Dec 3, 2010

Seasonal Celebrations, and Wreaths

We started off the holiday season by decorating gingerbread cookies. I have to admit I didn't really bake these from scratch, I bought one of those "just add butter and water" PC packaged cookie mixes, since Elizabeth convinced me to, and I really didn't see myself baking much from scratch for the holidays. I love to cook. Baking....not so much. The thing about baking is that things always have to LOOK pretty, and I just don't have the patience for it. The other thing is I have no will power and I eat it all within two days, even if I put most away in the freezer. A frozen cookie tastes just as good as a cookie straight from the oven in my opinion. Therefore, I just don't bake. Mason. I think he looks a lot like my Mom here....
We had a little last minute birthday party for Elizabeth. At Morgan's request, we made Frootloop necklaces.
Here is me looking bossy and telling the kids what to do. We are playing the "pass the gift around and unwrap a layer game". And I'm a brunette now....
I found time to fit in a tiny project. I found two of these old wreaths last year at Homesense in the clearance bin.....
for 0.70 cents each! They were sprayed an interesting gold....
They were missing quite a few pine cones, though on a recent trip to Banff with one of my best friends Andrea and her bf, we went to the park with the kids and we collected some pine cones. Why didn't we just collect some in our backyard you may ask? Because there are no trees in Alberta....
This picture is terrible, but I sprayed them with a can of deep red (looks almost black here) I had in the basement. And this is the begining of the wreaths in our home.
Morg sat down one day and asked me "do you know we have 11 wreaths on our main floor alone? " Oops. I don't know what it is about a wreath, but I really just love them. The circular shape, the fact that each wreath has a theme, the fact that you can find one to fit ANY theme. They are my favorite (I guess besides the tree) way to decorate for the holidays.
And since we have no fireplace, the swags of fresh greenery found a place on our armoire.... These little sparkly wreaths are from the dollar store last year, and so is the ribbon.
Smallish/mediumish wreaths on our pantry door....
The front door wreath.
The end. Hope everyone is enjoying the seasonal festivities so far!

Oct 26, 2010

Anniversary Getaway

A couple weeks ago we celebrated a late 6th wedding Anniversary, thanks to Morg's mom who kindly took care of our kids while we were away. We were married in July though we decided to wait until the fall to experience the Banff Springs Hotel. It was the perfect season to spend a romantic getaway. I only wish we had waited a couple more weeks though, since the Christmas decorations in the hotel were due to be set up in November, and that. would. have. been. DREAMY. We spent an entire day at the hotel Spa. It was bliss. There were mineral pools and outdoor hottubs in the Spa, to which we had access all day, as well as free snacks our whole visit. I pulles this picture from the internet since we weren't allowed any phones or cameras in the Spa, since it would "ruin the tranquility".....
In the elevator.
There were so many rooms to explore in this huge hotel. I thought it was very strange that most of them were not really being used, and felt kind of like a museum. We kept thinking, "our kids would LOVE to run around here and explore". Next time we'll bring them...maybe.
You could find old antique wood furniture ALL over the hotel, lining every wall.
I REALLY wanted to take something home. There is no way they needed all that furniture.
I want this one - and a can of white paint.
View from our room.
This is our spa-like bathroom.
We spent most of our time in pools - both indoor and outdoor. This was an amazingly warm pool outside. We had woken up to snow that morning and we down to the outdoor pool and were surrounded by snow covered mountains.
Someday we will definately go back.

Oct 12, 2010

A Day at the Farm

This Thanksgiving was pretty special. We were lucky enough to spend it with friends and family the whole time. On Saturday, Morgan's Uncle Richard and Aunt Bev were kind enough to have us hang out at their farm almost all day. Morg's Mom and Dad were there, as well as Linda, and Christine and her family also. The kids had a ball and the day was definately a memorable one. Grandma Lorna picking wheat in the prairie fields to bring home for decoration.
"Oh Morgan, put that away!"
Hide and Go Seek games never get boring, especially on a farm.
After a long day in the sun, we found Elizabeth hiding/sleeping in the back of a tractor in the barn.
Who gets to ride horses all day? No one where we come from. It was dreamy to watch the kids get this opportunity.
Okay so not everyone enjoyed it. Mason needs to muster up the courage for next time.
We enjoyed a hot dog roast lunch, and anxiously discussing Linda's wedding plans.
The men enjoyed discussing other things.
Grandma Lorna showed us how it's done.
My first time on a real horse.
So proud of her! She climbed right on the huge animal without a second thought, and didn't look back. Go Elizabeth! I think for her, Heaven would be riding horses all day long.
Cousins playing in the treehouse. There is so much to do on a farm!!!
Checking out the stables. Morg's mom told us a really amazing story about how her Mom (this is the farm that Morgan's mom and siblings grew up on) woke up in the middle of the night and since she couldn't go back to sleep she felt prompted to take the pigs a bucket of water. When she got to the barn a small fire had started from a heat lamp keeping the pigs warm, and she was able to put the fire out with her bucket of water. If it had been minutes later the barn would have gone up in flames.
Farm bums.
On Sunday we enjoyed a feast in Lethbridge and on Monday we had Morg's police partner and her girlfriend over for another turkey dinner at our house. My spread never tastes as delicious as my mom's or my mother-in-law's, but I enjoyed preparing it and with a few more years practice maybe I'll get things just right.

Sep 30, 2010

Nutrition From Our Kitchen

My blog posts have not been too consistent these days, both in frequency and content. Today's is no different. Since the beginning of this year our family has been making bigger efforts to eat healthy, excercise more and to really learn about how different foods affect our bodies. Lately with the change of season, we've started new goals and tried new things in the kitchen, which have both been inspiring me lately, and I guess the result is this seemingly random post.
Every so often I enjoy blog cruising for helpful tips for moms and families. I really appreciate coming across a really great idea and I love that people take the time to share them. It seems that at this time of year, I am finding more and more ways to use those cans of cooked pumkin that have been in my pantry for a year. Yay!
I wanted to take the time to sit and write down a couple of our family's favorites, and possibly pay forward some of the helpful information that I've read. All of which, are our attempts at getting our family to eat healthy and properly as much as possible. None of these ideas are new, they just seem to work for us.
Healthy attempt #1: Sprinkles on yogurt.
My daughter has so many allergies (peanuts, milk, eggs, that we know of...) that cooking for her and finding nutritious alternatives has been a challenge for me since the she took her first bite of rice cereal and broke out in a rash. She has not minded soy yougurt as a dairy alternative, though she certainly doesn't love it, and pushes it away half the time. I can't take credit for the idea of adding sprinkles - I read it in Jerry Seinfield wife's cook book (Deceptively Delicious - I HIGHLY recommend) and Elizabeth took to it right away and was finishing her bowls of yogurt in record time.
Healthy attempt #2: Oatmeal Ice Cream Cones
I thought I was pretty clever for thinking of this, but later found out that my sister in-law does this as well, haha. For lunch, our kids love an ice cream cone filled with oatmeal (not the individual packs filled with sugar....) mixed with some honey and cinnamon. They also love a few added blueberries on top for decoration. Today at the grocery store I picked up pink kiddy cones and Elizabeth asked for seconds.
Healthy attempt #3: Healthier (and secretive) ways to add flavour, sweetness and nurtition.
Fresh Grated Ginger: adds a really nice flavour to lots of things for kids - cooked apples, steamed sweet potatoes, etc. We (and by we, I mean Mason and I) like adding fresh grated ginger to morning fruit smoothies. I used to never have ginger on hand and now I always have some in the fridge since there are so many things you can add it too. Bonus, ginger aids in digestion and is a natural metabolism booster for us adults. SWEET.
Cinnamon: YUM. One of my daughter's favorite supper side dishes is boiled sweet potatoes with spinkled cinnamon. Adding only half a teaspoon for flavour can help normalize blood sugar levels. Too much insulin encourages our bodies to store fat, so for any adult who is looking to lose a few extra pounds (aren't we all), cinnamon can help, haha!
Another great sweetning alternative to sugar is Honey (honey boots our immune system with bacteria fighting and anti-fungal compounds). Of course honey is beneficial in moderation, since it is still pretty high in calories per tablespoon...however Elizabeth has it everyday on peabutter and toast (yes, PEAbutter, not peanut butter...) for breakfast and on her oatmeal at lunch which is most days....oops I guess that's not moderation.
Cooked fruit: My parents were here not too long ago and my mom made a really great dessert. She sliced up a bunch of summer fruits (peaches, white nectarines and plums - with skins) and put them all in a frying pan. She covered them with a lid and simmered/lightly cooked them for about half an hour. The fruits produced a delicious natural juice, and LOTS of it, and together the cooked fruit and syropy thick juice made a really great summer dessert. You could eat it alone, or you could add a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, like we did :) oops.
Healthy attempt #4: Leaving fresh veggies around the house and NOT asking your kids to eat them.
I've read it before, it's nothing new, but I am discovering it actually works. I try not to feed the kids snacks after lunch, so they are purposely REALLY hungry for dinner. We leave out chopped celery and carrot sticks in a bowl sitting on the counter or table around 5pm and the kids start helping themselves. They can spoil their dinner all they want on vegetables. The key I've found is to get them really hungry though - otherwise they aren't tricked.
Healthy attempt #5: Soups.
Morg and I spent most of our summer eating variations of salads. It started getting boring when the weather started changing, so we turned to soups. I have hardly ever cooked soups before, though this year we are eating soups almost every second night. My favorite so far is a recipe I found in Oxygen's (I think it's a magazine only sold in Canada) Nutrition issue. I have made it probably 7 times already, and each time I tripple the recipe. I have tried a few different variations of vegetables but these are my favorite proportions:
2tsp trans-fat-free margarine
1 cup chopped leeks
2 stalks chopped celery
2 inches fresh gingerroot, grated
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1.5 pounds chopped carrots
1. on medium-high heat hear in a large non-stick skillet, add margarine, onion, celery, gingerroot and pepper and salt. Saute for 10 minutes Avoid browning.
2. While sauteing vegetables, in a large pot add broth, carrots, parsley. Cover and bring to boil. While boiling, add saute mixture and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes, until carrots are soft.
3. I use my hand blender to puree the soup, though you could use a regular blender just as well. Blend until smooth and creamy.
I spent the first portion of Elizabeth's life just trying to get her to eat anything, and now that she is an active almost-4-year-old who is liking food a lot more, I am trying to focus on her getting the right foods. Mason is my meat and potatoes kid, and so if he will one day willingly pick up a piece of celery and eat the whole thing, I will have accomnplished my goal! So, at the risk of this being a totally boring post (I have a feeling I will probably wake up in the morning and say "why did I write all that?"), I guess I wanted to record some of the things that are inspiring us in our family, and to say I love reading the wealth of information available on all the blogs out there about tips for family nutrition.
Nighty Night!

Sep 8, 2010

Pink Side Table and Heritage Park

I found this little girly side table at a garage sale a few weeks ago for $5.00. It was a soft yellow which I actually liked but I did not appreciate the gold accents on the leafy details. Even though Elizabeth's room is very lavender, she has bright punches of fusia in her mermaid quilt, so I was thinking soft pink. I knew that there was a shortage of softer spray paint colours in our local department stores, so I was prepared to maybe have to foam roller this one and buy a small can of paint if I wanted the right colour. When I found nothing on the shelves I asked the paint clerk if they would ever order in any nicer spray paint colours and he said "we have some pink behind the counter you can just have". So he gave me 2 cans of Rustoleum "candy pink" for free (which they no longer carry). Woohoo! The colour is still a bit more vibrant than I was imagining but since he handed me about $12 worth of free paint I figured it was now the perfect colour haha! A first coat of Rustoleum Plastic Spray Paint in white is what I always use as my primer. I will never use anything other than that to prime any piece of furniture. I've tried many primers on many different surfaces and no matter how much I sand and prep, it never sticks properly. With the plastic spray you don't have to do a thing, just maybe wipe the dust off of it.
No more gold leafies.
I thought it was sort of neat how it opened like an oven. Maybe someday this'll actually transform into a kids play oven haha.
My parents also came to visit for a week and this was taken right before my cousin's wedding.
Mom and Dad took the kids on a horse wagon ride at Heritage Park.
Outside a home that was built in the 1890ish ( I think she said...). The homes were so fun and interesting to look at, I could walk through them all day.
Just getting off a real early 1900's carousel.
Now fall is here in full swing and the kids are planning their halloween costumes already. I'm not sure how I'm going to survive the winter without bikes. Our kids live in bikes. Heaven help me!