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Monday, February 29, 2016

Getting Our {Healthy} Snack on with Love Child Organics


Toddlers. That one word says it all. Some days it feels like World War 3 trying to get my little blondie to eat her veggies (luckily she's pretty good about fruit), and it can be a pretty frustrating experience to say the least- tantrums would be an understatement. But like most kids, she's got her go- to favourites and when we go grocery shopping there is one thing Ari always asks for: pouches. When I ask her what we need to buy at the store each week, these are at the top of her list. Our grocery list has changed quite a bit since taking her off gluten and dairy, but I'm glad these are still an option.

I don't know about you, but these are a lifesaver for me- a quick grab & go snack that I can toss in the diaper bag and head out the door. Sure there are things like crackers, but I'm not a fan of the overly- processed, gluten free options that are out there, and I'd rather get in as many greens as I can (even if I have to be sneaky about it!). On our recent visit to see a gastroenterologist about her digestive issues, he mentioned how kids on a gluten- free diet can suffer from ailments such as constipation because many of the gluten- free options kids eat lack fibre and other nutrients. One thing I've taken pride in over this dietary journey with her is that we didn't simply swap whole wheat bread, crackers, etc for gluten- free versions that don't replace the nutrients of quality wheat/ grain poducts; instead we added in more fruits and veggies, nuts, and other gluten free whole foods. And when I need some quick grab & go options, Love Child Organics has been one of the brands I love and trust the ingredients list. 

Some 'convenient' snacks are lacking when it comes to nutrients and can have questionable ingredients, but pouches are a great way to pack in nutrients without it being a battle. In the past I've shared about some of the healthy snack options our family has tried and loved (see here), and now that Liam's also on our grocery bill (the kid's a bottomless pit!), I want him to eat the same healthy foods that his sister does- a little bonus is that he isn't gluten free, so that makes shopping for him a little easier/ less expensive.  

In addition to the pouches, some of the other snacks I've given the kids are LCO's Toodle O's and Oaty Chomps (for Liam- these aren't gluten free) and Love Ducks (for Ari- these are gluten free and they didn't stand a chance!.. which is why they're not in the photos). ;)

Aside from the pouches, one of my other favourite products by LCO are the Toodle O's. They're like another classic breakfast cereal, except without all of the- sorry to use this word- crappy ingredients, and there's the added bonus of using them to keep little ones entertained while you're prepping dinner- Liam loves picking them up and pinching them between his fingers (which is great to help babies develop motor skills BTW). If you've got little ones to buy for on your grocery list, I'd recommend you try out some of the options from Love Child Organics; the more we support companies like this, the more widely available and affordable their products will become (see the end of this post for a promo code). 




Love Child Organics is an organic children's food company preparing 100% pure and organic products powered by superfoods. Filled with nutrient- rich ingredients, Love Child Organics's products are made using only real, simple, and clean ingredients that parents will recognize and feel good about.
Enjoy 15% their products on Amazon.ca when you use promo code LCOMOM01 (please note this is a one- time use code. Expires July 30, 2016)

Visit the LCO website to see all of the products they offer and find them on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 


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Friday, February 26, 2016

Herve Tullet Book Review {+ Giveaway}


Growing up I loved reading and I now love cracking open the pages of a book with my own kids. Story time is something we try to make time for everyday and it's fun revisiting favourites from when I was a kid and finding new books to love, like these ones by Herve Tullet. In the next few months I'll be teaming up with Raincoast Books to share about some great titles to add to your little one's library, with a few contests for you to have the chance to win some of the books featured. The first books that I'm sharing about are 3 that  make reading fun and interactive, encouraging young readers to not just read or listen to the words, but to participate in what's written on the pages, Let's Play, Mix It Up, and Press Here.  If you're looking for some fun new books to add to your collection, see below to learn a little more about these great titles and how you can enter to win all 3 for your little one.


I want to start ff by saying that when a package arrives in the mail, Ari gets excited. Really excited. Even if it's not for her. But in this case it was, and when she saw that there were books inside, her eyes lit up. I couldn't wait to read these books with her and we have such a blast when we do- there's laughing and clapping, and bouncing, and excitement as we turn each page. Reading can be a quiet and calm activity, but it can also be a lot of fun and an opportunity for learning and to encourage participation. These books do just that and I hope you'll check them out (you can also enter to win all 3 at the end of this post!). Here's a little bit about each book...

Press Here- I heard about this book some time ago and remember it standing out among others  at the store. Like the title suggests, you begin by pressing here and following funny instructions to make coloured dots do different things by pressing on them, tilting the book, and clapping, among other things. It's a fun way to teach kids how to follow instructions, learn about colours, and differentiate between left and right without it feeling too formal or instructive. 

Mix It Up- If you can't guess by the cover and title, this book's all about colour and what happens when you do different things to them, like adding black or white, or combining two colours to get another. Readers tilt the pages, close the book, and touch different colours to transform them. Like Press Here it's a fun and natural way for your kids to learn something without it feeling forced.  

Let's Play- By the time we got to this book, we had a pretty good idea of what we'd be in for- fun! This book begins with a yellow dot (is it the same one from Press Here?) talking to it's young readers: 'Hey there! I'm getting pretty bored in here. Wanna play?'. And so the story/ adventure begins. Like the other two books, there are fun instructions to follow, but we really didn't know what to expect as we turned each page, which made it fun for me as well. Like his other books, Tullet gets his young readers involved, and what's kind of amazing about Let's Play is that the whole story is based around a yellow dot and a thin black line. I'll leave it there so I don't spoil it for you.









What I love most about these books is how fun they are- both for kids and adults. Ari has the biggest smile on her face when we read them, and the laughs are contagious. The bright colours make these books eye- catching and appealing to read, with the interactive pages making readers part of the story. Herve Tullet has a unique style of storytelling and his books are a fun way to mix up story time and make it more interactive. These books are light- hearted and funny and silly, with the added bonus of making learning fun (see below for the finger painting fun inspired by Mix It Up). We love them and I think you will too. They're available at Indigo or see the end of this post for your chance to win all 3!



A big thank you to Raincoast Books for these 3 great books to add to our collection. To see other current and upcoming titles available through Raincoast books, visit their website.
You can also find them on social media: InstagramFacebook | Twitter 
#RaincoastBooks

Herve Tullet is an award- winning author and illustrator, who has received international acclaim. His unique artwork guides children through his books, bringing them into the story and encouraging interaction. Press Here is an international best- seller and is available in 25 different languages.

There will be 3 chances to win with Raincoast Books, see below for your other chances to win!
Part 2: #PlayTestShare (Contest now closed)
Part 3: The Little Prince (Contest now closed)

Open to Canadian residents only. Must be 18+ to enter.
Deadline to enter for the Herve Tullet Books is March 11

CONTESTS NOW CLOSED. Thank you to everyone who entered. 
February posts sponsored by


Monday, February 22, 2016

Yummy Mummy Monday: Baked Calamari {Gluten Free}


love me some calamari. Love. If I'm at a restaurant and this is on the menu it's hard for me to say no. I just wish it wasn't deep- fried. Will and I have tried making healthier versions of a few restaurant- inspired meals at home, and he was pretty happy when I told him I'd be trying my hand at baked calamari sans gluten. I never know how my first attempts will work out, especially when the ingredients have to be swapped for wheat- free alternatives, but we were both really happy with this homemade baked version- even Ari ate it! It's quick to make and only takes 10- 15 minutes in the oven, so it's perfect for busy nights when you need to whip up something quick. Serve this with your favourite tzatziki (here's the recipe I use) or dip for a guilt- free appy or entree.

Ingredients:

2 cups squid rings, thawed and rinsed
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 egg whites  + 1 whole egg
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup gluten- free bread crumbs
1 tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves finely minced
1 tsp ground chipotle pepper
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp dry dill (if you prefer to use fresh, save it and sprinkle on top when the calamari is cooked)
1/2 tsp ground pepper
pinch of salt
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 lemon, sliced + fresh chopped parsley (optional) for added flavour/ garnish

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In one shallow dish combine your coconut milk with eggs; in another combine the flour, bread crumbs and other dry ingredients (if using fresh garlic, toss it in too).
3. Pat the squid rings so they're not too wet and coat them in the corn starch and shake off excess. 4. 4. Toss the squid rings into the coconut milk egg wash, followed by the dry mix, using a fork to make sure you coat them completely with both.
5. Transfer the coated squid rings to the baking sheet and bake for approx. 10- 15 minutes. Be careful not to bake for too long to avoid the squid becoming chewy.
6. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the diced red onion and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Garnish with fresh parsley and lemon wedges and serve with tzatziki.




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Friday, February 19, 2016

Happy Mail Days with Wee Nation {Review}



I love good mail days. Who doesn’t?  Especially when it’s a box loaded full of goodies for your little one. Ari loves checking the mail and when something arrives for her she gets so excited. When this box from Wee Nation was dropped off she couldn’t wait to open it (taking photos for this post was challenging- I could barely shoot the photos before she tucked into the Love Child snacks!).

Started by two Moms, Wee Nation offers subscription boxes full of Canadian- made items for little ones. They offer month- to- month, 3- month, and 6- month plans curated based on your child's age. Choose from Newborn (0- 3 m), Big Baby (4- 12m), and Toddler (1- 2 yrs) boxes; as they grow, you can update your profile to receive boxes tailored for their age. These boxes make great gifts or order them for your own little ones to make for some pretty cute (and exciting!) mail days for them to look forward to. 

Here's what was included in the Toddler box we received:



Jax & Lennon Co Beanie
This beanie is made from a bamboo French terry fabric, making it not only super soft and cute, but Earth friendly. Ari doesn't always like wearing hats, but with this one being so soft and comfortable, I got her to wear it no problem. And let’s face it, you can never have enough cute hats for your little ones!


Jayde the Jaybird by Brandee Buble
This is a sweet book by local Vancouver author Brandee Bublee, who has penned several other great children's titles.  Little readers meet Jayde and follow her as she learns a lesson in finding her courage. I was so excited to see this book when we opened our box and it's become a story time favourite. This would be a great read for elementary school- age kids to learn about the importance of courage.


Love Child Organics Love Ducks
This is one of my favourite brands, offering up high- quality and organic products for little ones (I had to take this photo first because Ari couldn't wait to dig in!). Love Child Organics is based in Squamish with a variety of nutritious options for babies, toddlers, and young children (their pouches are another favourite in our house). These Love Ducks are also gluten- free which get bonus points from me!


Aleva Naturals Bamboo Baby Wipes
Whether you're wiping faces or changing diapers, it's good to know what's coming in contact with your child's skin. These wipes are free from harsh chemicals and are eco- friendly. I love...



Just Imagine CD by Will Stroet
As seen on 'CBC Kids', Will Stroet is a popular children's entertainer with fun and upbeat songs. I'll catch myself singing his songs when I'm doing things around the house and it makes me smile- I grew up listening to Fred Penner and Will Stroet reminds me of the music I loved when I was little. Favourite songs: 'Mama Samba', 'Colour It', and 'Dive in the Pool'.






The ladies behind Wee Nation have done a great job bringing together top- quality brands and products. I love that the items they include are all from right here in Canada and that they're supporting many small businesses in the process. I loved the selection we received in our box and felt they made great choices that were age- appropriate (you can tell they're Moms!). I really don't know who was more excited- me or Ari- when we got to open the box, and with the exception of the Love Ducks which got consumed immediately, everything will get used and enjoyed for a long time to come. This is a great way to discover Canadian companies and try out products you may not have heard of. And while I was familiar with everything that was included in our box since I've worn the Mom hat for a little while, I think this would be such a sweet gift for a new or expecting Mom who's navigating this territory for the first time. The value for what you receive is great and having it shipped right to your door is something I'm always a fan of. 

If you'd like to try out Wee Nation for yourself or place an order as a gift, enjoy 10% off with promo code PB10.

Thanks to the lovely ladies behind Wee Nation for our box- you spoiled us and we loved it all!

Visit the Wee Nation website to see all of their options & to order.

You can also find them on social media: Facebook | Instagram | PinterestTwitter

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Vision Board Night at Thrive Studio


Have you ever asked yourself what do I want in life and really reflected on it? How do we know where we're going if we haven't picked a destination? I've known about vision boards for some time and that they're a tool to help us focus on achieving our goals; I loved the idea of making one, but there was always an excuse why I didn't have the time. I'm a big believer that things happen for a reason and a few weeks ago an email appeared in my inbox from the lovely Jessica from North Shore Mama inviting a group of ladies to a Vision Board night at THRIVE Studio. It was an amazing experience and one I'm grateful for. There's something very therapeutic about reflecting inwards and expressing ourselves creatively, allowing ourselves to focus on ourselves and what we want. The process to me was just as important as the outcome and I hope it's an experience you'll make time for. Surrounded by good company, good food, and in a place where we felt safe and comfortable opening up about ourselves, our vision boards came together. I'm sharing about my experience below, hoping you'll make some time for yourself to do the same.

We started the evening by going through some exercises of self- reflection guided by the owner of THRIVE Studio, Jamie Smith. These helped guide us as we prepared to make our vision boards.


Once we'd put our pencils to paper, we examined what we had written and began searching through magazines for pictures and words that we wanted to use.


It's a fun process, and you end up with a pile of paper that you then piece together on your vision board like a puzzle, moving everything around until it's where you like it. Not everything will fit, so it's interesting to see what you leave out and what you really want to include



The hardest part was gluing everything once it was arranged on the paper without messing up where it had been placed- as I said, like a puzzle!


The final step was to trim the edges and reflect on the final product. This was a really interesting part of the evening and Jamie encouraged us to share about some of the things we had included. 

The final part of the process is to choose a location to place your vision board where it will be seen often, with the idea being that it becomes a tool for visualizations which help bring our goals to the forefront of our minds, helping us to reach out for opportunities that guide us towards achieving those goals (I put mine on the wall above my desk).



This was a great experience, one that I'll reflect on for some time. Jamie really helped make it even more meaningful than if I'd done this myself at home. Her guidance and encouragement informed some of the choices I made while making my vision board and she got me thinking about things in a different way than if I had done this alone. She helped me be candid and honest with myself which in turn made this an even more meaningful exercise. How we think about things can have such an impact on our lives and having something visual to motivate and encourage us can be an important part of chasing our dreams. Surround yourself with positive and clear your mind of 'can't'.

If you'd like to attend one of Jamie's workshops at THRIVE Studio, see the links below for more info. Her workshops would be perfect for a girl's night out or work party as something fun and different, with the added bonus of self- improvement. A big thank you to Jamie for hosting our group of ladies for such a wonderful night and to Jessica from North Shore Mama for the invitation. This experience will hold a special place in my heart. 

About Jamie & Thrive Studio
Jamie Smith is a mixed media artist who lives in Vancouver, BC. She creates pieces using photos to explore nostalgia and memories, encouraging open interpretation from her audience. In addition to her own art, Jamie opens up her studio in Mount Pleasant for a variety of artistic events each month. She is also the organizer of an annual art walk in Mount Pleasant called ROVE that takes place each May, and invites 8 galleries and artist studios to open their doors to the Main Street community. Visit www.jamiesmithstudio.com to view her work.


THRIVE Studio is an art studio where female artists can meet, connect, and learn from one another. THRIVE hosts monthly events for this community to come together, create, and learn. Events include collage nights, Mastermind, (a business guidance group), and THRIVE TALKS, which showcases successful women in the arts where they share their personal journey and practical advice and guidance with others. Speakers have included artist Zoe Pawlack, curator of Pennylane Shen, art consultant Ariel Grue Lee, illustrator Ola Volo, and artist Rebecca Chaperon. 

To get studio updates you can subscribe to the THRIVE Studio monthly newsletter on the Thrive Studio website.

Follow THRIVE on social media:
Facebook | Instagram

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