Small Shop Gift Guide

Last week I shared my SMALL SHOP STOCKING STUFFER GUIDE  This week I want to share some latger small shop products that I know you and your little ones would love

1.The LITTLE PARTNERS LEARNING TOWER will give the gift of joy for you and your children all year long! It is an incredible means for getting kids involved in the kitchen which has been proven to help increase their interest in food. It is also great for craft time and for homeschooling through experience and conversation. For my full review as well as locations to purchase it with in Canada, click here.

2. The MIFOLD BOOSTER SEAT gives your child a more independent and “big kid” feel in the car while creating space and ease for you. For my full review of this innovative option for booster seats, you can look here.

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3. Travelling this holiday season? Pulling out a brand new REGALO TOT COT could be a neat way to announce the trip or surprise your child when you arrive. I think pairing with a new pair of Christmas pajamas would be a neat touch too! We love to travel to see family but we have grown tired of taking play yards, blow up mattresses, and bedding in tow everywhere we go. The REGALO TOT COT came in super handy this year and relieved us from the extra hauling. Not only that but the kids absolutely love them. They call them their travel beds and sometimes ask to hang out in them for weekend quiet time at home! You can find more information on our experience with them working this post from the summer.

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4. We have been using our PLANET BOXES for a few years now and the twins love them. They like to help me pack them. They find them easy to open. And they enjoy seeing all food options at once to be able to go back and forth between foods instead of choosing one container at a time. I like that they are super easy to pack and clean. They cut down on our use of packaged foods. And they offer a variety of food colours, textures, and flavors all at one sitting. We purchased two Rovers a few years ago and that is what is pictured here. This is Clay’s and has a “no dairy” label from Mabel’s Labels in it since he is allergic to milk. MABELS LABELS personalized name labels would be a cool “bow” on top of a wrapped Planet Box. I also mentioned these in my Stocking Stuffer Guide.

 

5. DYLBUG PERSONALIZED PLATES are a perfect way to make your child feel special at meal time while also inspiring creativity with food and boldness to try new things. This is a wonderful approach to eating and establishing a good relationship with food and meal time. The alphabet series takes learning during meal time to a whole new level. We love to use our “L is for LION” plate at LUNCH time. See what I did there 😉😉

6. I fell in love with the look of OS AND OAKES shirts and beanies the first time I saw them but it wasn’t until I felt the quality that I wanted to overhaul my entire children’s wardrobe with this line. My boys love the little ostrich on the back and the slogan “catch me if you can” will make any child’s eyes light up. Honestly moms, this is a clothing line worth investing in!

6. A VEGGIE BUDS CLUB SUBSCRIPTION would be a great gift that gives all year long. Each box is full of recipes and activities to do with your children. It is a subtle and fun way to engage your child more with foods that they are less familiar with. This past month Rhett and I had a wonderful time making the Broccoli Nuggets from the November Broccoli Kit on a few occasions.

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8. Learning can be so fun when the approach is creative. Use of the KINDERGARTEN TOOL KIT has supported incredibly fun learning in our home for a long time. From letters to site words to numbers to shapes…this tool kit has it all! My older boys love using the white board, marker, and eraser for fun “spelling bees” and math games while Rhett likes to find shapes in the house that match the shape flash cards. We also love to use the letter cards when we bake to make our kitchen time learning time too.

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There are many other wonderful shops that I would like to highlight, but I will stop here for now. I hope this has given you some ideas for your little ones of gifts that will be useful for you and exciting for them at the same time while supporting a mom entrepreneur. Later this week I will be sharing my “Expectant/New Mom Gift Guide” and next week you can watch for “This Mama’s Favourite Things”.

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

 

 

 

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Finding Balance Between “the Cookies and the Carrots” of the Holiday Season

I am often asked how I handle holiday treats with my children so I decided a post was in order. The reality is that my main goal to create a healthy relationship for my children with food. So the choices I make surrounding food always go back to that. Here are a few things we consider when it comes to this topic.

  1. We want our boys to remember that their bodies still need the same base of nourishment that they need in all other seasons of the year. Treats are special and cannot cover the nourishment their bodies need. They are not to be consumed all day everyday. We talk about the fact that a treat is something “extra” we choose to enjoy. We encourage them to savour and enjoy treats rather than rushing through them. We also remind our chidren that they may not feel well if they have a lot of treats as they are not the main fuel for our bodies.  I often use the phrase “having more of that may cause your head, tummy, or teeth to not feel well”.
  2. Our boys are not given a treat or restricted from a treat based on if they are “good” or finish the food on their plate. The treat food is planned from the start as long as they feel like it. They are also given full option to save it for later if they are too full at the time it is served. It is not a “now or never” but rather a “when you wish to enjoy this”.
  3. We use “Division of Responsibility” to determine when and how much of a treat will be offered. The boys can decide if they will eat it and how much they will eat of it. If we are at a social gathering we chat about all the treat options and we let them know that they are welcome to choose one favourite OR share a few favorites with each other.
  4. We love to make and offer healthy, fun treats. Red and green fruit and veggie platters, berry cakes, green (spinach) waffles with red berries and yogurt, and snow men made out of pancakes and yogurt can be really fun and exciting for young children and yet still offer great nourishment. Involving them in the preparation takes it to a whole new level of excitement.
  5. Creating a fun food craft is another way that our children enjoy Christmas treats. They love to bake and decorate gingerbread men and cookies and although they have been known to take a few bites here and there, they tend to enjoy the decorating more than the eating. The reality is that creating joy from experiences rather than food sets them up much better in the long run.

These are just a few thoughts on the topic that I have. I hope it is helpful. Thank you for reading.

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Feel free to share your thoughts below. I would love to hear your ideas on this topic.

Until next time…stay healthy!

Small Shop Stocking Stuffers

I love finding stocking stuffers that will truly be enjoyed all year long. And while a small toy or book is wonderful to include, I also wanted to give you a few other ideas for your children’s stockings this year that would support small shops and be of use to both your child and you throughout the year.

1) Baby Buddy
The Brilliant! Kids Sonic took dental care to a whole new level in our home in 2017 and we could not be more thankful. You can read more about them here. Our boys absolutely love these toothbrushes…especially the fact that they light up and offer more autonomy in tooth brushing. They are the perfect size for any stocking.

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2) Mabel’s Labels
We use these phenomenal labels on everything from sweatshirts to lunch boxes to backpacks to boots to hockey helmets. There are several kits to choose from depending on your needs. You can find one of the kits we have here. Our boys LOVE helping to add a new label and call that item their very own. Sticking a personalized booklet out the top of a stocking would be very special on Christmas morning.

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3) Kiddo Bloom
As you know, I am all about supporting autonomy in children. We love how Kiddo Bloom cutlery does exactly that in our home. This stainless steel cutlery looks the same as the adult cutlery at the table but is the proper shape and weight for little hands. I also LOVE that they are one piece making for a more sanitary option compared to two piece cutlery.

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4) Kindergarten Tool Kit Flash cards
If you have a child between the ages of 2-5 these flash cards would be a really special gift that includes time together as you help your child learn their letters, letter sounds, numbers, shapes, and/or site words. In out home, we use the flash cards as part of cooking/baking as well as games and set learning times.

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5) Meals with Milton
Milton arrived at our home this summer and has been a welcome part of family meals, baking time, and more. Most recently he enjoyed watching us do some Christmas baking. We have Milton participate in the fun times AND in the “food trial” times so he is not anxiety provoking but rather a friendly face at all times. If you have a fussy eater or a child who struggles with trying new foods, I would consider having Milton peak out of your child’s stocking on Christmas morning.

6) The Original Squeeze

It’s not a bottle, its squeeze! And it is the perfect, mess free, easy to clean option for smoothies and purees for school lunches or on-the-go snacks. These come in a variety of colours and sizes. I chose my kids favourite colours when ordering and they use them almost every day. You can see my fill review here.

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I hope that this gives you some fun new ideas for stocking stuffers this year. Watch for my Small Shop gift guide for young children coming soon!

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

Hello Fresh….Hello Dream Come True!

September hit me hard! After an overall relaxed paced summer, we hit the ground running with new school, work, and extra curricular activities. I have worked hard to meal plan, grocery shop, and meal prep as well as possible but some days we still end up with a rush around supper. Enter Hello Fresh! We had the opportunity to try a 3 meal package from Hello Fresh a few weeks ago and it was a total life changer for this mom!

At 4:45 pm on a Tuesday we came home from a family bike ride to find a box at our front door filled with fresh produce and amazing quality (aka antibiotic free, local, sustainably farmed, etc.) meat, fish, and poultry. I was very impressed with the food safety aspect too. All items were packed in a way that ensured appropriate temperatures were kept.

One of the boxes was labelled “Make Me First” and so I unpacked that one right away and within 30 minutes we were enjoying salmon cakes, roasted sweet potatoes, and fresh veggies. Our whole family truly loved the flavor and I loved the ease of preparation. All the ingredients were perfectly prepped and portion and yet I still had the opportunity to do the cooking. A win-win for me!

Over the coming week I chose our two busiest days (one being piano lesson day) to cook the other two meals. They were equally easy to prepare, packed with nutrients and flavour, and enjoyed by the whole family.

If you have busy weeks, and a few partially prepared, high quality and incredibly tasty meals would be useful for you, please use my discount code MINIS50 for $25 OFF YOUR NEXT TWO BOXES!

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The Baby Buddy Sonic 360 (aka our new favourite toothbrush)

Oral care is a high priority in our family. I started brushing the boy’s gums at least twice a day with a soft facecloth after breastfeeding at an early age, and as soon as we saw that first tooth, we started brushing it gently right away. When they had several teeth we started flossing and have been very conscientious about brushing their teeth for 90-120 as least once each day. We try for twice but I will admit it does not always happen. One thing that has always bothered me about brushing their teeth is that we don’t know how the pressure feels. We can’t 100% know if we are brushing hard enough or too hard. I had been on the lookout for an electric toothbrush that would work well for them and was thrilled when I came across the Baby Buddy Sonic 360 ! Baby Buddy was generous to send me one to try and I can honestly say this is exactly what I have been looking for!

The Baby Buddy Sonic 360 lights up and is very soft. Now this may not seem like a big deal, but for me it is. Despite our efforts to make teeth-brushing an enjoyable time, the boys have always been reluctant. To be honest I cannot blame them. I wouldn’t love someone else shoving a toothbrush into my mouth every day either. Cue the fun lights and soft bristles of the Sonic 360. They love watching the colours in their mouth as we brush and there is not pressure on their gums to push back on.

As the name suggests, it has bristles all the way around so we do not have to make sure the toothbrush is a certain way in my boy’s mouths. No matter how we hold it, it will hit their teeth. Also, this allows for more independent brushing. We have been doing the evening brushing with toothpaste and allowing the twins to do their own morning brushing with just water. It is good practice for them and I feel secure that the toothbrush is doing the work without the twins needing to apply any pressure. Also, unlike adult electronic toothbrushes, it is very quiet which has been important for our youngest who was frightened by others that we tried and it does not spray water everywhere which prevents a big mess if they pull it out of their mouth without turning it off first.

Another thing that drew me to this toothbrush is the design of one holder and several heads. We have labelled the heads for our kids but only have to store one base. This is a wonderful improvement to having several toothbrushes in one drawer!

Baby Buddy is a wonderful family run business with a heart for helping parents by providing the quality products we are looking for! For more information on this and other Baby Buddy products, you can visit their website: www.babybuddy.com or find them on Instagram (@babybuddyig), Facebook (@babybuddybear), or Twitter (@babybuddybear).

Mother’s Day Pancakes

I absolutely love pink…it just makes me smile. And my kids love pancakes. So for Mother’s Day brunch I decided to create a pink pancake recipe that everyone would enjoy. The best part…they helped me make it and kids in the kitchen is the best Mother’s Day gift I could ask for. Here is the recipe in case you want to try it too.

Ingredients

1 and ¼ cup milk (any milk is fine…buttermilk, cow’s milk, coconut milk, almond milk….etc.)

1 cup frozen strawberries or raspberries

2 eggs (or 4 egg whites)

1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil

¼ cup Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts

¼ cup chia seeds

¾ cup unbleached white flour

1 and ¼ cup whole wheat flour

2 Tbsp. baking powder

Instructions:

  • 1) In a mixer of your choice (Vitamix, Blentec, Ninja, etc.) blend together 1.25 cups milk of your choice (I like to use coconut milk), 1 cup frozen berries, ¼ cup hemp hearts, ¼ cup oil, and 2 eggs (or 4 egg whites). Set this aside
  • 2) In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, and chia seeds) together.
  • 3) Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix together…but don’t overmix.
  • 4) Cook pancakes on a frying pan of your choice. I prefer an electric one as I find they are less likely to stick or burn.
  • 5) Serve with your choice of yogurt and fruit for a delicious and nutritious meal for mom!

Until next time….stay healthy!

Promega Banana Muffins

Looking for a breakfast or snack food packed with quality protein and omega 3 fatty acids? Look no further! These muffins are packed with nutrition and flavour AND have no added sugar!!! You can also “dress them up” as I have in the picture above. This mini version of the muffin is topped with Yoso Chocolate Coconut Milk Yogurt and a raspberry. You could also use Greek yogurt and/or any other fruit you and your little ones enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cup oats (ideally steel cut quick cooking oats)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached white flour

¼ cup Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts or Baby Brain Organics

¼ cup chia seeds

½ Tbsp. baking powder

½ Tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup bananas (about 3 large bananas)

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (or alternate fruit puree)

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

2 eggs

½ Tbsp. vanilla

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.
  2. Mash bananas and beat eggs then add these together along with applesauce, oil, yogurt, and vanilla.
  3. Add the dry and wet mixture together and stir until moistened, but do not over-stir.
  4. Spoon into muffin pan and bake at 375 degrees F for 14-17 minutes for mini muffins and 22-28 minutes for “regular” size muffins.

Makes 18 regular size muffins or 36 mini muffins.

Feel free to add dried fruit or nuts for added nutrition and flavor too!

Until next time…stay healthy!

Meatball Muffins

I am always looking for new ways to get more protein into my children in a way that won’t involve complaining from them. I decided to try making meatball muffins this week and they were a HUGE hit!!! I thought I would share the easy recipe I created in case your little ones might like them too.

Ingredients

1/2 cup grated carrots

1/4 cup grated onion

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

3 Tbsp. sweet BBQ sauce (or you could use tomato paste)

1 pound ground chicken (or you could use ground beef, turkey, or pork)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl, then add the ground chicken/meat.
  3. Spoon mixture into a muffin pan.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes for mini muffins and 25 minutes if medium size muffins.

I served these with sweet potatoes and cauliflower and since it was the twins birthday, we mashed a few of the sweet potatoes on top to make “icing” and make them look like cupcakes 🙂  SO fun to make healthy food fun for kids:)

Until next time….stay healthy!

 

 

Healthy Treats for Outdoor Fun!

Summer is here and its time for park visits, zoo days, beach days, and spontaneous trips to your friend’s pool! Along with these amazing outdoor activities comes irregular schedules and increased appetites. This can lead to poor choices in food and/or missing meals. Planning ahead will help you and your children stayed nourished, hydrated, and healthy this summer! Here are some tips to get you started.

1) Don’t get caught filling up on high salt and high sugary snacks and beverages OR skipping eating for so long that you overeat. Pack easy to eat fruits and veggies for you and your kids to snack on. Grapes, blueberries, apple slices, melon cubes, cucumber slices, baby carrots, and pepper slivers are some of our favourites. Maybe take along some Greek yogurt or hummus for your kids to use as a dip. Kids love to dip and having healthy options available encourages them to eat more of the things you want them to.

2) For longer days when you need more complete meals, add more filling foods to your fruit and veggie snacks. Focus on things that are easy to pack and easy to eat. Your kids may not be willing to stop very long to eat. Try wraps or sandwich wedges; muffin with cheese; whole grain crackers and almond butter; Greek yogurt with granola; or hard boiled eggs and pita wedges.

3) Stay hydrated! Always take lots of water with you for you and your children. .  You can take plain water or for a more exciting option add strawberries or limes or orange slices to your water. For mamas, you can also try making your own iced tea to take along. Some of my favourites right now are “Just Peachy” and “Strawberry Colada” from Davids Tea. I use this amazing iced tea carafe that can even sit on its side in a cooler without leaking! These provide a way to stay hydrated and feel like you are having a sweet treat without any calories or caffeine.

4) Don’t forget to take an ice pack. Put any sandwiches, cheese, yogurts, eggs, etc. next to an ice pack so they stay cold and safe to eat.

5) Last but not least, involve your children in the planning.  Kids are more likely to eat foods that they have helped to choose and you will be teaching them the valuable lesson of planning ahead so they are set for life making healthy choices.

Wishing you all a safe and healthy summer!!!

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Watch the blog later this week for fun dip ideas your kids will love and tips on getting more fruits and veggies into yourselves and your little ones. Until then stay well!

Healthy mind, Healthy mama

I don’t know about you but meals at our house are bizarre! With three children 3 and under it is very noisy throughout the meal and I am generally up and down about 50 times doing something for someone…a dropped fork, more water, feeding the dog, more food for the children, etc. I absolutely love our family meal time together and I wouldn’t have it any other way! But when the weekend comes I am ready for a date night! Date nights aren’t always easy to organize or easily affordable so my husband and I have started doing “date nights in”! I love them just as much as “date night out”. On these nights we can sit and eat and talk. Really talk. I can hear a full sentence from him without one of my children interrupting. We like to give our children a family meal time experience though so we sit with them while they eat supper and have a snack so that we are still eating something as a family. Then once the children are in bed we can enjoy a meal together. For “date night in” we can enjoy all the quality time we would get by going to a restaurant without the cost of a babysitter or a high-calorie, high-cost restaurant meal. I absolutely love to cook so once the kids are in bed we pour a glass of wine or iced tea, make a healthy meal, and sit together to nourish our bodies and our relationship at the same time. image So next time you have had a long week and you feel distant from your husband, try “date night in” and nourish your body, your mind, and your relationship. Cheers!