Thursday, 28 April 2011

Rainy days+ time in the house+ more time in the kitchen= yummy foods

So, the weather channel was right.
It is still windy and wet out.
So, we've been trying out new recipies!
Of course, for those of you who know me will know it's no surprise that I've made lots of kale chips. I've really been in the mood to make lots of snacky foods.  So I tried out sweet potato and beet chips, and today I made shoyu toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds. They are so so yummy.
But, since I have company now - and will have more soon, I'll post pics and recipies of these snacks and some other fave foods and new recipies after the weekend.
In the meantime, I want to say I love reading comments. So if you have a cool snack recipe to share, or a flavoured kale chip recipe to divulge - please do! Oh- or a yummy popcorn topping (as tomorrow is movie night).
And Karina, I'm planning on making your strawberry muffins this weekend too (before the strawberries go bad), but I'll do them vegan-ly, and will let you know how they turn out!

Monday, 25 April 2011


Its supposed to rain for like the next four days or something like that!  I don't know what we are going to do with ourselves.
So we took advantage of the last dry half day this morning- we got out and played (and worked) in our yard for hours. It was great.. despite that Ben kept running off.  I would have taken pics.. but I was ACTUALLY gardening.. not just chasing the kids with the camera (but I still had to chase the kids).
And to prove my point - of what are we going to do.... We're in the house now- waiting for Bella to wake up from her nap, and Ben's clapping along with Ellen's audience, eating playdough, and making cute noises with his lips. :(
Please please... I'd love some warm spring days.

Friday, 22 April 2011

April 22

Today is a big day...
Earth Day and Good Friday. Oh its also pizza, popcorn and movie night for us.
As a mom, a teacher, an Earth lover, and a Christian I had lots to talk to my kids about today!
Over the last week or so we read a few Easter books,and sang some songs. I've told my kids the "real meaning" of Easter, and why today's so special.  Hopefully some of this makes sense to them before they get junk-food-ed (not so much by me).

We tried to get out to enjoy the "earth" but it didn't last long.  Brrrr!

I've been reading Ecoholic Home by Adria Vasil for a while now... off and on.  It's a great Canadian resource to help you find your way in being a little (or hopefully a lot) greener. I've been trying to be greener.  I'm no superstar.  But let's be positive. I'm sure I've got a while to go still.

Here are some things that we (or I) do at our house for the Earth.
-Insulated our house.
-Put in newer windows
-Installed Geothermal heat/cooling.
-We refinished anything original in the house we could.
-We don't keep our house overly hot (winter) or cold (summer)
-We use almost all green cleaners, and body products.
-I am veganish.  This is probably THE biggest thing one person can do for our Earth.  The meat industry and factory farming are SO hard on the environment.  (Ask me if you would like to hear more)
-We are organic apple farmers.  No chemical pesticides here.
-We buy organic and local when possible.
-I try my best to buy things that are as unprocessed as possible.
-We're phasing out as much plastic in our home as we can. My kids use all stainless steel (Wish I thought of that earlier!).
-We took our microwave out of our kitchen (guess that's more about us than the Earth... but same frame of mind)
-I used cloth diapers on Ben for over a year (had to stop b/c we keep running out of hot water.  I can't sacrifice our baths & showers for a warm load of laundry)
-We plant our own fruit and veggie gardens in the summer! I can't wait to get started this year!
-We recycle.  A lot.  You can actually catch me picking through my garbage a few times a day to put things in the recycle (my hubby keeps forgetting)
-I buy lots of used and vintage things- clothes, furniture, bath tub,....
-We use a water filter rather than purchasing water bottles.
-I use glass storage containers (mason jars too), and the kids use their stainless steel food containers, and re-usable snack bags.
-I dry my laundry on the line in the summer.
-I wash every load with cold water.
-I've switched out almost all our lightbulbs.
-We use no-VOC paints.
-Ben's flor tiles are made of felt (80% post consumer recycled fibres) and are recyclable. (LOVE them!)
-I don't use any unnaturally scented things in our home.  And am hoping to replace my candles with more beeswax or soy.
-Use reuseable shopping bags and cloth napkins.

I'm sure there's more... but it kinda goes to show that just when I got feeling bad about not being "green enough" this year; I am actually doing a lot.  And the best part is that I'm teaching my kids to do the same.

We definetly have some things to work on, like turning off lights and water, and "reducing" I feel like we bring a lot into the house. I'd really like to have a rain barrel this summer too.

We try to do pizza, a movie and popcorn on Fridays.

popcorn and cuddles with my little guy!

does anyone know how to rotate this?
(it was the right way in my files)

Jack Johnson: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - 3 R Song

So perfect for today. This is also Bella's fave song to listen to in the car.
I love Sundays. 
My husband has been working a ton lately, but usually is home on Sundays. Generally I love to spend Sundays together as a family day... but now as the needy momma I am, I leave for a couple hours during naps- so we both have our alone time.
This week I did great!
At the end of someone's laneway (right beside their garbage) I picked this up! (free:) )
 Then at the reuse centre, I bought these two teak chairs for $30 each. They hadn't even been priced yet. I'll oil up the wood til it looks great, and probably get my friend to do my reupholstering.
Not too bad for a couple hours out and sixty bucks. :) Oh the things that make my day... garbage picking and thrift shopping.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Boy in swimsuit dancing We no speak Americano

Today Bella asked me for the "dancing guy". It took me forever to figure out what she was talking about. Not sure how cool it is for my three year old to love this one... but, oh well. It's funny. This one always reminds me of my sister Jeseka... and our trip to Cuba. 
 Bella now calls this video "but buddy daa".  Today she danced and spanked her own butt!  I wonder if we should be showing her some better dance moves- before these stick!

BGT FINAL - Connie Talbot high quality video/sound

This one is also tied for Bella's fave. We used to watch it all the time. Bella knows all the words... and has for ages. She's got the greatest memory for songs. Not sure what's cuter Connie singing (in tune) or Bella singing as a toddler.

Home - Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros Acoustic Cover (Jorge & Alex...

This one has to be Isabella's favourite. Ben even tries to sing along.. he kinds says "ooooooo" at the whistling part. I have watched other videos by Alexa and Jorge, or just Alexa and they're cute. I love her singing Rudolph the red nosed reindeer!

Our Fave You Tube Videos

Bella asks me all the time to watch videos on you tube.  And today is the perfect (crappy out) day to watch you tube videos on the couch.
These are the ones we watch the most.

Calming the Baby Beast.

This is one that I love!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

New use for a dresser

I love looking for cool vintage/ antique finds, and inspiration.

I could totally see myself doing something like this.  The old dresser with the shelves is SO much nicer than other shelves and bookcases. Its got great lines (cool legs), and is unique.

Potty Training

Well, I'm not an expert on potty training.. Though I've learned a bit. And I've given this one tip that helped me a couple times, and have been asked to blog about it.......
I started Bella at a young age (18 months)- because she showed many signs of readiness.  I couldn't keep putting a diaper on her when she was pulling them off and telling me she had to pee or poop.  In retrospect, starting early I'm guessing means more commitment, and loads of patience. 
Bella loved sitting on the potty. We sang, and read, and if she went then we REALLY celebrated.
After a couple days, she started sitting on the potty (going willfully) and having fun- reading, etc.  But then she wouldn't pee or poo.  Once she got off the potty she would go somewhere and hide and pee, or do it as soon as my back was turned.  I actually remember being so frustrated I was in tears one day!
So, I googled. I think I ended up getting my best tip on the baby whisperer site (I really loved the books and found them to be sooo helpful with my kids- especially with sleep, routines and understanding cues).  So here's the tip.
When you think your little guy or gal's gotta go, put them on the potty (preferrably nude). Give them a large bowl of warm water to play in.  The water on their hands is supposed to make them have to pee (think its like when you get in the tub- or pool).  They usually go.  I only had to try this once or twice- and it was followed by a poo and a pee. Bella loved this - it made the potty even more fun (and wet and messy- hence being nude).  When I praised her like crazy for going it reinforced going to the potty.  And she STOPPED HIDING and peeing. She still had some accidents, but this made all the difference in our potty training.  So Tamara, I hope you're reading this!!
All this being said, Ben is starting to show some beginning signs of readiness... and I'm wishing he wasn't. I don't know if I have the patience to do it again.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Isabella's Third Birthday!

My sweet little girl turned three this weekend!
We were very lucky to have my very good friend and her girls over for a visit and sleepover, even though it was a bit of a drive.
On Saturday morning (after gymnastics), we had Bella's party at the trampoline place.  It was sooo much fun!  This was a great way to be active.  And the best part was that all the kids and adults of varying ages had something fun to do that they were good at!


After jumping we were all exhausted!  And it was lunch- so we had some healthy snacks...  fruit, veggies, hummus, sweet potato chips, (eat clean) pasta salad, and ants on a log (celery with pb, and raisins).  Then we had cupcakes. I really tried to make them healthy. I was so excited to get my babycakes cookbook a while ago, and try out some recipes for this weekend.  But the downside of living in a small town (limited resources) with two very young kids, and seeming to always be on a tight timeline during my outings- means that sometimes, after buying almost all the ingredients, I just can't seem to find that last one....grrr! So for Bella's parties, my new cookbook served mostly as an inspiration.  We made gluten free, dairy free, vanilla and chocolate cupcakes.  Then I was so mortified with how they turned out, I didn't trust my own frosting making. I panicked and topped them with some canned frosting (who even knows what’s in that).  And, even though they looked strange- they were pretty yummy!
So all in all, I think we succeeded at having a mostly healthy party!!

We were sooo blessed to have so many of our friends come out to the party! Im thrilled that everyone had fun.  And is it just me- or is there never enough time to talk to everyone enough?!  Either way it was so nice to see everyone!

Another really great thing about the day.... I asked our friends in lieu of gifts to bring a donation for Japan- that we would send via the Red Cross.  We raised over a hundred dollars! Its great that we have friends who care and are willing to help.  I'm going to top up the donation a bit, and send it away this week.

On Sunday evening we had family over.  I guess we're suckers for having as many parties as possible!!! :)
My sweet meat eating husband actually suggested that we host a completely vegetarian party- but keep it easy with veggie burgers and dogs! Seriously, I never thought he'd say that in a million years. So I added to the menu with a delish salad (spinach, romaine, pea sprouts, dried cranberries (pretty sure Bella won’t eat a salad without either gogi or dried cranberries), sesame seeds, sliced pear, and the best vinaigrette), we also had "warm lentils with mushrooms" (from my Martha Stewart's Cooking School) - which was surprisingly a big hit, even with our baby nephew! We also served tortilla chips, homemade salsa and guacamole. For dessert we had an organic white cake, complete with strawberries, and homemade vanilla frosting from my babycakes cookbook.  And to my surprise- they liked it. :) Bella did a great job blowing her candles out!
I know the frosting looks awful.. I was supposed to make it, then chill it for six hours. Since I made it an hour before dinner, I froze it for an hour.  The left overs in the fridge actually look like icing now.

Martha Stewart's Warm Lentils with Mushrooms
Everyone liked these.. (I think)
Especially my baby nephew Nathan.

It was so nice to have everyone over!!! The kids had a blast.

This weekend was a whirl wind- with company, gymnastics, two birthday parties, a bridal shower for a friend,... So I was a little tired Monday, but it was sooo worth it! We have to best family and friends. Any excuse to get together is good with me. And I am so thrilled about the vegetarian parties (so close to being vegan).  I'm a little sad that we'll have to wait til November to plan another party!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Farm Sanctuary and My veggie story

I really wanted to blog about my little girl's third birthday and her parties this weekend, but I came across this website. Its for the Farm Sanctuary.  Then I got carried away, and wrapped up. 
Here's a little full circle story about myself and animals.

When we were younger, my mom and step dad took us (five) kids camping at Watkins Glen.  This was one of our best camping trips (despite my chopping fire wood turning into a goose egg).

One day my parents took us the the Farm Sanctuary.  (Check out the website for more info  This day literally shaped the rest of my life. I was so upset to learn of the treatment of animals, that I became a vegetarian.  And later I became a vegan.  Then even later, my convictions waned due to convenience and to please others (I was a difficult dinner guest!).. and I began eating chicken and fish for a few years.  In the last couple years, I have honed my eating to only have organic free range chicken, and fish, and limited amounts of organic eggs (p.s. there's no such thing as an organic coffee creamer!).

Recently my convictions have been creeping up on me.  There were a growing number of contributing factors... like my children, and negotiating their diet with my husband, along with more reading, research, the documentary "Food Inc", a couple Oprah epsiodes... Everything seemed to come together around Christmas this year.  I got three cookbooks from my mother in law.  All of them are great, but I was really re-inspired by "Skinny Bitch-The Ultimate Everyday Cookbook" (  The preface was soo interesting to me.  So over the next bit I began to do lots more vegetarian cooking, and really thinking about my meals.

Then my renewed interest in becoming more vegetarian and healthy came when I discovered one of my fave blogs. where Ange inspired us to take part in the "January Challenge".  I learned a bunch of healthy habits to incorporate into my life.  The end of the challenge pushed us to eat plant based for a week.  I was already doing so, but this reaffirmed my path for me.
And finally the story comes to today.  I finally finished reading Skinny Bitch (the book, not the cookbook) This book was great.  A funny, crass read. But full of facts and information that is not necessarily common knowledge anymore. I would totally suggest it to everyone to read (and for the guys- there's "Skinny Bastard" lol).  And on the final pages there were reccommended websites.  Among them the Farm Sanctuary.  See.  Full Circle. Twenty years later.  Needless to say, I went on the website.  For too long, and checked out the virtual tour.  I spent a while on the "investigation" part.   A lot of this I already knew, but learned some new things.. It is soo soo sad how the animals are treated.  This refers to factory farms in the the US.  I would be curious to see how this translates North of the border. I wish that someone would do a documentary - movie or book on the treatment of farm animals in Canada.  I'd be very interested.
Anyways, now I think I need to step up my vegan.  The milk, and eggs sections of the virtual tour were pretty sad.  I have been trying.  One of my resolutions for this year was to be vegan by Dec. I really don't think it will take that long.  And I'm sure shortly my sweet husband will stop offering me tuna sandwiches for lunch and the occasional egg for breakfast! :)