Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Would You Like Fresh Ground Pepper With That?

We all get blackheads and some of us are even obsessed with constantly pressing, squeezing and pinching our faces for the satisfaction of "getting" one!

My husband insists that I don't get many, regardless, every couple of weeks, I do get that greasy, film-like feeling on my face that just doesn't seem to go away ... even if I have just washed my face with my expensive cleanser.

I tried out this simple homemade recipe (with my husband as a guinea pig companion) and we both liked the results.

(There's Lead in Your Lipstick by Gillian Deacon, page 85)

Simply mix 1 tablespoon of fresh ground pepper with 1 teaspoon of plain yogurt. Apply the paste onto any blackheads and leave for 5-10 minutes.  Wash it off and the blackheads should be gone or very loose easy to remove.Only use fresh ground pepper.

Okay, so maybe I went a bit overboard as the recipe says just to put it where you have blackheads, but I wanted to make it worth my while.

More than noticing my blackheads being gone, I notice a really clean and clear feeling to my pores and skin.

There is a bit of stinging as you remove it, but it's natural and goes away within a minute.  Better to know that the sting is from all natural products and is working, than from lead and chemicals peeling away your precious skin and damaging it and your body forever ;) And for the record, my husband has been saying he wants to do it again.

P.S.  Reminder that if you are a follower and leave a comment this week, you will qualify for a fitness-related giveaway.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Getting Outside With The Kids

Isn't it nice?

Being able to exit the premises without having to add 15 minutes onto your departure time to incorporate heavy coats, boots, hats, mitts, scarves and snow pants.  It's just dreamy after enduring the months of winter.


I find it so easy to get outside and get the kids active with the warmer weather. It could be as simple as a walk around our yard to check out everything that is growing or a walk to the mail box.  It sure beats the sub zero temps and trying to motivate myself to leave our cozy interior and a warm cup of tea ... bring on the juicicles!

This year, now that my kids are almost two and four, I am looking forward to being more active. It has been a tough juggle the past couple of summers trying to keep up with my eldest either with a stroller or being pregnant. Now that they are both running, loving balls and playing, the things we can do together are more numerous. 

I don't know about you, but I find it very hard, as a Mom, to fit in formal exercise into my daily/weekly routines.  I mean I walk a lot and am very "active" but actually setting aside time to go for a jog and pick it up a couple of notches doesn't happen that often.  Another reason I am looking forward to the stage my boys are at right now.  I'm hoping that I can consciously get a bit more exercise myself during the warm weather as we head to the park or field to get moving.

As I mentioned yesterday, I am giving away a couple of fitness-related prizes this week for all followers who comment on the blog this week. Today I would love to hear about some creative activity or game that you play with your kids or ways you incorporate your exercise into play time with your kids.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I Did It ... I Signed Up

Yup, signed myself up for Booty Camp Fitness last night.  Not sure what I was thinking ... must have been intoxicated with Easter eggs or something.

I signed up for a four-week program with Booty Camp Fitness. It's a hard core fitness program designed for women and by women that often runs outdoors in your community (if you see 30-50 women doing jumping jacks in your town park, it's probably this group).

The program seems to have a lot of great components - twice-a-week workouts, before and after personal assessments, workout videos, nutrition plans, etc.

I signed up for the four (versus eight) week program as I wanted something I could realistically bite off and not be too daunted by.   Worse case: four weeks of hell ... I can do that!

So apart from New Year's resolutions, tis the season for fitness start up plans.  The weather is getting warmer (I hope), the bathing suits are in all the stores and you just ate a whole bunch of chocolate this weekend.

So this week we are going to give away some fitness-related prizes. In order to be eligible, you have to be a follower and leave a comment to any of this week's posts.

So tell me, anyone have any grandiose plans to kick up their fitness levels for shorts season?  Do tell.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Edible Easter Nests (by Nigella Lawson)

This is a super fun, not bad tasting and really cute sweet to make with the kids at Easter/spring time.  The recipe - Easter Nests - is by Nigella Lawson and can be found in her Domestic Goddess book.  They look like macaroons, but are not.

Basically the recipe is consists of:  


 + Shredded Wheat

+ Mini Eggs

... and voila - the cutest little Easter nests!

The recipe:

Easter Nests
(From Nigella's Domestic Goddess book):

This makes 5 nests, so increase as needed.
7 oz milk chocolate
1 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 oz shredded wheat
about 25 mini eggs for decoration
1 baking sheet, lined with oiled foil

Melt the chocolate in the microwave for about 2 minutes.  Crumble the shredded wheat into it and mix.  Form a nest shape about 3 inches in diameter, don't worry if it doesn't look like it will stick together, it will as it cools.  Leave to cool until set, then fill the centre with the mini-eggs -about 5 per nest.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Backyardigan Mania

Yesterday I posted about successful shoe purchases, today it's the Backyardigans ... welcome to the polar opposites of my life (note that these swings happen on a minute to minute basis).

My eldest is into the Backyardigans in a big way right now.  Fortunately? we have Netflix so we can just pull them up whenever we are watching television. This is very handy given the fact that on Treehouse's last programming switch they are only viewable occasionally quite late in the evening and at 4:30 in the morning. Much as I love my son and the singing quintet, there ain't no way we're getting up at that hour for some imagination and singing, especially when my household just began to sleep (relatively) through the night!

I must say, out of all of the kids shows out there, the Backyardigans are one of my favorites.  there's music, imagination, friendship, all different types of adventure and of course snack time.  My son's favorite character is Tyrone, but he insists it is pronounced "Kyrone" and will argue with you until you give up.  His second favorite is Tasha who he insists is his "wifey" and "princess."  He lights up when he talks about her, it is quite funny and cute.

Another favorite for months was Max & Ruby and Zoboomafoo. If you haven't checked out Zoboomafoo, I highly recommend it, even for older kids - very educational, non-cartoon, fun and one that adults can easily watch as well.

 So what shows are on high demand in your household?

Which ones are your least favorite?

Any that are totally off-limits?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Surprise Shoe Purchases

Earlier this week while on one of my usual marathon mall adventures - returns, a few staples for the kids, Easter pick ups - I came home with not one, but two! new shoe boxes for me. Being totally unexpected, I was practically giddy when taking them home. This never happens.

Earlier this year in February I spent eons searching for the perfect pair of black pumps with no luck and this week, no pressure, and see what happens.

I can honestly say as well that these are the type of purchases that won't sit in the back of my closet or that I bought for no reason and with no idea of what I would wear them with or just because I was feeling like I needed a little pick me up (pathetic sounding I know). Nope, these were two QUALITY shoe purchases that meld my practical, say no to 5" heels type of shoe attitude with a little bit of funk without going overboard.  Oh and they were hugely on sale!

The ankle shoe/boots:

 And the "not too dressy, not too casual" shoes perfect for summer dresses and skirts (they look better in real life):

A note on these second pair of shoes. I have been looking for ages for a neutral summer pair that could dress up and down oh and that I could stomach wearing for longer than 10 minutes (see post here about shoe pain). There are times in the summer that flip flops just don't cut it and pumps are a bit too much. These will be perfect I think.

The shoe store that brought me all of this excitement:  Dumond

Ahhhhhh .... shoe purchase satisfaction. Nothing sweeter.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Royal Wedding ... March

In honour of the upcoming Royal Wedding and everyone's closet obsession with it (however minor or major it be - no judging here).

A cute video below by T-Mobile ... my husband and I happened upon it at about the one minute mark and we had to take a third and fourth look to see if it was really them ... you'll see what I mean.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Carefree Activity of Blowing Bubbles

What could be easier and more carefree than blowing bubbles?

A few huffs and puffs and endless enjoyment chasing after the spherical delights and watching as they drift up into the sky ... or pop on a blade of grass.

Hello? Well, apparently you have not blown bubbles with small toddlers recently. Try teaching someone who likes to put everything in their mouths to blow bubbles.  First thing that my son does is licks the wand like a lollipop (yuck!). But despite the taste, he keeps doing it.

Not to mention the poor little fella kind of blows upwards towards his nose and not outwards so even when he blows, the actual bubble creation aspect doesn't happen that often.

Enter: bubble wands and big brother. These larger bubble wands are (in my opinion) much better as the wind works at making the bubbles or you can just twirl around with the wand and voila, giant bubbles.  After my $1 purchases I was thinking I had found the solution to all of our bubble woes.

That is until I left my two sons on the side patio for one minute (completely within eye sight) this afternoon and looked up to find my eldest son pouring the entire (large) bottle of bubble liquid over my youngest son's head.

Deep breaths!

Here we go again.

Here's to spring! What have you and your troops been up to with this nice weather ... besides blowing bubbles that is :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Stomach Flu

(warning:  slightly graphic post)

When you have kids, the stomach flu takes on a whole new meaning.

Prior to kids, you hear more about random food poisonings than the stomach flu. Concerns or complaints lean more towards migraines and "feeling a cold coming on."

The stomach flu is horrible. First you hear about its impending arrival through comments that it is "going around" the classroom or soccer team and then it strikes ... and boy it doesn't usually come on slow ... WHAAP! 2:12 a.m. .. kids cries out ... stomach flu has arrived.

Throwing up is not an enjoyable experience let alone when someone is doing it on you ... or better yet multiple people are performing multiple throwing up activities throughout your home at the same time, all of which you are ultimately responsible for remedying. And then there is changing the bed linens multiple times a day and knowing that the bug and its horrible symptoms will undoubtedly be passed around to every person in your household, including, perhaps, yourself.

In the past two weeks, I have heard rumblings from other parents that the stomach flu is "going around" right now in our community.  Knock on wood, it hasn't hit my house ... yet!  I say it hasn't hit ... but their are signs that the pesky bug is trying to infiltrate into my kids:  loss of appetite, low energy, certain toilet symptoms, but no throwing up as of yet.  Fingers crossed as it would be a perfect storm because my husband is set to be out of town for a few days (now I'm pounding on that lucky piece of wood ... praying).

Here's hoping.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lip Balm a la ME!

It turns out, all you need is beeswax, vitamin E, a little olive oil, honey, peppermint oil (or other essential oil of your choice) and cocoa butter ...

throw it all in a frying pan for 2 minutes ...

... and voila - lip balm au natural, free of chemicals and whatever other junk is thrown in the usual stuff.

 I also made some luxurious lavender bath salts last Friday. Again - EASY! I promise. Epsom salts, baking soda, lavender flowers and a few drops of lavender oil and you've got yourself a whole pile of beautifully smelling bath salts just waiting for your next soak in the tub.

You're probably thinking, yeah, but I don't have any lavender oil kicking around the house or lavender flowers for that matter.  I didn't either, but I assure you, one trip to the right store, recipe in hand, and you will be set.  I ventured to Nature's Emporium in Newmarket and they had everything and more!  Prices were reasonable especially when you think about how much you can make with the amount I bought and compare it to the obscene prices we pay every day at the makeup counters and Shopper's Drug Mart.

So if you're interested, here it is, the recipe for Homemade Lip Balm (compliments of There's Lead in Your Lipstick by Gillian Deacon, p. 136):

(makes enough for 100 applications.)

2 tbsp      olive oil
1/2 tsp      honey
3/4 tsp      beeswax (grated)
1/2 tsp      pure cocoa butter
3 of 4       drops of your choice of essential oil (peppermint, lemon or whatever flavour you want)
1              vitamin E capsule

In a small saucepan, heat oil, honey, wax, and butter over low heat until just melted.
remove from heat and allow to cool for two to three minutes.
Stir in flavouring and contents of vitamin E capsule.
Pour into containers of your choice.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Honesty From a Three Year Old

Today my three-year-old had this to say to me:
"Mom, you're bum is really big ... like the clouds"

... and yesterday as I was attempting to slide down his little tikes slide (which is not designed for anyone with even a trace of hips, nor his 32-year-old Mom):
"Mom, you won't fit, your bum is bigger than Daddy's."

Apparently he is into comparing bottoms this week.


Last week it was this comment directed to a family member:

"My tummy gets big like yours when I eat my food. You know who else has a big tummy? _______(insert  family/friend's name who may or may not be reading this- protecting the innocent)"

So I guess it is official then, we have entered the "honesty" stage.  Great! Did I mention he inherited my voice - one that is loud and carries very well in public places.

Here is the challenge:  he is just being honest and talking like he would about anything else he sees ... he doesn't know that big tummies are bad, or that the mention of large buttocks to females can send them into a tizzy (FYI- I was not fazed by his comments). I hesitate to hush him or correct him because I don't want him to be embarrassed or feel like he can't talk openly and I don't want to make too big of a deal of anything because then it draws more attention to the person and the characteristic he has observed.  I have settled with trying to change the subject or divert his attention while in the public place with observed person within earshot and then talking about it privately afterwards and trying to explain that .... well, that's just it, how do you explain social norms to a 3-year-old ?

Have a good one!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Best Baby Stuff

It's so exciting when close friends and family are expecting babies and I am fortunate right now to have a number of bambinos on the way in my circles.

As showers get closer and as I think about what I would like to get the expecting parents, it always makes me think about what toy/tool/book/piece of apparatus was my absolute go-to or favorite.  as we all know there are items that stick and become such staples in the household and there are others that just don't do the trick.  Sometimes it is totally up to the child as to what they gravitate to or adopt as their own, but other times there definitely is a difference between good quality, baby-friendly (and parent friendly) items and gimmicks or "too good to be true" products.

For me, some of my favourites included:

A baby blanket that is soft and cozy.  My eldest son received a baby  blanket like this at one of my showers. I'm not sure from who exactly as in his baby book I just wrote down "blanket" from those who gave them and he did get quite a few.  Turns out, this was the one he picked to be his "blankie" about a year later. It's something with the satin edges; he scratches them as he's falling to sleep to sooth himself (hence its name "scratchy").  do take detailed notes as to who gave you what blanket so you know where to get a duplicate in case it does become their favourite. I have yet to find another scratchy ... luckily he has 2nd and 3rd runner ups that are part of his lineup too! My youngest son - pure fleece blanket was his choice.

 My baby chair, similar to this one, I loved. I'm not a big fan of the vibration or bounce modes and I took the bar with the spinny things completely off (although I know some Moms would completely disagree with me).  This chair is just so handy because for the first 6-9 months when they can't hold their head up or move around, it allows them to be propped up and with you looking around secure.  You can get all sorts of fancy schmancy ones, but like I already said, I didn't use all the gadgets, so in my opinion, don't waste your money - just a chair that is safe and secure will do.

 A friend gave this to me in passing and I didn't give it much thought (it got stored away on a book shelf).  when 6 weeks in I was having challenges with naps and sleeping, another friend mentioned "the baby whisperer" and then the book got pulled off the shelf. I have since bought all of her books and love each and every one of them.  Parenting is a hugely personal thing - everyone's approach, beliefs and challenges are completely different - so I can only speak to my experience.  I found this author offered tough love - the kind your Grandma would give you - respect for the baby, but the reality that sometimes if you want amazing long-term results (re: sleeping, eating, behavior) you have to put the hard work in now.  Great step by step information and follow up book that go into more detail.  Great for first children as when the second comes around, you may not have as much time to devote to "training."


My kids were both born in August/September so fall and winter quickly came. My MIL bought my oldest son a beautiful white Baby Gap bunting bag when he was in the hospital. It was wonderful and used a lot!  It had the option of being a bunting bag (one giant sleeping bag) or zipped into legs (idea for car seat rides).  Still debating on whether to save it for the "box of special things" or pass it along :)

Baby Monitors.  I had a regular ol' baby monitor but my husband and I debated the video versions (you can actually hear AND see the child from your monitor.  At the time I poo poo'd the techier version, but in hindsight, it would have been very handy - have they lost their soother? Are they lying down or standing up? Are they 1/2 asleep? Are they covered up? Very helpful in determining whether you want to risk going in and waking them or assisting them.
My playpen, given to me at a shower, is a gift that just keeps on giving.  Mine came with a bassinet attachment (which I never got to use because I was lent a stand alone one), roof top and a side that comes down to shield their view.  I have used it outside in the sun while we garden (they are shaded under the canopy), I take it whenever we go on a trip to the cottage or anywhere really, and have even set it up to protect my little one from his big brother in moments of desperation. (It also works if you are super sick or sleep deprived to the point of not being able to function - slip them in there while you doze off or attempt to get better and at least you know they are contained and safe.


Robeez slippers. Socks - forget it. Cute shoes - no way. These slippers did stay on my kids' feet and they are adorable. Nice because they don't slip once they are walking too!

My son loved his "spidey man" by Lamaze.   Again, some toys stick while others gather dust. My son just said today while we were in his room going through stuffed animals that he did NOT want to get rid of this. 

There are many more things that I know will come to me, but i want to hear from you .... what were your go-to toys/items that saved your life or that your babies adored and I'll be sure to pass along to all my pregnant friends and family members (and you can do the same if you like).

For all you expectant moms out there, you will notice that I didn't have a high chair or jolly jumper, etc. on the list. That is because you don't need to worry about anything like that for at least six months so don't stress about all the do dads. when your baby comes home, they just need nourishment, love and a cozy little nest to sleep in and they will be just fiiiine.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Silky Smooth Hands

Goodbye chapped, dry, winter hands.

Hello silky, smooth (brown sugar and almond oil) hands!

I often experience dry hands in the winter and spring time, despite my best efforts of using creams, balms and dry skin remedies.

You all know that I have been reading There's Lead In Your Lipstick, by Gillian Deacon, and in it (on page 187) she has this simple recipe for a soothing, natural hand lotion. All you need is brown sugar and sweet almond oil (I bought some at Longo's in the oil aisle today). It's that easy, no fancy trips to wacky stores.

If you have the opportunity to add some of this oil to this week's shopping list, it is worth it. I must say, totally felt amazing, very much like an exfoliation and my hands afterwards - silky smooth!

Deliciously Natural Brown Sugar and Almond Hand Lotion

1/4 cup (or small handful)          coarse brown sugar          50 mL
                                                 sweet almond oil

Take a loose handful of brown sugar and pour a small amount of almond oil into it.
Use a hand washing motion to combine the two into a pate, and apply the mixture uniformly over hands.
Continue the washing motion for a minute, and then rinse off with warm water and pat dry.

If you try it, let me know what you think!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Let The Car Shopping Begin

So you may recall that back in the fall I wrote this post on car shopping titled, "To Minivan Or Not."

My car shopping has officially begun. With a lease return date at the beginning of June combined with the fact that we have absolutely no idea what vehicle we are going to get, we have to start seriously thinking about this now.  As you can imagine, with two kids, you can't exactly drop everything and head to a few dealerships and waste away entire days like the single days or just drop in here and there  when you have a spare hour or evening (these exist?).

Anyways, we attempted to bring the kids to a car dealership this past Saturday :) It went okay but it definitely was a cardiovascular exercise and needless to say no negotiations were begun nor any test drives ... just toddlers crawling over (and leaving their fingerprints) on every Toyota vehicle that was parked in the showroom.

So a few of the vehicles that are on the "let's check out" list thus far:

Jeep Grand Cherokee

We currently drive a Jeep and really like the feel of it. It gets the job done and isn't too fancy on the inside which is perfect for the family vehicle. We are, however, looking for a little more packing space.

Toyota Sienna

This is the minivan on the list to checkout.  Saw one on the weekend and man, when that back row comes out, it has a HUGE amount of space. It's pretty decked out as well with all sorts of fancy gidgets and gadgets.
Mazda CX-9
I like the inbetween feel of this car - not quite minivan, not quite huge SUV. We test drove a CX-7 (smaller version) when we bought our Jeep four years ago and I really liked it.  Looking to the larger model for the extra seat for when we have grandparents, etc. visiting.
Jeep Commander

 If we're going to be test driving the Grand Cherokee, might as well give this one a try. Both have larger interiors than our current.

Toyota Venza
I don't know what it is, but I love this car (the picture doesn't do it justice). I sat in one on the weekend and it just felt so nice (and like me, not that this is that important when you need grocery room).  I think though it doesn't quite have the extra space or extra seat we are looking for, although I did try to justify it after seeing it.

Toyota Highlander

Nice vehicle, but don't think it offers that much more storage for the price tag. It does have the option of extra seats though and a Hybrid version!

Chevrolet Traverse
Try it out. Don't know much about.

So there you have it.

The dilemma is whether to buy used, given how very few kilometres I put on my car in a year - I drive mostly around town with the car sitting in the driveway multiple days per week.

So ... anyone have any experience, ideas, opinions they would like to share?

(Picture sources from here here here here here here here)
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