Saturday, November 30, 2013
If you read my post about a day in my life, you know that my life is pretty busy right now with three little ones. That was actually a really good day, and luckily I have many of those days where things run pretty smoothly, but there are some days when I feel completely exhausted and stressed out. It’s especially hard when Ayla is teething and up for hours during the night. I don’t deal well with lack of sleep.
Then came Lisa, who is a Level 3 Reiki master and also happens to be an Epicure Selections consultant. She provided me with products and services to try that have done wonders for my stress level right now.
First, she did a distance Reiki session for Ayla to help ease her teething pain and hopefully help her to sleep better (which means Mommy would sleep better, too!). I wasn’t sure how it was going to work, because I’m in BC and she’s in Ontario, but apparently Lisa can channel energy to anywhere in the world. I was skeptical about this, but I kept an open mind. I was willing to try anything to get Ayla to sleep! All she needed was a full name, location, and photo.
She checked with me the day of the session before she started to see how Ayla was doing and if I had any updates. I told her that she was teething pretty badly. She had two upper teeth coming in at the same time. I had gone out that day and Tony had to watch her. He struggled all day to get her to nap, and when she finally did fall asleep, the nap was pretty short. She was tired and cranky by the end of the day. Lisa did the session that evening, and promptly contacted me that same night with details about how the session went.
She provided a “reading,” not for the future, but the current. She was surprisingly accurate about a lot of things concerning Ayla’s personality, people and animals in Ayla’s life (she even mentioned her aunt, Melissa, by name), and even touched on issues regarding my own emotional state and my relationships with family members. I don’t know Lisa personally. We met on an online forum for parents, but we’ve never met in person, she there’s no way she would know the things that she mentioned.
That night, Ayla slept better than she had in a long time. She only woke once and quickly went back to sleep after nursing. The next day, she took two decent naps, so I was able to get things done around the house and even had time to relax a little. She’s been sleeping pretty well since that session last week. I don’t know if it was a coincidence or not, but I’ll take it!
I was certainly impressed with how Lisa approached the session with care and professionalism. I liked that she checked in with me before and after the session to see how Ayla was doing, and the reading she did was really neat. Because I wasn’t actually there to see her do the session, it was proof to me that she actually did do it, and that that she connected with the right person. It was a really fun experience.
As if that wasn’t enough, Lisa also sent me a package of Epicure products in the mail. There was a jar of Macaroni & Cheese seasoning for a fast and easy meal, and a tin of Lemon Mango Tea to help me relax and unwind.
I’ve enjoyed the tea in the afternoon when Ayla’s napping, before the boys get home from school. It’s quiet for a little while, and I can just sit and sip my tea. So good for the soul.
The Macaroni & Cheese seasoning was perfect for a quick meal. It took the stress out of dinner time for me. I roasted broccoli, tomatoes, and sausage (450F for 13 minutes) to add to the macaroni. It cooked while the macaroni cooked, so the whole meal was ready in 15 minutes flat. Best of all, my family approved!
Cole gave it a so-so rating, only because he didn’t like the tomatoes I put it in. He loved the macaroni part, and so did everyone else, even Ayla.
Check out Lisa’s Epicure Selections page to explore all the tasty seasonings, teas, and more. They make perfect Christmas gifts for food lovers (and really, who doesn’t love food?)
Also visit Lisa’s Reiki facebook page to learn more about Reiki. I think a Reiki session would be a fun Christmas gift as well.
Now here’s the great part: Lisa is giving away a free distance Reiki session here on our blog!
This giveaway is open to residents worldwide and will close on December 14, 2013.
Please enter using the Rafflecopter below. Good Luck!
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
There were some very enthusiastic thumbs up from Cole and Bennett. Ayla thought it was finger-licking good! Was there any doubt? I think I could put cream cheese icing on a stick and they'd love that too. This loaf really was good though. I'm pretty sure they all would have enjoyed it with no icing as well. It's just nice to have a little treat sometimes.
Pumpkin Banana Loaf
1 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp ground flax seed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 bananas, mashed
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup melted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
- In a mixing bowl, combine flours, flax seed, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
- In another mixing bowl, add bananas, pumpkin, butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Whisk well.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir just until combined. Fold in raisins.
- Pour batter into a greased large loaf pan.
- Bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove loaf from pan and place it on a rack to finish cooling.
- Once loaf is completely cool, top with icing (if desired).
Cream Cheese Icing
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk
2 cups powdered sugar
- Beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla.
- Gradually beat in the powdered sugar.
- Add in the milk slowly while beating, until desired consistency is reached
Monday, November 25, 2013
Bennett has been taking karate lessons from 5:30-6:00pm on Wednesdays, so that night has become our slow-cooker dinner night. We come in the door after karate to a hot dinner waiting for us. One Wednesday, I decided to make up a recipe using a pork tenderloin in the slow-cooker. I found one lonely Ambrosia apple in the fridge, and since I love pork and apples together, I thought it would go perfectly in this dish. Then I remembered I heard about a recipe contest for Ambrosia apples recently. I thought that if this recipe actually turned out well, I might enter it.
I'd say it was a big hit! Cole gave it not only a thumb, but 2 feet up as well! Both the boys ate everything on their plate. Ayla seemed to enjoy it, too.
It's such a deliciously comforting fall meal. You have the sweetness of maple syrup and apples, with a little tang from balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard, and a touch of saltiness from soy sauce. Since it went over so well with my family, I entered it into the Orchard to Table Recipe Contest at the Ambrosia Apples website.
To view my recipe and vote, click here: Slow-Cooker Apple Maple Pork Tenderloin
If you're Canadian and you have a great recipe using Ambrosia apples that you'd like to enter into the contest, please visit ambrosiaapplescontest.com for full details. There are four prizes to be won from Cuisinart and Breville totaling over $1500. The contest runs until December 10th.
Even if you don't enter the contest, be sure to check out all the great recipe entries. There are quite a few ones that I want to try!
This is not a sponsored post. I have no affiliation with Ambrosia apples; I am only a contest participant.
Friday, November 15, 2013
When the weather gets colder, I start to crave soup. There's nothing better than a warm belly full of soup on a blustery day. I love making soup in the slow cooker earlier in the day so we can come home after being out in the cold to the comforting aroma of soup and dig right in.
Because I have a household of hungry guys, I usually prepare a lot of accompaniments to serve with soup for dinner. Soup on it's own seems to bore the kids and doesn't fill up my hungry hubby. I set out things like cheese and crackers, vegetables and hummus, and sometimes biscuits or bread of some kind. The kids like to make their own personalized soup bowl by throwing on toppings like avocado, grated cheese, cilantro, and crushed crackers or tortillas.
I made this particular soup with silky butternut squash, comforting sweet potatoes, and creamy coconut milk. I add a dash of garam masala to make it more interesting.
Well this was a strange turn of events. Bennett didn't like it and Cole liked it! This surprised me, because Bennett usually loves soup for dinner and almost always gives a thumbs-up to everything. Cole is the more picky one and I know he hates squash and sweet potatoes, so I was sure he was going to hate this. He really liked being able to customize his own soup with toppings, so he was happy. I'm not exactly sure why Bennett didn't like it, he was just in a generally bad mood that evening.
Ayla at hers on toast and seemed to enjoy it, but was more interested in the avocados. Tony and I both liked it a lot. I really enjoyed the Garam Masala in it. I didn't put a lot in, but just enough to give it a nice spice that went well with the squash and sweet potatoes.
Slow Cooker Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 medium butternut squash (4 cups), peeled, seeded and chopped into 1" cubes
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 carton (900 ml) of vegetable broth
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
Salt and pepper, to taste
Garnishes: cilantro, avocado
- Place onion, garlic, squash, sweet potato and broth into the slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours (or on high for 4 hours).
- Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.
- Stir in coconut milk, garam masala, salt and pepper.
- Serve with chopped cilantro and avocado.
General Mills is busy this month with special offers like free vegetables with a purchase of Hamburger Helper. Visit the Life Made Delicious Facebook page for all the details.
Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Blogger Program through Mom Central Canada and I receive certain perks as part of my affiliation. Opinions are my own.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
7:30 am- My alarm wakes me up. This is actually a rare event; usually Ayla wakes me up much earlier than this. Tony is supposed to leave for work around 7, but he has slept in too. I flop my arm over to his side of the bed and lazily give him a nudge.
"Honey, it's 7:30," I announce, my voice raspy from sleep (or maybe lack of sleep).
He jumps out of bed and somehow manages to get ready and give me a hurried kiss as he runs out the door before I even have a chance to get my coffee.
7:45 am- Ayla wakes up. I pick her up and take her into the boys' room to wake them up. They get dressed while I put Ayla into her high chair and give her some breakfast. On the menu today for Ayla, we have Cheerios and cut-up banana, with a sippy-cup of water. For me, coffee and Special K with Red Berries. The boys soon join us and grab bowls of cereal too. We like our cereal on weekday mornings. We save the fancy stuff like pancakes and waffles for the weekends, when we have more time.
8:00 am- Time to get myself and Ayla dressed. Ayla is such a squirmy worm whenever I try to change her. I think she's made it her goal in life to avoid being clothed as much as possible, a trend that I can only hope doesn't follow her into adolescence. Cole helps pick out her clothes and keep her distracted while I struggle to get her pajamas off, diaper changed, and clothes on as she persistently crawls away. It's not an easy task, but eventually we get it done.
8:15 am- While the boys are brushing their teeth and getting their bags ready, I quickly throw on some clothes, put in my contacts, then sit down with Ayla to nurse her before we head out the door. It's not a long nursing session, but enough to hold her over until we get back. I pull my hair back so Ayla can't grab it, but she grabs the skin on my face instead. Ouch! It reminds me that I really need to clip her nails.
8:30 am- We're in the van and ready to go to school.
A veil of fog is draped over our town. The air is so thick with it that I can see the tiny droplets suspended in the air and feel the cool mist on my face. We walk from the van to the school playground where the boys play until the bell rings, then rush to their line-ups. I hurry to get to each of them to sneak a quick hug and kiss before their teachers usher them inside.
I always wear Ayla in a carrier when we go to school. I can get it on and off faster than unfolding a stroller, and she stays content much longer when she's snuggling close to me.
Soon we're back in the van. I strap a happy Ayla into her car seat and head back home.
Then I notice my cat's food dish is still full from the day before, and she's a miserable heap on the floor of our living room. She hasn't been feeling well for a few days, ever since we gave her cortisone for her asthma. I call the vet and schedule an appointment for 11 am.
9:44 am- I sit down at my desk with a fresh cup of coffee (since I only had time for a few sips of my first cup) and homemade cornbread with jam. Then I start to work. I'm on maternity leave from my job as an insurance underwriter, but I've started doing a couple hours of work from home.
10:00 am- I hear Ayla crying. That wasn't much of a nap, but unfortunately that's typical for her. It makes it hard to get anything done. I really wanted to get at least a half-hour of work in, so I try to distract her.
I put her in the exersaucer.
Not happening. On to plan B: Baby Einstein and fruit puffs. Ayla is happy and I get another 15 minutes of work done.
10:15 am- I need to unload the dishwasher, so I put Ayla in the Jolly Jumper to keep her out of trouble.
Total freak-out. She just does not want to be confined at all anymore. I pick her up and she's all smiles again. She has me wrapped around her little finger, I know, but how can you not love that little face?
10:53 am- I have one unhappy cat and one cute baby ready to go to the vet.
It doesn't go well at the vet. We discover Luna has kidney disease, anemia, and is very dehydrated. The cortisone shot seems to have triggered her to feel unwell, but it didn't cause these problems. She had been sick a long time and we didn't realize it. The vet wants to do more tests to find out exactly how sick she is, and also wants to get her hydrated with an IV. Estimated cost: $480.76. Booo.
But I love my cat and want her to get better, so I leave her to stay overnight at the vet's office.
We get home at around noon. Ayla is rubbing her eyes again, so I breastfeed her and get her down for a nap, hoping it's a longer one that the last time.
12:35 pm: Lunch. This photo is definitely not as nice as the ones I take with my Rebel, but the food tastes great. It's leftover tuna melt and yam medallions from last night.
After lunch, I take a shower, post a sad Facebook status about my cat, make a cup of tea, and finally...blog!
2:19 pm- Ayla wakes up. Now that's more like it! She actually had a good long nap for once.
I nurse her and at 2:40 pm we head out to get the boys from school.
2:49 pm- The bell rings, and Bennett comes out of the school to greet me. We wait for Cole. And wait. And wait. I see some of his classmates are already out, but there's no sign of Cole. I start to get a little worried when he's still not out at 3 pm, so we go into the school and I check his locker. His bag and his outdoor shoes are still there, so he must be in the school somewhere.
Finally, he comes down the hall. He tells me he was getting his eyes checked and he needs to pick out glasses. There's a vision care program with a mobile optical unit parked outside the school where they've been testing all the students' vision and giving them free glasses if they need them. This is perfect timing, because I just found out that he lost his old glasses (he only wears them in class, but somehow still loses them a lot).
We go to the mobile unit and Cole picks out these ones, to match his deep brown eyes.
3:22 pm- We walk back to the van. The boys can't resist stopping at this tree and climbing it. Every time.
3:54 pm - Everyone is getting hungry, so it's time for a snack. Ayla has strawberries and a few fruit puffs. The boys and I eat toast and jam. Afterwards, I nurse the baby while the boys run off to play somewhere.
4:49 pm- I put Ayla in a wrap on my back so I can work on dinner. This is one of her favourite places to be. I like it too, because it keeps her out of mischief. Just look at her there, probably thinking up ways to get into trouble.
Tony gets home from work while we're in the kitchen. He greets us, then disappears to unwind before our meal is ready.
5:30 pm- Dinner is on the table. Tonight I didn't really have anything specific planned. I just needed to use up vegetables in the fridge, so I made a creamy pesto spaghettini with vegetables and chicken. The Whine Critics give it a thumbs-up.
Creamy Spaghettini with Chicken and Vegetables
2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red pepper, diced
1 head of broccoli crowns, cut up
1 large chicken breast, cut into 1" cubes
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cup milk
2 heaping tbsp pesto
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 of a 300g pack of whole wheat spaghettini
- Heat oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat.
- Add chicken and cook until opaque.
- Add red pepper and garlic. Cook until tender.
- Combine milk and flour, then whisk into skillet.
- Bring to a boil, whisking constantly until sauce has thickened.
- Reduce heat to low and stir in pesto and Parmesan cheese.
- Meanwhile, boil the water and cook spaghettini according to package directions.
- Add broccoli to the boiling water and pasta in the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
- Drain the pasta and broccoli, then add them to the skillet. Toss to coat.
5:56 pm- The boys have Beavers tonight. They put on their uniforms and head out the door with Tony.
While they're gone, I put the baby into her pajamas. Then I clear off the table and get the dishes done, with "help" from Ayla.
7:10 pm: The boys come in the door after Beavers has ended. They get the pajamas on, brush their teeth, and then we read stories.
Ayla gets right in on the action. She listens as Cole reads his book, and she really loves Bennett's singing. I took this adorable video of Bennett singing his French songs.
8:00 pm- It's bedtime for the boys. We tuck them in, give them hugs and kisses, and say goodnight.
8:30 pm- Ayla falls into a blissful milk coma after I breastfeed her. She's down for the night...or at least until about 3 am.
Once the kids are asleep, Tony and I finally have a little time to ourselves. We make tea and settle into bed to watch a movie together.
So there you have it; this is my crazy but wonderful life right now. I'm trying my best to soak up every moment, because I know it won't be long before I'm back at work and I'll be missing these days of being home with them. Kids grow and change so quickly and our routines must adapt along with them, so what is normal for us today may be totally different in the months and years to come. It'll be interesting to look back at this post and see how much our "typical" day has evolved.
This post is part of the West Coast Parent Bloggers "Day in the Life" post jamboree. Please visit these other great bloggers who are participating. I can't wait to read about their days!
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
I love brownies, but I don't make them very often because I would likely devour the entire pan of chocolatey goodness by myself. On the odd occasion when I do make brownies, I like adding healthy ingredients to them so at least I'm getting some nutritional value when I stuff my face with them.
This particular time, I wanted to bake a treat to bring with us on our RV trip. Just to be clear, I am not a camper. Our neighbours happened to be getting a new RV and were selling their old one. When the boys found out about this, they were so excited that they brought their piggy banks out to pay for it. Lucky for them, Tony was just as excited and has a somewhat larger piggy bank, so the RV is now ours. I didn't quite share their level of enthusiasm, but I figured it was much better than camping in a tent. Plus, I think going on family RV trips will be something the kids will remember fondly when they're older.
Anyway, I made these banana brownies for our overnight trip across the border to Point Roberts. Although we were only gone a short time, the brownies didn't make it back. We ate all of them! The bananas make them so moist, and I love the hint of maple from the syrup. There's a lot of cocoa in them too, so they're super chocolatey. Even though it's getting a little too cold for RVing now, but I'm sure I'll find another excuse to make these brownies again soon.
Banana Maple Brownies
Adapted from Alida's Kitchen
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp ground flax seed
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mashed bananas
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Combine flours, flax seed, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl.
- In another mixing bowl, mix together mashed bananas, milk, oil, maple syrup and vanilla.
- Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir gently just until combined.
- Pour batter evenly into a greased 9 x 12" baking dish.
- Sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Makes 24 squares