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Monday, June 27, 2016

Yummy Mummy Recipe: Eton Mess Cake

This cake is far from perfect. It's lopsided, uneven, and messy. And I love it. I don't bake the way I used to very often, and even though I made this as a gluten and dairy free cake for Ari's 3rd birthday, it came pretty close to the cakes I used to make. Instead of using cream between the layers I used a vanilla pudding mix as a dairy- free alternative, but if you want to make the regular version, it's worth the indulgence. We were so happy with it I'm thinking I might try making this again for Canada Day. It pretty much never happens that a recipe I'm trying out works on the first attempt, but it happened with this one (I even ended up putting the cake stand on the floor so I could get photos with good light- haha oh the things I do for a photo!- so pardon my floors in some of the shots!). This is the perfect cake to load on fresh Summer berries and really indulge, so I hope you give it a try, in all of it's messy, imperfect glory. 


Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups gluten free flour mix (use regular flour if you prefer)
1 1/4 cups coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups coconut oil
1 cup sugar
3 whole eggs, + 2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 can coconut milk
zest of 1 lemon
fresh berries and edible flowers for decoration

For between the layers
crumbled meringues
vanilla pudding (I cheated and used a mix- but this is where you'd use whipped cream or be really naughty and use clotted cream for a real English- inspired treat)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three 8" round cake pans with parchment paper.
2. In one bowl mix together flours, baking powder, and salt.
3. In another bowl, beat together the coconut oil, sugar, honey, eggs and egg yolks, and the vanilla extract until blended. 
4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet to avoid lumps, blending well.
5. Add the coconut milk and mix until smooth. The batter will be quite thick (I had to spread my batter with a spatula), but if you find yours is too thick, add 1/2 cup water or coconut milk until it's a little thinner.
6. Add in the lemon zest and mix.
7. Distribute the batter evenly among the 3 pans and bake for 25- 30 minutes until  you can pull a skewer out clean. 
8. Pop the cakes out and let them cool.
9. In between each layer, spread some of the crumbled meringues and drizzle some of the vanilla pudding. Repeat with all 3 layers and top off with some more meringues and pudding and finish off with some fresh flowers and berries. 






... as a fun addition to this recipe, I also made the meringue since I couldn't find any at the store. If you have the same problem, they're about as easy as it gets to make. Instead of piping individual ones, I made one large one and crumbled it up after it cooled. Top leftover meringue off with extra berries for a pavlova- style dessert.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Summer Closet Organization

Now that it's officially Summer I've been going through all the closets of the house sorting through everything, purging unneeded items that got pushed to the back (out of sight out of mind, right?), and swapping out the cooler season essentials for our warm weather duds- goodbye boots and jackets, hello shorts and sandals!

There's something about looking into an organized closet and seeing things neatly piled and labeled that is calming and makes things easier to find when you go searching for them. And as much as I don't want to be inside with the sun out (although the past week or so of grey weather made it easy to be inside tackling this chore), it's a great chance to wash and air things like duvets and blankets before storing them away until the Fall. Since I know I'm not the only one who gets the organizational bug I thought I'd share a few of the options I came across that will stretch your budget and come in handy for a variety of uses- see them below. For some more home organization ideas see my Home Organization board on Pinterest.




1. Cami hangers- Zulily
2. Accessory drawers- Zulily
3. Wooden hangers- IKEA
4. Accessory tray- Zulily
5. Show rack- Zulily
6. Storage bin- Chapters Indigo
7. Sweater weave basket- Chapters Indigo
8. Storage box- IKEA

As I've been purging the closets, I've also been going through dressers and tidying drawers- I feel like the kids are constantly outgrowing things and it's a constant rotation of bringing out new, larger sizes and putting away the clothes and shoes they've outgrown (space bags have become a much- loved storage item in our house to save room, and they fit great in under- bed bins). And I'm guilty of holding onto things, thinking that I'll wear something again, but really all I'm doing is putting off getting rid of something I haven't worn in ages. Hoarder much?

The camisole hangers are something I'm excited about- I really need to re- claim some drawer space and these are a great inexpensive way to move things from drawers into the closet without giving up prime hanging room in our bedroom closet. I'm looking forward to having this major task checked off my to- do list! 

How do you keep keep closets and seasonal items organized? I'd love your tips!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links


Thursday, June 23, 2016

TPB Fitness Series: Not Just for Guys- Why Women Need Strength Training

I was just thinking this week that we're almost half way through the year. What?! And not that I want to be this person, but I thought I'd ask: how are your resolutions for the year coming along? Haha, mine are so- so. That being said, there's still 6 months left in the year to work towards our goals, whatever they may be, so let's not be too hard on ourselves just yet.

Fitness and health- related goals always seem to be popular choices at the beginning of a new year, but following through with them and actually making the changes tends to get lost in the shuffle of daily life as the year goes on. Motivation diminishes, and with it the promises we made to ourselves. Sound about right? I'm totally guilty of this and with June winding down I've been taking stock of where I am with my goals for the year. I'm not going to beat myself up over it- and you shouldn't either!- but the only way to make changes and achieve those goals is to hold ourselves accountable and actually make the effort. Even if the path getting there is imperfect and inconsistent, it's better than nothing- and really, isn't that how life works anyways? It's about the journey, and so on. With that in mind, I'm going to hand it over to Irina and her great tips on strength training (don't miss her 10 minute workout- great for getting in a few minutes of exercise in the day). Ladies, we've got this. Cheers to making the second half of 2016 even better than the first!


In a previous post, 4 Simple Ways to Make Cardio your Friend, we explored cardio and how it can be easy to incorporate it into our lives if we do it in short bursts. In this post we will add on to that knowledge and address strength training.


Strength training is the other side of the coin. While cardio is excellent at burning calories in the moment and working our lungs and heart, strength training helps to build muscle and, as the name implies - strength!  And while it may seem like strength training is only for the guys, women can benefit tremendously from it as well.


Here are some of the benefits of it:


  • Increases muscle mass and thus strength
  • Tones and gives you a sexy, lean body
  • Increases your basal metabolic rate and makes your muscles continue to burn calories even after you've completed your workout
  • Teaches you proper form: how to lift, how to reach, how to engage your core - all of which in turn make you less prone to injury in the real world.


If that sounds pretty awesome that's because strength training really is amazing!


In this post, I'll teach you where to start, what equipment to use, and how to make sure you have proper form so you don't injure yourself.


Remember your goal!


Too many people jump right into it and end up doing a bunch of random exercises with no purpose. Does that sound familiar? The thing is, if you're going to get any results you need to plan and think about it a little.


What's your goal?


A great butt? Core strength? Arm strength? Chiseled shoulders? Each of these will require different types of exercises.


To start, pick some simple exercises that you are familiar with. Most people know about squats, bicep curls, mountain climbers, lunges. Think of exercises that you know that target the “thing” you're trying to work then focus on those.


If it sounds a bit daunting it's ok to ask for help. That's what a personal trainer is for! My job is to put together kick-ass workouts specifically targeted for my client's goals.


Pick your weapon!

There are TONS of different types of equipment you can use for strength training:
  • Dumbbells
  • Resistance bands
  • Kettlebells
  • Stability balls
  • Gym machines, and the list goes on!


I don't believe any of these are needed, but if I were to pick one, I highly recommend resistance bands. They are cheap, durable, they don't take up a lot of room and they are light.


As for me, I'm a fan of body weight training mainly because it means I can take my workouts anywhere and I'm not limited by the equipment I have available. Here is a quick total body workout that you can do right now in your living room and won't take you more than 10 minutes!


  • 10 push-ups (on your knees is OK)
  • 20 alternating forward lunges
  • 1min mountain climbers
  • 20 squat pulses  (squat, pulse 3 times then come up)
  • 10 step back burpees
  • 1min hold plank


Use proper form

As a personal trainer I see a lot of people doing exercises wrong so I've compiled a short list to help you avoid some common pitfalls and make sure you always have stellar form:


  • Check your alignment:
    • Are your knees right above the ankles?
    • Are your shoulders right above the wrists?
    • Is your core tight and engaged?
    • Are you looking out straight ahead? Never tuck your chin!


  • Remember to breathe:
    • Your muscles need oxygen and blood to work. If you hold your breath, how will you perform your exercises well?


  • Check in halfway through the exercise
    • Are you are starting to use body momentum to get you through the move?
    • Are your arms/legs shaking?
    • Are you taking a break more than you are exercising?
    • If “yes” to any of the above, you need to stop


Proper form is extremely important! You want to work out not injure yourself. Again, this is where a few sessions with a personal trainer can be incredibly valuable. I can teach you proper form, range of motion, breathing technique and proper speed. Then when you're on your own, you know what to do.


In summary, strength training is an extremely important element of fitness! For ladies it means a more toned physique, increased stamina and increased metabolic rate. So don’t be afraid to experiment with it!


And remember to check out the other posts as part of this series, for more fitness education tips for moms:




About Irina

Irina discovered fitness by accident after having her daughter and started Tone Every Zone out of an overwhelming desire to help other busy individuals such as moms juggle a hectic lifestyle while staying active. Irina’s loves teaching people about fitness and working with them as a team to make long lasting lifestyle changes.


To get in touch with Irina about her personal training services please email her at irina@toneeveryzone.ca, or get in touch through her website. You can also follow Irina on social media for more great fitness education tips:




About Tone Every Zone


Tone Every Zone is a mobile personal training company servicing New Westminster, as well as parts of Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Moody and Surrey. Tone Every Zone comes to you, saving you the cost gym memberships, and eliminating the need to adhere to a schedule set by a commercial gym. To learn more, please visit: www.toneeveryzone.ca.



Thank you to these partners for collaborating on this post series:



Photographer: Catherine Hilcove Photography Facebook | Instagram

Workout Apparel:
Underables Shown in this post: GROCERIES workout tee & leggings (worn by Irina)

LNBF Shown in this post: Melissa Light Active Hoodie & Suri Leggings (worn by Katherine)


Monday, June 20, 2016

Ari's Frozen Luau Birthday Party {Part 2}

Last week I shared some of the photos from Ari's Frozen Luau party, (see that post here), and today I wanted to share how I mixed the Frozen theme in with a luau. Originally I planned on blending all the pinks and blues together but thought it was too busy when it came time to decorate. Instead, I created a Frozen corner that had all the blue and snowflakes, etc that come to mind when you think of a typical Frozen theme. This worked out perfect for when Elsa paid the birthday girl and friends a visit! This is where she sat down to spend time with the kids and where I set up activities such as colouring and tattoos that tied in with the Frozen theme. Our little guests also got to choose a crown just like Elsa's from Paper & Parties Co to take home in their goodie bags. See below for some Frozen party inspo! 




To tie the Frozen side of the room in with the luau, I made a mini balloon garland and hung it with a 'Let It Go' banner from Paper & Parties Co and a giant tissue snowflake and honeycombs from Turkey's Party Makers. I also set up my dining room table with a pretty snowflake table runner (also from Paper and Parties Co) and a variety of Frozen- inspired items such as colouring and tattoos, along with the crowns the little partygoers got to take home (I'd hoped to get a photo of them all wearing them, but wrangling that many toddlers for a photo is pretty much impossible!). 






Probably the highlight of the party was when Elsa paid the kids a visit and seeing Ari's face light up. I pretty much melted me on the spot. Instead of shelling out money on gifts for Ari, we decided to put the money towards a visit from Elsa and had a great experience working with My Little Birthday Princess to arrange for the surprise. Since we knew Ari would be receiving gifts from friends and family, Will and I thought gifting her and her friends this experience would be a fun way to spend our birthday gift budget, and we weren't disappointed. Not only was Elsa great with the kids, organizing games (again, wrangling a group of toddlers takes patience and talent, even for a Frozen Queen!) and makeup, she also sang her famous song- 'Let It Go'- and gave each of the guests a little gift before she left. As a special gift for the birthday girl, Elsa gave Ari a snowflake ornament, which will always remind us of Ari turning 3 and this special experience. We chose the 'My Little Princess Party' package and I'd absolutely say this was money well spent. 





I think every birthday for parents tugs at your heartstrings; your child is one year older and you always find yourself saying 'where is the time going?!". I'll admit, the party was a bit of work to organize, but I enjoyed planning it and, most importantly, the birthday girl and her friends seemed to enjoy it. Whether you like to go all- out, or just like to include a few fun ideas when it comes to party planning, I hope you like how I pulled together this mashed- up Frozen luau theme. Parties don't have to be stressful or cost a tonne of money to be fun and I tried to keep that in mind as I planned this one (I hit up the dollar store many times for things like the goodie bag items and miscellaneous decor and items such as paper cups/ plates, which have become party necessitates of mine to keep clean up to a minimum). 

Don't forget to check out Part 1 of this post to check out all the fun I had with the tropical/ luau part of the theme and see how I brought in the Frozen theme with a luau party. See below for sources info for the party from both posts.

SOURCES

Cake
The Delighted Baker 
Instagram: @thedelightedbaker
Opening for orders soon!

Popcorn
The Popcorn Bar
Instagram: @the.popcorn.bar
Twitter: @the_popcorn_bar 

Decorations
'Let It Go' banner, glitter tiaras, &snowflake table runner
Paper & Parties Co
Instagram: @paperandparties
Facebook: Paper & Parties

Gold glitter cake topper, pineapple and flamingo glitter garlands, flamingo & pineapple confetti (used to make frozen ice bucket)
Dixie + Twine
Instagram: @dixieandtwine
Pinterest: Dixie + Twine 

Balloons, Olaf balloon, tissue honeycombs, plastic wine glasses, party straws, drink umbrellas, faux tropical leaves
Turkey's Party Makers
Instagram: @turkeyspartymakers
Facebook: Turkeys Party Makers Ltd

Misc decorations: Grass table skirt, faux grasses (on wall), ice cream cups & spoons, basic balloons, flamingo lawn decoration
Dollorama

Elsa (see Part 2 coming soon!)
My Little Birthday Princess
Twitter: @mylittlebday



Friday, June 17, 2016

Ari's Frozen Luau Birthday Party {Part 1}

Last weekend we had a blast throwing Ari her 3rd birthday party and it was a full day spent with friends and family (and a visit from Elsa herself!). It's safe to say I had a lot of fun decorating and adding a tropical twist to this popular theme (are there any kids who haven't asked for a Frozen party?!) and as always I loved the challenge of bringing it all together without blowing the budget. Because Olaf loves Summer in the movie, I figured this wasn't stretching the theme too far and looking up ideas was a lot of fun- we even tracked down an Olaf balloon that we decked out in luau attire! As I was going through the photos I decided to share about Ari's party in two posts (see Part 2 here) so I could show the tropical/ luau part of it in one post and focus on the Frozen part of in another. I was really happy with how it all came together and can't wait to share more about Ari's party below and in Part 2. If you see something you like, scroll to the end of the post for my list of sources. 


While scouring Pinterest for ideas I fell in love with the idea of a balloon arch but wanted to make a version using household items we had on hand. To make it I twisted a long piece of craft paper and anchored it by taping it to bamboo sticks. I then used fishing twine to hang the craft paper from the ceiling in the shape I wanted and layered balloons using double sided foam tape until I was happy with the effect. I finished it off with fake tropical leaves for a pop of green. Not bad for only about $20, thank you Turkey's and the dollar store! 



Since I went with a lot of pink, I wanted to use the food and serving ware to tie in Frozen with the tropical decor. There was gourmet popcorn with snowflake sprinkles in pretty blue cups from The Popcorn Bar and a beautiful ombre cake by The Delighted Baker (half gluten/ dairy free, half regular, so everyone could enjoy some!), plus an ice cream station for sweet Frozen- inspired treats. I also picked up things like blue striped paper straws and plastic cutlery along with other small details to bring in some pops of blue (PS more on those cute paper tiaras from Paper + Parties Co in Part 2!). 













Another fun little project I did was the confetti ice bucket. I thought this would be perfect to keep drinks cold and it was super simple to make, plus what says 'party' more than confetti??? I stocked up on some fun mixes from Dixie + Twine (she even included some mini pineapples and flamingos to match the glitter garlands she made for me) and froze water between two buckets to create one out of ice. All you have to do is fill one bucket 1/3 full with water, toss in some confetti and glitter and allow to freeze. Then place a smaller bucket inside and weigh it down before filling the rest with water and more confetti/ glitter. I did this part in 2 steps so I could layer the confetti and glitter since it floats to the top. Once it's frozen and you're ready, just set in a shallow dish to catch any drips and pop in your favourite drink to chill! 





Instead of buying a big gift for Ari this year, we opted to ask Elsa to visit her and her little guests. The kids enjoyed singing, games, and makeup with Elsa thanks to My Little Birthday Princess (more about that in Part 2!) and the kids were sent home with some pineapple goodie bags and paper crowns from Paper + Parties Co. I can't wait to share more about Ari's birthday in Part 2 and how we brought the Frozen theme together. I'll include my full sources list in both posts to make it easy to see where everything is from. I really had a blast with this theme and I hope it gives you some ideas for your own kid's parties that don't blow the budget.




Part 2 of Ari's Frozen Luau birthday party coming soon!

SOURCES

Cake
The Delighted Baker 
Instagram: @thedelightedbaker
Opening for orders soon!

Popcorn
The Popcorn Bar
Instagram: @the.popcorn.bar
Twitter: @the_popcorn_bar 

Decorations
'Let It Go' banner, glitter tiaras, &snowflake table runner
Paper & Parties Co
Instagram: @paperandparties
Facebook: Paper & Parties

Gold glitter cake topper, pineapple and flamingo glitter garlands, flamingo & pineapple confetti (used to make frozen ice bucket)
Dixie + Twine
Instagram: @dixieandtwine
Pinterest: Dixie + Twine 

Balloons, Olaf balloon, tissue honeycombs, plastic wine glasses, party straws, drink umbrellas, faux tropical leaves
Turkey's Party Makers
Instagram: @turkeyspartymakers
Facebook: Turkeys Party Makers Ltd

Misc decorations: Grass table skirt, faux grasses (on wall), ice cream cups & spoons, basic balloons, flamingo lawn decoration
Dollorama

Elsa (see Part 2 of Ari's birthday party here)
My Little Birthday Princess
Twitter: @mylittlebday


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Moments That Melt My Heart

I can't believe this Father's Day will be our family's third- where has the time gone?! Three years ago this Father's Day our little blondie came into the world and gave us the new title of Mom & Dad. Becoming a parent brings out a side of you that didn't exist before and there are so many special moments to capture and memories to be made. And there's something extra special about watching the men in our lives interact with these little people that are ours, bringing out a softer and gentler side that no- one else can. These are the moments that make it all worth it.

'Sushi! Yum yum yum!' This made me laugh so hard. (She always asks to wear this shirt and it also happened to match our dinner)

In the past three years there have been countless moments that have been captured in photos, but thanks to Gerber's #GrowingUpGerber campaign and Linquia, I'm sharing some of my favourites with Ari and Will from the past few months that show the special bond these two have developed, the one that only a father and daughter can have. Ari challenges us and pushes boundaries every day, but these moments are reminders of why it's all worth it, especially on those days that call for a wicked sense of humour and glass of wine when the kids are in bed. Like I said, these photos are more recent, but I love how they show how these two have become so close, forming their own special bond. They melt my heart and make me laugh like no others, so even though I have some pretty cute shots with Liam too, I thought I'd dedicate this post to these two.

Wishing a Happy Father's Day to all the amazing Dads out there!

Reading is one of our favourite activities and Will will snuggle up and read a pile of books to her anytime of day (and Cuordoroy has become a well- loved story). It's hard to get photos of him, but I managed to capture this candid moment before he noticed me.

This one especially tugs at my heartstrings: from our first trip to the gastroenterologist this Spring, I couldn't resist snapping a few shots of this sweet moment (she was so excited to see a Nemo fish and it lightened the mood of an otherwise serious day).

For everyone who went to the Tulip Festival in Abbotsford earlier this year, you know how beautiful it was. And even thought we got plenty of photos of the pretty fields, this is one of my favourites- especially since Will kept having to prop Ari up higher so she could see out of the hole ('hurry up and take the photo!'. Added bonus: we got to introduce Ari to something from her Dutch heritage (tulips!).


What are some of your favourite moments that 'make it all worth it'?

Thank you to Gerber for sponsoring today's post and inspiring me to share the moments that make it all worth it. #GrowingUp Gerber