Sunday, September 27, 2009

Easy Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, chopped
  • 4 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 4 cups veg. chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups milk

1. combine all ingredients except cheese, butter, milk and parsley
2. cook on low for 8 to 10 hours until vegetables are tender
3. stir in butter and cheese until melted - cook for an additional 30 mins
4. serve with fresh parsley sprinkled on top

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Finger Paint

Most commercial brands of finger paint are expensive and who knows what goes in them. Instead as an alternative you can make some at home.

I tried this recipe today:

1/2 cup cornstarch
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups cold water
food coloring


In a medium pan, mix all the ingredients together to make the finger paint. Cook over low heat 10 to 15 minutes. Keep stirring the finger paint mixture until it is smooth and thick. After the finger paint has thickened take the pan off the stove and let the mixture cool.

After cooling, divide the finger paint into storage containers depending on how many colors you would like. Add a few drops of food coloring to each container. Seal and shake to mix in color. Cover tightly when storing.

Normally I would caution against using food coloring in a recipe as many food dyes are controversial when it come to your health; however I think making your own paint and knowing what goes into it outweighs this concern.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Beding, sheets and pillow cases

As Christophe gets older I find the need to scrutinize more and more things we buy for him (and us for that matter). A few years ago if I needed new bed sheets I would have looked for 100% cotton sheets with a 200+ thread count in a color that matches the decor of the room they are for. (We currently have beige and red in our room bought under these guidelines almost 3 years ago now)

Today now that I am a more savvy stay at home mom I need to add a few more criteria to this list - so now we are looking for:
  • 100% cotton
  • 200+ thread count
  • Neutral color
  • Organic
  • no flame retardants
  • Fair trade (optional)
Now why you may say well here goes:


We like cotton the best in our house: it's a natural fiber; it's soft; it's washer and dryer safe. Their are many other natural fibers out there such as silk and hemp. I find hemp is not that soft and well silk kills thousands of little worms to make your sheets and not the most practical to wash. There are also some not so natural but claiming to be natural fibers out their such as bamboo - for more info read this great article from Inhabitat.


When you get sheets you want to make sure you get good quality sheets something that will last well this is where thread count (tc) comes in. Thread count refers to the number of threads, both vertical and horizontal, in a one-inch square of fabric. With my experience I find the more you have the stronger your fabric is and the softer the fabric is. This is not the only determining factor for these but a good guide. For example we got 400 tc once and really hated the sheets. So open the package and touch them first.

I used to buy sheets in some sort of fun color to match my room and often I would end up getting rid of them before they ripped whether because I got tired of them or I changed the decor and they did not match anymore. Now we only buy unbleached or natural sheets that way all our sheets match, you don't have to worry about matching pillowcases and so one. Also no matter the decor of your room the sheets will go with it. A plus to natural sheets is they give you that hotel feel when you slip into bed.

ORGANIC (or Unconventinaly grown)

For thousands of years cotton was grown organicly and then in the 1950s pestisides came along and revolutionised the cotton industry for the worst (according to me). Cotton became more plentiful and cheep while our enviroment and health was placed at risk. Pesticides have been linked to many health issues and enviromental issues. Some of these are: fertility problems; sensory, motor, mental and psychological effects; farmers or a gardener run a greater risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease; Effects on learning; links to cancer... All you have to do is google pestisdes and effects on your health and you will find thousands of articles.

You have to keep in mind that cotton is the most heavily sprayed crop on the planet; "twenty-five percent of all insecticide is applied to cotton. Two hundred chemicals might be applied to a single plant in one season in the United States. This translates to a third of a pound of chemicals per pound of cotton fiber. One and a quarter pounds of agricultural chemicals are used in California to produce the conventionally grown cotton in a single set of queen-sized sheets."1

Buying organic cotton products can have a large impact on the enviroment - for the positive.


We cover everything that is man mad in flame retardants so it does not go poof if their is a fire. When the easiest solution is to surround yourself in natural fibers with no chemicals so they don't go poof if their is a fire. Flame retardants are bad when it comes to close contact with you; now don't get me wrong I think their are places where flame retardants are required but my bed sheets is not one of them.

Why are flame retardants bad? "Health Effects related to Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs): Brain and nervous system, Reproduction and fertility, Persistent and bioaccumulative, Neurotoxin; brain damage."2


I put fair trade as optional because well, we all know fair trade is better because it garentees that the workers making our product are treated fairly and paid proper wadges. I would love to only buy items that are fair trade. However sometimes an item that meets all my other requirements will be $50 and an equivalant item that is fair trade will be $75. Most times we can justify paying more but sometimes we just can afford to do so.

The perfect sheets according to me that is...

So when we needed to get some bedding for Christophe both for his crib and now his toddler bed we looked arround at what was readily available here in Toronto that met our critarias and ended up on going with Coyuchi. These meet all of my critarias and I can get them at 2 stores that are within walking distance from my house: Kids on the Hip and Grassroots.

Depending on where you shop a fitted crib sheet will cost you about $45CND; a fitted twin sheet $80CND; and a fitted king sheet $105CND. These are well worth it we used our crib sheets for about a year and washed them once every 2 weeks and they still look like new.

1. Source Coyuchi
2. Source EWG

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Music Class for babies and toddlers - Music for Life

Once again Christophe and I have enrolled in our music class with our good friend Eva. This is her 3rd session I believe and she is doing something right because each time we pass her house Christophe wants to go in whether or not the class is running that day.

Sometimes I wonder if he is getting anything out of it because he will sit for half the class then take of running - but that is the great thing about this setting Eva is OK with that. As long as your child is around music that is all that matters. However when we pass by her house and Christophe starts crying because he wants to go to class and I told him their is no class today - I know he must be getting something out of this.

I have been to various baby music classes and circle times but their is something special about Eva's classes, I think it's her kind hearted nature and awesome mothering that comes true in her classes. Each class is structured with it's own theme and follows a basic outline. We sing some songs, we play instruments, we dance to Eva playing the fiddle them we sing some more songs. Christophe particularly likes the fiddle and dancing. I think that is because of his spirited behavior.

Last session I met a few of my blog readers there and it was great; hopefully I might see a few more of you again this time around.

Oh almost forgot one of the best things about Music for life is the cost per class is probably one of the best deals you will find in Toronto.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Breastfeeding Challenge 2009

If you live in Toronto come join me at the Breastfeeding Challenge 2009.

Date: October 3rd 2009
Time: Registration 9:30AM
Location: Rosedale Heights School of the Arts, 711 Bloor Street East (Castle Frank Subway)