Summertime Salads

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Summertime weather seems to be in full swing here in Kamloops. Has been for a bit now. With the warmer weather we tend to gear more towards easy meals that mostly include the BBQ and salads. We are also blessed to be living in an area that is extremely kind and fruitful to growing gardens. No joke, these garden beds are almost on steroids. Something about the dryer climate makes them flourish. Early. Everything is ready to start picking (and enjoying!) and we haven;t even hit July. This is my third year working on my gardening skills and I must say, every year comes with new lessons. The first year, only plant what you are going to eat. This is also the year I discovered I do not like kale. I hope the Food Bank did as they received A LOT of it. The second year, I learned the importance of spacing and seed quantity control. This year, it almost looks like I have a tiny idea of what I am doing out there. So far so good but one never wants to jinx themselves! Our crop this year includes peas, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, radishes, carrots, a strawberry patch, a pumpkin patch, cucumbers, and a large variety of peppers. We are big salsa and ‘mexican night’ people so it’s important to have a nice selection of peppers ranging from sweet to mild to burn your booty off. With all of these fresh veggies it of course leads me to looking at new recipes and different ways to use them. Enter Pinterest, as usual. So today I want to share with you not only some fantastic summer salad recipes but also some dressings – many of these can be used as a marinade too. It’s kind of a let your senses guide you situation in my kitchen with very little rules. I often go with my gut and maybe I just have a husband that loves all of my cooking, but things tend to go over pretty well. Now if I could just get my extremely picky children on board. If you have a toddler that eats salad, applause to you mama!

Garbanzo Summer Salad with Creamy Dill Dressing – I can’t wait to try this one! It looks like a hot mess with all of my favourite friends. Perfect to compliment any meal and looks like a great potluck option.

Honey Mustard Chicken Avacado & Bacon Salad – Ok this one is amazing. My mouth is watering just reading the ingredients. This link has a huge collection of healthy recipes to try out but number one on the list is the one I am referring too.

Cranberry Almond Spinach Salad – I am not crazy about spinach but I like the sounds of this one. Cranberries are the best addition to salads.

Tomato Basil Avocado Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette – YUM. That is all.

Thai Noodle Salad – I often forget salads don’t have to be composed of lettuce. This is a great ‘side salad’ for asian infused meals.

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Road Trips With Kids

We are a family that does a fair bit of tripping around. Our flying and vacation experience with kids is very minimal – we took one trip to Mexico. Hallie was not even two and Jackson was two months old. To say it was a disaster would be an understatement. We have however done A LOT of camping with them and many driving road trips. With every trip, you learn how to make things a little easier or smoother. This Friday I am taking a solo road trip with the kids as Henry needs to stay home and work. As I started packing the kid’s clothes this morning, I thought it may be a pretty handy post for others moms out there. These tips work well for me and my kids. They may not be the best solution for you, but if they can add to your idea list then my goal is achieved! If you have any tips you would like to share as well, please feel free to comment or message and we can build the list.

Packing. I used to feel quite guilt about being an over-packer. Especially when Henry and I were dating and I couldn’t go to Las Vegas without packing about 27 bathing suits. Now with two small tots, I like being prepared for MOST situations so unfortunately that can go hand in hand with overpacking. ‘Everything but the kitchen sink’ is a saying that often comes to mind when packing to go away. I usually start packing a few days before we are leaving. It may be a tad too early but really, these kids have enough clothes that I can actually get away with that. It also keeps me organized and my stress levels slightly lower in the days leading up to going away. I have a mild case of OCD (probably quite severe) and need things to go in a certain way. I also need to have time to clean my house top to bottom before going away which also adds to stress. I don’t know why I need to have it clean. I think I just LOVE coming home to a clean house. So this morning I decided to organize which clothes the kids would be taking. They share a small black suitcase and I get the large one. If Henry were joining us I would share with him but I don’t need to in this case and can pack as many pairs of shoes and shorts as I like.

Kids Clothing. Miss Hallie is potty trained for the most part. She is really great at using her potty and gets better every day at using the ‘big potty’. That being said she still tends to forget if she is having too much fun and might have the odd pee accident. For this reason, I will double the amount of bottoms needed for her. On this particular trip I can do laundry if I feel the need to, but sometimes that isn’t the case. Better to have too many pairs of pants and panties than not a single pair. Pour last camping trip I made that error and panties just weren’t an option on the last day. #momfail . I also like to stick to dresses with her. Easy knit sundresses that she can pull up easily when she needs to go in a hurry and ones that won’t get wet if she has a tiny accident. It still blows my mind though how many times a day I end up asking girlfriend ‘where are your panties?!’. Jackson is much easier to pack for now. As a baby you had to worry about blowouts and basically bring ALL the onesies. Jackson is quite ‘tidy’ in this area so enough shorts and shirts for the days we are there, plus a couple of emergency outfits, and we are good to go. I say he is easy but it has to be said – that kid has style. He will not leave the house without his fedora and sunglasses so one needs to make sure all accessories are in order. Dapper is his middle name. I used to go overboard on footwear but since it is summer we stick to 2 or 3 pairs: Flip flops, rainboots for each of them as they are obsessed with wearing them, even indoors and naked, and if we have a fancy occasion then I will throw in a nice pair.

Summer essentials. Right now that means sunscreen and bug spray. Oh and if you get eaten alive by the mosquitos like my kids, some form of anti-itch cream. We are now trying out the Bee Sting Relief Cream by The Humble Bee (Canadian brand made in Chilliwack, B.C.). It serves the same purpose for mosquito bites as it does for bees and is really effective. Plus it’s natural for the kid’s sensitive skin which I love. I don’t always get suckered into all natural with them. Obviously I try to keep the ingredients list as simple as possible but bottom line, I want results, and natural doesn’t ALWAYS do that. In this case though, it’s working. My favourite sunscreen for the kids is Baby Aveeno, plus the face stick in it for easy application. If I have to chase them down then a spray can of Coppertone will get the job done. Right up there with those serious items are the other essentials: bubbles, sidewalk chalk, balls and sand toys. Again, I try to keep it as minimal as possible and easy to pack. But it just makes travelling with kids a little more fun for them when these items are included on the packing list.

I am not even going to touch on food and road trip snacks as I still need to learn more here. Between keeping it healthy and finding snacks that do not explode all over the inside of my car, I am still at a loss. Apple sauce pouches for the win right now!

As babies my kids were never great sleepers but as toddlers they certainly LOVE being in a bed. That still doesn’t mean sleeping but they take after their mama when they like to snuggle and get comfy. I like to make sure we include some comforts from home. This means a couple of their blankets each – I sew and they each have a nice little collection of cozy printed flannel blankets. I also bring the pillow that each of them sleep on. Same for Henry and I. What can I say, we love our own pillows. Unless we are staying in a swanky hotel. Then it’s hotel bedding all the way! They also get a couple stuffies each, the one’s they can’t go anywhere without, and their glowworms which double as reading flashlights once they ‘go to bed’. Throw in a few good books and we are set for sleeping tight.

Some mom extras…. Recently on trips I have been taking a diffuser and a few select essential oils. For general joy and calmness throughout the day, I like to have a mix of Orange, Grapefruit, Bergamot and Geranium. Anyone who shops at Anthropologie, this is the same smell as the Capri Candle! For nighttime sleepiness where the kids will be sleeping I combine Thieves and Lavender. Normally some Northern Lights as well but I don’t have any of that at the moment. Thieves is great to bring along in any case as it’s great for immune system and keeping pesky bugs away that we ALWAYS pick up on the road. Damn you McDonalds Play Centre….. Wine. Bring it along or buy it when you get there. It’s gonna come in handy. Good toiletry bags. I recently bought some of these off of Ebay. I love that your toiletries actually stand up in them and have elastic to secure each one. Plus I love the colors. It’s all about the little things in life that bring you joy. Tupperware. I used to be a consultant for it so I happen to have a fairly decent amount of it. It comes in handy for EVERYTHING. I use sandwich keepers to hang on to crayons, face paints, even for empty juice boxes so that you don’t have them littered all over your car or floating about in your purse. I use the smidgets for taking medication along, carrying chewing cum, even concocting essential oil blends with coconut oil in them for the road. I made a pain killer one for my neck when it gets sore from driving and a peppermint one for the kids in case anyone gets car sick. Wipes. Wipes, wipes, wipes! I use them for almost everything and keep multiple packets on hand, stored in secret compartments in every nook and cranny of the car and suitcase. Might just be my kids but we can never have too many baby wipes. These also work great when your feet are ALWAYS dirty camping (mine are and I can’t stand it). Lastly, DVD players in front of each child. I did many road trips without and many with. With is better. Even if that means four hours of Peppa Pig and two kids who now have slight english accents. I will take it!

Now I must get back to filling these suitcases as the day is quickly leaving me. It’s a ton of work getting ready to go on any trip with kids but in most cases, it’s worth it.

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Babies Grow Up

When I started this blog it was mainly because I found out I was having a baby. I wanted to document the growth of my adorable bump. Which eventually lead me into the not so adorable 9th month of just being huge and desperately uncomfortable. My intentions then switched gears into survival mode and learning how to be a first time mom. Learning how to keep a human alive, how to work WITH my newlywed husband at keeping a tiny human alive while focusing on our marriage and helping it flourish in it’s infant stage. The blog was comical, raw and loving all in it’s own unique way. Slip in a massive move to a new city where we knew no one, as well as the news of a sibling on the way, the blog began to encompass many things.: Family, parenting, chaos,a new business, cooking, crafting. . . Really whatever I decided to write about. Fast forward to the present. The blog has taken the back burner big time. I have taken time off of writing but keep feeling the heartstrings pulling to find more time for it. Yet again, I feel the direction shifting. It’s no longer going to be about surviving babies, but more so the children they are growing into. My kids are still young. Nearing four and two. Yet they seem to be these growing forces of energy, personality, and increasingly strong abilities to outsmart their mother. They take me to the brink of losing my mind and patience, and reel me right back in with their snuggles and giggles. How do they have the power to do this? And how are they so bad at doing things sometimes? I try to hand them the open goldfish package in the gentlest way, yet as soon as it reaches their hands it seems to be on fire and explode into the air. I will be picking up goldfish until they go off to high school, I promise. Even as I sit here writing this, I am quietly hiding behind my coffee and laptop, as I know Paw Patrol will end in ten minutes, and so will the peaceful silence. Rider and his pups will happily rejoice about their latest savior and as that theme song blares, my darling children will automatically turn to me, zombie-like stagger their way over, climb ALL over me demanding snacks, strawberry milk, more paw patrol, ice cream, and anything else they can think of. (This actually DID happen too, as soon as the show was over. It’s like a weird magnetic mom-pull.) Don’t get me wrong. I am NOT a complainer nor do I ever want it to seem like I am ungrateful for my children. I love them to absolute bits and pieces. I am just in complete amazement about how they shifted from my tiny babies into these crazy little humans: Tiny toddler explosions that keep going off in weird ways that you don’t expect. And this ride is just beginning. Babies, I fear were the easy part. Children, for now you win! I have seen your special powers over the last few weeks! Unfortunately I can only blame your dad, and myself as you had to get it somewhere. So I am excited to see what direction this blog will take next. Excited and scared for what parenthood holds. Hopefully I can find time amidst the craziness to keep documenting a few of our stories here, and the lessons I am learning along the way. Thank you for joining me and reading along!

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Spring Break

This post is a little late but hope y’all had a great spring break!! My kids are little and not in school so it doesn’t really apply to us but for whatever the reason may be, it still felt like a break. It was like everyone else’s routine was flipped sideways so we could get away with it too. We had busy days to start. A ton of fun stuff planned too! However, don’t they say something like ‘make a plan and see what your toddler thinks of it’. It’s murphy’s law in my house I promise you that. Both kids got super sick. Hallie had a really gross cold that simply made her super emotional all the time and gave her the hall pass for cartoons and ice cream whenever she wanted. Jackson however took the ‘man cold’ to new levels. He is JUST coming round the corner to feeling well. Needless to say, all plans went out the window and we were somewhat housebound. We still managed to get out and play at the park and what not, but we definitely kept to ourselves. I really didn’t want to be that mom who spread the kid’s cold germs like confetti. It is such a relief now though that everyone seems to be feeling better. We had a pleasant shift in the weather today as well so we are hoping for a sunny Easter weekend away in Grand Forks and not such runny noses. Hey a mama can dream right!? One delightful morning I did want to share with you from our sicky spring break was what we called pancakes and pjs. Hallie was adamant we all wear our cozy housecoats one morning so we decided to really make a morning of it and test our new Pampered Chef pancake molds. Couple lessons learned. They are a ton of fun, especially when you get to the final step of actually eating them. Second lesson, there is an art. These are quite tricky to master (especially if you are a perfectionist) but I think after a few rounds of trying, I will get the hang of it. Come on now, we all want star shaped pancakes. No room for the boring ol’ circular style anymore right? Gotta step up my pancake skills stat.

(If you want to get your hands on these they are sold through Pampered Chef, and are quite awesome! The silicone molds are a great size, super durable, and I LOVE the pancake mix shaker. Can’t wait to take it camping and only have ONE dish to do after making breakfast!)

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(Who knows what happened to the housecoat!)

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Easter Fun!

Well it’s almost time for the ol’ Easter Bunny to hop along our way and we couldn’t be more excited. Why you ask, because that means spring is officially here! Old man winter has finally thawed his cold ass out and we are getting sunny days and warmer temps. My kids have been CRAZY being cooped up in winter – yes I know a lot of you brave mommies just bundle everyone up and do the damn thing but we just aren’t cold weather people. Which is odd because we live in Kamloops but we like bare feet and bare bums (well the kids do at least). I am not one for the ice and snow. Winter unfortunately means a lot of indoor madness and endless movies in my house. I try not to worry about ‘screen time’ though as I know that once spring and summer hit, we are outside morning until supper time; Judge if you may. But back to that big white bunny. We will be heading out of town for the Easter holiday as we need to tend to a few family matters. That means our easter baskets are already organized (almost) and packed away ready for the road trip. I wanted to share a few of our favourite finds along with a few old loves that never die (wind up chickadees all day every day please).

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Back when I was a kid Easter was all about CHOCOLATE. The giant chocolate egg that you cracked open and low and behold it was filled with even more chocolate but at a bite-sized level that you could hide and munch on in secret without your parents knowing. I don’t know about your kids but my son, at the ripe age of 21 months can actually SAY chocolate. They get more than their fair share on a weekly basis. I am at fault here too. A tiny piece of chocolate goes a long way when your tiny terror is mid-tantrum and you have little to no resources other than the promise of a delicious piece of milk chocolate tastiness waiting at home for them. Or in the car. Or at the next destination. Whatever momma needs to say, am I right? So on holidays, it’s not really about the overload of sweets for us. I try my hardest to make it more about the holiday, the tradition and the experience. I am (pretty much) done completing the assembly of the kid’s easter goodies and there is no trace of anything edible yet. I will include a chocolate treat of course but for now, we are busting at the basket with anything but sugar. Oh crap… that’s a lie. I did order a local box of homemade cookies and treats. That is more of a family treat for the road trip though. So of course it doesn’t count! I mean most of that will go to mom and dad and necessary bribes. But they are homemade and gluten free so it’s all good right? So down to brass tacks…. the winding chickadee. This is a MUST. I don’t have a single childhood easter memory without one of these babies. My kids love them too. Perfect for races. We also have the token bunny ears. I am a huge fan of the glittery kind too but to keep things simple, we went or good ol’ dollar store fun and furry. Since we are hitting the road and staying in Grand Forks for the holiday, I have included a few colouring activities, including glitter chalk. I did not know this was a thing. My chalk world has now changed! With any messy activity too, aprons are required. The ones pictured above are actually my own design from my store Deer Baby. A little vintage floral for the ladies and nothing but the coolest for the gents: butcher style! Lastly, I am not a fan of the Paw Patroller crew but my kids fight ENDLESSLY over the few that we own. Therefore they will each be acquiring their own set. How I will keep them from mixing them up and continuing to fight, I have no idea. Lord give me the strength to be the Paw Patrolling mediator. Oh yes, don’t forget a couple books. Those are mandatory.

At then end of the day, it’s all just STUFF and not at all relative to what the holiday is actually about. But the little ones love it and I am here to make them smile in whatever way I can. That means Easter baskets for them and Easter wine for mama. Here’s to hoping all of your Easter hunts end with happy little munchkins.

Roll On Spring . . . Please!

I am sure I am not the only one who is totally over winter. As I sit here on my sofa (Hallie has passed on her germy cold to me so we are snuggling and watching Toy Story while Jackson blesses us with a nap) I can’t help but appreciate how beautiful winter can be. The snow, the white, the trees that are dusted from the last snowfall still…. I get it. We love it. For a little while! For a season even! But come on folks, March is literally right round the corner and we all need a little warmth and vitamin D in our lives. I believe that Old Man Winter is sticking around everywhere too. Not just Kamloops. So I don’t feel too burdened knowing that many others are dealing with the chilly temperatures as well. Nothing can stop me from dreaming about spring which basically means perusing spring clothing online and losing hours of my life on Pinterest while I research summer recipes, outdoor activities for the kids and backyard remodelling ideas. Normally I turn to my essential oils diffuser and diffuse something fresh and tropical to lift our winterized spirits. Today (and for the last two weeks) it has been Thieves in the diffuser all day, erry’day. I do believe we have avoided most of the bugs this season because of our oil use and Thieves in particular. I have also made my own countertop cleaner, incorporated it into our laundry, and made the kids roller balls and chest rubs for when they aren’t feeling top notch. It is amazing stuff for building those immune systems. Though they did catch a bit of a cold the last couple weeks, I hundred percent believe their symptoms were mild because of these efforts. So when the germs depart and I can get back to sweeter scents, my favourite to share with you today will leave your home smelling exactly like Anthropologie. Everyone who loves that store KNOWS that smell. You can thank me later! Combine Grapefruit, Geranium, Orange and Bergamot. You will be seeing sunny skies in your mind before you know it. I have also decided to share some fashion favourites that have me personally hoping spring get’s it booty here STAT! Also, for those not suffering from the sniffles, a dreamy sangria recipe to get you in the mood for warmer temps:

The Soho Sangria

I know I will be making this up in the near future for sure!

Now, it’s time for more snuggling with my homegirl and perhaps a little catch up from The Bachelor last night. Team Becca all the way!

spring vibes

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Parenting Crutches

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Yesterday I  had a couple ah-ha moments as a mom. Sometimes I love those moments. It’s like ‘This is great! This makes things so much easier!’. Sometimes these lightbulb moments are frustrating and I think of all the times I suffered and had I know about this fun little fact, the situation, outing, day, etc. would have gone all that smoother. So back to yesterday. We had a rather busy day ahead of us, my little crew and I. The morning started off great and I couldn’t help but start thinking about everything that was assisting me in that nicely flowing morning. Which is exactly what inspired me to let you know about some of these ‘helper’s. Here we go:

The Backpack.

It’s taken me countless outings struggling with two babies, and overflowing diaper bags to discover that there is one style of bag that works. The handsfree backpack. There are so many stylish options out there too. I have a simple black one, quilted and leather. Stylish and functional. I was online the other day and found tons that I would happily adorn on my back ranging upwards to $300. No matter what your budget though, I promise you there is a great option out there for you. Many have an insulated pocket area for those pesky baby bottles and snacks. All have roomy compartments to store diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, and any toys or books that ‘must come with us mommy’. The best part? Your hands are free and ready to hold tiny hands, tie up laces, put on little mittens, zip up jackets, clean up the spilt juice box or the thousands of goldfish crackers that have just exploded out of the shopping cart at Costco. You are ready for anything (well that may be an exaggeration) without having to break your neck and shoulder with an overcrowded bag weighing you down.

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Tupperware Lunch-It Containers.

I love these. My wallet loves these. My kids love these. For my picky toddler, these are fantastic because the food doesn’t actually touch each other. Each type of food has a tidy compartment. For my little guy, everything is just easily;y accessible. The lid seals tight and nothing spills or overflow into the next space. They are perfect for ‘tidy eating in the car’ – I say that loosely because the state of my car begs to differ. But honestly, they can manage everything quite well with tNJ These containers in their carseat. Plus the bright colors are fun and aesthetically pleasing. They WANT to eat snack out of them. For the mommas, you will love that they are dishwasher safe and lifetime warrantied. Such sexy words I know!

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Audio Books.

New obsession! We have been borrowing these from the library and I honestly wish I had discovered these about forty road trips ago. Even if they aren’t even referencing the book, just having the story read aloud seems to entertain them and make errands run smoother. Some of them are fun. Some of them will hundred percent drive every adult in the car crazy. I mean listening to Farmer Duck three times on the way to and from Walmart is surely enough to drive anyone nuts. But the kids are delighted every time that damn duck quacks. So I will take it!

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Big Sisters.

Hallie is in the nicest phase. Okay well it isn’t ALL the time but happens at least two or three times throughout the day, conveniently when we are out and about. She loves to take her little brother’s hand and be his protector. Which makes things easier for me! I don’t have to juggle as much. We all just hold hands and watch for cars. It takes five times as long to get anywhere but slowness is the price you pay for sanity. Speaking of sanity…..

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(Full disclosure: This picture is not recent. But they have only grown closer and are so cute here, all matchy-matchy!)

The Gym.

The gym is now my sanctuary. It has complimentary childcare while I work out. I can work out all my frustrations and stress on the elliptical and my kiddos get to socialize with other kids and play. They also say that winter is where summer bodies are made so I am truly hoping I can shed some holiday love I seem to be hanging onto around the mid section.

Oh… did I forget wine?

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So there you have it. My current list of favourites that seem to be making a huge difference in my day. Finally, I am winning at parenting. Hah! I don’t think so. We all have our ‘winning moments’ where we feel like hey, maybe I can do a good job at this and raise these tiny humans. We all have days where it doesn’t feel TOO overwhelming to parent and we might actually be doing a pretty good job. Lets not forget all the other days too. Where it seems impossible. Where you hide in the laundry from your bickering kids. Where you cry just a little because you just mopped the floors and now ALL of the apple sauce in the world seems to be spilt all over them. Where you look at your hysterical toddler and wonder where on earth she learned that tears and all the drama in the world actually help a situation  – oh yea, she got it from her momma. Where your precious baby boy tumbles off a foot high bleacher at the rec centre and smokes his head on the concrete floor. Oh yes this happened this morning. This morning where everything was going oh-so-smoothly. When it doesn’t matter what backpack you have on, your free hands still didn’t get there quick enough. (Luckily my rambunctious little man is just fine and continuing to head-butt the poor dog today, bruised, goose-egg and all). It’s a combination of these days that make up parenthood, and no matter what crutches we find helpful or not, we will make it through!…. hopefully.