PRETTY!!!!! Copycat Recipes
I love copycat recipes… I’ve mastered Big Mac sauce and Kraft Thousand Island salad dressing, and these are a few recent Pinterest copycat finds that I can’t wait to try out…
Twix – by far my all-time favourite chocolate bar (remember when they had different flavours like peanut butter and cookies n cream?)
Panera’s Mac & Cheese – I basically love anything from this place
Almond Joy – my fave American candy bar. Mounds are awesome too – guess you could just omit the almond in the recipe!
Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts – a comfort food staple without the added packaged garbage
Monday’s Mommy helper: Best Books
We are a HUGE book family, and we’ve been reading the bean books since he was born (he’ll be 2 years old next month). Here are a few of our favorite reads… please share yours and your kids’ fave books here too! We’d love some new fun titles in this house!
We read this every single night and every single afternoon before nap. My son acts it out (the lines are “I love your top side, I love you bottom side…”).
If your child has an obsession with trucks this is a great book – with all the major types of trucks covered, the pics are fun and the writing is fantastic too (a rarity, I find, to have both good writing and illustrations in a kid’s book).
This was his first favorite book and continues to be… it’s taught him tons!
Such a sweet, funny story… my son’s godmother got him this one (which I hadn’t heard of) and we adore it!
Wednesday whoas… Time apart from the kiddo
I’ll admit… those few-and-far-between moments of solitude are awwwwesome. I crave alone time. But it’s funny… when my husband and I do get a few solo hours, what are we talking about?
We’re looking through photos on our phone, talking about how he did this and that. It’s like we have nothing else to talk about. Because we really don’t. He’s our everything every day.
And when I am running an errand alone, and a fire truck goes roaring down that street, I wanna yell “WAHOOO fire truck!!!!” and I’m kinda disappointed my bean missed it. When I’m home alone working and he’s at daycare, my toast is ready and I want to yell “POP!” like we always do when we’re making breakfast. I hate that his daycare day falls on garbage day – the garbage men must wonder where the blue-eyed toddler is who was always religiously in the window frantically waving and oohing at the big truck.
Alone time? What’s the point. I’m still consumed by my bean.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Monday’s Mommy helper: Shortcuts
I love baking, and people often ask me how I have the time to make things from scratch. The answer is twofold: first off, once you make something a few times, it becomes second nature – I can get a loaf of French bread going in my bread machine in 2 1/2 minutes (I timed myself). But the other thing that can cut your prep time in half is, well, doing other prep work first. For example, I pre-make a lot of “mixes” – I have jars of taco as well as fajita seasoning (I’ll quadruple a single recipe so I’m ready for four homemade meals), and just recently, I found this awesome website with shortcuts for a bunch of Betty Crocker mixes. Now I have pre-made bags of dry ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies, and sugar cookies. I’m making a bunch of the brownies mixes next. I added labels with the three necessary wet ingredients as well as the cooking instructions and voila – homemade cookies in just minutes!
I was also thinking about how a friend recently asked me how I can afford to eat healthily, which surprised me because I always found that cooking things from scratch was cheaper in the long run than buying pre-made. For example, I’m a big fan of dinners that can double as lunches so that I can get more for my money (and my efforts), so the other night I threw together this pork roast. I bought it for $7 and added white potatoes, onions and garlic, and later baby carrots. The entire meal cost me around $15 and it fed three of us plus made my husband’s sandwiches for work the next day. We do the same with meatloaf, roast chickens, roast beef, and hams (depending on what’s on special that week). If it’s a really big piece of meat, I can sometimes squeeze a second dinner out of it too by making roast beef sandwiches with au jus, hot chicken sandwiches, soups, or stir fries.
What parent shortcuts can you share?
I met my hubs when I was 15. Yep, 15. As soon as I graduated high school I moved up to Montreal to be with him (er, go to university). We dated 12 years before we got married. Then, within two years of getting married, we had ourselves a pup, a baby, and our first house.
This was EONS ago (ok, circa 2001-ish) when we worked together for a bomb disrupter company (yep, a bomb disrupter company) at a trade show dinner.
Oh, to be young and fresh-faced again…
Wednesday whoas… judgemental parenting
Sometimes I let my kid watch videos on an electronic device to buy me 10 minutes of quiet. I usually use this pocket of time to whirl around my kitchen tidying and cooking and organizing and planning ahead for the next meal/project. And very occasionally (gasp!) I use those 10 lovely minutes to sit and do absolutely effin’ nothing.
Yep… it’s true.
Bad parenting? I like to call it survival parenting.
We all do it. We start out with these perfect new little beings and vow to do everything the books and experts tell us. We’re not going to give our kids packaged junk foods. We won’t yell. We won’t lie about how the battery is dead on that obnoxious trolly toy your now-former-friend gave you at your baby shower.
But you do.
And there’s always a self-righteous mother who will judge you for those decisions. I’ve seen it on the playground. I’ve seen it on mommy discussion boards. I’ve seen it at moms and tots get-togethers. I’ve seen it between sisters.
Nothing bothers me more. When I got pregnant I was amazed at the comradery I immediately felt with mothers everywhere. I struck up convos with random moms in lines and at stores and in airports. I bonded with mommies that I went to high school with (and wasn’t even friends with back in the day). But it seems like, ever since he was born, I’m under the microscope of every ego-inflated I-know-it-all mom out there (and there are a lot).
We are all in this together. We parents all go through the same ups and downs, we all take shortcuts when we have to, and as moms and dads, we have a parenting gut that guides us, even if it’s telling us to go against the grain. The pediatrician said let him cry it out for naps at four months and we waited till he was six months, because that’s what we wanted to do. Some agreed. Some didn’t. And some still think I’m awful for letting him cry it out at all.
Stop judging other parents. Instead give them “the look” of understanding and compassion that we’ve all shared with another parent, whether they’re dealing with a kid with Jell-o legs by constructively explaining to them why it’s inappropriate to act that way or promising them M&Ms if they (for the love of the freakin lawd) just stand up.
We parents need to survive. We’ve all gotta do what we’ve gotta do.
Because if we go cuckoo, who will watch the kids?!
I’m not a great cook… I’m a great recipe-follower, but I can’t cook from the top of my head. I make bland, boring, overcooked food.
I scour the net for good recipes, and a lot (and I mean a lot), are duds. I can’t believe how crummy certain recipes are that have been pinned a bazillion times or rated super high by hundreds of users.
So I thought I’d share some of my fave internet gems that have been tasty and relatively easy to prep.
This spaghetti squash recipe from The Comfort of Cooking broke me in when it comes to making this AWESOME and versatile and healthy veg. You can do a million things with it- start by trying this Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash.
I’m Happier Than A Pig In Mud when I made this pasta salad, a fantastic combo of two of our fave summer dishes: classic macaroni salad and deviled eggs. Delish!
Bev Cooks some yummy nutritious penne bake with spinach and tomatoes. Easy to make, great for leftovers!
And now, for dessert…
This dark chocolate cake recipe from KitchME is really the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made (and I’ve made many!). Now that I’m looking at this, I may have to go make that today…
Monday’s Mommy helper: Cabin fever!
Who’s got cabin fever??
WE’VE GOT CABIN FEVAH!!!!
Oh my goodness, me oh my oh… I loved winters pre-baby, and even last year when he was still under 1 and not mobile it was doable, but this year, having a toddler and dealing with a snowsuit and all the other winter accoutrements… I’M OVER IT!
And because it’s been so darn frigid, outdoor play and snow angels and snowmen and forts are all out. So what do you do ALL DAY EVERY DAY?
Here are my go-to places for a change of scenery.
- The mall. Any mall. But don’t go with the intention of getting anything done like errands. This is your little one’s turn to explore. Let them guide you.
- The library. We make monthly treks to the library. We walk around and play quietly in the kids area and choose books. Then it gives us something new to read at home.
- A pet store. We have a huge pet store nearby with a big pond for turtles and large rodent/bird/fish areas.
- A book store. Chapters is great because of their children’s section too. Check for free activities and storytimes that they hold there (especially coming up for Spring Break).
- A craft store.
- A toy store.
- The local arena. We have two awesome ones nearby… one has both ice surfaces and indoor soccer fields, and the other has four ice surfaces with a full resto and lots of action.
How do you beat cabin fever with a little one?
It has been so effin’ cold here for so many days in a row now that cabin fever is taking over my household! So I was perusing Pinterest (as usual) and had my sights set on these gorgeous (WARM SUNNY) images…
I want to get the hubster to make this out of a pallet of wood…
And then gather with some girlfriends here…
We’ll drink this summery melon sangria…
And this is the hot tub that will be built just beyond out bedroom for leisurely soaks…
This is the perfect spot for an afternoon snooze (beat it, kids!)
And then a refreshing dip in this natural pond pool.