Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fantastically Refreshing Strawberry Water

This is so easy I don't think I can count it as a recipe. You blend a handful of strawberries in some water. That's it. It makes a quick flavoured water which is great if you are like me and cannot stand the taste of city water but also can't afford (and are morally opposed) to buying bottled water. And you get some bonus nutrients from the strawberries. This is way better than drinking those chemically flavoured waters you can buy in the store.

The Difference a Little Sun Can Make

We moved to a townhouse a year ago. We found it difficult to be happy in an apartment in Toronto, especially one beside the 401. This is our first full summer at our new place which has an amazing feature none of our previous rentals have had: Sunlight. There is full sun on the deck and yard below in the afternoon and sun in the front yard in the morning. Growing vegetables is just so much more possible here. The two pepper plants we had last summer produced two peppers in total. There are at least 3 per plant here and we have room for more plants.

We are trying to be as cheap as possible so our planters are a mix of small garbage bins that I think my husband got at ValueVillage and dresser drawers that someone left loose to be hauled away as garbage. We added a few hollow recyclables to the bins as a reservoir for water. 

There are beans climbing along the fence and up the walls which add to ambiance a bit. Despite all the plants there is still room for us to enjoy the space. 

We fit a few planters on the ground below the deck for some extra tomatoes. Over 20 of our seedlings survived so we had to put them somewhere. You can't have too many tomatoes. 

Since the sun makes it into the house, I am starting so beans in hangers inside. Just 2 up now but I am working on 2 more bean plant hangers and one onion hanger to avoid buying as many onions.

This is a bit experimental but why not grow a pineapple. 

There was an empty patch of dirt in the front yard for all our lettuce and rainbow chard, which just turned out to be all yellow but still neat. 

We were blessed with some nice wide window sills in the kitchen for our kitchen herbs to grow on. 

The stinging nettle is really not a house plant I suppose but I love nettle and I found this little guy growing randomly in my seedling tray with the tomatoes. Not sure how it got there but its a pretty awesome weed to have around. I'll have to plant it somewhere a kid is not likely to get stung by it. It has outgrown its living space. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Make a wish

Today, for the first time in a very long time, I went to church. Not the type of church I tried to fit myself into when I was younger, this place is a bit different. It is profoundly accepting. I could not count the number of churches, the different denominations and eventually religions I investigated over the years. Each one brought I new hope that I had found the one I belonged to but this hope was always short lived. Sometimes I knew right away that I was in the wrong place, other times it took me a while. During this while I would try to get involved a bit and try to fit myself in the mold of that particular group, but there would always be the nagging feeling that I did not fit into this mold and I would be found out, not accepted and shamed. This notion would occasionally become reality. So I have let go of my process. I will not try to fit myself into someone else's specific expectations, I go as I am and nothing else. I do not fear nonacceptance or worse. It is a welcome sign that I must be on my way. There is a difference between universal admittance and universal acceptance. Most churches offer the former but I was in search for the later. 

But it looks like I found one that I mesh well with without effort and I am pretty excited. 
It is a church that accepts and celebrates everyone just as they are, and I don't mean just welcoming everyone then challenging their personal attributes as some churches have tried with me in the past. There appears to be little in the way of judgement which brings me to the whole point of this post. We were asked to make a wish. A big, influential wish. I thought about this deeply, however briefly and decided that the worst thing in the world are the judgments we place on others and ourselves. These judgments create all the great problems in the world. There could not exploitation if someone had not made a judgement that those they exploit are not as worthy as themselves. There could be no genocides if one group had not judged another inferior of life. There would be no poverty if employers had not made the judgement that their employees where not worth an acceptable wage or that one country was less deserving of resources than another. Many in my generation who search for employment would have it if we collectively had not been judged as lazy. I suspect much depression, disordered eating, addiction and mental anguish could be avoided if we avoided the harsh judgement we place on ourselves.    

These judgments spread like viruses, and once they are shared with us by another, they are planted in our minds and difficult to uproot. 

I did not wish to end these judgments however. That would be a pretty lame wish. It is negative, focusing on what should not be done when I needed to look from the other direction. So I wished for universal acceptance for all people. And all day long I have been witnessing these acts of acceptance. I had never noticed them before. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A few little ways to help calm yourself down when you become overwhelmed.

Life today is too bloody busy. It seems as though the whole world took on this intensively rapid pace that humans as a species are not suited to handle. While many of us can thrive in this climate, I suspect these sudden bursts of hyper-productiveness are doomed to be short lived. We place the expectation on ourselves and others that we are unstoppable and never tiring. I don't remember life being this way as a kid. Perhaps I am just remembering the world through kid glasses but the lack of cell phones and internet definitely prevented life from moving at this speed. So what to do when our plates get too overloaded? I have a few little methods that work some of the time.

1. I write a list of everything I need to do that day and everything I have already done. I put it all together on one page, then cross off everything I have already done. It is a nice reminder that I've already done a bunch of stuff and should go easy on myself.

2. Take a shower. This might sound weird and I am not much of a believer in "hydrotherapy" but in that stressful state, a shower can be nice and relaxing.

3. Study related- I give myself little quizzes. This can be a very reassuring activity as I can prove to myself that I know that section and give myself permission to move on to the next topic. If I do poorly on a particular little quiz, I just put it aside and try again later.

4. Another study one- I write a list of all the topics I need to know. Every time I review a topic I check it off.

5. Some teas and herbs can be really helpful. Adaptogenic herbs are very useful when dealing with stress. I have had a great deal of success with Rhodiola and Siberian Ginseng, Rhodiala being the most dependable for me. Both of these also can improve concentration. Capsules work well but Rhodiola also comes as a tea if that is preferred.  The simple act of having a cup of tea can take the edge off. As with any botanical medicine, you would want to do your research or talk to an expert to minimize risk.

6. I am currently taking a break to do something I really enjoy. I like writing in blogs, I am a lot less stressed now than I was 15 minutes ago when I started writing.

7. Music. It's medicine for the soul. Find some tunes that bring out a positive emotion in you and listen as you work if you can.

That's all I got for now so I am off to study for the acupuncture exam I have at 8:30 am tomorrow. Nothing like getting needles first thing in the morning. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

I am done with the Illusion of Perfection

To the outside world, my life is pretty perfect. I have a beautiful 3 year old boy who is as smart as a tack. I am in a very demanding program at school and by all objective measures I am excelling. I am married to a really great man with a successful career. If you come to my house you will find it neat, tidy, clean and organized. Food and drinks are never simple, rather they are part of the show I put on for the world. It is assumed I eat well, live a healthy lifestyle and am thus thin. I have everything under perfect control...

...except that it's all a lie. I don't have it all under perfect control. I don't have anything under any control. If you dropped in unexpectedly you would find that my house is the furthest thing from clean. It's cluttered and nothing resembling organized at all. There are dirty dishes on the counter right now, the living room is scattered with toys, I have not put the laundry away in a few weeks. I can't remember the last time I cleaned the bathroom. While my grades may be high, that is far from a good measure of success. I write exams so frequently I have developed an anxiety disorder and have to defer exams regularly to prevent myself from losing a pathological amount of weight or falling into a deep state of sympathetic overload that I can't pull myself out of. Thin, yes, but because of a gene and excessive stress, not in a way anyone should hope to be.

We pretend though, that seems to be the acceptable thing to do. But why? Why pretend to be perfect? Doesn't that just perpetuate this myth that we are all to have perfect families and perfect careers and anything less means we are failing? Were did this even come form. It feels so wrong. If pretending to be perfect makes others feel they have to live up to the unrealistic example you have set, it's damaging to society. So for societies sake, I am abandoning the illusion of perfection. As of right now. I am also no longer treating it as a goal as I have more attainable goals to work towards.

It feels like there is a pressure on our generation as a whole to have it all figured out by now. This may in part come from the constant stream of criticism our generation is receiving in the media. But it's crap. We are not all "lazy" and unemployed and living in our parents basements. And given the socioeconomic climate, I really wouldn't judge those who are living with their parents. It makes smart economic sense given the overvalued real estate market. But I digress, I am changing up this blog a bit. I have not been posting as I have nothing perfect to post. Perfection takes time that I don't have. But I have plenty of real things to post so that is what I will do. But for now I have to go study for my stupid exams. :(

Monday, July 14, 2014

Three Batches of Stuffed Pasta Shells. High Protein, Low Fat and Good for Picky Kids

About a month ago I tried this great lasagna recipe that had this tofu based ricotta that was a real hit with my son and husband. I hate working with lasagna noodles because they break and I seem to waste them. So this time I opted for shells. Shells still break but in fewer numbers I find and I can often piece them back together. My picky little eater ate has whole plate then came after mine so this was win. I cooked the whole box of shells, took two pots, then stuffed 'em and topped 'em with sauce. I split them between three pans but if you have a larger or more hungry family your may want to split them between two. It depends how many shells survive I guess. I ended up with 35 shells in the end, then we ate one pan worth and froze two. And I served it with garlic toast.


Ricotta Mix
-block of frozen spinach, thawed with water squeezed out
-one package of firm tofu
-one package of soft tofu
-1 TB sugar
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-2 TB lemon juice
-1 tsp basil
-2 tsp salt

-One package of Pasta shells, large
-One Jar of Pasta sauce

1. Prepare shells according to package directions.
2. Blend first 8 ingredients in a blender until well mixed.
3. Stuff the shells generously and place in oven safe pans.
4. Add about a tablespoon of sauce to the top of each shell.
5. When ready to cook, place in oven heated to 350 F for 20 minutes.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Shawarma Style Roasted Veggies on Rice

Schools done for the summer! So I am right back to doing what I love; cooking, baking, experimenting and homeschooling my little munchkin. All of which is going great. With regards to experimenting, I really like this one dish at a Greek restaurant so this is my attempt to copy the idea of it. I am not going to the trouble of putting the vegetables on skewers like they do. I want something easy that can be thrown together.

How to make it:
1. In an oven safe baking dish, mix together ...
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp tomato sauce
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
a pinch of ginger
a pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp olive oil

2. Chop up a bunch of veggies in big chunks, add them to the dish and mix until coated. I used the following veggies but I am sure any mix would do fine providing you cook denser veggies a little longer. 
2 shallots
1 zucchini
1 bell pepper
A handful of cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 cup of cauliflower
1/2 cup broccoli
2 big mushrooms
3. Let the veggies marinate for a few hours if you like or just mix them well and pop them in the oven, preheated to 400 F for 30-45 minutes. This goes well with brown rice. 

Making Brown Rice
Brown rice can be tricky but this method works pretty well. Add 2 cups of rice and 3 cups of water to a pot with a tbsp of oil. Bring water to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and add a lid. Simmer for 20 minutes then turn off the heat and let the rice sit undistributed for 20-30 minutes. Then it is ready. Makes 2-3 meals worth for us (us being 2 adults and a toddler)

Finished Product:

Monday, January 7, 2013

Neat Things I Learned On My First Day Of Naturopathic Medical School

Well it is back to school for me! I have been waiting patiently for my turn to go back and today finally came. The main thing I learned is that I am going to be extremely busy. There is a lot of content to absorb and it blows my mind a little bit that I am going to know all this stuff by the time I graduate. Unlike undergrad, I feel like I will be gaining useful knowledge that I have a keen interest in so that should help. Though I also have a baby now. There are lots of moms in my school though, and if they can do it, so can I. And I will as I have already invested heavily in this career and I am simply too cheap to throw that money away.

I still have a stress headache. I wish they gave me some material to start on. Something to focus my energy on right now. I learned a bunch of general facts from my Botanical Medicine prof. that I found very interesting.  I think Botanical Med. will be a favorite of mine, I love the subject, I have used herbs on myself with a great degree of success and I quite like the prof. It is the reason I decided on Naturopathic Medicine.

The placebo effect is basically when a percentage of your test population reaches the desired outcome (ex. is cured) by taking a fake treatment like a sugar pill. Generally in studies, the placebo effect is viewed as a problem, something we correct for. I learned about the placebo effect in a different way today. If you take a step back from the standard thinking and realize that the placebo effect cures some disease than it is a good thing. Helping the patient should be the most important goal, if placebo can help that it should be used.

Some remedies and treatments in the naturopathic world might be powered by placebo, but so are a lot of conventional medications. I don't have sources for any of my info here because I just picked it up from lecture (and I am adding the odd fact I know from elsewhere) but it was mentioned in class that Prozac made 40% of patients feel better. 37% was attributed to placebo. Hmm. I'd rather take a sugar pill and avoid the side effects personally.

The placebo effect can be heightened by some weird things. More side effects and more invasive procedures seem to increase the placebo effect. Preforming fake surgery can cure a patient better than perhaps a fake pill. Big pills work better than little pills, red pills work as better sleeping pills, blue pills are more sedative, etc. Lots of neat psychological effects.

We learned that health authorities are quick to ban herbal treatments which is unfortunate. Kava Kava is an herb that was linked to 5 cases of drug induced hepatitis. There was minimal investigation and it was banned. Tylenol is the leading cause of liver failure (I read elsewhere that it is responsible for about 2000 deaths per year in the US following the recommended dosage, not sure if that is via liver failure or something else) but it is not only on the market but it is over the counter.

The last thing I will mention as I am going to fall asleep at my computer (this must be ripe with spelling errors) is that he stated that there will always be a place for drugs and surgery and I completely agree. I don't think there are many plant medicines that will cure a gun shot wound or a collapsed lung. But the priority should be to provide the patient with the safest, most effective option and botanical medicines tend to be safer and are incredibly powerful. Now I must go to sleep.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

I'm Learning To Coupon And It Has Been Great

I'm going back to school in January. I am very excited but the cost is a bit overwhelming. I have saved up a good chunk of change over the last few years but with tuition at $20,000 per year for four years not including books and medical equipment, I am a little short. So I have taken up couponing and it has been going surprisingly well.

For the month of November I have saved a total of $77 by using coupons. I have also signed up for a whole pile of freebies which are starting to trickle in. Since I have started couponing I am more aware of prices and what deals are actually honest deals so I have been saving money in that respect too, though I have not tallied how much.

This new hobby is forcing me to be a bit more organized than I accustomed to being. I have a few hundred coupons now so I have to sort them so I can find what I need quickly in the store. I have always made a grocery list and planned out my meals but now I will consider the flyers, coupon match-up sites and the coupons that I have. I go to a few different stores so my lists have to be organized a bit differently. I have even made a spread sheet on Google Drive that allows me to track my savings and my mail in rebates.  I would hate to send in a rebate and never see a return. I systematically check the coupon sites everyday for new offers.

Couponing is causing me to be more thrifty in general. I have a greater restraint when it comes to purchases. I don't want to go to all the trouble to save a few bucks then blow it on something. I feel better about cooking a meal every night because I know it is a fraction of a meal out. I've been reading the nutrition information more as I am looking for more nutrition for my dollar as opposed to more mass. This is especially the case with baby food.

So how did I save so much last month?
1. Check the websites everyday. Here are the sites I frequent. Some just have coupons or freebies but others have a wealth (ha ha pun) of information. I have a thrifty folder on my bookmarks bar for extra convenience.

2. Ink and paper cost money so I try to only print the coupons that I intend to use or give away. Once I have my coupons I organize them by category so I can find them quickly in the store and compare easily to other coupons in the same category. I don't have a coupon binder yet but I suspect my organization will change when I do. I check the flyers and match-ups (found in many of the above websites) to find what is on sale. The best case scenario in Canada is to use your coupon on something already on sale to get it for free. Most places in Canada will not give you overage (money back when your coupon exceeds the price) except maybe Walmart. Doubling, like on Extreme Couponers, also does not happen here. Maybe someday, a girl can dream.

3. I separate the coupons I plan to use and put them in the front of my coupon case for easy access in the store.

4. As I shop I place the coupon with the items in my cart so I can place everything together on the belt at the cash.

5. As the coupons are being applied I watch the display at the cash to ensure they turn out correctly. I have almost been burned by this. I once bought something for $5 with a completely free coupon and the cashier didn't apply it. I called her on it before I left the store and it was corrected.

6. I keep the receipt and enter the savings on my spreadsheet when I get home. It is very satisfying to keep track of how much you have saved.

This process has been time consuming but it is getting easier and faster with experience, and not much experience. I have some rules to protect myself which I will share here. Coupons are released by corporations with the intention to have you spend your money on their products. If you do, they win. If you purchase something you don't really need, they win and you lose. Couponing if done improperly,
can cause you to lose money.

My rules that hold me accountable.

1. Never buy what I don't need, unless it is completely free and I could find a use for it (like the food bank, shelter etc.).

2. Don't overbuy goods that will expire unless there is a realistic plan to preserve them.

3. If an offer sounds to good to be true, it is. Couponing requires you put your contact info out there so you my receive unsolicited offers. Be firm and say no. I received a call offering me a ticket in a sweep-stake for $25000, in addition to a diamond watch, in addition to 3 free magazine subscriptions for two years, etc. No company would offer all this out of the blue as they have nothing to gain. This means there was a catch and one can be sure the catch will cover the expense of all these "gifts".

4. Always be on the look out for scams. Stores can be slimy at times. I have seen tickets that will say something along the lines of "50% off, now $1.50" then I look behind the ticket and the regular price is $1.50. Sometimes they don't even cover the regular price when they do this so it is easy to see they are lying.    It is a good idea to get a sense of what the regular price is. Stores will increase their regular price a week or so before posting a deal that in reality is hardly a deal at all.

5. I always read the coupon fully and carefully. Check expiration dates.

6. Be aware that some stores are more expensive than others. The sale price at a Loblaws or a Metro is often more than the regular price at a No Frills or a Food Basics.

I'm still learning the ropes with couponing but it is quickly becoming a hobby I love. I get so much satisfaction  from saving money. Now I must go and work on some very substantial money saving opportunities, scholarships, the ultimate coupon :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cheap, Easy Storage Solution: Hanging Kitchen Utensils Up

My kitchen drawers are few and small. They are so narrow that I cannot even fit a cutlery tray in any of them. I love my kitchen gadgets so I have a storage problem on my hands. Then I saw this on pinterest, the solution to my problem. I have the same weird doors. Instead of buying hooks I rigged some up with jewelry wire.

 Each hook is 18 cm of wire, folded in half then molded into a hook. They take no time to make and cost less than a penny each. The door has slits so the hooks just nestle into the slits. Now I have a bit more room in my drawers.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Healthier Version of General Tao Tofu

Healthier Version of General Tao Tofu

My husband and I love General Tao tofu from This is such a great recipe on it's own with no modifications. We have made it countless times but not so much lately. The fried tofu is not so healthy and I have been trying really hard to get back to a healthy life style. Fortunately I figured out how to prepare it a great deal healthier so I will post the modifications here. The baked tofu turned out so well it was difficult to stop munching on them on their own.

Tofu Component

  • 1 package of extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 1/2 T tamari
  • 2 T mirin
  • Sprinkle of Salt and Pepper
  1. Mix the last 3 ingredients in a shallow dish. Mix cubed tofu so it is completely coated and marinate for a few hours, mixing every so often.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake in a pre-heated oven (400 degrees) for 20 minutes. Turn over and bake for 5 more minutes.
Seasoned Baked Tofu
Sauce Component (originally from Vegweb but slightly modified)
  • 3 T oil
  • 1 T ginger
  • 1 T garlic
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2/3 cup vegetable stock
  • 3 T sugar
  • 2 T tamari
  • 1 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1-2 T cornstarch mixed with 2 T water
  1. Add first 4 ingredients to small sauce pan on medium heat and fry until garlic is soft (about 2 minutes).
  2. Add next 4 ingredients and bring to boil. Add cornstarch-water mix and mix in to thicken. Remove from heat. 
Bringing It All Together
  • rice noodles
  • vegetables (I used snap peas here but many vegetables would work)
  1. Cook rice noodles according to package. Throw some vegetables into the boiling water. Drain when ready. 
  2. Put rice noodles on plates and top with baked tofu. Pour sauce over top and serve :) 

Make your Towels and Drawers Smell Great

Make your Towels and Drawers Smell Great
This was a quick easy project with lasting results. All you need is one of those scented packets that you can get at Pier One, coffee filters and some ribbon.

Simple open the scent packet, divide the contents between about 10 coffee filters and fasten each one with some ribbon. I put a bunch of these in between my towels to make them smell nice. I also put some in various drawers. You could use these in cars, shoes, anywhere you want to smell nice.

Quick and Easy, Vegan BBQ Tofu on Kale Salad

Quick and Easy, Vegan BBQ Tofu on Kale Salad

This is a great weekday meal. It was super fast, I had everything on hand and it incorporates a lot of kale which is just so good for you. I find it difficult to get enough greens, especially raw greens, but this is a great way to eat a whole bunch. The BBQ tofu idea is not my own, I saw it on Health.Happy.Life. I just used store bough BBQ sauce to make it easier.


  • a bunch of kale, de-ribbed, ripped into small pieces and washed
  • 2 carrots- shredded with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 ts salt
  • 1/2 lemon
Mix the kale with the salt and lemon juice. Squish it in well with your hands. This is an important step as it really breaks down the kale fibers making it less chewy and more enjoyable to eat raw. Mix in carrot and pepper. 

Simple Kale Salad


  • extra firm tofu
  • BBQ sauce

Prepare as directed here. Allow to cool a few minutes before adding to salad. Serve on top of the salad and enjoy.
Easy BBQ Tofu

Vegan Mushroom 'Chick'n' Stroganoff

The picture does not do it justice, this turned out to be a really good. My husband was definitely a fan. I wanted to make something similar to a beef stroganoff we used to make with mushroom soup. Mushroom soup is not vegan so I substituted this with a mushroom "cream" sauce. I decided to cut up meatless chicken strips instead of using fake beef because I don't like fake beef but you could substitute it in if you prefer. Meatless chicken breast would be better but it was sold out. I get the President's Choice brand from the frozen meat section because it is priced much better than other brands and it tastes good.


  • 10 "chicken strips" baked according to the package
  • 1/2 large yellow onion or 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 3 T oil
  • 4 T flour
  • 1/2 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 cup almond milk (plain)
  • 3-4 servings of pasta, a long flat noodle is best
  • 1 package of mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 fresh sage leaves (or ground sage to taste)
  • squirt of lemon
  • sprinkle of dried dill
  1. Bake the "chicken" according to package directions.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of starchy pasta water
  3. Add oil and flour to a small sauce pan, heat on medium and stir. Add 1/2 stock cube and combine. Slowly add the soy milk a little at a time. Stir well each time to avoid lumps. Continue to stir until thick then remove from heat.
  4. Add 3 T oil to a walk and heat on medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until limp. Add garlic, stir until browned. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Once the mushrooms have reduced in size, add cream sauce, sage, salt, pepper, a squirt of lemon juice and the pasta water. Remove from heat.
  5. Chop up "chicken". Mix pasta and chicken into the sauce and serve. A sprinkle of dill over the dish serves as both a garnish and adds a nice flavour. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Touching and Seeing Sensory Activity

Image courtesy of posterize /
Today I brought my little guy a few crayons and an extra large piece of paper. He explored the crayons a bit, licked them and tried scribbling on the paper. He tried red and green. After scribbling for a while he discovered he could rip the paper. He really enjoys ripping paper. I have to watch him carefully but he was good about not eating the paper. I also ripped the edges off the paper to prevent paper cuts. I don't think he is ready to write letters with the crayons but it is a good way to work on colours. I bought triangles crayons so it is easy for him to grip. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Home Schooling! Sensory Activities for my Little Man

Now that my little guy is a one year old I have been thinking a lot more about his education. Though I do intend to put him in preschool soon I will be supplementing his school learning with some home school learning as well. I have been excited about teaching him things since I learned I was pregnant. Because he is so young I have mostly been reading to him up until now. My approach is evolving to include a few more things now.

The Alphabet
To teach him the Alphabet I have been doing the following...

  1. Reciting the alphabet and singing the alphabet song.
  2. ABC day App on Blackberry
  3. Dr. Seusss ABC book
  4. Foam Letters ($1 at the Dollar Store) he plays with them and I tell him which ones he's playing with.
  5. Flash Cards . These were also $1 at the Dollar Store. I will spread a few out on the floor and encourage him to pick out a specific letter. He has done it a few times. 
Auditory Activities
  1. Piano- he smashes the keys mostly. He really likes making noise. After a while I will play a not a few times and then he will play that note. I say the note name as I play it.
  2. Sing Songs- we have been doing this since he was born. At baby group, songs really seem to hold his interest.
  3. Toys- most of his toys play music or make some sort of sound. 
  4. Listen to different instruments online-
Visual Activities
  1. Pet Store- a great place to see fish, birds, rodents, cats and sometimes dogs. The little man loves animals. He can say catee and doeee. His only other words are mama and daddy so animals seem pretty significant to him.
  2. TV- unfortunately. I didn't want to be one of those TV families but we kind of are. He watches some cartoons in the morning. 
  3. Toys- lots of his toys are bright and colourful. Some even light up.
  4. Books- he looks at the pictures as I read them.
  5. Blackberry ebooks by ickypen. These are great. I downloaded both to my playbook. If he is too excited to eat or sleep we listen to this book and he calms right down. The app reads the book so this would be an auditory activity as well.
  6. Walks at the park. He gets to see lots of neat stuff outside and some horses at the stable. We often hit up the dog park to watch the dogs as well.
  7. Fish, frogs and snails in a giant fish globe.
  1. Texture Sampler. I gather a bunch of objects with different textures and let him touch them all. If safe to do so he can explore the object in his mouth as babies do. I watch him very closely to make sure he doesn't eat anything he shouldn't.
  2. Food- I give him different food textures to play with and squish in his hands. We have tried purees, fruit chunks, smoothie, cheerios, rice crispies, water, etc.
I haven't done much with small. I think I will try putting essential oils on cotton balls and sew them into socks as mentioned here.

Taste I don't worry about. He gets to try lots of different tastes and he puts everything into his mouth. 

I'm on the look out for other sensory activity ideas. If you have any ideas, I invite you to leave suggestions in the comments section. As I come up with or find more I will post them. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Asian Inspired Warm Black Bean Noodle Salad

Asian Inspired Warm Black Bean Noodle Salad
This is what a had for lunch today! It was a nice, light and healthy salad. I cheated a bit by using bottled black bean sauce. If you are a purist you could probably substitute in any type of sauce.


  • large hand full of thin Asian noodles (the kind that cook in 3 minutes)
  • black bean sauce
  • Flax oil (for omega 3's)
  • sesame seeds
  • Lettuce
  • red pepper
  • green onion
  • peanuts (a kick of protein)
  • salt n' pepper
  1. Cook up the pasta and drain. Mix in a bit of black been sauce (not too much as the noodles are thin and easily flavoured), flax oil and some sesame seeds. Leave aside to cool a bit.
  2. Line your bowl with lettuce leaves. Chop up the red pepper and green onion. 
  3. Place your noodles in your lettuce bowl and top with the red peppers, green onions, peanuts, a few more sesame seeds and salt n' pepper. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Get More Out of Your House Plants

I really like having plants around. I heard a study recently that said having plants around you has a de-stressing effect so I am squeezing as many plants into our place as I can. Maybe it will counter the stress inducing effect of the constant highway noise of the 401.

I am fortunate enough to finally have a bright apartment where plants grow well. In the past our places were too shady to grow anything or the windows would not accommodate them. Though decorative plants are nice, and I have a few that serve only that purpose, I like my plants to earn their keep and save me money.

I have a row of cabbage growing in our bedroom. The blue tones in the cabbage incorporate really well  with the rest of the room which has blue accents and pillows. And while the cabbage looks good in the room, we do still intend to eat the mature plants and then start again.

In the living room, we have eight pots of herbs. I was buying a lot of fresh herbs for cooking and I hated how pricey they were and how quickly they went south in the fridge. Now if I need some fresh herbs I can just harvest a few leaves from my mini garden. It should save me about $3-7 per week.

I purchased six of these as potted plants which cost $12.00 in total. I grew one from seed (takes forever) and since I use so much cilantro I tried buying a bunch from the produce section, snipping off some roots and planting them. It worked too. So if you don't have potted herbs at your grocery store, you can try just planting some roots.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Relief For My Teething Cutie

My little kiddo has been having some trouble with his teeth coming in. He seemed rather drawn to sucking on cold stuff so I dampened some of his tiny face cloths, rolled them up and froze them. Now when he seems to have teething pain I give him a frozen cloth and he can suck on it and kind of bite it a bit and that keeps him happy.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Room Divider with Storage

We have an "open concept" apartment which basically means we don't have enough walls. My husband needs an office area so we rigged up this fancy room divider so he can have an awesome little alcove which I totally use during the day (I'm on his computer right now :). This is not the cheapest DIY, there is an initial investment of about $60 for the skinny bookshelves and about $30 for the wallpaper but you can choose cheaper paper. We could have just purchased a room divider for $70 but then we would not have had the excess storage that this project brings. Gotta put DVD's, CD's, computer games, books and RC cars somewhere. It's pretty messy in the back but it is tucked away so I don't mind it.

Here's how to make your own...
1. Purchase and assemble some skinny bookshelves. We got ours at Canadian Tire. You could do this with any kind of book shelf , even thicker ones.
2. Buy some wallpaper that you like and a piece of foam board if you want a gap between the book cases (costs $1.00 at the dollar store).
3. Position your bookshelves where you like them and measure any gap between the two. Cut out your foam board to fit in between the book shelves.Tape in place.
4. Cut your wallpaper to fit. If you need two sheets, attach them where they meet in the centre on the back with some sturdy tape. I used electrical tape but there are better tapes out there. Then tape the paper to the back of your shelves. You could probably use a spray adhesive if you have some.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Meal and Grocery Organization: Free PDF Organizer!

Being organized saves time and money. Taking a bit of time to plan out your meals for the week means you only have to go to the grocery store once and you have everything you need on hand. I like to separate my grocery list by sections so I do not find myself running all over the store multiple times. I have used meal and grocery list templates before but they are normally high in colour and I just don't want to waste colour ink on something like this so I have attached a black and white one. This one is very simple and should not clash with anyone's kitchen decor.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Make Your Own Aloe Juice

I had not planned on making aloe juice when I saw this giant aloe leaf for sale at No Frills. I just saw it and thought it looked neat and maybe I could eat it. I failed to find any good recipes for it so it sat in my fridge for a while until I saw how to make aloe juice on TV. I think it was on Steven & Chris but I don't remember. Though there are a few steps involved none are difficult and aloe juice is good for you. One leaf makes a lot of "juice" so it is pretty economical and there are no stabilizers in it liked the bottled aloe juice. Aloe helps keep your digestive system healthy so be warned, if you have never had aloe juice before it may effect you in some way. I did not notice any affect so my guess is the juice is not too strong.
Step 1: Cut off the base and top of the leaf. Trim off the sides as well. Place in a pitcher and let the bitter juice drain out for at least 30 minutes. Discard the bitter juice.

Step 2: Carefully cut off (or fillet) the straighter green bit.

Step 3: Once off, scrape out the innards with a spoon. 

Step 4: Add the jelly to a pitcher and fill with water.

Step 5: Let it sit for 6 hours, I put mine in the fridge for this. 

Step 6: Strain the infused water into another pitcher and it is ready to drink! Keep any excess jelly as you can add more water to that jelly to make more juice. You can reuse the jelly over and over again until it all dissolves away. 

Classy on a Budget: Replacing Some Dingy Closet Knobs

We have doors to our kitchen which I think must have been put there to keep kids out as nothing in the kitchen is baby proof-able. On the doors are some old, dingy knobs that always look dirty and are partially painted. They really take away from the rest of the room.

I took a trip to Lows and found me some nice, new, shinny knobs and screwed those on instead. It took no time and looks a lot cleaner. When we eventually move again I will be taking these with me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Super Creamy Vegan Beer and Mozzarella Mac and Cheese

Super Creamy Vegan Beer and Mozzarella Mac and Cheese
I have made this recipe twice now and it keeps getting better. The amounts are estimates because I am still working on it and when I am developing my own recipes I don't usually measure. I will next time I make it. This is a recipe that doesn't need exactness so I am going to post it now anyway.


  • pasta (enough for 4 people)
  • 4 Tb oil
  • 5 Tb flour
  • 3/4 cup strong beer 
  • Water
  • 1/2 package mozzarella Daiya
  • Pinch red pepper flakes 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1Tb nutritional yeast 
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile heat oil in separate pot.
  2. Gradually stir in flour. Gradually stir in beer. 
  3. Add a bit of water and stir. Continue to add water and stir until you have a creamy white sauce.
  4. Stir in cheese, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and nutritional yeast.
  5. Mix finished pasta into the sauce and serve with a sprinkle of paprika. 
  6. Eat some awesome mac n' cheese.
A sprinkle of paprika adds a lot of flavour to the dish. You can substitute cheddar Daiya for the mozzarella for a beer and cheddar version.