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.

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