Wednesday, 19 October 2016

GO Litter-less!

Just wanting to write a quick note to everyone about going litter-less for your lunches.  This concept can be applied to our own lunches as well as to our kids school lunches.  I made the decision this September, while I was back to school shopping, that I wanted to decrease the amount of trash generated on the school playground.  Here is the amount I picked up one day after school while my kids were playing.  We returned the reusable items to the lost and found and recycled or threw out the rest.  And this was just from one day of school... so you can imagine how much gets generated over the course of the school year.

I really feel that this problem has a solution and it starts with us parents.  We can make the choice to go litterless, and while it may result in a few trips to the lost and found over the school year to retrieve any forgotten containers, we can significantly reduce the amount of trash our kids carry outside with them.  Every piece of plastic wrap or baggy matters; when they pile up it can be a big mess.  So let's rethink how we do lunches and find better ways to package our all starts with you.  Instead of buying the cheese strings, buy a block of mozza and slice it into sticks that are easy to "peel".  Instead of buying sugar laden granola bars, make these yummy school-safe barefoot bars
to pop into a reusable container.  Instead of wrapping your sandwich in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, find a really nice container for keeping your sandwiches all tucked in and in one piece.  You'll be amazed to see how many different options there are for keeping things fresh and contained.

The best thing I have discovered about going litter-less is that every morning I get to play Tetris while I stuff the lunch kit with all the food, trying to get everything to fit nicely.  So far, after two months of going litter-less, I have always been able to fit everything in; and I pack a lot of healthy food as my kids are ferocious eaters!  SO what are you waiting for?  Make the change now, and reap the rewards in the years to come.  You can even set up a reward system for your child for not loosing any containers throughout the year: a special sushi dinner or a year end movie.  Explain to your kids why you are going litter-less and ask them for their help to be held accountable too.  They will feel proud knowing they are doing what they can to make a difference in our environment.  And the parks and playgrounds will be cleaner too!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Take Care of Yourself, Too!

A very good friend of mine recently told me to take care of myself, too.  I think, sometimes as Moms we are so busy taking care of everyone else around us...that we forget who is really important: WE ARE.  Without us, the whole ship would sink and people would be swimming to the surface looking for lifeboats; but where is our lifeboat?  How are we going to keep our heads above the water in today's world?  We have so many pressures by society on how our lives should "look" and we get so caught up on what our "friends" are doing that we loose track of what is important.  Our health and happiness should be paramount to everything else in our lives.  If we are healthy and happy, then we can fully enjoy the daily hum-drum of having a family while also having the patience and sanity to deal with the (sometimes enormous) bumps in the road.  So why is it that we often find ourselves depleted with nothing left to give?  The answer: we don't take care of ourselves as well as we tend to those around us.  It's a pretty sad fact indeed.  We are so focused on making others happy for so long, that over time, we have forgotten entirely how to take care of number one.  If this is a realization for you then you need to evaluate your life, you need to take count of the ways you can start nurturing yourself back to health.  Maybe plan a weekend getaway with a friend to do some yoga or go to a favorite cafe to savor a warm cup of loose leaf while you complete a sudoku in the first try.  And YES, it's ok to do these things, these things are GOOD.  So mama, the time is now to start feeling better, don't let anything stand in your way.  YOU deserve it!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Spicy Pumpkin Muffins

Back to school is always an exciting time; and for me, it means baking and making barefoot bars to stash in my freezer.  This recipe was made on-the-fly as I was thinking of the cool Autumn months to come.  Time to fish out those sweaters and moccasins, sit back and enjoy one of these scrumptious treats....or maybe two ;)

Spicy Pumpkin Muffins

Dry:  3 cups whole wheat flour
         1 cup oats
         1 tbsp baking powder
         1 tsp baking soda
         1/2 tsp salt
         1/2 cup raw sugar
         1/2 cup coconut
         1 tbsp cinnamon
         2.5 tsp ginger
         2.5 tsp nutmeg
         2.5 tsp allspice

Wet:  2 eggs
         1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
         1 cup applesauce
         1 can (796ml) E.D. Smith Pure Pumpkin or equivalent cooked pumpkin

Icing: 1 pkg (250g) cream cheese
          3 cups icing sugar
          1 tsp vanilla

Directions: measure out the dry ingredients into a large mixer bowl and gave it a stir with a whisk until mixed.  Make a "well" for your wet ingredients to be placed into and measure those into the bowl.  Now, give a good stir to incorporate wet into dry.  You may want to use a stand mixer at this point.  Scoop your batter into greased/lined muffin tins using a 1/3 cup measuring cup.  Bake at 350F for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. 

Beat cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Smother the muffins once they have cooled completely, sprinkling generously with more spice mix.

This recipe yields 2 dozen muffins so you can eat them for days while you enjoy what's left of summer :)


Monday, 29 February 2016

Extra Day, One Last Thing From The List!

I am taking advantage of our extra day this year to share a familiar but very profound picture with you all:

Yes, you guessed it!  My "To-Do" list from before Christmas time last year.  And today, I finished crossing the second to last thing off.  Can you see what remains on the list about halfway down?  Take a good look...

Yup, you're right again!  I still haven't mailed my Christmas cards (sorry Dad!).  This one thing on my list should have been crossed off weeks before Christmas.  Why did it take me so long to complete this seemingly simple task?  Well, you all know the reasons: time, convenience and money...or lack of any one of these.

OK, so you're thinking, this picture could be familiar because we all have a "To-Do" list kicking around the house somewhere; and sometimes even two or three on multiple devices!  However, what can possibly be so profound about this picture?

Let me explain: I will never have to write "mail cards" on my to-do list ever again!  No, I have not boycotted sending cards in the mail.  I love sending them to people, much more than I love sending e-cards.  When people get an envelope in the mail with their name on it, they usually open it.  And depending on the content inside, they will usually keep it.  I have saved all the letters that I have received from people in the mail over the years.  Nothing is more sentimental than a nice handwritten card or letter with someone's deepest and sincere thoughts, and adding pictures to your letter or card is an especially nice touch.

In case you are wondering about the time-, convenience-, and money-saving way that I am sending things by mail to my peeps nowadays I have provided the link HERE for you to browse and even try out the system for free.  After just a few clicks, you will see why I am so thankful now to have this included on my "Super-WAHM" tool belt!  It will bring my work-at-home businesses into the 21st century and my Dad will actually get that special card on time this year.

Speaking of sending cards...I think I will go get that last thing crossed off my list right now!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Maria's Barefoot Bars (Raw Granola Bars) *Nut-Free*

I would love to share with you this recipe I've developed for making homemade raw granola bars. These are much more cost effective and healthy than store bought granola bars, and do not contain the rain forest destroying palm oil or HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) that almost every granola bar out there is made with. We all know how important it is to read the labels but even when we do we may not understand all of what's in the food we are about to buy.

Aside from being a great source of omega 3's and iron, these bars also have loads of plant based protein and fiber!

Great snack for kids or to bring along on your hike!

Maria's Barefoot Bars

First, grind these ingredients separately and place into a stand mixing bowl:

1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup flax seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds

Then add to bowl:

1 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 cup raw cacao nibs
1 cup dried coconut
5 cups oats
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ginger
1 tbsp anise

Turn to lowest speed and mix until combined.

In a food processor, chop these 3 ingredients separately:

2 cups dates plus 1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried cranberries or apricots

Then add to bowl and mix on lowest speed until crumbly; while drizzling in:

1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup honey (or vegan substitute)

- Pour mixture into a large metal rectangle baking dish and distribute evenly.
- Place a piece of wax paper over top.
- Place whole dish into clean plastic bag and seal end of bag with elastic making sure to remove air.
- Now, for the fun part: lower down onto clean floor and stomp away to compress the mixture as evenly as you can with your bare feet, making sure to get the sides compressed well. After this initial press with your body weight, you can even out any bumps on the surface with the palms of your hand.
- Remove plastic bag and place in new plastic bag and then put into freezer overnight.
- The next day, flip dish upside down onto cutting board to remove in one piece. With a large knife, slice lengthwise into thirds and then cut bars 2 cm wide. Store the bars in a large container and put back into the freezer for later consumption.
(Makes at approx 3 dozen)


*I have updated my recipe to a nut free version so that you can feel safe sending them to school. For severe nut allergies make sure your ingredients are free from possible contamination as well.*

Friday, 18 July 2014

To Cloth or Not to Cloth, That is the Question!

But really, should that be the biggest parenting question that new and seasoned parents are facing today?  To use cloth diapers or disposables?  In my opinion, there is no question....the evidence is clear: the environment and our health both lead me to believe that cloth is the only way to go.

I recently read an article that was talking about how important proper sanitation is to developing countries, countries that do not have sewage systems and a designated place to "go".  It made me think about how un-developed we are when it comes to the issue of infant diapering.  We just toss 'em and forget about it, but really what we are doing is contaminating our water systems with every diaper we put out to the curb.  All of our waste should be going into the designated facilities that we have so painstakingly took hundreds of years to develop and implement; with no exception because it came from a child.

You may be surprised to find out that one of the most original prototypes for the disposable diaper was invented by a woman about 65 years ago.  With the most popular brand "Pampers" being introduced in 1961, six years before my favorite year of Corvette was made; I liken Pampers to Corvettes because really, in my experience they both outperform their competitors.  When I think of cloth diapers however, I envision a '67 Vette that has been converted to electric.  That would be sweet, right?!  Yes, we are so advanced nowadays that you CAN actually choose to cloth diaper and have your baby looking trim and cute as ever.

So if it's not the aesthetics that parents are worried about, then what is it?  Surely it can't be the "extra" amount of work it takes to do a few loads of laundry a week, can it?  Last time I checked, it was way more work to get the kids out of the house and all the way to the store only to find out that the kind of diapers you use are not on sale and you are stuck biting the bullet, once again.  And then you have to buy wipes too, don't forget; and while they are handy, most of them are not even wide/thick enough to actually shield your whole hand.  Cloth wipes are oh soo soft and thick and you really only need a couple for even the biggest messes.  I like adding essential oils to the water that I soak my cloths in, it keeps the bacteria away and helps with clean up too.

When a cloth diaper is washed in the washing machine, adding vinegar and tea tree oil along with a small amount of laundry detergent will keep them fresh and sanitary.  No need for hot water, cold is just fine. Doing this prolongs the life of your cloth diapers and keeps your energy bill low.  Most brands currently ask you to tumble dry on the low setting on your dryer, this will also save energy because less wattage is being used to do the job....and of course in this beautiful weather we can hang up our fluff on the line and skip the dryer all together.  And remember, the bigger the stash the longer you can go between wash days.

I say....go ahead, jump in wholeheartedly to the cloth diapering idea.  You cannot go wrong by trying and after a month you just may wonder what your big hang up was anyways.

I am providing some links for more info as well as my favorite places to buy cloth diapers and accessories.

You will at least give it a try, right?  It's simple: You and your checkbook will be glad you did, I know it!  :)

The Facts

Bamboo Diapers


Diaper Ointment


Swim Diapers

Want to know more?  Feel free to comment below.  Happy Diapering!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Here it first blog post EVER! Enjoy ;)

What is a "WAHM" you may ask?  The acronym actually stands for "Work At Home Mom".  If you can believe it though, there have been Moms all over the world for thousands of years that have been working at home all day long, they even work in their sleep!  The biggest difference between one of those stupendous Moms and a WAHM is that the WAHM gets paid in actual green money, while the traditional "Stay At Home Mom" gets paid when they hear their child sing the ABC's for the first time, or when they see the beautiful artwork that was created on the wall while they were in the next room changing the baby.  Moments like these are all too precious to give up, in my opinion.  And as my quest to be the best Mom I can be, I feel like it is my duty also to show my children that they are important enough to me to work that extra little bit to pull in some income.  So while there may be times in the day that they don't receive my full attention, at least I am there and can come away from whatever I am doing, even just for a moment to witness when they share a toy or need help doing their zipper.

We really are living in such a privileged society nowadays that enables a Mom to choose from so many income earning jobs that they can do from home.  Or that's what they claim anyways, firstly that you can bring in the income and secondly that you can do it from home.  In my experiences, my expenses have been so high that there has actually been a negative income being created; but here's the catch, you are soo busy with all the hype that you loose track of how much you spent vs. how much you made...until tax time comes around and you realize you have lost money!  What kind of reward is that for all your hard work?  As far as the working from home goes, you get all signed up with these companies and they tell you to leave the kids at home.  With who?  Unless you have a free babysitter with a very open schedule (not likely) you will have to pay someone to come and care for your children.  This cost offsets the very money that you are walking out the door to do for your "work from home" job.

Now, I can tell you of another acronym that I know as well: "JOB" stands for "Just Over Broke".  And I'm sure that this is how most people feel three days after they get their paycheck and all the bills are paid and groceries are bought.  Broke, and tired and maybe even wondering what the point of it all is.  Is this a good way to live?  Or maybe you've gone to school for so many years of your young adulthood, because you had a good upbringing and you know that if you invest in yourself it pays out well in the end.  Sure, if that's the case, then three days after your paycheck you will still be able to go to a restaurant for a meal or two, maybe go buy a new pair of shoes or go to the spa (ahhh sweet peace).  However, if you ceased working for a few months so would your paycheck and you would be left with a depleted bank account.  Does that sound like true stability?

My answers to these questions are simple: no!  No, it is not good to live with the stress of the paycheck to paycheck "hamster wheel" and no it is not good to keep working at a stressful job just because it pays well.  And that brings me to another point....stress.  You know that feeling you get when you start your car up in the morning hoping to make it to work on time because you slept through your alarm, and you know that you could be fired if you can't make up a better excuse?  And the "I hope I don't get into an accident on the way to work today because I have to speed just to make it on time."? this why our insurance rates are so high?  Because people have no stability in their life that they can't even be 15 minutes late or they'll get fired?

No thanks, I don't want that kind of stress and inflexibility.  It's too much for this lady to handle.  So that's why I have been "pounding the proverbial pavement" for years trying to find the perfect fit for the lifestyle that I want and need.  And you know what?  I have found it!  It is my best kept secret but if you are curious on how to improve your quality of life, please let me know.  I would be delighted to help.  In fact, that's my greatest reward: helping others reach their goals :)

With all that off my mind I am able to promise you a little something more intriguing for my next blog post, which you will see in a couple weeks, no doubt.

Take care in the meantime :)

And a clip for good measure: