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Monday, March 31, 2014

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Since having to eliminate a lot of things from our eating including gluten, it can be tough to make quick & easy dinners for those days that you just don't have the energy or motivation to cook. With allergy concerns, take out & delivery suddenly aren't the answer when you have no inspiration- and even less time- to prepare dinner. We've become creative when it comes to things like burgers & wraps- 2 fairly simple & classic dinner ideas- by using lettuce leaves. Not only is this a healthier alternative for carbs, it's great as we approach the hotter weather and want lighter meal options. Today's Yummy Mummy recipe is an adaptation from one I found on Lexi's Clean Kitchen (a BIG thanks to my bestie for the recommendation!) and is one we love at our house! To view the original recipe from Lexi click here.

Yummy Mummy Recipe: Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Adapted from Lexi's Clean Kitchen

For the Chicken Marinade:
1 lb chicken, chopped into 1"- 2" chunks
3 tbsp honey (the original recipe calls for soy sauce, which I sub for honey because of the gluten in most soy sauces)
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp lemon or lime juice
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (add more based on your preference)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger 

For the Filling:
2 garlic cloves, crushed
5 mushrooms, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 handfuls fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup bean sprouts
1 tbsp sesame oil (or olive oil, if you prefer)
large pinch of sesame seeds
red chilli flakes to taste
salt & pepper
lettuce leaves, washed & patted dry

For the Paleo 'Peanut' Sauce:
3 tbsp cashew butter (you can use a food processor to make your own)
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tbsp sesame oil (or olive oil)
1 tsp lemon or lime juice
1 garlic clove, crushed

1. In a bowl combine marinade ingredients & chopped chicken; set aside
2. Using a wok or large pan, heat oil & saute garlic, followed by the onion, green pepper & mushrooms; cook for approx. 3- 5 minutes
3. Scoop chicken into wok/ pan, saving the extra marinade
4. When chicken is fully cooked, add bean sprouts & spinach
5. Add remaining marinade & after a few minutes, add sesame seeds, chilli flakes, & salt & pepper to taste
6. If using the paleo 'peanut' sauce, stir together ingredients in a bowl using a whisk or fork until combined
7. Serve chicken & filling on top of the lettuce leaves, drizzled with the sauce if using

Image Source: http://lexiscleankitchen.com/2013/08/08/thai-chicken-lettuce-wraps-with-paleo-peanut-sauce/

Friday, March 28, 2014

Jewellery Advice with JQ Vancouver

Since we're coming to the end of Spring Break, I'm sure a lot of you ladies are ready for some well deserved me time. Keeping those kiddies occupied can be exhausting, leaving little time for ourselves while coordinating a variety of activities. With this in mind, I've been focusing on some things for us Moms this week. We all need some time out just for ourselves, and I thought a nice way to end the week would be with a feature on jewellery tips (who doesn't love jewellery???). Whether you love it as a wardrobe staple or bring it out more for special occasions, some carefully selected pieces can make accessorizing a quick & simple process. Jewellery can take an outfit from average to outstanding.  For this post I worked with Chelsey Andrews of JQ Vancouver to bring you some tips when selecting jewellery; here we focus on necklaces, but the tips apply to all jewellery pieces. Here's to some stylin' times ladies!

Look for pieces that can be casual & formal. Versatility is key. Stretch your budget by selecting pieces you can wear for a variety of occasions- from work to coffee dates to special nights out.

Pick items that are great layered or as stand alone pieces. 
A great way to make a statement is with a well- selected piece. For the right occasion- and outfit- layering 2 or more pieces can be even more stunning. Pendants, colours, length, and textures add visual interest when layering.

Splurge on classic pieces & be budget savvy with trendy items. Be strategic when making selections, allocating more money for pieces you will likely keep & wear for years to come. Items in classic tones such as silver & gold will go with more items in your wardrobe and you can make up for the simple colour choices by selecting bold pieces. Be selective when purchasing trendy items that may only be worn for a few months; what you might love right now may be forgotten come next season's trendy choices. 

A BIG thank you to Chelsey from JQ Vancouver for her contribution to this post! 

If you liked the pieces in today's post you can view the full collection here.

JQ Vancouver is a jewelry line that offers modern and minimalist necklaces and bracelets that are affordable, stylish, and extremely versatile for any outfit. Pieces range from $28- $32 and are available in the JQ Etsy Store and select retailers in the Vancouver area.

About Chelsey & JQ...
I love being able to provide women with necklaces they love and can wear with anything they already have in their wardrobes, whether it be a t-shirt or a dress. One of the biggest challenges for me is continually coming up with new designs that are different and just trusting that the design is something women will want to wear.

I started JQ Vancouver in March of 2013. At the time, I started noticing through social media and boutiques that a lot of local bloggers and jewelry designers were emerging. I went to Fashion Design School so I felt I had the basic knowledge on business and design. I’ve also always loved accessories so I decided designing jewelry would make a great hobby and business adventure as well! It began with a lot of research on different necklace designs, pendants, what other designers were doing, what stores were selling and how I could be different. I had a few visions of necklace designs so I, again, researched and then started ordering.

I really just jumped right into it and started ordering different pendants and chain and just let my      creativity flow. I was super lucky to be working at Muse Social Fashion House and was given the ok to have my designs in store! 

I think it’s really important to just trust yourself and believe that you have the skills to do whatever you set your mind to and just let things flow the way they will with no expectations. If you take it slow and step by step I think anything is attainable!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Back to Basics Beauty

A little bit of time for ourselves is important; some TLC and R&R even more so. But as busy ladies it can be hard to carve out time each day- or even each week!- to focus on ourselves, if even for only a few minutes. One thing I always try and make time for is my skin; I have a nightly 5 minute routine that I am stubbornly dedicated to. While sleep, drinking plenty of water, and a balanced diet are important factors to healthy skin, the little bit of time it takes to take care of ourselves is also a valuable de- stressing opportunity (and let's be honest, sleep deprivation goes with the territory of being a Mom!). 

While we may be able to spend some valuable time taking care of ourselves, the products we use can also play a major role in our skin's health. Since my goal has been to go as natural as possible, I have eliminated almost all products from my skincare routine (my makeup on the other hand is still a major work in progress). From an early age my Mum taught me the importance of proper skincare and bought me the classic 3- step kit from a famous beauty brand; for years I was a loyal consumer using only the one set of products for my skin. Over time my choices have changed for a variety of reasons, with budget and the product ingredients being key factors in switching. Now I use a natural soap- usually a bar- warm water, and a natural face cream. That's it. For those of you who are skeptical of such a pared- back approach I will admit I was skeptical at first too. However, my skin has never been clearer or healthier since eliminating the products with a seemingly endless list of ingredients I couldn't pronounce, let alone know what they were.

With all this in mind, I thought it was time I put together a post dedicated to us ladies who deserve some valuable 'me' time; and where better to start than our skin? With everything we put ourselves through on a daily basis, we don't need help with the aging process! Since switching regimes, I have found some amazing natural products that I love to use; I spoke with one of the lovely ladies from one of my favourite brands, Mediterra Soaps, about a back to basics approach to skincare. Here's what she had to say...

TPB: What is your approach to skincare?
Hanane: Beauty care does not have to be a complicated multiple step process. We all have a unique natural beauty. We should let that shine, not cover it up.

TPB: What is your skincare routine?
Hanane: My back to basic skin routine: I use my pure olive soap as my face wash followed by organic Aloe Vera gel as a moisturizer. It's that simple.  

TPB: What advice to you have to women about their skincare routine?
Hanane: Keep it simple ladies. Let's all get back to basics when it comes to our beauty.  I believe taking care of your beauty should be simple with simple ingredients that nature provides.

TPB: Tell us a little more about yourself & how you got started
I have been interested in soap making since I started watching my grandfather make olive oil soap, also known as the famous Castile Soap, the mildest soap on the planet. We are from the Mediterranean and therefor have access to many organic olive trees. My grandfather would press the olives by hand using some of the oil for cooking and the remains he would turn into pure olive oil soap. I was fascinated by the process. It wasn’t until 7 years ago that I really started to create my own soaps; I found it extremely therapeutic and relaxing. It was then that I knew I had found one of my passions in life. My soaps all consist of olive oil, and I combine some with coconut butter and palm butter. Due to some controversy about many large companies destroying the rainforest to extract the palm, I use palm butter from a supplier that only sources it from a renewable source. No harm is caused to the environment.

TPB: How did you decide to turn this passion into a business?
Hanane: After supplying my family and friends with endless supplies of soaps, many suggested that I try to turn the hobby into a small business. I always knew that my background soaping knowledge gained from my grandfather and the many years on my own provided the platform to produce an exceptional product. Now I can share that product with others.

TPB: What is your favourite part of what you do? What is the biggest challenge?
Hanane: My favourite part of what I do is the joy I feel and the peaceful state I am in when I am creating soaps. The challenge is accepting the fact that the picture and the idea you have in your mind of what you want the finished product to look like don’t  always work out the way you envision it. Sometimes I am completely off, but other times I am pleasantly happy with the outcome.

TPB: Any advice to others looking to start their own business?
Hanane: Find something you love, work on it, improve it always, and then when it is ready, don’t be afraid to share your masterpiece.

Hanane handcrafts her all natural soaps for body, face, and baby. Not only are her products natural, they are affordable; everything is $8 CAD and under! To find out more about Hanane and her amazing handmade beauty & skincare products, you can check out the Mediterra Etsy Store, & the  Mediterra Facebook Page, or contact her via email at mediterrasoaps@outlook.com.

If you're curious about trying out a natural skincare regime, Hanane has generously offered up a gift basket featuring some of the her most popular items for TPB readers! The goodies include 3 bars of natural soap: a pure olive oil bar (that's what I use!), a cranberry crush bar, and a lavender fields bar with a rose cup cake soap, & loofa. A perfect variety to help you find what option(s) work best for you. Enter on our CONTESTS page!

Here's to a more natural, beautiful you ladies! <3

Product images courtesy of Mediterra Soaps
Image Sources: 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Yummy Mummy Recipe: Gluten Free Berry Muffins

Now that we're officially into Spring (which means Summer is right around the corner!!!) I start to shift my cooking & baking from the heavier comfort foods of Fall & Winter to some lighter options for Spring & Summer. This is a great time of year to make some freezer- friendly goodies such as muffins, since the last thing you want to do in July is turn on the oven! I was recently scanning Pinterest for some inspiration for some gluten free muffins that Will could chow down on; ultimately I combined a few recipes to come up with an option I liked. I'm slowly becoming more comfortable making tweaks in my baking so I can create custom goodies that suit the new dietary needs in the family. These muffins are not only simple & healthy, but are a delicious gluten free option.

Yummy Mummy Recipe: Gluten Free Berry Muffins

1 cup chopped berries of your choice (I made a batch each of blueberry & strawberry)
- if using blueberry, no need to chop
1 3/4 cup gluten free flour (I used Cloud 9)
1/4 cup sugar (I used coconut sugar from Galloways- amazing!)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk (or substitute your favourite non- dairy milk- I love coconut)
1 egg (or substitute 1/4 cup applesauce)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees & line or grease 12 muffin tins
2. In one bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, & salt; in another mix vanilla, oil, milk, & egg/ applesauce
3. Add the berries to the dry mix, then combine with wet ingredients until blended well with no lumps (other than the berries)
4. Pour batter into muffin tins- only fill 2/3; bake for 25- 30 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the centre of a muffin comes out clean
5. Eat nice & warm from the oven or allow to cool & freeze for yummy snacking later
Enjoy! These babies were gone in no time! Light & delicious.

The blueberry muffins...

 ...and the strawberry...


Photos by Katherine Petrunia

Friday, March 21, 2014

Feature Friday: Once Upon A Child Langley

     I have always loved consignment stores. I love that you can get such great deals on quality items- especially now as a parent when it comes to kid's clothes & gear- since they often only use something for a short period of time. When I was growing up my Mum would give me the choice of where I wanted to shop for my clothes and I would often choose local consignment stores because I could find unique items and get way more bang for my buck. Fast forward 20+ years and I still love the fun challenge of seeing how far I can stretch my money when I need to pick up items for Ari. I'm a lover of our local kid's swap meet and have discovered lots of other great ways to stock up on clothes for her, including today's featured business, Once Upon A Child Langley. The store has a great selection of used clothes, toys, and gear, with some brand- new items.

      When I was pregnant with Ari I couldn't resist going through the store and checking out everything they had knowing that I would soon have a little one. And even though we didn't know what we were having I bought a few little goodies for when our baby arrived (I couldn't help myself!). The staff have always been friendly and helpful and my friends and I have always been impressed with their selection. 

       Consigning is also a great option for parents when their kids have outgrown their clothes, toys, and gear; you can get some money for your used items that you can in turn use towards other things you need. If you've got a family or are planning one, Once Upon A Child Langley is a great place to check out. If you're not already a fan, I bet you will be after this!

1.     What kind of products and/ or services do you offer? 
      We offer a delightfully rare but efficient customer focused process buying and selling kids experienced stuff for 50%-70% less then new retail stores. The items we carry range from children’s equipment, d├ęcor, bedding, bikes & Scooters, books,  toys, shoes, games, puzzles and of course clothes and more. We also carry a large variety of new products, plus new product that we are unable to sell experienced such as car seats & boosters, jewelry, hair accessories, soothers & chew toys, teddy’s, and much more. Big difference…….. we buy all seasons all the time, there is no limits, no appointments needed, come in anytime that is convenient for you. We process same day and for the items we would like to make an offer on we present you an offer of in store credit with some extra baby bucks free or cash on the spot. No hassle, no waiting for days or weeks, no contracts; fast and efficient.

2.     What is the price point? 
      Clothing pending the brand ranges from $1.50 – $10.50, we carry all brands, we stay trendy, we ensure the clothing is in next to new condition, when you pull from our racks all the buttons are there, zippers and snaps work. Equipment and toys have all the parts and accessories, are thoroughly inspected, recall checked through health Canada and we never retro fit. Safety is one of our main training models for our certified buyers.

3.     How long have you been operating and how did you start? 
      We are one of over 300 franchises, so knowledge, experience and training of 40 plus years is there. We were the first store to open in BC and are very proud to lead the way for a great option to buy and sell kids stuff. We opened our doors in October 2012 in Langley.

4.     How did you decide what to do? 
      We have two children ages 6 & 4 and we always wanted a better option than the high prices of brand new for something my kids might wear or use only once as they grow so fast. We looked into many options of what is being offered out there, some hard work and diligent research and found Once Upon A Child.

5.     What is your favourite part of what you do? 
      Providing options of fantastic next to new kids stuff for 50%-70% less than new retail. Providing our customers with and option, fast service and cash on the spot makes everyone smile, plus being an essential part of our recycling era and a part of the community. What is the biggest challenge? We buy & sell children’s youth sizes 6 to 18/20 however those clothes sometimes get a little more love then kids smaller sizes. We are always looking for more.

6.     Any advice to other ladies/ moms looking to start their own business? 
      Always be prepared for a lot of hours and long days at your business. However working for yourself is very rewarding at all levels.

If you're still not convinced about how amazing OUAC Langley is, this should help: enter for a chance to win a $25 gift card to the store so you can stock up on all the goodies you need! Enter on our Contests page. Happy shopping!!!

To find out more about Once Upon A Child Langley check out their website & Facebook page.

Images courtesy of Once Upon A Child Langley

March posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique