10 foods that work for a toddler and family

Food has taken on a whole new reality (and love) for me since becoming a mom. It began at pregnancy and continued from there. Being responsible for the health of another takes on a huge weight!

As a new Mom, I turned to Pinterest for ideas, and wanted to share with you some of my tried and tested favs for Elizabeth as she is now 15-months-old. There are some breakfast, lunch and dinner options that have worked for us. All of these I have tried more than once and are self-eating baby/toddler friendly.

I will reference the blog I got the idea from, as all credit goes to them! If you have a young toddler, maybe some of these will be helpful for you!

Apple and Peach Cinnamon Wedges

It’s literally like eating apple pie, without the crust! You can use peaches or nectarines as well. Elizabeth devours this! I like to cook them when I have the frying pan and coconut oil out for eggs or something already, and make cinnamon/fruit her “dessert”.

Lentil Spinach Pancakes

I love sneaky ways to get some greens in, and an alternative protein. I like these dipped in yogourt, or for E, spread with plain yogourt.

Coconut Banana Spice Muffins

Elizabeth has always liked these, thankfully! They last no more than a couple days as they are quite moist, but relatively problem free in the coconut flour realm! (I have tried and tried recipes with coconut flour and this one works the best!)

2 Ingredient Pancakes

You could just leave these with 2 eggs and 1 banana (makes about five small pancakes), but I add some oatmeal and cinnamon for extra nutrition and it makes them a bit thicker!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Umm, we could eat this everyday!. So. Delicious. It gets lots of vegetables into my girl and smells like fall while cooking! We always have leftovers too.

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

With your extra soup from above, pour it into your pasta and voila, extra nutrition! Kids won’t know what hit ’em!

Blueberry Oatmeal Yogourt Pancakes

I love pancakes, I just do. This recipe makes a huge batch so freeze the extras for toasting later! Elizabeth loves these, and I like that they have oats and blueberries, with very little sugar.

Vegan Chickpea Curry (on a bed of rice)

I love this as my go-to meatless curry. Elizabeth sometimes likes it, and sometimes not so much. I find it depends on how strong the curry flavour is. Change to your liking!

Sheperd’s Pie

Mmmm, gotta love a meal that gets most of the food groups in one bowl! This is my default meal as I always have the items on hand! 😉

Italian Sausage Basil Pesto Penne

You got your carbs and your meet and spicy pesto fennel flavour! Love it! I always steam some veggies on the side.

There you have it – 10 meals from other bloggers that will hopefully help to feed you, your little ones, and your family!

xo

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Creative play in small spaces for a 1-year-old

I have wracked my brain thinking of how to make play fun for Elizabeth. First child-first mamma situation? I think so 😉  But through the long Alberta winter we had, I was desperate to add some variety to playtime on long days at home!

Our upstairs is two bedrooms, and hers is technically a den, though it has a closet. It’s the brightest room in the house with lovely built-in shelves that Troy installed before we got pregnant, when the room was our office. That being said, once you squeeze a crib, change table, and a rocking chair in there, there’s not much more room! Instead of getting frustrated (which I did for a bit, near tears, wanting to give our girl a lovely playroom and all!)… I decided to work with what we have, for as long as we live in this house. 

Funny enough, one day, about two months ago, Elizabeth scootched behind her rocking chair and started pulling her little Disney books off the nightstand. She stayed there for almost 20 minutes as I hid in the distance, listening to her talk and grow up before my very eyes! *cue heart tears* That made it clear to me – that spot was a perfect “quiet space” for her!

I grabbed this sheepskin rug we got from IKEA that was in another room and put it on the floor behind the chair. I put some other little books and dolls on the bottom shelf, and moved pillows around from the window seat. And ta-da…quiet area that she visits daily! She mostly pulls books off the shelf and talks to herself, but it’s made her room more “play friendly” and that makes me happy!

Then about a month ago (when she turned ONE!), I brought up an old shelf I had downstairs and put it in her closet with some books and baskets of toys. I put her laundry basket in another corner of the room and made another cozy spot of blankets and pillows in the corner of her closet. I guess I like to envision her sitting there, reading and playing make-believe like I did as a little girl! She goes back and forth between her closet to her corner (using her crib and chair as a grounding!), and suddenly has two new play spots in her room! Nothing more was spent to make her room cozier, I just used what we had.

It made me realize how when you have to be, you can be more resourceful than you think! It just takes some creativity 😉  Play areas that make both mamma and babe happy = win win!

 

Shop your home: Dining buffet update

There’s this sweet little secret I have seen in the design world called “shop your home”, where for those who want, or need, to be budget-friendly, you are encouraged to scour your own closets and walls to update your home when the urge arises. Rather than buying something new every time you want a fresh look, you rearrange what you already have.

As a new mom of a little one who is now on the move, with toys scattering the floor from sun-up to sun-down, I find if I can have little pockets of pretty here and there that she can’t touch, it makes me happy!

The plant on our dining room buffet was dried to a crisp, a Christmas plant, so when I threw it out, I decided to update the whole buffet look. It had been the same for about two years, so it was time! Here is what it looked like before (minus the flourishing plant! Oh how I loved that plant 😦 )

I still really liked it, but I didn’t have a new plant to replace the old, and new decor just isn’t a priority right now. So, one night after Elizabeth had gone to bed, I pulled everything off and roamed our rooms, looking for something new. I am trying to keep photos of us to a minimal right now, as we want to sell our house, but I had to indulge with a couple!

Here is the new look…

The lamp was in our downstairs livingroom, which we never use, so up it came. It adds such nice warmth to the room at night. The large antique gold frame is from the farm I grew up on, and had a photo of a long-lost relative. So out she came. I love the layered look! I have been collecting old books over the years – some of grandparents’ and some from garage sales. The herbs on the corbels are becoming parsley, and it makes me so happy to see something growing! Those corbels we got for a steal at a local street market a couple years ago. The photo of Troy and I was one week before our wedding, standing in Starbucks with my soon to be sibling-in-laws, and it’s one of my favourites of us. And of course, our little Elizabeth, 5-days-old.

If you were to walk around our home, you would see these colors throughout that are shown on the buffet: navy blue, gold, black, green, and creams.

I also added a leaf to our table because it feels more grand (even though it takes up a bit more space) and we could use the “office space” right now 😉 AND I like to think it encourages me to have people over more often!

Some effective ways you can shop your home:

  1. Use books as part of your decor, using cover colour schemes as a theme.
  2. Use fake and real greenery wherever you can, based on your natural light.
  3. Rearrange your photos or insert new ones for a quick update
  4. Buy some fresh flowers (tulips are cheap right now!)
  5. Add warmth with a lamp or candle.
  6. Mirrors add great layer and texture and help bring in shape and light to small spaces.
  7. Look for things that are different texture and sizes and mix and match in different spots.
  8. Pick anything that makes YOU smile!

Having beauty in the home doesn’t have to be a matter of finances – but a matter of collecting things that tell your story and things that you love. Itching for something new? Shop your home! You might be surprised what you find 🙂

17 ways to save money and live healthier at home: Part 2

Continued from yesterday’s post about ways to save money and live healthier at home, here are a few more ideas…

  • Buy reusable squeeze packs for healthy on-the-go snacks for babies and toddlers. I just bought these ones off Amazon, in the hopes that I could trick, ‘er, get Elizabeth to start liking vegetables again. Seriously, she’s suddenly HATES them!  That girl could live on dairy, avocado and oatmeal. These squeeze packs will come in handy for yogourt, smoothies, etc as she gets older. One friend said these work great for picnics in the summer!
  •  Take leftovers for lunch. When Troy doesn’t have access to a microwave for his lunch, he takes wraps, a banana, peanut butter and/or honey and makes a simple protein wrap. Either that, or we will hard boil some eggs for quick protein.
  •  Buy just the greenery in the floral section, instead of frequent bouquets. I love flowers or any plant, but have had a hard time keeping them alive in our home. Buying flowers for our table on a weekly basis just isn’t an option! One thing you can do to get your pretty ‘fix’,  is to buy the greenery in the floral section at Safeway, and stick that in a vase on your table. I find the variety they carry varies, but for $10-12 you’ll have greenery on your table for literally months if you keep refreshing the water! They often have anything from eucalyptus to fern, to larger leaves, which offers you a variety to choose from. It’s much cheaper than weekly flowers, won’t die like plants do, and you still have something alive and pretty to enjoy!
  •  Just don’t buy pop and you’ll get used to not drinking it or wanting it. Enough said, for health and budget reasons  😉 If you need to for a party, buy no name brand.
  • Buy a package of bulk blank cards and use them for birthdays, thank you’s, thinking of you, etc. Homesense often has beautiful cards to choose from, in 20 packs, for around $8. I’m not a big cards person, as I’d rather spend money on the gift, and don’t tend to keep cards unless the words in them are super meaningful! With an average of $5 a card normally, you’re saving yourself A LOT and still have something on hand when you want to share a sweet note (because it’s still good to be thoughtful and prepared!)
  • Shop Facebook swap sites or thrift store for clothing for your family. There is no shame in used clothing! Just watch for stains and quality. I have found some adorable sweaters and jackets for Elizabeth at Value Village!
    1. Keep your wardrobe simple. One mom friend said she has two Lululemon Wunder Under pants that she uses as her basic wardrobe. Since she takes good care of them in the wash, they will last for years. There are also multiple Pinterest posts on ‘capsule wardrobes’ and how to keep your closet simple and lovable.
    2. Shop in thrift stores in higher end regions of your city, as you will find even better treasures based on the socio-economic status of that region.
  • To save on hair care, go to a home-salon, as they have less overhead, and prices are always cheaper.
    1. Buy shampoo/conditioner in bulk, as this is usually cheaper (depending on brand)
    2. Dye your own hair, rather than the salon. My hair grows SO quick, that I only have it professionally done 1-2 times a year, and I do my own roots the rest of the year!
  • When hosting friends, keep it simple, and ask them to bring something. It’s okay to do a simple meal like spaghetti or chilli rather than that fancy, multi-ingredient Jamie Oliver meal you’ve been aching to try. People just want your company anyway, and you don’t want to give up community!

I hope that list was helpful and sparks some thoughts for you and your home and family. It’s certainly not exhaustive, and I would love to hear some suggestions you might have! Feel free to comment below so others can see your ideas!

Thanks for popping by!

 

17 ways to save money and live healthier at home: Part 1

With the new tax our governments have instilled, both provincially and federally, and being a one-income family, I got thinking about how we can be good stewards of what we have. A Sunday morning conversation with a friend about grocery shopping sparked the idea to collaborate with some mamma friends on ways they try to incorporate health and following a budget in their homes.

So this is two-part series of a collaboration between multiple homes. I will post the other half tomorrow! Whether you have a whole crew of kids or one like us, are single or newlyweds – these will be helpful tips!

  • Make Costco work for you – What is worthwhile to get? This will probably be mostly a matter of opinion, but some things are hands-down best to get wholesale.
    1. Meat – I go to Costco once a month and buy most of our meat for the month. Things like chicken breasts/whole roast chickens, ground turkey, and steak, are much cheaper at Costco. Their portions are easy to divide up into bags and freeze for multiple use.
    2. Pantry or produce – Amongst friends, the conclusion is that produce is best bought at stores like Walmart or Superstore, as Costco is usually more expensive. There is the odd thing in the fresh section that works out to be cheaper, if you can consume it in time, but generally it’s cheaper to shop elsewhere.
    3. Coffee beans – Definitely cheapest at Costco! This past month we opted not to buy the 100 pack Keurig box at Costco ($40) because we would easily use them up in a month, along with the odd coffee out. When I realized we were spending well over $50-70 month on coffee alone, that seemed a little ridiculous. This month we used one bag of their Kirkland brand beans ($14), and make a pot at home instead. A friend suggested we get the reusable Keurig pod (Amazon, $15) so that we can use ground up beans when we want a quick one-cup, so we plan to do that.
    4. Shop clearance – keep an eye out for when your local grocery store or drug store has sales, and buy items accordingly.
  • Vinegar & Water spray all-purpose cleaner –  You’ll spend between $2-4 (based on brand) of white vinegar and mix 1-1 ratio (I do a bit more vinegar than water usually) as an all-purpose cleaner.  Is this not the cheapest all-purpose toxin-free cleaner you can buy?  I put in a few drops of lemon essential oil for added kick to the germs 😉 Use this on countertops, mirrors (with a Norwex cloth this works perfectly!), bathrooms, walls, to wash fruit and vegetables, etc. Another friend suggested using Dawn dish soap/baking soda/vinegar as a stain remover.
  • Go meatless one day a week for health and to save financially. Some people may call it Meatless Monday, you can call it or pick whatever day you like. But when you think about using a can of chickpeas (roughly $1.75) or some lentils (bulk, super cheap), it can’t compare to the price you would pay for including meat on your menu. Here’s a couple to try.
    1. Chickpea Curry – I have done this one several times. Super easy and yummy!
    2. Curried red lentil soup with chickpea and quinoa. I aim to try this one this week!
  • Meal plan on the weekend for the whole week
    1. Spending 30-60 minutes on a Sunday helps keep you on budget for grocery shopping for the week and enables you to plan healthy meals ahead of time.
    2. Our local Superstore offers Click and Collect, which is a great service that only charges $3-5 gathering fee after you have placed your order online (can you say “shopping in your pj’s”!?). There’s the odd time I forget something when I do our groceries this way, but I know it also helps me stay on budget and is a HUGE time-saver!
    3. Make the meals earlier in the week that require fresh herbs etc, to eliminate waste or things going bad before you can use them.
    4. Another option is to buy your groceries based on sales, and meal plan AFTER, so that you aren’t out buying fancy items for meals you really can’t afford.
  • Use coupons for dates
    1. Groupon always has 2 for 1 offers, or save up your gift cards for date nights
    2. McDonald’s $1 coffee days are cheaper than Starbucks. Usually they will add a muffin to your regular coffee order for only 10cents extra as well. You can also collect their stickers for free coffees.
  • Pantry must-haves: coconut oil, baking soda, vinegar. These items are relatively cheap and offer so many uses throughout your home from cleaning to cooking. Coconut oil is an absolute favourite! We use it for cooking oil, toothpaste, face wash, dog dish (cleansing for dogs mouth and coat!), replace vegetable oil in baking recipes, lube, baby wash/face lotion… you get the idea. The others are handy for cleaning, baking, stain removal, etc.
  •  Wash and cut veggies at the beginning of the week. Put into bags for lunches or containers for cooking. We all know we SHOULD eat our veggies, but it’s the prep time that usually does us in! Do all the prep in one sitting, and you’ll be much more likely to choose healthy snack options during the week.
  • DIY in the kitchen
    1. Make your own greek yogourt – A friend has started to do this, and after looking in to it, it doesn’t look all that complicated! She said it costs about $5 per batch. Elizabeth and I eat this on a daily basis, so it’s definitely something I want to try. I found this recipe here I want to try.
    2. Grow your own green onions – I just started doing this, and it’s super easy! Once you use your onion, keep the white bulb part and immerse in water. Within about a week, the green will have grown back! Trim as you need, and it will keep growing back! I keep a little mason jar on our windowsill. I know green onion is super cheap, but I found it would usually go mushy on me before I could use it up.
    3. Make your own bread at home. Many of my friends make their own bread, buns, muffins, you name it, since it allows you to know better what you’re feeding your family. Let’s face it, bread is a staple for most households! Over the past year, I have experimented with sourdough and kefir bread, and recently found a yummy bun recipe that is super easy. When you consider a loaf of bread (whole grain) usually costs $3.50, and a bag of flour is anywhere from $5-7, your bag of flour will go a lot farther in feeding your family bread. I don’t have a breadmaker or mixer (someday!), so I do it the old fashioned way for now 😉
  •  Wash Ziploc bags or other containers that you can reuse for storage or to hold leftovers, or even for craft supplies with the kids. 

… to be continued…

There were just too many good ideas to share… the rest will be posted tomorrow!