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Monday, September 29, 2014

Yummy Mummy Monday: Shepherd's Pie

I've been going through my favourite Fall & Winter recipes trying to get inspired for when we're really craving yummy meals that leave us warm and cozy from the inside out. Growing up with an English Mum, shepherd's pie was a delicious staple in our house and I still love this meal today. One of my girlfriend's and I were talking about our favourite recipes this week and comparing versions of this classic dish... And now I'm craving some! So, I thought I'd offer up my family's recipe, complete with a healthier twist on the potato topper (but don't worry, I've included the classic spud version too). A great bonus is that it's a quick & simple dish perfect for busy weeknights- you can even prep it the night before so all you have to do is pop it in the oven when you get home.

Serves 4- 6
1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 cup peas
1 medium turnip, chopped
1/2 head cauliflower
(for the traditional version, use 4- 5 medium potatoes)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Salt & pepper to taste
Optional: 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot, bring some water to a boil. Boil turnip (or potatoes if going the classic route) & steam cauliflower & carrots on top.
2. In a pan, cook the ground beef & onion, followed by Worcestershire sauce & dijon. When cooked, toss in peas and steamed carrots.
3. Drain turnip and place in a large bowl with cauliflower; mash to desired consistency (same step if using potatoes).
4. Scoop the beef mixture into a casserole dish & top with turnip/ cauliflower combo or potatoes. Top with cheese if using.
5. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes; the turnip/ cauliflower version will probably not achieve the same golden brown/ toasted appearance as the classic spud- topped one, but it will still be delish!

September posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique

Friday, September 26, 2014

I Love You, But Can We Go to Sleep Now?

Can I confess something? I'm feeling pretty pooped out. Some days burnt out. This last month has been really busy with the commercial salmon fishing and juggling work, the blog, a clingy 15 month old, keeping my house not looking like a bomb zone, and finding time to spend with hubby. Am I forgetting something? Or right: me.

I recently read a post on Scary Mommy about how Moms sometimes feel like they have nothing left for their hubbies at the end of the day after they've worked and/ or looked after the kids and house, done the school and sports rounds, etc, etc. Is it any wonder? I'm not here to complain, just taking some time to reflect inward and figure out why women feel this way. There's a reason heart disease is such a big killer of us ladies, and it's because we're so busy taking care of everyone and everything else but ourselves. 

I think we need to stop.

I'm not perfect- far from it, but I try hard to be an attentive and loving Mom and wife. But some days, being Mom leaves me little energy to be a wife at the end of the day. I'm sorry my love, but when you put your arm around me and give me that look it isn't an insult to the handsome man I'm looking back at, but the last thing I want to do when I finally sit down is participate in more physical activity.

When we moved out and I still worked outside the home 5 days a week, I felt like there was a little more balance as to who did what. Now, I sometimes feel that it's taken for granted that I'm home most days (even if I'm working at 5 or 6am, during nap, and/ or after bedtime) to cook dinner, clean up, and get ready for the next day. Since having Ari, I have to confess my frustration at being nudged into a more traditional role (I have nothing against how different families do things, but I have always wanted some form of a career outside of my role within my family). Despite my desire to work, both for the extra income and to give me some precious grown up time, (albeit without the breaks and socializing of an office job) I don't always feel like what I do is appreciated as 'work'.  

Talking to some of my girlfriends, I know I'm not alone. One of them even mentioned that couples tend to argue more about who does what after the birth of children because of the skewed balance during the first few months and years of having kids. And when you give of yourself to someone all day, nurturing them, playing with them, teaching them, when they finally go to bed is it so selfish to ask for a few precious moments alone to do something just for you? And I'm not even talking cracking that bottle of wine, I'm just suggesting slumping in an exhausted pile on the couch for the simple pleasure of sitting still and not having to jump up every 10 seconds to chase my youngster. Anything else is bonus.

Will is great at recognizing that I work hard and deserve some me time, but I've always struggled to communicate how mentally (and yes, physically) exhausting it can be to juggle everything  to someone who works in a physically demanding and dangerous job and comes home exhausted (I've even told him not to tell me all the scary work stories, because I'd worry way too much). He's great- amazing- with helping with Ari when he gets home so I can cook dinner without her clinging to my legs and I love that they get this special time together- despite her independent streak. And when he gets time off, he's a trouper with the laundry and vacuuming. But sometimes I just feel as though he's only getting snapshots of what the day can look like. An hour of chasing after Ari and he's pooped (hey, I get it), but I can't help but think try doing that all day. ;)

Some days I just don't think men and women are ever going to 'get each other' and understand exactly what the other does (as the saying goes, until you've walked in my shoes...). And sometimes, I feel like just trying to explain why I'm so tired just adds to my grumbly frustration. This isn't conducive to making me feel warm and fuzzy towards my hubby. Having said all this, I don't think it's fair that our relationships often take second place (or last place) as we go about our daily lives, but it's just the reality for so many. And sadly, why I think so many couples end up separating- we're just too busy. Somewhere, somehow, we need to refocus.

Ladies, what are your thoughts? Gents, I welcome your input too. I'd love to hear how you manage to juggle all the responsibilities in your world.

Thanks for listening. OXOX One tuckered mama ;)

Image Source: Friends Eat

September posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Savvy Family Tip #4: Plan for Holiday Spending Now

For some of us holiday shopping inspires excitement, for others it is a source of stress in anticipation of the credit card bills that follow. Today's Savvy Family Tip from Dan Olson of Sunlife Financial can help make budgeting for holiday spending stress- free and simple.

Savvy Family Tip # 4 – Plan for Holiday Spending Now

Would you like to eliminate your post-Christmas credit card shock? 

In the middle of gift wrapping have you ever realized that you’ve been really generous? The joys of the Christmas season often cause a January hangover when the credit card bills arrive. 

My wife, Laura, and I discovered a way to reduce the January pain: 

Starting in the summer we put $100 - $200 each month into the Magic Christmas Envelope. From that envelope the gifts and goodies are purchased. Because the funds aren’t unlimited, it’s easier to make better decisions. 

Investing the time to find the perfect gift will make the giving joyful. 

Dan Olson is a Sun Life Financial Advisor. An experienced Dad with three children, now young adults. With everyone under one roof for the Summer, his home is feeling really, really small.

If you have some questions for Dan, or would like some help with your family's savings, here's how you can contact him: 

604 308 9502

Image Source: Etsy
September posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Yummy Mummy Monday: Minestrone Soup

With the cooler weather comes cravings for warm & hearty food. One of my favourite things to make in the Fall is soup- I love combining ingredients to create comfort in a bowl. One of my all- time favourites is the classic minestrone- I don't know anyone who doesn't love this soup that's chock- full of nutrient- rich veggies. Perfect for anyone seeking full- flavoured vegetarian or paleo options, this yummy soup doesn't disappoint (for a 'set it & forget it' version, mix this baby up in a crockpot or slow cooker for busy work/ school days).

Yummy Mummy Recipe: Minestrone Soup
Serves 6- 8

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 fennel bulb, diced (discard the greens at the top)
2 leeks, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cups stock (veggie, chicken, or beef are all fine options for this soup)
3 cups water
2 carrots, peeled & sliced
1 cup green beans, cut into 1" long pieces
1 can diced tomatoes
2 small zuchinni, sliced
Pepper to taste
2 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
1 can of your favourite beans, such as kidney
1 cup pasta, cooked (best to add cooked & at end, so noodles don't absorb too much liquid)

1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, fennel, leeks, & celery; cook for approx. 5 minutes. (If using a slowcooker, complete this step, then add all ingredients & cook on low for 6- 8 hours).
2. Add stock & water, followed by carrots, beans, & tomatoes with juice (if using potatoes & canned beans, add them now as well). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat & simmer for 25 minutes.
3. Add zuchinni & bring back to a low boil. If using, stir in pasta. Season with pepper & serve.

This is a great simple soup to start the season with, and your kids will enjoy helping prep and add all of the ingredients.

September posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique 

Image Source: Shop Girl Maria

Friday, September 19, 2014

5 Fall Decorating Ideas

It's getting to cooler weather- Fall is almost here! Once I get over my initial sadness that Summer is coming to an end, I embrace the warmth and coziness that Fall brings into our seasonal decorating. I'm working on some ideas for my home that I'll be sharing on social media soon, but until then here are some simple ideas I love to incorporate Fall elements into your home decor- happy decorating!

Entryway & Porch

Fill lanterns with items such as pumpkins, gourds, leaves, branches, & candles- beautiful on tables, in a vignette, or as porch decor.

Use a seasonal wreath & some Fall branches to add a warm & welcoming touch to your porch.

Seasonal Fall mums, pumpkins & a bale of hay arranged together add a country- style touch to porches and decks.

For a more contemporary look, seek out ghost pumpkins or artificial versions- if you  love a little glitter, covering them in glitter is a fun touch.

To mix contemporary & traditional, combine white elements with the warmth of reds, oranges, and yellows.

I hope this gives you some inspiration and shows you that adding seasonal touches doesn't have to be fussy or expensive! oxox TPB

September posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique

Image Sources:
1&2: Antique Homes
Fynes Designs
Thistle Wood Farms
Here Comes the Sun

Monday, September 15, 2014

Yummy Mummy Monday: Pepper Jelly

I love what the end of Summer brings. The changing of seasons offers up a change of culinary options: we shift away from salads and lighter foods to soups and meals that leave you warm and satisfied. A tradition I'm starting to enjoy is canning some of the delicious fresh Summer produce to be enjoyed later in the year when the warmth of the Summer seems like a distant memory. I've only taken up canning in the last few years and I certainly haven't ventured too far into all the options, but I've found it to be a fun way to preserve food- and one made even more enjoyable when you do it with a friend. My best friend has been an avid canner for longer than I have, and she has brought this pepper jelly to family functions as a quick and simple appy. Believe me when I say it doesn't last long. Even if you've never tried something like it, this recipe is sure to be a crowd pleaser! These jellies are great for holiday parties and stocking stuffers- and yes, we need to start thinking about the holidays! They'll be here before we know it. ;) And for newcomers to canning, this is a great simple recipe to get you started.

Yummy Mummy Recipe: Pepper Jelly

Makes 6 8oz jars. Jelly can be stored up to 1 year.


1 whole red bell pepper, seeded & finely chopped
1 whole green bell pepper, seeded & finely chopped
5 whole jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped (You can chop the peppers either with a food processor or by hand- I recommend wearing gloves for handling the jalapenos if chopping by hand- my fingertips burned until the next day after handling these babies!)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
5 cups sugar
1 package fruit pectin

1. Make sure to sterilize jars and lids prior to starting; most dishwashers have a setting that will sterilize, just leave the door closed until you're ready for the jars. 

2. In a large double boiler pot stir together peppers, vinegar, and sugar and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes then set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

3. Add the fruit pectin, stirring constantly. Make sure everything is mixed well, then let stand for a few minutes.

4. Pour the jelly into sterilized jars and seal tightly by hand. Submerge jars up to neck in the pot of boiling water and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, set timer for 5 minutes.

5. Carefully remove jars- using canning tongs are best- and set jars aside to cool. Listen for the lids to 'pop' indicating that they have sealed. this can take a little while, so don't worry if they don't all seal right away.

Enjoy the pepper jelly with cream cheese and crackers or for a dairy- free version, mix with some goat cheese yogurt. 

Thanks to my friend Courtney for the recipe and to my Dad for helping me make my first batch of jelly!

September posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique

Friday, September 12, 2014

Product Review: Lille Mus Accessories

Did you catch our Amazing Mom feature on Merete from Lille Mus a few weeks ago?
This talented Mom has transitioned from a career in fashion to one as a creative WAHM (work at home Mom) creating trendy & eco- friendly accessories for lil ladies and dudes- with options even available for the Moms who want a grown- up size!

Look what came in the mail!
Merete generously sent me a package full of goodies including a matching Mommy- Daughter set and bow tie fit for the most stylin' young man, plus another set complete with sizes for both Ariana and I. 

When I received my package from Merete I was impressed by how accurate the online photos were of the colours and patterns. What you see really is what you get. And as a softie for any business with a focus on being eco- friendly, I love that the main goal of Lille Mus is to be "as friendly as possible to nature and the children wearing our products". Using eco- friendly fabrics in fun prints, you can't go wrong with any of the cute items available from this YVR company.

Some Mom & Daughter matchy matchy fun!
I really liked the quality & softness of the fabric used to make these accessories. I also liked the quality of the construction- the sewing is beautiful and the products stand up well to being stretched and tugged on.

I love that if you see something you really like, you can order it in your size- and even have some matchy- matchy fun like we did! There have been so many times that I've bought something for Ariana and said 'I wish this came in my size!', and with Lille Mus's pieces they do! (sizes range from XS for 0- 6 months to XL for 10 years+). So Moms, if you want to buy something for an older child- or for yourself!- you can! (These soft & stretchy headbands are a cute addition to an outfit, and would be great to wear to the gym). Prices range from $15- $20 each depending on style and size.

My handsome lil bowtie model!
And let's not forget about the little dudes! It's a common complaint that there are far more accessories an cutesy items out there for little girls. Lille Mus is helping to fill that gap with their selection of bowties that are a dapper addition to their wardrobes. They're smartly designed to attach to the top button of a shirt, making them tough for little hands to remove (and I'm sure if an older kid or Dad wanted to add one to their ensemble, they could pull one off! Skip the fuss of tying a grown- up tie and simply pop one on!). Added bonus: you can pick a few favourites, since they're a great value at $18 each.

Our matchy- matchy moment
(I have to do this while I have the chance!)

If you want to get your hands on some of this eco- friendly adorable action, check out the Lille Mus website.

UPDATE: Check out the Lille Mus Fall/ Winter Collection available now on their website!

You can also find Lille Mus on Facebook & Instagram @lille_mus_accessories

A big thank you to Merete from Lille Mus for her generous package of goodies- you're an Amazing Mom & we wish you all the best with this beautiful company you're working so hard to build.

September posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Savvy Family Tip #3

It's time for the third instalment of our Savvy Family $ Tips. Today's tip from Dan Olson of Sunlife Financial may have you re- thinking your morning coffee... 

Tip # 3 – What’s your Starbucks Index? 

One challenge I love to offer is, “How much are you planning to spend at Starbucks this month?”  Watching someone do the arithmetic is interesting, from the look on their face I know when they arrive at the total. 

$50.00...        $100.00...        $150.00...        $200.00...        $250.00...         

A coffee and nibbley at coffee break, another coffee in the afternoon if it’s a tough day, plus a weekend visit or two…….. adds up quickly. 

Habitual purchases are the hardest to control. Unlike a major purchase there is no research into the best option or decision process. 

What else could you do with the $1,200 - $2,000 per year, that would provide better value? 

Dan Olson is a Sun Life Financial Advisor. An experienced Dad with three children, now young adults. With everyone under one roof for the Summer, his home is feeling really, really small. 

If you have some questions for Dan, or would like some help with your family's savings, here's how you can contact him: 

604 308 9502

For more Savvy Family $ Tips and other financial posts, check out our Savvy Family page

Image Source: Pinterest

September posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Yummy Mummy Monday: Homemade Hummus

One of my good friends recently gave me some of her homemade hummus and I'm a little embarrassed to say it was gone within 10 minutes (!!!). Honestly, if I had a choice, I would usually pick another dip such as guacamole or tzatziki over hummus, but this stuff had me going back for more 'til there was none left. It's a nutrient- packed & simple dip to make and great to pack in work or school lunches with veggies or crackers. There are so many versions out there, but I am in love with this recipe from my friend, so I couldn't help but share it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! ;)

Yummy Mummy Recipe: Hummus
1 can chickpeas, drained with liquid set aside
3 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
Sprinkle on cumin powder
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
3 cloves garlic
Salt to Taste

1. Place all ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth
2. Add juice from chick peas until desired consistency is found

Enjoy with your favourite bread, crackers, pretzels, & other dippable goodies!

Image Source: Pinch of Yum

September posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Amazing Mom: Merete Rasmussen, Lille Mus

We all love accessories. And one of the fun perks of being a Mom is dressing up your kids- at least until they're old enough to tell you otherwise! While there are plenty of cute items for girls out there it can be slim pickings to find cute accessories for your little lads. Today's Amazing Mom not only makes adorable pieces for girls, she's filling the gap in the market for little boys too. Meet Merete Rasmussen of Lille Mus, who's turning her previous career as a fashion & textile instructor into a business she manages from home while raising her two daughters. 

What kind of products and/ or services do you offer?

I am the designer and owner of Lille Mus, a modern and stylish line of eco-friendly accessories for kids based in Vancouver. I make headbands, bowties, ties and hair clips in all sizes from newborn to adult, with the main focus on children.
At Lille Mus we aim to be as friendly as possible to nature and the children wearing our products by using only eco-friendly fabrics. We use vibrant modern prints and colors in our designs for a fun and sophisticated look. All our products are created with comfort and durability in mind.

            What is the price point?
Prices range from $12 to $25. Everything is handmade with high quality eco-friendly fabrics. We offer free worldwide shipping for all online purchases over $25.

            How long have you been operating and how did you start?
I started my online business Lille Mus this summer. Before I had my two daughters I was teaching fashion design and textile science and I have been designing and sewing for many years.  As a stay-at-home mom I was looking for a business idea that would allow me to be home with my children while still pursuing my passion for fashion design.

            How did you decide what to do?
My girls love dressing up and wearing headbands so I started sewing some for them to wear. I had wanted to get back into sewing for a long time but- as all stay-at-home moms know- there are just not enough hours in the day sometimes!
Before I had the girls I used to make intricate patterns and sew large gowns. The headbands were small projects that I could finish in a short time. I really enjoyed doing something creative again and after a while I decided to try and turn it into a business.
          I had lots of help and encouragement from my friends and family. I am lucky that my husband Tyson has a background in software design so he helped me set up the website.

          What is your favourite part of what you do? What is the biggest challenge?
I love everything involved in designing and sewing Lille Mus accessories. I get to plan and make everything from start to finish and there is a real sense of accomplishment when I wrap up an order and go to the post office to mail it to a client. The main thing for me is that it doesn’t feel like work or a chore because it is something that I really enjoy doing.
I love being a mom but it is also really nice to have something else to focus on sometimes. I think it helps me keep my sanity.
I would say the biggest challenge is getting my name and business out there to help get more clients.

            Any advice to other ladies/ moms looking to start their own business?
My advice is to choose something that you are already good at and then find a way to turn it into a business. If you focus on your strengths rather than trying to learn something completely new I think you are more likely to succeed. I also think it is important to do something that you actually enjoy doing so it doesn’t just feel like an extra chore.

So what are you waiting for? Go check out Lille Mus & stock up on goodies perfect for all the lil guys and gals you know (the headbands are so cute, the Mamas might want one too!). 

And just in case you need more motivation, Merete has generously offered a discount for TPB readers: enter promo code TPB25 at checkout to receive 25% off your entire purchase (valid until Friday September 12, 2014). Added bonus: receive free shipping when you spend $25 or more (it won't be hard to do!) ;)

Images courtesy of Lille Mus
Photo credit: Little Treats Photography

To see the entire line from Lille Mus, check out their website or find them on Facebook.

September posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique