Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mr. Independent

So I wake up this morning at 6:30 to the sounds of my youngest son calling my oldest son's name.

My first response is to get up quick as I think he is going in my eldest's room and going to wake him up.

Now after assuming this was the scenario I was about to walk in on, imagine my surprise when I walk into my youngest son, naked from the waist down, in the bathroom up on a stool, water everywhere trying to fill his sippy cup in the sink.

Upon closer inspection I think I see some chocolate-like debris on his face. knowing we are usually in the habit of washing their faces before they go to bed, I ask him, "what's on your face?"  His response: "chocolate."

Oh jeesh ... I know where this is going. I asked him what chocolate and he points towards the kitchen (we live in a bungalow) and I ask him to show me. Sure enough when we get to the kitchen counter, there is only one advent calender visible.

Turns out he has brought his calender over to the couch, found a chocolate (today's if you can believe it!!!), eaten it and turned on the television.

This kid had been livin' it up for who knows how long on his own this morning before I woke up.

I guess it's time to put a hall gate up (and some night time video cameras).


Monday, December 19, 2011

A Parent's Nightmare

Can you guess what it is?

If you take these three items:  

your couch,


your towels,

a bucket,

and throw in your child, what do you have?


Every parent dreads being summoned to their child's room only to smell that all-too familiar odour and their offspring crying something about throwing up. Of course it's dark so the wonderful display that awaits is at first concealed, but once the lights are turned on, the nightmare takes on techni-colour (literally).  You try not to gag yourself as you try to be strong and comfort your child, changing their clothes, stripping their beds and putting fresh sheets on (only to change them again 15 minutes later when you are summoned again).

Ahhhhh. Tis' the season.

One night and so far nothing more.

Crossing my fingers that the stomach bug will enter and exit our family with our eldest son.   All I want for Christmas is .... no throwing up!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mmmmmm ... Cookie Balls

Who knew adding crushed up cookies to cream cheese and dipping it in chocolate could be so good? I mean based on the ingredients that I just mentioned , how could it be bad?

 Have you tried cookie balls? I was just introduced to them- easy delicious, different, tons of variations, and perfect for almost every occasion.

 For a whole bunch of cake ball recipes , including these:
Peppermint-OREO Cookie Balls
Peppermint Oreo Cookie Balls
Melting Snowmen Cookie Balls recipe
Melting Snowmen Cookie Balls
 and these:

NILLA-Banana Cookie Balls recipe
Nilla-Banana Cookie Balls
 visit Kraft's website.

Mmmmm, enjoy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Beautiful Christmas Story

Yes, I'm still alive.

I'd like to apologize for my MIA status recently. No real excuses other than lack of time (as I'm sure you can all relate), volunteering to organize a bake sale at my son's school and Christmas craziness.

At one time I wrote new posts five times a week, I would like to start things back up, but am trying to be a bit more realistic with my current schedule and will aim for twice.  Bear with me please.

Today, I share with you a very sweet Christmas story that was sent to me on email.  I have to admit that tears came to my eyes as I read it.  There's nothing like that feeling that you get when you truly give from your heart to someone that truly needs.


I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma.  I was just a kid.                                                                
I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb:  "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered.  "Even dummies know that!"                                  
My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been.  I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me.  I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns.  I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so.  It had to be true.                        
Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm.  Between bites, I told her everything.  She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" she snorted...."Ridiculous!  Don't believe it.  That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad,  plain mad!!  Now, put on your coat, and let's go."                                        
"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked.  I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun.  "Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked  through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars.  That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car."  Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.                                                            
I was only eight years old.  I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself.  The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping.                                          
For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for.                                                                
I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors,the kids at school, the people who went to my church.              
I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker.  He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class. Bobby Decker didn't have a coat.  I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter.  His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement.  I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!                                                      

I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it.  It looked real warm, and he would like that.                                  
"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. "Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby."                                  
The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat.  I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.  
That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, >From Santa Claus" on it.
Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy.  Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers.                
Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going."                                                        
I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma.                                            
Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open.  Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.                  
Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes.  
That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were  --  ridiculous.  Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.                                  
I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.                                                                                
May you always have LOVE to share,                                  
HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care...                            
And may you always believe in the magic of Santa Claus!            

Monday, November 21, 2011

He Knows What He Likes & It's Not What I'm Cooking

My youngest has a habit of dipping anything he is eating into anything he is drinking.  It makes for an interesting meal time and a gross cup clean out when all is said and done. I usually can't stand it after a few dunks and move his cup out of reach.

This week, he tried something new:  he decided to put everything on his plate into his bowl of yogurt that was also sitting on his plate.

The result:  A bowl of yogurt with a drizzle of honey, plus cucumbers, plus crackers, plus summer sausage slices.  Funny how he won't eat a meal I slave over that (in my opinion and everyone else's sitting at the table) is delicious, but that he will stomach through his above-mentioned combo without so much of one of his usual, "yuck!"s.

Anyhoo, hope you're enjoying a nice peaceful meal time today with all your little ones eating everything that is put in front of them.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Am I 32 or 62?

Headed on my annual girls' trip this weekend and I had a thought ....

(Get ready as some of you are going to cringe!)

I debated bringing my half-finished Christmas stockings on the plane with me so I could finish embroidering our names on them.  I know, I know.  It's the multi-tasking, always-trying-to-get-as-many-things-done-as-possible nature of me that was thinking how great it would be to pass the time AND get something done for the (fast) approaching holidays.  I know the girlfriends that I am meeting would have had a hay day when they found out too.

Now, I normally am fine to walk to the beat of my own drum (or whatever that saying is), but in the end decided to leave the needle and thread at home in lieu of leaving more room for hopeful shopping purchases on the way home :) Now if that isn't girls' weekend thinking, I don't know what is.

Turns out, on my way to the city on the train this a.m. I saw a girl that couldn't be 18-years-old knitting, so I would have been in hip company.  Good to know.

In other news, thought I would try and dress kind of "cool" for my trip ... this included a pair of grey suede heels (see yesterday's post as I was just so excited to wear them) and I'm already regretting it and I haven't even boarded my plane yet.  Why do I try to fight my jeans/t-shirt/comfortable shoes comfort zone?  Errrrrr.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Updating Your Closet Without Shopping

I have recently been trying my skills at tweaking the clothes that I have (rather than getting rid of and finding new).  The results have been quite successful and rewarding (costs a fraction of the price of buying new and you get to keep on wearing all of your favourite clothes).  Let me explain:  I have found myself an amazing seamstress friend and shoe repair guy that are both super reasonable in the fees that they charge (especially the seamstress) and excellent at what they do.  

During the past few months, I have taken various dresses, skirts, jeans and shoes to these two miracle workers and have been given back sleeker, chicer, better fitting, versions of the originals.  

A few examples:  
  • At no cost (because it was such a simple fix) a semi formal dress I bought in 2005 that had a dated asymmetrical hemline but still a very beautiful and classic pattern was chopped up to just above the knee
  • Multiple skirts and dresses that  fell to that awkward "just below the knee" spot, chopped and sassed up for just around $10 a piece
  • Jeans brought in at the waist that I now don't have to hike up after I bend over
  • And a pair of boots that were slouchy and high and just hard to wear chopped to ankle boots and now worn everyday.  
And anyone remember these shoes I bought in the spring?

After wearing a couple of times, I was cursing myself as I loved the overall shape and height of the shoe, but I'm just not a bow person (too finicky and detailed for me) .... well, for $16.99 in alterations, I picked up the new version of these shoes that look like this:

Now for those of you who like bows, maybe you prefer the "before," but I'm so pleased with the results. I will get much more wear out of these and will no longer be asking my husband,  "do the bows look funny?" every time I try to wear them.

Moral of the story:  find yourself a seamstress and shoe guy and have some fun updating your closet (or fixing your purchases) so they fit you and your tastes perfectly!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween

Managed to get one of my fall to-dos crossed off this past weekend.

  • sew kids Luke Skywalker and Yoda costumes (did I mention I'm not that great of a sewer)

Introducing my little Jedis.

Hope everyone had a great Halloween.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

No Onions Please

This week after picking my son up from school (JK) he told me, "mom, I don't like onions in my lunch."


I'm thinking he saw something that he thought was an onion - some random piece of something on his sandwich, etc.

So I reply by saying, "okay honey, why don't you unpack your lunch bag and show me what you mean."

So my son did just that and passed me a small blue Tupperware with, sure enough, a half of a yellow onion.

Wow! I must have been pretty spaced out when I packed his lunch the night before. Luckily it was not in lieu of his sandwich so he didn't starve.

Too funny. I guess he knows what an onion look like after all.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, October 14, 2011

A DIY on Captain's Chairs

Two Captain's chairs - that looked just like the one shown below -  were two of the first pieces of furniture my husband and I bought when we started living together.

We got them at an antique market we used to frequent for $50 each (I think).  Although they were solid wood, they had been left outside a couple of times, were different colours (one dark walnut and one golden honey) and were starting to look a little worn and hodge podgy.

I recently drew my line in the sand (see post on to-do lists here) and decided I would paint them. Being frugal and tired of choosing paint colours and spending money on cans of paint that I only use a fraction of, I decided to dig in to the supplies that I already had - the tried and true shades of our home. I settled on Benjamin Moore's Lemon Grass CC-638. Below is how our chairs look now:

The pictures don't really show the colour that well as it is quite yellow with a tinch of green. After I had done them, they really stood out and looked "just painted" so I decided to take a bit of sand paper to them and rough them up a bit. That seems to have toned them down a bit and helped them to fit in. Still not sure on the colour.  We keep them in a three-season sun room so perhaps a bit bright for the winter but perfect for the summer, especially if I add a few accessories that pick up on the colour. (Trust me that the colour is a lot brighter in person.)

And although I do enjoy painting, by the second coat I get a bit tired and lazy so don't go looking under my chairs or you'll find that I skipped that part all together :)

On a side note, if you read the blog yesterday, you will know that I have a huge to-do list for this month. One of my tasks was painting the sandbox so that can now be marked off.

I know the picture doesn't look too flashy but if you would have seen a before shot (sorry, forgot to take one), complete with flaking off primer because I didn't get to painting it before last winter, than you would appreciate its makeover.  Now all I need is some rope handles to finish it off.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Fall To-Do List

We all have a love/hate relationship with lists, but sometimes when the piles in the house are reproducing like fruit flies and the "little" projects that you would like to get to are never getting done a line must be drawn in the sand, a master list created and a covert mission launched.

In one month - minus six days - I am co-hosting my book club ladies in my home. And being one of the newest members, not many have been to my home before, hence probably requiring a full-home tour (i.e. can't perfect and tidy just one room, but the ENTIRE HOUSE needs to be view-friendly!).

Thus my sped up quest and mission to get a few things done around the house.

Really, not sure why I'm sharing this with you. Not thinking that you REALLY want to know or care what is on my list, but maybe some feeling of relief knowing that I am not the only one with a really long virtually unachievable list would be nice, or maybe some wisdom on various tasks thrown my way.

The Wish List
  • clean out "that" drawer in my kitchen
  • get control of the paper pile on my kitchen counter that never goes away, even when I try to make it disappear (thank you scholastic book orders!)
  • paint the kids' sandbox
  • paint touch ups around the house
  • sew kids Luke Skywalker and Yoda costumes (did I mention I'm not that great of a sewer)

The Office:
  • unpack/organize office (we got our wall-unit 14 months ago, it's about time)
  • make pillows for the office chairs
  • hang four silver pictures in office
  • paint wall with magnet paint in office

Kids Room:
  • build shelves in both son's closets
  • clean out and get rid of little bits and pieces i.e. silly bandz, lego heads and my son's "collection" (scrap pieces of paper and garbage he insists on storing in his room !?!

Living Room:
  • "arrange" book shelf to make it look pretty and not just like a place to throw stuff
  • arrange fireplace mantle
  • sew the piping that has popped out of my couch cushions

Christmas Prep:
  • make Christmas bags to put presents in 
  • embroider our names on our new (2 years old) Christmas stockings

Sun Room:
  • summer/winter switch
  • make shoe rack ... or do something to contain the mess that IS
  • paint captain's chairs

Our Room:
  • hang pictures
  • clean off my dresser (it's very scary up there)
  • find new main light
  • clean out closets
  • get rid of crap and those 20 books in my bedside table that I will never read
... oh and the countless other things that I will add to as I come across through my adventures.

So what is #1 on your list? Or is your home perfectly kept with no piles or to dos?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Giving Thanks for Fruits & Vegetables

My husband and I had our first Thanksgiving at home, just us with our kids, in eight years.  We both have very large families and Thanksgiving traditions but for a variety of reasons, things were not as norm this year and we got to be at home. It was a nice change and we thoroughly enjoyed cooking our very first turkey.  Or rather, my husband cooked the turkey and did a PHENOMENAL job. Thank you Jamie Oliver for helping us out yet again.

A recap in pictures:

Our Turkey, Jamie's recipe here

Pumpkin and Butter tarts ready for the oven ... mmmm

Leftover Asian-Inspired Turkey Salad
Jamie Oliver Recipe here

 At dinner time, we asked the kids what they were thankful for and my eldest responded with: " ... the fruits and vegetables that we eat and that the dinosaurs don't live here anymore."  

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What Do You Cut Your Pizza With?

Undoubtedly, your family consumes pizza at least once a month, if not once a week like mine.

A couple of years ago, my younger sister was visiting during one of our weekly pizza rituals. While I was getting some things ready for dinner, my sister asked me where my scissors were. Thinking nothing of her question, I told her and then carried on with what I was doing.  It was only once we were seated at the table and my sister began to cut our pizza with my kitchen scissors that I let out a bit of a shriek ... or more like a "what the heck are you doing?" (insert some big sister tone and dismay).

Thinking I knew everything, I handed her the pizza cutter and chalked it up to her being a bit crazy and still in college. Later that year on Christmas morning, my husband and I received this handy gadget:
Pizza Scissors
These, for those of you who do not know, are pizza scissors.  Turns out, my sister isn't crazy and there is such a thing. They are not plain old kitchen scissors mind you, but nonetheless they do exist and are now a Friday night staple in our home. They are super handy and just as easy as a pizza cutter. And with the larger spatula-like piece, they make lifting the pieces a lot easier.

Have all of you heard of these? Great Christmas idea for any parent, cook, college student ... or person really. Who doesn't like/eat pizza?

Anyways, this post is dedicated to my "crazy" younger sister who teaches me lots of great stuff and makes really yummy food in the kitchen. xo

Thursday, October 6, 2011

To The Theatre!

My husband and I are about to embark on a theatrical experience like nothing we have seen before.

Not the classic style and tradition of The Nutcracker ballet ...

Not the energy and excitement of Radio City's Rockettes ...

and no, not the epic long Lord of the Rings .

Nope, the genre of live entertainment I am referring to needs its very own category, complete with energy levels through the roof, multiple bathroom breaks, volume adjustments and toddler hysteria. We are headed for  (drum roll please):

The Backyardigans  
Live at the Sony Centre in Toronto

Oh yeah baby! My boys and I are headed down for their first live show. Pretty exciting. Fingers crossed for my two year old. When we saw that they were coming to Toronto and factored in the slight Backyardigans craze that hums in our house thanks to Netflix's constant viewing, we took the leap and decided to go.

Anyone else been to a live show with their kids? Suggestions or advice?

Wish me luck.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

One of Those Weeks

This week is one of those weeks that I have every couple of months where I feel like everything that has been working - routine, discipline, activities - gets thrown out the door and my kids are replaced with new versions of themselves that have totally different needs, wants and reactions.

Deep breath.

The good news: usually after a few days of a heightened amount of screaming, butting of heads and extreme feelings of guilt and frustration, something adjusts (I try to change my approach and be really conscious of how I respond to things) and things settle down to the normal amount of craziness and enjoyment, cooperation and being able to turn my back for longer than a millisecond returns.

Maybe it's the start of school, exposure to new kids, growth spurts, I'm not sure, but my eldest specifically has been pushing the limit, BIG time. Everything is a push back - what he wants for snack, what park he wants to go to (really? is there such thing as an un-fun park?) and he seems to have a need for a lot more physical activity. He goes in waves from being so exhausted he can barely keep his eyes open to running around the house in circles looking for sparring partners.

Today I can laugh about it. Yesterday was insane.

Don't you find these changes and stages so tough. It is true what they say, "right when you have things figured out with your kids, things change again ..."

I do think it is these stages that test you as parents and make us rise to the occasion if we want to do our jobs as a parents well. Screaming and screaming and being angry all the time is one option ... or you can sit back, evaluate and make some changes. Ahhhhh  being a (good) stay-at-home Mom is by far THE most challenging and ever-changing job I have ever had in my life.

Hope you're NOT having one of those week!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Two Cakes in Two Weeks

We just passed birthday season in my house where both of my boys have birthdays within eight days of each other. It's a bit crazy with multiple cakes, presents, get togethers and phonecalls, but throw in the start of JK and nursery school and it elevates to insanity.

We are through it now, thus it is time to share with you my cake creations. To date, I have just done some homemade cakes with a knife and some candy from the bulk barn being my only tools to decorate with. This year I borrowed all the fancy icing tips from my sister-in -law and I was really happy with the results.

My youngest really likes Winnie the Pooh, so naturally the cake had to sport his favourite honey-lovin' bear:

My now four-year-old requested an anklyosaurus (that's the dinosaur with the club on its tail for those of you wondering) cake leading up to the big event, but then made a last minute change to Batman. "Not just his face Mommy, I want the whole body on the cake ..." Great! That's not hard at all! ... I settled for waist and up.

I thought the designs turned out pretty well, especially Batman's abdominal region :) But I still haven't mastered how to get the plain white background/base icing on the cake smooth so you can't see all of my knife strokes. Oh well, that can be next year's goal.

This week's goal is reintroducing exercise into my life in order to fight the consequences of ingesting so much cake and butter icing.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I Love Cheese

Like most females, I adore cheese. There aren't too many types that I don't enjoy, except for maybe the blue genre. My taste buds haven't quite "matured" to that level yet I guess.

Recently at a girls' weekend, my friend E. introduced us all to Halloumi cheese - have you heard of this? It is a cheese, originally from Cyprus and very popular in the middle east. Click here for a wikipedia link. Anyways, the thing I loved about this cheese is that it doesn't melt when it is cooked. At first, you may think that this is a negative , but then imagine this:

Yes, you can use it on your kabobs on the barbecue and it actually stays in tact. Kabobs just got a whole lot better with the addition of cheeeeeese.

When on a skewer, it kinds of looks like chicken. Here's a close up:

It doesn't have a super strong flavour and the texture is unique. All I can say is that it kind of squeaks when you chew it. I know, sounds a bit weird, but you'll understand once you try it.  And when I told my kids it squeaked, they tried it a few times so that was a bonus too!

I bought it at Longo's in the deli section.

Let me know if you have tried it? Like it? Have any other ideas for uses.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Getting Cozy Again

Ahhh ... September.

Enter: FALL

I absolutely love this time of year. I actually think it is my favourite.

I have heard/read a lot of people saying it's the kids going back to school that makes it so great, but that's not it for me.

After a long, hot, summer with most of our time being spent outside, it's the feeling of getting all cozy again that I love ...

... the crisp air setting in

...  the wind making my ears cold (September cold ... not December cold)

... wearing socks

 ... putting on jeans  (hopefully they fit after all those s'mores)

... reaching for the comfy, cozy sweaters

... snuggling in my duvet at night with the window open and a cool breeze

... wrapping my hands around a warm cup of tea

Hope you're enjoying the change of season, back to school, increased commute traffic and all the good and bad September has to offer.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Easy Pyjama Alteration

At the beginning of the summer I was faced with full drawers of pyjamas for both of my kids.  The problem:  all the pjs had long sleeves and pants and were not that appropriate for summer weather.  I was not very motivated to go spend a pile of money on summer pjs when I already had so many and that they would likely grow out of  by summer's end.

My solution:

The Before looked something like this:

And, with the help of a simple pair of kitchen scissors, the After looked like this:

Voila! Summer pyjamas in seconds. Who needs hems!?

(I know this post is a few months late in relevance, but thought I would share in hopes that come next June as the temperatures start to rise, you may remember my simple alteration and save yourself a few dollars and hours at the mall.)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Have You Ever Fainted?

Have you ever fainted  ... at a wedding?

Let's make this more specific ... have you every fainted during a wedding ceremony?

Yeah, didn't think so.

Well, there is a first for everything and this past weekend I got to check that one off the ol' list.

Yup, passed right out.

Fortunately I felt it coming on and was able to find a seat (it was an outdoor wedding and we were standing while they exchanged vows), thus making it a lot less obvious, embarassing and distracting as I passed out while sitting into my husband's chest. (Sorry, I know, a little less dramatic then what you had originally imagined, but there was a doctor that helped, ice cubes wrapped in a napkin and having to lie down at the table on chairs.)

Of course my husband and I had been looking forward to this wedding all summer - friends, gorgeous venue, bride with impeccable taste resulting in amazing details (everyone signed a picnic table for them, family dog with video camera tied to collar, blanket favours with their initials, and well that is all I got to), romantic outdoor setting, and within walking distance of our home.  It was sooo beautiful and the weather was perfect (well I guess too perfect if I got hot enough to pass out).

Got driven home at 7 p.m. and well, that was my Saturday night.

And what did you all get up to?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Return of the Pony Tail

This morning was magical and simply exciting.

I fit my hair in a regular pony tail!

Sure, I've been able to fit it in something that resembles a pony tail with the assistance of multiple bobby pins for quite some time, but pieces have been flying around, coming free and that "secured, clean, out of my face" feeling hasn't quite been achieved.

Today was different.

Today I attempted what I haven't attempted in a long time - a somewhat high, fully secured pony tail.

I almost didn't believe it. I was securing the elastic into place (final step) and no strands had fallen, no annoying wannabe side-sweep bangs had drifted into my eyes. It was a beautiful moment.

One bobby pin in the back for good measure and off I went.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hunger Games: I Miss You

For those of you who have not read the Hunger Games, please go out and read them ... NOW!

Don't feel stupid that they are in the Young Adult section of the store/library, just get over it and read them.

For those of you who have read the trilogy, here's my question to you:


I honestly miss the characters. I have been entrenched in the books for the past couple of weeks, devouring every page, getting way less sleep than I should with two young boys who still wake up for some reason or another most nights.  I finally finished the last page of the third book last night during Arthur... ("yes, honey you can watch one last show while mommy finishes this last page"). 

Immediately upon closing the book, I was sad. Happy at the final ending, but sad that I didn't get to read more about the characters and hear more about what happens next. I guess that is the sign of a good story/series.  The only consolation is the movies are coming soon - in less than a year - and I really hope they don't screw them up (cough ... Twilight).

Anyways, still time to go out and grab them if you have some holidays you're squeezing in during August.

P.S. I am Peeta all the way!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Giveaway Results and an Apology

Just wanted to let everyone know that Audrey I. is the lucky winner of the natural lemon cream deodorant giveaway!

Also want to apologize to everyone for my lack of posting lately. Summer has just been crazy busy with so much on the go, less of a routine, later bedtimes and as a result, a LOT less time to find time to write down all my posts for you to read.

I am hoping to shape things up a bit at the end of the month as I approach my official one-year anniversary of blogging. With September comes JK and nursery school and perhaps a bit more blogging time.

Hope you're all having a wonderful summer and enjoying your time with the little people.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday's Fabulous Mom: Laura Lueloff

This Friday's Fabulous Mom is Laura Lueloff. For you long time readers out there, you will recognize Laura's name as she has been a guest blogger in the past sharing fitness information and survival tips for Disney world. Laura is a friend of mine who is an absolutely wonderful Mom and filled with so much zest for what she does.  I know you will love learning more about her today!


I’m Laura – the household CEO, mother of 2 awesome kids, an entrepreneur, master planner, fitness guru, and wife of almost 10 years to Jeff.  We have lived in Aurora, Ont. for almost 8 years now and never want to leave – we were meant to live in this town.  Our son Owen just turned 6 and our daughter Taylor is just over 3 and I could not be any prouder of them both.  We are an active and busy family and are always on the go.  I run my own business called Transition Fitness – I offer personal training and teach Stroller Fitness classes in York Region.  Fitness & well being has always been my passion and when I left my corporate sales career in the big city I decided to turn my passion into my new career.  My outlook on life these days is all about balance, perspective and making the most of each day.
Fabulous Mom Laura with husband Jeff
and kids - Owen & Taylor

How does a day start for you and what’s being served for breakfast?

 My day starts EARLY.  I am usually up between 5:30-6am (weekends too!).  I actually really like waking up early as this gives me a little extra time to get a few things accomplished before the kids wake up – a workout, business stuff, cleaning etc.  I make the most of this “quiet” time.  Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and I try to encourage the kids to eat a complete and wholesome meal at this time too.  We love smoothies (frozen blueberries, yogurt, banana, soy milk).  We might have this with some healthy cereal, whole grain toast or homemade oatmeal.

Favorite bedtime story(ies) currently on the must-read list for your little ones?

For Owen – Brady Brady by Mary Shaw – this series is outstanding as it combines the humour of a boy obsessed with hockey with some really great and meaningful messages.  High interest for boys and perfect for sharing some laughs together.  We also like to read science based books about cool & interesting animals too!

For Taylor – we have just graduated from Dora and moved on to authors such as Phoebe Gilman – (Jillian Jiggs series) or Victoria Kaan (Pinkalicious).  Great rhymes, silly stories and cute characters – I have read them so many times I have them memorized!

Tip or Trick for getting those daily vegetable servings in

I really try to introduce the kids to a variety of vegetables just to see what else they might like other than just mini carrots!  I have had some luck and they do happen to love broccoli & asparagus (what a relief!). I find making homemade soups, casseroles, chili and pastas are a great way to “sneak” veggies in without really hiding them.  Veggies such as cauliflower, zucchini and carrots are also very easy to hide in muffins, loaves or even cookies. 
Any words of advice for keeping all the clutter and toys from overtaking?

BLITZ…..this is what I call it when mom gets “Clutter Cranky Syndrome.”  I find about once every two months I will go through the house and create three piles: garbage (mostly toy bits, loose or random pieces), piles to reorganize into our multiple types of storage bins, and items to donate.  Now that the kids are a little older we are encouraging them to keep a lot of their toys in their rooms and we do keep one specific room as the designated “playroom.”  It works well as it really is their space decorated with their artwork and has become the local headquarters for all things Star Wars and Princess.  Perfect for play dates as well as the kids can rummage through the room, the bins and the closet for toys to play with.

If you had an entire afternoon to yourself, what would you do?

If this was an afternoon completely by myself it would start off with a leisurely run through Fairy Lake in Newmarket, then maybe some shopping at stores that seem impossible to bring the kids with me (ie HomeSense or Lemonberry).  I would love to end it off meeting a friend for a coffee or if there is time maybe head to a spa.  I guess that is a lot in an afternoon – might need a day!

How do you squeeze in the ever-so-important time for just you and your husband?

There is no doubt that having young kids (especially close in age) really takes its toll on quality couple time.  We have recently found a fantastic babysitter who is the first person we have ever left the kids with other than grandparents.  This is a big step for us, but it has been great.  Our Monday – Friday is so busy (since I work most evenings) that Saturdays are really our night to actually get caught up.  When we do not have a sitter, we do try and put the kids to bed and then make our own dinner or order in a little later.  This gives us uninterrupted time to actually talk.  We’re hoping to have a real “leave the house date” soon and the plan is to play golf and go for dinner.

Your go-to family meal that you know will be loved by all, eaten by all and serve some nutrients too!
I polled my family for this one ...  hands down winner:  my homemade lasagna. Always a hit, perfect for a family meal with lots of leftovers and I also love serving it to a crowd.  I use extra lean ground beef, ricotta, spinach and zucchini as the primary ingredients.  I try to keep it healthy and make enough that I can freeze it for weeknights when you are out of quick ideas.  The runner up meal would be my burgers.  I cannot justify ever buying the frozen ones when it is so easy and MUCH more healthy to make your own.  My secret to keeping the burgers moist is to use a combination of beef and pork (lean meat of course!)


Now you can understand why after I visit with Laura I am always inspired and filled with all sorts of ideas on family time, organization, fitness and food.  Thanks Laura for sharing all these great tips and sharing with us your daily routine.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jamie Oliver ... Indian Style

I have decided to put a bit more effort into some of the meals I make for my family during the week.

Recent meals have been lacking any sort of inspiration, exciting flavours  - same old, same old.  You do what you have to do to get it on the table, but it is nice to have a bit of pride once in awhile when you serve up the plates.

This week I was cooking out of Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes book. The great thing about this cook book is that each page is a recipe for an entire meal, not just one part of it. For example it will explain step-by-step how to cook the entire meal and in the end you have a main meat, salad, side veggie and usually a dessert or fun drink. Sound a bit over the top for the mid-week rush?  That's what I thought, but Jamie walks you through, literally step by step, in order of what you have to do - prompting you to even turn your frying pan on (so it's ready for the third step that you will come to in 10 minutes). 

Honestly, in approximately 30 minutes from start to finish, I created this:


(This is not my photo - I forgot to take one. But I can honestly say, that my meal looked 90% like this one ... maybe even a little nicer :) )

This wonderful meal was Jamie's steak Indian-style, spinach & paneer salad, naan breads, mango dessert.

The only thing that I have found takes a bit longer when attempting these new dishes is a bit of extra grocery shopping planning, but it's worth it if I can serve this little number instead of trying to pass off KD with tuna as a delicious and unique entree.

So what interesting recipes have you been trying lately? And what is your favourite local summer produce?

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Natural Deodorant That Works! ... and a Giveaway

A couple of weeks ago I wrote this post about a natural deodorant that I had ordered online.  The deodorant is Crawford Street Skin Care's Lemon Deodorant Cream.

I have tried a lot of natural deodorants in search of one that actually works and one that I could confidently put on in the morning and not worry about throughout the day. The search has come up short, until now.

After hearing about Crawford Street's deodorant in There's Lead in Your Lipstick by Gillian Deacon, I crossed my fingers and ordered two jar's worth.

The result:  I have been using it for approximately two months and have no plans in switching back to anti perspirant.  I have not any any issues, except for maybe after going swimming multiple times and then baking in the sun, but let's be fair.  I would wear this deodorant during an airport marathon, while attending a wedding, making a presentation to my boss and/or during an exercise class.  Bye Bye B.O. and bye bye to the guilt and worry over health risks of anti-perspirant.

Anyone want to win a free Lemon Deodorant Cream from Crawford Street Skin Care? To enter, simply leave a comment (or send me an email to and let me know why you would be interested in switching to a natural deodorant. Contest closes Friday, August 29th at noon.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Who In Their Right Mind ... ?

What parent in their right mind would take their kids to buy a snow suit during the weather we have been having this week? (For those of you who are not Southern Ontarians, it has been hotter than heck!)

(Insert me looking very guilty and down at the floor to avoid looking you in the eyes.)

I know, so silly ... but there was this great ski/snowboard sale that I was waiting for at a local store where really great brands get put on sale for more than 50 % off.

Hey, it's not like I made him wear it outside of the store!!

Mission was accomplished.  We brought home a new amazing quality snowsuit that will last my son two years plus my second son for another two years for a fraction of the original cost.

And for the record, this event did not take place yesterday, one of, if not THE, hottest day recorded in Toronto history! 


What crazy things do you do to save money on kids clothes?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday's Fabulous Mom: Cathryn Hagel

Cashmere & Carrot Sticks' fabulous Mom for this week is Cathryn Hagel, the Farmer's Trophy Wife. You may remember Cathryn from our Closet Cleanse earlier this year. Well, this spunky, stylish Mama of two is back for some Q&A with C&CS.  Cathryn lives in Alberta and lives and loves the Western life ... so I thought it only fitting with the Calgary Stampede being on right now to shout out this fabulous Mom!  After you read all about Cathryn, be sure to check out her blog - the Farmer's Trophy Wife. 

My husband and I farm together with his family on a 3rd generation cattle and grain farm in Southern Alberta. We have two darling kids, Cassie age 3 and Hudson age 1 1/2. I am a Labour & Delivery nurse in my spare time and love anything and everything to do with our western lifestyle!

Cathryn & Her Kids

 How does a day start for you and what’s being served for breakfast?
My husband's day starts earlier than ours...poor thing! He's up and out of the house around 7...while the rest of us sleep in till 8 or 9 if I'm lucky. Breakfast is as random as the day - toast, cereal and fruit depending on how long ago I went grocery shopping!

Favorite bedtime story(ies) currently on the must-read list for your little ones?
Since the sun is out so late, we've all been getting to bed later and later. We try to go visit my husband out in the field or play outside till late..this cuts the book time out because everyone is EXHAUSTED by bedtime. But usually any book is popular, they aren't picky!

What’s on your bedside table right now?
A stack of magazines about a foot tall! I am addicted to home and style magazines and read and reread them till I'm sure I've got everything out of them!

Tip or Trick for getting those daily vegetable servings in:
We grow a garden every year, and the kids have always been big veggie I don't actually have any tricks. If they aren't sure about eating it, we make them take one bite. If they hate it, good enough for us. If they love it...well...great!

Something you do as a Mom that June Cleaver would approve of …. And something she would raise her eyebrow at?
I try to use as much home grown or local stuff as possible when making meals. But since pregnant with #3...frozen pizza and kraft dinner have been a frequent meal.

Any words of advice for keeping all the clutter and toys from overtaking?
I pack a bunch of stuff away when the kids aren't around, they are still little enough to not notice if something is missing. Then every 6 months or so I rotate out the toys. And I give A LOT away to Goodwill. You only need so much stuff.

If you had an entire afternoon to yourself, what would you do?
Sigh....that would be fabulous. I would head into town for a Starbucks, pedicure and an hour or two of shopping by myself. That would be a fabulous afternoon!

How do you squeeze in the ever-so-important time for just you and your husband? rarely take hours or days off. His day starts at 7 and ends around 11 during the summer. So if we get to go say hi or go for a ride in the tractor/sprayer/baler for a bit, that's about as good as it gets. From November to March is when we spend the most time together...all he usually has to do daily is feeding cattle and maintaining the yard (snow!) and anything else that pops up. We try to take the kids swimming or do family stuff during these months!

Something special unique thing that you do for your family that you hope they remember fondly in the future:
I like making little things into "adventures." We go checking cows or take my husband a lunch and try to hit as many puddles as we can or see as many baby animals as we can find. Farming is a lifestyle and kids remember the little things like catching frogs or riding horses more than anything else.

Your go-to family meal that you know will be loved by all, eaten by all and serve some nutrients too: 
Hmmmm...homemade potato soup and buns are always a hit and so easy!! Check out my blog for my favourite recipe and try it tonight!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Guest Blogger: Disney World Survival Tips - Part 2

Disney World Survival Tips - Part 2
Guest Blogger: Laura Lueloff

 If you missed Part 1, click here

Top Attractions and Ones to Skip
Because of the ages of our kids (3 & 6) we decided to focus only on the Magic Kingdom for 2 very full days.  This way we could repeat their favourite rides, take our time and really enjoy the park to its fullest
There are 4 primary areas in this park that are ideal for this age group and they are tall enough to be part of just about everything
The only element that we skipped over intentionally was lining up for character viewings/greetings.  A prime example was a 1-hour line up for a meet & greet with the characters of the movie Tangled.  Disney sets up characters throughout the parks for your child to meet very briefly.  If you are lucky to be the first few in line that is great, otherwise I would plan to skip over it.  Your child might spend about 2 minutes between a hug and an autograph with the character.  What we did instead was book two character meals (Cinderella’s castle for lunch and Chef Mickey’s for breakfast).  This provided the kids with ample opportunity to spend some time with the characters and not have to wait in line while they could be on rides! 
Top 10 attractions within Magic Kingdom for 6 & under
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Small World
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Astro Orbiter
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger
  • Mickey’s PhilHarmagic (indoor 3d movie)
  • Big Thunder Railroad Coaster
  • Parades (daytime & evening) and without a doubt ...
  • the evening Fireworks show (a MUST)

How Young is too Young for Disney?
  • After our recent experience I would wait until your youngest is at least 3 yrs old.  It might just make the overall experience easier to handle for the whole family.  If they are still napping and are not tall enough for rides – long days at a Disney park might not be ideal.
  • Maybe “practice” the park experience with your kids at places such as Canada’s Wonderland or Marineland
  • Sometimes young kids are frightened of the characters and they are everywhere at Disney – so this would be something to prepare them for as well
  • Disney rents buggy-type strollers in singles & double size.  We opted for the double stroller on both days, which was a blessing.  The kids still walked alot, but were able to take some well-deserved breaks as we travelled through the expansive park – highly recommend either bringing your own or renting
Should you Book Disney Accommodations as a Package or a la Carte?
  • We booked a la carte and were thrilled with how it turned out
  • We stayed at an off site resort, which was less then 10 minutes from the parking lot at Magic Kingdom.  There are many to choose from and ours was the Sheraton Vistana Resort – the entire resort has been recently renovated and it was perfect for a family
  • Our resort offered condo-type accommodations and we chose a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom suite with a full kitchen and living space. It was perfect for us to be able to prepare all of our own meals and have lots of space for all of us. The resort also had 7 swimming pools, 6 playgrounds and many activities for the kids, which really made the 4 days we were not at Disney quite wonderful and relaxing!
  • We rented a car through a discount site – - which helped with our budget and wanting a car to get around
Unfortunately, I am not able to offer advice on booking a package deal through Disney as I have not done so.  I do know their resorts are situated within the park and you are able to get around very easily via the monorail or resort shuttle systems.  We knew early on that we were only planning 2-3 days at the parks, which helped with our decision to be off site.  If you are planning to visit all the parks and be back and forth between them for the majority of your trip then a Disney Resort might be a better option.  They offer special park benefits, dining plans and other options, which do make them appealing.

As you can tell our experience was incredible, without a doubt we are planning to go back. If your kids love all the Disney movies and characters as mine do you cannot go wrong with Disney.  Whether it is Toy Story, Cinderella, Cars, Mickey & Minnie or even Star Wars – they have it all!  Kids and even grown ups will be in for a thrill of a lifetime!  The best advice is just to plan ahead – even if you are not a planner, become one for your Disney trip.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Month of June Finale

I hope everyone enjoyed the Month of June as much as I did.
And please excuse if I don't get the picture down off the home page for a couple of weeks as I am away and enjoying some much needed QT time with the family.

Excited to say we have a whole bunch new people following/subscribing.

Hope you don't mind but I'm going to try to unplug while I'm away. the plan was to pre post a bunch of articles, but that didn't happen .. sorry!

I will be back though, later this month.

Hope you all have something special planned for the long weekend.

Happy Canada Day!

Two Final Giveaways

Just because I'm nice, I decided to give away two more prizes to close off the Month of June. The two prizes I have to giveaway are:  a copy of There's Lead in Your Lipstick by Gillian Deacon (Thanks Gill!) and a complimentary all natural Lemon Deodorant Cream by Crawford Street Skin Care (it's awesome!!).

I entered all of our new subscribers/followers/commenters/ and drew two random names.  The winners are:

**ERIN W. - There's Lead in Your Lipstick

**McGrathla - Lemon Deodorant Cream

Congrats Ladies! Please send me a quick line at and we can sort out the prizes.

Thanks for being a part of the Month of June.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Booty Camp Results Are In

(Don't worry, there will be no picture in this post.)
So in case you missed it, I explained in this post that I had finally signed up for Booty Camp Fitness. That was back after the (glutinous) Easter weekend, as a result of my chocolate and over-eating guilt.  I had originally signed up for a 4-week session, but was really pleased with the results so decided to keep on it for another four weeks.

Last night was my last night and we did all the measurements and weigh-ins and here are my results for the past eight weeks:

Weight Lost: 7 lbs
Inches Lost:  14.5
Body Fat Lost: 8.5 %

There you have it. Feel great. Feel strong. Feel more defined and slightly more confident for bathing suit season.  If you're looking for a great kick off to a fitness routine that isn't really happening right now, really recommend the Booty Camp Fitness program. Maybe not for an extended amount of time (cost is a bit high for that), but definitely a 4 or 8 week session. Targets all those wonderful areas - butt, thighs, bum, arms and abs!  Put it this way, I am no longer scared of the word "plank," I can now do a proper burpie and no longer freak out if my shirt happens to ride up while holding one of the kids and (gasp!) exposes part of my side or stomach.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Family's Story: Keeping Kids Safe

July long weekend is fast approaching here in Canada - the official kick off to the summer and family vacation time!

As many of you are parents with precious little ones to take care of, I would like to share with you something that happened to my family and I a couple of years ago. I have posted this story before, but feel it is important to share .... if only to remind all of us how very careful and proactive we have to be to keep our kids safe.


In 2009, while visiting Manitoulin Island, my husband and I endured the horrible experience of a cottage accident that resulted in our 22-month-old son being rushed from a family camp by ambulance to a local hospital and then air lifted by helicopter for a 2-hour flight to a children’s hospital in Ottawa.

The accident was one of those things you never dream of happening ... on the last day of our annual getaway to Manitoulin Island, a large tube television came crashing down and fell on my son’s head, sending him to the floor and knocking him semi-conscious with a literal dent in his head.  We were absolutely panicked and had no clue what to do. We ran next door where my aunt and uncle live, my husband carrying my son’s lifeless body and me, seven-months pregnant, screaming and tripping along the way.  Once there, my aunt and uncle immediately called 9-1-1 (why didn’t we think of that?).

In the minutes that followed, I was asked a series of questions by the 9-1-1 dispatcher about my location that I couldn’t answer.

I was at a camp I had visited every summer for the past 30 years, but knew nothing of the “official” name of the road or the camp-numbering system (something told me the dispatcher would not know where “The Beaver Lodge”  was located) ... hysterical and feeling the pressure of critical seconds passing by, I handed the phone to my aunt.   Thankfully, she took control and explained where we were as best she could.  As in most cottage destinations, the directions into our camp are informal at best. These types of directions, I can assure you, are not helpful in an emergency situation where accuracy and timing can mean life or death.

The minutes, hours and days that followed after our 9-1-1 call are all a blur now and involved an ambulance, multiple emergency rooms, being airlifted to Ottawa, x-rays, CAT Scans and a final diagnosis of three skull fractures.  The good news:  no brain damage or long-term effects and a HUGE wake-up call as to just how careful we, as parents (grandparents, aunts, friends and family), have to be with our precious children.

That fateful morning, we became one of the 100 Canadian families that would rush their child to an emergency room this year due to a toppling television set and one of the more than 9,000 whose child became injured because of falling furniture (

With summer on its way, many families are looking forward to vacation time. Parents and cottage owners alike need to be proactive and aware of the dangers that exist for young children when they are visiting or lending out their cottage.

Common areas to be aware of for possible hazards include: 

Old Furniture that may be easily toppled
Bunk Beds – mattresses should fit properly and beds placed tight against the wall with proper side rails in place.  Children under six years old should not use the top bunk
Dated Children’s Equipment –Safety standards for cribs, play pens, high chairs, car seats and other toys are in place for a reason. Ensure the equipment being used is acceptable and has the appropriate labels and instructions
Toxic Substances and Medicine; Exterior Doors – keep locked and make sure that your children cannot open them
Water– whether in the lake or the bathroom
Televisions – need to be kept on low, sturdy furniture, never on dressers or make-shift stands. Place on the floor if appropriate furniture does not exist
Electrical Outlets and cords
Blind cords
Emergency Information – have all appropriate phone numbers, addresses and directions available by the telephone.

I don’t know what we would have done had it not been for the health services that were available on The Island.  I was pleasantly surprised, given our isolation, at the fast arrival of the ambulance. I was so thankful that The Island had emergency centres to receive my son and diligently care for him and coordinate the proper next steps.

I shudder to think of what would have happened if it weren’t for the helicopter and paramedics team,  who flew to get us and were so well trained, and took complete control of the situation and stabilized our son for the long ride to Ottawa.

Thanks to everyone involved, my family and I are able to return to The Island we so love in good health this year.  We will, however, ensure that wherever we stay, we know all of the important emergency information, including our exact phone number and address with proper directions to our location.  We will also make sure any precariously-perched television sets are placed safely on the floor.
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