Friday, April 30, 2010

How to make glue...

How To Make Glue

When I was a kid we pretty much never bought glue my mom or memere would make it for us,  they used to just mix a bit of water with flour and that was it.  I wanted to find a recipe that I could make ahead of time and store.

Today I whiped up a batch; here is the recipe.

1/2 cup white flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup water

Mix all the ingredients until smooth with a whisk; then heat on low siring until desired consistency is reached.  Pour into an airtight container. 

This will make white glue that will dry transparent.  For the little ones that have a hard time understanding where the glue is you can add a few tablespoons of sparkles or some food coloring to make a more fun version of glue.  The sparkles or color help the little ones understand where the glue is on the page; also when they decide to use the glue as paint all is not lost you still have a work of art.

I will let you know if it goes bad before we go threw all of it...

Now That we Have Glue

C Monster spent parts of the day working on a mobile.  I collect various pieces from the recycling and we painted them green this morning.  Using the last bits of our store bought paint - so I guess I will be trying some paint recipes soon.  After they were dried C Monster and Grandma used the sparkly glue to attaches various ornamentation.  Once everything is dry we will turn it into a mobile for his room.

Looking Forward To

To my parents arriving - I think I said this before but I am really looking forward to it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Randome Images

Chilling with E Monster before Music Class

For what seemed like forever C Monster would not take his vitamins however recently the tides have changed.  He is so cute I tell him "ouvre ta bouche come un petit oiseau" (Open wide like a little bird) and he just opens up and lets us give him his drops.

During a visit to grandma C monster wanted a little cave to be built with pillows; he then fell asleep in this cave.

I just love this image Geoff took of see during an early morning walk.

C Monster practicing his career as a door man.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Peanut Butter 4 All - Part 2

About a week ago I went on a Nut Butter kick and a new household favorite waffle recipe came out of it.

I love making waffles I find they are easier to make then pancakes and you can freeze the extras and just pop them in the toaster like a Eggo to heat them.  Best of all C Monster will eat pretty much no matter what I hide in them.  Such a sneaky mom I am.

The original recipe was from Global Gourmet and was called Peanut Butter Waffles. As always I changed it up a bit here is the recipe I came up with:

Almond Butter Waffles

 1 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
 2 tbsp. baking powder
 1 tbsp. panella or brown sugar
 1/4 tsp. salt
 2 large eggs
 4 tablespoons canola oil
 2/3 cup almond butter
 1-3/4 cups milk
 2 banana, diced
 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1. Heat the waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions. In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
2. In a separate bowl, using a whisk or with an electric mixer on low speed, beat the eggs, oil, almond butter, and milk until foamy, about 1 minute. Pour the peanut butter-milk mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened and smooth. Fold in the diced banana.
3. cook as per your waffle iron's directions

4. Enjoy with real maple syrup

Looking Forward Too

Crossing all the items off my to do list... (it's getting long :-)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Baby on Passport Application?

 I recently sent this letter to our government...

"Hello Mr. Layton,

I was recently informed by INFACT Canada that the new child's application package for a canadian passport has an image of a baby bottle on it.  I find this alarming for many reasons:

- it's portrays that in Canada the norm for feeding babies is by formula; when in contrary Public Health recommends exclusive breastfeeding until the age of 6 months and there after for breastfeeding relationship to continue as a compliment to solid foods until the child out grows the need.

-any image of a bottles can help sway a mother that is having difficulties getting breastfeeding off to a good start to turn to formula instead of seeking help to establish her breastfeeding relationship with her child.

- Passport are for one to be able to travel outside of this country and should not be associated in any shape with baby bottles, formula or breast-feeding.  

-Baby bottles are typically linked in ones mind to formula (not pumped breast milk); by putting this image on our Passport Application the government ends up promoting (for free to the large formula companies) formula feeding.

To finish here is are a few points I am highlighting from the International Code of Marketing of
Breast-milk Substitutes by the WHO.

 "Appreciating that there are a number of social and economic factors affecting
breast-feeding, and that, accordingly, governments should develop social support
systems to protect, facilitate and encourage it, and that they should create an
environment that fosters breast-feeding, provides appropriate family and community
support, and protects mothers from factors that inhibit breast-feeding; "

"Affirming the need for governments, organizations of the United Nations
system, nongovernmental organizations, experts in various related disciplines,
consumer groups and industry to cooperate in activities aimed at the improvement of
maternal, infant and young child health and nutrition; "

I would also like to point out article 5.1 of the code:

"5.1 There should be no advertising or other form of promotion to the general public
of products within the scope of this Code. "

The products the code talk about are breastmilk and bottle-feeding - I believe placing an image of a baby bottle on an application for a passport becomes a direct violation of this code and the WHO.  I encourage you take the time to read the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and come to your own decision on this subject.

Thank you.

from a concerned member of your contingency,

Pierrette Wiseman
mom to Christophe

Check out my family blog:"

Friday, April 23, 2010

Where have I been?

If anyone wonders where have I been the answer is in my back yard working.  I think it's been over 3 weeks now since I have been to the park or a "drop in" in the morning.  Don't get me wrong we still make it out in the afternoon or after supper to the park - C Monster is not totally being neglected for the back yard.  Also he really loves playing and "helping me" in the back yard.

So the day is finally here I get to plant grass today or tomorrow.  and then C Monster is banned from the back yard for 3-4 weeks to let the grass take.

You ask what did we do?

A Box for the Garden

The first thing was to build a small box around our vegetable garden.  We just built the the wall 2 4x4 high and only along one side and the bottom of the garden.  This was really just to help the dirt stay in garden - it also ended up helping us ensure our garden fence is installed straight.

I had a hard time deciding what to do about this wall and how to build it; see we live in an area that is of concern for termites.  I looked at stone and brick but the cost was much more then we wanted in invest; that left wood.  I started researching wood and pressure treated wood. Non-pressure treated wood is really not recommended for use in the ground especially if you know that termites like your area already.  There are a few exotic wood that you can use but most of them are from virgin rain forest half way across the world.  Knowing all that I started looking at pressure treated wood.  Their are 2 kinds of pressure treayed wood available on the market CCA and ACQ.  CCA is the traditional pressure treated wood that hear all the bad stories about the chemicals used and ACQ is a new alternative that does not contain any chemicals that the EPA considers of concern to the environment and humans.  I am not going to go any greater detail but here are 2 website with loads of information.

Does Pressure-Treated Wood Belong in Your Garden?

Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA): ACQ - An Alternative to CCA

We were able to find ACQ wood both at Home Depot and Parliament Building Supplies.  I have to note that Home Depot had no clue what I was talking about and I have to call the mill that their wood is from directly to get the information; however Parliament Building Supplies informed me that they only carry ACQ wood.

Home for the Edemama

The next step was making a home for our Edemama, I decided this year to plant along the neighbors fence in addition to our vegetable garden.  This looks beautiful and also gives us a little more food.  I purchased a small border that matches our fence - this is to keep the #1 predator for our plants out - C Monster. This year I am also planning on doing companion garden; so in this patch we are also planting our lettuce and spinach.  

I also found these great spirals to use instead of wooden steaks.  I prefer medal instead of wood; as much as wood is sustainable because it will biodegrade I find I can only use my wood steaks for one or 2 years and after that they are dead.  These ones are sure to last many many years.  

Patio Stones for the BBQ & a Place to Rest
Next step was a home for the BBQ, for 5 years now the BBQ has just stood in dirt...  I spent time on Craig's List trying to score some patio slabs for free but was unsuccessful so we ended up buying some. We just got whatever was the cheapest per square foot - they are under the BBQ so who really cares what they look like. 
I also rejigged the stones we had placed last year at the foot of the tree.  I placed all our outdoor decorations up - the bench; some glass balls; lights; flower pots.

Finally we Have a Walk Way 
Last night I picked up some "fake" flagstone.  They are made from concrete.  We laided them down as stepping stones. You can't really see them well in this image because of the dirt but they are installed and we have a walk way once again.  We took out the old walk when we bought the house 8 years ago and since them well had noting. Last thing left is too plant the grass.


Looking forward to

Relaxing in the back yard while C Monsters plays in the grass.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day 2010

So today is Earth Day; I will admit we did not do anything different today then other days.  I really don't feel I need to - when Christophe is a little older I plan on maybe marking the day with a fun craft or something but nothing else.  For me Earth Day is everyday; don't get me wrong I think celebrating the planet is good and it also helps bring awareness to living "green".

So what did we do today that was "green"
  • Organic food for breakfast, lunch and supper
  • "Carpooled" to Sports Ball (since Geoff had to take the car today anyways he dropped us off on his way)
  • Brought my own shopping bags for my errands today
  • Walked home after Sports Ball
  • Kept all the lights in the house off during the day (sunshine is more then enough to light your house)
  • Made "green" purchases for the things I needed to get today (food and sandals)
  • Breastfed
  • Brought a reusable water bottle for both me and C Monster (his had juice) and when it was smoothy time got them to place it in our bottles instead of cups.
  • Ate an organic lunch at the Big Carrot (very eco-conscious store)
  • Used cloth diapers and G-Diapers
  • Used non-toxic cleaners and beauty products
I think I could go on forever but I will stop now...

Did you celebrate Earth Day or did anything special today?

El Natura Lista - My new sandals
I have had the same pair of Birkenstock since C Monster has been born and well I walk a lot so they are pretty much dead.  I will probably get about half a summer out of them maybe a bit longer.  I had been on the lookout for new sandals something that is comfortable, fashionable, funky and well eco-friendly if possible.  It's hard to find leather footwear that is also eco-friendly at least in part because many people think leather itself is not "green".  I don't fully disagree with them but when it comes to sandals if they are not leather I can never "break them in" and they never stop giving me blisters.  (I will also admit that one of my not so green likes is leather, I do own things made from leather including and not limited to furniture, clothing and shoes).

After looking for over a month for some sandals I found a pair at a locale shoe store Balisi; they met all the criteria but I was not familiar whit the designer - El Natura Lista. Since I had already given up on finding eco-friendly sandals that i liked I bought them.  However the name gave me hope that these were a eco-conscious company.

Guess what they are a eco-consious company here are some of the things they boost about on their web site.

"We use natural materials  
We avoid using polluting substances and toxic products
We seek to protect the environment
We maximize the use of biodegradable and recyclable/recycled materials
We pay fair compensation to providers and employees
We promoted traditional forms of production
We support the use of appropriate new technologies
We operate with corporate transparency"
Image from El Natura Lista
Dead Animals - stinky
So what do you do when you find a dead animal?  We got to discover this joy earlier this week.  C Monster and Aunt Lisa where playing in the lane behind our house when she pointed out what looked like a raccoon that had been deceased for at least a 6 months or so.  He was hidden by a pile of leafs.  we mad sure C Monster did not notice it and kept him clear from the area.  Lisa suggested I called Toronto Animal Services (416-338-7197) and she was right within an hour they were here to bag and remove the stinky poor little fellow.  I have to say I was impressed with their response time; it's nice to see that the animal owner fees we pay them go to good use.
La Leche League International Turns 50  

Looking Forward To
Eating my tummy is growling :-)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April is Almost Gone

I can not bealive it's already April 21st.  April is a big month around here, you have garden prep, spring cleaning, my dad's birthday, my mom's birthday, my best-friend Lisa's birthday, my father-in law's birthday, this April also marked the one-year anniversary since my grandmother passed away.

Remembering Grand-memere

I am so glade that Christophe had a chance to meet his grand-memere it's not everyone that get to do this.  I think grand-memere was even more excited then me when she got to meet Christophe for the first time in 2008.  I always feared that she would never get to meet any of my kids; I am not sure as to why but it was important to me for her to be able to see me as a mother.  I think it might be because I learned so much from her as I was growing up - she is the one that showed me how to sow and hem; to garden; to cook; to make simple games for play; to clean house; to love unconditionally.  All traits that help shape and define me as a mother (ok maybe no sowing - I would love to have more time to do this) on top of all the traits that my own mother passed on.

She also though me to reach for the sky and that no matter what you can accomplish anything. She is a published author. She tough me to speak my mind to be honest and do what feels right to me for my son and not what others are necessarily doing.

She touched everyone that come in her life; and excepted everyone as they were.

As much as I try not to mourn on death - as I am certain grand-memere would not want me to, but I can't help but think of her this month a little more then I normally.  Honestly I think of her almost everyday; she is with me all the time in every little thing I create with my hands.

Christophe knows who she is by image only and I think he even understands that he can not see her anymore.  I sometimes ask him "ou est grand-memere?" (where is grand-memere?) and he points to her portrait in our living room and says "bye bye" or other times just points.

Thank you Yvon for painting this...

Looking Forward To

Seeing my family in a few weeks...

Peanut Butter 4 All

Over the last few weeks I tried a bunch of new recepies but the 2 that stand out the most are Peanut Butter Waffles and Peanut Butter Cupcakes.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

I made these for the moms group that I hosted last Friday - they were a hit with both moms, kids and dads. These are not crazy healthy but the nut butter, flax seeds and whole wheat flour put them a notch above your average cupcake.  I topped them with a Peanut Butter Icing and a banana chip.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

 3/4 cup cow or soy milk
 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
 1/3 cup canola oil
 2/3 cup + 2 tbsp panela (or sugar)
 2 tsp ground flax
 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
 1 tsp baking powder
 1/2 tsp baking soda
 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F, line muffin pan with papers or spray pan
Mix milk with vinegar let sit for a few minutes
combine all ingredients very well
bake for 23 to 26 minutes
frost with Peanut Butter Frosting and top with a banana chip
for something a little different add some chocolate chips or banana to the batter.

Peanut Buttercream Frosting

 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp butter , at room temperature  
 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
 1 1/4  cup icing sugar
 1 to 2 tbsp milk

With electric beater mix all ingredients except milk, add milk little by little until frosting is smooth and creamy.

I decided to ice the cupcakes in a basket weave - this is simpler then one might think.  All you need is a pipping bag and a flat icing tip of any kind.  I used one with little ridges.  Here is a visual step by step.

Stay tuned for part 2 - and the waffle recipe....

Looking Forward To

Eating food from my garden - yum

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I feel like I am ignoring you

I feel so guilty, that I have not posted in almost a week (I think).  Life's been busy - so I guess that is good for us.

Back Yard

We have been spending pretty much all our spare time working on the back yard.  Today I picked up some patio stones to set up an area for our BBQ.  The last 2 weekends were spent building a box around the garden.  Next step after the bbq area will the the walkway - or if the weather is still behaving planing the garden.

Here is a picture of our littlest helper pounding away with his hammer.

My Seedlings

My seedlings are growing like mad - they are ready for the garden but the garden is not ready for them.  C Monster loves watering them almost every morning for me.  He is perticularly proud of teh edamame since he planted them himself.


On the weekend we visited Tara and her kids (Geoff's sister) C Monster had so much fun and I think B and S Monster also really enjoyed his visit. Tara and her family are so great they keep pretty much everything from their kids for us - she is the reason we almost do not have to buy any clothing.  This weekend we got to take home a tricycle for C Monster - he loves it.  This time we booked our next visit with them right away we often go almost 6 months without seeing each other - I can't let that happen again.

Cat Food

C Monster loves feeding the cats. We turned our head away from him for a minute and he had one dish packed to the brim;  when I told him to put some in the other bowl - he did ; but it was the water bowl.  Note the nice mess he also made... However if it was not for C Monster I think many days the cats would not eat as I am always forgetting to feed them.  Every day when C Monster sees their bowls he says "Bo num num".  Bo is one of our cats.

Looking Forward To

The peanut butter cupcakes I am baking for my moms group that is meeting at my house on Friday.  If they turn out to be yummy I will post the recipe.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Stainless Steel Straws

I feel like I am playing catch up today with blogging and everything else in my life... This is something I have been meening to post for over a month now.

One thing C Monster loves is a straw; he will drink almost anything if he has a straw.  Plastic straws are typically made from polypropylene; are not recyclable or biodegradable so they just end up filling up the landfills one by one.  Yes there are biodegradable straws available but the city of Toronto is not equipped for them and you can not put them in your green bin they go to the dump; unless you want to beery them in your back yard so they can properly biodegrade. 

When I found these metal straws at Parenting by Nature I was all over them.  We have been using them for a few months now and love them.  I recommend finding a tiny straw brush to wash them as it is hard to get juice gunk out of them.  Also acid can corrode metal so it is good to at least rinse them if you are not going to wash the straw right after using it.  We now have 4 long ones and 4 short ones more then enough for a family of 3.

Another alternative to metal is glass but with a 2 year that just did not seem safe to me.

Sprig Toys on the move of manufacturing to Mexico

I posted a few times about the fact that I was un-pleased that Sprig will no longer be manufactured in Canada as this was one of the things I really liked about them.  I decided to write a letter to the manufacturer to get more information on what was going on with Sprig. Below is the answer I received from them.

"Hi Pierrette,
Thank you so much for taking the time to ask these important questions.  We are happy to have the opportunity to respond.

First of all, Sprig’s Canadian manufacturing was done by a third party manufacturing partner in Ontario.  Their main products are auto parts, Brita water filters, and medical equipment.  Sprig was a very small part of their business and we never operated our own plant.  The product line they were manufacturing, the original Adventure Series, is now being phased out, while other lines, made in Mexico, are gearing up.  Please be assured, that in no way is Sprig closing a factory or causing the loss of Canadian jobs.

As to our manufacturing partners in Mexico, we share your concerns that workers be treated ethically and operate in a safe environment.  It is part of our sourcing process to evaluate these considerations in person before making an agreement with any partner.  Our Mexican partners meet and exceed all local government regulations, which include:
·         Maximum Labor Hours: Maximum labor hours that can be worked on a normal schedule are 48 hours per week, with schedules of 8 hours during the day.  Employees must be 18 years of age, or 16 years old only with parental consent.
·         Overtime is no more than 3 hours per day for no more than 3 days per week.
·         Employees are eligible for statutory holidays, vacations and Christmas bonus.
·         Wages are competitive for the area, though difficult to compare with our Canadian partners’ due to the fact that our Canadian manufacturers have been in business for a much longer time and thus have wages one would associate with longer tenures.
I hope this answers your questions.  Please rest assured that Sprig takes these matters as seriously as you do.  We do our very best to ensure that we are providing toys that protect both the environment and the people who occupy it.

Kind regards
Kim Greenlee
Director of Operations
Sprig Toys

Kind regards,
Kim Greenlee
HR & Operations Manager
Sprig Toys
phone - 970-472-0321 x100"

After getting this information it re-assures me once again that Sprig is still on the right track, it would be nice if the toys were still manufactured in Canada but it seems that Sprig is doing everything right to ensure the toys are manufactured by factories that believe in treating their employees well.  If you are interested in some toys from Sprig keep your eye out when you are at Winners as I am always seeing some their at bargain prices.

it's friday already

This week just zoomed by.  This morning was spent at our friends house Jessica and Z Monster for are weekly "moms play-date and lunch" - we had such a great time.  C Monster always is so excited to see all his friends.

Lets back up a bit and recap this weeks highlights....


C Monster and I headed out to the AGO for a field trip.  Grandma gave me a membership and I figured I need to make sure we use it.  One of my friends informed us that the AGO have a great space for kids to play and be creative - Off the Wall.  C Monster loved it and in his words said "more" as we left; this is definitely a new permanent destination for us.  We will try to make it once a month same as the Science Center.

Off the Wall is free, no need for a membership or a ticket you can just walk right in. It's open on Tuesday's from 10am to 1pm and on Weekends from 10am to 4pm.  I don't know how busy they get on the weekends but it was not too bad on Tuesday - really seemed like just the right amount of kids for the space.
C Monster spent his time drawing with chalk and markers, building towers from blocks and my favorite playing with a giant staking toy made out of a medal rod and everyday items like: shoes, plates, funnels to name a few.  I would post a good picture of him but every-time I went to take a shot he ran off to the next thing - I guess he was having fun.

Play dates all around...  C Monster's favorite activity is playing with his friends - I try to arrange play dates for him as much as I can.  I love play-dates because they teach him all sorts of things.
  1. Help teach him to share
  2. How to interact with others
  3. Develops social skills in general
  4. New and difrent stimulation (when playdate is at someone else's house)
I am sure there are all sorts of other reasons but these are the ones that come to mind first.  Also I find this is a little slice of sanity for mothers - after spending day-in day-out interacting with a toddler it's nice to have an adult (other then your husband) to talk to that relates with you.  Other moms and nanny's are like your co-workers (the good co-workers that become friends too).

So in the morning we had a play-date at our house with Lisa and A Monster and in the afternoon we travel the ever so far trek to Jessica's and Z Monster for a afternoon of fun. (they are our neighbors)


Off to Sports Ball in the AM - C Monster is amazing me with his listening skills and just his patiance in waiting his turn.  When we got to class the babies class that is before ours was wrapping up; I told C Monster he had to sit and watch until that class was over and he did.  I was so proud; some of the other toddlers where running around like crazy distracting the class but my guy was sitting and enjoining some snack with a few friends.

In the afternoon we had a gardening play-date planned but the weather said otherwise so I came up with cookies instead.  I made the dough while C Monster was sleeping and then placed it in the fridge; once our little friend F Monster arrived with Debra we rolled out the dough and cut out the cookies.  C Monster preferred eating the dough then cutting it but he had fun and that is all that matters.

"Healthy" Gingerbread Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
2 limes, zest only
2 tbsp. yucca syrup
1 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1  cups panela
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tbsp oat bran
2 tbsp wheat germ
1 tsp groud flax seeds
2 tbsp pulverrised kale or swiss chard, chopped up extra fine in food processor

1. Cream the butter and the panela together. Add the egg and mix well. Mix in the zest and yucca syrup. Add remaining ingredients, mixing until well combined. Chill dough for at least 2 hours, I like to chill overnight.

 2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters. Place cookies 1/2 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

 3. Bake for 7-8 minutes in the preheated oven, until cookies are lightly toasted on the edges. Makes around 60 cookies.


And it brings us back to Friday...

Looking Forward To

Going to Aunt Tara's house tomorrow.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Last food diary

Monday April 5th - C Monster's food diary

Almond Milk
Left Over Waffle with Pure Maple Syrup

Morning Snack
Rest of His Easter Chocolate (not very much)

Soy Beans with Butter and Hemp Seeds
Almond Milk

Afternoon Snack (at the mall)
Juice Box - Mango
Peanut Butter Crepe with a Few Chocolate Chips

Almond Milk
Roasted Chicken

To conclude; C Monster does not eat a perfect diet.  We try to sneak vegetables in because otherwise he would not eat them; I can't get fresh fruit in him unless it's blended in a smoothie. 

I want to mention that my bread machine is on the fritz otherwise you would have probably seen fresh bread in C Monster food diary.

Lots done

I feel like I got tones done today - I love days like this.  I picked up the last piece of edging I needed; I picked up a bike lock for C Monster's wagon, I gave plant food to all my seedlings, washed dishes, made iced tea, swept the floors, vacuumed, changed the bed linens, blogged, chopped up some kale to freeze, watched True Blood (yes this is an important part of Monday for me - it's my treat to myself during C Monster's nap), rotated C Monster's toys, changed the shower curtain... I am sure I forgot something.

Looking Forward

Going to the AGO.

Esater / Menu planning / Leather Pillow

Easter Morning

When C Monster woke up this morning first thing we did after getting dressed was an egg hunt.  Easter for me not really anymore about religion or an easter bunny but more about the beginning of spring. I am debating next year doing a celebration on the spring equinox instead. That all being said I also believe C Monster should be exposed to "mainstream" culture that "most" kids are exposed to - not for him to feel left out when he is older.

I decided a little egg hunt would be fun.  We had some cloth eggs that we purchased as an easter present for him last year so we hid them around the house each with a picture of the next destination attached.  At the end was a little basket with 2 chocolates and 2 cars.  For me using eggs is OK - the symbolism of eggs for me makes the beginning of life and that's what spring is for nature the beginning.

Here is a video of the eggs hunt - it's a bit long :-)

Once a coat now a pillow

Geoff ruined one of his leather jacket.  I hate wasting perfectly good leather; so I decided to try to make something from it...

Menu Planning - what's this - part 2

As I mentioned in the post yesterday; I was asked: "how do I find time to make everything?" When it comes to meals in the house it seems to just come together; it just happens.  It probably helps that I love cooking and baking.

So how do I find time to make everything? - Well first I am a stay at home mom / homemaker.  Yes I like to call myself a homemaker; I take pride in having supper on the table every night; making sure the house is somewhat clean; planning and designing every little bit of the house; coordinating vacations and family adventures and yes you can forget making cookies and iced tea - to only name a few.

Some tips I can offer you to be able to maximize how much "from scratch" cooking you do:
  1. Involve the kids - C Monster at 2 years old knows how to level a spoon full; fill a measuring cup; operate (with supervision the stand mixer)
  2. Kitchen appliances are your friend - I love my food processor, blender, stick blender, bread machine and stand mixer
  3. Make extras and freeze them.  I often make enough soup to freeze a jar.  When I make pizza dough the recipe is large enough for 2 large pizzas - you can pre-assemble the extra pizza and freeze it for latter.  Same goes for cookies & muffins (take out of the freezer and put them in the oven for a few minutes and you will have the next best thing to fresh.
  4. Pre-prep basics.  I pre-chop garlic and ginger in my food processor and freeze it in ice cube trays. 1 tbsp per cup with some water.  Once frozen transfer to ziplock back.  When you need garlic or ginger just grab a cub from the frezzer.
  5. When greens such as kale, swiss chard, spinach starts to wilt in your refrigerator; clean then chop up in food processor - again freeze in ice cube trays. You can toss these in pasta sauce; pizza sauce or anything else at the last minute to boots up the nutrition value.
  6. Practice your knife skills - once you can chop and cut fast and efficiently you will be amazed at the amount of time you cut off your prep-time.
  7. Keep you cuboards organized - it goes faster to cook something if you can find what you need.
  8. Use your bread machine for more then basic breads; it can make pizza dough; rolls and even sweet bread like banana breads.
  9. Get familiar with recipes; it goes a lot faster to cook something you have alreay done a bunch of time; then to follow a new recipe.
  10. I can't say it enough involve the kids.
  11. Also don't keep the processed foods in the house - if they are not there you will have to choice to make something from scratch if you want to eat.
    Sunday April 4th - C Monster's Food Diary

    Pre-Breakfast Easter Surprise
    1/2 Kinder Surprise Egg
    1/2 Little Scoop Egg

    He refused to eat
    Apple Juice Water Mix (50/50%)

    PCO Berry Granola Bar
    Spelt Pasta with Sneaky Veg Sauce
    PCO Cheddard Cheese
    Apple Juice water Mix (50/50%)

    Afternoon Snack 

    Supper (with Grandpa Roy)
    Pizza Pizza cheese pizza
    Chocolate Milk
    Chocolate Ice Cream

    Evening Snack
    6 Organic Raw Cashews
    1/2 Box PCO raisins

    Now to finish answering how do I do it all - I don't something always gives.  My house is never perfectly clean, my dishes are often behind, my laundry piles up, the dust is gathering on my furniture.  I also have help - my wonderful husband loves to bake and often makes bread in the evening.  My mother in law comes by once every 2 weeks giving me a chance to catch up.

    Sneaky Veg Sauce

    If you have a picky eater like I do you need to get creative. One of C Monster's favorite foods is pasta; white pasta with tomato or meat sauce is not really the healthiest meal so I mix it up for him in a way most kids wont notice.

    1/2 jar PCO 
    1 small onion
    2 small carrots
    2 small beets
    1 cube frozen chard/kale (see tip number 5 above)
    1 cube frozen garlic (see tip number 4 above)
    1 tbsp olive oil

    Chop up onion (pretty small pieces) and start cooking in pan pre-heated with the olive oil. Use medium heat - make sure you check on them frequently and stir to avoid burning.

    While onions are cooking - using your shredder attachment for your food processor shred the carrots and the beets.  Take out shredder attachment and replace with cutting blade and pulse the mixture 3 to 4 time to cut even more finely.

    When onions are getting soft add frozen garlic, chard/kale and beet/carrot mixture - cook until all vegetables are soft.  If mixture is sticking add a bit of water.

    Once cooked mix in sauce and make sure it is thoroughly heated; toss with your favorite pasta and enjoy.  I find that veggies stick better to noodle that are in spiral shapes.

    Looking Forward To

    My garden being planted

    Saturday, April 3, 2010

    Menu planning? / art / and a bit more

    Menu Planning - What's that?

    I was asked by a reader a few weeks back -  "What does a meal plan look like in the wiseman house??How do you find the time to make everything??"

    Lets start by answering the first question.  I will address the second half in tomorrow's post. We don't have a menu plan.  I used to plan all the meals every second Friday; then make sure the groceries were all bought and so on.  I found that I was spending too much time researching what to cook and then things would happen and the planned meals were not mad; then food would be wasted.  So sometime over this last winter I stopped pre-planning my meals.  I like it better this way - some of my best cooking comes from just opening the fridge and getting inspired but what's in there.

    To give you an idea of what C Monster eats (he does not always eat what we do - he is 2 and 2 year olds are picky - at least mine is) I decided for the next 3 days I will post a diary of everything that goes in his mouth plus recipes if applicable.  As you will notice as you read C Monster food intact we are not perfect he also eats a lot of crap - well sometimes.

    Saturday April 3rd - C Monster's Food Diary

    Organic Spelt Waffles with Organic Maple Syrup 
    Strawberry & Kale Smoothie

    Morning Snack:
    12-14 Organic Raw Unsalted Cashews
    1 PCO Toddler Berry Granola Bar
    Strawberry & Kale Smoothie (left over from breakfast)

    He refused to eat
    Glass of Organic Almond Milk

    Afternoon Snack:
    Kiju Organic Apple/Grape Juice (%50 juice / %50 water)

    1/2 Slice of Cheese Pizza from Amato
    Glass of Organic Almond Milk

    Evening Snack:
    1 Square of Chocolate
    1/2 Box PCO Raisins
    4-6 Organic Unsalted Raw Pistachios
    Homemade Herbal Iced Tea
     Strawberry & Kale Smoothie Recipe

    300g frozen strawberries (1 bag)
    5 curly kale leafs vines removed
    1 banana peeled
    3/4 cups yogurt
    1 cup apple juice
    2 tbsp maple syrup

    Place Strawberries in blender and crush using your blender's ice crushing mode. Once all large chunks are gone add Kale and half of the apple juice blends scraping sides occasionally until kale is mostly chopped. Add all remaining ingredient and process until smooth. Makes 3 - 4 smoothies.

    I place C Monster in his sippy cup with a few ice cubes; when he done I put it in the fridge - he knows to ask for it when he wants it back.

    Organic Spelt Waffles Recipe

    1/3 cup Spelt flour
    1/4 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
    2 tbsp maple syrup
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/4 cup milk
    1 tbsp melted butter
    2 egg whites
    1/4  cup plain yogurt
    1/2 zuchinni, shredded 
    1 1/2 tbsp mixed seeds

    Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. In another bowl beat the egg whites until they are just stiff peaks (it’s better that they are a little soft than over beaten). Mix all wet ingredients (minus eggs) into the dry ingredients until just combined. Preheat the waffle iron.

    Add the egg whites to the bowl and fold together quickly.  Brush or spray the hot iron with a little canola oil and then cook the waffles per your iron’s instructions.

    Serve with butter, and maple syrup.

    Makes 5 waffles.

    Art - crocodile

    Yesterday C Monster did some painting; I am particularly proud of this one.  He told me it was a crocodile. I see it do you?

    Coxwell &  Fairford 

    After some residents in our are complained about too much trew trafic the city temporarly blocked off one section of Fairford at Coxwell - to see if it would improve things.  The youth of the neighborhood did not waste time to take over this section of pavement that is now safe for them to play in.

    Looking Forward To

    Seeing Christophe reaction to his easter egg hunt and finally building a box around our vegetable garden tomorrow.

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    Kitchen's here and more...

    This morning

    It's gorgeous out, you would think it is summer today. C Monster and I spent the morning outside; me cleaning the front yard and him drawings with chalk; ridding his tricycle; helping out with the cleaning; playing with his cars.  We also cleared out our little flower patch; we picked all the flowers that had grown - as I want to plant some vegetables here this year; Carrots and Onions.

    Now lets rewind backwards and take a look at yesterday...

    C Monster Talk

    I have to say some of the stuff that comes out of my sons mouth is too cute.  Here is a few conversations.

    A toy and him this morning were having a conversation at the table:

    C Monster :”whats this?”

    Toy : “yum yum me gona eat it”

    C Monster : “Oeuf”

    Toy : “num num”

    C Monster : “mine”

    Toy : “me gona eat it”

    This one is his reaction to going to Sports Ball at a different time of day. See he started level 2 in Sports Ball (ages 2-3) this week the class is at 9:45 instead of 9am. Geoff dropped us off half way and we walked the other half in the stroller (we used to get dropped of at the door). Geoff dropped us off in front of the Donlands Subway Sation.

    C Monster in the car: "more vroom vroom doing doing" - translated "more car ball" or "we did not drive far enough we are not at Sports Ball"

    C Monster as I place him in the stroller "cho cho doing doing?" - translated "train ball" or "are we taking the train to Sports Ball"

    When we got to Sports Ball we had to pass the door and park our stroller; in the winter we used to bring it in with us because their was construction happening in the stroller parking area.  As we approach and pass the door:
    “There it is yeah”
    “doing doing ohoh”
    “no doing doing”

    When he finally understands we are going:
    “yeah doing doing”

    The Kitchen Arrived

    C Monster’s birthday present finally arrived today (I was just one month late). We got him a toy kitchen set from WonderWorld Toys.  I have to say I was a bit disappointed when I opened the box - the description on line was a rubber wood kitchen.  The top and bottom are made from laminated MDF and the round contoured bright bits are foam.  I we would have known this in advance I am not sure it would have changed our mind on what kitchen to get for him but it might have.  I was expecting all the parts except for the little window on the oven door to be rubber wood.  That being said the kitchen is really nice; lots of storage space for all his stuff and the most important thing is that he loves it.

    C Monster’s Space Part 3

    I was waiting for his kitchen to arrive to do the last segment of C Monster’s space. Like I said perviously we have an extra small home so you need to maximize your space usage as much as possible also it is important for me that C Monster has space to play and store his toys in both the living room and the kitchen as these are the 2 rooms most used in our home.

    In my kitchen I have a few open shelves at the end of my cabinets - one section is allocated to toys; again I use the same bins that way toys can be rotated around easily.  In the hallway that connects the living room and the kitchen in order from the living room to the kitchen are:

    His tickle trunk (dress up box) - I always stash a few toys on top of it when I am cleaning (in this picture is his abacus and xylophone).  Next is his potty and after that his new kitchen.

    To make the space more kid like without making it look horrible I framed a few educational posters and mounted them on the wall.  The frames are designed in a way that the posters can slip out easily and be changed.  We have about 20 posters and I try to change them once every few weeks.

    So there you have the Monster’s space... after we are done landscaping and figuring out our back yard I will post about his little corner outside.

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    One of A Kind Show

    Yesterday Grandmama, papa, C Monster and I went to the One Of a Kind Show. It's running at the Exebition Center until the end of the weekend. This is one of my favorite places to shop and to get ideas from.

    C Monster was a champ and listened very well to us all morning and afternoon (well until he passed out in my arms during a nursing break. For those of you with kids big or little the show is ready for you. First little ones get in free. They have a nursing room with lots of chairs and change tables; they also have a microwave for those of you that are bottle feeding.

    For the kids 2 and up there is a complimentary child care center (you get 1 1/2 hours free) it's a first come first serve - keep that in mind. We talked about dropping C Monster off for a bit but I just could not bring myself to do - he was having lots of fun running around with his papa.

    What did we get?
    • A Watch from Patina Canada for me.
    • Extra funky underwear for Geoff by the candi factory.
    • A wooden tractor for C Monster from Thorpe Toys. - let's talk about Thorpe for a second. I love their toys C Monster now has the tractor, the plane, the boat and the car. You can really only get their toys at shows (you can order them via email but the shipping is more then the toy) The plane was around 13$; the tractor 10$ and the one person car was under 5$, the boat was around 13$. The quality of the toys are fantastic - C Monster is pretty rough with his stuff and these are all surviving very well.
    • A Nugs for C Monster. - The gut selling them said they were extra solid as long as you stayed away from the ones with the long legs and arms. So far it survived many throws... lets see if it keeps up. These were just so cute and C Monster really loved them.
    • A modern and stylish tea cozy from Tenacious Life. - This is something we had been looking for, for what seems forever.
    • A Dragon puzzle for C Monster from Sleepy Hollow Creations. This is C Monster 3rd puzzle from Sleepy Hollow. They are mode from wood; and when I asked her about her paints she said they are all food grade. If I remember correctly the dragon was 24$ - the quality and hours of amusement C Monster gets from the puzzles make it money well spent.
    • For our sweet tooth we got honey and honeycomb from Honey Pie. I want to try to make honeycomb ice cream.
    Worth a mention

    We would of loved to buy everything we saw that we liked but at-last our pocket books and the environment can not handle that. So here are a few things we though about getting but did not - some of wish I did buy, but the good conscious consumer in me told me I did not need them.

    • L'Atelier du cheval de bois; he has some of the most beautiful hand crafted toys I have ever seen in made in Canada. We stared at them for a very long time but could not justify buying C Monster any of them as he already had tones of everything.
    • billy would designs; innovative and creative jewelry and accessories made from recycled and reclaimed wood. I so wanted the EarWings.
    • Stand Up; not only is this clothing company trying to make a difference in the world with donating a portion of each sale to help various causes world wide - they offer very fashionable funky designs for t-shirts. We both wanted one of their shirts but could not justify adding another t-shirt to our already overflowing dresser drawers.
    If you live in Toronto you should definitely try to check out the show, I now actually try to wait till the show to buy stuff we need - I just finished going without a watch for 3 months because I wanted to see what would be at the show.