Kitschy Christmas! (It’s baaaack!)

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Welcome back, a year later, to my Christmas craft gift. (Warming SPOILER ALERT!)

This year we focused again on ornaments.  And ornaments, and more ornaments.  Started right after Halloween because once we return to our family’s home for Christmas it won’t be about our gifts for others, it will all be about baking and decorating and Christmas music. (Who am I kidding I’m listening to it right now.  After making up a whole yoga class playlist of carols.  Sorry if you’re reading this and in my yoga class.  I did warn you with the spoiler alert!) And hey, don’t judge I am fully aware it’s a bit early.  Then again, we’re at the 6 week countdown…

I am so excited for Christmas.  This year both kids will “get” it: the presents, Santa, the anticipation.  And still believe in the magic.  Not sure how much longer the magic will last.  But we’ll hang onto it for as long as we can.  And have lots of memory-filled ornaments to hang on our tree, and Grandma’s tree and Oma’s tree, and the neighbour’s tree…you get the picture.

So bring in the cinnamon ornaments!  They are made of mostly cinnamon (insert shocked look here).

IMG_4789The recipe is one cup cinnamon, 1/4 cup applesauce (and mix…although nothing ever looks mixed properly in this recipe) Then slowly add 1/2 cup white craft glue.  Mix again.  And some more.  And nothing’s sticking together so you (or in this case, me) roll your sleeves up and get in there with your hands trying to mush that spice into the glue and applesauce.  Stick together darn it! And all of a sudden, just at the point you are about to throw it all away, it comes together.

IMG_4791Wait one hour, then roll out to 1/4″ thick and cut with cookie cutters (remember to use a straw to cut out the ribbon hole!).

IMG_4792Bake at 200F for one hour turning them halfway through. (I lined my baking sheet with parchment, because glue, ewww).  Oh and if your husband happens to be in the kitchen “helping” – Conveniently arriving to turn them over, remind him they are not cookies, they are ornaments.  They are NOT cookies. Seriously.  Our kitchen conversation went something like this:

“Stop! O-R-N-A-M-E-N-T-S! Not edible!  Seriously don’t put it in your mouth, there’s glue in there!! I’m not joking you can’t eat these ones!” (He always sneaks Christmas baking, or any baking prior to them being ready, or out for guests.) Sigh.  I bet this doesn’t happen in Martha Stewart’s kitchen.  She’s the one who invented these bad boys.  See her recipe site here. The pictures are way better.  And not nearly as realistic as the ones in my kitchen, with a 4 and a 2 year old.  And a hungry, cookie eating husband.  I didn’t take a picture of him.  Was waiting for the “sick” shot.  It never came.  Go figure, the one time he listens…

Then let them cool, and paint them.  And hang them on your tree!

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The Cat Came Back.

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Our neighbour’s cat went missing last week.  A very friendly marmalade cat whom everyone in the community loves.  It was sad.  It was very sad for me, because he is the reason I don’t need to get a cat for the kids.  He is in our backyard.  He is in our home.  He loves to be cuddled by small gentle hands. Curls up on our couch when the door is left open (or scares the crap out of my husband by rubbing against his feet while he’s working…we don’t have any animals so when my husband is working and something silently starts brushing up against his toes he jumps.  A lot.)  And the best part is, we get to enjoy him without ever having to clean a litter box or pay a vet fee.

The cat was gone for almost a whole week.  And then, right before my neighbour’s birthday someone who had taken in the friendly “lost” cat saw the missing poster and returned him home.  Such a happy story.  Which reminded me of our story, when our cat went missing:

She was also a marmalade cat.  A little spunky girl whose name suited her: Shiraz.  And we loved her. (Did not love the litter box, or hair, or vet bills…but that’s beside the point)  We went away on vacation with someone coming in twice a day to cat-sit (or feed rather).  And when we got back, she was gone.  So we did what all good-people-who-love-their-pet do: we put up posters.

The first phone call was at 10pm at night from up the road, at a fast food place with an outdoor service window (which had our poster in it.)  A man had seen our cat!  And on his cell phone he told us where she was.  Huddled under a car in the parking lot.  Oh, wait what colour was she?  Because it was dark and he couldn’t see.  We held the line as he fumbled for a flashlight.  And then.  Low and behold!  A black cat.

Sigh.

The next was a voicemail.  A woman saying she found her!  Only her collar was green, not black with ID tags as we had left her with.  And then, despite us returning the call (repeatedly) no further response or contact.

Weird.

Did I mention at the time we lived on a tropical island with a large feral cat population?  One island on which a do-gooding organization set up cat feeding stations with actual cat food. (Granted they also trapped and spayed/neutred the cats and re-released them into the ‘wild’.  Guess it did help control the mice/rat population…) Anyways we sort of figured this is where our cat ended up.  Figuring out she could live just fine without us. And still get her fix of kitty food.

And then we got the last phone call.  A lady.  A very kind lady.  Who described our cat to a tee.  Down to the little black collar (ID tags lost).  We got VERY excited.  We made plans to come up to where she was (an area not too far away) to pick up our little ball of love.  And right before we hung up the phone she asked:  “How many legs does your cat have?”

Crazy.  There is a whole lot of crazy in this world.  And it is enough to make me laugh (and cry somedays).  But without it, life would be boring.  Because who would put up a lost cat poster and not mention if their cat was missing a leg?  And who would call people to say they had found a cat, well a mostly-whole cat, when the picture in the lost poster clearly indicated our cat was whole?  The lost limb was not a fresh injury.  This lady was crazy.  (But in a do-gooder type way.)  And now I can smile at all the good memories of our cat, and the crazy story of her being lost.  Likely in a forest, being well fed.

Speaking of being well fed.  Now a days we certainly are.  Tried a new recipe I will share with you.  It. Is. Amazing!

Shiitake Mushroom and Smoked Tofu Dumplings

And also a weekend project.  When you have an hour to do nothing but seal dumplings together.  But trust me, totally worth the effort.  AND better still, you can freeze them and prolong the food-love.

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First the making and draining of the filling: cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, smoked tofu and so much goodness.

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Then the putting of said filling into tiny little wrappers.  It’s like Christmas over here I swear!  Only the little presents are edible.

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Then the actual eating of said dumplings.  Unless you are my children.  In which case you unwrap them first.  For full mess effect.  Either way it was a whole lot of yum, with kale chips and wild rice on the side.  I highly recommend you give this a go.  Even if it means inviting yourself over to my place for dinner so I can pull some out of the freezer for you.

Happy week!

By the way, I have a big surprise in the works for December.  Something I’ve been working on all this month.  Can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet. (Sorry bad joke.)  Stay tuned!

And as always with my posts: if you like it, share it (or like it!) and if you don’t, don’t.

 

 

Practice Safe Snacks

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I love this week.  The excitement and the dressing up.  The parties.  The adorable children.  The thing I don’t love is the candy.  Well, the candy in itself is not entirely to blame.  The excess of it drives me a little bonkers.  (We still have leftover from last year when my daughter was 3…and she didn’t do more than a couple of blocks of trick-or-treating.)

We’ve tried to get rid of it, in moderation over the past year.  Allowing a piece of candy if dinner is eaten (and if she remembers to ask for it…which isn’t all that often). And of course, with Daddy raiding the bucket every so often on a craving.  But there is still so much.

What do you do about it?

There is a local dentist here who will trade it for money the day after Halloween.  And I’ve heard of the “switch witch” who steals it in trade for cash, or toys.  Also, the limiting kids to a certain number of candy pieces they can pick out and the rest disappear.

I’m at a loss what to do.  I try to instil good eating habits in my kids, and a huge part of that is allowing them choices.  In the end, when they are all grown up, I won’t be there when they choose what to eat or how to live.  So the best I can do is help them to understand choices.  A big part of choices are having things tempt you.  And I’m not sure that making those temptations disappear is the right way of going about things.  But I’m not sure.  So this year we’ll wait until the 12th hour to figure out what we should do.  And it will likely involve a discussion with my daughter about how we should handle all the candy, as a family.

In the meantime…we’ve been snacking on this lately.  Say hello to the banana man.  The perfect spooky snack.

IMG_4284And as always if you like what you see let me know!  If you don’t, then don’t.  Happy Halloween everyone!  Practice safe snacks.

 

Oops!

I’ve fallen off the wagon.  Okay, more than that.  I fell off the horse and the wagon rolled on top of me!  But I’m back to this blog and I promise to do better – at least weekly.

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Why? You ask.  Well why not.  Life. Is. Busy.  I celebrated my 10 year wedding anniversary and went away on a fabulous (and also not-so-fabulous) vacation without kids.  And kids, my kids; well they are like the black holes of my space/time continuum. Not that it’s a bad thing.  I love actually living my life.  I’ve added more teaching karma yoga classes to my week, added going-to-yoga-classes (where someone else can stand at the front and give instruction – yeah!) And my garden. Sigh.  The never ending project of trying to turn my black thumb green.  And also now, just today I start my 6 week no dairy trial.

Yes. No more cheese. *Sad face*

Or cream in my coffee. *Exasperated look* This is the hardest part.  Did I mention I only drink one cup of coffee a day?

So I’m at a toss up as to discuss with you in the next 1/2 hour of writing time.  My deliberations include:

a) goodness in giving back to the world (cuz I added more FREE yoga classes to my backyard class! And boy does that feel amazing!) or

b) the endless battle with slugs and aphids and my anti-pesticide attitude. (My poor Hostas!) I could also get into a large rant about the ants living in my walls and currently attempting to randomly take up residence in my residence. Sigh. or

c) this week’s menu plan.  Which as of right now has one thing on it because all I can think about is everything I can’t make with cheese and how I will get through without cream in my coffee!  First world problems for sure.

Since I can’t decide I will go into a little of each.  So here it goes.  About 7 min on each topic, since I’ve spent the last bit of my 1/2 hour of free time trying to decide…

A) Karma

What you give to the world you get back (or there abouts).  I can’t speak more highly about everything I gain from giving away my yoga class.  The relationships that develop and my own inner sense of peace knowing that I am doing good in the word (or at the very least not doing harm for my hours of weekly yoga.)  Bliss.  Better yet, I’m reading a negotiation book currently.  The entire concept is to focus attention on what you can do for others, so they can in return give you what you need.  And I truly believe that if we all followed this mantra, everybody in the entire world would get what they need.  By giving so much of what you can, and what you are good at, other hearts open and give to everyone else.  Once a circle or community is established if we all continue to give freely of our gifts the egos would (in theory) all fall away and life would be perfect.  Right?

Did I mention I’m still allowed wine on my new dietary plan? (Or have you already guessed that by this point?) I’m sounding like a socialist.  Maybe deep down under I am.  Wine brings out the best?

And time. 7 minutes are past.  Well past.  I had to stop mid post to intervene a naked non-potty trained child from further running through my house.  Put him to bed.  And then there was laundry…so I hung up the wet and folded the dry and

Life.

But I will attempt to get through this one blog post.  It has been a month!

B) B is for bugs.

IMG_2821I’m at a constant battle within myself that the bugs of this earth make the soil and environment what it is. Which gives the rest of us food to nourish our bodies, and helps to enrich the soil so plants can grow, giving us fresh air to breath.  So they have just as much a right to be here as I do.  And given that it’s not up to me to take them out of this world.  But gosh darn it if I don’t get my panties in a twist when I can’t seem to keep the snails off my Hosta and the poor thing is looking like the swiss cheese I can’t cook with for the next 6 weeks!
I went outside to take a picture of the plant.  Then found another snail (5th today). So I snapped a picture of that (and promptly took it off the plant and relocated far away into my lawn).  Then noticed some random weeds trying in infiltrate the bed so I just pulled a few, and then a few more and then a few more.  The soil was just IMG_2822perfect for this right now, and one out of two kids were in bed, the other pre-occupied so I had a few moments to pull plants without “help”.

And time. Waaaay past 7 min. Snails, weeds,

Life.

Back to focus.

C) Menu plan.

I’ve been told to try 6 weeks dairy free to give my body a rest from certain inflammatory foods to give my system a rest.  Do I believe the whole inflammatory food? I’m still unsure.  More reading required (in all of my free time!)  But I do believe I can do anything for 6 weeks so here I go.  But sadly without the cream in my coffee. *Really sad face*

Sad panda face.

Right, back to focus.  The easiest thing to do is access my vegan cookbooks (which surprisingly encompass half of my food library.)

Today was Portabella Enchiladas.  I’ve given out the recipe on the blog before.  But this time I omitted the cheese, and put sliced avocado all over the top.  So good.  Day one down!

IMG_2117IMG_2122Tomorrow is a very simple meal.  Tofu dipped in Tamari and coated in nutritional yeast, then pan fried in coconut oil.  So yummy!  With a side of brown rice.  And in the leftover coconut oil in the pan, I will saute a massive amount of swiss chard, lightly salted.  My family loves this meal.  We just can’t get enough swiss chard.  And with it’s iron content, I’m a happy mommy who can sleep well at night knowing we won’t be iron deficient.

Then comes my staple Lentil Bean Dish.  Also a family favourite and posted on here previously. (Makes for faster blogging too!) Only this time I omit the cheese and will top it with a blend of steamed cauliflower/russet potato mash!  Creamy goodness!  Good as cheese? Only time will tell…

Tuesday will be a Cauliflower Curry  with rice.  And I’ll add a cup of red lentils to the cooking process and omit the paneer (indian cheese) I usually add.  Might even get wild and throw in some torn up spinach! I knew that I added dairy to about a meal a day, but I never realized how constantly it has because a part of our main meal.  It is a good thing to shake life up a bit.  Especially for me, who is at times stuck in my ways, and averse to anything different.  Tuesday is also shopping day.  Which means I have to meal plan for the entire week!

Wednesday is a new thai cashew salad.  On recommendation of a friend. Yum!  And then I fall back on the plan.  Which is to be made in the future.  If I haven’t already lost my marbles because I just can’t drink coffee without cream. I bought and started using a coconut creamer today.  Not. The. Same.

I am trying.

Times up.

Stuck.

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Even with all my good intentions sometimes I still feel very

stuck.

Stuck in the mud of my life.

I took a yoga class to try out a new(ish) studio close to me.  And do you know what? The only thing louder in my head than my own critical voice in that class, was the critical voice of how it was being taught.  I was STUCK.  Wanting the same yoga class that I teach.  The same type of yoga with focus on alignment and correct body posturing to prevent injury.  Not the “anjulating forward” (What does that even mean?  I don’t even know how to spell it!) or the “sparking of toes as you ride the energetic wave”.  I wanted to be back in the past, in my own mud.  Without “the energy of the new moon or upcoming solstice to harness the energetic wave and change my life….”

Then again; also this week, I was stuck in the cycle of “negotiating, crying, needing a hug then pushing me away” drama of a little girl. (I’m actually not talking about myself, although I might as well be for how stuck in the drama cycle I was.)  Over and over and over.  Stuck in the mud, unable to move.

I don’t like being stuck.  It feels unhealthy.  Unable to move forward in the direction of life.  So I took a few parenting lessons from those around me and was able to lay off a little.  And this week in my karma class there may be a little bit of new moon energy, even if it’s only expressed as newfound energy in the teacher.

Besides, when you’re not struggling in the mud it’s amazing the places you can go.

Here I go!

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And in the meantime I’ll put my plants in the mud, where they can flourish.

26. Sous chef

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Simply Living Healthy – 40 tips in 40 days

So you already know that restaurants hire people specifically to do meal prep in the morning so they are ready to go for the lunch and dinner crowds…today’s tip is just that.  Take a few moments in the morning to pre-prep your evening meal, and it goes ten times faster!  Not to mention the delay of the ‘witching hour’ if you also have small, hungry humans to contend with at the days end. (Or a hungry husband, or hungry hippo…)

I spend my son’s morning nap chopping and prepping.  Some days I even go ‘french style’ and put everything pre-measured out on the counter so all I have to do is dump it in a pot or pan and voila! dinner done like a cooking show.

I used to also do this when I worked close to full time hours with a family…  Before work prep meant the world to me at the end of a tired, long work day, with a cranky hungry kid in tow.

So however your life looks, cooking with whole, healthy foods doesn’t have to mean aggravation in the kitchen at the dinner hour.  Break up the prep.  If you are chopping onions, why not also dice one up for tomorrow.  And having everything at the ready sometimes is the inspiration needed for cooking up a healthy meal.

Bon appetite!

Simply Living Healthy – 40 tips in 40 days

Old Habits Die Hard.

For the past three weeks I have not gone to the gym.  Whoa What?? Did I actually just put that sentence into my *gasp* health and wellness blog?? Gulp.  Yup it’s true.  Partly due to an aggravated old back injury which has been plaguing me since May.  And partly due to a change in routine.  We all know how this goes.  You build something into your life.  And then you get sick, or your kid’s daycare/preschool/life/events change course and your ‘gym time’ has been replaced with *fill in the blank*.

Best thing to do:  establish new habits.  Prioritize your life.  Is going to the gym important?  For me, not as important currently as little guy’s morning nap…for the sanity of us all.  You can’t fit in gym time.  Novel idea: how about adding movement to your day?

I walk 5km around a nearby lake on the non-scheduled days now (with the kids…make them take run bikes etc.)  Good for them, good for their sleep, good for me, good for my mental sanity and physical health.  I also walk everywhere I can, and play chase and climb in the backyard play-structure.  When was the last time you did the monkey bars with the kids?  It’s freakin hard!  My husband challenged me to “arm pull” myself to the cross bar on the swingset…lets say it wasn’t pretty, but I got up there. (And for those of you laughing it wasn’t the baby swings.)  Only then I realized how high it really was and that I had no idea how to get down again. While my daughter yelled from below that she needed another “UNDERDOG Mommy!!!”  In another ten years that jump might have wrecked my knees.  But for now they are still okay, and I vowed to keep them that way by staying active and switching things up as much as I can.  Stagnation is placation, it will do to your muscles what it does to your mind.  Go flap your wings with the birds and balance on the sidewalk cracks.  You never know when you might need that skill in everyday life.  Challenge yourself and do something that scares you EVERYDAY, and try to involve some movement.  Scary, I know; but before you realize it you’ve created a new habit.  And in a few weeks the new habit is old.  And everyone knows: old habits die hard.