Monthly Archives: January 2013

Berry Banana Fruit Leather

Homemade Banana Berry Fruit LeatherOne of the few ready-made packaged foods I buy now and then is organic all-fruit fruit leather strips.  They’re a very special treat for Miss G and I don’t feel horrible about letting her have one once and a while (as long as her teeth are brushed extra well that day), but I’ve always known that I should probably be making them at home instead.  Recently, our local grocery store stopped restocking their organic fruit leather supply (I think they’re getting rid of the current stock and then no longer carrying them) and they were down to just two lonely strips on our last visit. It was the perfect push I needed to try making my own. 

IMG 4699Today I asked Gracen if she’d like to try making some fruit leather of our own, and she responded enthusiastically with, “Sure!  Purple ones.” so I decided we’d try  a berry variety first.  Since we don’t really buy many berries when they’re out of season, we went with what we had in the freezer – strawberries, raspberries, and wild blueberries.  Plus an apple and half a lemon for texture and a little kick.

IMG 4713As we were prepping the fruit, which really only consists of peeling and coring the apple, we decided to add a banana in the mix for sweetness.

IMG 4715With all of the ingredients ready to go, Gracen popped them into a large pot…

IMG 4720Then squeezed the lemon on top…

IMG 4722And added a little bit of water.

IMG 4724Then we popped the mixture on the stove to stew over medium heat for a while.

IMG 4725About a half hour later, this is what we had.

IMG 4727We let it cool for a little bit and then dumped it in the food processor to puree for a bit.

IMG 4728With our mixture nice and smooth, we lined a baking sheet with parchment paper…

IMG 4731And poured our berry mixture on top.

IMG 4732Using a spatula, we spread the mixture out to cover the entire base of the pan (on our next attempt, I’d spend a little more time getting it as evenly as possible) and put the pan in the oven on the lowest temperature.

IMG 4758Eight and a half hours later (yes – it takes a long time!) this is what we had.

IMG 4761We carefully peeled off the parchment paper…

IMG 4762And then I used kitchen scissors to cut it into strips.

IMG 4769A little parchment paper and baking twine later, we had our own homemade {and healthy!} version of a Fruit Roll-Up.  ☺

 

Banana Berry Fruit Leather 

  • 1 cup of raspberries, frozen or fresh
  • 1 cup of strawberries, frozen or fresh
  • 1 cup of blueberries, frozen or fresh
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • juice of 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/3 cup of water
Peel the banana and peel and core the apple.  Put all of the fruit into a large pot along with the water and the juice from the lemon.  Stew the fruit on medium heat (uncovered) for 25 to 30 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool a while.
 
Pour the stewed fruit 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 8 to 9 hours, removing it from the oven 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 air-tight jar.  
 

♥ 

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Always & Forever

While getting into the car after a particularly trying visit to the craft store…

Gracen: I’m happy!  I’m a good girl.

Mama: Yes, baby. You’re a good girl.

Gracen: But Mama’s still feeling a little bit up-set though…

Mama: (nods)

Gracen: I LOVE YOUUUU!

Mama: I love you too, Grae.

Gracen:  Mama still loves Grae Grae even when she’s up-set.

Yes I do, sweet girl.  Always and forever.

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Valentine’s Creative Table

One of the things I’ve been doing to encourage independent play {and creativity} in recent months is keeping a fun, inviting, and well-stocked ‘creative table’ for Gracen.  All it is is her little table (or sometimes a tray or even the floor) with an assortment of materials available for her free use.  Sometimes it’s paper and glue and embellishments (like in our Christmas tree creative table), sometimes it’s play dough and cookie cutters and decorations, and sometimes it’s a tray of baking soda with droppers and dishes of different coloured vinegars.   Naturally, some creative table set-ups are more open-ended and some lend themselves more to a finished product, but either way, the purpose is for Gracen to explore materials, experiment, and create freely while enjoying the process.  

Valentine s Creative TableToday, Miss G and I did a little bit of shopping for this year’s Valentine’s Day projects (yes, we’re thinking about it already), and though I intended on holding off on a Valentine’s themed creative table for a while yet, my little lady popped up from her afternoon nap and her first words were, “I want to craft now.  Grae Grae gets her new craft things!”  And that was that.  A Valentine’s creative table it was.

IMG 4670IMG 4669IMG 4672Together we gathered up all sorts of pink and red craft supplies…  Smelly markers, sparkly foam shapes, bingo dabbers, stamps and a stamp pad, doilies, construction paper hearts, and some glue.

IMG 4683As she does with most creative projects, Grae dove right in.

IMG 4687The immediate favourite?  The foam stickers.  She plower through the initial stash and asked for more right away.

IMG 4681Throughout the afternoon and evening, she came and went as she pleased, adding to her pieces as she wished.

Here are a few of the pieces she declared ‘finished’…

IMG 4688IMG 4694IMG 4689While it won’t be around until the big day (I try to change up our creative table supplies every 4 to 7 days or so), there’s no doubt it will be enjoyed, added to, and revisited for several days to come.

♥ 

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Mini Treasure Hunt

Mini Treasure HuntRecently, Gracen has become borderline obsessed with all things searching-based.  She loves a good game of hide-and-seek, she adores playing ‘I Spy’, and there’s nothing better than a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ book.  So this afternoon, after a busy morning filled with a morning walk, a first attempt at skating, and an impromptu hair cut, we decided to pull together a low-key searching activity indoors.  

IMG 4598First, we rounded up some coins (aka treasure) and gave them a good scrub in hot soapy water {because money grosses me out}. (Of course you could always use something different as treasure…plastic gems, tiny toys, play money, etc.)

IMG 4599After drying off the coins, we spread them out on a plastic serving tray…

IMG 4601And hid the treasure with the coloured rice we made months ago (plain rice, sand, flour, dry pasta, beans, and cornmeal would all be good alternatives).

IMG 4603Voila – treasure hidden.

IMG 4605Next, we gathered a few treasure finding tools. 

IMG 4626We laid our tray down on a towel for easier clean up, retrieved one of Miss G’s piggy banks for treasure collection, and the search began.

IMG 4631Searching…

IMG 4633Found something… Jackpot!

IMG 4616Clink!  Into the piggy bank (cue Miss G’s ‘money, money, moneeeeey’ song and dance).

Grae had so much fun with this little game that I’m certain it will sit out in our living room for the next few days being enjoyed by our little search-obsessed girl time and time again.

♥ 

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A New ‘Do

After our morning adventure, Miss G and I spontaneously decided to head down to Broadway to get her hair trimmed.  As usual, we went to Melonhead, and as usual, we had another great experience.  Though this was Grae’s third haircut, it was the first that I had not prepared for by packing along very special sit still treats. ☺  Thankfully, it wasn’t an issue.  We walked in without an appointment and got in immediately (which is always nice).  Gracen chose where she’d like to sit (the pink car – again) and happily enjoyed some crazy Treehouse show while the lovely stylist snipped away.  

IMG 4590Before.

IMG 4591During.

IMG 4592After.

IMG 4593A sweet little style.

IMG 4596Celebratory pony ride.

Before I knew it, Gracen was sporting a cute new do and we were on our way.

♥ 

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iPhoneography // A First: Skating

IMG 9078While on Christmas vacation in the Okanagan, I finally came across something I’d been on the lookout for for a while now… Old-school double-bladed skates. ☺

And though we didn’t get around to a family skate session while on vacation, today my little lady and I stopped by Hillcrest Centre for their weekly preschooler skate.

IMG 9075Gracen was really excited about trying skating, so we got suited up and hit the ice.  At first, we skated hand in hand, her taking quick small steps on the slippery surface and I doing my best to balance the both of us.  After a few minutes, I realized we’d both be better off starting with one of the plastic support apparatuses (thank heavens for them!)  It was so much easier, especially with my rusty skating skills involved.  Grae stood in front with me behind her and all was good. In fact, we happily made it all the way down the ice and halfway back again before she took her first spill. That’s when things started going downhill a wee bit.  While she’d been confident and happy for the first bit, after the fall she was anxious and much more cautious.  Though I got her up and having fun again, she told me several times ‘Dis ice is soooooo slippery.  Too slippery, Mama!’  

IMG 9077In an effort to turn things around, I offered to push her on a chair for a bit like many of the other parents were doing with their kids.  Needless to say, with the risk of falling removed and the fact that she could glide across the ice at super speed without really having to put forth any effort added in, she loved it.

IMG 9076With spirits boosted from a good long chair ride, we hit the ice again and tried holding hands and using a cone for support.  

It was short, but overall I’d say our first ever skating session was a success.  Gracen left happy and she says she’s excited to go again next time.  Can’t ask for much more than that. ☺

♥ 

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An Afternoon at the Park

IMG 4569IMG 4581IMG 4571IMG 4584The perfect way to cap off a Sunday. ☺

♥ 

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Morning Walk

Ahhh…  Is there anything better than starting off the day with a good walk and a generous dose of crisp air?
IMG 4528IMG 4530IMG 4542IMG 4534Walk the PlankIMG 4540IMG 4549IMG 4553A new goal of mine is to explore places around our beautiful city that we don’t usually venture out to.  So today, the three of us headed out, walked the seawall along Beach Avenue (stopping to visit the inukshuk and explore the beach), and visited a new-to-us park.  It was a perfect way to start a Sunday.

♥ 

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Tong Transfer Game

Since returning home from vacation last week, we’ve been in a bit of a ‘getting back on track’ mode…  While we’re pretty good at maintaining Gracen’s overall schedule while away, some things are harder to control.  While on vacation, the time Grae’s left to find and engage in activities on her own is minimal – and for good reason as there are cousins and grandparents to play with!  The trouble is, mix the lack of time to practice independence with a whole lot more media exposure (I’m learning that our television is on for, perhaps, an abnormally small fraction of the day), and by the time we return home, I’ve got a stage five clinger on my hands. And don’t get me wrong – I love having my little sidekick right next to me most of the time…  But sometimes a mama has just got to do something on her own, without a little pair of hands in the mix.  Not to mention that I think independent play is a very important skill for kids to learn.

Tong Transfer GameSo tonight, as I was whipping together some dinner, I thought of a little game that would allow Miss G (my purple dinosaur) to be right there in the kitchen with me, while allowing me a wee bit of space.  Flipping some chicken using tongs caused me to  remember the mini tongs we’d put in Grae’s Christmas stocking.  I added two bowls and some shell pasta to the mix, and we had a game on our hands.

IMG 4510The goal?  Simply using the tongs to pick up the shells from one bowl and transfer them to the other bowl.

IMG 4512Now this may sound ridiculously easy, but for a toddler who’s had minimal experience with tongs and whose motor skills are not yet fully developed, it’s quite a challenge at first.

IMG 4518But not for long.  After successfully transferring all of the pasta pieces twice, Gracen asked for something new.  I quickly scanned our kitchen and came up these honey mandarins.

IMG 4521I could already see that her tong transferring skills had improved this time around.

IMG 4522After a couple of rounds with the oranges, Miss G wanted to try something new again, so we dug these bells out of a craft box to use.  

It is such a simple activity, but this little ‘game’ certainly kept my clingy monkey happily engaged until dinner was ready.  And sometimes that’s just what a mama needs.

♥ 

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iPhoneography // Saturday Night

Saturday Nightsous chef  //  best part of baking

treats & tea for 3  //  happy girl

A few years ago, a perfect Saturday night would have looked much different.

♥ 

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