When the bottom falls out…

Picture this, you’re carrying an extremely heavy load, all tucked into a box. There are a million things in this box.  Somethings heavy, some as light as air.  Your box never changes size, it just gets fuller or empties as life persists.  You must carry this box from point A to B to C etc…now imagine the bottom of that box is beginning to get worn and ragged and is starting to fall apart. What do you do?

In the wake of so many local and beyond local tragedies and excessive loads that so many people I know (me included) are carrying, I felt compelled to write a post and share some thoughts on getting through those really rough times that life inevitably throws at us. Sometimes we are assaulted by life’s cruelties and some people especially seem to have to carry extremely heavy loads.

First and foremost you need to remember ‘you are not alone’.  You really aren’t.  Just like in the box scenario, if the bottom starts to fall out call for help.  Call anyone.  A friend, a relative, a helpline, a doctor…anyone.  You cannot carry that load alone.  It’s impossible, not failure.  Remember that above everything…’you are not alone and nor should you have to carry it alone’.  Just like “A joy shared is doubled,  A struggle shared is halved.” We as humans are not built to do this life alone.  We are meant to live, work, play, and love in packs/groups/tribes.  There are people and resources out there to get you and that load you’re carrying the help you need.  It may not be easy but trust me it’s worth it.     YOU are worth it.

  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
  • Canadian Mental Health Association: 613-745-7750 (MB division: 204-982-6100)
  • Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: 204-784-4073
  • Your Life Counts: 289-820-5777
  • Manitoba Suicide Line: 1-877-435-7170
  • Manitoba Mental Health Education Resource Centre: 1-855-942-6568

Sometimes in the midst of disaster/tragedy/struggle our minds go into complete overdrive and so begins the cycle of never-ending anxiety and often despair.  Through the years I’ve learned some very basic tools to get me through those really aggressive times, especially at night, when the mind snowballs and won’t shut off and let us sleep, this in turn making for even more anxious days ahead.  Simply put, you need to stop your mind and stop that pattern.  Lots of people use meditation and deep breathing.  I find that what even works more simply is to ‘stop and think of 5 things I can hear’…’stop and think of 5 things I can physically feel’.  It seems so juvenile and trivial but it nearly always works long enough to calm my mind, slow my breathing, and relax my body enough that I can sleep.  Everything seems easier in the light of day.  So when you’re laying there at night and the world rushes in and your box starts to get even heavier, shut it out and think of 5 things…

Once you can stop the cycle that your brain inevitably wants to take you through with anxiety you are able to think clearer and this is when you need to focus on a new mantra of less worry.  Self-talk in a positive way is so extremely important.  Remind yourself that a) you are not alone. b) you can get through this. c) you are worth it. d) it WILL get better. And breathe. REALLY breathe.  Fill your lungs slowly and release that air slowly.  Focus on one thing for one moment. And ask for help.  Please ask for help.  No matter how little or big your struggles are there is someone there to help.  No matter the task or request, someone is there to help.  There are medications, counselling and mental health therapies that DO work.  Keep searching until you find the help you need but don’t do it alone…you need to fix and strengthen the bottom of that load you’re carrying but there are tools/supplies/resources out there to help.

We have to talk about it.  We have to share our loads. We have to reach out and ask for help. We have to be kinder to ourselves. We have to take care of each other. We have to have faith in brighter days ahead.




Easter “Hop Tarts”


Here’s a fruity snack or decadent breakfast item that is sure to put a little pep in your step and hop in your walk!  E and I made ours into egg shapes and filled them with blueberry filling but any fruit filling would work (apple cinnamon, very cherry, raspberry, or even a triple berry blend) and any shape would be fun!  I’ve made heart shaped ones before and have even baked them on a popsicle stick for a cute little pie pop!

The dough we used is a bit of a twist to my favourite empanada dough recipe.  I use the traditional dough for a multitude of hand pie options…chicken pot pie, pizza, taco, and mushroom spinach just to name a few.  It’s a really nice dough to work with, and the hand pies or empanadas can be frozen prior to baking or frying with no alteration to the end product.  Since I wanted to make these “hop tarts” sweet as opposed to savoury and a little more rich than usual I substituted the lard for butter and added 1/4 cup sugar as well as 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp lemon zest.  You could also swap out the vanilla and lemon zest for almond extract, orange zest or even cinnamon and nutmeg.

Traditional Dough Recipe:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sugar (1/4 cup for ‘hop tarts’)
  • 6 Tbsp lard (or butter for ‘hop tarts’)
  • 1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup cold water

Mix dough together and let rest in fridge for 1/2 hour at least (I have mixed it up the day before and it works well too).

Roll out dough , cut into desired shapes and fill, cover with the top piece of dough (cut into same shape), crimp or fork edges and bake at 375* until golden.

Blueberry Filling

  • 1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch (mixed with a bit of water)

In a sauce pan cook the berries with the sugar and lemon juice.  Add the cornstarch slurry and cook until thick.  Let cool before filling ‘hop tarts’.

Once slightly cooled, glaze with icing as desired and decorate with sprinkles. We tinted our icing with a violet food colouring gel and sprinkled with rainbow sprinkles but the sky is the limit! And of course we enlisted the help of a few tractors in today’s bake-off…all roads lead back to farming after all!!  These yummy treats are all ready and packed up for a special delivery this weekend!  Happy Spring! Hoppy Easter!




Easiest Easter Decs Ever!

Easter being early this year and Spring being late is really messing with my head but when little man asks to do a craft project the timing just works out!  This year we made some super simple (and somewhat messy) art sure to entice the Easter Bunny to hide some goodies at our place!

All you need is some washable, kids craft paint, clothespins, pom-poms, paper, and eggs! (We use those unbreakable fake eggs from the dollar store that are set up in cartons and can be used for an array of egg decorating techniques!)

Pour some paint into bowls (one color per bowl).  We had coloured pom-poms that coordinated with the paint colors for an easy way to remember to not mix colors but any color of pom-poms will work.  Clip a pom-pom onto your clothespin and this becomes your paint ‘brush’.  Draw out an egg shape onto your piece of paper and let your decorating begin.  E made a crocodile on one of his as well as polka dot lines and I went the more traditional route with waves and polka dots.  It was a really easy way to paint for little hands and we had fun (despite the massive clean-up…thank goodness for washable paint!)

Continue with your pom-pom brushes and decorate some eggs!  We used some leftover letter stickers I had laying around to spell out “EASTER” and we painted over the stickers and then removed them once the paint had dried for an easy little greeting!  E liked the flat paper egg painting better as he didn’t get as messy.  I can’t figure out why he hates getting his hands dirty with paint, markers, and food yet dirt and mud is fine!!! Boys!

We decorated up our house for Easter this weekend amid the chaos and it was a great way to get into the spirit and talk about Spring!  These crafts are easy enough to do in an afternoon, they’re cheap and the supplies are easy to find!  Here’s hoping we see some of those bright and fresh colors outside soon!


When Life Gives You Lemons…


As the old adage “When life gives you lemons, Make lemonade” goes I think it’s only fair that if life gives you a ton of lemons then you gotta kick it up a notch and make some Lemon Drop Martinis…

Here’s my recipe for an easy fresh cocktail that will hopefully shed a little sunshine even on the gloomiest days!  Pair it with something grilled on your BBQ, a fresh salad and enjoy with your sunglasses on or all by itself if the mood arises!

  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz lemoncello or grande marier to your liking
  • 1 tsp or so sugar syrup (depending on how pucker-y you like it!)
  • Lemon twist to garnish

In a martini shaker filled with ice, shake all the liquids until extremely cold.  Pour into a martini class that has been chilled (to do this I fill the martini glass with ice while I make my martini and then dump out the ice right before I fill with the cocktail).  Garnish with a lemon twist and let the sunshine in while you sip away.

(Recipe makes 1 cocktail. Drink responsibly.)


Travelling with a Toddler…the good, the bad and the ugly!

Blessed.  I am so deeply blessed.  This winter I was lucky enough to get to escape the never-ending Manitoba winter and head south for a couple weeks with my hubby and two year old son.  We planned a 3 day (one way so 6 days travel total) road trip down to visit my parents in Texas and I knew that I needed to be extremely organized and ahead of the game in doing so!  Here’s what I did to get ready for an extremely long amount of quality time in the truck with my kidlet and what worked the best and what was the hardest hurdles!

First off, if you’re planning a trip with young kids (or even just with adults really) I cannot say enough good things about the Utility Totes from “thirty-one”.  They literally saved my life!  I have two of them which I packed to the max and placed on the backseat floor for easy access.  I bought a few plastic baskets from the dollar store to place inside of them to keep things sectioned off and organized.  One utility tote held snacks and the other activities for my youngster.  I was able to keep things super organized and in tact for the entire trip with this system!


I also bought a canvas basket organizer to use for our diaper changing station necessities.  E isn’t potty-trained yet so I wanted to keep wipes, diapers, paper towel, hand sanitizer and hand lotion at my fingertips so that we could easily grab what we needed for bum changes at our fuel and ‘stretch’ stops!  If your child is still in diapers when you travel let me tell you, you have to change their bums a lot more frequently than you would at home…we learned that quickly…oy!


After a lot of research looking for “the perfect” carseat lap desk I decided to make my own for E.  I sewed a small pillow case, stuffed it with batting and glued strips of velcro to it and to a cookie sheet. (I wanted to be able to remove the pillow for washing!). It worked so well.  It was firm enough to play tractors on, to color, to eat his meals and snacks and to read on.  Things I had read about a lot of different styles of lap desks online stated that they were too flimsy and that the children weren’t able to do any activities on.  This homemade version ended up being so much cheaper to make and worked perfectly!


I bought a container at the dollar store that had a lid and a handle and threw a bunch of small plastic garbage bags in the bottom of.  We used this as our garbage can, removing the full bags to dispose at truck stops and then refreshing with a clean bag from the bottom.  This system was so simple yet so essential.  It kept the truck clean and organized!


Onto Activities…I knew that I would need to have quite a few new and interesting items planned to peak and keep my little’s interest for the long trip.  We also have a tv and DVD player in our truck (hello millennials…) and we packed some Disney movies along with Paw Patrol and Curious George videos.

Some activities that I packed that were a hit were:

  • Search and Find Books…the best!
  • Tractor reference Books (including the ever popular Market Book and Auction Books)
  • Story Books
  • Coloring Books with Crayons and Markers..the ‘color wonder’ type a friend gave us were awesome!
  • Sticker Activity Books
  • Re-usable Sticker Boards (Melissa and Doug)
  • Small Tractors (I kept them in a clear ‘lidded’ container which I wrote which items we packed onto the lid so I knew what needed to go back into the box when cleaning up)
  • Whiteboard and Markers

Activites that I packed that were a miss for on the road but great for when we reached our destination:

  • Lego (really tho, what was I thinking for planning this for a car activity??!!)
  • Travel Games (Trouble, Pack of Cards, Dominoes)

I packed a couple small soft-sided coolers for the refrigerated items and had plastic plates (some with divided sections for E), plastic cutlery and one sharp knife to use to use for cutting up fruit etc.  The small snack cups with rubber, split lids came in so handy for passing snacks to E and for other things like holding markers.


Snacks that we enjoyed on the road:

  • Protein balls
  • Mini muffins
  • Hummus and Veg
  • Crackers
  • Fruit Snacks
  • Gold fish crackers
  • Cookies
  • Jerky
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Licorice
  • Fruit, apples and grapes
  • Buns with Sausage or Chicken Salad
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Lots and Lots of Water Bottles (Frozen to keep the coolers cold and a large case left room temp.  We would refreeze the cooler packs in the hotel at night) Another thing that works GREAT for keeping your coolers cold is filling empty box-wine bladders with water (just press the spigot button and let water run into the bag) and then freezing them.  This genius idea was brought to us from my parents when we arrived in TX!

We also let E pick out a treat a few times when we stopped at gas-stations.  This was such an easy activity for him that made him really excited and passed the time before and after the stops in the truck.  He’d plan what he was gonna pick before we would stop and slowly devour his “treat” after! And let me just say, let your kid pick the ‘sour patch kids’ even though they are 100% sugar…the faces you get from your little one add hilarity for miles!!!

My little guy has a special blanket and loves his stuffed animals so were sure to pack a few of them for quiet time and if by chance he’d nap.  We also were sure to dress him in comfy clothes and halfway through the trip I even put a plush blanket behind his back in the carseat as he was getting red marks on his back.

He really was a champ and travelled great.  There were a few times where he was cranky from being trapped so long but we’d try to stop and do some stretches to avoid this.  I found that an 8hr drive day was the perfect amount of time (we did a couple much longer days which were hard on all of us).  My biggest advice is be organized.  Have things your child loves to do and get creative with road games (there’s tons of great ideas online for older kids too)…pointing out landmarks, special vehicles (like tractors if you have a farm-nut like us), lights and landscapes.  At two (nearly three) years old E was kept interested in his surroundings.  And when all else failed we would watch “Sing” for the 8th time!! And be flexible!  Your little one is on holidays too…so with that said, we let E have much more snacky food than he normally gets, he got to have juice boxes, special little treats and a happy meal or two from mcdonalds (or old mcdonalds as he calls it) and strict routine was kind of sent wayside (although we did stick to nap time once we arrived at our destination and tried to keep him on point with mealtime eating…bedtime on the other hand was a bit of a disaster!!)


(Checking out the sunset with Noma and Bubba.)

I have to say travelling with a child is immensely gratifying.  I’ve been to TX a bunch of times but travelling with a little one means you are ‘forced’ to check out new locations and kid-friendly spots which ultimately bring out the kid in everyone.  We had an amazing vacation and I’m still reminiscing hard about the memories we made.  Here’s hoping this trip went well enough that hubby will want to take us back again soon (like next year soon??!!). Blessed.  Grateful.  Refreshed. And ready to tackle the rest of this Manitoba Winter! (Although spring is welcome ANYTIME!!)