Tuesday, April 26, 2011

ten on tuesday

It's time for ten on tuesday (read: I'm on vacation and this is the best I can muster for a post. Forgive me.)

1. How many blogs do you read every day and what are they? (I’m talking the ones you NEVER miss)
I'm currently subscribed to 53 blogs in my Google Reader. Some I like more than others. I read them all in the feed on a regular basis, but I look forward to several in particular -> See some of them in my blog love list and I think you will love them too.

2. How many “best friends” do you have? Do you have different “besties” for different areas of your life?
I'm so thankful to have many outstanding friends. The very best know who they are. I have a unique relationship with each one. Plus, they all know so much about me, and like me anyway! Aren't I lucky?

3. What’s your daily make up routine?
Usually nothing at all. I try to remember to moisturize my face after each shower and that's often as far as it goes.

4. What is your ideal girls' night?Being together, somewhere comfortable, with yummy snacks and drinks and lots of laughter and quality conversation.

5. Do you keep up with your nails/toenails or are they au natural?My fingers have been au natural since Jacob was born. The kid puts everything in his mouth, and that often includes his mama's hands. I did give my toes a quick coat of pink a couple of weeks ago when the weather was nice and warm. It's wearing off already. If I can find time to take the polish off, I doubt I'll take the time to re-paint them.

6. What’s your best roommate story (assuming you had a roommate at some point in your life)?
One memory that always makes me smile — one afternoon when we were sick and tired of studying, lovely friends A and J and I flipped on 13 Going on 30, shoved the coffee table out of the way, and spent hours learning the Thriller dance. We rewound that scene over and over until we had all the moves down pat. Nothing like procrastinating with a couple former cheerleaders.

7. What’s your “go to” outfit that you wear more than anything else?Jeans and T-shirts. Reitman's comfort fit "leggings" jeans are awesome. So comfy.

8. Do you have a beauty secret?Ha. If my hair is in any other state besides ponytail, I'm doing pretty well. Don't look to me for beauty pointers of any kind.

9. Did you read Seventeen magazine growing up?You betcha. And YM, remember that one? Those were followed by Glamour and Cosmo. Now I read Today's Parent. Ahh, the evolution.

10. How did you learn to put on makeup?
I've never actually been a huge makeup wearer. I don't think I had a need for a makeup bag until I was in university, so I guess I learned from watching friends, or reading tips in the magazines mentioned in #9.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

vegan for a week: day 5 & 6

I don't think I know any vegans. I know lots of strict vegetarians and a few not-so-strict ones. And I definitely know plenty of meat eaters. My point is, everyone is entitled to their own choice. I would never try to impose my views or tastes on anyone around me. I even prepare and cook meat for Husband on a nearly-daily basis. I also chop up tiny morsels of chicken for Baby J, knowing that someday he'll be old enough to make the choice for himself.

By the same token, I don't expect people to go through any inconvenience based on my preferences, but I am lucky to have thoughtful and accommodating friends and family who are sure to provide me with veggie alternatives when I dine in their homes.

Today, lovely friend H invited us over for a play date around lunch time, and she wasn't sure what to prepare for snacks. She made a lovely spread of sliced apples, grapes and a veggie tray. It was perfect! She worried about it though, like what to offer as a veggie dip.

So going forward, I think I'll fall into that not-so-strict category of the vegan lifestyle. I'm certainly not going to call myself vegan, but there will likely be days that I'll avoid eating any animal products at all. But when it comes to eating out in restaurants or especially in other people's homes, I will be more flexible.

And in the event you're still interested:

Day 5

Breakfast: Thin bagel with peanut butter, a banana and glass of juice.
Lunch: PB&J on whole wheat. Fresh fruits and veggies at our play date.
Snack: Multigrain rice crackers and peanut butter.
Dinner: Two meatless chicken strips in a whole wheat pita, carrots and couscous.
Snack: Two Enjoy Life double chocolate brownie cookies and a cup of decaf with soy milk.

Day 6

Breakfast: Sesame seed bagel with vegan margarine and coffee with soy milk.
Snack: Fruit smoothie with baby spinach and what germ (it's way more delish than it sounds!)
Lunch: Rice crackers with jalapeno hummus, sliced apple, glass of juice.
Snack: A banana.
Dinner: Veggie dog, couscous, carrots and green beans.
Snack: Two Enjoy Life double chocolate brownie cookies and a cup of decaf with soy milk.

Monday, April 18, 2011

vegan for a week: day 4

Today was a successful vegan day. I'm trying to think about how many portions of fruits, veggies, protein and other essentials that I'm getting in each meal. I recently re-watched the episode of Oprah where 378 of her staff members went vegan for a week. One of the guests was "The Veganist" Kathy Freston who pointed out how easy it is to be a junk food vegan. I'm trying hard to avoid simple sugars and refined ingredients in order to give myself a true picture of how I would feel if I adapted this diet full time.

Breakfast (7:30 a.m.): Dempster's Thin Bagel (I won a free bag of these bagels in a giveaway from Suzie the Foodie!) with peanut butter, a sliced apple and a cup of decaf with soy milk.

Early lunch (11 a.m.): Two leftover vegan blueberry pancakes.

Late lunch (2:15 p.m.): Small portion of leftover pasta with tomato-veggie sauce.

Supper (6:30 p.m.): Barbecued veggie burger on a whole wheat bun and quinoa.

Snack (8:30 p.m.): Multi-grain tortilla chips with super spicy fresh salsa.

If you're following along with my vegan challenge, what do you think? Do you have any questions?

growing by the minute: 7 months

Vital stats: We weren't scheduled for a doctor's visit this month, but we were there last week anyway ... more on that later. Our boy is still growing like crazy and around the 95th percentile for both weight and length at 20.5 lbs. and 28.5 inches.

Milestones & firsts: When Jacob is on his belly, he tries so hard to get on all fours. It's ridiculously adorable and so sad at the same time because he wants to do it so much, but gets frustrated when he can't. Any day now, little man!

He sits up like a total pro — no wobbling or falling over, and can sit back up from a reclined position. If he does tip over, he's done it on purpose so he can scramble on his belly and roll around after toys.

Believe it or not, Jacob has decided that now he likes soothers. He'd always refused them, but since I bought a bunch early on, they've been a part of his toy collection and he'd use them as teethers or projectiles. Then, out of nowhere last week, he picked one up and started sucking on it. Weird.

And I swear it's a miracle, but Jacob has also decided that he'll accept breast milk in a bottle now! After wasting many, many ounces of pumped milk in our attempts to help him learn, he's finally got the hang of it. That, in addition to solid foods, makes it easy for Muma to get away for longer stretches, which is a wonderful development.

Teeth: One! Well, one little nub that's pushing its way through. We can see the top of it, but it hasn't completely emerged.

Speech: Ba ba ba ba! Da da da da! Ga ga ga ga! Talk talk talk! Jacob loves the sound of his own voice and babbles on and on all day. Sometimes I joke about needing ear plugs, but I seriously love it. Friends and family tease me when they see how much of a talker he is ... wonder where he gets that from? As much as I say, "Ma ma!" to him though, he still hasn't really got the hang of that one yet.

Zzzzzzz: Our sleep schedule has been about the same as always. Sometimes his exact bedtime/awake time varies, but generally we can rely on him waking for the day exactly 12 hours after he's gone down for the night. So far, he's still having at least one feeding during the night (sometimes two if he's restless for some reason). This month, I'm hoping to start weaning him off his nighttime snack. Any advice?

Om nom nom: Giving Jacob new foods to try is so much fun. His reactions are priceless as he gobbles up what we're offering, or scrunches up his nose and sticks out his tongue in protest. Over the past month, he's enjoyed peaches, green beans, peas, and teeny tiny pieces of chopped up chicken and blueberry pancakes that he can feed himself. He's not a big fan of oatmeal, and does not like pears, but Mama is sneaky and mixes them with peaches and then he doesn't mind them so much.

Likes & dislikes: Jake loves getting out and doing things. We get shack wacky if we're cooped up in the house too long, so we go for long walks to the library or run errands in the car.

Jacob's favourite toy lately is the TV remote. He has a whole bin of toys in the living room, but he'll protest if you try to take the remote away from him.

Our little exhibitionist loves being naked. He squeals and kicks his feet when he knows he's headed for the bath. He acts silliest when I let him play on the floor or on our bed in just a diaper.

Although he might make a little strange at first, Jacob loves when we have company. Visits from family this month were definitely on his "likes" list!

Challenges: I don't think there's a more delicate way to put this — constipation. Our poor little guy has had a terrible time with digestion over the past month, hence the trip to the doctor last week. In addition to lots of fibre-rich foods and water, we're also using an over-the-counter remedy as directed by our doctor, which seems to be doing the trick. We're so happy that he's feeling much better.

With added mobility come some changes around here. Husband lowered the crib mattress down one notch because Jacob is now able to partly pull himself up on the sides. We've also mounted the video monitor's camera on the wall so its safely out of reach. We'll be in official baby proofing mode soon.

Special moments: Long fits of giggles and belly laughs when Daddy and Jakey chase Muma or I chase after them. Lighting up when Daddy comes home from work. Watching him play happily with special friends, like A. Big open-mouth, slobbery "kisses" and hugs.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

vegan for a week: day 3

I think I'm starting to get the hang of this. Nearly half-way through the week and my food choices are coming more naturally to me.

Thanks so much to all of you who sent along recipe suggestions! Here's one I tried today and I definitely recommend it for your tables.

Vegan Blueberry Pancakes

2 cups flour (I used one cup white and one cup whole wheat)
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil
2 cups soymilk
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
*I also added a tsp. of vanilla extract and a couple Tbsp. of wheat germ.

Mix the dry stuff. Mix the wet stuff. Combine. Grill 'em.

These were delish and hearty. Husband and lovely friend A couldn't tell the difference between these and the pancakes I usually make with cow's milk and eggs.

Choosing to eat vegan for a week has made me really think hard about every little thing I put in my mouth. Revelation: for someone who loves to cook and bake, I rely on prepared foods/snacks/ingredients way too much. I can appreciate the flavours of a salad much more with a simple drizzle of balsamic vinegar mixed with olive oil instead of a rich, sugary, bottled dressing. Instead of buying pasta sauce that already has all kinds added flavours (many of which may be artificial), it's so easy to combine ingredients for a from-scratch version.

Instead of opting for a pre-packaged snack today, I mixed up some simple ingredients for a fresh-tasting treat of my own — raisins, dried apricots, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and almonds.

I also enjoyed some coffee with soy milk, tortilla chips and guacamole, a banana and a sliced apple dipped in peanut butter today.

OK, it's confession time. My supper was not vegan. Not even close. It was vegetarian, but I always eat vegetarian. We had pre-planned to meet another family for dinner at a restaurant tonight. If you eat a veg diet of either sort, you know how hard it is to eat healthy in most restaurants. After a careful review of the menu, I realized my only option would be a garden salad, and as a nursing mother I need more sustenance.

In recent years, many restaurants have started offering more vegetarian options, but I can't imagine eating out as a full-time vegan — it would be mega frustrating. Honestly, I'm disappointed that I had to "cheat" tonight, but I realize that it's pretty hard to quit something cold-tofurkey.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

vegan for a week: day 2

Husband: So I guess this vegan thing means you won't be making cookies this week.
Me: No, I still can. I will just use vegan margarine instead of butter.
Husband: Oh, right.
Me: Well, actually, they can't be chocolate chip cookies, because chocolate contains dairy.
Husband: And what about the eggs?
Me: I can use the egg substitute I've used before. You know, the flax and water.
Husband: Umm ... I don't want cookies anymore.

After that conversation, I'm determined to find a super delicious vegan cookie recipe that Husband's going to love. In the meantime, I've completed another day of my week-long challenge.

I'm realizing that a lot goes into eating vegan. Checking labels isn't as simple as I thought. After a quick search around the web, I realized that there are a lot of sneaky ingredients in food that often contain animal bi-products.

Today wasn't too bad. Bagel with peanut butter, coffee with soy milk and juice for breakfast. A whole wheat veggie and meatless chicken wrap and tortilla chips with hot salsa and guacamole for lunch.

For supper I whipped up some quick and easy pasta sauce — Ragu with green peppers and chicken for Husband, and store-brand tomato sauce with loads of fresh veggies for me. Without thinking though, I grabbed a few slices of frozen ready-made garlic bread from the freezer and toasted it in the oven to accompany our meal. Two bites in I realized ... uh oh, butter. Despite how delicious it tasted, I passed the rest of my bread to Husband.

The things I'm eating so far are pretty basic, but I've found a few vegan recipes to try out. Do you have any recipes to share?

Friday, April 15, 2011

vegan for a week

I've been thinking about doing this for a while. I wrote weeks ago about how our house would be going meat free for Mondays, but given that we had BBQ this past Monday night and Husband had beef burgers, you can tell how well that's going.

So when I woke up this morning, I finally decided to give it a go. One week, totally vegan. Sounds simple enough.

Let me start this post with a confession though. I started writing this on Wednesday. But I caved. We went to a play date, and my friend Heather made delicious looking chocolate chip cookies and I really felt that I couldn't refuse since she made the specially (or at least that's what I told myself). Wednesday = fail. Then I tried to start again yesterday, but let my baby-induced fatigue get the better of me and had a bagel sandwich with cheese on it before I really thought about what I was doing. Thursday = fail.

Now it's Friday and I'm officially taking the plunge. No excuses.

7:45 a.m.: For starters, I pour a cup of coffee and grab the jug of milk from the fridge. Crap. Luckily, lovely sis-in-law C was visiting this weekend and due to her milk allergy, I have soy milk in the fridge. I use the last little bit in the container to lighten my coffee. Guess I'll have to pick some more up or drink my coffee black for the rest of the week. Didn't plan this out so well, did I?

8:00 a.m.: For breakfast, a whole wheat bagel, which according to the ingredients contains no offending products, with Becel vegan margarine. I had the margarine for C's visit, but I could genuinely buy it all the time and not see a difference. I usually buy butter, but that would be clearly breaking the rules this week.

8:10 a.m.: I'm surprised how much thought this actually takes. I was feeding Baby J some yogurt with his breakfast, and normally I would share it with him or finish what he didn't eat. Not this time. I wrapped up the rest and put it in the fridge for him tomorrow.

11:15 p.m.: Time for Muma to have her lunch while the babe is still napping. I mix up a quick salad of baby greens and spinach, cucumber, green pepper, julienne carrots, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries. For a boost of protein, I add a couple chopped meatless chicken strips on top. Oops, can't use the Greek dressing because it has feta in it. I opt for balsamic vinaigrette.

5:10 p.m.: Supper time. BBQ! Many brands of veggie burgers aren't vegan because they contain cheese or other things, but luckily mine make the cut. I made quinoa with garlic as a side. Another satisfying vegan meal down ... nearly 20 more to go.

For the sake of full disclosure, I did do a weigh-in to start this challenge. I'm going to be interested to see if cutting all animal products from my diet is going to help shed these last few baby-weight pounds. I'll keep that number under wraps for now, but I'll give you the honest reveal in a week to see if its changed for the better or worse.

Any vegans out there with tips for me? Do you think you could eat vegan for a week or for good?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

writer's workshop

What do the contents of your handbag/purse “say” about you?

Well, maybe we should define the word handbag. For the past (almost) seven months, my purse has been subbed for a diaper bag. Then in February, my boys bought me a treat for Valentine's Day ...

So now I alternate between an actual diaper bag, my big-ol' Lulu bag, and an actual purse. I'm sure you have a pretty good idea what's in that diaper bag, and my purse usually only contains my wallet and cellphone — when Mama has a chance to go out without diapers, she's gonna go as minimal as possible. So for today's writer's workshop, I'm giving you a fascinating slightly frightening glance into my busting bag.

1) Baby stuff. It's inevitable. A couple diapers, a travel pack of baby wipes, a package of disinfecting wipes for cleaning down public highchair trays and the like, a teether, J's favourite monkey toy and a genius Fisher Price Mom Hook that works like a carabiner to strap my bag to strollers and carts.

2) Me stuff. My little bride bag with make-up must-haves (including Cove Girl mascara, a black eye pencil, MAC mineral powder and blush and Cover Girl cover up), four sticks of lips stuff (including Nivea balm, Burts Bees lip shimmer, Rimmel London sweet jelly gloss and a Bonne Bell Lip Shades that hasn't been on the market in about 10 years but I love the "chocolate frosting" colour so I can't bare to throw it out), a Tide-To-Go pen, dental floss and at least one extra hair elastic at all times.

3) Practical stuff. Wallet, coupon wallet (more about this amazing little find to come!), and three-year-old, $5 Old Navy sunglasses.

4) Misc. stuff. Pens. I'm a writer so I always have about a half a dozen on hand at all times. Also in this category is that little black and yellow implement. It's a multi-use, purse screw driver! I got it from my Mum in my stocking this year and it's already come in handy a few times.

5) Reading material. This changes from time to time. Right now I'm toting a copy of The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship by Lisa Verge Higgins.

I'm also realizing there are a few items missing here, including my cellphone and my keys. These are the items I misplace most often too. Go figure.

So what does all this stuff say about me? I'm definitely a multi-tasker. Do you cast any judgements based on what I carry around all day? What is the most useful/weirdest item in your bag?

Read more writer's workshop entries here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

project in progress

At any given moment, I've got a couple dozen projects floating around in my head. Surprised? I didn't think so. There's one popular concept all over blogs I love, and I've been dying to try it: gallery walls.




I love the idea of a collection to represent our family. I'd like to update it over time to include school photos, artwork from our kid(s), and old or new family photos. For example, in the first edition of our gallery wall, I'd like to include J-mans hand and foot prints.

So I'm keeping my eyes peeled for unique frames and small art pieces to build a collection for our hallway. I also don't want to spend a bundle, so I've been scoping out Value Village and Frenchy's. Any idea where else I could look for stuff like this?

Monday, April 11, 2011

not me monday

I would never just make up words to kid songs instead of looking up the actual lyrics.

So, on a recent road trip, I was belting out my custom lyrics to The Ants Go Marching to Jacob in the back seat, as Husband drove and watched us from the rear-view mirror. When we got to seven, I didn't sing out:

The ants go marching seven by seven! Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching seven by seven! Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching seven by seven,
If you add three, then you have eleven!
And they all go marching down to the ground to get out of the rain!
Boom Boom Boom Boom! Boom Boom Boom Boom!

Husband did not give me a wide-eyed look from the rear-view mirror and bust out laughing.

Me: Whattt? So, I make up my own lyrics, what's the big deal?!
Him: Really?
Me: Anddd ...?
Him: Seven plus three. Eleven? Really?
Me: Oh ...

Oopsie ... that sucks.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

weekend round-up

  • For the second weekend in a row, Husband and I actually found time to watch a movie (Shutter Island ... pretty good!). I think we're getting used to sleep deprivation this parenting thing.
  • We're finally back into a comfortable sleeping schedule around here. And it feels so good. I dare not say more about it for fear of jinxing us completely.
  • We went for a lovely family walk at a near-by park on Sunday. I'm using it to kick-start some serious exercising (coupled with healthy eating, of course). Jacob and I got out for a two-hour walk/run yesterday, followed by lots of errands this morning, which if you've ever lugged around a 20-pounder in a car seat, you know is a work out in itself.
  • Finished most of the remainder of the spring cleaning. In my frenzy of scrubbing, I also rearranged the living room furniture, and Husband and I sat down and finally worked out a detailed monthly budget to start saving more aggressively. Organization in our home and in our wallets = so satisfying.

try it tuesday


On a recent trip to Walmart with friends A and D, we were on the hunt for some good glass cleaner for car windows. D asked one of the associates in the service centre for his recommendation, and he said the best thing to use is one cup of vinegar mixed with a gallon of water and use newspaper instead of paper towel. Easy enough, and we didn't have to spend $6.50 a can on the special car-window foam.

Instead of mixing such a high volume, I did the math went to Google and figured out that there are 16 cups in a gallon ... so here are my smaller ratios:

1 cup vinegar: 16 cups water
1/2 cup vinegar: 8 cups water
1/4 cup vinegar: 4 cups water

You're welcome.

So I mixed it up, filled an empty spray bottle and went to work. In sake of real science, I used the homemade recipe to clean one of our front windows, and Windex to clean the other.

There's nothing streak-free about that shine. This is the water and vinegar window. I scrubbed and wiped with the newspaper and it just didn't absorb the excess like paper towel.

Admittedly, Windex worked much better. The downside to the paper towel is the white lint dust that's left over.

So I did a little switcheroo, using the homemade solution with paper towel, which seems like a reasonable compromise, no?

So the moral of the story, use the vinegar you already have in the cupboard instead of spending money on brand-name, chemical glass cleaner. Not only am I saving my pennies, but I have the added peace-of-mind of knowing that any left-over residue on the glass or window sills is completely safe for little fingers.

Monday, April 4, 2011

the current

listening adele.
eating homemade bran muffins.
drinking more and more water.
wearing all pre-pregnancy clothes.
feeling content.
weather face-warming sun.
wanting a proper weekend sleep-in.
needing to fill the propane tank to kick off bbq season.
thinking non-stop.
enjoying warmer weather.
creating prose and paper crafts.
pondering what life will bring after the summer.
loving quiet, cuddly moments with my boy.
anticipating beach days.

discovered here and here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

getting my craft on

Oh, how I missed crafting! As of late, my projects are more of the baby-food-making, diaper-changing, wheels-on-the-bus-singing variety. This project has sparked my creativity though, and I have a feeling that this little blog is going to be seeing much more crafty action.

This wreath is not going to end up on my front door like I had originally planned — it's not exactly weather-proof and it doesn't coordinate with our red door. But I must admit, this is one of my favourite projects to date, and probably the cheapest.

It all started with this wreath for $1.99 from Value Village.

I decided to cover it with yarn. Seemed silly to buy anymore supplies when I've got all kinds of stuff in all kinds of crafty totes and drawers. I picked the chunkiest yarn I had, and it was dark grey.

It took a while to wind it around and around the wreath. I cut long lengths of yarn and did it in small sections, hot gluing the ends until it was totally covered.

Then it was time to embellish my fuzzy little wreath. First, I ripped strips of fabric.

I twisted and wound the fabric into tight spirals, using hot glue on the back to keep everything in place, to create these little fleurs.

Wait for it ... Ta da!

I love the yellow and grey! Now I just need to find a place for it in my house. My first attempt at fabric flowers turned out better than I evert would've expected. I'm going to be slapping these babies on projects of all sorts ... oh, the possibilities!

Friday, April 1, 2011

scrub a dub dub

I made a self-imposed April 1st deadline for my spring cleaning to-do list ... Guess I'm the April fool.

1) Clean windows inside and out. Done! And there's a stimulating Try It Tuesday coming your way about this. Get excited.

2) Wipe down walls. Done! I used Kirkland wipes from Costco to buff around door knobs and light switches. It's one of those little things that I'm sure Husband most people won't notice, but it makes me feel better.

3) Scour both bathrooms. I tried, but we have some seriously stubborn soap scum happening in our tub. The all-natural cleaner I have isn't doing the job. I'm going to have to bring in reinforcements. Do you know of any DIY solutions to help?

4) Deep clean the kitchen. To do. I swamped out the old food, but the inside of the fridge still needs to be cleaned. The floor is in need of a good scrub, too.

5) Flip all mattresses and change bedding. I washed the quilt on the spare bed and our alternate quilt for our bed. I haven't had the heart to pack up our fluffy, snuggly duvet just yet. Mattresses have yet to be flipped.

How's your spring cleaning list coming along?