Monthly Archives: January 2013

Sparkly Heart-Shaped {Valentine’s Day} Wands

Sparkly Heart Shaped WandsIn addition to our annual Valentine’s Day tea, Gracen and I have a couple of other Valentine’s parties and classes to attend this year.  And since we don’t do the whole candy thing just yet, it means getting a little bit more creative with the ‘treats’ she hands out.  When I asked her what she’d like to give her friends, she responded with Valentine’s slime (thanks I’m sure to our Halloween version for her ballet class friends) and heart wands (thanks to a Kiwi Crate package we received from our most recent PBK story time).  And because both take a little bit of prep work, we started early…  More time left over to figure out what we’ll bring for the 30+ kiddos in her Strong Start class, right?

These little wands are beautiful and easy to make, and although some may think they’re a little ‘girly’, we believe that hearts and magic are for everyone. ☺

Heart Wand MaterialsHere are the materials we used for the project…  Wooden dowels, adhesive glitter foam sheets, acrylic paint, a paint brush, and some ribbon.  The best part is that we picked up all of these things at our local dollar store, so not only were they inexpensive, but we only had to make one stop – always nice with a toddler in tow.

IMG 4891First off, we started the project by painting our wooden dowels.  Miss G does not always enjoy having her hands covered in paint, so we attached clothespins to the ends of the dowels so she could rotate them as she painted without painting her fingers.  When she declared a dowel done, I went over the stick with a couple of quick strokes in order to smooth out the globs.

IMG 4896Then, because the tips were not painted where the clothespins were, I was able to stick the dowels into chunks of {gingerbread} play dough to dry upright.

IMG 4995A couple of days later, when our paint was good and dry (it actually only takes about an hour), we came back to our project.  We started by drawing a heart shape onto a piece of cardboard and cutting it out to use as a tracer.   

IMG 4996Next, using our newly-made tracer, we traced hearts onto the backs of our foam sheets.  Gracen was happy to do the first few, and let me do the others when it came to this job.

IMG 5000With some strategic placement, we were able to fit 4 hearts onto each of our foam sheets, but of course it depends on the size of your tracer and the size of your foam sheets.

IMG 5004Next, we cut out the hearts.

IMG 5005Now to actually assemble a wand, you need two foam hearts, a wooden dowel, and a cute little helper.

IMG 5007This right here was Grae’s favourite part of the whole project… Peeling the backings off of the hearts!

IMG 5009With one heart shaped peeled, we placed the sticky side up on our work surface and placed the unfinished end of our dowel in the centre of the heart, up maybe an inch or inch and a half from the bottom.

IMG 5012Then Grae peeled the backing off of another heart, and we carefully placed it on top of the dowel, making sure to line up the hearts as closely as we could.

IMG 5013With the heart in a good position, Grae pressed everything together firmly.

IMG 5017Next up – the ribbon!  We chose 3 colours, looped them in half, and cut them slightly shorter than the length of our exposed dowel .

IMG 5018Then we stacked them up and tied them onto the dowel at the base of the heart, giving them a little tug to coax them into falling downwards nicely.

IMG 5026Then, with a different, slightly narrower ribbon, we tied a bow right above the previous ribbon knot…

IMG 5024And finished off all of the ribbon ends with v snips.

IMG 5445IMG 5446IMG 5447
And there you have it.  Sparkly heart wands for Miss G’s little friends.  


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Toddler Food: What Miss G Eats {26}

Toddler Food

The one question I get asked as a mom, far more than anything else is, “How do you get Gracen to eat the way she does?”  And the usual follow-up questions include, “Has she always been open to trying new foods and flavours?”  and “Is there anything she doesn’t like?!”  

While I’ve given my take on it here and there in the comments sections of my Toddler Food posts, I’ve never included the answer in an actual post because the truth is, I don’t really know how she became such a good eater. {And perhaps I’m a wee bit afraid of talking about it too much and jinxing it all. ☺}  Is it because of the way we introduced food to her?  Is it because of the way we currently handle meal times and eating in general?  Was she just born a good eater?  Likely it’s a combination of all of those things…  But I can’t be sure.  

That being said, since I continue to get requests for eating tips each week, I’m going to share what we did and what works for us.  

It all started while I was pregnant actually…  Other than the first few weeks, I had a really good pregnancy.  I felt well and could eat {small portions} of anything I wanted (other than meat) without feeling sick, so I made sure to nourish our growing baby the best I could while she was still in the womb.  Right away, I cut out all refined sugars, caffeine, and unhealthy fats.  I filled my diet with healthy fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans and nuts, and ate a variety of flavours, spices, herbs. (Did you know that your baby tastes the flavours of what you eat through the amniotic fluid?  They do!  Cool, eh?)  And I continued to do the same once she was born so that she’d still be experiencing a wide variety of flavours through the breast milk she was drinking.  

When she was 6 1/2 months old and we decided to introduce solids, I made all of her food at home and included those same herbs, spices, and flavourings she’d already become accustomed to into her first foods (bananas with cinnamon, carrots with dill, spinach with nutmeg, and curried chicken were some of her favourites).  During our brief time with purees, I also made sure to vary the textures of the foods so that everything wasn’t always just smooth – some were slightly chunky, others were quite chunky, and she got used to them all from the get go.

After eating purees for about a month, we basically transitioned her over to a baby-led weaning style of eating.  I ensured that our food was fresh, flavourful, and full of variation, as well as free of salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats, and she began eating chunks of our family meal (no separate “kid food” here!) from about 7 1/2 or 8 months on.

There have definitely been things she hasn’t liked along the way.  Potatoes (of any sort) were a big flop for a long time, she had a short stint of not enjoying cheese, and she’s never liked raw tomatoes (but then again, I don’t blame her for that one – they’re one of the few foods I despise also!)  Right now, she’s not a fan of raw leafy greens though she happily ate them from the age of 1 until just after 2.  Do we force her to eat the things she doesn’t like or want?  Absolutely not.  But we don’t stop offering them either.  To this day, I’ll still put a grape tomato on her plate if they’re part of the meal we’re eating.  And no, she never eats the whole thing, but sometimes she does try them, which is just fine with me.  

There are a few other things we do that I think help Miss G to remain a good eater…  First off, she’s involved in a lot of the cooking and food prep in our house, and I always feel like kids are more likely to eat foods that they’ve helped make.  Secondly, I make one meal and we all sit down and eat together as a family.  No Gracen eats first and we eat once she’s in bed, no separate kid meal, and no television on during meals. She sees us trying new things and she’s usually happy to try them too.  And lastly, and I hope it doesn’t sound too harsh, there’s no other option available if you don’t want to eat the meal that’s been prepared.  She never has to eat if she doesn’t want to, but we won’t give her a bowl of yogurt or a banana or something else in place of the meal she has in front of her.  If she wants to be done and hasn’t eaten a whole lot, we simply save the meal for her to come back to later when she’s feeling hungry.

Now we just have to hope that I haven’t jinxed it all and she continues to be a fantastic little eater. ☺

Alright, so after that long-winded explanation, here’s some of what our little lady has eaten lately…

IMG 2584Breakfast // Wholewheat bagel with cream cheese and avocado slices.  Kiwi slices.  Red grapes.

IMG 2781Breakfast // Baked blueberry oatmeal with organic milk.

IMG 3114Breakfast // Wholewheat oat flax pancake.  Scrambled eggs with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and feta.  Plain organic yogurt.

IMG 3158Breakfast // Organic multigrain cereal with hemp hearts, chia seeds, frozen blueberries, and organic milk.

IMG 3396Breakfast // Toasted sovital with all-natural peanut butter.  Banana coins.  Honey mandarin.

IMG 3600Breakfast // Scrambled parmesan basil eggs.  Panfries.  Honey mandarin.  All-natural chicken sausage.

IMG 3159Snacks {on the go} // Raw almonds.  Fresh avocado.  Red grapes.  Snap peas.  Old cheddar.  Organic wild rice sticks.

IMG 2581Lunch // Wholewheat rotini with toasted almonds, sautéed spinach, and feta.

IMG 2778{Weekend} Lunch // Assorted crackers with baked garlic and sun-dried tomato brie.  Avocado, Asian melon, and celery with mediterranean hummus.  Kiwi quarters and pomegranate seeds.

IMG 2975Lunch // Organic egg salad in a mini wholewheat pita.  Carrots, snap peas, peppers, and avocado with all-natural dip.

IMG 3054Lunch {on the go} // Peppers and carrots.  Baby mandarin.  “Lulu mix” (almonds, kamut puffs, organic raisins, freeze-dried raspberries, and organic o’s).  Almond butter and hemp hearts on wholewheat pumpkin seed yogurt bread.  Cheddar cubes.  Black beans.

IMG 2586Lunch // Harvest grains.  Sauteed kale.  Grilled chicken breast.  Steamed beets.

IMG 2749Lunch // Spicy tomato soup with fresh parmesan and parsley. Multigrain crackers.  Carrot sticks and humus.

IMG 3330Lunch {on the go} // Boiled organic egg.  Tofu cubes.  Plain yogurt with cinnamon.  Apple sandwich with almond butter, chia seeds, and old-fashioned oats.  Pepper strips.  Avocado.

IMG 3383Lunch // Tuna salad and sprouts on flax seed bread.  Avocado.  Apple and kiwi slices.  Baby mandarin.

IMG 3706Lunch // Black bean veggie quesadillas.  Kiwi slices.  Watermelon spears.

IMG 3446Dinner // Mulligatawny soup.  All-natural turkey, spinach, colby, and avocado on multi-seed bread.  Cucumber slices.

IMG 2779Dinner // North Shore Mama‘s salmon tacos.  (YUM!)

IMG 3519Dinner // {Turkey} Lasagna soup.

IMG 2887Dinner // {Turkey} Shepherd’s pie.

IMG 3033Dinner // Israeli couches with steamed veggies and feta.  Grilled chicken breast.

IMG 3091Dinner // All-natural apple chardonnay chicken sausage.  Steamed broccoli.  Dilly carrots.  Roasted potatoes.

IMG 3093Dinner // Ravioli with a spicy cream sauce.  Coleslaw with fresh herbs and sunflower seeds.  Veggies and humus.

IMG 3279Dinner // Brown rice with steamed veggies and tofu.

IMG 3328Dinner // Potato and leek soup.  Spinach salad with edamame, avocado, and sunflower seeds.  Grilled white cheddar on Ezekiel 4:9 bread.

IMG 3482Dinner // {Take out} Thai green curry on coconut rice.

IMG 3485Dinner // Grilled chicken with tzatziki.  Garlic and parmesan roasted Brussels sprouts.  Roasted baby potatoes.

IMG 3480Dessert // No-sugar peanut butter chia cookies.


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A Story by Grae

This afternoon, while I was brushing my teeth and throwing on some lipgloss in the bathroom and Miss G was watching at the doorway, Grae announced that she was going to tell me a story.  This is it, word for word (giant pauses and all).

Once upon a time….  There was a nice mum mum.  She was brushing her… teeth.  And Grae Grae loved her brushing her teeth.  But theeeeeen…  Gracen sat on her head!!!

Such a strange little doodle I spend my days with.


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A First Drawing: Ainsley & Baby Otto

IMG 4993This afternoon Miss G made a little congratulations card for her sweet playmate Ainsley, who became a big sister 11 days ago.  She decided she wanted to draw Ainsley and her new brother on the inside of the card, which was a big undertaking seeing as she’s only ever really drawn circles, triangles, squares, and happy faces.  When she asked for help, I walked her through the parts we needed to add to her start of two smiley faces (“Okay, now what does Ainsley have on her head?”, “What about feet? Should we add some?”, etc.) and this is what she created.  

Pretty brilliant for a first real drawing, I’d say.  ☺


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IMG 4990Today our first ever bandaid was needed… Miss G slipped her finger into the door of our lazy susan just as I was closing it and the end result was not good.  The incident took the tip of her nail off, as well as the skin off of the top of her little finger.  To make matters worse, she despised her bandaid, but after taking it off, hated seeing the blood and raw skin underneath.  Ugh.  Not fun for my sensitive little lady.

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iPhoneography // Skating, Day 2

Gracen s Second Day of SkatingGracen and I went skating for the second time today (see our first try here) and it was pretty great.  We still rotated rounds of skating with the support with the extra fun chair rides, but Grae was a lot more confident today and skated for most of the time without me holding the support behind her.  

Here she is in all of her skating glory…

That little clippity clop of her skates on the ice makes my heart melt.


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{Pretend Play} Cooking Station

Pretend Play Cooking StationFirst off, I have to say that I just love setting up fun play invites for Gracen to discover.  The way her little face lights up when she finds something new just melts me.  And she dives in so enthusiastically that I seriously could just stand back and watch her play forever. 

I set up this little cooking station on our butcher block tonight while Miss G was having an early bath.  I knew I’d be making dinner once she was out and that Brad would probably want to get some dishes done, so having a fun activity right in the kitchen where we’d be would allow for some family time while all working on our own projects.  

IMG 4900Gracen got all kinds of really cool cooking and baking supplies for Christmas this year, so I made sure to include them, but you could easily just use regular-sized bowls, pans, and utensils.

IMG 4899For the ‘food’, I filled up some small jars and bowls with dried goods from our pantry and added in a couple of spice shakers, one filled with rice and the other with some of the coloured epsom salt we used as a sensory experience before Christmas.

IMG 4909Of course our observant little girl noticed the cooking station within 10 seconds of exiting the bathroom, long before she had completely dried off or put clothes on.  After retrieving a shirt, some underwear, and a hat (weird doodle!) it was time to play.

IMG 4903Pie anyone?

IMG 4914She whipped up concoction after concoction, offering us tastes along the way. ☺

IMG 4915She had so much fun that at the end of the night I simply tidied things up a little, made them looking inviting again, and left them out for her to explore again tomorrow.  


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Animal Sink Bath

IMG 4828Since returning home from a long vacation 2 weeks ago, playing independently has been  a lot more difficult for Grae.  Instead of playing on her own, she wants to be right beside Mama {if not right on top of me} all. of. the. time.  When I explain that I need a little bit of personal space to get something done or encourage her to play, she responds with, “But Mama is the best…” or “But I just want to watch what you’re doing” or “But I LOOOOVE you!”  Oy.  It’s not easy.  

The one time she seems to be happy to play on her own right now is while I make dinner (thank goodness for that).  She often does puzzles, reads, or plays dress up, but tonight she set up one of her long time favourite games…  A sink bath for her animal friends.  She pulls up a stool, collects her sea creatures (sometimes it’s a baby or rubber ducks), and grabs a wash cloth while I fill up the sink with warm water, get out a squirt bottle or a sponge, and retrieve some soap or a little chunk of FUN.  Together we add a drop or two of food colouring to the water, and that’s it.  She plays and splashes and washes her animals in there for a good long time, and by the time she’s done, I usually have dinner on the table.  

A sink full of water… Who knew?  Works like magic every time.


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Saturday, Fort Day.

With Brad away at a basketball tournament {with our vehicle} all day today, I decided it would be a great excuse to have a low-key day around home, just my munchkin and I.  And what’s better than a fort, heaps of pillows, games, and great books to fill a Saturday?

IMG 4800Chez Gracen.

IMG 4777Magnetic flowers and sunshines.

IMG 4781Hello Kitty, the only merchandised toy allowed in our house.

IMG 4786A new favourite…

IMG 4787Bear dress up.

IMG 4791Snacks.

IMG 4806A new favourite book.

IMG 4811Hilarious.  (Listen to it here.)

IMG 4816Treat time.  Homemade apple pear carrot fruit leather.

IMG 4819Taste test in progress.

IMG 4823Pooped.


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Apple Pear Carrot Fruit Leather

Homemade Carrot Pear Apple Fruit LeatherAfter getting our batch of banana berry fruit leather in the oven, Gracen and I decided to give round two a go, this time with a different combination of ingredients…

IMG 4698We had a couple of bruised pears that I really wanted to use, and while digging in the fridge for an apple, Grae suggested carrots too (sure, why not?)  We added the other half of our lemon to the mix and called it good.

IMG 4700This batch took a wee bit more prep than the last one.  Grae peeled carrots {ever so cautiously}…

IMG 4703While I prepped the apples and pears (I peeled the apple, but not the pears).

IMG 4705When everything was ready to go, my little sous chef added the produce to a big pot…

IMG 4707And attempted to squeeze the juice from the lemon.  (Her exact words just before this shot was taken were, “Com’on, lemon… Why you not working??”)

IMG 4709Then she poured in some water (quite a bit more than with our first batch because carrots don’t produce their own juice while stewing).

IMG 4712Then we popped our pot on the oven, put a lid on it, and let everything simmer for about half an hour on medium heat.

IMG 4736It looked absolutely horrible when it was done cooking (like some kind of veggie stew gone terribly wrong), but smelled delicious.

IMG 4742During the stewing process, my little girl helper was replaced by this equally cute kitty helper.  Luckily, she likes to help just as much and saw to it that our mixture was pureed perfectly.

IMG 4743Then we poured it out onto a parchment-lined sheet.

IMG 4744This time we were a little more careful to make sure the mixture was an even thickness all over the base of the pan. Then it was into the oven on the lowest temperature.

IMG 4754After eight hours, we had a lovely sheet of fruit leather.

IMG 4757Once again using kitchen scissors, I cut the sheet into strips…

IMG 4764And rolled it up using strips of parchment paper and baker’s twine. 

IMG 4816And though our berry banana version is very tasty {despite being a tad over dried}, I think these are even better.  They’re sweet and flavourful and have just the perfect bit of tartness.
IMG 4819Gracen seems to agree.  She gobbled up this entire strip in 3 minutes flat and promptly asked for another. 

Carrot Pear Apple Fruit Leather
  • 2 Red Anjou pears
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 cup of water
Peel the carrots and peel and core the apple.  Put all of the produce into a large pot along with the water and the juice from the lemon.  Cover the pot and stew the fruit/veggies on medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool a while.
Pour the stewed fruit and veggies into a blender or food processor and puree.
Pour the pureed mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and use a spatula to evenly distribute  the mixture over the base of the pan.  Bake at 150 degrees for about 8 hours, removing it from the overn when the leather is no longer sticky to the touch.  
Peel away the parchment paper and cut into strips using kitchen scissors or a pizza cutter.
Enjoy immediately or roll using parchment strips and baker’s twine and store in an airtight jar.


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