2009 in pictures and my favourite part

December 31, 2009

The year is ending and today I found myself reflecting on this past year, like probably many of you have been doing.

At first I thought, It's been boring, nothing happened and I have nothing to talk about... But then I thought about it just a bit more. And "au contraire", it's been a very eventful year!

So here it is, the past year of my life, and the things that happened that brought me where I am today.

First, my kids grew like weeds, as all kids do. Here's the proof:

Ashton in January 2009 and then again this past December.

The difference between those two pictures almost scares me. He grew up WAY too fast.

And here is Arianne in January also and then again in October.

Looking at these pictures made me realize I really need to slow things down and spend more time playing with my kids and enjoy the simple little moments in life even more.
This year, I also discovered green (and purple in this case) smoothies. They changed my life! (and my health). To me, green smoothies are literally the photographic symbol of the fascination I began to have with nutrition.

They are just oh so yummy and give me the best energy boost! Better than any chocolate bar, or caffeine drink, that's for darn sure!
This year we...
...played, snuggled, grew and evolved with our kids LOTS :)

There were a few important firsts.
Like first bike.

And first day of (pre)school).
There were also some silly moments playing in the closets!

But I must say, one of the major things that happened in our house this year is....

My kids became best friends! To me that is the most special thing. I was an only child you see, so I always wanted to have 2 children, so they would not feel alone like I did growing up. Though I am aware a lot of siblings do not get along until they are adults sometimes. On the other hand, my hubby has only one sibling. A sister. They are two years apart and from all the stories I heard of them growing up, they were very close, (though they also had lots of fights as most siblings do).

To see that my children have developed that kind of relationship in just the past year, melts my heart. Don't get me wrong, my son loves to pick on his baby sister. And she loves to get him in trouble and start crying as if she's hurt to make me believe that he hit her. But in the end, they LOVE each other so darn much. They play together all the time, weather it's with his cars and trucks, or with her doll house or tea set. They make crafts together. He's trying to teach her the alphabet and songs now that he's in school. And when we pick him up at school at the end of a class, he always runs to give her a hug and a kiss first. Not me, her. Always.

So I would call this past year, a really good year.

Oh, and I should not forget to mention that our trip to the Canadian Rockies in September definitely rocked my world!

So from my family to yours, I wish you a very Happy New Year and may 2010 bring you lots of health and happiness.

Steph xx

A karate kid and a sleeping beauty

December 29, 2009

Good morning all,

Happy Tuesday! I just wanted to share with you these recent pictures.
Yesterday my son asked for my help to put his belt around his head. I asked him why and he said it was to do like karate... I'm not sure where he got that.

And no description needed for this one, but she certainly was a little sleeping beauty.

Have a great day!

Christmas recap

December 28, 2009

Hi everyone,
I hope you all had a good Christmas if you celebrated it?

I meant to come by and wish you all a Merry Christmas the day of, but I ended up spending a really nice and laid back day with my family. And in the end, that's more important than turning on the computer, so I figured you'd all forgive me :)

Ours was really quiet this year, since all our family was across country. At first, it really bothered me, but as the Christmas countdown was closing in, and every one's frenzy was hitting an all time high, I found myself really happy and calm knowing I did not have to stress with making appearances here and there, making tons of food for everyone or looking my best at all times.

Instead, we (my hubby, the kids and I) went shopping on Christmas eve to buy the kids a pair of ice skates with gift certificates they got early. Surprisingly, the two stores we went to, were quiet enough. Phew, we avoided the crazy crowds and shopping rush!... only because we did not go to any malls I would say.

That evening, after the kids bath, they were allowed to open 1 present each before bed. I started getting the kids to buy each other presents for special occasions this past year. So that they could really get into the spirit of giving, and not just receiving. Funny thing is, the tree was full (minus Santa's gifts) and they picked what they bought each other.

My daughter had "bought" (ok, mom and dad paid for it, but that's not the point) a cement truck for her brother and he bought his sister a toy playpen for her "babies".

They were so happy!

Of course the next morning, was Christmas. My hubby had set up the video camera so we could film the kids and then send it to our parents so we could share that with them. Now I'm not so sure that would be a good idea. The kids were more interested in opening the presents, and ripping paper and boxes, than they were interested in the gifts themselves. And there was a lot of them. Will all our family away, instead of the kids having presents from us and Santa under the tree and then receiving a few other presents when we go visit family... everyone mailed everything here and the tree was completely jammed packed of presents for the kids.

There was so many, I find it too embarrassing to post a picture of it. It was that bad (I find).
But here is a pic of my son working on his new tool bench like a mechanic.

And here is my daughter wearing her new tutu (she had it on all day) while playing at her new doll house (it's taller than her, in case your wondering).

I am so glad to have Christmas behind us now. Not that it was not great, because it was. But because I wanted something that would be simple and all about spending time together and it seemed like it was all about my kids opening presents and then not being able to appreciate most of them due to the quantity. We might have to figure something out for next year to make sure it doesn't happen like that. I want them to appreciate what they get and not expect so much. But I'm pretty sure I'm not the first mom who thinks that. Anyways.
For boxing day, we took the kids skating for a bit.... And had the best family day since our family golfing day!
I was so caught up in living in the moment and enjoying it, that I completely forgot to take pictures. So instead, all you get is a pic of my daughter's new skates.

Just to show you how small they really are, I put my hand beside them. They are a size 8 (toddler) I believe. Aren't they cute?
My son was not happy with the experience. He completely freaked out, but in his defence, there were still some guys playing hockey at the rink and it was really loud and echo-ey. He gets scared when there are really loud noises like that. But he said he'd try again, which is great. I'll take him to an outdoor rink next time.
As for my little ballerina, she was the opposite. She loved it so much, that she got mad at me when it was time to get off the ice.
"But I want to skate just a wittle more." is what she told me as I led her off the ice.
She did not want a chair either. Just to hold my hands and try to skate. So I am going to look into skating lessons for her for this January. She is still talking about going skating. She mentions it every hour, and I'm sure she'd sleep with her skates if I'd let her.

So that was our quiet Christmas. My hubby is gone back to work for 2 days and then home again for New Years.
The kids and I are just relaxing and enjoying each other's company in the mean time.
Because in the end, that's what Christmas should really be about.

Just in time for Christmas...healthy treats!

December 23, 2009

Christmas is in two days... are you ready for it?

I'm ready, but only because I don't have to do any baking this year. Like I mentioned before, it's just going to be my hubby, the kids and I this Christmas since all our family will be across country this holiday season. I will make a nice meal for our Christmas dinner, but I don't have to make breads, 3 kinds of cookies or pies, 2 kinds of salads and 7 main course meals and sides. I feel for you if you do... that would be pretty stressful.

But in case your trying to make/bake all that, I thought I'd share a vegan eggnog recipe from Debbie over at Maple Spice. It's the kind of eggnog you normally find in the dairy section in Canadian stores around Christmas time. The kind I used to be completely addicted to. I'd have no problem polishing a whole liter to myself in a couple of hours. Gross right? I know. I'd get major stomach aches from doing that too... but I found it too addicting for that to stop me. I'll have to talk about my major issues with food someday soon. Maybe it would make a great post for after the holidays when everyone seem to make eating healthy a new years resolution.

Anyways, back to the eggnog. I have not bought ANY this year. Yay me! But when I saw Debbie's recipe, I knew I had to try it.

First I opened the wrong kind of coconut milk (full fat instead and light) so I had to add more rice milk to dilute it a bit, and I did not have any nutmeg or rum extract. And even with all these changes and mess ups, it was still quite good. I'm sure actually adding those two ingredients I was missing would bring this drink to a whole new level! You can find her recipe HERE. Thanks Debbie for sharing this great festive recipe!

And last but not least. This next recipe was my own creation (I came up with it last night actually). I call them Candy Cane Macaroons. They were originally inspired from the twins of pure2raw. You can find their original recipe HERE. But I decided to use Mrs. M's coconut haystack recipe and turned them into a Candy Cane version. And this is what I came up with:

Genius no? Don't they look festive! It's pure food porn I tell you! It's good AND it's healthy. Best of both worlds :)

(Raw) Candy Cane Macaroons

  • 3 cups shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 2 to 3 tsp peppermint extract (not raw)
  • 1/2 cup goji berries (chopped if desired)

In a bowl, put all the ingredients and mix well. (start with less peppermint extract and then work your way up if you want it more minty. I actually ended up using a whole 3 tsp, but it made them pretty strong. So just do a taste test first:)

Use a melon baller and form cute little macaroons. Put in freezer until set and keep in an airtight container. Will keep for a really long time.

Option: Since it's the holidays, here is my present to you. An even more decadent version of this. Try substituting the peppermint extract and goji's for some almond extract and dried cherries! My favourite Christmas (or year round) flavour combo!

I gave one to a friend of mine right after making them who is not into raw or vegan anything and she loved them! And I am sure you will too :)

Have a great day!

Weekly recap of my exciting week

December 20, 2009

*** Warning ***
I know this post is long, but I seriously did not know how to make it shorter and really needed to share! So if you choose to keep reading, thank you for your time :)
Before I start talking about what a good week I had, I have to mention quickly that I had been feeling completely run down in the past few months. I'll explain the why in another post very soon. But just keep in mind that I've been really tired, and physically and mentally exhausted lately.

And then my hubby came home on days off. That's always nice, of course. But this time, it was more than that. The first two evenings he was home, he put the kids in bed for me because I had events to attend in the evenings. It was really nice to get a hour "break" here and a two hour break there. To not have to deal with the fighting that can come with bedtime. Because lets face it, bedtime is not always easy.

The third day my hubby was home, he went Christmas shopping in the city. I did not really understand why he wanted to do this, for a few reasons. First, he hates Christmas for the crowds and for the fact that it's just another way the industry has come up with to make more money. But also because he said he was going to the city to get my present.
Um, what present? We were not giving each other presents this year. We talked about maybe getting a wii as a "family present" or just using that money to take the kids to do some activities over the holidays (like bowling, going to the movies, etc) since we don't have any plans this Christmas. (His sister and her family, the only ones that live anywhere near us, are gone on the East Coast to see the rest of their family this holiday).
So like I said, what present? Well, he gave me two reasons.
First, he explained that it's his way of saying thank you for taking care of the kids when he's gone (which is pretty much all the time) and said that he just doesn't tell me enough how much he appreciates what I do. And second, he just bough a new set of golf clubs he technically did not need (since he already has a full golf bag) and even when he spends lots of money on himself, I never ask for anything. I only buy for myself when I absolutely can't put it off anymore and actually need something, versus want.
So what did my sweet better half get for me? How could he possibly find something I want, when I don't even know what I want?
Well, he could not wait until Christmas to give me my present, so I found out early:

Yes, he got me a digital Canon! It's a Rebel xsi, and he got me a 300mm lens too! (The one I got is a little different from the picture, but you get the idea.) Now, I'm sure almost anyone would be very happy with such a present, it's even more special to me.

You see, I used to do photography, years ago when we lived in Prince Edward Island... and before we had kids. I had started my little business, did a few weddings, some family portraits and a few expositions to sell some scenery pictures. I was really getting into it and put together my portfolio. I had my manual camera (you know, the kind with actual film in it), a tripod, a flash, some filters... and he made sure that all my equipment would fit on this new camera. I just appreciate so much how thoughtful he was with this present! Since getting this new camera, I've been just thinking about taking pictures all the time... just like I used to years ago.

Of course, I took a lot of pictures during our last trip to the mountains, back in September. I brought both my manual and my little digital camera. Wanna know the truth? The pictures I took with my manual were not near as good as the one with the digital. Why? I think it's because when you start taking pictures with a digital, you start second guessing yourself if you use a manual again, since you can't see your pictures right away. The problem was that even if my pictures with the digital (the kind that fits in a small purse) were very vibrant and beautiful, the lens that comes on those things was just not as powerful as I'd wish for. You can only zoom in so much with a little digital camera.

Now I won't have those issues anymore. No more second guessing myself, no more missed pictures since I have a stronger lens.

Anyways, enough babbling about the camera. I think you get the idea. I got a new camera, I love my husband for being so thoughtful, I'm happy. :)

As if that wasn't enough to put a huge smile on my face, the very next day, I got to spend it by myself AND in the city to go Christmas shopping. Yes, it's post worthy, because last time I did that, was last year for Christmas shopping too. I never get more than a couple hours break from being a mom. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being a mom, and LOVE my kids more than life itself. I think I've been doing a great job taking care of the kids while my husband is away at work all the time, but it seems I've been doing an even better job forgetting about myself since being a mom. I know it's no ones fault, but my own. So I got to finish all our Christmas shopping for the kids, relatives and friends... and even got a few things for my self!

Shocking, I know!

I got a pair of jeans, as I was wearing out the only pair I owned (I know, pathetic, right?) and then got a new pretty shirt to go with the jeans. Trust me, it looks a lot better on me than on the floor, lol. But I really wanted to show it.

I also got a purse because I had seen 4 times and wanted to buy it each times. And I thought, why not? I deserve to buy something purely because I want it.

Of course I wore the new outfit and used my new purse the very next day... and I got compliments on my looks! Wow, it had been such a long time since that had happened! I forgot how sometimes, all you need is to take better care of yourself to gain some confidence. And people notice... not just the outfit.

So how do I feel now? I am no longer the run down and exhausted mom I was a week ago. I now feel rested, calm, at peace. I am happy and people are noticing. My kids are probably noticing too, because we are having a lot more good days. Maybe because I am relaxed enough to deal with what they can "throw" at me during the day. I feel ready to set new goals (and act on them) and feel excited about the little things in life again. There is a lot more smiling and laughing happening in this home right now. I feel like I found a long lost part of myself. I feel like a person again, not just a mom.

Note to self: I need to do this more often than once a year!

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend

A recipe and a little about me

December 17, 2009

Hi everyone,
I hope your all having a good week so far? Mine has been quite excellent for once!
I wont go into the details yet, (yes, it's been that good!) as I will keep that post for tomorrow. Because it's bound to be long and it's getting late.

But I thought since I had not blogged much in the past few days, that I'd share a recipe I just made last week. I've been really trying to make an effort to not just eat vegetarian, but even try vegan recipes. Main dishes in particular. I find it easy to make a green smoothie, a vegan salad, or eat vegan snacks like fruits, nuts and veggies (of course!) or bake vegan cookies. But mains... well... I didn't exactly have many of those in my "repertoire". Except for this one:

This is my version (or you might want to call it my interpretation) of Egyptian Koushari.

The first time I had it, was at a friends place. He was actually from Cairo, Egypt and made this dish for us. That day, he happened to make it with just rice and lentils, but he had said that in Egypt, it's typically served with pasta as well as the rice and lentils. But since it's the only way I've ever had it, I don't feel the need to make the pasta too. I like it just like this.

This is such a nice, warm and really filling dish. It makes for a lot of leftovers (if your alone eating it) and freezes really well. It also cost "peanuts" to make, which is great!

I get a very strange (personal) experience when I eat koshari. You see, my father is from Egypt. My parents have been divorced since I was 2 1/2 years old, and I haven't seen (or had contact with) my dad since I was 4 years old. So I don't know him, nor his family. I don't know all that much about "that part of me", except what I learned about Egypt in school, and the little bit that my mom has shared about my father. So when I eat koushari, it's almost like I feel connected to my dad, in a strange way. It also makes me daydream of this exotic land far away from here.

Anyways, back to the koushari. I thought I'd share my version of it:
  • 1 cup of brown lentils (cooked according to package directions)
  • 1 cup short grain (white or brown) rice (cooked according to package directions)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced

Cook lentils and rice in separate pots, according to package directions.

Chop onions to desired size. Heat olive oil in a pan, add onions and fry until golden brown. Add minced garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the tomato puree (or sauce) to the onion/garlic mixture and heat.

To serve, put equal parts rice and lentils in a bowl, and spoon the tomato sauce over top.

I know it may seem like a lot of garlic, but trust me, doing only 1 clove will make the sauce very bland. It really needs 4-5 cloves, in my opinion, and I don't add that much garlic to my recipes usually.

I personally prefer quite a bit of sauce in mine, but that's just how I like it. Then I mix it all up before I enjoy. I kept the last picture for last, because lets face it, it's just not that pretty!

Tip: Too freeze any leftovers, just mix the rice and lentils in a large bowl. Put desired portion size into a container for the freezer and freeze the sauce separately. Then all you have to do is take out a sauce container and a rice and lentil container to have a quick last minute meal!

Enjoy your evening (if your reading this tonight) and I'll be back tomorrow to tell you about my week. You won't believe what happened that made (amd still makes) me SO happy! Stay tuned!

Polymer Ornaments

December 15, 2009

I was planning on doing a post about handmade dough ornaments using "pate a sel". A salty dough recipe you make with flour, water and salt. I had even added ground cloves to my dough to make it smell like Christmas. I took pictures of every step for my post, in case I wanted to make a tutorial. I let it dry for almost 2 days, like the directions said. I baked it, like I was told. Then let it dry more, because it was not hard underneath...

And then they bubbled, like they were NOT supposed to do.

My kids were a little sad to put them in the garbage, but what do you do. Sometimes, recipes (edible or not) don't work out.

And then, this morning, I stumbled upon this post from Bloesem Kids...

Remember the Christmas gift tags I shared with you not too long ago? Yes, well, same blog. These ornaments are made from Polymer clay. Absolutely brilliant! Polymer clay comes already made, and with baking directions. It also comes in all sorts of colors, if you wanted to make different ones. It would be pretty much impossible to mess this one up (unlike mine, lol). I am just loving how easy the crafts posted on Bloesem Kids are!

You can find their post for this craft HERE.

I happen to be going to the city tomorrow, so I will make sure to pick up some polymer clay to make these (in a hurry) before Christmas comes. I will also get some okra to make THIS other craft, as I told you I wanted to make. I just can't find okra in my little town. I am thinking Thursday will be a crafting day for the kids and I. And my kids will be excited that our craft project won't end up in the garbage this time ;)

Happy crafting!

Trusting your instincts in the kitchen

December 13, 2009

Good morning everyone!

I hope your all enjoying your weekend so far? It's been freezing here (temperatures reaching the -41 celcius), so we've been staying in the comfortable warmth of our home. I mean, who would want to go out in that cold, unless you absolutely had to, right?

So I've been cooking and baking up a storm to keep busy. I've actually been really focusing on making vegan foods. And I must say, so far, everything tasted great! I'll share those tests with you later, but right now, I really had to talk about these little gems I made/invented yesterday.

Yes, I said invented. My very first creation, so to say. I've been baking since I was about 10, but in the past year, I've been learning to trust my instincts when it comes to baking. I used to follow recipes to the letter. And last year, after I started being more and more interested in nutrition, I started adding and subbing a few ingredients here and there to make recipes more nutritious. Like adding flax or replacing eggs with flax (to make recipes vegan), adding shredded coconut for flavor, or replacing some or all the sugar with honey or agave so my son wont go crazy after eating a cookie or muffin.

But that was the extent of the changes I would make to recipes would end there... until yesterday. There was this cookie recipe I had seen on the Vegetarian Times website, that I really wanted to make. But it was calling for prunes and I didn't have any. I could have bought some, but I really wasn't sure what it would taste like and just didn't feel like trying it for some reason. It also called for cold coffee for the liquid.... like I was going to use that! Not that I don't LOVE coffee, because I do. But I was not going to put coffee in a recipes my already crazy kids were possibly going to eat.

Then one thing led to another, and I changed so many ingredients, measurements and technique in the recipe, that it had nothing to do with the original when I was done. And that's how my Green Tea mini cakes were born. (I call them mini cakes, because the texture is "cakey" and fluffy.) I knew they would taste OK, but I certainly was not expecting them to taste amazing. And AMAZING they are!

So this morning, I am going to share with you my fist ever creation.

Green Tea Mini Cakes

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax
  • 3/4 cup green tea, room temp.
  • 1/2 cup Medjool dates, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup margarine, melted
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 3/4 cup pecans, chopped into small chunks

Preheat oven at 375F.

In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder and soda and salt. Set a side.

In an other bowl, mix ground flax seeds with 2 Tbsp of the green tea while it's warm. Let it sit for a couple minutes, it will thicken a bit. Chop the dates so finely it's almost like a paste. Add the dates to the flax mix and add the rest of the green tea. Mix with a fork and try to "smoosh" the dates as much as you can, to make it "puree like". It's OK if it's not a perfectly uniform mix. Then add margarine and almond extract and mix. Add the honey and mix well.

Next add the flour mixture and mix a little bit, but not until fully incorporated. Fold in the raisins and pecans and mix.

Drop about 1 Tbsp of dough for each "cake" onto a lightly greased baking sheet, about 1 1/2 apart. Bake for 10-14 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool. It will make a little over 2 dozens.

I hope you enjoy as much as I did! I had to freeze half the batch, because I was unable to stop myself from eating them, that's how good they are! If you try them, let me know what you think, please. I would love some feedback!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Elvis is in the building!

December 11, 2009

See the little Elvis face above?

Thank you, thank you very much!

Contest giveaway at CCK

OK, so this post is for two reasons. First, I want to share with you a cool blog and giveaway that is happening over at Chocolate-Covered Katie. Second, I want to be entered in the contest!!! The prize is pictured above. I've heard of the company Artisana but I've never seen any of their products sold in the health food stores around where I live, so winning ALL this would be awesome. Yes, if you win, you win them all! You can enter the contest HERE. If your going to do it, do it quickly, because it ends tomorrow.

Seriously, you should really check out Katie's blog. She is funny and she shares tons of decadent recipes (all vegan, and some raw). Her blog is not called Chocolate-Covered Katie for nothing, almost everything involves chocolate! Like her brownie batter in a bowl (it's how she calls her chocolate-banana-oatmeal breakfast. Because it actually looks like brownie batter.) And her homemade Larabar is one that doesn't have chocolate, but it's definitely on my "to do" list.

So go on over to her blog and enter that contest. I know I'm drooling at the thought of the cacao bliss and the coconut butter. Because everything is better with chocolate and coconut!

A cute way to keep the cold out!

December 9, 2009

These cute draft blockers are an idea I found on the FamilyFun website. You can find the steps and material list HERE. I love that they are easy enough for my kids to help me make them, and would not cost too much either. It gets pretty drafty at our place (darn old windows!), especially now that it's in the -20's, so this is a great project for an afternoon at home.

I just love that striped snake! Don't you?

Supper Yummy Cinnamon Rolls

December 8, 2009

In the spirit of the coming holidays, I thought I'd share this cinnamon rolls recipe. Though I have to warn you, they are not vegan, not gluten-free, have oodles of sugar in them and are definitely not low fat.
So why am I posting the recipe?
Because they are that good! I mean, look at them! Does that not look good to you? *Drool* I said they were supper yummy, not super healthy.
I almost never make these, because they are so good, there is no stopping me. And I know what's in them. But I do make them once or twice a year. And I just made them this weekend. (Only so I'd have a picture to post with the recipe... yeah, right! lol) So here goes:
Cinnamon Rolls

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • Milk (or milk alternative)
  • Soft margarine
  • More brown sugar
  • Cinnamon

Mix flour, 1/2 cup margarine, baking powder, salt and brown sugar together. Add eggs and enough milk to make a soft dough. Roll into a 1/4 inch think rectangle. Spread with soft or melted margarine and more brown sugar to cover. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 375 F until brown (takes about 20 minutes in my oven).

I know it's pretty vague, and some ingredients don't have measurements, but even before I became comfortable "winging" recipes, I still was able to make this and succeed every time.

Now that I've shared this supper-yummy-and-definitely-not-healthy recipe, I'd like to point out that if I could ever turn this recipe into a vegan one, or even gluten free one, I think that would be awesome. But I have never attempted a gluten-free recipe yet. They scare me. All these different flours, and gums things... I just hate baking something and not knowing before hand that it's going to taste great. And to make it vegan, I don't know if the dough would rise by replacing the eggs with flax and water AND replacing the milk with rice or almond milk would probably change the taste greatly. I'm not sure, but that's what I think.

So I'll ask you this: If you have a cinnamon roll recipe that is vegan (even if it does have white flour in it), can you please share it with me? I promise I will try it, and if I like it, I will feature it here (if it's OK with you) and link back to your blog if you have one. I just really like vegan baking lately. It just makes me feel good to know what goes into it :)

Happy baking!

The importance of eating healthy

Other than for the obvious reasons, it's especially important to eat healthy in this house. With my son's food sensitivities, if we get off track, it can make a huge difference in his behavior in general, with me and his sister, and ends up affecting my relationship with him, because we end up fighting a lot. I've talked about his sensitivities issues more in past posts. You can read about it HERE and HERE.
Even though I got rid of all the Halloween candy to avoid what happened here, I had not realized that I was headed down the slippery slope of convenience foods meets bad attitude. It was easy to eat healthy this summer. Produce was cheaper and abundant and there was lots of variety. And my normal purchases always included lots and lots of these:

(I do buy veggies too, but fruit is so much prettier to photograph!)
But with the arrival of fall, the start of my son's preschool and when I started going back to work after my summer vacation, convenience foods slowly started making their way back into the house. It's something that happened slowly, that I started doing without realizing. It can really sneak up on you if you are not careful. Not that I started buying Hamburger Helper or frozen chicken nuggets, but it was mostly the kids snack foods that were the issue. Crackers here, granola bars there, new kind of yogurt here.... you get the idea.
And then Sunday happened.
Can you see the mischievous look in his face?

I let them do some Christmas stamping on paper that day.... and when I was giving his sister a bath that night, he got hold of the stamp and used it on the fridge.

And that's just one thing that I could take a picture of... and it was washable. But trust me, he had bad attitude. Attitude that was not like him. Like he was a whole other person.

And then Monday happened.

To make a long story short, I let him have yogurt for a quick breakfast, as I was rushing to get to work on time (I take the kids with me to work :) and he was crazy within minutes of eating "breakfast". He took off on me in the mall when we ran quick errands, grabbed everything in sight in the store, threatened to hit me with his water bottle for no apparent reason...

I was able to get him to have a much needed nap after lunch, got my daughter to nap too and cranked up my iPod and sang out loud. It felt so good! What a release! But somewhere between Cold Play and Black Eyed Peas, it finally hit me like a ton of bricks. The yogurt. It was a different kind from what I used to buy them this summer. He had it for breakfast. Had been crazy since. Had it the day before too, and the day before that. We've been struggling with attitude for the past few weeks, on and off. Duh!!! And I realized it's not just the yogurt. It was a lot of other snack foods. It's my own fault in the end, I'm the parent, and I'm responsible for deciding what they eat. So it's up to me to "clean up my act" (and my fridge).

I actually explained to him last night the issue with the yogurt and the other food he reacts to and he completely understood. I mean completely. This was our conversation:

Me: Ashton, you know how I say your allergic to gold fish crackers
Ashton: yes
Me: Do you know why you can't eat them?
Ashton: Cause they make me crazy!
Me: (Surprised) Um, yes, well, the stuff in those crackers is in other foods as well. Can we get rid of that yogurt you had this morning? Because it makes you crazy too.
Ashton: No it doesn't!
Me: Yes it does. You've been crazy since you had it for breakfast. And remember the big melt down before nap?
Ashton: Oh. Yes. (he goes straight to the fridge and takes them out) OK then!

How smart is he!?! I was in awe.

So today is a new day. No processed snacks for breakfast. No processed snacks at all. Lots of fruits and veggies ALL the time, and there is no looking back. Ever. I just don't have a choice, for all our sakes. It would not be fair to him.

And how is our today so far? Peachy!!! The kids are playing well together, and I got lots of snuggles from my happy and well behaved boy (still very energetic, but hey! He's 4!) this morning with lots of : "mommy, I love you!". Now that's my boy! He's back. And it's up to me to make sure it stays that way.

Here are the kids in our yard on Sunday. This is to show you how much snow we had falling in 24 hours. We could see some grass before the snow fall. And now it's still in the minus 20 celcius!

Walking in a winter wonderland

Have a great day everyone! Going to make the kids a veggie plate for snack now :)

A busy week and a whole lot of pictures!

December 4, 2009

TGIF again!

You'll have to excuse the length of this post, but I'm trying to cram a busy few days all into one post. It's been nuts around here this week!

I hope you had a good week? Mine was good, but just a bit (OK, alot actually) busier than usual. Between the usual couple mornings of work, taking my son to preschool and running the normal errands, I also had to drive to the city to exchange our new Christmas tree. My son fell into the tree last year (yes, you read that right) and broke a bunch of branches on the way down. So we needed a new tree this year. We had got a fibre optic one last week and when I set it up I realized that the circular base was not able to hold the tree up AND any heavy ornament was making the branches go all the way to the floor. Anyways, I'm getting away from my point here... Oh yes, I exchanged the tree for a better one. In the city. Took almost a whole day to get just that done. Yuck!

Thursday was C R A Z Y! Work, grocery store, home, take son to playschool (keep in mind his class is only 2 hrs), go to bank, go pay a bill somewhere else, go pick up a Christmas parcel, take Christmas parcel to our storage unit just outside of town, go to health food store, go to other grocery store to finish groceries I was not able to get at other place in morning, go pay for groceries before I'm completely done shopping because otherwise I will be late picking son up from school, go pick up son at school (oh yes, had daughter with me during all that too!), go to other health food store with both kids after, then home to make supper. Phew!!!!

You get the idea! I think I need a drink just thinking back on all the craziness. Well, not really, since I don't drink. But I should! Just kidding.

Thank goodness we had no plans today. We still managed to have a full day. Now, keep in mind, that these pics were all taken today.

My daughter helped me this morning making these vegan fruit & nut bars. You can find the recipe HERE.

They are pretty good, but I might add a touch of maple syrup or agave next time, as they are not sweet at all. And lets face it, I like sweets!

Then I let the kids decorate our new gigantic tree.

It started out pretty well.

They did a pretty good job, but this tree is alot bigger than our last one, so I realized that we don't have enough ornaments and can't find the garlands either.

And the top of the tree is almost naked since the kids couldn't reach! lol. Oh well, at least they had fun!

If your wondering what's on my daughter's cheek, it's a big 'ole smudge of raspberry jam. I was too lazy to wash it off before the picture.
Shortly after decorating the tree, my son came to me with the strangest request: he wanted to do yoga with my DVD! "Sure, go at it!"

He did the whole thing and he loved it! I think this just might become our new mother/son bedtime routine! I was also really surprised at how much he could do. He followed the direction pretty well. I don't know if you can tell, but he's actually doing the same pose as the lady in the TV, lol. (Pardon my mess, those were boxes from the Christmas decorations as well as one of the many loads of laundry that still needs to be folded. Just pretend it's not there, that's what I'm doing tonight ;)

Then I tried this new recipe for lunch. Apple/walnut stuffed acorn squash. I'd share the recipe, but it was not good enough to. I'm just sharing the picture because I thought it looked pretty ;) Speaking of recipe, a few posts ago, I said I was going to try a pumpkin latte recipe and let you know how that turned out... not going to share that either. It was disgusting! I guess that's what happens when you try all kinds of new recipes. Sometimes you love it, sometimes you don't.

And this afternoon I took my son to the salon to get his hair cut. He had not had his haircut at the salon since he was 17 months old... and he just turned 4. Salons and hairdressers used to freak him out. But to my surprise, he did amazing!
Doesn't he look handsome?

Well, going to the salon was not bad, but getting there was. We had something like almost a foot of snow overnight. Literally went from seeing grass last night to waking to a winter wonderland. The salon is only 2 minutes from my place but the road was so bad and slippery.
And it's supposed to be like this all weekend. Actually, the temperature is supposed to drop to the -20 Celsius for the next week. Add the snow on top of that and roads that are not plowed probably until Monday, I figured I might as well get what I needed (movies, and a few forgotten items at the grocery store) so I can hibernate until Monday!
And what happens when your so busy that your poor daughter skipped her naps 3 days in a row?
She falls asleep on the couch at 6pm!

Now it's 11 pm and she's been awake for an hour, so I'm going to call it a night and try to get her back to bed, so I can maby get some shut eye too!

I'll be back this weekend with more posts on crafts and recipes. In the mean time, have a great weekend. I can now officially wear nothing but pj's until Monday morning if I want to. I am not going a-ny-where.
Good night all!
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