyed both the sweet blueberries and the subtle maple flavour.

Nonuttin' granola bars are soft, sweet and sticky not to mention almost undistinguishable from a traditional commercial granola bar.  Seriously they were so good, I stashed them in my purse and ate them when the boy wasn't looking simply because I didn't want to share.  I sampled most of the flavours, but my favourite flavour was the plain chocolate chip.
trailmix copy
I've been munching away on Nonuttin' berry delight trail mix while writing this post; its made with sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, dried bluberries, semi-sweet chcolate chips, canola oil and sea salt.  So simple and so tasty, though I must admit, I'm not a huge fan of sunflower seeds, so a little trail mix was more than enough for me.  Nonuttin' trail mix comes in two other flavours; the third flavour is currently on sale for 50% off as they move to a soy-free facility.

Nonuttin' creates allergen-friendly, healthy, tasty snacks and they want you to try them out too, so we are giving away a $20 gift certificate to spend on the Nonuttin' website, to enter use the rafflecopter after the jump (I promise you its easy!).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Alphabet, Appendicitis and Asthma

I want to start off by saying that I am horrified that its been over two weeks since my last blog post.  I assure you its not due to a lack of things to write about, it's about finding the time, it always seems to be about time.

I remember when my time was my own, when my world revolved around me: my needs, my wants and my desires.  Although I would never trade my boys for anything, I would be lying to say that I don't have moments where I long for the carefree, freedom of young adulthood.
birthday cupcake
As a mother and a wife, my life now includes both great responsibility and so much love.  The past week has reminded me of both these facets of my life.  Last Saturday, the boy turned three years old.  In previous years we've simply had family over the the house, but this year I wanted the boy to have a birthday party that he could really enjoy.
Birthday Bean Bags
I also wanted to make the boy something handmade and from the heart and Alphabet Bean Bags were the perfect project.  On the crafty front I alo made plain bean bags and crayons for each of the kids goodie bags.  With the help of Pinterest, I considered a robot themed party, debated whether to make gluten-free cupcakes with marshmallow fondant or attempt a gluten-free rainbow cake.  In the end, the party was great, we took the kids to a local playplace, Fun 4 Kidz to let them burn off some energy before heading back to the house for hotdogs and cupcakes.  Overall the party was a success and fun was had by all.

So that was last week.

This week has not been so much fun.  

On Sunday night the hubs had an upset stomach and was up vomiting during the night.  In the morning, his pains had become sharper and more localized on the right side of his abdomen.  After some rest and a trip to the doctor he was off to the hospital.  He ultimately had to have his appendix removed, although it didn't rupture, it was perforated and leaking.  Following the procedure the surgeon made  point of telling him that he could have died.

As he recovers, he's of course in pain and discomfort, but he's also heartbroken that for the next month, he can't lift anything over twenty pounds, including our children. 

And my baby boys?  Cold's, both of them.  They have low grade fevers, the baby has lots of congestion and snot and the boy's asthma is out of control.  In fact the boy is now the second family member to go to the hospital this week.  Fortunately he was back out within a few hours.  He's on a four day dose of oral steroids, however it will be a couple days before we can expect to see an improvement. 

Interestingly, we've also been instructed to actively keep his fever under control and keep him on acetaminophen every four hours.  Not only can the fever provoke the asthma, the asthma can affect the body's ability to fight a fever.  What a vicious cycle.

So things have been hectic, tiring and overwhelming to say the least.  Thankfully yesterday I had a beautiful walk and coffee in Steveston with one of my best friends, with absolutely no children in tow.  It was amazing and just what I needed.  Today I am at my parents house with my boys and I am so incredibly thankful to have such caring and kind family and friends.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dear PVR, I miss you.

I admit it, I LOVE my PVR; on more than one occasion I have wondered how parents ever managed to watch their shows before the advent of the PVR.  That said, when we got our PVR for Christmas three years ago I was not impressed.  It seemed like such an unnecessary extravagance.
Was I ever wrong, as a parent, our PVR is not extravagant, its essential.  It allows us to watch our shows when we want to and has the added convenience of allowing us to fast forward through the commercials, which as far as I'm concerned, rot your brain.  The PVR also allows us to tape whatever show the boy is obsessed with at any particular moment and turn it on with the click of a button.

On Wednesday morning, our PVR remote got thrown on the floor one too many times and stopped working.  I initially thought that batteries were dead, but when brand new batteries yielded no response from the PVR I knew we were in trouble.  Based on previous experience, I already knew that PVR remotes aren't available in retail stores (despite the fact that you can buy the PVR in stores).

In an attempt to remedy the situation, I promptly called my service provider SHAW to find out how to get our hands on a new remote as soon as possible.  After ten minutes of elevator music and 20 minutes of exasperated conversation I was no where near closer to having a new PVR remote.

I had two options:
  1. I could pack up my kids and drive to a SHAW retail store to exchange my remote control.  Unfortunately there are only three locations in the lower mainland, and the closest one is still a 45 minute drive away.
  2. I could pay $15 and have the remote shipped to my home.  Unfortunately, despite the fee and the fact that the remote would be shipped via Purolater, the customer service agent informed me it would be a three day wait.
Perhaps its just me, but as far as I'm concerned, these options are inadequate.  An hour and a half of driving with my kids just to wait in a lineup and exchange a remote is ridiculous, however a three day wait for a courier delivery, particularly when I can get a package from Toronto in a day, is even more absurd.

I opted to wait for the delivery with the hopes that the 'three day wait' was just a worst case scenario. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case as it is now Saturday night and we still have to sit on the floor and press buttons to access the PVR.  Although we can watch our recorded programs via the buttons on the PVR, we cannot stop, pause, fast forward or rewind our programs.

This has been a tough reminder that before our PVR, not only did we have to run to the bathroom and fill up our water glassses during commercials, we also had to watch our shows at the listed times.  In truth its been such a hassle to use the PVR that we've barely watched any TV (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), but in all honesty I can't wait until our new remote arrives and we can resume our regular TV watching habits.

By the time my remote arrives on Monday (I hope) we will have been without for five days, am I being petty thinking that is by no means an acceptable option?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spring in the CASH $500 Giveaway | hosted by Mamanyc

Spring In The Cash Giveaway
Welcome to the 'SPRING IN THE CASH Giveaway hosted by MamaNYC! Since everyone loves FREE MONEY, I have once again teamed up with an amazing group of bloggers to bring you a terrific CASH prize! The lucky winner is going to receive $500.00 PayPal CASH!

Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. This giveaway is open to residents WORLDWIDE; 18+, however the winner must have a PayPal account in order to claim this cash prize.

All entries are optional, but the more entries you complete the higher your chances will be to win this prize! This giveaway will end on March 14, 2012 @ 11:59PM (EST) and the winner will have 48 hours to confirm winnings or the prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be selected.

Although this giveaway will be running on a number of blogs, you only need to enter this giveaway on ONE blog.  If you have any problems with the Rafflecopter: Please REFRESH the page by right clicking and using "Reload".
Good Luck & Have Fun!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Martin's Marvelous Naturals gluten-free granola and crisps | Review & Giveaway

I love granola; there’s something about the hearty, earthy deliciousness of granola that I just can’t get enough of, particularly when paired with thick creamy yogurt. I’ll admit when I first went gluten-free I was disappointed to discover that although oats themselves are gluten-free they are so often grown in adjacent fields and processed in the same factories as other grains that cross contamination is a very real concern.

Martin's Marvelous Granola
Unfortunately finding gluten-free granola that I didn’t make myself has been a bit of a slog, particularly when you also add in my need to keep things nut-free. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to connect with the folks from Martin’s Marvelous Naturals at the Vancouver Gluten-Free Expo and had the opportunity to taste their products. After one bite, I knew I had to share them; read on for a chance to win your own prize pack of Martin’s Marvelous Naturals products.

Both the granola and the crisps are made with Canadian grown, non-genetically-modified pure oats that are RS ELISA Certified. Not only are their products gluten-free, they are also nut-free and kosher and produced in a facility that is free of tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, sesame, eggs, fish and shellfish. The facility does however process dairy as the crisps contain buttermilk, but the granola is dairy-free.

My favourite thing about Martin’s Marvelous (aside from the taste) is that they are a local company from Burnaby, BC that uses locally sourced, natural ingredients. Using local ingredients not only supports and stimulates our local economy, it’s also good for the environment. The further the ingredients and products must travel to reach the consumer, the more fossil fuels are consumed, which ultimately leads to an increase in air pollution.

Martin's Marvelous Granola
But I digress, Martin’s Marvelous Granola comes in two flavours, sunflower seed raisin and pumpkin seed cranberry; I had the opportunity to test out the latter and I admit I ate it every day until it was gone. The granola has a perfect balance of salty, crunchy pumpkin seeds, sweet, tart cranberries and the unmistakable chewiness of perfectly roasted oats. As an added bonus, the granola also contains hemp seeds, which boosts both the omega and protein content. If you’re not a fan of pumpkin seeds, you need not worry, I confess I’m not all that fond of them myself, but in Martin’s Marvelous Granola, they are perfect.
Martin's Marvelous Rosemary Lavender Crisps
Martin’s Marvelous Crisps come in four flavours: rosemary lavender, pumpkin seed cranberry, chocolate mole and date & olive tapenade. I had the opportunity to test out the rosemary lavender crisps and was amazed at the flavour combination they provided. Packed full of sunflower seeds, raisins and hemp seeds the rosemary and lavender flavours are very subtle and not overwhelming in the least. The crisps are crunchy, salty and sweet but not too brittle.  They soften up perfectly when topped with deliciousness such as my toppings of choice, cream cheese and some homemade apple butter.
Martin's Marvelous Prize Pack
Read on if you want to try out Martin’s Marvelous Naturals products, we are giving away FOUR prize packs containing one box of pumpkin seed cranberry granola, one box of rosemary lavender crisps and a reusable shopping bag. Enter using the Rafflecopter form after the jump.