So Long…

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Today we finished packing and cleaning and said goodbye to our home in Vancouver.  I’d been so focused on accomplishing all of the tasks on my to do list that I hadn’t taken the time to think about about how much I’ll miss our little old house – the one in which our baby girl learned to walk, where she learned to talk, where she said so long to diapers, where she graduated to a big girl bed, and so many other important things…  It all hit me when she walked into her empty bedroom for the final time, called out, “Goodbye, room!”, and then leaned into the wall with big open arms and gave it a kiss.  Ugh. Tears.

They snuck up on me again as I took this final photo of her on our front porch, ringing the doorbell as she always does, just one last time.

So long, little house in East Vancouver.  Big changes are ahead…

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Joy Amongst the Chaos

Thank goodness for tiny moments of joy amongst the chaos.

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{3 Ingredient} Apple Fig Fruit Leather

Apple Fig Fruit Leather | Mama Papa BubbaAmidst our packing frenzy, the figs on our lovely backyard fig tree have decided that now is the time to become perfectly ripe.  This poses a problem for a few different reasons…. 1) The tree is big and old and produces a TON of fruit,  2) I’m the only one in our family that truly enjoys fresh figs, 3) Keeping up with the daily picking of the fruit is time consuming, and 4) If I don’t keep up with the picking, our backyard becomes a sticky mess filled with wasps.

In an effort to avoid a waspy sticky mess of a backyard, I’ve been giving away boxes of figs to almost every person I’ve been in contact with, I’ve been adding 3 or 4 to our green smoothie each morning, and I’ve been eating them fresh as my nightly treat, but that just wasn’t enough.  I needed a way to use up a ton of figs all at once, and preferably it would be something that the other members of my family would enjoy too.  Enter fruit leather…

IMG 0516Gracen loves fruit leather, and though it can be a little intimidating if you’ve never made it before, it’s truly one of  the easiest, most forgiving things to make.  And no special equipment is needed!  If you have some fruit, an oven, a baking pan, and some parchment paper, you can easily make your own fruit leather at home.

IMG 0515I’ve made several batches of this stuff already, and it’s getting eaten up like nobody’s business!  Plus I’ve changed my method a little bit and it’s now even easier for me to make my own fruit leather.  Here’s how to do it…

 

Apple Fig Fruit Leather

  • 10 ripe figs, washed
  • 2 apples, cored and peeled
  • 1 cup of water (fresh-squeezed apple or orange juice works too!)

Preheat oven to 125 degrees (or lowest setting) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (paper should cover all edges of the pan).

Place all ingredients in a covered pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer fruit {still covered} for about 30 minutes, or until super soft.

Pour everything into a food processor or good blender and purée until smooth.  

Pour fruit mixture out onto parchment-lined baking sheet and use the back of a spatula to spread the fruit purée out so it covers the entire base of the pan. Gently shake the pan make the purée as even as possible.

Pop into the oven for approximately 8 hours (I put ours in just before going to bed).  You want to remove the fruit leather from the oven when it’s still sticky to the touch, but not at all wet.  You may find that part of your fruit leather will be done earlier than the rest.  In this case,  you’ll need to remove the fruit leather from the oven, cut off the finished part, and return the still wet to the touch part to the oven for another hour or two.

When finished, simply remove the large sheet of fruit leather from the baking sheet, cut of the excess parchment paper around the edges, and cut directly through both the remaining parchment and fruit leather to create strips.  Roll strips and secure with baker’s twine or washi tape.  Store in an air-tight container or jar.

Enjoy!

 

See our other homemade fruit leather recipes here: 

Berry Banana // Apple Pear Carrot

 

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Steveston, Pajo’s, & a First

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If there’s one thing we’ve been doing more of this month, it’s definitely eating out.  Normally, we eat out very rarely, but with our days filled with packing, sorting, organizing, and keeping little hands busy so they’re not digging in already packed boxes, we’ve been giving ourselves a break lately and eating some of our meals out.  Not only does mean that I don’t have to cook and that Brad doesn’t have to do dishes, but it also gives us all a much needed break from being indoors.IMG 0467

Tonight, Brad suggested that we head down to Steveston for fish and chips, which I thought was brilliant.  I’ve been meaning to take Miss G down to the oceanfront village forever and just haven’t gotten around to it, and with the weather as beautiful as it was today, it was the perfect place to enjoy some evening sunshine.IMG 0471

We arrived in Steveston, found parking, and headed straight to Pajo’s, which is pretty much an institution when it comes to fish and chips in the Lower Mainland.
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Miss G and I scouted out a table while Brad headed off to order our dinner, and before long, he returned with this…  2 large halibut and chip orders with fresh lemon and tatar sauce.  To say that it was delicious would be an understatement.  It was so good in fact, that I ate more than I should have, even though Grae and I shared and then gave a good portion of our food to Brad to eat.
IMG 0482Now if you know about our food philosophy when it come to feeding Miss G, you know that fried food like this isn’t something that happens usually.  But, with Pajo’s sourcing their ingredients locally {and my moving exhaustion}, we decided to make an exception just for tonight.  In fact, we even let her taste her very first french fry (*gasp!*)

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She of course loved it, so we let her choose two more, and that was it.  (Years ago I heard some crazy stat like ‘60% of North American kids’ first vegetable is french fries’ and whether it’s true or not, I think it may have scarred me for life.)IMG 0493Afterwards, we enjoyed a lovely walk along the boardwalk and checked out many of the fishing boats selling fresh seafood.

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It was the perfect way to end another busy day, and I can already say that I can’t wait to do it again next summer.IMG 0488

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Simple Straw Bead Necklaces

Simple Straw Bead Necklaces | Mama Papa BubbaAs the chaos continues, so do the super simple, created-on-a-whim activities for Miss G.  Because the days are passing by so quickly and we still have a ridiculous amount of stuff to be done before the big move, I’ve basically been throwing together activities with whatever is nearby at the moment, and hoping that they’ll keep Gracen happily engaged for a good long time so that Brad and I can throw some more stuff into boxes (sad, but true).

IMG 2567Today, as I was sorting through our big catchall closet, I came across the bubble tea straws we used for Grae’s beloved bubble tea shop we did recently.  I knew I had seen yarn on a shelf somewhere, so I created a really basic beading station for the little lady to enjoy.

IMG 2568Using some big scissors, I chopped up the straws to form beads.  They leapt up from my scissors as they were cut and Gracen thought it was quite funny.  Her job was to collect all of the beads and pop them into this bowl.

IMG 2569Because the straws are so large, Brad created a cardboard stopper at the end of a piece of yarn instead of a giant knot.  This can be done as he did it (by feeding the yarn through a small hole and knotting it on the other side), or it can be done by wrapping the yarn through a couple of slits made in the cardboard square.

IMG 2570Though we actually have several large, unsharp sewing needles from Grae’s ‘sewing kit‘, I had seen this creative alternative on Happy Hooligans, and decided to give it a shot.

IMG 2572Grae started beading right away.  The beauty of this activity is that not only is it simple and fun, but it also is great for fine motor skill development and hand-eye coordination.  Plus it lends itself very easily to patterning if your child decides to take it that way (Miss G did not).

IMG 2576Grae worked on this project for a good long time and finally finished off a giant, brightly-coloured  necklace that she was very proud of.  

I realize that not everyone keeps bubble tea straws on hand, but this same activity would work great with regular small straws (just use a dull knitting needle instead of the straw needle, or put a bit of masking tape on the needle end of the yarn), or better yet – if you’re a Slurpee-loving family, wash out those big Slurpee straws and repurpose them for this project.

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She’s MY Sunshine

I don’t know which I love more – the song or the fact that she has a little burp and continues right on with her singing. ☺

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Fresh Mint Sensory Play

Fresh Mint Sensory Play | Mama Papa BubbaThe last few days have been hectic.  With only 5 days to pack up our entire house and prepare for our first of two upcoming moves, Brad and I have been working at full steam sorting through things, preparing boxes of items we’ll need for August, boxes that will go straight to Kuwait, and boxes that will go into storage until we return home to Canada in a few years.  Sort of sadly, that leaves our little lady to play independently almost all day long most days.  As a result, I’ve been pulling together all kinds of random, super simple activities with whichever everyday materials are nearby at the moment.  Luckily for me, this morning as I popped on the internet for a brief moment, there was a discussion on different ways to use fresh mint going on in one of the awesome blogger networks I belong to (if you’re not already one of the 68 000 people that follow our Pinterest board, you certainly should be!)  We have loads of mint growing in our backyard, so I took a bunch of the suggestions, mashed them together and created this fresh mint soup station for Miss G to explore.

IMG 0428To start out, I set out a big bunch of fresh mint, a pair of Gracen’s scissors, and few plastic bowls and spoons.  Grae began smelling and cutting and ripping the mint and the amazing scent of fresh mint filled our house.  She dished out bowls of ‘salad’ and delivered them to us as we worked.

IMG 0438Before long, I sensed that something would have to be added to the mix in order to keep Grae engaged in her play, so I grabbed a small container of green glitter and a jug filled with water and a couple drops of green food colouring and quietly added them to the bin.  (Slowly adding elements to sensory bins as play progresses is one of my favourite tips for keeping munchkins engaged in their play.)

IMG 0430In no time at all, bowls of sparkly green soup were rolling out of Gracen’s fresh mint kitchen.

IMG 0437Looks delicious, right?

IMG 0454This was such a simple set-up, but Grae enjoyed it so much that I just tidied it up to make it look inviting again, and I’m leaving it out overnight for Miss G to enjoy again tomorrow. We’ll see how the mint lasts!

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A {Pretend Play} Popcorn Shop

Pretend Play Popcorn Shop | Mama Papa BubbaOur makeshift puppet theatre got LOTs of play and it was {well past} time to switch things up in our little Ikea SKYLTA Market Stand.  Because we’re amidst our 5 days dedicated to packing our entire house, it had to be something super quick and easy to set-up, but highly engaging in order to keep Miss G happily {and independently} playing for as long as possible.

IMG 0406To get things started, I made a little ‘Popcorn Shop’ sign that took less than a minute to make, and popped it into the structure’s sign slot.

IMG 0407Then Grae and I made a big bowl of plain stove-top popcorn (in coconut oil of course) and she grabbed a measuring cup to act as her scoop while I grabbed an old salt shaker that works terribly (it barely lets anything out, and in this case that’s perfect) and put a little sea salt inside.

IMG 0409While I’ve seen really cute old-fashioned popcorn bags at our local dollar store, I’m a big fan of using what you have on hand if you can, so I grabbed some paper bags I’d used at a recent craft market and quickly wrote ‘POPCORN’ across the front of each one.  Together we decided that the small white ones would be the shop’s personal size and the bigger brown ones would be family-sized.  

IMG 0412After retrieving an apron, Miss G opened her popcorn shop for business.

IMG 0405She took orders, asking us about our size and salt preferences, and carefully scooped popcorn into bags.  When an order was ready, she’d deliver it to us wherever we were working in the house, then check back in a few minutes later to see if we needed a free refill… Now that’s what I call service!

IMG 0404Our popcorn shop was a total hit with Grae and my guess is that she’d continue dishing out bags of popcorn as long as I’d continue filling the bowl.  

This inexpensive cardboard contraption has brought us a ton of fun already and I fully plan to take advantage of it for the last few weeks before we move.  ☺

To see the other ways we’ve used our cardboard market stand, click here.

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Floating Flowers… Fun for Pools, Baths, & Sensory Bins

Floating Flowers for Water PlayWhen we went to pick up a pool noodle for Gracen’s marble run water slide, she originally fell in love with a flower-shaped noodle.  While I knew it wouldn’t be the best fit for our marble run, at $1.25, I knew we would eventually figure out a way to put it to good use.  

IMG 0351It was my first time seeing this sort of pool noodle, and all I knew was that I wanted to slice it up to create tons of little individual flower shapes.  

IMG 0349So that’s just what I did.  Just like when slicing a pool noodle in half vertically, I found that using a sharp, serrated knife and a sawing motion worked best.  I sliced ours about an inch thick, but you could do them any thickness you like – even varying thicknesses would be fun!

IMG 0353As I chopped, Miss G ran the ready flowers over to her blow up pool and tossed them in!  

IMG 0375It’s such a simple thing, but they looked so pretty and inviting dancing around on the water’s surface.  (I’m already picturing them in bath tubs and sensory bins too!)

IMG 0367I think Miss G agreed, because she immediately jumped in {despite the freezing cold water} and started splashing around like mad!

IMG 0361When the splashing had subsided a little bit, Grandma Charlotte showed Grae how the flowers could be used as building blocks.  

IMG 0458It’s definitely easier in still-ish water, but it’s equally fun when in or out of the pool.  Towers can be built…

IMG 0460Pyramids can be built…

IMG 0466And ‘trains’ can be built too!  Of course, the possibilities are really endless when it comes to building structures – even when they’re floating ones. 

IMG 0358Now the only question is how I’m going to convince Brad that heaps of pool noodle flowers are a Kuwait necessity…  I mean with the heat and the amount of time we spend in and around water there, they are, aren’t they? ☺ 

Building Structures With Floating Flowers | Mama Papa Bubba

♥ 

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Frozen SCENTED Sidewalk Chalk Popsicles

Vibrant Scented Frozen Sidewalk Chalk Pops | Mama Papa BubbaWhen I saw this post from Reading Confetti, I immediately fell in love.  We’ve made our own sidewalk chalk paint for a long while now and I’d seen many frozen versions, but never had I seen them made in popsicle moulds before!  After sharing the idea on our Facebook page and pinning it on several Pinterest boards, I made a mental note to pick up some more cornstarch the next time I was out so we could get the project under way.

IMG 0263Well luckily for me, not only did I remember to pick up cornstarch during our next grocery shop, but I also ran into these Duncan Hines Frosting Creations packets for the first time ever.  Immediately, I knew our frozen chalk pops would be scented.  A few days later, Miss G and I gathered up our materials and got to work.

Using our tried and true sidewalk chalk paint method, we mixed 2 cups of warm water with 1 cup of cornstarch in our blender for a minute or so. Then we collected our popsicle moulds, our Frosting Creation packets, some gel food colouring (liquid will work too, but the colours won’t be nearly as intense), and several popsicle sticks.

IMG 0265Next up, I used the popsicle sticks to scoop a small amount of gel food colouring into each popsicle mould, and Miss G selected a Frostings Creation packet to coordinate with each colour before we added a small amount (maybe 1/8th of the packet) to each slot. (If you’re making this at home and can’t find the frosting flavour packets, you could always use unsweetened Kool-Aid or Jell-O powder instead.)

IMG 0267With our food colouring and powdered scent ready, we filled each popsicle mould about 2/3rds full of our cornstarch/water combo and Gracen stirred them well.

IMG 0268Then we topped them up with a little bit more cornstarch/water and Grae gently stirred them a little more.

IMG 0270At that point, all that was left to do was put our plastic handles in and freeze the chalk pops overnight.

IMG 0315The next day, they looked like this.  The colours were vibrant, the texture was smooth and creamy, and they smelled absolutely delicious.

Vibrant Scented Frozen Sidewalk Chalk Pop Scents | Mama Papa BubbaThe blue one smelled like cotton candy, the green one was mint chocolate, the red was strawberry shortcake, and the orange was orange creme…  YUM.  The only potentially bad news is that because they do look so real and smell so wonderfully, some munchkins may be tempted to try eating them (yuck!)  That being said, because they’re made strictly of kitchen ingredients, they are technically safe to consume. So though they may taste chalky and gross, they certainly wouldn’t harm a curious little monkey who snuck a lick.

IMG 0328With our fun new chalk pops in hand, we headed into the backyard to test them out.  The verdict?  They’re really awesome!

IMG 0329When they’re melting and drippy, they go on much like their liquid counterpart does, only via a wand of sorts instead of a paintbrush.  When they’re not melting, they go on much like regular sidewalk chalk does – dry and colourful with a little bit of pressure.  When dry, the colours are super vibrant and to me, they look very much like they’ve been made with regular sidewalk chalk. 

IMG 0344By the time our chalk pops had melted, our cement pad was fully covered in bright swirls, drawings, drips, and letters.  And the great news is that it all washed away really easily without any fuss – much easier than our sidewalk chalk paint normally does for some reason.

I can’t wait to pull this activity out again in Kuwait where the temperatures soar and our courtyard is made completely of cement.

♥ 

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