Sunday, November 23, 2014

Get Fit with Fitbit!

In 2014, I've made a very conscious effort to get fit; once the snow melted, I got back into the running regime I started in the summer of 2013, I tracked my food in the Fitbit App and finally learned just how many calories I was consuming and I met an amazing workout buddy who pushes me to work harder, run longer and provides just the right amount of healthy competition.

But what really helped me get started and stay on track was wearing a Fitbit Activity Monitor.

I bought the Fitbit Force for the hubs last Christmas, but he was skeptical and wanted me to return it. Being the fabulous wife that I am, I kept it for myself instead and refused to feel guilty about it.

This simple bracelet can tell me how many steps I've taken, how many calories I've burned (including natural burn by age, weight and  gender as well as those burned by activity), how many flights of stairs I've climbed, how many active minutes I've had in the day and it can wake me up with gentle vibrations, instead of loud noises that wake the rest of the household.

I love that the screen on my Fitbit Force not only tells the time, it displays real time stats and syncs with my phone and laptop wireless. Technology these days truly is amazing.

Unfortunately, there was a voluntary recall on the Fitbit Force last year due to the fact that some people were having skin irritation from the charging terminal on the underside of the monitor. I have extremely sensitive skin, but I never had any problems with skin irritation; regardless, after months of debating, I sent my Fitbit Force back for a refund under the recall last month. A timely decision as Fitbit has now released its predecessor in time for Christmas!

The brand new Fitbit Charge has all the features of the Fitbit Force PLUS phone notifications; how cool is that?

And in early 2015, they will be releasing two more models, one with a built in heart rate monitor and one with the heart rate monitor and a GPS. I've been looking at GPS watches and noticed none of them do the daily activity monitoring as well as GPS tracking, so I may have end up holding out just a little bit longer.

But if you or one of your loved ones is looking to make a lifestyle change in 2015, a Fitbit Activity Monitor may be just the thing. I bought one for each of my parents last mothers and fathers day and to say they have some healthy competition over their step goals is definitley not an exageration. In fact at least two of their friends now have Fitbit Activity Monitors and are in on the action. offers Free Shipping (and its fast, I ordered my parents' online) and returns on Christmas Gifts until January 31st, all without having to wait in line at the mall. The new Fitbit Charge retails for $129.99, which I personally feel is money well spent.

FYI, I just ordered a Fitbit Charge for a Christmas Gift
and they are on Pre-order in Canada.
They are expected to ship in 1-2 weeks.
- 23 Nov 2014

Links in this post are Affiliate Links and I will recieve a small commission should you choose to purchase a Fitbit Activity Monitor using the links; the opinions expressed in my purely my own.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

DIY Easy Gluten-Free Flour Mix

When it comes to gluten-free baking, having a quality all-purpose flour mix in your back pocket is an essential, especially if you're a busy Mom. Before I  had kids, I used to consider the properties of each flour and blend my flours to suit the needs of the recipe; it was messy and time consuming, albeit delicious.

After kids it became clear that if I wanted to continue to bake, I needed to streamline my flour mixing in a big way and I found myself trying out various flour mixes both store bought and home made. 

In case you're wondering, NOT blending gluten-free flours is a recipe for disaster, without the stretchy . gluten molecules its important to mix your starches and flours in order to achieve baked goods that are soft and fluffy rather than dense and crumbly. Trust me on this, do not waste your expensive gluten-free flours, ALWAYS blend your flours.

You can feel free to use this mix as the basis for your own flour mix and experiment with it to meet your tastes and the needs of your family, this mix has evolved with use to become my perfect go-to recipe. This gluten-free flour mix is soy-free, corn-free and nut-free with the exception of coconut flour, which I find gives gluten-free baked goods a denseness and springiness that is difficult to achieve.

This gluten-free flour mix works great as a 1:1 substitution for all-purpose flour in most recipes; I generally recommend adding an extra egg (or a couple tablespoons of applesauce) to gluten-free baking where you have a pourable batter, such as muffins or cakes.

Easy Gluten-Free Flour Mix

  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 2 cups white rice flour
  • 1-1/3 cups potato starch
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 2/3 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  1. Combine all of the ingredients and mix well.
  2. Store in a sealed container or mix right into a large Ziploc bag and use as needed for gluten-free baking.
yield: 7 cups

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Indian For Everyone

Indian for Everyone is a perfect blend of authenticity, simplicity and comfort. Anupy Singla's personal anecdotes and descriptions welcome the reader into both her kitchen and her life and with all the gorgeous photographs, I found myself diving headfirst into my pantry to take stock of my spices.

I needed to eat some Indian.

Literally two hours after picking up Indian for Everyone from my mailbox, I was blending onion, ginger and garlic in my food processor, simmering lentils and sauteing cumin and mustard seeds to releasing their distinct fragrance and flavour.

And in almost no time at all, I was eating what I assume was a fairly authentic bowl of Parippu; my version didn't include any fresh or dried chili's (I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to heat, plus I didn't have any) and I added a bunch of spinach. I loved every bite.

Start to finish, it took me about half an hour to create this filling bowl of vegan Indian deliciousness.

It made me crave more.

This week, I tried the Masala Egg Scramble for breakfast. A quick saute of the right spices (thanks to Anupy Singla's guidance) and our everyday eggs suddenly became special. I eat eggs nearly every day and finding a new recipe for the repetoire is exciting to say the least.

Indian for Everyone is a perfect compliment to Anupy Singla's other two books The Indian Slow Cooker and Vegan Indian Cooking; it doesn't cater to a niche market but instead showcases the breadth of options available to the home cook that's ready to learn to cook Indian.

This hardcover book is beautiful to look at, personal to read and yields results that are delicious, I definitely recommend you check it out, if you enjoy the flavours of Indian Cuisine. And if you're looking for the perfect holiday gift for the foodie in your life, you can stop right here!

Do you cook Indian food at home?

Disclaimer: I recieved a copy of Indian for Everyone in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Re-Purpose your Train Table into a Craft Table

According to our backyard weather station, and the flurries in the sky, the temperature dropped to -2°C yesterday and last night, it was -12°C. Given our locale, snow on Halloween is practically a given, so at this point its safe to assume that snow could arrive and stick around at any given moment.

As much fun as snow can be, when the temperatures start to really drop, even the hardiest of kids (which my kids are not) can only tolerate playing outside for short periods of time and if we as parents want to avoid the trap of constant digital stimulation, we need to plan ahead.

For us, the first step was to take our basement that resembled a toy dumping ground and create a place that fostered play and imagination. It's definitely a work in progress, but I have been incredibly inspired by Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors by Rachelle Doorley, which introduces the idea of creative invitations, how to create your Tinkerlab, supplies worth having on hand and breaks up activities into four broad categories: Design, Build, Concoct and Discover.

With Tinkerlab in hand, I was finally ready to create a crafting area in our home, but the first thing I needed was a table. I started by scouring the internet for table ideas and our local Facebook Bidding Site looking for something that could suit our needs for cheap, but eventually a critical look at our space made me realize we already HAD the perfect table.

Rather than looking for something new, I decided to re-purpose our train table that currently seemed to illicit more fights and frustration than joy as of late. I started by taking all things train and putting them in a bin with the hope that one day the boys would enjoy them again.

I then flipped over the two boards that make up the 'table' so that accidental spills will (hopefully) not affect the images on the train table. I carefully taped a thick, flock backed tablecloth onto the boards, taking the time to carefully fold the corners and tape them onto the bottom side. Because there are two boards, it takes some effort to get the tablecloth tight and the table flat, this is easier done without the help of children if at all possible.

In less than an hour, and for the cost of a tablecloth, our barely used train table become a craft table (or craft centre as my kindergartner calls it), that my boys came to love in a matter of days.

Organizing our crafty goodies into small containers, cups and drawers and deciding what the boys could have free access to, took significantly more time and is a post for another day.

How are you preparing for the cold weather?
How do you encourage art, creativity and free play?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dreaming THE dream

In casual conversation, I often talk about 'THE DREAM'; if you're a parent, I bet you have the dream too. I think everyone's version is a little bit different and may change with the month or day or even moment, but here's a few of the things that define THE dream for me.
In THE dream:
  • My boys are best buddies; they laugh, they play, they don't hit each other every other second, or even at all.
  • My boys don't need to be entertained every, second of the day.
  • I absolutely, never ever, have to change another pair of poopy pants.
  • My boys pee IN the toilet, wipe up their own dribbles and even wipe their own bums.
  • The hubs and I leave the house, together, alone, regularly.
  • The boys don't catch every cold they walk by.
  •  My boys are polite, kind and considerate.
  • Everyone contributes to keeping the house clean and tidy willingly (myself included).
  • The dog stops getting scared, snappy and biting.
  • I never have to work on the weekend or evening.
  • My boys know how to handle their emotions without great frustration.
  • My boys love books and nature and exploration more than television, computers and video games.
  • Eating out safely, for both the Bolt (peanut-free) and myself (gluten-free) is easy and delicious.
I'm certain there are many more things that encompass THE dream for me, but for now this will have to do. I'm curious, what defines YOUR dream?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Blog has a Muffin Top

I recently read a blog re-branding article and although I don't remember exactly which article it was that resonated with me, what I remember clearly is that when I finished reading the article, I was left with a single resounding syllable in my mid.

  • Does my blog feel like it doesn't quite fit as well as it used to? YES.
  • Does my blog feel too much like work and not enough like creative release? YES.  
  • Have I been neglecting to post quality content for far too long? YES.
So what does that mean? I'm not exactly sure.
  • I know, that I don't want to let my blog, that I worked so hard to create, fall to the wayside. 
  • I know, that I like that I like being a blogger and having connections with amazing people across Canada and the world.
  • I know, that my time is limited, my family is my priority and I need to be realistic about the expectations I have of myself.
Much like the pants that don't fit quite the same way they used to, I've realized my blog has a muffin top and instead of continuing to cram on those too tight pants, I'm ready to work to find the pants that fit the body I have instead of the one I had.

Right here, right now, I'm committing to myself AND to you, the reader:
  • I will write at least one post a week.
  • I will be brave and I will write, what makes my heart sing, or cry, or whatever else feels right in the moment.
  • I will not hold onto a post, because it is not perfect or because it might need just a little more editing.
  • I will continue to think about what I want my blog to be and I'm going to honor it enough, to let let it change.
Thanks for reading, for your support and for your patience.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Where did Summer go? | #kindermom

As a child I remember time passing so slowly. The time between birthdays and holiday's felt literally like forever. As I've aged and become a mother, time has begun to move at a speed I didn't think was possible. There aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do; to excel in my job, to be a kind and compassionate mother and to be a loving and considerate wife.

Even though I can't be everything at once, I can be something in every moment.

And one of my favourite things about being a #kindermom is that Kinder Canada encourages us to celebrate playtime and all the amazing moments that make our lives unique and special.

This Summer has been a whirlwind of activity, of exploration, friendship and excitement. Although we have watched movies and played video games, we have spent so much time outside together, living THE dream.

We have explored a few of the many lakes near our new home. The boys LOVE to create 'rivers' along the shores, build dams made of rocks and sticks and then watch as the water flows back to the lake when they open the floodgates.

I loved paddling around the lake in our friends Kayak with Simba along for the ride and the hubs has been working away (with Simba's help) to sand, paint and prepare our new (old) boat so that we can enjoy time on the water as a family.

We went on treasure hunts in crown land (ie. Geocaching), attended a 'Learn to Fish' event, made a waterslide in the backyard, went to Lake Country to visit friends, welcomed a rescue dog into the family and visited my grandmother's farm nearly every time we visited Vancouver.

No wonder the time went fast, we were busy.

Are you looking for a way to capture some of your summer memories? I used the new Kinder 'photo-strip' app to create the photo strip in this post.  

Want to create your own? It's easy, just follow the instructions below:

Step 2: Start your photo-strip
Step 3: Upload your photos
Step 4: Choose a fancy KINDER® frame
Step 5: Choose a filter (make yourself look silly)
Step 6: Save & share

What was your big adventure this summer?
Personally, if I had to sum up Summer 2014 in a word, I'd go with 'exploration'.
So far 2014 has been one heck of a year and I can't wait to see what new adventures the last few months will bring.

Disclosure: I’m part of theKinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation withthis group.  The opinions on this blog are my own”

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Our Country Summer | #KinderMom

My most vivid childhood memories are of summer; sitting on the fence eating raspberries, the juice dripping down our faces, splashing in the backyard pool, jumping ditches, catching frogs and of course laying in the grass reading book and after book.

Now that we've moved away from our urban existence, I look forward to sharing a summer of discovery with my boys. I hope that this summer will be filled with laughter, joy and exploration and that the draw of the great outdoors will far outweigh the mind numbing stimulation of television and video games.

Our home backs onto a small green belt that we've dubbed the 'Secret Forest'; there's a small clearing that is just perfect for hide and seek and deer sightings are a regular occurrence. Five year old Bolt and I recently went on a 2 hour adventure and although we never reached our destination or found our geocache, it was one of the best afternoon's we've ever shared. I love nature and I hope that this first summer in the Highland Valley will instill in my boys the same awe in nature that is truly defines me.

 I want this summer will be about resetting our balance, finding our peace, playing in our pyjamas, splashing in lakes, discovering new adventures and meeting new friends. And of course, this #Kindermom has a few peanut-free Kinder Surprise Eggs stashed away to share with our friends on our summertime picnics!

And we can't wait for all our friends and family from Vancouver come visit us here at our new Country House. We just returned from a week long visit on the coast and as lovely as it was to be close to our people, we were all eager to return to a place, that has so quickly become home.

What are your plans (and hopes) for this summer? 

Disclosure: I'm part of the Kinder Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Letter To My Very Special Friends

True friendship is sacred, something to be valued among the ranks of family; it's honest, it's real and it's authentic. Friends are the only family you get to choose in life and believe me, I choose wisely. I put a lot of energy into my people, so much in fact that I've been described as coming off as snobby simply because I appear so engaged in the people around me. But the truth is, when I'm around my true friends,their presence is simply enough.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this means I have a handful of people that mean the world to me, and lately, I've been missing them. So, I offer this letter.

To my very special friends,
I confess, I haven't been very good at keeping in touch; social media is no substitute for a phone call or even a text. For that, I am sorry. 
I keep imagining myself as a little girl, shaking a snow globe just to watch the transformation from complete chaos to a peaceful, perfect moment. Our snow is finally subsiding and the calm is creeping in between the floorboards and windows. 
And as we settle, I miss you. 
It's hard to make friends as adults, though not impossible, but new friends are different; the friendships we have last years, decades, lifetimes even, if we are lucky. 
And so as we've navigated our new home, our new life, our new everything, you may have slid out of plain sight, but I promise, its just temporary. My mom taught me that the best friends are the friends that feel like you saw them yesterday, even though in reality its been ages. 
And, I really wish we could share that feeling today, or tomorrow, or at least sometime soon. 
But it seems unlikely. I didn't even call you, even though I was thinking of you.
All of you.  
I guess that's why I wrote it here. 
And you know what the very best thing is about friends like you?
I know you get it. 
I love you.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Give a Cluck and Go Cage-Free!

When we first started talking about moving out of the City, the hubs and I had visions of a small acreage, a huge vegetable garden, fruit trees and so much space our boys wouldn’t know what to do with themselves.

When we started looking at real estate however, we realized we needed to put some of those dreams on hold, not let them go per say, but consider whether the timing was right. Of critical note is that I’m working on a contract which means there is a very real chance we could end up moving back to the city within a few years. The market in our area isn’t booming to say the least, so the possibility of being unable to buy in the City because we can’t sell our home in the Country landed us in a more suburban part of our 2,300 person town.

Despite our location, I knew we could still have many of the experiences we desired, just on a smaller scale.

In particular, I had my heart set on Chickens, laying hens to be exact. The idea that my kids could be connected with where their food comes from and that we could have feathered friends lounging in our yard and laying us delicious eggs seemed amazing. I scouted the local bylaws, searched and researched chicken coops, chicken breeds and of course what exactly commercial egg laying facilities look like. 

Many of those poor chickens spend their lives in small cages, shared with five or six other birds.  Many never feeling the ground beneath their feet, spread their wings or experience fresh air and sunlight. These intelligent, social animals become valuable only for their ability to produce eggs.

Unfortunately, although we both had dreams of an acreage type property, it quickly became clear that the hubs and I had differing opinions when it came to the idea of keeping chickens in our backyard. I’m not giving up on the idea just yet, but I’m also not pushing it, this year we have a yard to personalize and a garden to grow but we also have eggs to eat and in truth this whole experience has made me reconsider my grocery store choices when it comes to buying eggs.

Choose Cage-Free is an initiative by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) to empower individuals to commit to buying cage-free eggs and working with farmers and businesses to adopt cage-free practices.

So what’s so great about cage-free farms?

On a cage-free farm hens can live a far more natural existence.  They can walk and run, stretch their wings, turn around, give themselves  dust baths, forage and peck on the ground. Cage-free hens are happier and healthier and have a much lower risk of Samonella contamination.

In our house, eggs are a staple; we easily eat two dozen a week and Simba and I eat them for breakfast almost every day.

Currently my favourite way to start the morning is with a spinach and feta egg tortilla; this is a great recipe as you can adjust it to your tastes, uses gluten-free (like me) or flour tortillas and in less than 10 minutes you will have a hearty well balanced breakfast you can eat on the go. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Spinach and Feta Egg Tortilla

  • 1 tsp (coconut) oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp chopped red (or green) onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tortilla
  1. Heat a pan that is approximately the same size as your tortilla over medium heat.
  2. Whisk together your eggs and spinach.
  3. Melt coconut oil in the pan and then saute your onions for a few minutes until fragrant.
  4. Add your egg mixture to the pan and use your spatula to confine the mixture to half of the pan. Salt your eggs as desired.
  5. Once the egg starts to set, place your tortilla over the egg, then place a full size plate on top of the tortilla.
  6. Holding onto the plate, carefully flip over the pan so the egg and tortilla are inverted onto the plate.
  7. Carefully slide the egg and tortilla back onto the pan (and back on the element) and sprinkle with the feta cheese.
  8. After about 30 seconds, your tortilla should be warm and pliable, fold it over to cover up the egg and feta.
  9. Allow to cook until lightly golden (~1 minute) then flip your tortilla over and allow the other side to brown and the feta to melt.
  10. I like to cut my tortilla in half for ease of eating, but however you eat it, ENJOY!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Outsmarted by a Three Year Old

I’m a firm believer in picking your battles and letting the little things slide so I can stand my ground on the big things. Unfortunately, in my attempts to use a more peaceful parenting method, I may have occasionally started choosing the easy road with my children and they are well aware that sometimes, Mommy just gives in.

Yesterday morning I was making smoothies for breakfast with the help of my boy Simba. He loves to blend the spinach and watch the water turn green before scooping all the yummy deliciousness into the mix. I recently purchased a new bag of goji berries and it quickly became obvious that the little handful I gave him to eat while we blended was not going to be sufficient today.

He happily took his little bowl of goji berries to the table and promptly spilled them on the ground. Simba then commanded me to pick them back up, to which I refused. 

He started to bawl and power struggle ensued. Aware that I have been giving in far too much lately (because it’s easy), I stood my ground and told him to pick up his goji berries. He continued to cry and ignored my offers to HELP him pick up his berries.

A few moments later I made a trip to the potty and upon my return three year old Simba informed me he had peed in his pants, all over the chair and onto the floor. It is worth noting here that he IS potty trained and although he occasionally has accidents, more often than not, his accidents are actually quite purposeful.

Then he looked right at me, picked a wet goji berry up off his chair and was about to eat it when I snatched it out of his hand and told him he couldn’t eat it. I proceeded to clean up the pee and the soiled goji berries, got him some new pants and finally sat down to eat my breakfast.

It wasn’t until I was sitting at work later that morning that I realized that I had in fact lost that battle; my boy wanted me to pick up his goji berries and I did.

When did he get so smart?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Conquering an Emotional Mountain

Because I’m a REAL mom, I sometimes lose my cool. I get frustrated, I yell, I threaten time outs and sometimes I cry.

If you follow me on Facebook, then you know, THAT mom, is not the mom I want to be. I believe in parenting that encourages love and support, where we don’t inflict punitive punishment but rather help and encourage our children to feel their emotions and work through them rather than suppress them. Gordon Neufeld’s book ‘Hold on to Your Kids’ was the first parenting book to truly resonate with me and the way I felt like I should be raising my children.

According to the book, here’s the problem with timeouts:
  • Almost all misbehavior stems from feeling disconnected from YOU.
  • When you punish your child with a time out, you are physically increasing that disconnect.
  • This enforces their disconnect with YOU and introduces a level of separation anxiety.
  • Your child becomes stuck in a circular, disconnected, anxious state, which results in more misbehavior.

 The solution therefore to the misbehavior is essentially a time-in, which looks like:
  • One on one attention from you.
  • Permission to feel their emotions, cry and feel supported.
  • Validation that their emotions are normal and ok.
  • Love, lots and lots of love.

Which sounds all pretty on paper, but in reality this is tough stuff.

How on earth am I supposed to reward my 5 year old with dedicated one on one attention for getting on top of his three year old brother and pounding him in the back, or kicking him in the face, or pushing him on the ground, or overturning furniture? Particularly if there’s only one parent at home? It’s almost impossible, even when the hubs is home.

But it is possible and sometimes it works.

The more often I step into my boys’ world and try to feel their feelings, the more often time-ins are successful at diffusing the big emotions. Sometimes its simply a matter of perseverance and patience.

The point of all this, is that this week, I had a success and it felt so good. I came home to boys that were borderline raging and within moments the tears, screaming, flailing and hitting were all in full force. After about 30 minutes, I managed to get Bolt up to his room and I quite simply, let him be mad. 

I told him I wouldn’t let him hurt me and physically stopped him from hitting me or breaking his toys, I acknowledged that he was having big feelings and not only was that ok, but I was right here with him if he wanted me. I asked him what was bothering him and over the course of the episode he told me he was mad about his dinner, mad he didn’t have a new Skylander, mad his brother touched him and all sorts of random things that irritated him, but I knew weren’t actually the real issue. Then without warning, in the midst of his screaming, he verbalized what was actually bothering him.

I miss my old house.
I don’t like it here.
I want to go back to my old house.

He opened that door and I jumped in with two feet.

When prompted he told me he missed his old bedroom and he missed the train table in his room, which can easily be remedied, but I suspected that still wasn’t actually the issue. So I told him that what I really missed was our family and our friends, and he readily agreed that he missed them too. 

We talked about how hard it is to be away from the people that we love and that we will go and visit everyone soon. We talked about calling our special people on the phone and talking to them on the computer and I reminded him that soon they would come visit us again at our new house. That turned into a discussion about the spare room we had just painted and how much we thought that our family would like having their own room to sleep in.

Before I knew it, we were talking about the Skylander decals on his wall, laughing and giggling.

And when his brother finally came traipsing in, he said Simba, you can come and play with us, I feel better now.  Me and Mom were making up swap names for the Skylanders and that made me feel happy.

I know it was sharing our feelings that made him feel better, not the Skylanders, but I don’t care.

Bolt and I conquered those emotions together and I’m so proud of us, because now I know we CAN do it.

It’s a long road and we’ve been working on this for over a year and though we have had many small successes (and failures) this is the first time I truly felt like we connected and climbed the mountain together and it gives me SO MUCH HOPE.

If you're looking for resources, in addition to Gordon Neufeld, Aha Parenting has great articles and newsletters that I highly recommend.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Celebrate Easter with a Kinder Surprise Scavenger Hunt | #kindermom

A new home, a new city, a new tradition.

Until recently we lived 15 minutes from all of our immediate family so any day that even resembled a holiday included running around to at least one of our family's homes. And truly, family is one of life's pleasures.

But this Easter, on what I expect will be the first of many holidays in our new home, we have an opportunity to start a new tradition for our little family of four.

As a #Kindermom I'm so excited that this year, we will be having a Kinder Surprise Easter. 

My boys love a good treasure hunt and in the past we have simply made a trail from their bedroom door to the living room and allowed the egg hunt to go wild, but this year I have another idea.

In addition to scattered eggs, I'm going to create an Easter Scavenger hunt. My boys are old enough to appreciate such an event, but not so old as to be offended by my poor quality drawings (and I promise you they are poor).

Each boy will get his own 'treasure map' created by drawing 9 sketches of locations around our home (eg. a picture of a chair or the tv) on a piece of computer paper, rolled up and placed inside a toilet paper tube. My boys LOVE to have their treasure maps rolled up, but lack the skills to keep them that way, so a piece of toilet paper roll is the perfect solution.

And their treasures? KINDER SURPRISE! We received this amazing Kinder Surprise Egg Hunt kit complete with a hollow bunny and mini eggs and although I'm cutting it close, you certainly still have time to grab one for your house too.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, my favourite things about Kinder Surprise are:
  • They are Peanut-Free.
  • They are Gluten-Free.
  • Clear allergen labeling.
  • They are more about the little toy than the chocolate.

As if I need more reasons to love Kinder Surprise, I am super happy to partner with a company that partners with the Children's Miracle Network to 'Share the Joy'. Kinder will be providing 12 baskets to CMN hospitals this Easter and donating $25,000 to help support this non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children's hospitals across North America.

How are you celebrating Easter this year? 
Will Kinder Surprise be in your Children's basket?

"Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  All opinions on this blog are my own”

Monday, April 14, 2014

Our First Spring in the Country

When we moved, we knew that Logan Lake was located in mountain terrain and was therefore prone to colder and longer winters, however over the past week our family has been embracing the warmer weather and the decline of the snow.

It's been borderline t-shirt weather; our (almost) three year old seems to be immune to the cold and not only thinks it t-shirt weather, as far as he's concerned shoes are optional as well.

We've built planter boxes (though its still too cold in the evenings to plant the seedlings that are scattered throughout our kitchen) built forts in the backyard, acquired a picnic table, enjoyed sunny outdoor snacktimes, spent hours at the local park and even took the kids hike for about a kilometer partway around the local lake.

And its been amazing.
I've especially loved the tranquility and the ever elusive peace that seems to settle (at least for moments) between my boys when they are adequately stimulated, entertained and full of fresh air.

So all of this begs the question, what next?

What activities can we take up as a family that will entertain all four of us and get us outside exploring the bounty of nature our new home provides?

I'm thinking geocaching, because what kid doesn't love a good treasure hunt?

Does your family geocache? 
Do you have any suggestions for a reasonably priced, kid-friendly, geocaching GPS? 
(I've been considering the Magellean Explorist GC and almost bought one last year, but couldn't justify it when we were still living in the city.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

What I hear | City vs. Country

We used to live in the City; a large neighbourhood park, the bus and an elementary school were all within a 5 minute walk. The grocery store, the mall, the Skytrain and a 7-Eleven were all within a 15 minute walk. We were living the City life in our quaint little townhouse; our family, our friends and our lives all revolved around the Lower Mainland.

And then we took a chance on life. 

We now live in a little mining town with 2,500 people. The pub closes at 9pm regardless whether there’s a hockey game in progress, the grocery store doesn’t open until 9am, Bolt’s kindergarten class is anticipated to be 13 kids and although there are very few stores, one of them is a video rental shop (apparently they still exist).

So many things have changed and I struggle with where to start and what to share, but as I sat on my beautiful backyard deck yesterday, enjoying a sunny Sunday afternoon, I had an epiphany and knew exactly where to start; with my ears.

What I heard in my City Backyard:
  • Traffic and vehicles horns.
  • Emergency sirens.
  • School bells.
  • Asian Karaoke.
  • Drunk Teenagers.

 What I hear in my Country Backyard:
  • Birds chirping.
  • Leaves rustling.
  • Chopping wood.
  • Silence.
  • Nature.

 And I have to say, I’m feeling pretty good about this particular aspect of my new life.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Blue skies and powdery snow,
My children smile as the wind blows.

Get outside, enjoy the sun,
Be free, my boys, find your fun.

Smell the trees, touch the sky,
Take time to dream and learn to fly.

Just now our steps are small,
Gingerly we tread, for fear we may fall.

But hope is our mantra and change is our friend,
This road that we follow, we’re travelling a bend.

Each day’s an adventure, something new to behold,
Our hearts brim with excitement, in spite of the cold.

I can’t help but wonder what tomorrow will bring,
When the grass turns green and we experience the Spring.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Marvelous Morning

This morning I was happily awakened by a subtle buzzing on my wrist and the best part about it was that didn't wake up my almost 3 year old minion that was sound asleep bedside me. 

In an effort to thwart 4am wakeup calls, we've been cutting Simba's naps short and letting him stay up about an hour later each evening and after a few crazy weeks and a time change, we now have a boy that gets up between 530 and 6am, unless he hears his mom get up for work at 5.

With a sick hubby infecting my bed, I was sharing with Simba last night and was pleasantly surprised when he didn't wake when my Fitbit (which has been lost for a week) woke me.

I had a shower, got dressed, blow dried my bangs, made coffee and almost had my breakfast made before my little man showed up.

As much as I love him, that half an hour alone was amazing and even though it's not even 630 am yet, I feel more relaxed and awake than I have in ages.

Now, the question is, HOW do I make THIS happen every day?

Do you have an early riser? How do you get a moment to yourself in the morning?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

3 Simple Ways to Keep Eczema in Check | #EczemaAndMe

The word ECZEMA is practically a cuss word to anyone who is directly affected by the dry, scaly and itchy skin that defines it. If you or your children are affected by eczema you have probably tried a multitude of products and skin care regimes in an attempt to rid it from your lives.

And, just as I know, you probably know, that's never going to happen: eczema's persistent.

Eczema is my reality, just as it is Bolt's. We live with eczema and we make choices every day that may help or hinder our skin condition. As Bolt ages I will give him more freedom to make those choices, because his eczema won't kill him; when he's a teenager who wants to go out without gloves, that will be his perogative, he will be the one who suffers.

But until he can truly grasp the consequences, I rule the roost when it comes to eczema management and here are a few of the hard and fast rules at our house.
  1. MOISTURIZE, MOISTURIZE, MOISTURIZE - When you have eczema, there is no such thing as too much moisturizing. If at all possible, cream should be applied to damp skin after bathing to seal in as much moisture as possible. Using a heavy, unscented cream works best before bed and the new Polysporin Eczema Essentials Daily Moisturizing Cream is a great choice. It's accepted by the Eczema Society of Canada, which is high praise, feels thick and rich but absorbs quickly without any greasy residue.

  2. MINIMIZE THE SOAP - Although its essential that we wash ourselves and our children, there is no need to lather our children up every day with heavily scented or processed products. When I use soap on my children, I tend to use a very gentle, homemade soap but a great alternative is to use a very mild body wash as a bubble bath. The very diluted body wash cleans my children while they play and there's no soapy irritation. My kids love all the fragrance free bubbles that the new Polysporin Eczema Essentials Daily Body Wash creates  in their bath and I love that they are squeaky clean and not the slightest bit itchy.

  3. USE CORTISONE as needed - Many parents are fearful of using cortisone on their children, but I know with certainty, that almost none of those parents have eczema. Although, cortisone is a steroid, and should be used with caution, in an intense eczema flare up, nothing will calm the irritation like cortisone and I know this first hand. Although we have prescription strength cortisone in our house, there are times when a budding flare up really doesn't call for such an intense amount of medication. In those moments, the new Polysporin Eczema Essentials Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream does the job. It's also great for managing random itchiness, like the spider bite I got in my eyebrow last week.
    I was super excited to try out the brand new Polysporin Eczema Essentials line and I'm happy to report that the products stood up to the standard I expect from Polysporin. Have you tried them in your home?

    What are your tips for keeping Eczema in check?

    “Disclosure: I am part of the the POLYSPORIN® Eczema Essentials Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.”

    Monday, February 3, 2014

    We had a Crack'n Win Chinese New Year with Kinder Surprise | #kindermom

    As a #Kindermom I love seeing the delight on my boys faces when I pull out a Kinder Egg as a special treat or reward and watching my boys share them with others just fills me with pride. I know sharing is supposed to be an inherent trait, but in reality, sometimes its just hard to share all the goodness that is a Kinder Egg.

    By a strange twist of circumstances, my boys and I found ourselves in Vancouver for Chinese New Year this past week. Although we were exhausted from the four hour drive from Kamloops, both boys were getting over the flu and Simba proceeded to be carsick all over me as soon as we arrived, we had a great time.

    We ate good food and exchanged lucky money and THIS time when everyone pulled out treats (most of which are not safe for Bolt to eat), I pulled out two boxes of #peanutfree Kinder Surprise Eggs and sent my boys to do the rounds. It's amazing how easily Kinder Surprise can cross age gaps; the little ones love them, the teenage girls loved them and the adults, well we happily devoured ours too.

    And as we all enjoyed our full tummies and sugar buzzes, we immediately had entertainment for the rapidly fading children. They loved their little animals, cars, puzzles, spirographs and bracelets and suddenly spending another half an hour together seemed totally feasible.

    And the three teenage girls in attendance were the ones most excited about the Kinder Crack'nWin Campaign. All the specially marked Crack'n Win Kinder surprises have a PIN that can be entered onto the Kinder Website for a chance to win some great prizes.  There's a Fiat 500 POP!, two family trips to Orlando, over 27,000 family movie nights and 201,000 free Kinder Treats all up to grabs.

    Maybe its your turn to be lucky.
    Have you entered a PIN to see if you're a winner yet?

    “Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions on this blog are my own”

    Sunday, February 2, 2014

    The Healthy Shopper | Pamela's, Simply Natural, Oreganol & Olympic Krema

    When I go grocery shopping there are a few key criteria, that my food needs to meet, the majority of the time.

    In short, I'm looking for food that is:
    • Healthy;
    • Delicious;
    • Allergen-Friendly; and 
    • Affordable.
    These are obviously subjective terms that mean different things to different people, but I think striving to meet these goals on any given grocery trip is an attainable and reasonable goal. 

    If you shop in Health Food Stores across Canada, you've probably seen The Healthy Shopper Coupon Book in your travels. The Healthy Shopper is the ONLY organic and natural coupon book in Canada and was founded by two women, a holistic nutritionist and a life-long health advocate who were eager to spread the word about health and wellness. 

    Each season the Healthy Shopper features a number of great products, and I was super excited to try out the Fall 2013 campaign; it was chock full of items that are perfect for my family.

    I have had many friends suggest Pamela's Gluten-Free Baking & Pancake Mix to me, however, I admit I had never actually tried them. Although they are peanut free, they do contain almond meal, which is safe for our house, however I have a mild sensitivity to almonds that occasionally rears its ugly little head.

    I should have tried Pamela's Pancake Mix ages ago. They are delicious. They are fluffy and light, the texture is divine and they sop up my 100% maple syrup perfectly. Seriously, my cupboard shall not be without this product ever again, and that's saying a lot, because as a rule, I try and make nearly everything from scratch.

    At our house, we also have a problem with condiments and by problem, I mean we have an entire shelf where only condiments reside. Unfortunately, although tasty, condiments are not exactly the healthiest addition to your meal. I loved the Simply Natural Organic stone ground mustard. The flavour was deep and authentic and the graininess was amazing on a sandwich. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this mustard was another total win for me.

    Just this past week, I popped the last few Oreganol capsules from my Healthy Shopper campaign. These tiny little oregano gelcaps are made using the purest, highest quality ingredients and contain 100% wild oregano which has a number of known health benefits including combating colds. 

    My boys have been sick with the flu this past week, and granted I have been at work during the day, but that's not to say I haven't been covered in vomit multiple times and shared beds with those sick little boys. And somehow, I've managed to stay healthy through it all. I think I'll be grabbing a package of Oreganol capsules for my cupboard next time I hit the health food store.And next time they have a cold (rather than the flu we've currently been combatting), I'll be reaching for the Hyland's Cold and Cough 4 Kids that came in our Healthy Shopper campaign.

    Another great product, Olympic Dairy Krema Greek Style Yogurt, is delectably creamy and I LOVE that its locally produced in the Fraser Valley. It's just yum and with some fresh berries mixed in, it's desert any day of the week.

    As expected, the organic flavour combinations of Kiju juices were a total hit with my kiddos, we were especially fans of the orange mango flavour! Have you tried them out? I personally love that I can grab them for my kids when we hit our local Starbucks.

    I try to be a Healthy Shopper every time I hit the grocery store and The Healthy Shopper Coupon Book can help me (and you) reach our health & wellness goals. 

    You can find the Healthy Shopper online and on Facebook.

    If you haven't read it already, I had the chance to try out another Healthy Shopper Campaign last year and tried a whole other round of deliciousness!

    I received product in exchange for sharing my experiences in this post, however all opinions are my own.

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    Gung Hay Fat Choy & VH Sauces | Weeknight Sweet & Sour Pork Recipe

    Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.

    2014 is a year of change for my family; it has brought with it a new job, a new city, a new home and a new reality.  This will be the first year, of my life, that I won't be spending Chinese New Year with my family. Each Chinese New Years Eve, we all go to my Popo's (grandmother) house and we eat, we play and we exchange lucky money.

    This year, my boys and I will be in Kamloops, 4 hours away from the craziness that is my family and given that its a weeknight this year, driving down to Vancouver simply isn't an option.
    When #collectivebias presented me with an opportunity to celebrate Chinese New Year with VH Sauces, everything came together for me. ALL VH sauces are now gluten-free (and their new labels clearly state 'gluten-free food'), but they are also quick, which is a requirement for our busy new lifestyle, where Dad does most of the cooking because Mom doesn't get home until 6pm.
    I decided to make a simple sweet and sour pork and white fish with black beans, however I wasn't able to find any dried black beans. A simple reminder, I'm not in Vancouver anymore. Fortunately, I was easily able to find VH Sauces at my local Superstore and I decided to make honey garlic cod to accompany my pork instead. I simply pan friend the cod with a little bit of oil and VH honey garlic sauce; nothing fancy, but it sure was delicious.
    The entire meals took me about half an hour to create, though I admit, I just wasn't in the mood for veggies. If I had been however, I could easily have thrown a handful of frozen peas in with the pork. If you're looking for a quick and easy weeknight meal, that your kids will in fact eat, why not try some sweet and sour pork?
    Weeknight Sweet and Sour Pork
    1. Thinly slice your pork across the grain (it is easier to cut your pork thin if it is a little bit frozen). I also cut each slice in half lengthwise, so I had long thin pieces of pork.
    2. Mince garlic, while you heat the oil over med-high heat. 
    3. Add the garlic to the warming oil and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
    4. Add the pork and stir regularly until no longer pink. Do not over cook or your meat will be tough.
    5. Add the VH Sweet and Sour Sauce and simmer for 3-5 minutes. (You could add frozen peas while simmering to make this a little bit healthier).
    6. Serve over rice and enjoy.

    Monday, January 20, 2014

    10 Things I've Learned about Making Cold Process Soap

    Call me crazy, but amidst a new job and moving, I've taken up a new hobby. After years of lusting after homemade soap, the lovely Donna from Sossima kindly took me under her wing and gave me a cold process soap making lesson.

    After that one lesson, I was hooked.

    I had some prepaid VISA's kicking around that were begging to be spent, so I bought some equipment and ordered some supplies. The internet is chock full of soap making how-to's and I'm by no means an expert, but over the last month or so, I've learned a few things about making soap.
    10 Things I've Learned About Making Cold Process Soap
    1. Research First - If you're fortunate enough to get a hands-on lesson, jump on that opportunity. Otherwise don't just read JUST one beginners guide or watch JUST one video on youtube, watch many and watch closely, until you can anticipate what's going to happen next. Soapmaking is SCIENCE first and foremost and therefore requires precision and accuracy. Respect Science.
    2. Fear the Lye - Just like on a construction site Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is not optional. Lye is caustic stuff and you need to wear gloves, eye protection and ideally an apron.  Keep vinegar on hand to neutralize the acid should you accidentally spill, keep the area well ventilated and ensure your kids and pets are at a safe distance. And just like you learned in 8th grade science, ALWAYS ADD ACID; add the lye to the water if you want to avoid an explosive, corrosive mess.
    3. You need dedicated soap making equipment - If you make soap with it, don't use it for food. Soap has lye and as per number 2, you should have hearty dose of fear with respect to lye. You will NEED a digital scale, a thermometer, a stick blender (I got mine for $10 at Superstore), a large mixing container (mine is a Pyrex 2L measuring cup), a heat proof container and stirring stick for the lye (I use a canning jar and a bamboo skewer) and a mold. Your mold doesn't have to be fancy, you can use a small loaf pan lined with parchment or freezer paper, or you can use a milk carton with the top or side cut off.
    4. Start Simple - I made a half batch of the Soap Queen's tried and true 'Lots of Lather' recipe and although it doesn't have pretty colours or fancy smells, I was successful on my first try. This recipe also uses only a few ingredients and won't set you back a fortune to get started. Plus, it really is a nice bar of soap.
    5. Make friends with a Lye Calculator - unless you are following a recipe EXACTLY how you found it, you need to use a Lye Calculator. Although you can cut all the oils in half successfully, the lye is calculated based on its reaction with each of the fats, so recalculating is not optional (unless you're a fan of the explosive, corrosive mess). If you're willing to invest a few bucks, you can use the Brambleberry Soap app.
    6. Trace is important - Trace is what happens when the lye and the soap blend together in a way that will create soap. Trace varies from light trace, which is kind of like whipped cream, before you whip it, to medium trace, which kind of looks like pudding and then there's heavy trace, which just looks like a big old gloppy mess. Different levels of trace are better for different types of pretty designs, and just to keep things exciting, adding scents or colours can accelerate trace and turn your pudding into glop that MUST be dropped into the mold immediately.
    7. Keep your soap cozy - Once in the mold, cover your soap with a piece of cardboard then wrap it in towels for 24 hours; during the saponification (when it turns into soap) you want a nice stable temperature. You don't however, need to put it somewhere really hot (like on my Mom's heated tile floors) or you may have some cracking on the top of your soap.
    8. Experiment with what you have - After I successfully made a half batch of the 'Lots of Lather' Soap, I substituted half the water with coconut milk, added some ground up oatmeal and used some cocoa powder for a pretty brown stripe. I tried a variation using coffee grounds for an exfoliating stripe, I'm also hoping it will deodorize stinky onion fingers. Scour the internet, be inspired and experiment.
    9. Experiment with Oils - just using oils you can buy at the grocery store you can change your soap. Some oils make big bubbles or small bubbles or lots of lather. So far I've enjoyed partially substituting olive oil with grapeseed or rice bran oils and I can't wait to try out a little bit of mango butter for extra moisturizing goodness.
    10. Be patient - perhaps the hardest part for me is the waiting. After 24 hours you can unmold and cut your soap, it will be soft and cut easily. Then, the real waiting occurs. The recommended curing time is 4-6 weeks; during this time keep your soap spaced our and rotate them occasionally, so that the water evaporates and the soap hardens. During this time the pH will also drop making an extremely gentle bar of soap. You can test out a little sliver to see how it lathers up after about a week, but truly, you need to wait before you start using your soap regularly.
    And last but not least, don't forget to have fun!