Monday, November 23, 2015

Winter Warmers

Winter announced it's arrival;  we had our first snow fall this past weekend.  It wasn't much, but enough for us to get out and have a good play.   Also, enough to remind me what I need to get prepared for!
Winter warmers
After moving to Canada in the middle of winter last year, we've spend the better part of the last 6 months preparing ourselves for winter again. Now that we know how brutal it can be, my goal is to be equipped with the right gear to make it less painful.
I once heard the saying that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.  So, for James Robert we have stocked up on essential snow gear and boots which will allow him to go out at school while the temperature drops. For myself, I find winter to be a challenge.  I am always cold.
Mec has the best snow suits and mittens for little ones; we love the sorel boots because they are easy to get on and off. 
There are a few life-changing products that took the bite out of winter for me last year, namely, Smartwool socks and base layers (I literally wore them under everything every day last year).  These are a few of my favorite winter warmers; here's to making the most of the season!

Also, wishing you and yours the very Happiest of Thanksgivings and safe travels this week!

Winter Warmers

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Favorites: Green Beauty

Way back when I started this blog,  I was living in New Zealand and my eyes were open to making more eco-friendly decisions.  In particular, I become much more aware of what some conventional beauty and cleaning products were putting in their ingredients.  On the bright side, I also became aware of how many wonderful green alternatives there are.

Over the years, I have tried a lot of different products.  I don't claim to be an expert.  I don't even claim to only use clean products... but my motto is, it's not about doing everything, it's about doing something.

It's been forever, so I thought it would be fun to recap some of my more recent favorites. So if you're just dipping your toes into the green beauty scene, of if you're a green beauty maven, I hope this list of some of my current favorite products will be fun to read through.

What are your favorites? Please let me know!
Green Beauty Favorites

1) The Cleanser by Graydon:  I have had the hardest time swapping my old standby, Cetaphil, for something less toxic. In fact, I held on to that the longest.  But, I finally found something that performs similarly for my sensitive skin.  It foams a bit more than Cetaphil, but the consistency is similar.  It makes your face feel thoroughly cleansed but never tight.  I'm really in love with this product.

2) Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Toner:  I used to be skeptical about toner, but after using it religiously for over a year, I can say that it does indeed make your other product work better.  I like this line of products, but this toner is my favorite.  I've used other more pricey toners, but keep coming back to this one and you can't beat the price point (you can usually get it on sale at WF). Plus it smells great.

3) Antipodes Serum:  This stuff is a miracle worker.  It makes your skin feel plump and supple instantly.  It is the extra moisture boost I need without feeling sticky or like there is an extra layer on your face.  It's a game changer.  Side note, this product line originated in New Zealand. It's harder to find in the states, but you can get it at Whole Foods in Canada.

4) Acure Night Cream:  This is a light weight night cream that doesn't feel heavy, but gets the job done. With the winter months approaching, I have turned to this for a the needed moisture protection. I alternate between using this and #5 nightly.

5) I like to make my own face oil with a mix of grape seed oil and frankincense and lavender essential oil.  I use it every couple of nights and in the dead of winter, I will use it every night.  It smells wonderful and it beautifully restores skin over night and doesn't feel heavy.  If I'm feeling really ambitious, I'll do a little face massage with it like this.

6) Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask:  There is a reason her stuff has a cult following- it is that good.  I use this mask about once a week.  I may have been known to fall asleep with it on a few times and it truly makes your skin feel brand new.

7) Burt's Bees Blemish Stick: For pesky little spots, this is a life saver.

8) Rescue Aromatherapy by Rocky Mountain Soap Co: I was introduced to this product line while in Banff.  I have been using this mist as a great way to banish the stuffy noses that come with this time of year.  I like to spritz it before bed and inhale deeply. It doesn't do anything for my skin as much as just make me feel refreshed and relaxed.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Addictive Kale Salad


Some may think this title oxymoronic.  I was just talking with a girlfriend the other day that admonished kale to be the most difficult vegetable to like.  So, I told her about this salad.  I like to call it the I'll-convert-you-to-kale-salad or the you'll-want-this-for-lunch-everyday-salad.

Epicurous calls it Kale Salad with Dates, Parmesan and Almonds.  But don't be fooled by the name. It will change the way you lunch.  Or at least, it has for me. I was introduced to this at a family gathering this summer and have been making a version of it ever since.
Kale Salad with Dates, Parmesan and Almonds

Recipe: Addictive Kale Salad
juice of 1/2 a lemon
half a shallot diced
teaspoon of honey
pinch of salt
pinch of red pepper flakes 
2 bunches of kale, stems removed and then shredded or finely chopped (I also like to use baby kale like above)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
handful almonds chopped 
about 5-8 pitted dates chopped 
shaved parmesan to taste

Whisk together juice, shallot, honey, salt and pepper flakes in a bowl.  Add kale and toss.  Let sit while you prepare other ingredients.  Then mix in oil and top with the almonds, dates and shaved parmesan.  

Friday, November 13, 2015

Family Photos!

We hadn't taken any professional family photos since James Robert was a baby.  To commemorate our time in Canada, we thought it would be special to have some pictures of our family here, at one of our favorite parks, to remember the experience.

It was a cold morning after a very rainy day, so we were thankful to be able to sneak in our shoot. We worked with Jeff and Diane photography, a husband and wife team, who couldn't be more kind. They wrote us a very sweet handwritten note and baked us cookies as a thank you! I couldn't recommend them more if you're in the area.

Between a toddler and a hyper dog, things were chaotic, but Jeff and Diane were miracle workers!  I am so thankful to have these memories captured. 
\Leaf Collage


Monday, October 26, 2015

Teal Pumpkin Project

Teal Pumpkin Project
our front door getting ready for Halloween; this is the sign we will display this year

My father tells the story of one fateful Halloween that he took a bite of a PayDay candy bar and ended up being rushed to the ER- he was allergic to peanuts.  I didn't comprehend the true terror of this story until becoming a mother and learning that James Robert has the same allergy.

This will be the first Halloween that we take him trick-or-treating and I do so with some trepidation. Being an allergy mom means trying to think 10 steps ahead and being prepared as best as possible. That's why I'm thrilled that today, unlike when my father was little, there is more awareness.  In fact, there is a movement to make trick-or-treating more allergy friendly.

This year, our family has pledged to take part in the Teal Pumpkin Project--yours can too!  The food allergy research and education foundation (FARE) created the Teal Pumpkin project as a way to raise awareness of food allergies (not just peanut allergies) and promote inclusion in trick-or-treating.

Whether your child has a food allergy or not, odds are that you know another child who does.  This is the simplest way to make your house friendly for all children who want to go out this weekend and make fun and safe memories.

Our Neighborhood is ready for Halloween!
1) Display a teal pumpkin and/or free printable at your home.
2) Provide non-candy treats (some ideas below)
3) Sign up here  (this is optional)

It's important to note that the idea isn't to take candy out of Halloween, in fact, at our house, we're going to be offering candy and non-food items.  

When choosing candy, I found an assortment that were peanut free.  When children and parents come to the door, we will ask if they have a food allergy and provide choices. I'll be keeping the candy separate from the non food items.
these are some of the food items we will be handing out
What to give:
Kids, especially the little ones, will enjoy non-food items as much as candy.  Here are some of my favorite ideas:
  • stickers
  • temporary tattoos
  • bubbles
  • spider rings
  • novelty toys
  • glow sticks/ bracelets
  • bouncy balls

Where to shop:
I'm planning on hitting up my local dollar store or party supply store.  If you're going to do your shopping on amazon prime, consider using AmazonSmile.  If you click here, your shopping will donate .5% of eligible purchases to the Food Allergy Research & Education charity!

For more information and FAQ's, click here. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hutchinson Farm

Autumn puts on quite a show up here!  The colors have exploded in the past week and despite a cold snap, we endeavored to get out to enjoy them last weekend.  Head 30 minutes west from where we live and you're in beautiful rolling hills. There are numerous farms and pumpkin patches to visit; this year we explored Hutchinson Farm and it was such a treat.

What I loved most about this pumpkin patch was that we had it to ourselves.  It felt quintessentially festive!  We got there at just the right time;  we avoided crowds and the commercial feel.   It was one of those childhood moments that you can just see being etched into his memory.  James Robert ran through the field springing from pumpkin to pumpkin with total glee.

We also loved that Hutchinson Farm had so many varieties of pumpkins. We picked 3 different kinds of pumpkins and have grand plans for all types of pumpkin seed baking (mine with old bay seasoning and his with cinnamon and sugar).  We'll definitely be back next year!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Books in the Park: Home

Last week, the fall weather was glorious.  So much so, that any activity worth doing, was worth doing outside.  We spent the entirety of one afternoon at a favorite park in our neighborhood.  We brought our blanket, some snacks and a few books.

It's amazing how a change of scenery can bring a book to life even more.  One of our recent favorites is a book called Home by Carron Ellis.  Its charming illustrations and fairytale-like descriptions are exceedingly fun (and funny) for little and big readers.  But it's the concept of home, and how many different types of homes there are, that really makes this book pertinent for us. 

Since our move from Charlotte, James Robert recalls many memories of our old home.  It was very different than where we live now in terms of size, type of house and location.  This book is a light-hearted and relatable way to discuss home with a toddler, regardless if your family has a move on the horizon or not.
A new skill learned at the park last week!


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